The anthropologist is in....

The anthropologist is in....

Postby Countess » Sun Apr 12, 2009 7:48 am

I just happen to be teaching evolutionary theory this year at UCLA. I thought others might be interested in learning about the theory, so I am offering up my services as an anthropologist who can answer your questions about the study of evolution.

I thought I would start off by defining a few terms.

Evolution = change in the composition of a population

Adaptation = a feature of an organism (physiological or behavioral) which effectively addresses a discrete challenge to survival or reproduction, and which is the product of a history of differential reproduction

Natural Selection = the process that produces adaptation. A better term for natural selection would be evolution by variation and selective retention. Natural selection is based on three postulates and when these three postulates hold (and mind you they don't always hold) then natural selection produces adaptation. More on the postulates to come....
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:41 am

Does evolution make us "better" or is it just change for its own sake?
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Postby Elderberry » Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:47 am

Can anyone venture an answer? If so, I'd say that it depends on your definition of "better". And as far as humans are concerned, I think we do a lot to "protect" and "care" for the segments of our population that would otherwise be eliminated by "natural selection".

If not, just ignore my post.

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Postby Simon of the Playa » Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:11 am

who cares?


she's HOT! in that horny librarian computer D.I.Y girl kinda way....

count me IN!Image
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"better" -- in what sense?

Postby Countess » Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:28 am

[quote="Ugly Dougly"]Does evolution make us "better" or is it just change for its own sake?[/quote]

Adaptations emerge because they help INDIVIDUALS to survive and reproduce at faster rates in a particular environment than those who don't have the adaptation. So in one sense they can make particular individuals "better" at surviving and reproducing -- but only better at the individual level.

If being a cannibal gave individuals an adaptive advantage in a particular environment, then the trait might emerge and become more frequent in the population in eat subsequent generation. However, if the trait became widespread, then the population might eventually eat itself to death -- that's certainly not better for the population as a whole!

In this way natural selection is not good or bad, moral or immoral -- it is just a numbers game. Humans happen to be very, very cooperative (when compared to other species) and this is a interesting adaptation from an evolutionary standpoint.
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Postby Elderberry » Sun Apr 12, 2009 11:10 am

Countess, make sure you uncheck the Disable HTML, BBCCode, etc. boxes just above the submit button. It will make your posts prettier. You can also make this change permanent in your profile.

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Postby Simon of the Playa » Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:17 pm

and how about a kurzweillian(tm) mutation?

nanobots and wireless thought transfer and the like?

isnt the next step already in progress as we rapidly evolve into a bio-mechanical species with replaceable parts and quite potentially, immortality via downloading and cloning?

i've always wanted a detachable penis, like the king missile song, but i think thats still years away.

that way, the damn thing would'nt get me in trouble so much.

i digress.

alot.
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Re: The anthropologist is in....

Postby Zill-a » Sun Apr 12, 2009 5:53 pm

Countess wrote:Natural Selection = the process that produces adaptation. A better term for natural selection would be evolution by variation and selective retention. Natural selection is based on three postulates and when these three postulates hold (and mind you they don't always hold) then natural selection produces adaptation. More on the postulates to come....


ok two questions-

1- please define "postulates" ( apparently art students -me- don't learn these terms)

2- i always hear the term " survival of the fittest" over used and under examined- now being rather nerdy, i always questioned whether fittest was meant purely physically or rather did it also refer to psychological or mental adaptations and strengths as well?

or perhaps its situational to the environment?
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Darwin's 3 postulates

Postby Countess » Sun Apr 12, 2009 7:16 pm

So here are Darwin's three postulates from which natural selection is deduced. These postulates, or conditions, must hold for natural selection to produce adaptations.

1. The ability of a population to expand is infinite, but the ability of any environment to support populations is always finite.

This postulate outlines the condition of competition. There must be a struggle among individuals in a given environment for natural selection to produce adaptations.

When there is a struggle for existence, not all individuals in a population will survive and reproduce. This postulate explains the situation in which individuals in a population are in competition over limited resources. This competitive situation is necessary for natural selection to operate on adaptations that may increase an individual’s competitive edge. When there are no such constraints (as in when a population has space and resources enough to continue growing before reaching the environment’s capacity) then new adaptations will not be necessary and they will not be favored over old ones that work just as well.

