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Sep 17, 2009 General Nonsense |
In the old days you married whoever was nearby and willing. Today you have a greater chance of marrying someone who shares common traits. I wonder how this selective breeding will shape humans of the future.

We're already seeing this to some degree. Athletes often have parents who are both athletes. And geniuses generally have two parents that were inclined in that direction. IQ and athleticism are two obvious categories, but I wonder what other, less heralded traits will get exaggerated in the generations to come.

For example, religious people will continue mating with religious people, and atheists will seek out other atheists. By default, that leaves the agnostics to mate with each other. Will this group create babies who have an unusually hard time making decisions? Or on the positive side, will that group be unusually open-minded?

People who enjoy wine tasting are finding each other, and often mating, in numbers that never would have happened a hundred years ago. I assume this group has a more refined sense of taste and smell than the average person. Will they create babies with super senses?

I started thinking about this after reading an article about one researcher's hypothesis about the increase in autism rates. I stress that I don't think his hypothesis will pan out, but his line of thinking is fascinating. He noted that children of engineers are somewhat more likely to be autistic, and then observed that because there are more women in high tech jobs, you have more kids spawned from techie couples. Again, I don't think this link to autism will hold up to testing, but the line of thinking is interesting.

What other traits do you think will become exaggerated in the future?

 
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Sep 17, 2009
Hasn't Scott posted previously that natural selection doesn't tell the whole story? Sure, we may be on the path the becoming lazy, ugly, and dumb NOW, but just by wanting to be athletic, attractive, and smart, we eventually will evolve into that.

Also, I don't think it's fair to say that humans follow the same evolutionary rules as the rest of the planet, since we are the only species that understands evolution, and are also the only ones that don't let natural selection weed out the weakest.
 
 
Sep 17, 2009
Seidl

Your observation is much the same as Julian Huxley's. Read his essay - "Ëugenics and Society" if you can get your hands on it. Its not the same as Nazi mumbo jumbo on race and people though, it's quite different.
 
 
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Sep 17, 2009
Brief recap of natural selection: traits inherited through genes that encourage or allow the increased propagation of said genes through the gene pool. If an alien geneticist looked at our species from space then, if you discounted the effects of culture, the geneticist would have to conclude that crime, poverty, ignorance and stupidity are the traits most likely to produce the maximum amount of offspring, and so natural selection would favor those traits over intelligence, atheism and wine-tasting. Thus the former would become very common and, eventually, the latter would become extinct. This is of course an oversimplification but it shows the fundamental flaw in this post's and many of the comments' logic.

Since natural selection has always been and will always be--at least until, as cmj suggests, it is superseded by genetic engineering--the sole force that shapes our gene pool, I am at odds with speculations of the kind expressed in today's post. For a trait to spread through the gene pool, it is necessary to produce many offspring, and for those that inherit it to do so etc., and since I infer that you assume we are talking about Western culture (and not developing nations who have much higher birth rates, and thus are probably still subject to natural selection), not only are we not reproducing on such a scale, but medical intervention allows some individuals to propagate their genes much more successfully than before the rise of modern medicine.

Also, it is easy to mis-attribute too much to genes. Culture plays at least as large a role in our development as genes do, and if anyone objects to that claim, it comes right from the horse's mouth (Dawkins, as it so happens, in his discussion of culture in the closing sections of The Selfish Gene). As someone with a humanities background, I agree with Dawkins--whether someone is open-minded, likely to enjoy wine or rejects religion depends much more on education and ideology than on genetic composition.
 
 
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Sep 17, 2009
All the ladies who mate with me will have brilliant, gorgeous children. I promise.
 
 
Sep 17, 2009
Scott,

Have you been reading up on Eugenics again?
 
 
Sep 17, 2009
coolness. . . ya know, for those who mate with me.

(Look at that, benbrew's prediction just came true)
 
 
Sep 17, 2009
Someone already thought of this. It was Hitler.
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 17, 2009
I'm not sure specifically what traits might end up getting expressed as a result of this, but it *is* a good springboard into a theory/opinion I've held for a while now: Genetic Engineering will eventually be absolutely essential to our civilization.

