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A new phase in evolution?

themohawkninja
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10/14/2013 2:54:29 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I have been wondering a lot recently about why some people are born gay. Homosexuality does nothing to help reproduction (in fact, it inhibits it), and as far as I can tell, it does nothing to help the survival of the individual either, therefore it seems to defy Darwinian logic.

Now, one explanation that have come up with, is that it is just the only (or one of a very few number of) genetic deformity(ies) that doesn't harm the individual directly, and therefore the person can live as long as anyone else without any physical consequence.

However, a second idea, which is where the title comes in, is that in nature we have observed homo/bi-sexual behavior in order to keep the group happy, in that they just have sex with whomever they please, so they can get their tensions relieved. This is all well and good, but once again it doesn't help with the reproduction aspect of Darwinism, and why would being better than content be beneficial to a group?

Therefore, I want to propose the idea that once a species has evolved to the point whereby there is little need for genetic evolution for the sake of survival (like in primates, and in humans especially), then evolution turns to the society that the individual is in instead of the ability for the individual to survive, and evolves the society to be better as a whole. Therefore homosexuality, while not aiding Darwinian ideas, aids the general society of the group by allowing (by means of genetically spread sexual attraction genes) all species to have sex with each other (incest aside, unless that has also been viewed regularly in a species, then that would be included as well) so that the entire group can live happier, than simply live.

Any thoughts?
"Morals are simply a limit to man's potential."~Myself

Political correctness is like saying you can't have a steak, because a baby can't eat one ~Unknown
Bullish
Posts: 3,527
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10/14/2013 7:52:39 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
It's always a bad sign to see someone bring up Darwin in their first paragraph.

Anyhow, how I see it is that humans are past the stage of mere evolution through natural selection. We have the power to artificially modify our genome and become better at surviving without having to go and kill all the disabled people.

Homosexuality is irrelevant.
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drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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10/14/2013 7:56:24 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
It isn't necessary or against evolution for every member of a species (especially a social species) to reproduce in order for their traits to exist and pass on.
Such
Posts: 1,110
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10/14/2013 8:51:23 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I agree with both of the previous replies. To add to them, although Darwin didn't necessarily acknowledge it, homosexuality isn't rare in the animal kingdom -- quite the opposite. However, it doesn't seem to have contributed to the overall fitness of organisms.

However, there is a suggestion that homosexuality isn't necessarily genetic, as in, passed from generation to generation, obviously, as homosexuals don't normally procreate.

With that in mind, there are two different ways to perceive it. One is to suppose that homosexuality isn't so much a learned behavior, as it is a preference in the general sense, and preferences don't necessarily have very much to do with fitness or procreation. Instead, it's simply a taste, which has a lot to do with several different things in tandem.

Consider taste in food. People are not necessarily automatically inclined to eat food that is nutritious. They are drawn to food and substances that has all sorts of effects on them. Of course, genetics play some role in our tastes, as does what we were brought up eating. However, this doesn't change the fact that fat, sugar, and salt is delicious to almost everyone, and those are some of the three worst ingredients in food.

Sexuality, like all things organic, is complex. I think that one of the most difficult things to do is truly understand something. I think that it's rare, and most people never achieve it. I'd say that's why we're so confused about everything all the time. Perhaps this is why we should take things with a grain of salt, and consider things in terms of meta-ethics, then arrive to normative conclusions.
Dragonfang
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10/14/2013 10:25:02 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Isn't the status of being "In need" require intelligence?

Also, I fail to see any evolutionary net advantage with homosexuality.
Dragonfang
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10/15/2013 1:57:33 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/14/2013 11:29:59 PM, Mirza wrote:
Good link - http://www.newscientist.com...

So it is for social interaction or to establish heirachy by expressing dominance. Of course, there is also the chance of instincts being confused.

But the OP put human and animal instincts in the same category. I still can't see how a homosexual life style would have a net evolutionary advantage for the species. Assuming homosexuality is pursued for love or satisfaction of sexual desires.
Debaterpillar
Posts: 113
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10/15/2013 10:24:59 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
There's a great approach to that question by Skeptikitten (actual biologist), which in my opinion is a shame to seemingly have went largely unnoticed:
http://www.debate.org...

