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Reply #6: it's a reasonable inference [View All]

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gottaB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-12-05 11:48 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. it's a reasonable inference
Examine the final paragraph:

Lahn further speculated that the strong selection for better brains may still be ongoing in the present-day human populations. Why the human lineage experienced such intensified selection for better brains but not other species is an open question. Lahn believes that answers to this important question will come not just from the biological sciences but from the social sciences as well. It is perhaps the complex social structures and cultural behaviors unique in human ancestors that fueled the rapid evolution of the brain. "This paper is going to open up lots of discussion," Lahn said. "We have to start thinking about how social structures and cultural behaviors in the lineage leading to humans differed from that in other lineages, and how such differences have powered human evolution in a unique manner. To me, that is the most exciting part of this paper."

What does it mean to say that "strong selection for better brains may still be ongoing in the present-day human populations"? Does that mean that some populations are brainier than others, and that natural selection will weed out the less brainy? Is this use of "populations" consistent with a natural scientific view, or does it have more to do with the non-scientific concept of race? Lahn speculates that culture has "powered" the evolution of the human lineage. The link between culture and evolution of the brain is an interesting area of study if one is talking about the emergence of Homo or anatomically modern humans. If one applies that sort of argument to modern humans, and views cultural differences as ultimately governed by natural selection, it all too easily degenerates into racist gobbledygook.

I do not know that Lahn is a racist. I do know that his speculations go far beyond what can be supported based upon the evidence he has presented. Given the sorry history of this field of study, I expect evolutionary scientists to be sensitive to how racists, acting within and without the scientific establishment, have abused and misapplied elements of the theory of evolution.
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