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A great many people mistakenly believe that natural selection implies that it only takes place if they who are perceived to be less valuable or somehow deficient are removed from the gene pool.

You're fucking wrong.

Natural selection is when you are either selected for removal or selected for survival. If people with poor vision who would otherwise have died survive by help from others, then people with poor vision have been selected to survive. Natural selection.

If the group of people who aid people with poor vision overburden themselves by trying to help those with poor vision and fail to survive, then they have been selected to die. Natural selection.

If the increase in population from the survival of blind people overburdens the ecosystem and it is no longer able to support either the human population or the canine population, then both humans and dogs have been selected to die. Natural selection.

If the blind people overtake their sighted benefactors in population until all persons are blind, then sighted people have been selected to die and blind people have been selected to survive. Natural selection.

If you're poor and your best friend falls ill, and you choose to take care of him at your own expense, thereby preventing you from passing on your genes, then you have been selected to fail. Your compassion will fail to be passed on to your offspring and thus it will be that much more removed from the gene pool. When your other friend chooses to ditch your mutual best friend, he'll succeed in passing on his genes, thus pushing forward a selfish mentality. Genes, people, animals, behaviors, all were naturally selected in some way or another.

You cannot escape natural selection.

You cannot escape evolution.

Anytime someone tells you that evolution/natural selection doesn't affect humanity anymore, they are wrong.

Humans are no more separate from the community of life than any other species; belief to the contrary is egotistical self-indulgent vanity, and a load of shit.

Reply to Helter:

If stupid people are no longer allowed to simply get themselves killed, and if weak people are no longer killed off by stronger people, and incompetent people are no longer allowed to starve, then those people are suited to their environment and therefore successes. The fault in your argument is that you draw up comparisons between changing populations (the weak of yesteryear and the weak of the present) without also showing the comparison between the environment of yesteryear and the environment of today. If they are alive, then they have been selected to live; they are suited to their environment. If anything, the strong who would kill the weak are now not suited to their environment, as the environment of today doesn't allow for the killing of others for being weaker.

In other words, natural selection is still applicable to the whole of humanity. Just as it was yesterday, just as it is today, just as it will be tomorrow, and every other day after. You're not less affected by natural selection one day than you are the next. It is a constant and works on many different levels. I believe the problem you're having is that you can't see it as anything but one level, and in your sight human society is somehow removed from the community of life, which it isn't.

You say that we've removed the natural system and replaced it with our own. What does that mean, anyway? Natural? I don't subscribe to the idea of something being natural or unnatural, because all things produced in the universe are of the universe, and therefore inherently natural. If a human system exists in the universe, it is natural. Your argument of how a societal system has usurped a natural system is wrong also in that the actions taken by the population to protect "genes ... that are not neccesarily adapted well in regards to nature" will result in one of two things: 1) It will help the population succeed; 2) It will help the population fail. Again we go back to your limited scope: you don't see that natural selection can affect more than individuals.

Reply to Deadbolt:

What is considered natural is stated above in my reply to Helter.

There is no distinction between humans and "instinct-driven animals." Humans are driven by instinct more than we believe. When you smell a woman's perfume as she walks by and you turn to look at her and inhale more deeply, you've done so instinctually. When you're about to get into a fight with someone bigger than you, you'll either stay and fight or run. Sometimes you'll stay because the winnings are worth more to you. You need it, and you're willing to stay and fight for it. Sometimes the bigger person will back down, because it isn't worth the trouble. And sometimes a mountain lion will fight for its kill even when a bear four times it size decides he wants it.

Don't say you're not instinct-driven and don't say animals can't reason.

As for what agency, or who has acted upon you, the answer is no one. You're a part of a system and if you choose not to breed then you have removed yourself. If someone else shoots you in the head then you were not well suited to your environment to survive (read that as you didn't have a kevlar skull, you didn't have good enough hearing to know they were there, you didn't have the sense to have better friends, or you just had a stroke of bad luck). You are part of an enormous interacting system; there is no who.

And about mutation, think of it this way: mutation is the clay, natural selection is the molder. Don't confuse the two or consider one the whole of evolution, nor should you think that they the same.

The difference between your selection (choice not to breed) and the random chance of getting hit by a falling meteor is that on the one hand you were not born suited to your environment (where the choice to reproduce is necessary) and on the other hand you were not born suited to your environment (where falling meteors is a possibility).

What do you think the whole answer is?

Reply to SkiBum5:

If a heroin addict ODs and survives then that addict is suited to survive in his/her environment. They were selected for survival, not death. Nothing was foiled, everything went as said. I think what we have here, as in most other writeups, is a fundamental misunderstanding about the workings of evolution.

If anyone has the time and patience, a great place to get started is talk.origins (usenet) or www.talkorigins.org.

Reply to Azure Monk:

Natural selection is the differential reproductive success of genotypes. In other words, the successes and failures are included.

You poorly paraphrased me and misinterpreted me. I said if people with "trait X" who would otherwise die are helped to survive by others, then those with "trait X" are suited to their environment; they don't have to alter their environment to survive because their environment is supportive of them. In other words, "trait X" isn't something that removes them from the gene pool, and they are allowed reproductive success (which includes reproductive success of their genotypes). I'm not sure how your reply on this point applied.

Your point about an environment not having a specific capacity for a population is wrong. Carrying capacity is well documented and well understood in evolutionary biology. Your example of scarcity decreasing the population to a sustainable level is but one example: it is entirely possible for an organism to increase its population, and thus its waste output, to the point that it destroys the viability of the ecosystem in which it lives and thus itself.

Your point about people with "trait X" breeding more and overtaking the population is redundant: if a population succeeds it is because during the timeframe of its success it was suited to succeed. Nothing can succeed that isn't suited to succeed.

You end by saying that technology has ultimately reduced diversity and as a result natural selection is now not as relevant as before, though it still acts upon us. I disagree in that any time someone breeds or dies without having bred, natural selection has taken place.

Reply to Roland:

Darwin didn't coin "survival of the fittest."

Animals aren't the only organisms on the planet.

Other organisms exert control over their environment, such as a beaver that builds a dam or a bird that builds a nest.

You say in one sentence that humans are the only organisms that exert control over their environment and then equate control with reason. Your support for this is that we're the only ones that make it warmer/colder and that we're the only ones who reason we'll die without food and that we ensure nourishment is nearby. Tell that to the squirrel who stockpiles his nuts and the mouse who builds himself a bed of paper.

That pretty much kills the rest of your argument for a new theory being required.