Biology - Other

Is the Human Race Evolving or Devolving – Devolving

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"Is the Human Race Evolving or Devolving - Devolving"
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Are we devolving?
It is an interesting question. It is better phrased: Are we heading towards an evolutionary dead end?

To answer this, we must first ask the question: Are we evolving? The answer is most likely yes. But there are many factors like non random mating and genetic drift etc which affect the evolution of a species that the question is too general. A more relevant question would be to ask, are we undergoing natural selection?
Do we have heritable differences? Yes, this is the nature of all living things. Anything alive has traits that can be inherited
Do those heritable differences result in a differential reproductive rate? This is tricky. Lets consider the many traits that we think would make us more suited for survival in the long term. We would include among them strength, agility, keenness of mind, cooperative behavior, etc. Are these traits heritable? Yes, to some large extent. They can of course be affected by environment, but that is irrelevant to the issue. It is unquestionable that some of the traits that are necessary for survival are inherited. Now, it is for us to see if there is a differential rate of reproduction in the species. One obvious case comes to mind. In our world, the poorest segments reproduce more than the richest segments. Do these segments necessarily have fewer or more of these traits? not necessarily. In Africa, especially the poorest regions, life is extremely competitive and people have to use their brawn the guts and their brains to survive on a daily basis. In these places, it may very well be that the fittest are surviving and reproducing while those who do not have these qualities are dying out. But in the more 'civilized' parts of the world, we have the poorest segments having eight to nine children while the richest barely reproduce at all. In this case, we must ask: do the poorest here have less strength, agility, intelligence etc than the richest? Maybe, maybe not. Assuming that America is completely meritocratic, then yes, the brightest reach the top of society and do not reproduce while the less bright remain poor and reproduce more. So, in as much as America is meritocratic, generation by generation, the ratio of alleles for intelligence and strength etc is decreasing in the country. i.e, in a fully meritocratic and developed world where we protect our weakest members (we are civilized moral beings after all...) we will start to devolve. in fact, if we can produce George w bush, I'm not sure we have further to go before America is a nation of imbeciles. But 'thankfully' America is not meritocratic. Traits important to our survival can still be found in abundance among the economically less successful. As far as natural selection goes, the current situation is that we may be stagnant, but we are heading towards a time where we will begin to devolve.

It is to be noted that recent evidence shows that the Y chromosome in men is shortening generation by generation. Is this devolution? I think only a mind more knowledgeable than mine will know.

More about this author: Anantharaman Muralidharan

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