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The Role of Human Culture In Natural Selection

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the let's-see-some-selection-pressure-against-guidos dept.

Biotech 337

gollum123 writes with this excerpt from the NY Times: "... for the last 20,000 years or so, people have inadvertently been shaping their own evolution. The force is human culture, broadly defined as any learned behavior, including technology. The evidence of its activity is the more surprising because culture has long seemed to play just the opposite role. Biologists have seen it as a shield that protects people from the full force of other selective pressures, since clothes and shelter dull the bite of cold and farming helps build surpluses to ride out famine. Because of this buffering action, culture was thought to have blunted the rate of human evolution, or even brought it to a halt, in the distant past. Many biologists are now seeing the role of culture in a quite different light. Although it does shield people from other forces, culture itself seems to be a powerful force of natural selection. People adapt genetically to sustained cultural changes, like new diets. And this interaction works more quickly than other selective forces, 'leading some practitioners to argue that gene-culture co-evolution could be the dominant mode of human evolution.'"

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Religious Neanderthals (1, Interesting)

grub (11606) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332690)


Too bad smarter people tend to breed less. "Liberalism, atheism, male sexual exclusivity linked to IQ" [cnn.com]

You can always hope the current crop of Religious Neanderthals will be bred out as their namegivers had.

.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332752)

Too bad more educated people tend to breed less.

Fixed that for you.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332918)

IQ is not education (and I suspect you rate highly in neither). Read links before you start 'correcting' people.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333176)

And I presume you have another way of measuring it besides tests that an educated lifestyle conditions one for? And you can define, in precise, empirical language, just what IQ quantifies? And I'm sure the Flynn effect has nothing top do with widespread advances in socioeconomic conditions and education, right? Understand what you're talking about before correcting others.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333524)

I have an invisible bottle. I can't interact with the bottle, but I can see how much water is in it. I conclude that the volume of the water is equal the volume of the bottle. That is IQ.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (2, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333694)

Education can contribute to IQ, though. We've been seeing a steady rise in IQ points for quite a while now, and the best theories I've seen suggest that it's directly caused by the rise in abstract-thinking skills amongst the general populace. Since abstract thinking is a learned behavior, this certainly suggests that IQ measurements - no matter how well designed - will be influenced by the level of education of the person being tested.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332774)

You can always hope the current crop of Neanderthals will be bred out as their namegivers had.

I wouldn't bet [imdb.com] on that.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (2, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332846)

You can always hope the current crop of Neanderthals will be bred out as their namegivers had.

I wouldn't bet [imdb.com] on that.

You do know that movie was fiction, right? Hmm... maybe the current crop of religious neanderthals will just be replaced by a moviegoing crop of neanderthals.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332942)

Fiction? Yes. A gross exaggeration? yes. Insightful? Hell, yes.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332970)

Ugh, yeah. I get so tired of people treating Idiocracy like some kind of brilliant insight. Real history demonstrates that knowledge and intellect have both increased over the thousands of years of human development, regardless of the fact that average + below average is always > above average. That's the way a curve works.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

mhelander (1307061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333304)

"regardless of the fact that average + below average is always > above average. That's the way a curve works."

Say what?

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

trurl7 (663880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333604)

Dystopias are not typically aimed as "brilliant insights": they are a cautionary exploration of what certain uncorrected trends may yield. A speculative reductio ad absurdum.

Also, "real history" demonstrates that while humans, on average, get smarter, the witch-hunting/burning traditions of our ancestors are alive and well today. Perhaps less with the bone-breaking and the other refinements, but certainly the mental delusions are still there.

The advance of skeptical, critical thinking is very slow, is almost everywhere opposed by well-intentioned moralists harking for a never-extant halcyon age. So no, I don't believe cautionary dystopias are excessive or unnecessary. Some may even be brilliant. No one's running around screaming "the sky is falling". Just that you consider the tale and its implications.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (5, Informative)

magarity (164372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332808)

The people conducting that study were completely confused:
 
  The study takes the American view of liberal vs. conservative. It defines "liberal" in terms of concern for genetically nonrelated people and support for private resources that help those people
 
Liberals in America think *public* resources should be used to help others. Conservatives think that private resources should be used.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (2, Insightful)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333000)

Liberals in America think *public* resources should be used to help others. Conservatives think that private resources should be used.

Did I wake up in a parallel universe where Ike is still President?

Re:Religious Neanderthals (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333012)

In practice, conservatives think that no resources should be used to help others.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (3, Insightful)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333076)

In practice, conservatives think that no resources should be used to help others.*

*Except banks and investment firms. Oh, and Halliburton and Blackwater.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (2, Funny)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333424)

Well, if by "help" you mean oppress financially or shoot you down in cold blood.

conservatives don't pay (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333086)

for public or private resources

the ultimate effect of a conservative ideology is a third world country: a rich upper class of a few, and a vast underclass of poor

there is no room for the middle class in conservative ideology. this includes no room for middle class idiots who believe the corporate propaganda about "evuls socialisticisms". some people are their own worst enemy

the money you have in your pocket is an abstract expression of the wealth of the society you live in. if you do not invest in your society, the money in your pocket loses value. if you invest in your society, you are paid dividends of a richer society, which pays you back with more business opportunities, etc

"but dem freeloading welfare queens..."

oh shut up retard. take a look at denmark someday. tell me they aren't happier healthier and wealthier than the average american. and then take a look at their tax rate

i'd rather be taxed to high hell than worry about declaring bankruptcy if i get cancer

but the conservative answer about a rising poor underclass (made up of previous middle class people) is to buy more guns

the greatest irony/ tragedy/ comedy is how many previously lower middle class people who are now the new american poor (because of conservative initiatives like gutting depression era financial protections that created the real estate bubble) support with such rapturous passion the gutting of social safety nets that only exist to serve them. some people are full of so much stupidity and hatred- for their own neighbors, their own society, and their own government, that they only destroy themselves

but i'm not going to let the morons take us all down. and if you read my words and agree with me, roll up your sleeves: there is a real life zombie apocalypse of propagandized retards out there, and we need to fight them to save our country from their self-destructive conservative stupidity

Re:conservatives don't pay (1, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333280)

You really should get out in the real world some time. Study after study has shown the conservatives donate more money to charity than liberals on a per capita basis and as a percentage of income. Liberals are happy to "help" people with other people's money. Conservatives are happy to help people with their own resources.
I won't bother arguing with the rest of your post because it is full of a stereotypical understanding of what people believe and want. Like I said get out in the real world sometime and look at the facts.

