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Why did we evolve to be effected by Alcohol?

MasturDbtor
Posts: 45
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5/9/2014 11:39:51 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
I'm wondering why we evolved to even be effected by alcohol?

Why does alcohol even do anything? Why doesn't it just get turned out as waste?

More importantly why do we have brains that are designed (this word here is NOT meant to indicate belief in intelligent design) so that we get effected by alcohol?

What benefits were there that selected for individuals who would be effected by alcohol and against those who didn't? And not just selected for BUT completely. Why is it that all of our ancestors who wouldn't have gotten drunk from alcohol, why did they all die out? Why did only those who could be effected by alcohol survive?
Bannanawamajama
Posts: 125
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5/9/2014 2:34:57 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Alcohol gets reduced to waste just like everything else in your bloodstream, but it only happens once it reaches the liver. Until then it sits in your blood and gets pumped all over. Alcohol that gets pumped through the brain comes in contact with the neurons.

Your neurons fire or don't fire based on neurotransmitters, one of which is GABA. GABA's purpose is to slow down brain activity by lengthening the recovery time for a neuron before it can transmit again. Alcohol binds to the same receptor site as GABA and keeps it working longer, making it more potent than it needs to be and slowing your brain down more than it was supposed to.

There's no evolutionary advantage to being succeptible to alcohol just like there's no advantage to dying if you ingest cyanide. Alcohol is basically poison, just one that doesn't kill you outright, and who's sideeffects people enjoy. Rather than evolving to intentionally get drunk, its just that our bodies never evolved to be immune to it.
MasturDbtor
Posts: 45
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5/9/2014 4:14:59 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Is it physically impossible for a hypothetical being to have a brain whose neurons don't react to alcohol? And why in the course of random mutations did such a being not evolve? Or if it did for some brief spurts of time why did it get selected against?

Or are there even people who don't react to alcohol due to genetic mutations?

And what is the role of GABA? What does it do for us?
MasturDbtor
Posts: 45
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5/9/2014 4:17:54 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
"Lengthening the recovery time"

I could see the cognitive and social benefits here. You'd spend a lot less time hovering about one topic. I find that to be the case when I'm drunk, I'll be talking about one thing then another thing and then another. Otherwise I may spend hours on end thinking about the same sorts of topics as I'm somewhat of a borderline Aspie, love it but every now and then it's good to try on another way of thinking.

No wonder alcohol actually produces health benefits in moderation. I've read it reduces the risk of diabetes.
Envisage
Posts: 3,646
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5/9/2014 4:22:33 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
We evolved TO be affected by alcohol??

Do you have any idea how high the effective dose of alcohol is compared with other things we have evolved to be affected by... Like insulin... Or adrenaline..

Something on the order of 1,000-1,000,000,000 times more...
Geogeer
Posts: 4,227
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5/9/2014 4:33:04 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/9/2014 11:39:51 AM, MasturDbtor wrote:
I'm wondering why we evolved to even be effected by alcohol?

Why does alcohol even do anything? Why doesn't it just get turned out as waste?

More importantly why do we have brains that are designed (this word here is NOT meant to indicate belief in intelligent design) so that we get effected by alcohol?

What benefits were there that selected for individuals who would be effected by alcohol and against those who didn't? And not just selected for BUT completely. Why is it that all of our ancestors who wouldn't have gotten drunk from alcohol, why did they all die out? Why did only those who could be effected by alcohol survive?

Alcohol is a poison. To animals like dogs and cats even small amounts can cause serious consequences or even death. They have an inability to process it.

While it is still effectively a poison, we have a greater ability to handle and process it. Thus (if you believe in evolution) you would say that we have evolved to better handle this particular toxin. Thus its toxicity to humans is lesser than it was to our ancestors. However, this toxin still has effects on us in non-toxic blood concentrations.
MasturDbtor
Posts: 45
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5/9/2014 4:43:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/9/2014 4:22:33 PM, Envisage wrote:
We evolved TO be affected by alcohol??

Do you have any idea how high the effective dose of alcohol is compared with other things we have evolved to be affected by... Like insulin... Or adrenaline..

Something on the order of 1,000-1,000,000,000 times more...

But hypothetically a differently shaped or structured neuron would just ignore alcohol and not have its GABA receptors stimulated.
Envisage
Posts: 3,646
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5/9/2014 4:54:01 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/9/2014 4:43:25 PM, MasturDbtor wrote:
At 5/9/2014 4:22:33 PM, Envisage wrote:
We evolved TO be affected by alcohol??

