[extropy-chat] Reverse Evolution ?

Ian Goddard iamgoddard at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 1 05:31:59 UTC 2006

--- spike <spike66 at comcast.net> wrote:

>  Evolution is widely caricatured by fish crawling
> out on land, becoming an ape then a human, as
> if evolution has a particular direction.  Cartoon
> images can have enormous impact, as we have seen.
> Stephen J. Gould has written extensively on this
> misconception and its affect on the public.

 Right, "no direction" matches what I understand.
While my knowledge here is weak, by my understanding
evolution has no direction other than being those who
"keep showing up" under changing environmental
conditions. If the oceans rose and lands became
barren, only land animals that could get food from the
oceans would "keep showing up." And of those, the ones
that did it the best would keep showing up the most.
Eventually their descendents are dolphins and whales.
That isn't really "progress" in any direction as much
as it is life being shaped to fit a changing
environment. Life follows the environment, and the
environment follows no particular "direction." 

 Another point comes to mind regarding the given case.
[*] Even if we accept "backward evolution" I'm not
persuaded that this case of some people who walk on
all fours would be such a case. Monkeys and apes walk
on all fours because their anatomy is suited for it,
not because they want to or are stupid. If you found
yourself in a monkey's body, you'd likely find that
knuckle walking works pretty well, what the hell! But
those odd people are in bodies suited for bipedal
locomotion. The long short, they most likely walk on
all fours for *different reasons* than monkeys and
apes do. They probably have a neurological balance
problem that monkeys and apes don't have. Monkey's and
apes have a too-short-hind-legs "problem," if you
will. So even if backward evolution is valid, this
case is probably a category error at best. ~Ian


Here's an abstract to a report by the cited scientist:

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