Is Our Intelligence Our Downfall?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by CapsOwn, Jun 28, 2009.

  1. CapsOwn Registered Senior Member

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    The mind of a human is the most powerful thing we know of on this world. But could this be what destroys us?

    We use our intelligence to correct our problems. Every day we, as a race, get weaker. Although our minds grow stronger, what happens to our body is quite contrary.

    Every day, a new problem is found. Every day, a new solution is needed.

    We would probably be the weakest animals amongst the reptiles, the mammals, the amphibians, and the fish if it weren't for our brains.

    At an average sprint of 10 mph, we are barely faster than a chicken. Our strength isn't anything spectacular. The only way our race could survive protein deficiency without using tools, would be to eat bugs.

    Our defiance of natural selection is not only throwing off nature's balance, it is also causing us to grow weaker. (On a side note, I laugh whenever someone acts like they care about the ecosystem. I really just want to tell them to go get eaten by a coyote if they cared about it so much. People automatically assume that we aren't supposed to be a part of it.)

    I would like to ask you people several questions.

    First, do you think our mind is a blessing or a curse? Our mind allows us to do great good and great evil. It also causes us to feel complex emotions, such as humanity and empathy, both of which can inhibit the process of natural selection.

    Second, would you rather have your mind, or a stronger human race? Our mind is a great thing. It gives us virtually infinite capabilities. On the contrary, it could be what makes us weaker.

    Third, why do you think we evolved such a complex brain? Why did we become so much smarter than the other homos, or to a greater extent, other hominids?

    Fourth, do you think we are interfering with the process of natural selection? We are not growing stronger, just smarter, and because we can create, we can correct our genetic problems. Is this interfering with natural selection? If so, how do you think we, as a race, would be different if we did not have the ability to create?

    Fifth, do you think that we are going to become so weak, we will not even be able to use the tools that would correct those very weaknesses? For example, could this interference cause us to eventually lose the muscular capability to wield a rifle to hunt?

    I look forward to your answers. Also, for the record, I'm happy we have intelligence and defy natural selection. I, a person with horrible vision, would get destroyed by natural selection without our current mental capacity =p
     
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  3. takandjive Killer Queen Registered Senior Member

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    Heh. "Other homos."

    "First, do you think our mind is a blessing or a curse?"

    I think those are loaded terms. It is what it is. It's useful.

    "Second, would you rather have your mind, or a stronger human race? Our mind is a great thing. It gives us virtually infinite capabilities. On the contrary, it could be what makes us weaker."

    Explain that one on making us weaker. Being physically stronger really wouldn't do us much good in this age, would it?

    "Third, why do you think we evolved such a complex brain? Why did we become so much smarter than the other homos, or to a greater extent, other hominids?"

    We're weaker and needed complex brains to survive. Go get in a fist fight with a bonobo.

    "Fourth, do you think we are interfering with the process of natural selection? We are not growing stronger, just smarter, and because we can create, we can correct our genetic problems. Is this interfering with natural selection? If so, how do you think we, as a race, would be different if we did not have the ability to create?"

    I'm not sure we're getting smarter, but arguably, intelligence is the best strength. I'd rather eliminate the problems like Tay Sach's or Huntington's Disease, and I think the ability we have to stop it only makes it right and natural.

    "Fifth, do you think that we are going to become so weak, we will not even be able to use the tools that would correct those very weaknesses? For example, could this interference cause us to eventually lose the muscular capability to wield a rifle to hunt?"

    That doesn't seem very likely. Are you proposing we're going to become amorphous blobs?

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    I think some things are going to have to be worked with, like the human metabolism and aging, but only time will tell -
     
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  5. CapsOwn Registered Senior Member

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    Well I don't mean physically stronger. I mean let's say we eliminate our intelligence. What do we have animals don't? Actually, the better question would be what do animals have that we don't. Our vision is getting worse all the time. We are affected by a number of sicknesses that most other animals would never get. As for the fact that we are weaker, I do acknowledge this. But would we have remained weaker if our minds didn't evolve?
     
