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WHY DOES NATURE SELECT FOR STUPID PEOPLE

Posted on 2006-07-13
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What advantage does stupidity confer, to allow the Dimwit gene to survive and prosper. :)
John
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Question by:jjjtuohy
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gbentley earned 38 total points
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It doesn't have to confer an advantage. It has to be bad enough to kill most off before they reproduce.

Most of the "dim" aren't actually dim enough to walk in front of cars often enough, so most of them make it to that stage.

The seething mass of human mediocrity goes on.
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by:ozo
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Brain tissue is very expesive to maintain.  It consumes roughly 16 times energy as much as muscle tissue per unit weight.
Organisms that don't need to feed a large brain or spend large parts of their lives training it are able to reproduce a lot faster.
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by:Thibault St john Cholmondeley-ffeatherstonehaugh the 2nd
Thibault St john Cholmondeley-ffeatherstonehaugh the 2nd earned 33 total points
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H G Wells 'The Time Machine' and Huxleys 'Brave New World' both have a useful place for the less brainy.
Not necessarily an advantage to the individual, but beneficial to the entire community, so it assists survival of the species.

In the Hitchhikers Guide, the entire population of a planet was wiped out from a disease caught from a dirty telephone after the careful removal of the class of people that included the telephone sanitisers.

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by:ECNSSMT
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this is not an indication of anything negative but I find that MORE people in and around big cities tend to have more of a career for a bigger portion of their lives and tend to start families later in life.  But these guys that are doing this are the doctors, lawyers, teachers, (and dare I say techs) and they are usually highly educated.  

Many of the people that I've met far away from the cities are usually married out of high school and are on their way towards having the 2nd kid by age 23.

Go figure...
 
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by:PaulCaswell
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Hi jjjtuohy,

Dimness may not be a direct factor. Combined with any of agression, physique or stubbornness it could act as a catalyst to procreation.

Paul
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by:SunBow
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John > What advantage does stupidity confer, to allow the Dimwit gene to survive and prosper. :)

Someone has spent the time sweeping floors and cleaning toilets, so that others can have the time to think about making a better broom and soap bubbles.

Without the dummies, the smarties would not know they were so smart and would not know they had talents to leverage
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by:lawyerboy780
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Well, "ignorance is bliss where 'tis folly to be wise"

I know for myself, an awareness of a particular peril and the desire to avoid same can frequently result in the two colliding.  Fortunately I can count only 1 time where I carefully tried to avoid spilled grease and wound up with my foot precisely in the centre of it, albiet for just a second.  It could be that predisposed "dimness" permits one that much more time to procreate.  Our client base is full of people who shouldn't have bred, but alas, we did away with involuntary sterilization in Alberta.
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by:gamebits
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Human intelligence is a constant the problem is population of the world keeps growing.

Gamebits
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by:ozo
ID: 17118212
Intelligence is a very complicated thing to produce, requireing a gread deal of resources to develop.
Without a stable and nurturing nutritional, chemical, social, etc. environmnet at each
stage in the developmental process many things can go wrong which can impair it.
Intelligence has taken 3 billion years to develop, and remans extremely rare in the universe.
Unintelligence has survived for much longer and has prospered much more widey than intelligence has.
Intelligence is not a reqrement to survive and prosper.
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by:neopolitan
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1. How do you define stupidity? One person's intelligence might be another's stupidity. Scoring high in IQ tests and thinking/discovering new things may not be necessary for survival. Infact, the survival is that of the fittest to live in the world according to Darwinism. Therefore, people who are successful are probably those with living skills, whom an 'intelligent' person might consider to be a stupid person.

If you think of all the discoveries that have caused human advance, many would have been considered stupid at the time of inception by others. Who was stupid then, the discoverer or the enemies? Galileo or the Church? the problem is we cannot be the judges of others. Many so called stupid persons had been risk takers. Many have done good to humanity.

2. There is no stupidity gene to be transmitted from generation to generation (though there is memory gene). therfore, we cannot explain the transmission of stupidity. If there were such a gene, it would have been wiped out over the thousands of generations, due to the stupid people dying out.

