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student journal club subgroup

Will Steeves goid at io.org
Sun Jan 29 17:16:37 EST 1995

Newsgroups: bionet.molbio.evolution
Subject: Re: student journal club subgroup
Cc: Steve at concern1@demon.co.uk

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a genetic researcher, so please don't take
what I say as gospel.  :-)  However, I wouldn't be writing, if I didn't
think that I was at least partially correct in what I have said here.

Steve at concern1.demon.co.uk (Steve Collins) writes...
>In article <3en7d3$q51 at nic.umass.edu>
>        SREE at phobos.ucs.umass.edu "Sreekumar Govinda Pillai Pilla" writes:
>> The question of victory in a war (at least in 20'th century) depends
>> mainly on the technological advancement of weapons.  So it becomes true
>> that one group becomes victorious because they have high tech weapons
>> designed by the defense scientists.  The soldiers acts only as instruments
>> in these conditions. So is it wise to say that war selects the fittest??

>I'm not so sure about war selecting for the fittest.

>Victors in wars don't tend to exterminate the vanquished, but rather occupy
>the territory and the victors gradually either assimilate or are assimilated
>into the local population.

>Possibly because the vanquished tend to be suppressed, their acces to
>food etc. is more limited and therefore their genes tend to die out.  But
>look at India for example.  There were repeated invasions by northern,
>fairer skinned peoples.  Now there is now quite a variation of
>skin colour but the darker skinned people still persist.

Ah, THAT is how that happened.  I have always wondered why it was that there
was a large variation in skin colour amount East Indian peoples, but I didn't
have the historical knowledge that the people of southern India had been
repeatedly invaded.

>This mixing took place even in the face of strict caste laws, deterring
>marrige  between the different castes.

Well, it goes without saying that neither laws, nor even strict morality,
have much of an effect upon reproduction.  No, I don't have any studies to
prove this, but it does however seem almost self-evident that "if two people
want each other enough, nothing can come between them...", etc.


>I am also interested in how the advance of technology has changed patterns
>of hominid evolution.  Does the insulation increaingly provided by
>technology effectively mean an end to classical survival of the fittest.  I
>heard that western populations are becoming taller extremely fast.  In other
>other places (areas of Brasil for instance) persistent poor nutrition is
>leading to nutritional dwarfs in a few generations.

Yes, but we're talking about _nutritional_ dwarfs, not _genetic_ dwarfs.
Conceivably, the genes for height are still being passed by those who have
them, but the _environmental_ element of poor nutrition is keeping the genes
from being fully expressed.

>However these effects are due to the nutritional levels in the parents; the
>height of an offspring being a function of the height of both it's parents.
>If you have good nutrition whilst growing you tend to be taller at the time
>of reproduction and therefore tend to have taller offspring.  Who, if they
>are well nourished tend to be even taller and so have even taller offspring.
>This seems to be more inheritance of acquired characteristics in that
>you acquire the extra height through good nutrition, rather that having
>any genetic potential for extra height.  So is Lamark (or
>however you spell him) coming back into fasion ?

You're right, that _is_ very Lamarckian indeed.  And yes, I _do_ disagree
with you that tallness caused by nutrition can be passed to future
generations.  In other words, in my humble opinion, nutrition can cause
tallness, but _not_ the _genetic propensity_ for tallness.  After all, if you
give a person who, by nature of his genes will be short, huge overdoses of
growth hormones, and if by some chance he doesn't die whilst doing this,
then conceivably yes, he himself will be taller, but I am hard-pressed to see
how his children will be taller, _ceteris paribus_, simply because of the
tallness caused by the drugs administered to him.  After all, unless these
drugs have some unknown effect that we don't know about, they will NOT alter
his genes.

In other words, I am wondering if you are confusing _environmental_ factors
for tallness with _genetic_ factors.

Mind you, as I said before, I am not a doctor or geneticist, so I'm being
careful not to declare that what I am saying is gospel truth.  Indeed, watch
you now come back and tell me that you have a PhD and that I've been talking
absolute twaddle for the whole time...  :-)

And yes, if I AM wrong, can someone please explain why... Still, I have
always thought that Lamarck's theories were dismissed _precisely_ for the
reason that they confused environmental and genetic factors in evolution.

Will Steeves, B.Sc. (Toronto, 1991), goid at io.org          "Neil Hull is GOiD"
Internex Online (ex ZOOiD BBS & R-Node), Toronto, Ont.    "GOiDS Rule"

Ontario Area Coordinator, FREE ; Founder, M.E.R.G.E. Toronto ;
Men's Issues Editor, _The New Edition_ Magazine, University of Toronto
Proud Member of the National Coalition of Free Men (NCFM)

"Any sufficiently advanced intuition is indistinguishable from telepathy."
     - Steeves' Law

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