Often properties that seem to hinder the passing on of genes of an individual are actually beneficial. One example is sickle cell anemia, which one would naturally expect to be selected against, but the presence of the genes that can lead to it are even helpful for individuals in a malaria-rich environment.
I think homosexuality is epigenetic, and that it's selected for as a side-effect quite similar to the alleles that can cause sickle cell anemia. If homosexuality is caused by the ratio of sexual hormones a fetus is exposed to at a certain stage of development, then women who produce this 'hormonal flood' might sometimes give birth to non-procreating individuals (homosexuals), but also to those, who are heterosexual and have an increased fertility later in life (and thus more offspring).

I don't think there is a natural selection for increasing the overall happiness of society. How would this work, if those who are happier (by having sex with others of both genders) will have less children?
"Me fail English? That's unpossible." Ralph Wiggum.
slo1
Posts: 4,308
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10/15/2013 11:22:11 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/15/2013 1:57:33 AM, Dragonfang wrote:
At 10/14/2013 11:29:59 PM, Mirza wrote:
Good link - http://www.newscientist.com...

So it is for social interaction or to establish heirachy by expressing dominance. Of course, there is also the chance of instincts being confused.

But the OP put human and animal instincts in the same category. I still can't see how a homosexual life style would have a net evolutionary advantage for the species. Assuming homosexuality is pursued for love or satisfaction of sexual desires.

Having sex releases powerful chemicals in the brain which aids in relieving stress. Having it more frequently than the normal frequency the opposite genders have it could provide some very positive effects. This is especially true when disease comes through that tends to kill those with higher stress levels than those healthy.
themohawkninja
Posts: 816
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10/15/2013 1:30:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/14/2013 7:52:39 PM, Bullish wrote:
It's always a bad sign to see someone bring up Darwin in their first paragraph.

Anyhow, how I see it is that humans are past the stage of mere evolution through natural selection. We have the power to artificially modify our genome and become better at surviving without having to go and kill all the disabled people.

Homosexuality is irrelevant.

What's so bad about Darwin?
"Morals are simply a limit to man's potential."~Myself

Political correctness is like saying you can't have a steak, because a baby can't eat one ~Unknown
themohawkninja
Posts: 816
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10/15/2013 1:44:07 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/15/2013 10:24:59 AM, Debaterpillar wrote:
There's a great approach to that question by Skeptikitten (actual biologist), which in my opinion is a shame to seemingly have went largely unnoticed:
http://www.debate.org...

Often properties that seem to hinder the passing on of genes of an individual are actually beneficial. One example is sickle cell anemia, which one would naturally expect to be selected against, but the presence of the genes that can lead to it are even helpful for individuals in a malaria-rich environment.
I think homosexuality is epigenetic, and that it's selected for as a side-effect quite similar to the alleles that can cause sickle cell anemia. If homosexuality is caused by the ratio of sexual hormones a fetus is exposed to at a certain stage of development, then women who produce this 'hormonal flood' might sometimes give birth to non-procreating individuals (homosexuals), but also to those, who are heterosexual and have an increased fertility later in life (and thus more offspring).

I don't think there is a natural selection for increasing the overall happiness of society. How would this work, if those who are happier (by having sex with others of both genders) will have less children?

That was an interesting opinion reply. It's interesting that you bring up the concept of a "hormonal flood", as I have heard of such "hormonal floods" creating not homosexuals, but rather masculine females (and perhaps effeminate males, but only the female was interviewed in the video, so I don't know for sure).

As for the last paragraph, the opinion reply stated that the siblings of homosexuals have higher than average fertility rates, so as long as they do breed (bi-sexual behavior), than it might benefit the group in the long run.

Also, I do feel as though people might have been misunderstanding me a bit, as I was making the claim that perhaps evolution (after some critical point) stops being about better survival and reproduction, and turns to being just a better way of life (like moving from a cheap apartment to your own home, you have a better lifestyle, but it doesn't to all that much to increase your survivability and reproductive capability).
"Morals are simply a limit to man's potential."~Myself

Political correctness is like saying you can't have a steak, because a baby can't eat one ~Unknown
slo1
Posts: 4,308
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10/15/2013 2:11:47 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/15/2013 1:44:07 PM, themohawkninja wrote:
At 10/15/2013 10:24:59 AM, Debaterpillar wrote:
There's a great approach to that question by Skeptikitten (actual biologist), which in my opinion is a shame to seemingly have went largely unnoticed:
http://www.debate.org...

