The unbelievable scientific views of Americans

I did a bit of a double take when I came across these stats. Only 15% of Americans?

 

Only 15% of Americans believe in Natural Selection.

32% of Americans believe in a God Assisted Natural Selection.

46% of Americans believe that all life on earth came about because God created it exactly as it says in the Bible.

 

This is supposedly a civilised scientific culture in the 21st century.

What on earth is going wrong?

Hope for the future. It’s a long time off.

The Earth, or rather life on Earth, has survived many cataclysmic events and each time (so far) has clawed its way back. The peaks of evolutionary complexity were crushed and over time new forms evolved to take their place – not better but different. We are the present calamity as we destroy the life around us and bring in the biggest wave of extinctions since the last asteroid hit. Already in my lifetime the changes have been dramatic. In my own backyard hedgehogs are a rarity, honey bees absent, few butterflies frolic on the flowers, slowworms, lizards and grass snakes are almost never seen and the streams are devoid of darting sticklebacks. The joys of my youth have vanished.

It saddens me. But I know things will recover.

When we are gone life will return, though it will, I fear, be far too late for so many. Many of our most extraordinary will be gone forever.

Over long periods of time, millennia, new forms of complex life will evolve. Maybe we will even see intelligence evolve again? Maybe not? Whatever evolves will not be predictable and neither will it inevitably be an improvement on what we have now. But the planet will recover. I do not think we are yet capable of destroying all life – just the more complex forms.

I look ahead to those distant times with a modicum of hope. Perhaps in a few million years time the planet will have recovered from our outrages and be vibrant with complex life again? I hope so. And I hope those new forms will prove as wonderful as the variety we now have all around us. But there are no guarantees when dealing with the chance and luck of evolution.

That hope for the future does not prevent me from mourning the demise of the creatures that once teemed over our green jewel of a planet. I mourn for the tiger, elephant, rhino and gorilla, the frog, newt and bee, the butterfly, stickleback and chimpanzee and the hundreds of thousands of other species that we are presently mindlessly destroying.

I mourn. Even my hope for the future fails to raise my spirits. We had so much and we are carelessly throwing it away, discarding living creatures like trash.

 

Some basic improvements to human biochemistry.

It is not just at the physical level that the human body is badly designed. There are numerous improvements that could be made at a biochemical level. Because our bodies have evolved and not been designed they have a number of inherent faults or areas that could function much better:

  1. The liver could manufacture and store all the 22 amino acids (like plants can). This would mean that we would not need to eat as much protein and we would not need to produce poisonous excretory products (such as urea) from the breakdown of excess amino acids that cannot be stored.
  2. We could have chlorophyll (like plants) which would enable us to produce some of our food from carbon dioxide and water (like plants do). It would mean we’d need less food and we’d produce some of our oxygen and use up some of our carbon dioxide – win, win, win.
  3. We could do away with deleterious genes. We all have a plethora of flawed genes which cause illnesses ranging from colour blindness to cancer, brain damage to heart disease and a range of other nasty illnesses. These are mainly recessive, which is why we are not allowed to marry close relatives (who will likely have the same damaged genes so the illnesses will be more prevalent) and it is best to marry someone from a different race (who is likely to have a different set of flawed genes so they are not likely to match up).
  4. We have many autoimmune problems that lead to such diseases as lupus, arthritis, multiple sclerosis. A better chemistry would deal with these.
  5. The liver could process lipids better so that cholesterol did not clog up arteries causing heart attacks and strokes.
  6. We could have more brown fat (rich in mitochondria) to burn off excess fats so that nobody became obese despite whatever diet they had.
  7. We could remove all the satellite DNA clogging up our chromosomes. Most of the DNA sequences are gobblegook, coding for nothing. They have built up over millions of years from defunct genes or copied sequences and have no purpose – like the old programmes and files clogging up our computers that require defragging.
  8. We could have a system that cleans the brain of impurities so that waste proteins don’t clog up the brain causing dementia.
  9. We could have articular cartilage that was more active at repairing itself so that our joints don’t wear out.

