Human Evolution Is Stuck In Reverse

When the group Devo put forward the proposition that human evolution had advanced as far as it ever would and the process of regression, or "de-evolution" had begun, it seemed like a cute, silly idea.  However, close analysis does seem to support the theory.  Evidence abounds.  For example, compare rap music to Bach, Beethoven, or the sound of a jackhammer at 3:00 a.m. for that matter.  Compare the paintings of Vermeer and Van Gogh to those of Jackson Pollack - or "Jack The Dripper" as my brother calls him.  Compare the intellectual prowess, moral integrity, and linguistic skill of Jefferson with those of George W. Bush - if you have the stomach for it.  Certainly the evolution of science continues to accelerate at an awe-inspiring pace, but human evolution seems to be falling victim to the strange gravitational pull of entropy; and if you ain't moving forwards, you're moving backwards.    
ElLagarto ElLagarto
56-60, M
20 Responses Jul 12, 2007

The only reason this is happening is because with medical advancments and no natural predators we dont have the factor of natural selection that causes evolution

Don't you think that the prevalence of liberalism and socialism allows those that otherwise would not survive to dilute the gene pool and thus causing the devolving of humans.<br />
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Every breeder knows that to keep a strong herd you only allow the fittest animals to breed, but liberalism and socialism seem to work in just the opposite fashion.

Please see me after class. I'll give you a quarter so you can buy a clue.

lol you can't "de-evolve", evolving doesn't mean improving, just changing.

Why have i never read this story before? <br />
I think it`s great that you like Devo, and I liked a lot of things you were saying, El. I will have to come back here when I am not so tired. I think you have great take on things..

A VERY interesting idea, because it is completely different from what we're taught. Human evolution, as presented in schools - is absolutely linear. Natural evolution and social evolution appear to track together as humans become increasingly "sophisticated." In recent centuries, scientific advances are offered as proof positive of relentless forward progress. But if science brings us to the brink of extinction, it is hard to characterize it as progress at all. I am not one of the "back to the land" ex-hippies who advocate flushing Western civilization down the drain. But a case can be made - at least from the standpoint of moral, spiritual, and environmental evolution - that hunter/gatherer tribes from millennia past - who left no footprint on the earth at all - were light years ahead of us. Then again - they had to survive without malls and reality TV.

See, I go away for a few days and look at you guys: you're not just morbid, you're apocalyptic!<br />
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Some ancient Indian faith - the Jains, maybe - believe that humanity lives these massive, eons long cycles where everything either gets much, much better or much much worse. The beginning of the cycle might have everyone alive being gloriously beautiful and enlightened, and everyone lives ten thousand years. Then the next cycle is somewhat shorter, with fog and imperfections entering into everyone's consciousness, and lifespans lasting only half as long. Each successive cycle continues to worsen till we're all misshapen creatures full of self-serving impulses and venom, living brutish lives only a few years long.<br />
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I dunno - I thought it was interesting that an idea so close to devolution could have found currency a couple thousand years ago.

I have no idea where your optimism comes from. The damage we've done will take millenia to correct - if it ever corrects. Extinct is extinct. Ask Dodo. Were there to be a nuclear war the entire planet would be transformed - 100 years wouldn't get you started on healing. <br />
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Yes of course the mind and spirt live in a physical body, and without it are doomed. But the party tricks of the physical body are nothing in comparison to the achievements and potential achievements of the mind and soul. It's all about a healthy balance of the 3 - yes?

Culture evolution ameican society is pass prime. There is no telling what type of true evolution is left in Mankinds genomes but as far as what we have right now culturley it won't get much better. In fact the 20-30's were probaly the peak.<br />
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Look at every civilization in history. eventualy people get restless tired and more accepting. We now delight in reality television that exploits people's suffering. People watch NASCAR not for the race but for the crash. So to that extreme devo is corect.<br />
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However in physical evolution it is immpossible to devolve. All things would be evolution if a certain gene pattern that we considered undesirable became dominant it would have a reason for being dominant even if we did suddenly become as intelligent as Mayo.<br />
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Once again though unless America can take the next big step (hasn't been done by any culture so far) we are pretty doomed to finish devolving like every civilization before us.

