Greetings to all Darwinian friends out there. Is it perhaps possible that
there has been a minor physical change in the anatomy of modern Homo sapiens since the Technological revolution-
e.g. weaker and shorter legs/feet from spendig a lot of time sitting in front of a PC/TV, longer/shorter or more/less dexterous fingers from prolonged keyboard/gadget usage, sharper/weaker eyesight from increased hours spent focused on a PC/TV/Gadget screen? Richard Dawkins claims in 'The greatest show on Earth' that there has been a selective advantage happening 'before our very eyes' in favour of smaller-tusked African elephants since humans hunting ivory have been targeting mainly those with the largest tusks which means that certain changes by Natural Selection could be witnessed within a humans lifetime.

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In the narrow constraint of the world you have defined, including the prediction of the way the participants would behave, I guess someting like that could occur. But, as a biologist I buy into the premise of "Jurassic Park", with Jeff Goldblum's pronouncement : "You can't control life". It will break out - it will do the unexpected.

Evolution doesn't have an end-goal - there is no finish line. Evolution takes what it has on hand, all the parts that it used to make some creature from the time before, and builds a slightly different one so that it can survive in a new environment long enough to reproduce.

Sex sex sex sex sex sex. Males fight for sex! MALES KILL FOR SEX! Sex is an all-consuming drive for everything that isn't dead. The feeling of loneliness is evolution's way of driving us into the arms of another, or to live with others in society, which would serve the same purpose. Intelligent people are no more emotional robots than the people in the general population, and no one can intellectually talk himself out of a sexual attraction to another person.

So, I don't envision a peaceful scenario for your colonists if some of them are turned into social and sexual outcasts just because they're not as bright as everyone else. I mean, how dumb can they be?

But even putting the human factor aside, other problems would arise from the small gene pool. Any bad mutations, or the appearance of deleterious recessive genes through inbreeding, could wreak havoc. Genes can be linked, so breeding for intelligence might influence the development of another characteristic.

Then there's the philosophical question of how intelligent can we become and what's the point? Also, the brain requires more energy than any other organ in the body; will there be a trade-off with another organ or organs? Certainly we would need larger lungs and greater vascularization of the brain. We would need to breed for all three factors. Maybe that's why our brains are the size they are?

I think I'll give natural selection and evolution the benefit of the doubt.
I really like your "band width" analogy. It really describes the phenomenen precisely.
As a general point to everyone here -- before you start using I.Q. as an adequate measure of human intelligence and potential, please avail yourself of critical reviews of the concept. Stephen Jay Gould's and Daniel Kevles's works are good starting points.

For my part, I consider the concept of I.Q. exactly as fictional, bigoted, and dangerous as religion. In fact, it holds many of the same features. Autobiographically, is not an accident that I left the church and Mensa the same year.

If you review criticisms and still believe it's valid, that's one thing -- but if you are just using the term and measure because you were brought up with the concept, that's quite another. And saying, "Well, the details of I.Q. may be wrong, but some sort of scalar or set of scalars to characterize human intelligence will surely exist," I can't see how that's distinguishable from someone who says the details of Christianity may be wrong but surely there's a god or gods of some sort. When one's entire premise is so forcefully challenged, one needs to reexamine everything about it.
Exact! I.Q. can easily be argued as more a measure of socio-economic background than intelligence. A simple web search of the origin of I.Q. tests should result in enough information to bat that one down.

Just to remind everyone, there is NO GENE OR GENES that have ever been associated with increased intelligence. Other things can be statistically shown to influence intelligence, such as childhood health and nutrition for obvious reasons.
I'm of the opinion - and mind you, not necessarily a well educated opinion in this particular matter - that IQ test results are akin to college degrees:

(1) They are only good if you use them productively.
(2) They are focused on skills that are considered of worth in society, or were of worth in society when the tests were developed. Where university degrees are now pretty much apprenticeships-without-experience, IQ tests were developed based on an 'intelligence' that was worthwhile 'then'.

On (2), I'll add that much of present and future society has to do with how people interact across present day mediums (such as this site) and future mediums.

Also, who is to say that tomorrow a virus might come out that will wipe out a large portion of the population? To be intelligent, by our definition of intelligence, you kind of have to be... alive. :-)
[Maybe] they are focused on skills that are considered of worth in society, or were of worth in society when the tests were developed ... [that] IQ tests were developed based on an 'intelligence' that was worthwhile 'then'.

