Thursday, June 26, 2014

Evolution, crime and genes

Article: Criminal offending as part of an alternative reproductive strategy: Investigating evolutionary hypotheses using Swedish total population data 
We linked data from nationwide total population registers in Sweden to test if criminality is associated with reproductive success.

Convicted criminal offenders had more children than individuals never convicted of a criminal offense.
There is an idea I have run across from time to time in the popular literature that human evolution has stopped due to civilization. It is more commonly held among the progressivist left and the social sciences than biology. It is one of those "pernicious paradigms" that need regularly to be "falsified."

This article helps do so.

There are two "types" of evolution: microevolution and macroevolution. Macroevolution refers to the emergence of new species. This is the one rejected by creationists and Bible-believing Christians, mostly because of the time required for this to occur exceeds the 6,000 year timeline derived from the Bible for the history of the earth.

On the other hand, microevolution refers to shifts in the frequency of genes in a population. One characteristic or trait becomes more common (red-hair among residents of the British Isles over the last 4000 years, for example) as another becomes less common.

In other words, Sweden is seeing a shift in the frequencies of genes related to criminal behavior. And microevolution is occurring. In the USA, in the 1930's, the progressivist left advocated various eugenic programs including "sterilization of the unfit" to deal with this "problem." 
Add enough gene shifts, or microevolution, to a population in one place compared to a population in another place and the result is a new species. That is, macroevolution occurs.

One outstanding example of microevolution is the gene which allows human adults to digest milk. This gene is relatively rare in the human race as a whole. It was also uncommon among the early European peoples. After dairy farming originated in the Middle East, milk became more common as a food item.

There is a "natural selection" advantage to being able to use milk (and milk products) as food when it is available in large amounts. Dairy farmers with the gene migrated into Europe and displaced the original inhabitants, or bred with them. The gene became common among European peoples. The gene frequency in humans in Europe shifted and microevolution occurred.

Side note: "displaced." Europeans should remember that their ancestors "displaced" the original inhabitants of their countries just like the European colonists "displaced" Native Americans. Migration and out-competing natives are also examples of evolution in action.

See also: Article:  Archaeology: The milk revolution

I did not have the terminology for this while I was still in high school, but I realized that humans were undergoing microevolution. It seemed obvious to me civilization itself had to be a selection pressure. That is, civilization itself would have to cause shifts in gene frequency.

In my case, I am extremely near-sighted. I can do very little without corrective lenses. (I just called my ophthalmologist for my annual exam). I would not have survived in any kind of "primitive" society. My father passed these genes on to me and I knew that would pass them on to any children I might have. (Blessedly, neither of my daughters are nearly as near-sighted as I am). Multiply that by millions.

Civilization removed the selection pressure against nearsightedness, therefore it should increase the gene frequencies of the gene(s) responsible.

Multiply that by thousands of genes and there has been a lot of microevolution going on since humans left Africa (if you believe in macroevolution and the "old earth.") Or since the emergence of civilization(s).

One of the pernicious paradigms common on the left and in academia is that race is a cultural construct having no basis in biology. And that there is no such thing as human races. That is, mostly among non-biologists. Biologists know better, even when they may not say so due to social pressure.

How many races are there, what are (or were) their exact distributions, and how much difference between them is there? These are all matters of dispute. Biologically, there is no dispute that they exist. (That is not to say that some biologists may dispute that; it is just that the evidence is overwhelming that human races do exist.)

The problem, as "The Bell Curve" controversy showed, is that the open discusion of some measures of differences between races cause enormous offense.

Side note: if the scientific discussion of a possible genetic component to intelligence offends you, you need to step back and ask yourself why.

One cannot both approach this idea scientifically and be offended. Skepticism towards the idea, by the way, is not the same as taking offense. And denial of the possibility is not science.

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