2. Individual organisms within populations vary, and this variation affects the ability of individuals to survive and reproduce (i.e. their fitness).

This postulate outlines the condition of variation. There must be differences among individuals in a population for natural selection to produce adaptations.

When there is variation in a population, some individuals will be able to survive and reproduce at higher rates than others. Natural selection can therefore cull and retain individuals (along with their traits) at different frequencies. If there is no variation in a population then new adaptations cannot be favored by natural selection.

3. The variations are transmitted from parents to offspring.

This postulate outlines the condition of heritability. There must be a system for the transmission of traits among individuals in a population for natural selection to produce adaptations.

Traits must be passed on for them to reappear in subsequent generations. Remember that all traits are passed on -- the best and the worst. But traits that confer advantages will be selectively retained at a higher rate, while those that are disadvantageous will become less frequent (and perhaps disappear) over time. When advantageous traits are passed on and retained, they become more common in each generation. If variations in a trait are not transmitted from parents to offspring, then natural selection cannot affect the frequencies of those traits.


So...
I detest the phrase "survival of the fittest" and I tell my students not to use this phrase. I prefer to talk about the "struggle for existence". Furthermore, I teach them a particular definition of fitness that makes this phrase nonsensical.

Fitness = the reproductive success of an individual, which entails both surviving and reproducing. We can measure fitness as number of offspring. (This is very different than the kind of fitness one gets at the gym--at least at the gym that I go to.)

Given this definition of fitness....even those with low fitness (individuals with a low number of offspring) are getting some of their genes into the next generation. So its not just the fittest (individuals with the most offspring) who are surviving.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Apr 13, 2009 9:51 am

As they say in the Papuan Jungles, the anthropologist is in! In hot water, that is! Anybody wanna stay for dinner.



Yeah, that was low on a number of levels. Sorry.
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:53 pm

i just KNOW she looks good in tight genes.
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Postby chiefdanfox » Mon Apr 13, 2009 10:38 pm

Simon of the Playa wrote:i just KNOW she looks good in tight genes.

Are we talking Major Groove, Minor Groove or both?
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Tue Apr 14, 2009 5:51 am

BOTH!


such a punim, this one....oy! be still my beating heart.


and smart too!
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Incremental Changes

Postby Countess » Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:44 am

Evolution is a very slow process. Populations change over time as the distribution of traits change from generation to generation.

People are often comfortable with the idea that natural selection can make minor changes, but they are not willing to concede that this same process can produce different species.

Perhaps this example can help. Watch this clip to see how an eye can evolve from skin cells through incremental changes.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEKyqIJkuDQ[/youtube]
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Re: Darwin's 3 postulates on the playa

Postby Marscrumbs » Fri Apr 17, 2009 2:48 pm

1) The number of number of newbies who hear about Burning Man on TV or Time mag, whatever, is infinite, but BLM will only allow a finite number of burners on the playa in a given year.

2) Old Burning are non conformists and have within them a need to express their varation at Burning Man.

3) Newbie see these variations in the photobins of old Burners and think they are being cool by copying them and mimicking their behavior. This and overcrowding so annoys Old Burners that they stay home.

Therefore the result is the further re-population of the Black Rock City each year with greater conformity of cloned burner wannabies.


Countess wrote:So here are Darwin's three postulates from which natural selection is deduced. These postulates, or conditions, must hold for natural selection to produce adaptations.

1. The ability of a population to expand is infinite, but the ability of any environment to support populations is always finite.

This postulate outlines the condition of competition. There must be a struggle among individuals in a given environment for natural selection to produce adaptations.

When there is a struggle for existence, not all individuals in a population will survive and reproduce. This postulate explains the situation in which individuals in a population are in competition over limited resources. This competitive situation is necessary for natural selection to operate on adaptations that may increase an individual’s competitive edge. When there are no such constraints (as in when a population has space and resources enough to continue growing before reaching the environment’s capacity) then new adaptations will not be necessary and they will not be favored over old ones that work just as well.

2. Individual organisms within populations vary, and this variation affects the ability of individuals to survive and reproduce (i.e. their fitness).

This postulate outlines the condition of variation. There must be differences among individuals in a population for natural selection to produce adaptations.

When there is variation in a population, some individuals will be able to survive and reproduce at higher rates than others. Natural selection can therefore cull and retain individuals (along with their traits) at different frequencies. If there is no variation in a population then new adaptations cannot be favored by natural selection.

