I'm a big fan of science and technology as well as humans. I like the transhumanist movement and was just wondering what your thoughts and feelings are about it?
Please stay on topic and don't obsessively talk about how religion is mostly anti-human etc. I already know that. :P
I'm more interested in how humanity can be better, have more enjoyable lives and evolve in positive ways. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transhumanism
Thanks and I look forward to your ideas and perspectives. :)
Hello dearest - right on - kk
Please don't worry about it TAA, there's always room for an "Eyore" on the thread - besides, if it weren't for the pain, how would we know the pleasure?
I'd never heard/seen/read the term Eyore... Upon looking it up, I'm guessing you mean Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh. Sorry, never read it.
I know a significant percentage of society considers me depressing and/or depressed. But I've looked into this a great deal, and I disagree. It's usually hopeless optimists and religionists who consider me depressed. In my opinion, people who are too positive about all that humans create are deluded. I am not a pessimist, I am a realist. Having been an out atheist all my life, I've been criticising society all my life. critical thinking is the standard by which I approach everything in life, unless I'm under the influence. Mental health statistics demonstrate that "depression" is a fast growing "disease" and it will soon dominate all western civilisation's medical costs. In my opinion, we should view these depressions not as diseases but as symptoms of humanity gone wild, just like in those boob videos. Depression is the name given by deluded people to realists. And again, lots of money for pharmaceutical companies rides on these definitions.
I mentioned "Eyore" before you had issued the statement that you're not a "breeder," as I believe you phrased it - my kids raised me on "Winnie the Poo and Tigger too!"
But I wasn't implying you suffered from depression, rather Eyore is a kind of, "glass-half-empty" kind of character, not necessarily depressed, just a cock-eyed pessimist.
I'm more pragmatic. For me, the glass is always full. Sometimes it's filled with varying percentages of liquid and air, other times only liquid, and still other times, only air, but always full.
I'm certainly no psychologist, I can barely spell it, but it's been my observation in life that those who are overly critical, often tend to be those who were highly criticized as children - not always, certainly, but often.
You caught me again, never seen "cockeyed pessimist" before! I looked it up, not sure... odd pessimist?
I had nuns as teachers when I was a kid, before the system became public, and since I've been an Out atheist since birth, yes I fought them tooth and nail ! You think I'm overly critical, I call humanity overly compliant !
Compliance is one of humans' ugliest traits, it is in my eyes the very source of all things ridiculous. My nuns always pointed out that the bible considered individuals as born sinful and only through socialisation did they become good... I disagreed. Individuals are pure, but when they're socialised, they're taught compliance to all forms of authority/power.
Yes again, my parents not only criticised me, but they were lilfe-long atheists as well, and criticised society like-wise. We are a family of critical thinkers, all of us.
Transhumanism is the ultimate compliance, wishing to be with other compliants for longer than is evolved by nature. Evolution works through death, without it there is no life.
RE: "cockeyed pessimist" - there's a line in a song from the musical play, "South Pacific," that refers to a "cock-eyed optimist" - in a lame attempt at humor (much as in the Eyore remark), I was using a play on words to indicate the opposite of such an optimist. I have an Australian friend, with whom, in conversation, I find I must keep a dictionary close at hand and there are times when even that doesn't help, so I can understand your confusion and will try harder to use a common language.
I can agree with you in principle about compliance. As a teenager with a bicycle, I was quite adventurous, and once decided to visit a slaughterhouse outside my town, where I witnessed cattle peacefully munching their cuds as they advanced up a ramp to have a bullet placed rather forcefully into their brains, and to my way of thinking, that was the penultimate act of compliance. But for ignorance, born of trust, those animals should have hurled their heavy bodies against the rails that restrained their movement, in an effort to avoid their fate.
I further agree that one should be critical, questioning everything, and your decision to live in isolated Yukon is ample demonstration that you believe what you say about the evils of socialization. But in withdrawal from society, one never catches those glimpses of man at his best, at his most human, reaching out to help others just because they need it. And criticism, to the extent that it becomes perennial rage, leaves little room for the beauty and wonder and awe of the incredible world in which we live, and yes, the beauty of the human element as well, which with all its myriad flaws, can often rise above itself to become an incredible thing.
I can't agree that "Evolution works through death, without it there is no life." Evolution works only through surviving death - those who do so, live to pass on those qualities they possessed that assisted in death's avoidance.
But even if it were true, it has done so quite successfully for roughly three and a half billion years, without MY death, and I really can't imagine that my declining to contribute my life to the process (had I a choice), would have a significant effect on the future of evolution. Besides, being a "breeder," I've already made my contribution to evolution, and were I given another hundred years, could well contribute even more - I've always been a giver.
When I think of all I've learned in my live, the things I've done, the things I've seen, the knowledge I gained, when I think of all that returning to basically primordial ooze, draining out of my brainpan, it makes me angry, and if I must rage, let me join Dylan Thomas and "rage against the dying of the light."
You write beautifully... :)
See... I do see beauty :), especially in nature, occasionally in humans, when I do see beauty in humans, I always vocalise it too.