Re:conservatives don't pay (5, Informative)

wurble (1430179) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333426)

No offense, but I'm in the position to know the financial dealings of some tens of thousands of wealthy individuals, and I can tell you flatly and honestly that the primary purpose of the vast majority of those "donations" is to dodge taxes. The majority of such donations are to "foundations" which are run by agents who answer directly to the person who "donated" their funds. Such foundations need only use a small fraction of their donations on actual charitable work. In most cases, the work done is very questionably charitable to begin with.

Don't let actual charitable individuals like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet fool you. Wealthy people by and large donate because there is a net gain in it for them.

I would urge you to especially look into information about Charitable Remainder Trusts.

Re:conservatives don't pay (0, Troll)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333628)

No offense, but I'm in the position to know the financial dealings of some tens of thousands of wealthy individuals, and I can tell you flatly and honestly that the primary purpose of the vast majority of those "donations" is to dodge taxes.

That is so moronic as to be laughable. You cannot donate $1 and get back more than $1. So, I doubt you really deal with the financial dealings of "tens of thousands of wealthy individuals".

Re:conservatives don't pay (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333446)

Back up your wild assertions with some links, or everyone will be forced to conclude you just made that up. Here's one rebuttal to the assertion: http://immorallogic.blogspot.com/2007/01/liberal-vs-conservative-giving.html [blogspot.com]

Basically, if you don't count donations to churches, the gap disappears. And why should you? Even when a church does charitable work, it comes with a sermon which is basically a sales pitch to join something very like an MLM scheme. It isn't charity, it's marketing.

The idea that liberals give away 'other people's money' is ludicrous on the face of it. Liberals don't pay taxes? We're putting our money towards charity, too, but charity is a public good, and we demand that you pay your fair share of this shared good. When I give to a charity, you benefit. because the charity makes society a better place. Charities make the hungry and homeless less desperate, and less likely to steal your stuff. They make the useless and uneducated into productive citizens who grow the economy. Charities do all kinds of beneficial things, and everyone benefits, which is why everyone should pay.

it would be nice if your lip service (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333766)

translated into reality

but the simple truth is that those who say dismissively "charity will take care of it" don't actually give to charity

such that the giving must be compulsory, for the sake of those who don't understand they are part of a society, they derive their income from a healthy functioning society, and so must be compelled to pay the maintenance they owe but don't understand. their animosity towards this compulsory payment is not derived from a superior way to run a society, but a simple stupid, shortsighted selfishness to not contribute. of course, plenty of them DO have "ideas", which when analyzed boil down to nothing more than "i got mine, fuck you" to the point of destruction of the society that sustains them: just because you believe you are an island doesn't mean you actually are one

if the contribution is voluntary, very few give, and you get a third world hell hole. i don't know why people can't see this simple truth

Re:conservatives don't pay (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333732)

Study after study has shown the conservatives donate more money to charity than liberals on a per capita basis and as a percentage of income.

You should really get out in the real world yourself instead of quoting Rush Limbaugh talking points. Where are these alleged studies? Or do you just believe they exist because your tin god tells you so?

Re:conservatives don't pay (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333330)

Excellent rant. I may steal parts of that for another forum that I post in.

Re:conservatives don't pay (2, Insightful)

PPalmgren (1009823) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333592)

Your agenda is showing. The world isn't black and white. You paint conservative idealism, yet don't point out the flaws in liberal idealism. Idealism is dangerous in general, since the solution is always in the grey area. Deciding on a solution to a problem based on the current situation always beats deciding based on an ideal.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

number6x (626555) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333290)

Liberals in America think *public* resources should be used to help others. Conservatives think that private resources should be used.

Liberals in America think *public* resources should be used to help others. Conservatives think that *public* resources should be used to help corporations.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (4, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332810)

Ah, yes. Slashdot... where correlation does not mean causation unless the study supports your prejudices.

Does high IQ produce the bent away from conservative values and religion? Or does high IQ cause one to feel "superior to the masses", arrogance and then a rejection of these values? The study is not able to go into this.

And assuming this is the same study as the one I read... was done on a college population (brilliant sampling technique, I must admit). It also found that the "ubermensch" has an average IQ of 103. Clearly our atheist, liberal overlords are far beyond what I can even imagine intellect wse.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332886)

It also found that the "ubermensch" has an average IQ of 103.

Which is per definitionem above average for all, because the average IQ is defined to be 100.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332904)

And the people claiming to be religious averaged 6-8 points lower, putting them below average.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333546)

Let me get this straight with 92% of the population believing in God and 8% atheist. If the 8% of Athiest had a IQ of 103 then the other 92% would have a score of 99.7, you are not doing much for your statement that athesist are smarter.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332950)

Yes, I am quite aware of this. The OP makes it sound like there is a titantic difference. Again, if this is the same study I read, it focused on college students.... which makes me wonder if 103 is really above average given the demographic.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333482)

Oh my goodness, someone doesn't understand how the IQ scale works. It is the percentage of intellectual age to actual age, and 100 is, by definition, average for any given age group.

You must be a conservative, right? It shows.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333584)

Actually, I tend to be more liberal than conservative.

And if you are looking at college students, the average should be above 100 because of selection bias. So, I would think it is YOU who does not understand the bell curve.

Now, having said that, this study is not the one I was thinking of. This one trackedkids from a younger age through young adulthood.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333662)

It's within the margin of error.