Do you have any idea how high the effective dose of alcohol is compared with other things we have evolved to be affected by... Like insulin... Or adrenaline..

Something on the order of 1,000-1,000,000,000 times more...

But hypothetically a differently shaped or structured neuron would just ignore alcohol and not have its GABA receptors stimulated.

In which case it would have evolved to be unaffected by alcohol.

And alcohol already seems to have a very low efficacy, despite being a very small and simple molecule, which would reach pretty much everywhere in huge body and interfere with anything that likes hydroxyls.
Bannanawamajama
Posts: 125
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5/9/2014 4:54:11 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/9/2014 4:14:59 PM, MasturDbtor wrote:
Is it physically impossible for a hypothetical being to have a brain whose neurons don't react to alcohol? And why in the course of random mutations did such a being not evolve? Or if it did for some brief spurts of time why did it get selected against?

Or are there even people who don't react to alcohol due to genetic mutations?

And what is the role of GABA? What does it do for us?

Its probably a bit impossible to be completely immune. The reason alcohol can affect your brain is that the receptors in your neurons have a structure that allows alcohol to stick there for a bit and affect how they function. However, the structure of it is necessary because thats also what allows the neurotransmitters to stick there and do their job. If you had differently formed receptors that didn't allow alcohol to stick, you likely would have deformed them so that you wouldn't be able to have the neurotransmitters work either. No neurotransmitters means no communication, and your brain simply doesn't work.

GABA slows down your brain. If you didn't have any, other neurotransmitters are constantly trying to make your neurons fire to make you think. But if your neurons fire too much, your brain is basically going on overdrive and your can't really handle it. Similarly to how in an engine, you need valves to let in only small amounts of fuel so that it doesn't all blow up at once and make your engine explode. GABA is moderating your brain similarly by limiting how quickly neurons can act.

So if you have lots of a neurotransmitter that makes you more excited, GABA calms you down before your heart explodes. If you dont have enough of it, your brain fries itself and you get things like seizures because your brain is running so fast it can't keep up with itself.
Ice104
Posts: 8
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5/12/2014 3:14:32 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/9/2014 11:39:51 AM, MasturDbtor wrote:
I'm wondering why we evolved to even be effected by alcohol?
I think you are asking the wrong question here. You may as well ask, 'Why did we Evolve to fall over?'. The point is we didn't 'evolve' to fall over or be affected by alcohol. Quite the opposite. We evolved to LESSEN the impact of these things on our survival and reproduction. It's just an unlucky coincidence that the nature of our bodies and the Universe means that we are prone to falling over and being affected by alcohol.

As for why we are not completely immune to the effects of alcohol, it is probably the case, that our ancestors whom roamed the African plains, didn't come across alcohol very often. It doesn't seem likely that they would have come across alcohol regularly enough for a long enough time span i.e. millions of years, for them to evolve to be completely immune to the effects of alcohol. (Assuming that that is even possible to achieve).
GarretKadeDupre
Posts: 2,023
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5/13/2014 12:36:27 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/9/2014 4:33:04 PM, Geogeer wrote:
At 5/9/2014 11:39:51 AM, MasturDbtor wrote:
I'm wondering why we evolved to even be effected by alcohol?

Why does alcohol even do anything? Why doesn't it just get turned out as waste?

More importantly why do we have brains that are designed (this word here is NOT meant to indicate belief in intelligent design) so that we get effected by alcohol?

What benefits were there that selected for individuals who would be effected by alcohol and against those who didn't? And not just selected for BUT completely. Why is it that all of our ancestors who wouldn't have gotten drunk from alcohol, why did they all die out? Why did only those who could be effected by alcohol survive?

Alcohol is a poison. To animals like dogs and cats even small amounts can cause serious consequences or even death. They have an inability to process it.

While it is still effectively a poison, we have a greater ability to handle and process it. Thus (if you believe in evolution) you would say that we have evolved to better handle this particular toxin. Thus its toxicity to humans is lesser than it was to our ancestors. However, this toxin still has effects on us in non-toxic blood concentrations.

I wouldn't call Alcohol a poison. It would be the only food I know of to be considered a poison. By food, I mean calorie-providing chemical.

It worsens dehydration, but aids starvation and makes you feel good in small to moderate doses. So I think it's fair to say it's not really a poison.
Proof that people witnessed living dinosaurs:
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chui
Posts: 507
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5/13/2014 10:09:58 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/13/2014 12:36:27 AM, GarretKadeDupre wrote:
At 5/9/2014 4:33:04 PM, Geogeer wrote:
At 5/9/2014 11:39:51 AM, MasturDbtor wrote:
I'm wondering why we evolved to even be effected by alcohol?