Saying all that, when I watch GWB, I am really inclined to think otherwise :)
http://cgi.darwinawards.com/cgi/frames.pl?/rules/rules.children.html
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn3451
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=stupidity

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by:nothing8171
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Because now that were "civilized" and "compassionate,"  we give every child a ribbon for finishing a race, instead of just the top 10.  
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by:jjjtuohy
ID: 17128382
The Lord giveth and the lord taketh away!!!!!!!:)
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by:NicoLaan
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It seems more that brains are a bad thing to have for procreation, it avoids one from getting baby's at the age of 16 and onwards every year.
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>brains are a bad thing to have for procreation

Maybe better for long term survival of the species though. By waiting until you are a bit older than 16, and by reducing the quantity of offspring, the children can be given a more comfortable start in life - parents more settled and hopefully richer, and with fewer children more attention can be given to each. The children can therefore have more chance of a better education and be more able to engineer their environment towards comfort and safety.
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by:NicoLaan
ID: 17149807
Your comment is only valid if those other kids would have a bigger chance to die...
By now that doesn't happen anymore.
We are now so civilised that also the dumb, dimwitted, stupid and so on survive, even if your genes are so bad you actually can't make babies we manage to procreate through science. Women over 50 can still have babies. The age to get children is also increasing causing a bigger chance for these children to have less good genes.
Please don't misunderstand my words, I think all people deserve a good chance in the world, however it does seem we're heading towards a weaker human race. The socalled survival of the fittest does not work anymore.
I also do agree that would seems dumb and useless from one perspective might be useful from another point of view.
i.e. what is the use of art? How does it help in the suvival of the human species?
It doesn't do anything directly useful however it DOES stimulate peoples thoughts and creativity. So indirectly it is helping, a lot sometimes.
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>How does it help in the suvival of the human species

It doesn't have to help in any way at all, it's just something we do and enjoy. It is a characteristic of the species, maybe not important to survival at all - or maybe we haven't found out what it is for yet.

A more relevant question might be 'Why do we continue to live way past childbearing age?" How can this be useful? Anything learned by the adult in this period cannot be genetically passed on. Once your last litter have left home, you have done all you can for the species haven't you?
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by:SunBow
ID: 17150983
Dumb people can be isolated in some facility. They'll still participate in procreation.

> Once your last litter have left home, you have done all you can for the species haven't you?

You can die for them?

Or, help them through their procreation (& raising) process

Or, maybe there can be something further to do, rather than use of genes to transmit go and try some alternative of osmosis
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by:NicoLaan
ID: 17156093
>>Why do we continue to live way past childbearing age?

To be a grandparant.
I've also heard on discovery I think.
Raising children is so much work for humans, children are so dependant on others, that grandparants have over time always served that purpose.
Ok, many people have succesfully raised a child / their children all on their own still it's a lot easier with a spouse and even more so with grandparants.
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>grandparants have over time always served that purpose.
My point exactly. The species has 'evolved' to keep it's grandparents for longer. They help with the childraising and of course are full of common sense, history and wisdom so could be beneficial to have around. Although this doesn't make them necessary to survival of the species, or not in a way that we could sensibly test.
In the same way the species has 'evolved' not to breed out the dimwit gene, the less mentally agile may have a genetic reason for being here or they may not, and it does of course depend heavily on your test for stupidity.
You also have to be aware that whatever test you use to identify people's intelligence, half of them are going to be below average.
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by:NicoLaan
ID: 17162653
Besides, I think the most common and succesful species on this planet are not humans for most definitions but bugs like cockroaches, musquitos, flies, ants and so on.
Cockroaches will survive nuclear radiation a LOT better than humans.
Who is succesful?
How do you define succes?
Ok, we're the first species to leave the planet and have the ability to settle in space, that's also pretty succesful.
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>Who is succesful?
>How do you define succes?

I've been wondering that during this thread. I've decided that you need a few millennia to decide which was the successful characteristic.
I'm not sure about insects. Crocodiles seem to have done quite well, but maybe they are just lucky that they have always had a food supply and no serious preditors - if either of these conditions changed then we might have noticed more change in the crocodile. It seems that things don't actually evolve at all, it's just that when we find a species we can trace it back through earlier remains and fossils to something similar. We call the older animal 'primitive' and suggest a line of evolution to the present day creature as if evolution was something that the earlier animal decided to do.
The reverse is more true, that the present day animal can look back down it's ancestry and see how far it has come.
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by:SunBow
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NicoLaan > Ok, we're the first species to leave the planet and have the ability to settle in space, that's also pretty succesful.