Often properties that seem to hinder the passing on of genes of an individual are actually beneficial. One example is sickle cell anemia, which one would naturally expect to be selected against, but the presence of the genes that can lead to it are even helpful for individuals in a malaria-rich environment.
I think homosexuality is epigenetic, and that it's selected for as a side-effect quite similar to the alleles that can cause sickle cell anemia. If homosexuality is caused by the ratio of sexual hormones a fetus is exposed to at a certain stage of development, then women who produce this 'hormonal flood' might sometimes give birth to non-procreating individuals (homosexuals), but also to those, who are heterosexual and have an increased fertility later in life (and thus more offspring).

I don't think there is a natural selection for increasing the overall happiness of society. How would this work, if those who are happier (by having sex with others of both genders) will have less children?

That was an interesting opinion reply. It's interesting that you bring up the concept of a "hormonal flood", as I have heard of such "hormonal floods" creating not homosexuals, but rather masculine females (and perhaps effeminate males, but only the female was interviewed in the video, so I don't know for sure).

As for the last paragraph, the opinion reply stated that the siblings of homosexuals have higher than average fertility rates, so as long as they do breed (bi-sexual behavior), than it might benefit the group in the long run.

Also, I do feel as though people might have been misunderstanding me a bit, as I was making the claim that perhaps evolution (after some critical point) stops being about better survival and reproduction, and turns to being just a better way of life (like moving from a cheap apartment to your own home, you have a better lifestyle, but it doesn't to all that much to increase your survivability and reproductive capability).

Evolution never stops. You are eluding to the fact that mankind as a whole has abundant resources and there is not as much competition between humans and it is easier to pass on your genes. However one must remember there is no intent to evolution. A rabbit does not wake up and think I need to doink a bunny today to pass on my genes. It also does not say, "I'm weak, deformed, and have many mutations so for the good of bunny kind I am not going to doink the girls."

We still have social, physical, and other influences that dictate which humans are reproducing. There will be results good or bad in the long term because of that. Evolution never stops.
Debaterpillar
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10/15/2013 2:41:52 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/15/2013 1:44:07 PM, themohawkninja wrote:
Also, I do feel as though people might have been misunderstanding me a bit, as I was making the claim that perhaps evolution (after some critical point) stops being about better survival and reproduction, and turns to being just a better way of life (like moving from a cheap apartment to your own home, you have a better lifestyle, but it doesn't to all that much to increase your survivability and reproductive capability).
I just don't understand why evolution should at some point lead to "a better way of life". Evolution is just a word to summarize what happens due to natural selection, and natural selection can always only benefit what contributes to survival and reproduction.
How would a genetically always bisexual group procreate fast enough, to not vanish in relation to a procreating heterosexual group of equal size - no matter how happy the members of the groups are?
"Me fail English? That's unpossible." Ralph Wiggum.
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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10/15/2013 3:05:57 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/15/2013 1:57:33 AM, Dragonfang wrote:
At 10/14/2013 11:29:59 PM, Mirza wrote:
Good link - http://www.newscientist.com...

So it is for social interaction or to establish heirachy by expressing dominance. Of course, there is also the chance of instincts being confused.

But the OP put human and animal instincts in the same category. I still can't see how a homosexual life style would have a net evolutionary advantage for the species. Assuming homosexuality is pursued for love or satisfaction of sexual desires.

It doesn't have to have a "net evolutionary advantage" for it to persist, so long as there isn't a net evolutionary disadvantage.

The question is thinking too simplistic: If homosexuals can't pass on their genes, and homosexuality is genetic, whence come genes for homosexuality?

And, in light of such a simple question, there is an equally simple answer: The parents!

Taking the overly simplistic route of homosexuality being strictly genetic (the "born gay" camp doesn't assert this, as it is theorized that conditions in the womb are a contributing factor) one still must realize that the genes of a homosexual were given to them by their parents.