 

The possibilities for improving the human body on a biochemical level are endless. It is like it is because it is the product of evolution and not design. With a little thought the improvements would be immense.

Some basic improvements to the Human Body.

 

 There are some who claim that the human body is a wonder that clearly demonstrates design.

As a biologist I find that ludicrous. The human body is a disaster of flawed design. That is because it is the product of evolution. Any fool can easily identify a number of basic improvements.

 

  1. The brain – a highly delicate organ yet exposed outside of the main body where it is subject to trauma and injury. If it was housed inside the thorax it would be protected much more and closer to the heart for a far better blood supply. It is where it is because of cephalisation (grouping the brain and senses together at the front end) which occurred as early as in the annelids (worms).
  2. The respiratory system – with only one opening shared with the digestive system it is subject to choking and asphyxiation. I doubt there is one human being who has not choked or spluttered and a number die from blocked tracheas. This is because the lungs evolved out of the swim bladder of a fish which is attached to the gut. A better design would be to separate the digestive and respiratory tracts and provide multiple openings so that we can’t suffocate.
  3. The reproductive system – having the reproductive system open with the excretory and egestory systems means that the bladder and vagina and uterus are prone to contamination from faeces and urine and hence infections. The systems evolved from the common cloaca of a fish. The problems did not manifest in water. The systems need separating so that the openings are not close together.
  4. The birth canal – as the reproductive system evolved from a fish common cloaca the birth canal opens through the pelvic girdle creating a dangerous and highly painful birth. If it opened through the abdomen birth would be neither dangerous nor painful.
  5. The neck – as the brain is stuck out on top the neck is very precarious. It has major blood vessels near the surface to supply the brain and a spinal cord inside vertebrae which is prone to being broken resulting in death or paralysis. If the brain was in the thorax and the spinal cord not in the vertebrae then the risk of death and paralysis would be greatly reduced.
  6. Testicles – putting the testicles outside the body in a vulnerable place is absurd. If sperm production occurred at 37 degrees the testes could be safely housed inside the body where they wouldn’t be vulnerable. Anyone who has been kneed in the balls would know what an improvement that would be – (we could have a retractable penis while we were at it).
  7. The vertebrae – the backbone has evolved for quadrupedal walking (as per chimps and gorillas). Bipedal walking causes major stresses because the spine is the wrong shape. This results in many people having major back pain. Redesign it for walking upright.

 

Well I could go on through a series of other poorly evolved organs – joints, hearts (why not two?), digestive tract, teeth, senses (why only two of eyes and ears?), regenerative organs (why can’t we regrow limbs like the Amphibia do?) but it would start to get boring.

The creationists believe we were designed. If so we have a god who obviously enjoys seeing people choking, getting needless infections, brain damage, paralysis, great pain and suffering the agony of childbirth; all of which could, like so many other things, be easily avoided.

If I were to design a better human body I would do a much better job and I’m only a mere human.

Water or Savannah Apes? Where did humans evolve from?

As you can imagine the debate is getting heated. After Attenborough did his programme on humans evolving from marine apes the conservative human evolution establishment is up in arms. They do not like their current theory being challenged.

Human beings evolved from apes in the Rift Valley area of Africa about two million years ago. Not many, apart from the flat-eithers and creationists, are disputing that. We have the fossil evidence.

It is widely believed that we became bipedal on the African savannah in order to hunt and hold tools. The development of intelligence, along with binocular sight and the opposable thumb, necessary for tool manipulation, is well documented.

What David suggested was that we did not become biped on the savannah for hunting but developed this from wading in water to live off molluscs.

So what is the evidence for our aquatic past?

a. Evidence that primitive man ate a lot of bivalves

b. We have blubber (a thick layer of fat under the skin)

c. Babies are born with an immersion syndrome. They naturally hold their breath and can swim under water.

d. We have a physiological change when immersed. Our peripheral blood system shuts down and there are changes in metabolism and brain activity.

e. The hair deposition is of an aquatic animal.

f. We have an affinity for water. We love it.