Not quite, other than in movies. There remain a few more hurdles
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by:NicoLaan
ID: 17179375
>> There remain a few more hurdles.
Let me rephrase that, we have people that live outside of this planet on a semi permanent basis , though with support from earth.
We've not yet actually settled outside of earth but we sure have taken more steps towards that goal than any other earth animal, right?
Hmm, although, maybe some bacteria as well??
Actually, now that I think about it, I think some dog and a chimansee beat us to it...
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by:SunBow
ID: 17180644
>  we sure have taken more steps towards that goal than any other earth animal, right?

:-))

> Actually, now that I think about it, I

er, and typically left a lot of trash for someone else to clean up later
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by:NicoLaan
ID: 17192043
That also.
And we're also the species closest to killing (just about) the whole world!
That's an achievement!
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by:rid
rid earned 33 total points
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"Anything learned by the adult in this period cannot be genetically passed on."

AFAIK nothing you learn can be genetically passed on. However, learning from the grandparent generation has always (probably since hunter-gatherer stage) been an important part in raising the young. Until now, that is; families aren't held together all that much any longer in the richer part of the world.

Survival of the fittest is just fiction today. Man is still a prehistoric creature, but his environmnet isn't. Being a strong, fast runner with good teeth is not a key to success in the city (unless you're in the entertaining business, of course). The same goes for "dimness", I think. Intelligence can show in many ways, and supposedly intellectual persons can fail miserably in aptitude tests for positions that require, say, good spatial perception and short-term memory. Who says a lawyer is top position?
/RID
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by:bastibartel
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Intelligent people think too much while having sex.
Stupid men sleep sounder than intelligent.
It's the opposite with women.

So asumming that women and men of simliar brains hook up:
The less smart women are not always tired ;-) and how easy it is to wake the guys up...

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by:AK_00
AK_00 earned 33 total points
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Stupid people are more likely to accidentally get themselves or their partner pregnant at an early age. Whilst this may screw up their lives (to a degree), it bodes well for their genes. Or they will settle down and have a family earlier, simply because their life has sod all other prospects.

Widespread use of contraception will bias the population towards stupidity.
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by:stsanz
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There is no "stupidity gene". Intelligence or stupidity is a matter of education.
(apart from mental congenital disorders)
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by:AK_00
ID: 17308717
Are you serious?

People are not born identical. Some will be short. Some will be tall. Some will be pretty. Some will be ugly. To say intelligence is simply a matter of education is no different to saying height is simply a matter of eating properly.

Whilst nurture obviously will affect these things to some degree, they are largely determined by your genes. Why should the makeup and efficiency of your brain be any different? It is a physical component of your body, just like any other. As such, its build is dependant on your genes. It's not a generic blank hard-drive, it's an individual organ unique to each and every one of us. Some will naturally do their job better than others.
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by:stsanz
ID: 17308967
No. You should learn about embryo-genesis. The most part of the brain is not made up by our genes. Our 40,000 genes wouldnt be enough to code for a individual construction plan for 100,000,000,000 neurons.

On first steps of embryo development, the brain is for the most part undifferentiated between indivuduals, just like a block of stone waiting for sculpting. Then, during embryo development, foetal development and first months of life, many neurons die, many connections between neurons die and others remain. This process is partly random, and partly dependant from the environmental stimulations.
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by:stsanz
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by:NicoLaan
ID: 17337968
Human (brain) development is determined by so many factors, so many small random events, it can to a certain degree be guided, but also for a good part it's determined by genetics.
Why otherwise are certain mental diseases like autism linked to the sex of the person. (mainly men)
If a brain disease is linked to the genes why not the development.
Furthermore, why would only the physical part of the body be linked to the genes.
I certain amount is given at birth and a certain amount can be learned, some people will have a very hard time learning particular things, while it will be easy for others. Some have a knack with numbers, others with people, others with art, others with languages.
Partly that is from there experience but I'm also sure, partly because of their genes.
Do these help?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_psychology
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neural_Darwinism
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by:stsanz
ID: 17341435
Neural Darwinism is no more than what I said before. It applies darwinian evolution concepts to the development of neurones and connections. It says that the brain development is partly random and partly influenced by the environment.

What is genetical in this process is the general construction plan for the species, not the plan for the individuals. Stupidity/intelligence is not inhereted by children from parents to child. An adopted child with "stupid" biological parents will easily become intelligent if he is educated in a family with various intellectual stimulations.