Unless all the parents of homosexuals are only having homosexuals (they aren't) then those genes are being passed on in the heterosexual siblings of homosexuals.

Again, taking an overly simple route, let's assume that there is a singular, recessive, "gay" gene opposite a "straight" gene such that if you have SS, SG, or GS you're straight, but if you have GG, you're gay. Thus, the heterosexual siblings of homosexuals are most likely "carriers" of the gay gene, and could potentially pass it onto their children should they breed with other carriers. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Again, that's all too simplistic and the "cause" of homosexuality is most likely a mixture and combination of a lot of factors that defies being shoehorned into the scenario posed by the original question.

As a social species, having subsets of the population that don't breed is not necessarily a disadvantage and can even be an advantage should they add to the overall reproductive capabilities of the group as a whole. What I find odd is that there is so much focus on non-reproducing human homosexuals (comprising a minority of the population) and yet they don't bat an eye at the existence of social insects such as ants and bees where there are only a handful of breeders responsible for the entire colony and are some of the most successful organisms on the planet.
slo1
Posts: 4,308
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10/16/2013 9:57:06 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/15/2013 2:41:52 PM, Debaterpillar wrote:
At 10/15/2013 1:44:07 PM, themohawkninja wrote:
Also, I do feel as though people might have been misunderstanding me a bit, as I was making the claim that perhaps evolution (after some critical point) stops being about better survival and reproduction, and turns to being just a better way of life (like moving from a cheap apartment to your own home, you have a better lifestyle, but it doesn't to all that much to increase your survivability and reproductive capability).
I just don't understand why evolution should at some point lead to "a better way of life". Evolution is just a word to summarize what happens due to natural selection, and natural selection can always only benefit what contributes to survival and reproduction.
How would a genetically always bisexual group procreate fast enough, to not vanish in relation to a procreating heterosexual group of equal size - no matter how happy the members of the groups are?

Sex is an act that takes minutes, if talking about humans and even less than that for other animals. Growing an offspring from point of fertilization to viability of survival takes years for a human and months for other animals. As long as a bisexual has the same amount of procreative sex as other competitors there is no bearing on the amount of gay sex they have (excluding positive things such as stress relief and negative things such as std's).

Pakistan is a perfect example of this. Gay men all are married and have families and then secretly go off to the gay orgy spots to hook up. In more open societies where gay men are not choosing to reproduce, well the science is out on how that may or may not impact the future genetics of humanity. I would surmise though there are enough bisexuals that it is probably a muted affect.
Debaterpillar
Posts: 113
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10/16/2013 10:54:47 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/16/2013 9:57:06 AM, slo1 wrote:
At 10/15/2013 2:41:52 PM, Debaterpillar wrote:
I just don't understand why evolution should at some point lead to "a better way of life". Evolution is just a word to summarize what happens due to natural selection, and natural selection can always only benefit what contributes to survival and reproduction.
How would a genetically always bisexual group procreate fast enough, to not vanish in relation to a procreating heterosexual group of equal size - no matter how happy the members of the groups are?

Sex is an act that takes minutes, if talking about humans and even less than that for other animals. Growing an offspring from point of fertilization to viability of survival takes years for a human and months for other animals. As long as a bisexual has the same amount of procreative sex as other competitors there is no bearing on the amount of gay sex they have (excluding positive things such as stress relief and negative things such as std's).

Pakistan is a perfect example of this. Gay men all are married and have families and then secretly go off to the gay orgy spots to hook up. In more open societies where gay men are not choosing to reproduce, well the science is out on how that may or may not impact the future genetics of humanity. I would surmise though there are enough bisexuals that it is probably a muted affect.

You do raise a valid point. But I'm not sure if we can use Pakistan as an example here, since the only reason for homosexuals to marry and procreate is to actively hide their homosexuality. Also I doubt that closeted homosexuals have as much sex with their spouses as heterosexual couples... I guess I won't find statistics on that, though.