The Bell Curve (1)

Alaren (682568) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333364)

Good points. It's funny to see studies like this in 2010. It's like nobody remembers The Bell Curve [wikipedia.org] or the accompanying controversy. You'd think we'd learn...

It's also interesting to me that this IQ/religion study seems to come up in every other /. thread lately.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

sageres (561626) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332866)

I would probably argue that religion and belief in metaphysical entities is a cornerstone of human evolution since our collective psyche is unable to deal, explain and understand death and the subsequent loss of ego and self-awareness, understanding harmonious and disharmonious interaction among human beings and many other things. Yes, we can always say, "I am atheist!", however I am not talking on individual level, but more on a collective level of society.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (0, Troll)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332874)

So I guess natural selection is failing in your eyes, since we still have "Religious Neanderthals." And you seem to put atheism as a tenant and pillar of intelligence.

Pretty interesting. Some of the darkest moments in history, it seems, were when a culture or country put emphasis on single belief systems as determining whether someone was "good enough" to live... or at least, live at the same standard as those "privileged" people. Atheism is a belief, since God has not been disproven. Sure, you can argue it's more or less logically sound, makes more or less sense, but when it come down to it - since God is not something you can taste, see, feel, touch, etc., it's hard to be proven or disproven by science.

And yet it seems you would consider atheism to be a mark of intelligence and higher thinking/learning... hum.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

Raffaello (230287) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333066)

And you seem to put atheism as a tenant and pillar of intelligence.

So atheism pays rent to intelligence? The word you're looking for is "tenet" not "tenant."

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333436)

Hehe... so I did.

Atheism paying rent to intelligence is an awfully funny philosophical picture though...

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

m.shenhav (948505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333246)

Indeed! While im an Atheist and used to have an aggressive stance against religion, of late I have realised that the value of an idea is not so much whether its right or wrong... ...but whether its Fit or Unfit! Everybody has morality of some sort- and thats no science. Religion must have evolved for a reason... just like all the other adaptations. Religious people will easily list the benefits it gives them. Maybe science has better answers, but we certainly have a lot to learn in communicating them.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333472)

Religion must have evolved for a reason

Suppression of the majority by the minority, I suspect.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332890)

Isn't it awesome when reality does the trolling for you?

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

grub (11606) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332930)

heheheh yep.

Of course the RNs (see GP) will gather en masse with their clubs, stone knives and mod points anytime...

:)

Placebo effect (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332964)

If the placebo effect is so powerful (and it does appear to be - google for examples), being an atheist would make taking advantage of it less convenient and easy.

In contrast, groups of people who believe in some unseen being that helps them, won't need another person to actually give them the "sugar pill", they can more often self-administer it. This can help the survival of their group.

I suggest that this might affect the "natural selection" too.

If the costs (too many human sacrifices, too much killing etc) of the religion/culture outweigh the advantages then the religion/culture then that group is less fit than other groups and is more likely to vanish.

That said there may be advantages to Atheism. Some claim "clear thinking" (e.g. more rational), but there are still plenty of atheists who aren't that clear headed. Perhaps we'll see over a few generations if the alleged higher proportion in "clear thinkers" is such a significant advantage to the group.

Re:Placebo effect (1)

mhelander (1307061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333674)

Your argument is not so bad,

However mutations prevail when they are positive to themselves, not to the group nor even the individual. Certainly there will be a lot of overlap with regards to benefits to the individual (usually something that is good for the organism is good for the gene producing the effect) and sometimes there is overlap with the group such that what is good for the group also benefits the gene producing the effect. But when there is a conflict of interest (and there often is) the individual or group will lose to the gene. That is, a gene with an effect that is bad for the gene but good for the group will go away, whereas a gene which is good for itself but bad for the group will flourish. (At which time other genes may serve their own best interests by preventing whatever exploitation of them is carried out via the group, and so a new gene working to surpress the group-exploiting gene may evolve. Again, this only works because it is good for the new gene, producing the surpression effect, not because it is "good for the group" as such.)

Thus your argument would be improved by substituting "good for the group" with "good for the gene(s) producing the effect".

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

joeyblades (785896) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333016)

> Too bad smarter people tend to breed less.

That is just natural selection doing it's job...

Re:Religious Neanderthals (0, Troll)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333106)

(With tongue in cheek) Well that is what you get when your group kills off its own young.

But honestly you could see this in some other ways...

The people that you mention tend to be real jerks and very unlikable.

Extreme Liberals, everything you do is bad, It will hurt the environment, or is the cause for all the problems in the world. In general a real downer after a while. Besides if you are that politically motivated it is hard for you to shut up and except the general culture, when you are part of the general culture you tend to reap its benefits. "The Man" isn't trying to hold you back, however if you fight with him he will not help you out much.

Atheist, A lot of them don't seem to respect other peoples beliefs, you meat a nice girl and tell her she is a fool that she believes in a god that will be a big turn off. Simple fact There is no solid proof for or against God... So arguing with someone who does believe in God will just create more conflict. Besides Religions are a group where people can join as a sub-comunity and gain benefits from it

Male Sexual Exclusivity lined to IQ... You mean being an Elitist bastard... For one IQ isn't the only way to measure smarts and two it in itself is a measurement of potential but not of actual use. I have seen a lot of really stupid people with High IQs. Espectily after they learn they have a High IQ because they think if they have a High IQ they know more then everyone else and is superior. So they end up being a jerk. Leaving the people with lower IQs who are nicer and are willing to listen to people who know more about stuff then them on different topics makes them far more approachable.

It isn't the fact that they belong to these groups but the fact that they are unable to adapt to cultural norms, thus not reproducing.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333264)

"smart people"? Scoring high on an IQ test does not make you smart. The idea that intelligence or wisdom can be effectively measured by a standardized test is an insult to both.

Your post might was well have said "People who think similarly have similar ideas! More at eleven!"