As for "evolution works only through surviving death" yes, that is the same as what I said, without death, no evolution... :)
And the rest of the quote "live to pass on those qualities [...] that assisted in [...] avoidance" ... but not medically achieved avoidance. With medically achieved avoidance, it is so across the board that it achieves the reverse of evolution, by allowing ALL genetic make-ups to breed, preventing a biological strengthening of our species. I recently watched a film that was quite boring, Wall-E, but was thoroughly entertained by the fat humans in scooters concept. All the unhealthy live long enough to breed, so that we become a diseased species, who ONLY survive because of tech. And as a point of humour... think of how such morbidly obese really don't get laid as much as healthy sized humans. Think of entire society of fat scooter humans scooting around never getting laid. Now that would be a horrible place to live.
As for "I contribute to evolution"... not really, we don't "contribute" to evolution. Evolutionary change is a sequence of accidental changes born out of hardship, on a population basis. Unless with a syringe you extracted your DNA and forced it to recombine it with other's DNA in vials over several generations at an accelerated pace and then plunked the resulting unknown DNA into a cell and then watched to see the results, and that "result" was itself capable of breeding, and that breeder successfully bred until that crazy genome spread in significant portion of population... then yes you'd be "contributing" to evolution :)
Well, thank you, TAA, and you appear to have a sense of humor, something I somehow overlooked in earlier posts, so possibly we're not as far apart as originally thought.
I've never seen, "Wall-E," but wanted to, just never in the right place at the right time, but let's follow your description of it for a second. You mention fat people on scooters (shudder), who rarely, if ever, get laid - again, evolution at work, in that these are less likely to pass on their genes.
I concur that the Romans had reached a stagnation point in their lives, and that the infusion of Visigoth genes into the pool revitalized the population generally (not that Italy went much of anywhere after that), and with the homogenization of the world's population, genetic differentiation, which has been so beneficial to the human species in the past, would disappear as the playing field levels. But who is to say that we won't find ways to compensate for that deficiency medically, or through technology, in the future?
And let's say we don't - that the human species weakens and begins to die off. Either it will do so completely, at no more loss to nature than the millions of species that have gone extinct in Earth's past, or they will die back to relatively isolated pockets of humanity, and begin to differentiate again. This may have already happened. I read somewhere (and please don't ask me for a source, I read a lot, and rarely think I need to copy a source for future reference) that at one point, before leaving Africa, that which would become humans actually shrank in population to about 20,000 individuals, with about half on the southern coast of Africa, and the other half on the eastern coast of that continent, yet here we are.
If I said, and I clearly did, ""evolution works only through surviving death," I used an inaccurate word - I meant to say it works through avoiding death - one survives a confrontation, but hardly death.
RE: "Unless with a syringe you extracted your DNA and forced it to recombine it with other's DNA...." Well, see, I kinda have my own - how do I say this delicately? - built in syringe, and the recombination was consensual, I assure you. I'm taller than either of my parent's and have other features that differ as well - those qualities will have been passed on to my offspring to one extent or another, and to that degree, I have contributed to evolution. Evolution occurs in the tiniest of increments, over a vast amount of time, but eliminate one of those increments, and a gap results (and a god can slip in), so no matter how minuscule, or irrelevant to the grand scheme of things, my contribution may have been, I feel I HAVE made one.
@archaeopteryx. Unfortunately, Transhumanism is exactly what allows all the fat human scooters to reproduce themselves through medical procedures instead of naturally occurring biological principals. Male fat human scooters need not impress any female, and fat female human scooters need not impress any male, in order to breed. In nature those who breed are selected for by having superior fitness. So those fat human scooters in the movie simply plunk their DNA into vials and duplicate more and more of themselves, we have started this.
Now this is the conundrum I am faced with, that which I'm faced with inevitably, as a biologist arguing biological principals with stranger non biologists on the vast but decreasing due to corporate intrusino www, sometimes there are concepts which are simply not true. And the "don't ask me for a reference" is valid on my side as well, as I've read too many books, but mostly, because I've spent too many years in university, and have tabulated to this point over 120 teachers/profs which/whom have resulted in the critical brain that I have. A genome remains un-evolving for long periods between briefs stints of evolving. To reframe your "tiniest of increments, over a vast amount of time", according to how evolution is taught at the university level, it's only true during the "evolving period". It is not true during the even longer periods when NO change is occurring. As I've mentioned in another post somewhere, the genetics of the general population of Homo sapiens sapiens have not changed in over 20k years, except for Lactase persistence, which has occurred not once but in two distinct populations (N.Europe and Massai).
Since talking about evolution in everyday conversation has become popular, there have been many many distortions. Conversations about evolution always have distortions. This is the risk we take when we attempt to popularise science. And I'm only insisting here because I think you're intelligent and curious enough to want to know how evolution really works, short of investing a decade in biology at university...