It is an interesting idea. I look forward to seeing where it goes.

Five major ‘Design’ faults with the human body!

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Because the human body is the result of billions of years of evolution through chance mutation and selection it is far from perfect. Given the opportunity to design a human from scratch there are glaring problems that need addressing. As a biologist these are blindingly obvious. The human being is far from perfect.

Here are five major problems that could be addressed with simple design:

  1. The single opening to the lungs and its opening into the mouth/digestive tract.

Many people choke to death because of a simple ‘design’ fault. Because the lungs developed out of a sac/swimbladder of a fish as a part of the digestive tract we are saddled with one single opening into the mouth which opens right next to our oesophagus. Consequently we can easily choke and often do.

Answer: – two or more separate openings into the lungs that are completely separate to the digestive system. If one becomes blocked it would not be fatal. There would be less likelihood of food or drink going down the wrong tube.

2. The opening of the reproductive system, excretory system and egestory systems in one place.

Because the whole egestory, excretory and excretory systems are designed to open into a common cloaca of a fish living in water, where there would not have been a hygiene problem, they still open in the same area now. Except that we have evolved to live on land and this close association of the three openings together creates hygiene problems. The vagina and uterus, with its adaptations for life on land, facilitates internal fertilisation and development of the embryo. Thus allows entry of bacteria and a fertile area for them to breed. The contamination of faecal bacteria causes infections of the urinary tract and reproductive system. The genitals are contaminated with both urine and faeces. A recipe for infection. Also not brilliant for sex!

Answer: separate the three opening so that urine is not voided through the vulva and faeces are not ejected right next to the vagina.

3. the neck and brain.

Because of cephalisation the brain and senses organs are grouped at the front. With the increased size of the brain it has become more delicate and we now find it encased in protective bone on the end of a flexible neck. As we lead with our head our brain is vulnerable and the neck is extremely open to damage. We suffer concussion, brain injuries, broken necks and paraplegia.

Answer: house the brain in the centre of the chest where it would be better protected and also closer to the heart to ensure a great blood supply (oxygen and nutrients). There would be no need for a protective skull and no neck to break. The senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell, could still be congregated at the front.

4. The testes on the outside of the body.

As any man knows the most painful experience a man can have (85.6X childbirth) is to have a severely blow to the testes. It is mind-blowingly, paralysingly, agony. Yet there they are – an easy target and major weakness when fighting, hunting or participating in a domestic. They invite a good kick. The reason they are there is because sperm production is better at a temperature below body temperature.

Answer: make sperm production best at body temperature and put them where women keep there’s – inside the abdominal cavity!

5. The vertebral column

The vertebral column is the wrong shape. It has evolved for walking on all fours (as with chimps and gorillas) and has not yet evolved to suit bipedal ambulation. Consequently people are plagued with back ache and major problems caused by curvature of the spine. It cripples millions of people.

Answer: adapted the shape of the spine so that the weight bearing problems associated with bipedal locomotion do not cause the pressures, strains and structural decay we currently find.

I could go on through a list of other problems associated with our imperfect bodies – biochemically, with tissues and organs and structurally (feet, hip joints, knees, appendices, placques, deleterious genes…….). If we were made in god’s image or created then there has been a major cock-up somewhere down the line.

The human body functions but is far from perfect. A day spent in a design centre could come up with a far superior model that would not suffer with this range of problems.

Food for thought.

Poetry – I am a fly – a poem about life

 

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I believe ln the picture put together by great scientific research. All life on this planet is equally evolved. There is no hierarchy. We all came out of the first, and only, single cell. Life evolved over billions of years and went its different ways down trunk, branch and twig of the evolutionary tree.

All life on this planet is equally important, equally adapted, and equally evolved. Having certain attributes does not make us superior. Our arrogance and stupidity are manifest in our attitudes. The pompous are preposterous.