IQ tests challenge a certain type of thinking. Score well and you prove only that your thought process is similar to test creators vision of "intelligent thinking". It does not, in any way, measure objective intelligence. It does not even touch upon wisdom, which in my opinion may be much more valuable than any definition of intelligence.

Re:Religious Neanderthals (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333318)

Too bad smarter people tend to breed less

That's true, but it's a very recent phenomenon, and it only applies to developed/rich countries. Historically, in some cultures (notably Far East and city-dwelling Jews of Medieval Europe) the higher your IQ, more children you had in general. Just from my own personal knowledge... my maternal grandmother's dad was a rich self-made guy around the turn of century in Korea. Again, generally speaking, higher IQ people usually make more money than lower IQ people. Now the culture in the Far East at the time was such that rich, successful men were able to not only pay for the upbringing of children better, it was completely normal and culturally acceptable for such "outstanding citizens" (rich guys) to have 2 or 3 concubines. Actually for all intents and purposes these were 2nd and 3rd families with different women.

My grandma has 3 sisters, and something like 12 half-siblings. Her dad had a wife (my grandma's mom) and 3 concubines.

And according to most studies, East Asians have a mean IQ somewhat higher than whites. Akashic Jews have the highest IQ of all.

Some other racial groups (you can guess which ones) generally excel at athleticism and generally do worse on IQ tests. From this (and from direct observation also) we can infer that historically, their culture favored the strong/athletic/warrior types and those were the men who were able to breed the most, not the brainy types.

theist/atheist fundamentalists suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31333522)

Another example of a non-religious topic being highjacked for the sake of attacking religion. You are no better than a theist/atheist fundamentalist that relentlessly attacks every idea that does not agree with thier own.

Frist psot! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332704)

Frist psot!

eugenics (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332728)

just wait until it becomes culturally acceptable to intentionally modify our genes using technology.

Re:eugenics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332872)

If done anytime soon, that's just asking for it. In the long run, stronger bodies, less disease, and longer, healthier lives are a good thing.

Re:eugenics (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333240)

The point of the article is that people are ALREADY practicing eugenics as a cultural force, and it is the dominant force in human evolution at this point.

People seek people who the current culture defines as "hot" - which changes over time. People adapt within a couple of generations to changes in food supplies. A good example is how the age of first menarche has dropped by 1/3 in 100 years, and how society has not only adapted, but reinforced, that trend.

Re:eugenics (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333004)

I doubt that eugenics in the classic pre-WWII-and-the-nazis-giving-it-a-bad-name sense will be back any time in the foreseeable future(and fair enough, killing people is really ethically dicey); but I suspect that other methods will become acceptable pretty swiftly after we aquire the technology to make them practical.

Consider, for example, the historical trajectory of IVF. When it first became available, there was significant controversy(to this day, the official Catholic position is that it is contrary to natural law). However, because it delivered the results that people (even the people who condemned it) wanted, public perception warmed considerably. You have to look pretty damn hard to find people actively condemning the practice today, even among the sorts of religious hardliners who are stridently anti-abortion and quietly anti-contraception. Among people moderate enough to be considered "serious" in public discourse, the only controversies come up when somebody does something really tacky(e.g. Octomom) or there is some sob story of an infertile couple who can't afford to have the child they always wanted.

Consider also the example of Trisomy 21, Down's syndrome. The population level incidence is roughly 1 in 8000, and has remained fairly level. The individual incidence is strongly correlated with maternal age. In the western world, average maternal age has increased substantially. Downs incidence hasn't. Obvious(but unspoken) conclusion? Selective abortion.

Once sperm sorting gets reasonably cheap, I assume we'll see the same general warming of attitudes that we did with IVF. Proper genetic engineering will probably go the same way, though it really isn't developed enough for human use yet. Of course, it will be customary to vociferously condemn those who do it for the "wrong" reasons(hair/eye color selection, that sort of thing); but there will be enough medically compelling applications(you'd have to be a real asshole to oppose using genetic engineering to ensure that a child isn't born with cystic fibrosis, say) to make the tech commonly available. Once it is commonly available, the uses that everyone will find fashionable to condemn will be widely available, and widely popular.

Re:eugenics (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333052)

And then what? We'll all get ponies?!?

Serious point though: if it ever becomes culturally acceptable to modify our genes in our -germ- cells and not just our somatic cells, then we will really have lost our humanity. I'm okay with someone modifying the genome in their muscle cells to cure their muscular dystrophy, I'm even okay with modifying your genome in your muscle cells to make them stronger, not just to fix a disease. But elective OR disease curing meddling with the genes in your testes or ovaries seems like we're asking for extinction as well as stepping on the rights of the next generation to determine things for themselves. I think we should allow our kids decide how or if to modify their semi-naturally inherited genes, and we should keep the immortal germ lines free of artificial modifications. For one thing, I doubt our ability to modify it effectively, I'd expect especially the first generation of modified from the start children to have latent defects. My gut instinct is that we aren't smart enough to direct our own evolution. The real reason I'd oppose germline genetic engineering though is just that something seems terribly wrong and foolish with passing on our decisions to the next generation so directly. It's like if you got a tattoo and it would show up on all your children. And I think there would be something completely dehumanizing if some kids from the next generation were modified to be super smart, which seems like something that would require germline genetic engineering.

Maybe it ultimately won't matter, we have yet to be able to effectively genetically modify somatic cells, germ cells are a lot different and it's entirely possible that genetic modification of them will prove far too difficult.

Re:eugenics (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333342)

as well as stepping on the rights of the next generation to determine things for themselves

The next generation has never been able to determine such things for themselves - that would imply that they have in times past gotten to pick their parents.

It also doesn't preclude them being able to modify their own genes, if such tech ever becomes widespread.

And when they mate, they DO determine their offsprings genetic makeup, same as every preceding generation has. It's called "hereditary traits" for a reason.

