Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Unnatural Selection: Chapter 18 (the final chapter!)

Wingerson saved the best for last, discussing ideas swirling around the concept of human evolution. Quotes and bold comments:
  • "[Darwin] asserted [that] we have 'risen...to the very summit of the organic scale.' That we have risen so far through evolution (rather than being created through divine power), he added, may give us 'hope for a still higher destiny in the distant future.'" Why do these scientists take {macro+micro}evolution as fact? See quotes, below.
  • "Actually, the initial premise contains several flaws. For a start, we are not necessarily tending 'upward.' ... That assumption still underlies popular opinion about evolution, although mainstream biologists have abandoned it." Perhaps biology instruction has been infiltrated since the beginning by those nasty creationists!
  • [The] genes involved in diabetes are not inherently 'good' or 'bad.' Their value depends on the context. Whether people with diabetes would be more likely to survive a worldwide famine we cannot now know, and we don't want to find out either." But remember, as with genes, but not with morals.
  • "A variant [of a gene] is 'normal' only if it is 'functional' (and abnormal only if it is dysfunctional), but in many cases it is the situation that defines the function." See above.
  • "By the year 2020 the population should reach about 8 billion." A current estimate hasn't changed.
  • "It's an old argument and one not often heard from an eminent geneticist: let's not mess with nature until we understand it better." Please repeat that! Many times!
  • "An hour of exercise a day and avoiding obesity will eliminate 60 percent of diabetes, [James] Neel said, far more effectively than gene therapy." I said this a few days ago.
  • "The genome project 'is going to totally disrupt some concepts we have,' [Georgia] Dunston predicts. 'Do you want to understand biology, or do you want to hold on to your concepts?'" Speak for yourselves, certain closed-minded anti-creationists, shall we say.
  • "[Said Eric Juengst,] There's nothing wrong with families making private reproductive decisions...'The error,' he said, 'comes when we shift to making it public policy.'" Read: nanny state.
What do you readers think of the book as a whole, now that you've read each of its chapters through my eyes?

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