We humans, not uniquely, evolved consciousness. It is a mixed blessing (if I can use such a term imbued with religious connotations). We have used it to enrich, create and embellish our lives. We have used to create misery, pain and destruction.

We have been befuddled by our limited intelligence to seek purpose, reason and possibility where there is none.

Other, less intelligent forms of life, do not indulge in such esoteric fantasy.

I Am A Fly

I am a fly

All I desire is to find food, a mate, and a place to lay my eggs;

To avoid predators

And escape the heat and cold.

I am a fly.

 

I do not know that flies, trees and humans

All evolved from the same cell.

 

I am a fly.

I do not believe I have a higher purpose

I do not contemplate an after-life,

I do not yearn for heaven

or fear hell.

I create no gods.

 

I am a fly. My life is short

And I live it

That is all.

 

Opher 9.10.2015

Human evolution – It was the cows wot done it!

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Human evolution – It was the cows wot done it!

As hunter/gatherers our diets were varied but dependent on the success of the hunt. We needed the protein from the meat but hunting was precarious and difficult. Life was hard and lived on the dge. There were times of famine.

Then we had the brainwave of farming. ‘Why go off hunting the buggers when we can capture a couple and breed ‘em up so that they’re easy to get and always available’, and ‘Why go out gathering the stuff when it’s hard to find and spread out? Why not sow some seeds and get it all to come up in one place and there’s lots of it?’ Intelligence is wonderful.

But even that did not solve our problems. The crops grew in season. There were gluts and shortages. Storage was hard. There were still periods of starvation.

We had evolved to digest milk as babies but lost the ability in adulthood.

Natural selection weeded out the starving.

But now there was milk available and you could make butter, cheese and yoghourt if only it didn’t make you sick and you could digest it.

There was a mutation in a gene for lactose tolerance. It enabled adults to digest milk. The ones with the mutated gene had added nutrition through winter and their survival rates rocketed.

They were selected.

Nowadays we can see the prevalence of this gene. It is throughout populations in Europe and Asia.

It is an example of human evolution.

The Sci-fi novels assume the big evolutionary changes will be in intelligence. There is no reason why it should. It will only be beneficial if it gives a clear advantage. The most likely evolution in humans will be a mutation that affords resistance to a disease. Intelligence will count for nothing.

We owe our present success in temperate regions to cows and milk.

It is the cows wot done it!

Human evolution and skin colour – the dreadful truth!

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Human evolution and skin colour.

As we migrated out of Africa a mere sixty thousand years ago we hit a problem. The sunshine and hence UV light was greatly reduced. We needed that UV light in order to make Vitamin D. Without vitamin D we got ill. When you are living on the edge any small advantage becomes crucial.

In strong UV Light the black pigment melanin provides protection against skin cancer.

We all stem from Africans who had black skin.

Outside of Africa black skin was a disadvantage. A mutation occurred that reduced melanin and resulted in lighter skin that upped our vitamin D production.

Pale skin was selected in subtropical regions.

It is interesting to observe the way natural selection has occurred to optimise protection against skin cancer and vitamin D production. I tropical regions with harsh UV the skin colour is black. In subtropical regions with less intense UV it is brown and in temporate regions it is very pale.

This is a good example of changes in the ratio of genes in a population and hence evolution.

Evolution within Humans.

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Evolution within Humans.

Up until recently in was easy to see evolution at work on human populations through natural selection. In Shakespeare’s day, four hundred years ago, only one in three babies survived long enough to reproduce. There was a huge mortality rate. The ‘unfit’ were weeded out through disease, bad conditions, lack of sanitation, malnutrition, violence or mere bad luck. To survive you needed the right genes and the wit to be in the right place and do the right thing.

Nowadays 95% survive. The ‘unfit’ (and I use that term scientifically, not unkindly) are not weeded out. Health and Safety, medicine, sanitation and cleanliness have created a situation where nearly everyone survives to have children.

So is evolution no longer occurring in human populations?

The answer is probably ‘not much’.