The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Whither We Goest?


I want to talk about evolution. I find it fascinating. So did a co-worker in Jacksonville (FL), except he rejected it out of hand. Possibly because he didn't understand it... but then who does? Other than most (if not all) scientists. And I do not mean just human evolution, I mean all evolution. He was under a lot of pressure not to accept evolution as true; primarily his religious associations did this.

The main problem with his understanding, I think, was the impression I got that he thought there was "free will" involved; that animals had to choose to change in some way. And that it happened fairly quickly.

It takes time for evolution to do its thing. From a few generations to many millennia.  The basic idea of evolution theory is that a mutation becomes the norm because it enhances survival of the species. And that, I think, is true. But I also think it is much more complex than that simple statement. In plants and the lower animals (a subjective categorization, in my opinion), it seems to be follow that simple rule. What throws many off the theory is that many non-essential traits also persist. Not all traits appear to be essential to survival yet they persist through generations. In humans, we see a wide variance in appearance: skin color, eye color, hair color, for example. And we see these between population groups and within population groups. No single trait I mentioned is in any way essential to survival but any of them can survive because of personal choices and preferences.

Based on anthropological studies, we know that the human race has changed significantly in the past 2 million or so years.  Yet we resist what that tells us. It tells me that we are constantly changing, evolving.

Here's a couple of articles involving evolution which triggered this post:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/15/science/studying-recent-human-evolution-at-the-genetic-level.html?ref=science&_r=1&

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/02/debunking_sexual_selection_theories_the_edar_gene_in_east_asians.html

 

2 comments:

Tom Sightings said...

See how the common ancestor of mammals on Earth today—including human beings—was a furry, long-tailed, rat-sized creature that emerged after the extinction of the dinosaurs. (If it's true.) At http://theweek.com/article/index/240321/health-amp-science

Douglas said...

Descended from rats, eh? That explains lawyers.