Monday, March 23, 2020

837: Therefor us part 2 .... an answer

It is about 1958, that a Russian geneticist , Dmitri Beljajev (1917 - 1985), begins an experiment.
A century earlier Charles Darwin already had noticed that domesticated animals showed remarkable resemblances.
They were smaller than their wild ancestors. They had smaller brains and teeth, floppy ears, curled tails, white spots in their fur.

The domesticated animals kept their juvenile looks also after their childhood. 

Beljajev had a radical hypothesis. These puppy like, juvenile features were only a by-product of something else.
For centuries the domesticated animals were  bred on one specific trait: friendliness towards humans.
As a test he began breading with a very aggressive animal: the silver fox. The goal: to turn it into a friendly doglike companion of humans.
To achieve this on the fox farm he tested every fox on aggressiveness. Showed a fox less aggression, then it was selected for further breading.
So it was, that selecting for a single behavioral characteristic (friendliness), allowing only the tamest, least fearful individuals to breed, 
resulted in changes not only in behavior, but also in anatomical and physiological changes that were not directly manipulated. 
The physiological changes  showed up also in the hormone balance of the foxes. 
The friendly foxes produced much less adrenaline and more serotonin (happiness hormone) and oxytocin (cuddle hormone).
What could count for silver foxes.....why couldn't it apply to Homo sapiens and his evolutionary history?
Belyayev suspected that we are domestic monkeys. In other words, he suspected that the friendliest people had the most children for tens of thousands of years.
So it is not like Richard Dawkins assumed the survival of the most selfish gene, but the survival of the friendliest, which was the driving force of human evolution.
In 2014 a team of American scientists compared  the humanoid skulls of the past 200.000 years.
It showed the same pattern as with the foxes: our faces and bodies became softer,  more juvenile. Our brain decreased a 10%. Our teeth and jawbones became smaller.
A remarkable fact is that the appearance of homo sapiens really fast began to change on the moment that the Neanderthals disappeared.
How could homo sapiens conquer the world?
His body became weaker, his brain became smaller.
For an answer we have to go to professor Brian Hare. He is a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University. He researches the evolution of cognition 
by studying both humans, our close relatives the primates, and species whose cognition converged with our own.
What he discovered, explains some more about the fact that most people are OK.
Next lecture will be about what makes us even more human than only our friendliness.....
Thank you for your attention again...

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Rutger Bregman, "De meeste mensen deugen",, 2019

The Discussion

[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): always believed smaller brains were better
[13:25] herman Bergson: As you see....a completely different interpretation of human evolution
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): read that somewhere when I was studying
[13:25] herman Bergson: Interesting...
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:26] herman Bergson: The theory sounds very plausible
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:26] herman Bergson: Groups would expel the nasty and mean members and bread with the sweet ones...:-)
[13:27] herman Bergson: Interesting thing was also that the foxes began to bark like dogs, though they never had contact with dogs
[13:27] herman Bergson: waging tailes too
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ha
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): well dogs are from wolves
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): family
[13:28] CB Axel: But not from foxes
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): no
[13:28] herman Bergson: the main point here is that the individuals are selected for breading on only one feature
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed foxes bark, they don't have an unknown unheard sound like Ylvis song "What does the fox say" suggests
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): breeding
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I've heard it
[13:29] CB Axel: I'm surprised that dogs and foxes could breed.
[13:29] herman Bergson: and that other behavioral and physiological features began to change spontaneously
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): they make so little noise ... tho
[13:29] CB Axel: And that their offspring weren't sterile.
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes thats true
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): been standign near them  and they just dont talk much
[13:29] herman Bergson: Seems there is a couple of these foxes in the zoo of Austin...?
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I've seen a dog and fox be best friends on Youtube and Facebook but that they are breed compatible I did not know
[13:30] herman Bergson: That doesn't need to be the case Bejiita
[13:31] herman Bergson: Point is that friendly foxes deliver friendly offspring
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its in the genetics
[13:31] herman Bergson: If you combine that thought with 50.000 years of human evolution
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I guess
[13:32] CB Axel: How does this explain xenophobia and bigotry?
[13:32] CB Axel: Those people don't seem very friendly.
[13:32] herman Bergson: Beljajev bred  controlled....he changed the animals within 50 generations....consciously selecting...
[13:32] CB Axel: And they seem to breed just fine.
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): thoughts of being the best!! and congregating
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): I think
[13:33] CB Axel: They keep breeding rotten, bigoted kids. :(
[13:33] herman Bergson: You must keep one thing in Mind, CB.....
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): not even parents fault sometimes i think
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes some but not all
[13:33] Rebecca (rebecca.rozen) is offline.
[13:33] herman Bergson: Our consciousness may have been a by product of our evolutionary selective behavior....
[13:33] herman Bergson: but after that...
[13:34] herman Bergson: at this moment we also have created culture
[13:34] herman Bergson: ways of organizing our society.....
[13:34] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes true
[13:34] herman Bergson: and our way of thinking.....
[13:34] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and tribes
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:34] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): with different goals
[13:35] herman Bergson: especially the simplistic WE - THEM , black/white, pro/against way of thinking
[13:35] herman Bergson: and thence tribes indeed GEmma
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i was listening to someone on npr talk about black turning to white over the ages
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): suggers change from all meat eating
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): to moving north and becoming berry eater etc
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): much less meat
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): was part of it
[13:36] CB Axel: That seems odd, too.
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): not just the sunlight
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): most interestig
[13:37] herman Bergson: Well...if we originated from Africa, you might expect us to be black instead of white indeed
[13:37] CB Axel: I would have thought people moving north would eat more meat since it's available year round.
[13:37] CB Axel: Berries and such only grows in the summer.
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): no because we left and moved north
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): some that is
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): black to begin with
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): then gradually changing
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and look at the middle east
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that color
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): inbetween
[13:38] herman Bergson: but that applies only to Europeans....
[13:38] herman Bergson: Asians still kept a color
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ys
[13:38] CB Axel: Not northern asians.
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): but they moved that way and suffered different environments
[13:38] CB Axel: Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, etc aren't black.
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): right
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): all in between
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): some lighter then others
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): makes for interesting thinking
[13:39] CB Axel: Humans have a lovely variety of colors from black to brown to varying shades of white.
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yep
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aa indeed
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): also mixing of tribes
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:39] herman Bergson: At least it makes it unlikely that homo sapiens commited genocide on the Neanderthals
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): hopes not
[13:40] herman Bergson: As I said in the previous lecture....there is no archeological evidence
[13:40] herman Bergson: Next lecture I'll come up with another explanation
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ok
[13:41] herman Bergson: which is also quite plausible
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[13:41] oola Neruda is online.
[13:41] herman Bergson: which means we are done for today then :-))
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:41] herman Bergson: Thank you all again :-)
[13:41] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): loool
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): just had to
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i a working from home now so will try for tuesday
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa look forward to next time
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): unless i am on a conference
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): conference
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): sigh
[13:42] herman Bergson: WHO THREW THAT TOILET PAPER!!!!???
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): oki
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): not me
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): (whistles innocently)
[13:42] herman Bergson grins
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): but i could
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): just a little salute
[13:42] CB Axel: LOL, Bejiita.
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ok!!
[13:43] bergfrau Apfelbaum: thank you Herman and class!
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): bye for now
[13:43] CB Axel: Interesting topic today. I'll be thinking about until I see you all on Tuesday.
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu next time
[13:43] CB Axel: Bye, everyone.
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): interesting again
[13:43] herman Bergson: Good luck for Tuesday Gemma
[13:43] bergfrau Apfelbaum: see you next week!
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

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