In 1996 I attended a Daniel Kevles lecture on the topic of I.Q. tests. He read some sample questions, to an increasingly-aghast audience. One question named an American car in production at the time and gave a list of four different engines, asking which engine went in that car.

This is the test that was administered to immigrants, and was suggested to be used for admissions quotas. The results of this test are also the origin of the "Polish joke", because Polish immigrants had the lowest average scores. Dem frickin' Polish morons, all-but-not knowin' the engines in 1930s American cars 'n' shit.

How would you (the person reading this) fare? How would you fare if it were even current cars? And would the correctness of your answers be reasonable as a measure of your general intelligence, or even whether your intelligence is "worthwhile"?

Is this just ancient history? No, it's not. When I was trying to join Mensa, I was given two tests -- they were in the process of transitioning from one to the other, and I was in an overlap group that could be admitted on either test during the changeover. People slightly older than I could have gotten in on their SATs, but after the recentering in the mid-90s, Mensa decided the 1600 point system was not picky enough to weed out non-"geniuses". I had scored a 1590 under the recentered scale, translating to a percentile more than sufficient for admission, but "Whatever", I thought, "if they want to be dicks about it, I'll take another test."

And in retrospect, I'm glad I did, because I can tell this story to people:

The "old" test they were transitioning away from was obscene. It was a 1960s California student aptitude test of some sort, that looked nth-generation copy-of-a-copy. The sheet I was given was clearly photocopied from a purple ditto copy. One regular category of questions was "Which of these things is not like the other?"

OK, in principle, that's not a bad test for discrimination. But as one example question, there were four pictures (blurry, as one might imagine given the provenance of these copies) of manual household tools. It would be hard to overstate how frustrating this was: I would look at a group of pictures, and have a thought process like this:

Well, that one looks like it could be a manual eggbeater. Or maybe a paint stirrer? And that one is ... probably a manual drill? Or an apple corer? Let me try to figure out another to see if it's a kitchen or a woodworking tool, and I'll have a better idea on this one.

And the results of this test were to result in a single number, which was then to speak to how "intelligent" I was.

... that IQ test results are akin to college degrees

Yeah, no. If your college degree leaves you like this, try to get your tuition money back. :-) There is nothing salvageable from our horrific obsession with I.Q. It needs to be apologized for and then consigned to the flames, without our ever forgetting the lessons: scalar-defined intelligence is nonsense, tests have a cultural bias, and the people designing test are going to develop tests, deliberately or not, that make them look good -- if for no other reason than they choose what they think is important to test based on ... um ... what they think is important.

I.Q. is a disgraceful fiction. Not that I feel strongly about it or anything. ;-)
Thanks for that shared experience. It reinforces my thoughts on the matter, but now with something more resembling facts rather than intuition. :-)
My honor.

Anyone have ideas on how to get the civility, class, and intellectual merit of A|N onto the Web at large? -) Love it here. Thanks, folks.

Mouseover: And what about all the people who won't be able to join the community because they're terrible at making helpful and constructive co-- ... oh.

Self-links are poor form, but I wrote a post a week ago about evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa and his rather ludicrous... that may be relevant here. His "research" (speculation, really) touches on several things that have come up in this discussion: evolution of suicide bombing, sexual selection between people influenced by (tiny) difference in I.Q., and the (self-serving) claim that atheists and liberals are more intelligent due to evolution. In the post I discuss the problems I see with it.
There may not be a change in fingers, legs and eyesight unless someone is hunting viewers on some basis as with elephants. That is it depends on whether TV watchers get to pass on selective benefits or non-benefits of weaker and shorter legs/feet from spendig a lot of time sitting in front of a PC/TV. So do they die off before having chidren or have fewer or more?
Cannot resist linking to Pearl Jam's video for Do The Evolution. The song is an indictment of what mainstream culture considers cultural evolution: that while it's considered advancement, it's actually regressive, dangerous, and wicked. It's set to a demonic-sounding riff and sung as if it were a manic 50s or 60s-style dance fad -- that "The Evolution" is a dance that's overtaken us.

The video, by Todd McFarlane of Spawn fame, is beyond awesome -- and even depicts Zeblon's speculations of PC-triggered evolution, but as cultural evolution, and in an intensely creepy fashion.

Here's a link to the video. I'm also going to try embedding it below, but I bet the forum software will strip the object code.




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