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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Posted: January 22nd, 2015, 6:29 pm
by LuckyR
I completely disagree. "Natural" selection by it's traditional meaning has been completely co opted by technology and civilization. Especially in terms of intelligence. It is well known that female education is the best form of Family Planning on the planet (for large populations). So in practice, the more intelligent the person the fewer children the family will have. So essentially we are selecting for ignorance.

Got poor eyesight, no worries, we have eyeglasses. Got a terrible memory, no worries, dictate the info to your smartphone's Notes and Calendar. Not very creative, no worries, we're moving to a Service Economy.

Re: The two-facedness of biology

Posted: January 22nd, 2015, 7:28 pm
by Greta
Atreyu wrote:I myself am of the view that Nature indeed does have a plan, and that this in fact is a part of it. Apparently Nature no longer needs homo sapiens and all this is part of the process of his degeneration and eventual extinction, i.e. apparently the "Experiment" is over.
Misty wrote:What is Nature's plan? What is the nature of the "Experiment" ?
Fair questions. The closest thing to a plan that I can see is that, given enough environmental stability, it was inevitable that intelligent life forms would develop on Earth. Humans are the first animal to significantly use information as a resource in itself. Every resource and niche in nature is investigated by organisms over time and utilised to advantage if possible. It seems unlikely that a resource as potent as information would be forever underutilised.

People seem to think that humanity have have abused their power and will deservedly return to the dust to allow nature to once again resume unmolested by our intrusive intellect. It's as though we were expected to come down from the trees and almost immediately (in evolutionary timescales) develop the collective wisdom to use our power moderately.

Let's say that humans go extinct. What then? Given enough stability in millions of years another intelligent life form may emerge from the leftover species and repeat the cycle. Anyone hoping for the Earth to reach some form of stable biological state in the absence of humans is thinking short term.

My guess is it's more likely that civilisation and its wealthiest and luckiest members will survive the coming environmental instability, but nothing is certain.
LuckyR wrote:I completely disagree. "Natural" selection by it's traditional meaning has been completely co opted by technology and civilization.
I would suggest that natural selection has been slowed biologically but is still present as per Mechsmith's post or the lung capacity of mountain-dwelling Tibetans. Nature is changing; technology and civilization are examples of nature's recent innovations.

Survival of the fittest? Today the fittest are the wealthiest. We are products of the Earth/universe which define nature so I can't see how we can operate outside of nature. Does nature have an "outside"?

-- Updated 22 Jan 2015, 18:31 to add the following --

NB. I meant "civiliSation", not "civilization" - US spellchecker.

Re: The two-facedness of biology

Posted: February 4th, 2015, 12:24 am
by HZY
Mysterio448 wrote:There is something that I have noticed about biology that I found interesting. It seems that biology is "two-faced." What I mean by this is that it seems every function of the body possesses some flaw that is inherent to its very design. Furthermore, in many cases bodily functions that are keeping us alive are also, ironically, trying to kill us. After doing a little research, I can list a few examples of this strange phenomenon:

1) The pharynx. This is the passage in the throat used for both swallowing and breathing. The pharynx presents to us the very real danger of choking while swallowing food or drink.

2) The blind spot of the human eye. It is a result of the spot on the retina that lacks photoreceptors in order to make way for the optic nerve. Because of this absence of photoreceptors, there is a small spot in our visual field where we are essentially blind (although the brain usually will interpolate around the spot in order to mask it from our consciousness).

3) The electron transport chain. This is a complex process, occurring in cellular mitochondria, that is the body's primary producer of ATP, which is the body's main energy source. However, this process is also simultaneously responsible for releasing various free radicals into the body, such as superoxide anion, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl free radical. These free radicals contribute to aging and diseases such as type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's disease.

4) DNA replication. Before cells undergo cell division, their DNA are first replicated. After the two strands of DNA are "unzipped" from each other, a protein called DNA polymerase travels along each strand using them as templates to make copy DNA strands. However, the two parent strands are not completely separated before this process; they are copied as they are being separated from each other. So while the DNA polymerase can copy one parent strand continuously, to avoid copying in the wrong direction it can only copy the other strand in fragments, and only after the fragments are preceded by a short nucleotide sequence called an RNA primer. The problem with this process is that when the DNA polymerase gets to the end of the DNA strand, there is nowhere for the RNA primer to attach to, thus the RNA polymerase cannot copy anymore DNA at this point. Technically, this should lead to gradual loss of DNA information with subsequent cell divisions. In reality, this design flaw is mitigated by redundant DNA sequences called telomeres, but this only delays DNA degradation rather than preventing it. Telomere shortening is an inevitable process that subsequently contributes to aging and death.

5) Coagulation. A vital physiological process which forms a plug (blood clot) on the walls of a blood vessel that has been damaged, thus preventing dangerous hemorrhaging. However, these same plugs also run the risk of accidentally detaching from their point of origin and becoming an "embolus" that can freely travel along the blood flow. This can likely impede blood flow and cause serious health problems or death.

6) The immune system. This vital system protects the body from pathogens and harmful irritants. However, the immune system can also itself injure the body. Inflammation, normally a helpful part of the immune system, can often lead to chronic inflammation, which can be a serious health problem. Autoimmune diseases (such as arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis) are diseases in which the immune system begins attacking the body's own tissues, treating them as if they were an infectious pathogen.

