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In your opinion, is natural selection the best way to improve a species?

I’m sure most of us think evolution is fact and natural selection explains how living things have evolved into their current state.

The question isn’t whether natural selection is how we evolved but whether you think it is the best way. If not, how can we do better than nature has so far?

AgnosticBear 6 Jan 3

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I tend to agree that our brainpower has advanced enough to make natural selection far less significant as it once was.


It is the ONLY way.

Gary Level 4 Jan 3, 2018

The human species has curtailed natural selection with the unnatural environment and different cultures it has developed .Also the survival of the fittest does not fit Into the equation any more due to the weak and genetically inferior do not die off like in the animal kingdom but go on and reproduce


We must break the yolk of natural selection. Look how feeble we are. We can only think so large, jump so high, and live so long. Our survival demands science to take over where nature failed.


We've been performing artificial selection on ourselves for at least twelve thousand years, and probably beyond. This is mostly in the realm of cultural evolution. Physiological evolution has slowed, cultural is skyrocketing. We can never go back. We're an artificial species now.

skado Level 8 Jan 3, 2018

Takes out the "judgment" factor of human designing. But if - and that is a big IF since we are notoriously horrible with bringing about unintended consequences by not examining ALL factors and following deeply enough down the chain of consequences and connections - we could do it correctly, we can move more quickly and push for the most desirable qualities of humanity regardless of the survival value and reproductive value that genes themselves are seeking to advance.


I could have done better.

Like moving the sewer further from the playground, just as a for instance.


There is no natural selection or natural evolution anymore, in most populations.

People who should not make it, do.
People who should make it, do not.

From a biological standpoint, it sucks.

Yes. Humans.


nature keeps everything strong and healthy. humans do all sorts.


It's the only thing we've seen. We have nothing to compare it to.

You're right of course. I misread it, and was thinking about humans, but even humans have changed the course of natural selection through modern medicine.


I am surprised that nobody has yet mentioned that this is precisely what a certain Mr A Hitler tried. He thought he could improve upon natural selection by trying to do to breed a "master race" of Aryan people by selective breeding and eradicating any populations seen as threatening this.

The Nazi's goal wasn't to breed a master race, they believe that there already was one (social Darwinism, which was popular at the time). The exterminations of people was done to make more lebensraum, "the territory that a state or nation believes is needed for its natural development, especially associated with Nazi Germany." They had run the numbers of their increasing population and their food production systems, primarily ag, and determined that they needed more land and didn't need the people current consuming the products of that land.

“Neither the current living space nor that achieved through the restoration of the borders of 1914 permits us to lead a life comparable to that of the American people.”

This is all based on Timothy Snyder's book "Black Earth"

Agreed, but he took natural selection to the extreme, by ensuring that the breed stayed pure by selecting those that should breed together and removing any he saw as threatening this. Women with hereditary illnesses were sterilised and Himmler set up a program for pure bread women to bear blond haired blue eyed children to sustain the master race - hence my comment about selective breeding (as we do with dogs) as opposed to a random natural selection as mentioned in the original post.

It’s laughable you consider breeding programs natural.


I think it should be pretty obvious that natural selection doesn't really operate on humans anymore. We manipulate the environment and people who would've died on the savannah millennia ago, eaten by lions, now live and reproduce. I think memetics is becoming more important than genetics at this point in our development. Spreading evidence-based thinking is more important than spreading genes.


Natural selection has been at it for 3.8 billion years. Natural selection was the only way species evolved. Artificial selection works quite well with dogs and domesticated animals in general, but it would be catastrophic for whole ecosystems, which are way too complicated to control. Artificial selection of people is technically possible and in a neutral way it could be good for the species. Unfortunately, the sociopathy burden of our society is too high for artificial selection of people. Sociopaths would immediately take over and create a planetary-wide house of horrors.


If it is or is not the "best way" would depend on your goal. Humans have been selectively breeding animals and plants selecting for certain traits for thousands of years. This is why your vegetable section of your supermarket if loaded with lots of fruits and vegetables that are massive compared to the contained seeds, or why chicken breasts are as big as your hand and not two fingers, or why you have a dog of a particular size, shape, and personality.

Natural selection and man-made selection really are no different, we're just another selective pressure variable in the organism population's environment. If anything, we're faster at modifying a species because we are very selective in choosing which individuals will reproduce and have offspring, where as in nature, even individuals with less than optimal traits may reproduce and contribute their genes to the pool.

Gener Level 5 Jan 3, 2018

Btw, to finish my initial thought, if your goal is to make a species into what you want it to be, refining it for a specific set of traits that you desire for whatever reason, clearly humans intervention into the process of selection of who's morphology (the form/structure of the biology, or the way gene's express themselves in the organism).

If your goal is for the species to evolve so that it is more competitive in its natural environment, then unless you know all the details of that enviro and can tailor your selection for it, then more than likely the selective pressures from its natural environment would produce the more best fitting results, although it would be slow, depending on the time it takes for an individual to grow from birth to reproductive age. Elephants are slow to evolve because they can't mate until about 10-12 years old. Bacterium's entire lifespan is about 12 hours, they swap genetic material via direct cell-to-cell contact probably within an hour. So in a year, you'll have about 700 generations of bacteria whereas you need about 12 years for a single generation of elephants. This difference matters because it is the recombination of genetics and occasional rare mutations that create the small differences in morphology that are selected, then those who reproduce pass their genetics onto the next gen. This is why fighting disease is so challenging (why there is a different flu shot every year [and influenza is all RNA instead of DNA, but that's a different conversation]).


Not sure how to define "best," but one thing is for sure: natural selection will either improve a species or end it.

Some much faster than others. Even the horseshoe crab didn't start out as such. It has stalled out for now, but it has at some point evolved, and its process is not done yet.

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