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SarahMalayaSniezek's picture

errors in evolution

In class on Thursday, we tried to define evolutionary error.  It was quiet difficult for us and many of us kept going back to defining an error as being unable to reproduce, unable to survive in the world on its own (Better stated by Caroline as being self-destructive), an aberration.  First off, we cannot look at an evolutionary error from through analyzing an individual, because evolution does not effect an individual, it only effects a group.  Evolution is a change in a population’s gene pool; therefore an error cannot be classified as an individual’s phenotype that is disadvantageous to survival, it must be something prominent throughout the population.  Furthermore, because the environment, at least today, I changing so rapidly, I feel that evolution is having a more difficult time keeping up.  Technology is changing the world around us so fast, that evolution is becoming too slow to allow for extensive adaptation.  This would mean that more and more evolutionary errors exist and will continue to exist.  Finally, because mutations are random there will always be errors, but natural selection has the job of weeding them out.  Because evolution takes generations to take effect, there will always be many errors.  Also, we have to be very careful when classifying something as an error, because that trait could be a side effect of a very positive trait.  For example, self-destruction is a negative phenotype, but may be linked to the same gene that allows us to think creatively and solve difficult problems.

As for the birth control and the dog issue, is it really evolution?  I believe so.  Everything impacts everything else, and as Tou said, the women who choose to use birth control and so forth are more likely to bring a child into the world where the parent will be able to take care of them financially and be more mature, therefore supporting positive evolution.  Everything we as humans do affects our evolution, and many other species around us.  For example, 500 years ago, the people that survived the longest, were those that had the strongest immune system.  Now, because of health care advances, you don’t need to have a strong immune system, all you need is to make enough money to pay for the best healthcare.  This change in environment effects evolution.  Birth control may be changing evolution as well.  If a group a people with certain genetically based phenotypic traits are more likely to use birth control and end up having less children in their lives, then their genes will make up a smaller and smaller portion of the gene pool generation after generation.

Interestingly enough, this reminds me of a movie I recently saw, Idiocracy.  For those of you who have not seen it, this movie takes place in the future, and is about how the human population has become much less intelligent due to evolution.  The theory is based on the notion that people that are more intelligent tend to plan their families and have less children, while less intelligent people tend to have many more children, because they do not use contraceptives.  Over 500 years, this cycle causes the entire population to have an extremely low IQ.  At first, I thought that this was a highly improbable due to the selective advantage intelligence had, but then I realized, that it doesn’t matter how long one lives, it only matters how much they reproduce which determines the effect on evolution.


I have so much more going through my mind, but I will have it for next time.


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