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  7. takandjive Killer Queen Registered Senior Member

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    On the whole, hominid critters are not very healthy little guys.

    Are we sickly because unlike other sick animals, we have treatments to stay alive? We also have really long lifespans.
     
  8. visceral_instinct Monkey see, monkey denigrate Valued Senior Member

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    7,913
    Our environment doesn't select for weakness.

    It simply doesn't select for physical strength above a certain level, thus, we don't develop that strength as a race because we don't need it.
     
  9. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

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    2,818

    But we’re not the weakest animals because we have our brains. It’s fine to speculate on how we would fair without them, but it’s a pure thought experiment. It’s not valid to suggest that it is some sort of fault with evolution that we would be weak without our brains.
     
  10. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Without our intelligence humans would not be here today.
     
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    24,690
    Not at all. Our intelligence has allowed us to create something unique: an organism that transcends us. It's called civilization. We are analogous to its cells. The individual cells die and are replaced (with a greater number) and civilization continues to advance and prosper. It has had many setbacks, but since the first cities were built around 10KYA, the overall trend of progress has been inexorably forward.

    As it was even before then, arguably starting around 15KYA when dogs domesticated themselves and helped us form the first multi-species community, and continuing through the Mesolithic Revolution of precision stone toolmaking, and then through the Neolithic Revolution of agriculture, permanent settlements, larger tribes with division of labor and economy of scale, resulting in the first food surplus in history.

    Civilization has resisted all of our temporary misguided attempts to destroy it, and keeps coming back stronger. Civilization is the organism you should be focused on, not individual humans.
    If we are so weak, then why is our life expectancy steadily increasing? In particular, why has the rate of mortality of infants--the weakest of us--plummeted everywhere that civilization is not dysfunctional? Why has our death rate from natural causes fallen so precipitously that deliberate or accidental killings by our own artifacts (such as guns and automobiles) and by our own choices (such as suicide and tobacco) have percolated near the top of the list?

    Once again, you seem to be focused on our biological plane of existence, and you are missing the next step in evolution that we took ten thousand years ago: the creation of civilization, a much more durable organism that outlives all of us. Furthermore, civilization augments our natural survival. Improvements in sanitation, health care, security, and other technologies more than make up for any slight weakening of our physical bodies, such as all the fashionable new allergies created by coddling the immune systems of babies.
    And by golly the transcendent organism called civilization helps us find it.
    Such a silly thing to say. And I would be the worst bass guitar player on earth if it weren't for my hands. I do have hands so I'm a pretty good musician, and we do have brains, which makes us stronger than all the other animals combined. Homo sapiens has become the apex predator of the entire global ecosystem, eating the meat of bears and sharks and making jewelry out of elephants--just because we can!
    But we have tools! Our ability to invent technology--starting with language and controlled fire, proceeding through stone tools, agriculture, civilization, metallurgy, industry and electronics--is a defining characteristic of who we are.

    You seem to have a romantic fixation on the natural world and it blinds you to the fact that we long ago began our advance beyond it. To compare us to tigers, raccoons and dolphins and say we come up short is to blind yourself to the fact that we do not live in the universe of tigers, raccoons and dolphins any more. We created our own universe, the transcendent organism called civilization.
    Everything you say highlights your blindness to our evolution beyond nature.
    What the heck is so special about natural selection??? Dogs haven't procreated by natural selection for at least eight thousand years, when evidence of the first specialized breeds shows up in the archeological record. As our partners in civilization--even only second-class partners!--they're healthier, live longer, and have richer lives with more varied activities and playmates of myriad species. Yes there were individuals of the species Canis lupus who wanted to live a subsistence life out in the wilderness and that's where those individuals have stayed to this day, but the others took a good look at our camps with their surplus food, warm fires, health care for the sick and injured, and children to play with and said, "I want a piece of that action!"