What you call domination I call destruction - which - ironically turns out to be self-destruction, since we are all interconnected. I fundamentally disagree with the idea that we are not essentially spiritual. Indeed, I would posit that we are not physical beings leading spiritual lives -- but spiritual beings leading physical lives. The triumphing over the bears and bison which seems to impress you doesn't impress me at all. What would impress me would be if, over the course of the millenia we became more adept at tuning in our essentially spiritual natural and tuning out our lower, animalistic nature. (We are at a dead end all right, because the price paid for the "success" of our species is nothing less than the life of the planet itself.)

yes, i'd have to agree w/ that analysis. :)

Part of the problem is that we progress and move backwards at the same time. In science, in the arts, in philosophy there has been dizzying progress. But human character - while probably not getting worse - certainly hasn't improved since biblical times. I may not be the most dedicated student of history, but I have observed, as you suggest, that it moves in cycles, and we keep making the same destructive mistakes over and over, never learning from our misfortune. In this regard we are at least NOT evolving as moral, spiritual beings, if not flat-out DE-volving.

i see your point. i'm wondering: do you think it would also be possible to find examples supporting progress? if so, is direction a myth -- do we really progress or evolve socially/morally as a species? i think we can do both on an individual basis, but i have yet to figure out my beliefs on humanity as a whole. if this is true, it means that we, as humans, don't learn much from the mistakes & revelations of those who came before us. it seems to me -- & admittedly i don't know what i'm talking about -- that humanity is in a continuous cycle of progression & regression. <br />
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re bush: it would be nice if he could present himself in a more dignified way. i try to remain optimistic & view him as a possible linguistic pioneer. lol.<br />
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re pollack & bush: my optimistic side says that maybe they both can teach us the lesson that even if we don't have observable talent, we should take courage & continue to express ourselves. ? i'm grasping at straws...

Sorry, I gathered that but went off to the side. Memes umbrella those two ideas.

I was really more focused on social and moral evolution.

we have surpassed some natural selection techniques and that might support the idea, but the reason we have surpassed is the same reason we have computers, and that was a gift given by evolution that isn't failing yet.<br />
Devolution, well...we are the first species to do many things (On our rock) so why not be the first to devolve...still, pathogens will give us an evolutionary boot every now and then.<br />
Plus, evolution is rarely presented as a straight line, its more like a network of genes, all seeking to simply exist. There is no 'better' only 'adequate' which is why no animal species is flawless. There is no plateau of ultimate development.<br />
Meme development and evolution is sometimes bundled into evolutionary theory, and memes can mutate faster and spread even faster. I would argue in favour if modern society being more evolved then ancient rome simply because our view of the world is more accurate. But I’m sure they would claim the same. <br />
One of the best things about evolution is it never reaches perfection, we will always have people with sore backs because our recent evolutionary past had our posture much different, people with flat feet and musculature trouble because they’ve not entirely lost some attributes from our tree-dwelling ancestors, people with wisdom teeth that get infected because out ancestors had larger mouths to hold them.<br />
I agree, it is an interesting idea.

One could make a case that our society is more evolved than that of - ancient Rome, for example - it wouldn't be easy, but you could do it. But what astounds me is not much evoltion has occurred but the lack of evolution over time. People are still making the same idiotic mistakes they've been making for millennia. Evoltion is taught in schools and discussed as though it were a straight line - we are always moving forward for the better it assumes. I loved the Devo propositon because it was so radical and contrarian. It questioned the article of faith and asked - What if this is as good as it gets and from now on entropy and de-evolution take over? I'm not saying it's accurate, but it is an interesting idea.

Hmmm, it is hard to argue that in the past these things (Musical skill, linguistic ability) were attributes that would either have you killed or designate your breed-ability. What I mean to say is, would a musical genius like bathoven have come from a line of musicians that bred with likewise and so led to such a master? If anything rap music comes from a more evolutionary truthful past then the European classics, African Americans have more genetic diversity then their pale counterparts (Excluding other minorities), and the musical pasts of Af Am are more elaborate and evolutionary driven. An example is the hymns they sung in secret communication back in slave-times, more recently the birth of blues and jazz. <br />
As for Pollock, he had his place in the art world as much as any of the other abstract ex<x>pressionists. Van Gogh and Jackson Pollock actually have quite a few things in common, Pollock was following his artistic mind, and his works have a power and chaos of their own which makes total sense in the art scene in New York at that time. Many artists were moving away from accurate depictions of reality, which many considered idyllic and false in comparison with reality. They wanted to make the art more personal, either a display of the chaotic elements in the artists mind, or to incite some raw emotion from their work. <br />
But again, neither of those artists are a result of human evolution/devolution. There were no pressures on prior generations to breed artists or to not breed artists. These were people who found their niche in the evolving market of human culture.<br />
As for bush, well, he did go to prestigious school and pass, so he cannot be all that stupid. He has ‘smarts’ in areas that would better suit a business man, not a politician. His worst trait by far is his lack of curiosity…but that has nothing to do with evolution. If anything he displays the American public’s mental degradation as they were the people who chose him. <br />
There are over six billion people on this planet, we’re bound to wonder if the uninspired majority are growing in number when there are plenty more of them. Luckily individual human success seems mostly independent of parental success. <br />
I’m going to look for that movie, sounds pretty interesting.

Haven't seen it, thanks for the tip. I love movies that are futuristic and retro at the same time, Brazil was a great example.

LOL - have you seen the movie 'idiocracy' yet? Comedy about this very subject.