Here's why: As our medical science advances, more and more people are living to reproductive age who would have died either at birth or shortly thereafter. Frequently, when infant death tragedies of that ilk happen, it's owing to a congenital defect. In many cases, that defect is managed/masked by surgery and/or medication.

Unfortunately, though that person may, by the grace of modern medicine, go on to live a normal, productive, and happy life...except...their difficulty was only ever cosmetically/functionally corrected. The *source* of the problem (that person's faulty DNA) has yet to be touched. That means there's a very good chance that that person's defective gene(s) will be passed on to their offspring.

As medical care continues to advance, more and more of these people will live to reproductive age, further spreading what once may have been a very recessive gene but which, now, is becoming increasingly dominant. Eventually, we may even reach a point where humanity can no longer exist at all for more than one generation without VERY deeply involved medical intervention.


(This is the part where some folks will start jumping up and down, crying "Eugenics!! Hitler!!" Believe me when I tell you that I'm well aware of the potential abuses of such engineering, both subtle and gross. Nevertheless, it is, I believe, something that we can and indeed MUST master.
 
 
Sep 17, 2009
I find this post fascinating. I'm trying to imagine a future where the world is as factionalized as it implies, and I'm finding it difficult. There will certainly be enough tension in the world to make our present world look downright peaceful by comparison.

For my part as a person with Asperger's Syndrome (which is technically classified as a form of autism, but isn't at all what you're thinking of when you think of autism), I very much feel that there needs to be more Asperger's Syndrome in the world. I know I would be very disappointed to have "normal" kids. So it is a dream of mine to marry someone with Asperger's Syndrome. And you're right that in this world we're living in, that's not unrealistic. It's not unlikely the number of people with Asperger's Syndrome is going to increase dramatically over the next few generations, and that's really exciting.
 
 
Sep 17, 2009
To parrot others, I agree about undiagnosed autism in the older generation. Whenever I read about autism, I'm a little confused to hear that there's a disorder involved around people who hate noise (or sound in general), are easily overwhelmed by sensations (like being touched), are obsessive about complicated problems, have discomfort in crowds, etc... I have a lot of sensitivities similar to an autistic kid, but they just don't trigger a freak-out in me. I'm sure that I would be diagnosed with something today, even though I was a relatively normal kid and a reasonably successful adult with a good family life.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 17, 2009
I think the genetic concentration you describe can also be called inbreeding.

(Did you see a video circulating recently, that claims the US and Canada have a birth rate of 1.6 children per adult, and that no culture with a birth rate below 2.11 can sustain itself for 25 years?)

The matches I worry about are the bar heroes and lounge lizards. That has to be a source of true gene pool enrichment.

Perhaps we should institute a practice that college kids cannot practice birth control, and that live births could pay off tuition costs?

I worry about women that get breast enhancements to get a guy, mating with guys that need a woman with enhanced breasts. That cannot bode well for the next generation. "Daddy, how did you know that Mom was the woman for you?" "She had the biggest jugs in the joint that night!" Yuck.

I do worry that very few people really want to marry a farmer. Mecanics, now, and the women they are likely to match up with seem to offer an offsetting degree of diversity and human value.
 
 
Sep 17, 2009
Actually, the increase in autism is solely due to changes in diagnosis. My son was diagnosed as High Functioning Autistic, and I am an engineer. I have no doubt I would have been diagnosed as autistic as a child also, but the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) was quite a different document then than it is today. The diagnostic criteria have been modified a lot to allow for funding for "diseases" that weren't considered diseases before. Case in point, one form of Senility is now a disease called Alzheimers.

I guess this is harmless enough, but I really feel sorry for kids who are labeled with autism, a pejorative term if ever there was one, when at one time they would have just been labeled nerds or dweebs or pencil necked geeks.

 
 
Sep 17, 2009
<sigh> Sorry for the double post. Dang twitchy finger...
 
