The Corpus Callosum

Humans to Undergo Speciation?

PZ has already href="http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/10/dont_worry_kids_curry_is_just.php">written
about this, primarily to dismiss it as nonsense.  He is
correct, but there is one point (or two) that I want to add.

 is described in WIkipedia as an evolutionary
theorist as well as a political theorist.  He was granted a
Ph.D., on the topic of morality as natural history,  by the
Government Department of the London School of Economics.
 Apparently, he is fond of saying that humans will divide into
two species, approximately 100,000 years from now.

The article PZ cites was in the Daily Mail.  I checked Google
News and found that, fortunately, no major credible
news outlet has
published it.  Well, Fox News did, but they are only a major
news outlet.  

FOXNEWS.COM HOME > SCIENCE
href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,305505,00.html?sPage=fnc.science/evolution">Scientist:
Human Race May Split in Two in Far Future

The human race may split in the next 100,000 years,
according to a British scientist.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The human race may split in the next
100,000 years, according to a
British scientist.

Oliver Curry, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of
Economics, thinks two subspecies will emerge: a tall, slim, intelligent
privileged class, and a short, squat, ugly, dim-witted race of
servants…

…Curry tells the testosterone-heavy British “men’s television”
satellite channel Bravo — not to be confused with its more gracile
American namesake — that human evolution will reach its peak in about
the year 3000…

Peak?  What?  Evolution does not
have a peak
.
 Evolution is the process of genetic change.  It just
keeps going.  Sometimes a species lasts a long time, sometimes
it does not.   href="http://www.cowboylyrics.com/lyrics/carpenter-mary-chapin/the-bug-5188.html">Sometimes
you’re the windshield; sometimes you’re the bug.
 Splat happens, but there is never a peak.

Curry probably thinks humans are the “Highest” or “Most Evolved”
species.  No, biology does not care about us.
 Evolution is not going in any particular direction.
 Is it not leading anywhere.  It just does what it
does.

We are free to define humans as the best species,
or the most important
species.  I happen to agree.  But those statements
are value statements; they have no foundation in biology.  

What would it take for humans to speciate?  It is not
unfathomable.  If climate change and the declining reserves of
energy make transoceanic travel impractical, then I would expect
substantial genetic divergence over time.  That is not
particularly newsworthy; it is a natural conclusion based upon
elementary principles.  Furthermore, I would not expect two
species.  I would expect one in Australia, one in
Africa-Europe-Asia, and one or two in the Americas, depending on
whether Panama is an isthmus or a coral reef.  If the Suez
area and Gibraltar are sufficiently submerged, then Africa would get
its own species of human, too.  If it is warm enough, we could
probably start one in Antarctica.  

None of this is what Curry is talking about, though.  What he
is talking about is the notion that we would evolve into two
geographically contiguous species: an underclass and an overclass.
 That is ridiculous, of course.  When there were
slaves in the USA, did slaveowners not have sex with their slaves?
 In modern times, do members of Congress not have sex with
prostitutes?  

He may be correct in saying that we are moving to a more
socioeconomically stratified society.  There is evidence to
support that.  But will that ever present a barrier to
reproduction?  Hardly.  

This may qualify as “science” at Fox News.  Apparently it
does.  Perhaps it even is congruent with their moral
viewpoint.  But there is not one shred of scientific evidence
to support the notion.

Comments

  1. #1 The Ridger
    October 27, 2007

    This may qualify as “science” at Fox News. Apparently it does. Perhaps it even is congruent with their moral viewpoint. But there is not one shred of scientific evidence to support the notion.

    For Fox, that just makes it better.

  2. #2 graeme
    October 27, 2007

    This is a particularly old story, came up originally on the BBC in 2006:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6057734.stm

    and was thoroughly debunked by Ben Goldacre of the Guardian at Bad Science:

    All men will have big willies

    It’s making the rounds again after appearing on Digg.com …

  3. #3 stumpy
    October 27, 2007

    There’s lots of great sci-fi based on this notion. In addition to well known books, such as Larry Niven’s Ringworld series and then the interminable installments cranked out by the Dune industry, there’s one by — I think — a guy named Dougall Dixon, called “Man After Man”. It’s the sequel to his first book (which was called, more simply, “After Man”). I recommend the sequel for its clear-eyed depiction of human depravity, greed and cruelty — qualities that follow the race even as it mutates from one weird form to another. Cheers.

  4. #4 Paul
    October 28, 2007

    Why all the swipes at FOX. If you morons just did a little Google news search you’ll see that many media all of the world ran the story.

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