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Me again on Evolution

Mary K. Kuhner mkkuhner at phylo.genetics.washington.edu
Mon Aug 28 09:04:36 EST 1995

Darin Trelka <trelkad at jeflin.tju.edu> writes:

>I hate to disagree, but natural selection and humanity don't go together 
>anymore.  With the onset of modern medicine, we had effectively removed 
>ourselves from the process, much to our species detriment.  

Only if you are thinking that humanity consists of upper-class First
World residents.  Disease is a huge killer of infants in most of the
world today.

You're also assuming that other causes of death aren't effective
selection, which puzzles me.  For example, death prior to reproduction
due to drunk driving is very common locally.  If this pattern persists
long enough I would expect to see any genetic traits that can contribute
to avoiding death by drunk driving to become common--either higher
alcohol tolerance, lower tendency to drink in the first place, or
whatever else evolution can find to work with.  (Allergy to alchohol
might well be an advantage, for example.  Or passing out cold rather
than remaining conscious enough to *think* you can drive.)

Lots of people die before reproducing or fail to reproduce--there is no
lack of variance in reproductive success for evolution to work on.  Some
of the selective pressures have changed in recent history, in some parts
of the world, but that hardly consistitutes stopping evolution.  To do
that medicine would have to insure that *all* people survive to fertile
adulthood and have an equivalent number of children.  It's showing no
sign of doing so.

Mary Kuhner mkkuhner at genetics.washington.edu

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