7) Cellular structure. Scientists have learned that cancer is actually a natural result of the normal cellular dynamics of the body. The disease is inevitable; everyone will eventually get it, provided they live long enough. A scientific article in Wired Magazine says that there is a "misguided notion that cancer cells are fundamentally different from their normal counterparts.” According to oncology researcher Jarle Breivik, "[Cancer is] the inevitable consequence of our multicellular composition." He says that multicellular organisms are themselves evolutionary systems in which mutation and natural selection occur all the time. Furthermore he says, "The cells of your body are genetically programmed to collaborate, but as we age and new mutations appear, natural selection will favor those mutants that break away from the control mechanisms and proliferate.” So cancer is "an inescapable byproduct of multicellularity and long lifespans." Ironically, the same multicellular structure that constitutes the body is also slowly tearing the body down.

So what do you make of this? Do you agree with my observation that biology is inherently two-faced? And if so, why do you think this is?
What you are describing is the consequence of evolutionary adaptive accumulation of error in the current state.

Re: The two-facedness of biology

Posted: February 4th, 2015, 9:30 am
by Mysterio448
HZY wrote:
What you are describing is the consequence of evolutionary adaptive accumulation of error in the current state.
Can evolution make "errors"? Evolution isn't actually trying to do anything, so how can it make mistakes?

Re: The two-facedness of biology

Posted: February 4th, 2015, 11:30 am
by Mechsmith
From OUR point of view any error in replication that results in the death of the organism could be called a mistake. Evolution tries many things simply because nothing is perfect. But evolution simply is. The theory of evolution is simply showing how the mechanism works.

As long as there is time there will be change. This is true for galaxies and bacteria. For water and rocks. We don't think of water as trying to dissolve rocks as a goal. It just does. It's the same with evolution. No goal implied or required in the larger scheme of things.

Re: The two-facedness of biology

Posted: February 4th, 2015, 8:12 pm
by HZY
Mysterio448 wrote:
HZY wrote:
What you are describing is the consequence of evolutionary adaptive accumulation of error in the current state.
Can evolution make "errors"? Evolution isn't actually trying to do anything, so how can it make mistakes?
Well, by error, I meant older genes that are out of favor to the changing environment and is replaced by newer and more adapted genes that sit "on top of" but don't totally eliminate these older genes whose effects can still be felt on occasion. So over time there is an accumulation of these out-of-favor or "defective" genes, the effect of which is magnified as "flaws".

Re: The two-facedness of biology

Posted: May 1st, 2015, 5:07 pm
by LuckyR
Greta wrote:
LuckyR wrote:I completely disagree. "Natural" selection by it's traditional meaning has been completely co opted by technology and civilization.
I would suggest that natural selection has been slowed biologically but is still present as per Mechsmith's post or the lung capacity of mountain-dwelling Tibetans. Nature is changing; technology and civilization are examples of nature's recent innovations.

Survival of the fittest? Today the fittest are the wealthiest. We are products of the Earth/universe which define nature so I can't see how we can operate outside of nature. Does nature have an "outside"?

-- Updated 22 Jan 2015, 18:31 to add the following --

NB. I meant "civiliSation", not "civilization" - US spellchecker.
Depends on what you mean by survival. For the individual organism, true the wealthy live longer than the poor. But this is an evolutionary discussion and the wealthy, clearly spread their genes much less successfully than the poor.

Re: The two-facedness of biology

Posted: May 1st, 2015, 5:56 pm
by Obvious Leo
Greta wrote:I would suggest that natural selection has been slowed biologically but is still present as per Mechsmith's post or the lung capacity of mountain-dwelling Tibetans. Nature is changing; technology and civilization are examples of nature's recent innovations.
The lung capacity of mountain-dwelling Tibetans has been enhanced by gene expression and by gene adaptation and hardly at all by gene selection. Evolution in the human organism occurs continuously at the level of our cellular biology and almost all of these changes are passed on during gestation. The neo-Darwinists are in full retreat in the face of our modern understanding of methylation and epigenetics, which explains why mammals can evolve so astonishingly quickly, a fact which had Charles Darwin utterly mystified. The new buzz-word in evolutionary theory is autopoeisis, which is all about continuous self-creation and essentially a revival of Lamarck at the cellular level.

Regards Leo

Re: The two-facedness of biology

Posted: May 2nd, 2015, 1:20 am
by Atreyu
LuckyR wrote: Depends on what you mean by survival. For the individual organism, true the wealthy live longer than the poor. But this is an evolutionary discussion and the wealthy, clearly spread their genes much less successfully than the poor.
Yep. Mankind's current lifestyle appears to be leading him towards extinction, if we stick to the principles of the theory of evolution. When "survival of the fittest" no longer applies, and particularly when the opposite appears to be the norm, the decline of the species in question becomes an eventual inevitability...

Re: The two-facedness of biology

Posted: May 2nd, 2015, 4:54 pm
by LuckyR
Atreyu wrote:
LuckyR wrote: Depends on what you mean by survival. For the individual organism, true the wealthy live longer than the poor. But this is an evolutionary discussion and the wealthy, clearly spread their genes much less successfully than the poor.
Yep. Mankind's current lifestyle appears to be leading him towards extinction, if we stick to the principles of the theory of evolution. When "survival of the fittest" no longer applies, and particularly when the opposite appears to be the norm, the decline of the species in question becomes an eventual inevitability...

Well, yes and mostly no. True, the educated have lower birth rates, heck if things continue at the projected rate for Japan over the next 60 years, indefinitely (which it will not), the Japanese will die out, as a nation, in 2140-something.

However, if the most educated have lower birth rates, which they do, that just means that the pyramid will continue to have a skinny, pointy top, which most pyramids do (by definition). But that has always been true.