There is no moral question here, except for mods that are done that are intentionally not in the best interests of the next generation, and the morality and ethics of this has been dealt with extensively in sci-fi. For example, intentionally breeding really dumb, docile humans as a slave underclass, or for a good supply of what we now call soylent green, but previously referred to as "long pig", or for the purposes of donating organs (and that last one has already happened when parents decided to have another child so the new kid could donate an organ to the older sibling).

Re:eugenics (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333454)

The concerns over practical risk are valid enough, meddling with complex systems is always tricky, and there is hardly any assurance that you'd get it right the first time(given the virtually limitless supply of people too poor to afford genetic engineering, or for that matter clean water, it won't really be a species level issue; but it could end up going quite badly for certain people and/or lineages).

The rest, though, seems like emotive reactionary twaddle. Do I really have the "right to determine things for myself" having been stuck with my parent's natural genes? Would I somehow have less of that right if my parents had chosen what genes I would be stuck with, rather than sticking me with whatever assortment came out naturally?

I'm equally free of(or equally determined by, the details are still subject to considerable debate) my genes in either case, it's just that, in one case, my parents have no control over the genes that I'm stuck with, and in the other case they have some or total control.

Re:eugenics (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333656)

We won't have a choice. Monsanto or something like it will be selling gene selection services without regard for it's long term consequences. They will bribe enough of congress to make any objection ineffective.

Re:eugenics (1)

thms (1339227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333112)

And then evolution does not take place between individuals any more, but between societies which
  • use common resources to enhance themselves on a broad scale, even individuals who would otherwise not be able to afford such treatment
  • purely leave it up to the individuals to pay for genetic enhancements

Being someone left leaning I sure hope the former approach wins, but it would be interesting to watch how the latter does on the long term. Might it eventually lead to two separate species? Or does the free market only provide "anti hair loss and prolonged erections treatments"?

P.S.: Eugenics is such a nasty word, any chance it can be redeemed or does a neologism have to take its place?

Nothing to see here, move along (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332776)

Lactose tolerance, amylase, hairiness... all functions of environmental pressure FFS. Of course environmental conditions have an influence on this "culture" they talk about.

Re:Nothing to see here, move along (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333134)

I've long speculated that should our modern society continue in the way it's going, humans will develop better resistance to things like whiplash, since traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among children and one of the leading causes of death for people of breeding age.

I also expect to see women able to have children later and later into life. Before, your odds of surviving that long and having a healthy enough diet and good enough medical care were so low that there was no point for your body to be able to have children that late in life. There's now a dramatically larger population of women who are physically still capable of having children except for the fact that they're post-menopausal than there were in historic times. So I expect to see that number slowly creep up over time.

Re:Nothing to see here, move along (4, Funny)

Raffaello (230287) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333178)

Milk drinking is a direct result of culture - the domestication of cattle for meat and dairy. None of our human ancestors could ever drink milk from a wild Aurochs and survive - (think 2-3 meter horn span, one metric ton, and very touchy).

Re:Nothing to see here, move along (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333434)

Chicken or the egg argument. Cattle have been domesticated in sub-saharan africa where lactose intolerance is predominant. Natives of that region instead drink cow blood.

For that reason, I think our ancestors domesticated cattle, then happened to develop a gene to allow them to drink milk, then adapted milk drinking into their culture. Then again, we really don't know.

Re:Nothing to see here, move along (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333422)

Exactly my thoughts.

Culture arose due to pre-existing minor genetic differences, not the other way around. TFA has it exactly backwards.

Human culture may have purely localized and temporal affects on the concentration of some traits, but there is as yet no convincing evidence that such cultural concepts as beauty lead to more fit or more plentiful offspring. Observations on the street might suggest exactly the opposite is true.

The 4 or 5 thousand years of large scale human cultural clustering is simply not long enough to influence any lasting human trait, and certainly has not differentiated the species beyond that which could be attributed to environmental factors.

TFA has confused cause with effect, while ignoring the 800 pound gorilla of environment. You need only look to the social experiment named "North America" to see how quickly all of these supposed genetic traits disperse into a population and assume a statistical prevalence roughly matching their world wide prevalence.

Culturally influenced concentrations are easily erased, strictly localized, and, as travel reduces enforced sequestration, short lived. But they are in the end, simply concentrations, not natural selection.

Culture is a meme (2, Interesting)

hey (83763) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332790)

First culture is a meme post.
Culture is a parasite and the host is people.
It just wants to propagate itself.

Re:Culture is a meme (1, Troll)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333260)

Susan Blackmore [susanblackmore.co.uk] has written more than a bit around it, and her TED talk [ted.com] about this and the future is pretty interesting.

Re:Culture is a meme (1)

Kyont (145761) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333728)

Ah yes, the obscure but moving "7-13-9 haiku" format. Nicely done.

Chinese Test Takers? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332826)

So does this mean that the Chinese should be more inclined to do well in tests?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_examination

Circa 605 AD

Biologists haven't seen it this way for a while (5, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332852)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_evolutionary_synthesis [wikipedia.org]

The write up is misleading on many levels, and reflects a very nineteenth century understanding of evolution. Fitness criteria are constantly changing, and success changes the fitness landscape. Of course culture will impact evolution. The idea that it could somehow protect from selection pressures is just silly. Culture may protect you from the cold, by giving you a fur coat. Or you could evolve a fur coat, but would you then claim that the fur coat protected you from selection pressures and 'slowed down' evolution? Evolution isn't going some place, it doesn't have a direction, so it is a bit misleading to talk about how fast it is going.

Re:Biologists haven't seen it this way for a while (2, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332914)

Evolution isn't going some place, it doesn't have a direction, so it is a bit misleading to talk about how fast it is going.

That's not entirely correct. You can for instance not give a direction for Brownian Motion. But you can give its speed (it is called temperature).

Same for Evolution. While you can't predict the changes it will yield, you can measure the speed of change.