Moments where the human genome evolves are during environmental challenges, not during easy environments, i.e. massive volcanic eruptions vs sedentarisation through agriculture. In fact, in biology, the latter is well studied and well known to have reduced human fitness. Fat percentages went up, muscle went down, cavities and diseases went up. Previous to agriculture, the other major easiness time was the advent of cooking food. Cooking pre-digests food, it kills essential nutrients but increases calories, this was another "easy" stage for humans, where we increased in lifespan but decreased in overall health. Humans have been drastically increasing "easiness" for the past couple of thousand years, through extreme management of society through morals, this could be regarded as the third Big Easy (pardon me, another film reference). It could well be that Transhumanism will bring about the fourth Big Easy, and the ultimate separation of humans from evolutionary pressures. I am reminded also of the blob in Dune, a simple mass of glop, with extreme intelligence, is this the future of Homo sapiens... Homo sapiens glopulus? Who needs limbs anyway if our brains are so attractive? My doubt is that we highly overestimate our understanding of the complications related to our use of technology and that the sudden changes we're imposing to environment will do us in.
If one could see into the future, I suspect Homo sapiens sapiens will have this legacy: one of the shortest lived species to have inhabited Planet Earth. If you were to speak personally to them, you would find this to be a common thought among biologists. Of course that would be predictive... and I don't do that... :)
But always remember, that your assumption of weaker humans being correlated to a die-off is false. We've traded individual strength for society strength. What will eventually kill us off will not be directly but indirectly related to individual fitness. A catastrophe of geological scale (might be human caused) will be a stressor to humans, as societies fall, it is the fitter individuals which will survive (if any), and the pre-technology gene-pool will be reestablished.
I bow to your deeper well of knowledge - not that I agree with you, but you are correct, in that I lack the accumulated knowledge you appear to possess.
I've been called a lot of things, so I'll have to think about being referred to as a, "stranger non biologist" - I suppose there are worse things, it's stranger than what?, I can't quite fathom.
BTW - the "Big Easy" is a nickname for the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, as well as the title of a movie with Dennis Quaid - you may well know this already, but not being American, you also may not, just a point of information.
TAA, your outlook on many things seems to be very historically focused and you seem very nostalgic for the way humans used to be. This can be a logical error that causes your arguments/perspectives to have a historically weighted skewing of the data/subject matter and it may ignore the more recent developments in the understanding/advancements of a subject.
We all need to be aware of the tricks our brains can play on us that causes us to have biases/preferences based on faulty, incomplete or otherwise limited premises or data. All I'm trying to say is that focusing on the past, present and future of any subject is a smart thing to do. Like you have said before, balance is an important thing.
Evolution is happening right now in both tiny ways (epigenetic changes, artificial breeding) and slightly less tiny ways. Of course major evolutionary trajectories/speciations etc. take a really long time and are much more gradual than can be accurately observed. (usually)
But with the exponential growth of some technologies, the observation and understanding of the intricate, complex and tiny evolutionary pressures/mechanisms are starting to be observed and will be much better observed in the near future.
Humans are not existing tragically outside or above or below of evolution and the technology we make IS part of evolution also. I just don't understand your greater affinity with the way humans used to be and your desire to exclude or degrade/hold in low regard the state of humans that exist now.
Please clarify why your opinions/claims seem to be slanted in that way? Thanks and best regards. :)
My perspective includes the past, but not exclusively, whereas a great many points made in this discussion are only looking towards the future, and considering the past irrelevant, that is a bias error.
Yes there's a bazillion ways DNA gets passed on, but we as a species have not significantly changed in the 10-20K years, other than for lactase persistence. You can list as many DNA changes as you like, but unless these are successfully passed on to future generations of breeders thereby successfully affecting the species as a whole, then you don't call it evolution.
Evolution functions without humans. If you remove the technology from the human experience, you will find, again, that we have not evolved, technology has not made us evolve, technology simply decreases the quality of the biosphere, by creating more multiples of us, and removes the need to assert fitness before breeding choices are made. Technology makes more of us, weaker us, but still the same us.
Will some other genetic change show up in our lifetimes, and within the next few thousand years successfully spread to many populations, yes, certainly that is in the realm of possibility and even likely. But stop assuming and actually ask biologists and a majority will answer, "but nothing like that in the "now"".
Biology is a science, you can't just take some basic concepts and extrapolate on that and make assumptions and call that fact. It's not psychology we're talking about here.
Like I've said before to others, IF, and that's a big if, you're really interested in understanding population dynamics, don't trust me, go to your nearest quality university, enter the biology library, and borrow a few reference books on population biology. Lifespan is a major factor in the frequency of evolutionary changing events, humans, whales, tortoises, etc, having the longest lifespans, we're the species in which evolutionary change is the most infrequent (to our experience). This is the reason the famous David Suzuki chose to do his genetic research on the Drosophila, because in order to study evolution, you need hundreds and even thousands of generations of successfully passing on changes, and most changes are not gradual.
This is a popular anti-evolution argument from creationists too. Creationists often argue that evolution is impossible because there are too many gaps, but gaps are the ESSENCE of evolution, not the exception.
Now I've explained this a few times, repeating myself, which is obviously useless, if you chose to not take stock of what really goes on among biologists (not bio pop culture), then it's your loss, not mine. I can only suggest you deepen your readings with proper reference manuals.
I also suggest you watch Wall-E, a lovely Transhumanist futuristic film. For when you remove reproductive SELECTION for fitness from the equation, you exclude yourself from natural processes.