3. The variations are transmitted from parents to offspring.

This postulate outlines the condition of heritability. There must be a system for the transmission of traits among individuals in a population for natural selection to produce adaptations.

Traits must be passed on for them to reappear in subsequent generations. Remember that all traits are passed on -- the best and the worst. But traits that confer advantages will be selectively retained at a higher rate, while those that are disadvantageous will become less frequent (and perhaps disappear) over time. When advantageous traits are passed on and retained, they become more common in each generation. If variations in a trait are not transmitted from parents to offspring, then natural selection cannot affect the frequencies of those traits.


So...
I detest the phrase "survival of the fittest" and I tell my students not to use this phrase. I prefer to talk about the "struggle for existence". Furthermore, I teach them a particular definition of fitness that makes this phrase nonsensical.

Fitness = the reproductive success of an individual, which entails both surviving and reproducing. We can measure fitness as number of offspring. (This is very different than the kind of fitness one gets at the gym--at least at the gym that I go to.)

Given this definition of fitness....even those with low fitness (individuals with a low number of offspring) are getting some of their genes into the next generation. So its not just the fittest (individuals with the most offspring) who are surviving.
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:04 am

2) Old Burning are non conformists and have within them a need to express their varation at Burning Man.

3) Newbie see these variations in the photobins of old Burners and think they are being cool by copying them and mimicking their behavior. This and overcrowding so annoys Old Burners that they stay home.


this is EXACTLY why whenever i see newbs about, poking their noses into our burny shit, and asking questions, we immediately go into Mah-Jong mode and sit around drinking Mai-Tai's and discussing old episodes of the View.

that usually scares them away, quick.
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Postby ygmir » Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:45 am

Simon of the Playa wrote:
2) Old Burning are non conformists and have within them a need to express their varation at Burning Man.

3) Newbie see these variations in the photobins of old Burners and think they are being cool by copying them and mimicking their behavior. This and overcrowding so annoys Old Burners that they stay home.


this is EXACTLY why whenever i see newbs about, poking their noses into our burny shit, and asking questions, we immediately go into Mah-Jong mode and sit around drinking Mai-Tai's and discussing old episodes of the View.

that usually scares them away, quick.


you don't attribute the fear to your leopard skin thong, nipple rings, and bunny ears?
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:13 pm

oops...double
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:15 pm

jumpin juminy crickets...a triple post....sorry, spotty stolen internet.
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:18 pm

you don't attribute the fear to your leopard skin thong, nipple rings, and bunny ears?



on the playa, that is mainstream, generic and mundane. like buying your polo shirts at wal-mart.

i blend in perfectly, like bad italian wallpaper in a bad italian restaurant.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:41 pm

So why did Neanderthals die out? Or did they?
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Postby ygmir » Sat Apr 18, 2009 8:47 pm

Ugly Dougly wrote:So why did Neanderthals die out? Or did they?


they're all in Des Moines
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Sun Apr 19, 2009 6:57 am

they're all in Des Moines



have you heard what the homosexuals are doing to the Soil?
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Postby ygmir » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:10 am

Simon of the Playa wrote:
they're all in Des Moines



have you heard what the homosexuals are doing to the Soil?


other than noting the spike in Neaderthal ancestry (from the secret homeland security gene pool map) in Des Moines, I don't know much of anything else about the area.


do tell............
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:27 am

You know what Stuart? I like you. You're not like the other people here
in the trailer park. Oh no, don't get me wrong, they're fine people, good
Americans. But they're content to sit back, maybe watch a little Mork and
Mindy on channel 57. Maybe kick back a cool Coors 16-ouncer. They're
good fine people, Stuart. But they don't know what the queers are doing
to the soil.

You know that Johnny Werzner kid - the kid who delivers papers in the
neighborhood? He's a fine kid. Some of the neighbors say he smokes
crack, but I don't believe it. Anyway, for his 10th birthday, all he
wanted was a burrow owl, just like his old man. "Dad, get me a burrow
owl. I'll never ask for anything else as long as I live". So the guy
breaks down and buys him a burrow owl. Anyway at 10:30 the other night I
go out into my yard and there's the Werzner kid looking up in the tree. I
said, "What are you looking for?" He said, "I'm looking for my burrow
owl." I say, "Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick! Everybody knows that a
burrow owl lives in a hole in the ground! Why the hell do you think they
call it a burrow owl, anyway?!" Now Stuart, do you think a kid like that
is gonna know what the queers are doing to the soil?