Now let me quote Christian De Duve, Nobel Prize for medicine and teacher of cell biology at Rockefeller university of New York :
(from his book "Tuning in to Life". Sorry for the language, I translate from French)

"One estimates at some 100 billion the number of neurons in the human brain and approximately 10 000 per neuron, on average, the number of connections between neurons. That makes a total of a million billion interneuronal connections. The human genome contains five to six billion pairs of bases on the whole. Obviously, the wiring of the brain cannot be registered in genes. It must be done "epigenetically", i.e. by processes which intervene during the development. The genes provide only a general framework which delimits the broad outline of the cerebral structure characteristics of the species. All details of interneuronal connections is established, within the limits of this framework, under the influence of contributions which reach the brain from the body itself and from the external world.
The involved mechanisms in this wiring were analyzed by the French neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux and American Gerald Edelman. In short, what occurs, according to these two researchers, is that the growing neurons continuously establish transitory connections with each others in a primarily random way. These connections are untied almost at once, unless an external impulse make that they are used, in which case they are stabilized. The neural network is created thus from the very start by use, as it will continue to do it throughout life by learning. This implies two importants things.
First, one remarks the analogy with the fundamental mechanism of the darwinian selection. Random creates a great diversity of connections, among which some are selected under the influence of environmental factors and are amplified.. Thus the name of "neural darwinism" given by Edelman to this mechanism. Darwin is also quoted by Changeux : "Synapses darwinism replaces gene darwinism".
Second important aspect of this mechanism, it puts forward the essential role of communication in the psychic development of children. The way we treat our children as of the day of their birth, perhaps even before, literally builds their brain and, therefore, their personality. This lesson, all future parents must know it and draw the conclusions from them. If they want their children to develop a rich person neural network, condition of a rich personality, they must speak to them as of the first day, make them listen to music, sing songs to them, cherish them and caress them, draw their visual attention, give them various shape and various colors toys. In short, bring a multitude of sensory stimulations to them thanks to which they will be able to build the innumerable neuronal circuits which underlie the blooming of mental life. One should not, as that was often done, wait until the child wakes up with the comprehension of language to start to communicate with them. Even if they do not understand, they record. That is what is important."
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by:bastibartel
ID: 17356324
>> Stupidity/intelligence is not inhereted by children from parents to child. An adopted child with "stupid"
>>  biological parents will easily become intelligent if he is educated in a family with various intellectual stimulations

I would really like to believe that. However most, if not all twin studies seem to prove the opposite.
Could you provide us with some empirical evidence on that statement. I am by no means experienced with twin studies - merely quoting MD friends.

Cheers
Sebastian
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by:SunBow
ID: 17357078
> What advantage does stupidity confer

you get to stay home more often, permitting others to take care of you an your needs, let you have your way. It's the dog's life, no income tax & others you'll have trouble understanding no matter how smart you' get.

- ignorance is bliss ?
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If I make a bit of an assumption that an increase in stupidity also coincides with an increase in the ability to communicate with others then a child being brought up by bright parents will have less need to develop high communication skills as the parents will be able to correctly interpret all the cries, sqeals and tantrums and bring food and television where required. This could continue unnoticed until the child starts school at which point it may be too late to remedy. A child with less clever parents will have to develop many more skills by itself and lead therefore to an individual who is more able to adapt and therefore considered more intelligent. As the human race becomes better educated we must be equally creating a generation of less able children. Nature is selecting for stupid people.
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by:AK_00
ID: 17419238
Or alternatively, you could assume that bright parents generally afford more time with their children playing/reading/etc, which will serve to enhance the kids communication skills & intellectual development.
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>increase in stupidity also coincides with an increase in the ability to communicate

I meant of course a 'decrease'.

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by:PaulCaswell
ID: 17424124
Hi RobinD,

I like the way you think. :-)

However, the fallacy in your argument stems from the old nature/nurture issue. If you could extend your argument to include some genetic result of this interplay then I would feel happier about it.

Paul
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by:NicoLaan
ID: 17424263
>>Or alternatively, you could assume that bright parents generally afford more time with their children playing/reading/etc, which will serve to enhance the kids communication skills & intellectual development.