Re:Biologists haven't seen it this way for a while (2, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333068)

True, you can measure the speed of change. And the speed of change of the human genome has been increasing, not decreasing. The write up, however, presents a view of evolution as directed motion, not temperature. It presents a view where there are objective, external measures for fitness, where a species can be qualified as a success without reference to its environment. And it presents the rather odd view that our social environment and the natural environment are somehow different in regards to our genes.

In short, the write up presents some outdated evolutionary ideas as mainstream, and the mainstream of evolutionary thought as novel.

Re:Biologists haven't seen it this way for a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332924)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's all pretty theoretical, right?

Re:Biologists haven't seen it this way for a while (1)

m.shenhav (948505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333072)

No its not. Population Genetics is an empirical science too and with sequence speeds going up and costs going down piles of data are coming in. You can measure speed in mean substitution time of beneficial alleles. A substitution event occurs when a mutation creates the allele AND the allele comes to dominate the population. Certain evolutionary leaps can reduce this time; for example recombination helps prevent one alleles fixation process from interfering with another. To me its clear culture is just another such adaptation, that allows us to accumulate adaptations within a single lifetime.

Re:Biologists haven't seen it this way for a while (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333126)

You are wrong. Wrong about what a scientific theory is, and wrong about the level of evidence for the theory. It is far from being theoretical in the popular sense of the word, and much closer to the popular understood meaning of the word 'fact.'

Re:Biologists haven't seen it this way for a while (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333204)

Evolution simply just *is*. It's change without purpose or goal. None what-so-ever. We just happen to call successful change that is passed on from generation to generation "Evolution". If this sounds cold, it's because it is. Nature's a bitch. Try not to get on her bad side.

Re:Biologists haven't seen it this way for a while (1)

tresho (1000127) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333242)

that's all pretty theoretical, right? Not at all. In the bad old days, conquerors would kill or emasculate the entire male population of their prey, thus eliminating that particular Y chromosome from that population. A rather definite genetic change forced on a population by a cultural event.

The bad old days all over again (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333602)

"If a narrow definition of genocide is used, as favoured by the international courts, then during the Srebrenica massacre between 8,000 and 9,000 men and boys were murdered and the remainder of the population (between 25,000-30,000, women, children and elderly people) was forced to leave the area. If a wider definition is used, then the number is much larger ....."

- Bosnian Genocide [wikipedia.org]

Re:Biologists haven't seen it this way for a while (2, Insightful)

Jamamala (983884) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333294)

Anything thing that removes a selection pressure is going to increase the rate of evolution, not decrease it. By removing that pressure, you have reduced the punishment for a bad mutation. Therefore, any new mutations are more likely to be passed down, increasing the observed rate of genetic change.

Re:Biologists haven't seen it this way for a while (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333548)

One of the reasons we were able to achieve such a large brain/body mass ratio is because we do NOT have a fur coat. >p> Humans have hair on the top of the head to protect against the heat of peak insolation, while the rest of the body is comparatively hairless, to allow for sweating.

Let your body temp rise by 5 degrees C and see how well you think. When doing nothing, the brain only uses 6 calories an hour. Thinking raises that to 90 calories an hour. In other words, spending most of your day thinking will mean that your brain is expending more energy than the rest of your body, even though it's only a small fraction of the total mass. Trolling slashdot (especially on Troll Tuesdays) is a good example of an activity that does this, as are puzzles, social games and events, etc., where the cultural interplay requires active thinking.

Re:Biologists haven't seen it this way for a while (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333632)

I see nothing wrong with a nineteenth century understanding of evolution. More modern versions have added little, much of which have lead nowhere.

Further, you have it exactly wrong. TFA and the writeup both exhibit a very recent understanding of evolution, not a nineteenth century one. You need only examine the Evolution Wiki article [wikipedia.org] to see this.

Fifty years after the arrival of rapid, cheap, global transportation is exactly the worst time to put forth a theory such as TFA mentions.

doL(l (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31332858)

Contradiction in terms (2, Interesting)

joeyblades (785896) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332884)

Culture cannot play a role in natural selection, by definition. It does play a role in selection and evolution. That role is known as cultural selection.

Re:Contradiction in terms (1)

m.shenhav (948505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333160)

Not if you consider culture as natural. Besides- where do you draw the line? Culture is often defined as transmitted behaviour, so when ravens on the french-spanish border teach cooperative breeding (they tested this with an egg swap) its culture not genes.

Re:Contradiction in terms (1)

MrBrklyn (4775) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333786)

The real question is if the crows are french or spanish.

Ruben

Re:Contradiction in terms (5, Insightful)

Raffaello (230287) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333382)

You misunderstand the definition of natural selection. The term exists in contradistinction to the term "artificial selection" which is to say, human controlled selective breeding of the kind that gives rise to domesticated animals. The llama is the result of artificial selection. Its wild ancestor, the guanaco, is the result of natural selection.

Take the well known example of lactose tolerance. Nobody ever conducted a lactose tolerance breeding eugenics program - our ancestors didn't coral whole villages and kill those who were lactose intolerant and force those who were lactose tolerant to breed with each other (this is how artificial selection works). Lactose tolerance in European and African populations where it is prevalent, arose through natural seleciton. Those that were able to digest milk as adults (i.e., the lactose tolerant ones) left more offspring in areas where milk was widely available. This is an example of natural selection, not artificial selection.

It is also a direct result of cuture. The only reason milk was and is available is because of the domestication of cattle, which is a cultural activity. So here is an example where natural selection, (the increase in lactose tolerance among adults), was influenced by culture, (the domestication of dairy cattle).

I"m a data point in favor of this... (1)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332896)

My kids inherited my 'gaming' gene.

Re:I'm a data point in favor of this... (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333470)

My son inherited my 'resist authority' gene.

I'll continue to pay for that one.