    Opportunistic feeders like scavengers invariably evolve greater intelligence than hunters.
    We have a stronger human race. Have you gotten up from your desk lately and looked out the window to admire civilization? That is the manifestation of our strength. It has become so advanced that you don't even need to open the curtains: just look at your computer screen.
    That's a question that has not been answered completely, so you're hardly going to find your Eureka moment in this academy of tertiary and quaternary research. You'd better get back to your university and start analyzing DNA or digging up Paleolithic campsites.
    Who gives a flying frell about natural selection? Why are you so fixated on it? Have you not noticed the change in the way we develop, that started about 11,500 years ago with the first experiments in agriculture? You don't seem to understand what civilization is and what our role is in it.
    Good goddess, how can a person in the 21st century not recognize intellectual strength as equal or even superior in stature to physical strength? Did you miss all the interviews with Stephen Hawking, one of the handful of greatest men on earth, who lives in a wheelchair, is spoon fed, and can't talk?
    Dude, where do you live that you even own a rifle??? I buy my food at the supermarket, and it was created in largely automated factories. The last time I ate meat that had been brought down by a hunter was in 1958. I certainly campaign for more humane treatment of the animals in those "factory farms," but I don't quite see the point in turning them loose and then running after them with guns. You are really unclear on the concept of civilization. Lethal weapons continue to be one of our greatest problems (surely you know what's going on in Pakistan, etc.), and they're not something we want to encourage our children to learn to use.
    I'm glad you wrapped it up on a positive note. Perhaps you were playing devil's advocate. But I suggest you put a lot more effort into studying civilization. You seem not to understand what it is and what it means. Until you do I think the answers you seek will continue to elude you.
     
  12. CapsOwn Registered Senior Member

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    Well first of all, I do not know much. I am trying to educate myself. And I don't mean physical strength. I am talking about things like our eyesight. Our hearing. Our smell. What if our eyes became so poor that it was simply not possible to correct our vision in a practical way?
     
  13. Xylene Valued Senior Member

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    I could argue that the deadliness of our intelligence--or rather the propensity we have to turn our intelligence to ferocious uses--has on occasion almost guaranteed that we wouldn't be here today.

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    However, 'tis one thing to be intelligent, and quite another to be wise...Fortunately (so far) we've had either the wisdom, or maybe just the good luck, to bring ourselves back from edge of annihilation's precipice several times.
     
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Do you have evidence to support your hypothesis that over the generations humans are undergoing general physical deterioration? I don't see it. Certainly the weak are surviving at a much higher rate than in harsher times, but the strong are also stronger than their predecessors. Our athetes continue to shatter old records for speed and strength. And weakness is not necessarily hereditary; it's often the result of poor nutrition and unavailable medical care.

    As for our senses, what reason do you have for supposing that they are degrading? Even if they do, the era of neurobiology is rapidly approaching and civilization--that wonderful organism we created--will be able to fix them. We've already had corrective lenses for centuries, and today they can simply remove the lens in your eye and replace it with one that's the right shape and/or doesn't have cataracts. The ability to hook an electronic visual sensor directly into our optic nerve can't be too far off. I don't think Lt. LaForge will have to wait for Star Trek.

    It's one thing to be a pessimist, but I don't understand the reasoning, observation, or other evidence that causes you to take such a dim view of our future. It runs counter to our experience. The technology to make life safer, healthier, easier and more comfortable has been steadily improving since the Stone Age. The challenge now is to distribute it more widely so it's not limited to the wealthy, and at least in the prosperous countries we're already doing that too.
     
  15. CapsOwn Registered Senior Member

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    I'm not trying to be pessimistic. I'm just trying to gain a better understanding of evolution, biology, evolution, life. I don't believe that it will happen. I'm just worried it may. And as for our senses, I know for one our eyes are degrading. Imperfect vision has statistically increased enough to warrant the air force to lift the 20/20 vision requirement for their pilots. They are now starting to accept people who have had laser correction. And I did not mean to imply that our other senses are degrading. I'm just saying our secondary senses aren't very powerful, while are primary one is getting weaker. I don't know much. I just am trying to learn.
     

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