One thing I know was tested and found is that children with parents that talk about various more or less intelligent subjects i.e. at the dinner table will have children with a richer vocabulaire.
Then again, it's pretty much what you'd expect right?
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by:SunBow
ID: 17424667
RobinD > A child with less clever parents will have to develop

Isn't there a similar saying about rich parents who started poor, and keep working even after they need no more income and those of similar age have retired - that their children are more often lacking same work ethnic, and more likely to become disinherited?

NicoLaan > Then again, it's pretty much what you'd expect right?

yes and no, for they may be away from home learning more for themselves, earning the daily bread, and have less time to eat with the kids, or maybe only time to eat and none available for talking, or for a "quality time".

Communication between parents is of importance not to be underestimated.
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by:jjjtuohy
ID: 17512415
This is such a superb discourse that I will increase points to 500.
nicolan:
Some cockroaches may survive the radiation but the politicians always survive the fallout.
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by:bastibartel
ID: 17512661
Actually I believe nature does not select for stupid people any more than for smart people.
Not anymore anyway. If you consider Nature to be the environmental aspects of it, like weather, supply of food, hazards and so forth.

Humans have introduced a lot of paradox factors however. Like health care in-vitro fertilization, social services.
People with MS, a missing limb, infertility, lack of basic intelectual abilities .. would they survive in a raw environment ?
I guess not - or not as likely. So nature does select for smarter - let's say beeings. That's how we came about after all.
And taking care of our fellow mate obviously brings great advantage to the whole of the human race. Even if it is to a degree where we promote and reproduce  biological disadvantages.

Cheers,
Sebastian  

 
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by:AK_00
ID: 17512959
Given that out of the last million years our ancestors have been around, we've only been agriculutral for the last 10,000 and industrial for the last 1000, it's safe to say that natural selection has likely had very little impact on us since the dawn of 'intelligence'

Perhaps in another 10,000 years in a world with healthcare and fertility treatment, we'll see some resulting impact. Not yet though.

And if anything, that impact should be far more intellectually biased than previous changes. Being less athletic, less fertile, vulnerable to disease etc will have much lower genetic costs for our prospective partners genes, therefore natural selection for any of those features is far less likely to happen. 'Nature' might not be doing the selecting, but evolution is about reproduction of the fittest, not survival of the fittest.

What traits should (in theory) spread? Anything which will make a significant difference to the propogation of your genes into the next generation... better ability to seduce the opposite sex, better business sense, better ability to outwit other people. Everything that made our brains and intelligence important in the first place

Or on the other hand...

Tendancy not to use contraception. Tendancy to have many children, since the wellfare state will guarantee they'll be taken care of and educated, rather than their parents having to fully support them as in the past. Expoitation of the 'nanny' state to spread your own genes further at the expense of the race as a whole.
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by:bastibartel
ID: 17513086
> Being less athletic, less fertile, vulnerable to disease etc will have much lower genetic costs for our prospective partners genes

That's the point, question is, how much does it cost to be stupid these days ?
Here in germany - watch out: sarcasm of a working man - you get some amount of social support per child. which results in a people making babies to increase their income. Now that could be considered a smart move in the current environment. So nature selects for smart people.


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by:AK_00
ID: 17513330
The thing is, a situation like that, in which you're effectively rewarded for having more kids sponging off the state, can only ever be temporary (in the grand scheme of things) so it's difficult to argue that the genes for this kind of behaviour would spread to a significant extent.

The reason it can only ever be temporary, is that is it an exploit to the advantage of the individual in question (and his/her genes) at the expense of the species at a whole. It is a self-controlling situation in that if the behaviour is inherited, it will quickly lead to the point where the state cannot continue to support it, either forcing child allowance down to the point where it's no longer a profitable venture, or else to the point where having children is regulaed by rules/licenses.

Where these social exploits exist, they will stay and be abused more and more until their reward is no longer significant or society imposes rules closing the exploit.

If you're looking for naturally selected intelligence (or stupidity), it needs to be for a reason which is sustainable in the long term.... which is very difficult to predict!
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by:NicoLaan
ID: 17735137
I do think the asker was still interested, he increased the points on 09/13/2006. It was getting quiet though.
Could jjjtuohy still reopen and reassign points if asked at support?
Still, I'm happy with the points, thanks admin!

And thanks all for an interesting discussion.

jjjtuohy
>>Some cockroaches may survive the radiation but the politicians always survive the fallout.
:-)
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