Culture evolves too... (3, Interesting)

m.shenhav (948505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332926)

Notice the phrasing "gene-culture coevolution" is consistent with Dual-Inheritance theory which considers cultural (behavioural) transmission as an evolutionary process on its own. This can also be extended with Epigenetic mechanisms and Symbolic transmission modes. Technology evolves too and seems like a sensible extension. Its not so far fetched when you consider that Reproduction (or amplification in the continuous case), Variation and Selection are sufficient conditions for evolution. Keep in mind cultural evolution is Lamarckian though... and different in many other ways too.

Re:Culture evolves too... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333700)

Variation and Selection are sufficient conditions for evolution.

Not without Isolation.

And Isolation is quickly disintegrating.

need the margin in order for whole to advance (1)

johnrpenner (40054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332990)

Wherever progress is to ensue, deviating natures are of greatest importance...
The strongest natures retain the type, the weaker ones help to advance it...
To this extent, the famous theory of the survival of the fittest does not seem
to me to be the only viewpoint from which to explain the progress of strengthening
of a man or of a race. (Uncle Friedrich)

WOW! Humans can alter their DNA during life!? (0, Troll)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333098)

From TFA:

Most people switch off the gene that digests the lactose in milk shortly after they are weaned, but in northern Europeans -- the descendants of an ancient cattle-rearing culture that emerged in the region some 6,000 years ago -- the gene is kept switched on in adulthood.

Like, totally.
See? Hitler WAS right after all. There ARE Superior humans, and they are North Europeans.

Or is it actually more like their milk-gene is stuck, unable to switch off later in life?
So Hitler was actually wrong, because North Europeans are unable to alter their DNA, but he was right because that genetic "flaw" makes them superior cause they can feed off a cow for longer than the humans that can't eat milk products?

No... wait... I got it...
Nicholas Wade (The author of TFA) thinks that "enzyme" and gene" are the same thing.
That's it. Yet another mystery solved. Thanks to my superior genes.

Mental masturbation (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333148)

nt

social evolution (2, Informative)

johnrpenner (40054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333200)

the nobel prize winner, john eccles - brain neurologist considers the known/experienceable world to actually be comprised of three 'worlds' -- i) that of matter, ii) that of states of consciousness, and iii) objective knowledge -- 'the sum total of human culture':

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Eccles_(neurophysiologist)#Philosophy [wikipedia.org]

there is not only an evolution of the physical human form, but also an evolution in the states of consciousness mankind has achieved in order to attain to the states of consciousness which prevail in order to, for example make scientific and logical judgements -- evolution of consciousness, and its consequences must be taken be taken into account, because all that you see as the effects of HUIMANS -- cities, bridges, buildings -- is all due to a change in the consditions of consciousness that humans have developed.

in fact, the social organization may be more important than the material organization. there are enough physical resources and technological expertise on this planet to feed every woman, child and man on this planet -- given that we are adequately socially organized -- this is not yet the case, so war and poverty are not necessarily a lack-of-resources issue -- but a social one.

2cents from toronto island
jrp

Re:social evolution (1)

johnrpenner (40054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333224)

You can't say civilization doesn't advance,
for in every war they kill you a new way. (Will Rogers)

Well this is obvious (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333336)

What else explains why all little Chinese girls are born knowing how to play classical Piano?

(I kid, I kid)

Seriously though, this does seem rather obvious. People who cannot keep up with societies expectations do not have as much luck breeding. Duh.

Evolves the meme (2, Funny)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333566)

In Russia the culture evolves you. Karma whoring is the oldest profession.

Domesticating Sheep (0, Offtopic)

MrBrklyn (4775) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333598)

Sometimes the obvious just sits in front of your nose and you can't see it, even with a room full of PhD's. Mankind domesticated Sheep, Dogs, Cattle, Horses, pigs, and Chickens, all resulting in a diverse array of sub-types and phenotypes. Low and Behold, the very first species that we domesticates was Mankind itself...

Why do they think that Water Buffalo and Elephants can drink from Savana Mud and water holes, but humans would die in if they did so weeks...

Wow...mankind's evolution is influenced by mankind's culture and breeding selections. Big surprise but it is OBVIOUS. Even birds self select for color and such..

This was hotly discussed with the OLPC debates and I'll quote this:

In response to many of the questions regarding the changes in the
OLPC project, and specifically the decision to base the project at
this juncture to a Microsoft Operating System, proponents of this
change have come out swinging against Free Software developers who
have worked for the current Free Interface, code named Sugar. A
large segment of the critique of the against Free Software developers
like Bender is that they have put their "Open Source" agenda above the
welfare of the project. Others claim that the "Open Source" advocates
should be pleased with the what has already been done and that the
project as it stands can either be relaunched or has already met
goals.

The problem, though, is that in many ways, the marketing and financial
positioning of the OLPC program is harder to develop then the hardware
and software. And the goals that have been met are small in light of
the original mission of the OLPC project.

An operating system is more than a commodity. It becomes the looking
glass that develops how the user thinks and it literally shapes
the mind of it's users. A system which is at it's core designed to
disenfranchise users from the learning experience, especially in how
the user views the software itself through learned expectations, and
forces information access through monopolistic channels and filters,
undermines the development of critical thinking skills. In geek terms,
the operating system reprograms the end user. The Microsoft operating
system is designed to do so from the ground up. It is in fact the only
intended use of the Microsoft Windows Operating System franchise.

The interaction between technology on human and societal development
dates to the beginning of civilization, if not even before that.
One interesting scholarly article on the topic which is archived at
http://www2.mrbrklyn.com/resources/technology_changes_how_we_think.txt [mrbrklyn.com]
by Robin Wilson explores how the Gutenberg printing printing press causes
an explosion of mathematical usage and development, and how a large part
of that was developed by the standardization of mathematical symbols
for universal communication and expression.

" Johann Gutenbergâ(TM)s invention of the printing press (around 1440)
revolutionised mathematics, enabling classic mathematical works to be
widely available for the first time. Previously, scholarly works, such
as the classical texts of Euclid, Archimedes and Apollonius had been
available only in manuscript form, but the printed versions made these
works much more widely available.