 
Sep 17, 2009
Regarding wine tasters meeting & mating, here are a few other possibilities that come to mind:

1. Rather than having children with super senses, they have children that *believe* they have super senses.

2. They have children that are exponentially more apt to become alcoholics (perhaps).

3. No matter what, the level of pretentiousness will go off the scale! As evidence of this, I'd like to submit the nation of France...
 
 
Sep 17, 2009
Regarding wine tasters meeting & mating, here are a few other possibilities that come to mind:

1. Rather than having children with super senses, they have children that *believe* they have super senses.

2. They have children that are exponentially more apt to become alcoholics (perhaps).

3. No matter what, the level of pretentiousness will go off the scale! As evidence of this, I'd like to submit the nation of France...
 
 
Sep 17, 2009
Scott - the same traits that make one a good engineer/accountant/etc match the diagnosis for mild autism. Inclination to focus for long periods of time, interest in "order" (engineering is very "ordered") difficulty in dealing with unstructured input (or unstructured social situations), etc. Most engineers are mildly autistic. Many people who have the mild autistic traits I mentioned tend to mate with others who think similarly (people who "get" them, people who understand their difficulties in certain social situations, people who understand their need to be what's often called "geeky"). So it shouldn't surprise us that autism gets reinforced just as you suggest.

/j
 
 
Sep 17, 2009
My hypothesis goes along the lines of:
Interracial marriage/mating is far more common today than in the past. Thus, I deduct that the white male genitals, or package if you will, is certain to get larger and more girth as a norm.
In addition, the Caucasian female backside is surely going to follow suit (larger and more girth).
Males with then evolve to be far more excitable by the large badunkadunks that will prowl the beaches. Unfortunately, this could mean the end of the g-string bikini. :(
 
 
Sep 17, 2009
This weekend we should all go out to our local mall and do some serious observation of families. I have noticed several like-minded pairings: Star Wars nerdlings, meth couples, goth couples with their creepy goth babies, preppy yuppies with Ralph Lauren babies, ad nauseum. My personal fav is muffin family where the kids are just starting to grow their mini-muffins. You can see a lot just by looking.
 
 
Sep 17, 2009
I think you will find that this is having the opposite effect, Scott. In days past, people married within their area and they fought to make the marraige work because they both knew the odds of finding someone else to put up with them was scarce.

Nowadays, people are finding mates with similar interests, thinking that's all it take to make a marriage work and getting divorced in 2 or 5 or 10 years. Do you really think that because you both go to the same church and you both think Seinfeld is funny that is enough to get married? They know there is a large dating pool out there and figure it will be easier to replace their mate than change to make their current mate happy. You can log onto the internet and join hundreds of dating sites and see thousands of possible people you could be compatible with, why would you stay with the one that nags you to take out the garbage?

What this creates are kids that are screwed up because of the environment they are raised in. Mommy cheated on Daddy and then kicked him out, immediately afterward "Uncle Fred" moves in with Mommy and tells the kids that Daddy is a bastard. Mommy then uses the kids as leverage to get money out of Daddy, won't let the kids see Daddy, all the while neglecting the kids for the new relationship. This lets the kids draw their own conclusions to how relationships are supposed to work, and lets them grow up not wanting to get married, or that feels marriage is disposable like a TV that doesn't work anymore.
 
 
Sep 17, 2009
I see this in the reverse; whereas people previously married those nearby, they were likely marrying and reproducing with people of a similar ethnicity. While this is still in play today, more and more people are involved in cross-ethnic relationships (myself included). Overtime, this may lead to fewer race/colour distinctions.

The only one I can think of that really supports your theory is height, but then only to a certain extent. Freakishly tall people tend to marry other rather tall people (for convenience sake, I suppose) and short men have a difficult time finding taller women to date them (BOCTAOE). However, short girls have the option of landing taller men and often excercise that option, in what is probably a subconscious attempt to improve the genes for the next generation.

In my case, my fiance is a whole foot taller than I am and I'm praying to whatever gods may feel kindly towards me that our children favour him in height (and skin tone, olive is nicer than white, IMO).
 
 
 
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