I first became aware of this, about 10 years ago, the summer my oldest boy
Bill Jr. died. You know that carnival that comes to town every year?
Well this year it came with a ride called the Mixer. The man said "Keep
your head and arms inside the mixer at all times." But Bill Jr., he was a
daredevil, just like his old man. He was leaning out saying, "Hey
everybody! Look at me, look at me!" POW! He was decapitated. They found
his head over by the snowcone concession. A few days after that, I open
up the mail and there's a pamphlet in there, from Pueblo, Colorado. And
it's addressed to Bill Jr. And it's entitled, "Do you know what the
queers are doing to our soil?"

Now Stuart, if you look at the soil around any large U.S. city with a big
underground homosexual population - Des Moines, Iowa, perfect example.
Look at the soil around Des Moines, Stuart. You can't build on it, you
can't grow anything in it. The government says it's due to poor farming.
But I know what's really going on, Stuart. I know it's the queers.
They're in it with the aliens. They're building landing strips for gay
Martians. I swear to God.

You know what Stuart, I like you. You're not like the other people, here
in the trailer park.
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Postby ygmir » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:42 am

*my 40 watt light bulb clicks on*............

hey,
didn't "Calypso" Louie Farakhan say he had a mother ship circling the earth waiting to land "his people" to take over?

It's a conspiracy I tell you..............

*closes cardboard box lid and goes back to nursing on MD 20/20 bottle*
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Forces of evolutionary change

Postby Countess » Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:29 pm

Forces of evolutionary change act to change the frequency of alternative traits in the populations from generation to generation.

Natural Selection = non-random differential reproductive success; over time differences in rates of reproduction increases the frequency of variants that increase survival and reproduction; natural selection often decreases variation
Mutation = introduces novel variants; increases variation
Genetic Drift = chance changes in frequencies due to sampling; a small group of individuals that emigrates will have a different sample of traits than the original population; the effect of chance sampling differences will be stronger in smaller populations
Gene Flow = migration adds new members to a population and changes gene frequencies; may introduce new variants or simply change the frequency of alternative traits in a population
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:10 pm

ygmir wrote:
Simon of the Playa wrote:
2) Old Burning are non conformists and have within them a need to express their varation at Burning Man.

3) Newbie see these variations in the photobins of old Burners and think they are being cool by copying them and mimicking their behavior. This and overcrowding so annoys Old Burners that they stay home.


this is EXACTLY why whenever i see newbs about, poking their noses into our burny shit, and asking questions, we immediately go into Mah-Jong mode and sit around drinking Mai-Tai's and discussing old episodes of the View.

that usually scares them away, quick.


you don't attribute the fear to your leopard skin thong, nipple rings, and bunny ears?


I am so glad that you have your costume picked out already.
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:30 pm

on a serious note....i saw a piece the other night about near extinct species and the effects of isolation and in particular, the iberian mynx which has a genetic pre-coded disposition to kill their siblings viciously during the so-called "fighting" season...

before their numbers dwindled as a direct result of loss of habitat and food supply, this would allow for literally, the survival of the fittest, however, now almost exclusively bred in captivity, it has unfortunately hastened their demise.

how do you explain this almost contrarian process?

and, as humans, we are theoretically the only species capable of consciously destroying ourselves as a species, is this feature, called "Human Nature" or a natural drive to destruction as strong as the natural drive to create?

or should i stop worrying about this crap and catch a nice re-run of tyra?
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Postby ygmir » Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:31 pm

Ugly Dougly wrote:
ygmir wrote:
Simon of the Playa wrote:
2) Old Burning are non conformists and have within them a need to express their varation at Burning Man.

3) Newbie see these variations in the photobins of old Burners and think they are being cool by copying them and mimicking their behavior. This and overcrowding so annoys Old Burners that they stay home.


this is EXACTLY why whenever i see newbs about, poking their noses into our burny shit, and asking questions, we immediately go into Mah-Jong mode and sit around drinking Mai-Tai's and discussing old episodes of the View.

that usually scares them away, quick.


you don't attribute the fear to your leopard skin thong, nipple rings, and bunny ears?


I am so glad that you have your costume picked out already.


why yes, yes I do........

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