At first the new books were printed in Latin or Greek for the scholar,
and many scholarly editions appeared. The earliest printed version
of Euclid's Elements, published in Venice in 1482, and there is an
attractive 1492 edition of Ptolemy's Almagest. Apollonius's Conics
appeared in 1537, and seven years later the works of Archimedes were
published in both Latin and Greek, and there was a celebrated edition
of Diophantus's Arithmetic in 1621, reissued in 1670, with the Greek
text, a Latin translation by Bachet, and comments by Fermat, including
his famous marginal comment on the 'last theorem'. ....

The invention of printing also led to the gradual standardisation of
mathematical notation. In particular, the arithmetical symbols + and -"
first appeared in a 1489 arithmetic text by Johann Widmann. Surprisingly,
the symbols x and (division sign) were not in general use until the seventeenth
century " we'll see how -- developed shortly; the division sign
was introduced by John Pell.

Needless to say, the quality of the mathematical printing in those days
was very variable. Here we see two version of Pascal's arithmetical
triangle from the same year, 1545: Stifel's publisher was having a
good day, while Scheubelius was less fortunate."

The most important point Wilson makes as relating to the OLPC project
is in these paragraphs:

"Record was such a fine lecturer that his audience regularly applauded
his lectures. We don't know what he looked like. For a long time, there
was only one known picture of him, but recently severe doubts have been
raised as to its authenticity. One might well ask: âIs this a Record?'

Record's books were written in English, and ran to many editions. The
ground of artes of 1543 was an arithmetic book explaining the various
rules so simply that "everie child can do it". As with all his books,
it was written in the form of a Socratic dialogue between a scholar and
his master."

Prior to this era of copyright and DRM encumbered communications,
the printing press caused a prodigious discovery of the potential
of the human intellect and from it's most early uses western masters
used it to communicate with the masses, specifically targeting children
for education. The art of printing explodedr. It's teaching as a trade,
science and technology every bit as vital to the democratization and
economic development that the West would experience as any other cultural
influence. From that very day in around 1440 when the press was invented
it became the essential tool of Western advancement, more important that
gunpowder or navigational tools.

In the short 600 years since technology has revolutionized communications,
through the printing era, into the wireless and wired analog era, through the
broadcast media era and on until to today's digital media
humanity has evolved directly in response to the use, development,
deployment and education of state of the art communications media,
while diverse (classically defined) liberal education became the cornerstone
of worldwide civilization as it has spread from the West to every corner
of the globe.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, in her ground breaking book, "Infidel", repeatedly
describes how her interaction with libraries and booksi influenced her
thinking and growth. Why surrounded by a world of Islamic Brotherhood
lectures and learnings with the repeated mantra of "TOTAL OBEDIENCE" repeated
by local figures in her life such as Boqol Sawm and Sister Aziza, Hirsi-Ali
found comfort in cheap romantic novels. This unlikely wellspring of Western
learning deeply impressed upon her what possiblities she could inspire towards.
She writes, " But the allure of romance called to us from the pages
of books. In school we read good books, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen,
and Daphne du Maurier; out of school Halwaa's sisters kept us supplied
with cheap Harlequins. These were trashy soap opera-like novels, but
they were exciting â" sexually exciting."

Hirsi-Ali has the advantage of literacy and the support of a free press.
The purpose of the OLPC project is also literacy. Not just the literacy
of the pen, and the literacy of mathematics, politics and arts,
but computer literacy, the new medium which will be required for the
development of children worldwide to fully share in our emerging enriched
worldwide culture. There are too many stumbling blocks even for Westerner
to overcome as there is. The quoted material above was far too arduous
from me gather into this message. The text, instead of being able to be be
quickly cut and pasted into this window had to be typed by hand because online
resources like Google-Books have been legally prevented from making it
available as text. It was only because of my 20 years of steep education
in this topic, and my ability to reverse engineer the protections that have
been enforced in this media that I was able even locate the appropriate material to
present on this point to an interested public.

The Microsoft Operating system is designed to restrict digital
access to information in order to optimize a monopolistic,
non-competitive agenda, the most essential restriction being the discovery
of the basic tools and carnal knowledge of the computer systems internals, both
hardware and softwar. The modern printing press, itself has been shrouded in secrecy.
This directly conflicts with the core OLPC charter and goal. While that can be
ridiculed as an "Open Source" agenda, an irrational hangup, I'd argue based on the
historical evidence that the accusatory tone of such statements make are fundamentally
flawed and very much more in line with the kind of rationality which one might
expect from a despot philosophy such as which might come from controlling
Communist Party in today's Red China.

The agenda, design and functionality of the Sugar interface, and it's
origins in GNU software and and the technologic secifications Linux kernels,
not to exclude arguments about the merits of it's politics is specious and spurious.
Oxymoronic as that may sound, it is not the devotion to "Open Source"
which makes the move from Sugar to Microsoft Software untenable to
the goals of the One Laptop Per Child program. It is the change from a
classically Liberal based education program, a cornerstone and application
of Western and world progress, to a regressive monopolistic platform which inhibits
by design those Western values most critical to transmit and the knowledge that
humanity has aquired so that it can be adapted to other native cultures and thereby
help assure the survival all of mankind as a free, informed and tolerant civilization.

What, may I ask, is it intended that we teach these children in the
third world with a billion laptops? That is the only relevant question.
Sugar is designed from the ground up to answer this question. Obviously
the Microsoft product have no such agenda.

There is an interaction between culture, genertics, and human society, and first understanding that WE ARE A DOMESTICATE SPECIES, is key to understand what being Human means. We are a constantly evolving species, in a constantly evolving culture which has a very flexible genome, and we, more than any other species, have the ability to control our evolution. Our level of control is unique from any other species, and this understanding is core to understanding many of the issues that we face and a global civilization.

Ruben

You're saying we've been breeding for accountancy? (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31333752)

And we still can't run an advanced economy without bubbles?

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