Why does alcohol even do anything? Why doesn't it just get turned out as waste?

More importantly why do we have brains that are designed (this word here is NOT meant to indicate belief in intelligent design) so that we get effected by alcohol?

What benefits were there that selected for individuals who would be effected by alcohol and against those who didn't? And not just selected for BUT completely. Why is it that all of our ancestors who wouldn't have gotten drunk from alcohol, why did they all die out? Why did only those who could be effected by alcohol survive?

Alcohol is a poison. To animals like dogs and cats even small amounts can cause serious consequences or even death. They have an inability to process it.

While it is still effectively a poison, we have a greater ability to handle and process it. Thus (if you believe in evolution) you would say that we have evolved to better handle this particular toxin. Thus its toxicity to humans is lesser than it was to our ancestors. However, this toxin still has effects on us in non-toxic blood concentrations.

I wouldn't call Alcohol a poison. It would be the only food I know of to be considered a poison. By food, I mean calorie-providing chemical.

It worsens dehydration, but aids starvation and makes you feel good in small to moderate doses. So I think it's fair to say it's not really a poison.

The lethal dose for alcohol is between 5g and 8g per kg of body mass depending on age and fitness. In terms of blood alcohol content this is about 0.4%. Fortunately alcohol also triggers vomiting so most people stop drinking before they reach the lethal limit. But I think its fair to equate lethal to poison.
GarretKadeDupre
Posts: 2,023
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5/13/2014 7:11:45 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/13/2014 10:09:58 AM, chui wrote:
At 5/13/2014 12:36:27 AM, GarretKadeDupre wrote:
At 5/9/2014 4:33:04 PM, Geogeer wrote:
At 5/9/2014 11:39:51 AM, MasturDbtor wrote:
I'm wondering why we evolved to even be effected by alcohol?

Why does alcohol even do anything? Why doesn't it just get turned out as waste?

More importantly why do we have brains that are designed (this word here is NOT meant to indicate belief in intelligent design) so that we get effected by alcohol?

What benefits were there that selected for individuals who would be effected by alcohol and against those who didn't? And not just selected for BUT completely. Why is it that all of our ancestors who wouldn't have gotten drunk from alcohol, why did they all die out? Why did only those who could be effected by alcohol survive?

Alcohol is a poison. To animals like dogs and cats even small amounts can cause serious consequences or even death. They have an inability to process it.

While it is still effectively a poison, we have a greater ability to handle and process it. Thus (if you believe in evolution) you would say that we have evolved to better handle this particular toxin. Thus its toxicity to humans is lesser than it was to our ancestors. However, this toxin still has effects on us in non-toxic blood concentrations.

I wouldn't call Alcohol a poison. It would be the only food I know of to be considered a poison. By food, I mean calorie-providing chemical.

It worsens dehydration, but aids starvation and makes you feel good in small to moderate doses. So I think it's fair to say it's not really a poison.

The lethal dose for alcohol is between 5g and 8g per kg of body mass depending on age and fitness. In terms of blood alcohol content this is about 0.4%. Fortunately alcohol also triggers vomiting so most people stop drinking before they reach the lethal limit. But I think its fair to equate lethal to poison.

What's your point? Everything has a lethal dose, even water. That doesn't make it a poison. Too much sugar induces vomiting before most people die from it, but that doesn't make it a poison either.
Proof that people witnessed living dinosaurs:
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PeacefulChaos
Posts: 2,610
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5/13/2014 8:02:37 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/9/2014 11:39:51 AM, MasturDbtor wrote:
I'm wondering why we evolved to even be effected by alcohol?

Why does alcohol even do anything? Why doesn't it just get turned out as waste?

More importantly why do we have brains that are designed (this word here is NOT meant to indicate belief in intelligent design) so that we get effected by alcohol?

What benefits were there that selected for individuals who would be effected by alcohol and against those who didn't? And not just selected for BUT completely. Why is it that all of our ancestors who wouldn't have gotten drunk from alcohol, why did they all die out? Why did only those who could be effected by alcohol survive?

Natural selection is not a perfect or guided process. It's perfectly fallible and there are many faults to it. You seem to think that evolution is something that gets rid of all faults, but this is not so. Loosely speaking, whatever comes along and "works" first will stay in the system, and what doesn't "work" will not stay.

This is why we haven't evolved to be perfect human beings, which can never die, get sick, age, and so on. It's also the answer to your question. There isn't necessarily an evolutionary advantage to being drunk when consuming alcohol, and there doesn't have to be.