Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Human Evolution does not follow Blind Natural Selection


Human evolution was not due to natural selection because of the unusual selection pressure for larger cognitive abilities. Therefore, human symbolic communication and culture are not derived from the same evolutionary processes as natural selection like other life forms.
Some say: “birds have good eyes, gorillas have great strength, cheetahs have great agility, so humans have powerful minds to compete with all that.” if all these living creatures are playing the game of evolution against each other, then as of now the humans are cheating.
If we imagine the evolutionary processes as a game in which genes use host bodies in order to pass themselves along, which manifests as physical bodies surviving and producing offspring, then how come the human race seems to be winning at this game? A quick answer is: we have the brain to do so. However, why did humans develop the mind and no other species did? The mind seems to be the end-all to evolution by being the one trait to dominate all others. Human brain evolution was itself a peculiar event because of the abnormally high selection pressures for brain development, over other genes not related to brain growth. So the question should be asked: why did evolution produce a species so unique than all other life forms? And not only that but: why was this unique species the one to conquer all others? Our trait has so much power/potential that we may say, if evolution is a game, and the genes are its players, then our genes must be cheating.
If evolution for its whole existence has produced the same kind of organism, who’s first concern is itself and its progeny which includes their tribe, then why would such a paradoxical species such as us come about?
If we analogize evolutionary process as a machine which made squares, and it made a circle, then it would be reasonable to ask: has the processes in the machine changed? Or did another process which we are not aware of create this circle?
Yet this is not the case when it comes to the question, why would evolution produce a species as unique as ours? Answers to this use phrases like “what makes humans so special?” and “culture is a by-product of certain evolutionary significant traits”.
My hypothesis is that human development leading up to where we are now and ahead into the future is not the sole result of evolution (understood as a blind processes of genetic variation and natural selection). Evolution in my opinion cannot account for many of the different human characteristics we have. Neither do I think many of them are “by-products” of evolutionary traits gone awry. Simply put, evolution as a system of survival and reproducing cannot account for the rich complexities of the human mind. The human organism does not behave like any other. Although we can spot many similarities, the differences are to large to ignore, unless one uses cognitive dissonance to convince themselves otherwise.
Its my affirmation that the human race is more of a special and unique species then any other. This does not mean we are entitled to more or have a right to mistreat any life form. Our species is unlike any other in the known universe and we need to acknowledge that and begin to question and study it. We must cease believing that all parts of ourselves come from the blind evolutionary process.
“This paper is going to open up lots of discussion,” Lahn said. “We have to start thinking about how social structures and cultural behaviors in the lineage leading to humans differed from that in other lineages, and how such differences have powered human evolution in a unique manner. To me, that is the most exciting part of this paper.”
-Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 12/29/2004
The human race’s idiosyncrasies are to hard to ignore and pass off as mere coincidence.
We have to seriously ask ourselves why our species has adapted to the point of redefining the rules of natural selection and variation in order to serve our individual agendas.
The mind as an evolutionary game piece is much more then a common player, it is many times stronger and more capable, and all this power relies on information passed down by culture. Culture (unlike the so called primitive “culture” of orangutans which is basically inherited survival-oriented knowledge of their local forest) is a very peculiar facet of human life that which has no equal on this planet. All other life forms obey Darwinian laws of behavior (most of the time) while humans obey their own culture. Why would evolutionary processes produce such a thing out of no where for no reason. That is not like evolution, it has a simple objective of passing genes, however humans are idea driven animals. Why would evolution produce only one species to have an idea/value imposing mind. Why was hominid evolution extremely successful unlike any other? Yet only our sub-species out of the whole genus survived.
Maybe we should start to see culture as the gene pool of ideas. Culture is itself an evolving entity existing in the imagination, developing faster then the human body by passing knowledge (memes) not genes; humans wouldn’t make sense of anything without culture. We come to understand more and more about the cosmos
To say that all unique human attributes are simply by-products of a large mind does not deflate the importance of the question, why are humans the only species to develop a trait with such massive and explicit by-products? Richard Dawkins himself called the human condition the result of our mental trait acting as a double edge sword. Why couldn’t he talk of similar examples from other life forms? That would of without a doubt helped his argument. I believe he can not.
Below is a list of some exclusive human characteristics that classic survival-driven evolution should not favor:
Unconditional Altruism, Desire for Novel experiences(as it engagers the stability of the eco-niche), Difficult and painful childbirth, Voluntary Suicide, Extended Childhood(increased vulnerability), Culture as an Eco-Niche, Ascetic Appreciation(how does this benefit the somatic organism?), Artistic Expression, and Clothing.
What I would like to see is a revamping of evolutionary theory to acknowledge the human race’s distinctness from other animals while understanding that the processes which shape animals is dissimilar from that which shapes humans.
Although we have animalistic bodies, many parts of our mind are not akin to nature. So yes we are different from other life forms, yet this does not mean we are any better or entitled to more then other creatures.
By looking into the differences between humans and other life forms will be the only way to truly understand the intrinsic value of humanities place on earth, thus allowing for a proper democracy to flourish rather then a capitalistic “fight for survival”.
__________________________________________________________________________

Below are some scientific articles supporting my hypothesis that many of our mental traits such as culture do not have their likely origins in regular evolution. Perhaps suggesting that human evolution works differently from other evolutionary lineages.
These article discusses some recent human evolutionary traits are not beneficial to our modern day selves.
-Obesity? Big Feet? Blame Darwin
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704454304575081613327728110.html
-The Top Ten Daily Consequences of Having Evolved
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/The-Top-Ten-Daily-Consequences-of-Having-Evolved.html
This article shows how literacy worms its way into our brain, thus signifying the unnaturalness of symbolic communication.
-Literacy may have stolen brain power from other functions
http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/11/literacy-takes-over-the-brain.ars?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss
These articles cover the unlikely survival chances of our species.
-Extinction Events That Almost Wiped Out Humans
http://io9.com/5501565/extinction-events-that-almost-wiped-out-humans
-Humans were once an endangered species
http://www.physorg.com/news183278038.html
Finally, this articles goes over the oldest human temple which predates cities and farming, thereby showing how significant religious/mystical/transcendental experience (not natural selection) was in creating the first permanent settlements.
-History in the Remaking
http://www.newsweek.com/2010/02/18/history-in-the-remaking.html