Fair enough, this wouldn't apply if everyone was bisexual. But then - as you said - we have to assume that all bisexual people have enough procreational heterosexual intercourse to keep up with a 'competing' heterosexual group of equal size. But if every bisexual person in this group has a 50% probability to have a (monogamous) relationship with someone of the same gender, then therefore alone the number of "accidental" pregnancies is likely to decrease. And since there are almost as much unintended pregnancies as there are intended ones every year, a genetically bisexual society will never be (naturally) selected for.
"Me fail English? That's unpossible." Ralph Wiggum.
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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10/16/2013 11:01:39 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Homosexuality seems to triggered in the womb. There are cases of identical twins with one gay and one straight. There are a number of genetic attributes that appear to be triggered during gestation. Lefthandedness is another.

One highly speculative theory is that it is a population control mechanism. Blue crabs actually change gender to reflect population pressure. If resources are tight, females turn into males. If the environment can support more crabs, males turn into females. That's extreme, but maybe there is something like that affecting the gay/straight probabilities in humans.

Another unproved theory postulates a survival advantage in having increased bonding in a warrior class that protects the tribe.

I think it's likely that it doesn't make enough difference in population survival to be removed by natural selection. What is the survival advantage in having people born with bad eyesight? Or in having a population with substantial variations in the sizes of individuals? Surely one size is optimal. the difference are not important enough to be naturally selected.

There is research supporting the claim that humans have evolved significantly in only the last 10,000 years. That is roughly the time when humans began living in permanent settlements, something made possible by the invention of farming. Claim is that produced both physical differences, such as smaller but smarter brains, as well as psychological differences.
Eitan_Zohar
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10/16/2013 11:16:43 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/16/2013 11:01:39 AM, RoyLatham wrote:
Homosexuality seems to triggered in the womb. There are cases of identical twins with one gay and one straight. There are a number of genetic attributes that appear to be triggered during gestation. Lefthandedness is another.

One highly speculative theory is that it is a population control mechanism. Blue crabs actually change gender to reflect population pressure. If resources are tight, females turn into males. If the environment can support more crabs, males turn into females. That's extreme, but maybe there is something like that affecting the gay/straight probabilities in humans.

Another unproved theory postulates a survival advantage in having increased bonding in a warrior class that protects the tribe.

I think it's likely that it doesn't make enough difference in population survival to be removed by natural selection. What is the survival advantage in having people born with bad eyesight? Or in having a population with substantial variations in the sizes of individuals? Surely one size is optimal. the difference are not important enough to be naturally selected.

There is research supporting the claim that humans have evolved significantly in only the last 10,000 years. That is roughly the time when humans began living in permanent settlements, something made possible by the invention of farming. Claim is that produced both physical differences, such as smaller but smarter brains, as well as psychological differences.

http://en.wikipedia.org...
"It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book."
RoyLatham
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10/16/2013 5:19:22 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution
by Gregory Cochran
"Resistance to malaria. Blue eyes. Lactose tolerance. What do all of these traits have in common? Every one of them has emerged in the last 10,000 years."
Bullish
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10/17/2013 4:48:06 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/16/2013 5:19:22 PM, RoyLatham wrote:
The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution
by Gregory Cochran
"Resistance to malaria. Blue eyes. Lactose tolerance. What do all of these traits have in common? Every one of them has emerged in the last 10,000 years."

Those are all true. But resistance to malaria is an immune system change, eye color matters about as much as fur patterns, and lactose tolerance is also just a simple antibody change. Nothing too big.
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RoyLatham
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10/17/2013 8:46:04 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/17/2013 4:48:06 PM, Bullish wrote:
Those are all true. But resistance to malaria is an immune system change, eye color matters about as much as fur patterns, and lactose tolerance is also just a simple antibody change. Nothing too big.

It's true that humans have not evolved another arm or anything like that, but 10,000 years is a very short time on the scale of evolution. More significantly, some changes like lactose tolerance are a direct consequence of changes in patterns of living. Going back only 100K years shows changes in brain size --brains are now smaller-- and bone structure. Whether it's amazing or not depends on how fast you think humans evolve.
yesuke
Posts: 16
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10/19/2013 11:29:56 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Perhaps neutral evolution?

Or perhaps this trait has never been selected against because gay people would in the past never have admitted it for cultural/religious reasons, or were otherwise forced to behave heterosexually?