Shedding Light in the Darkness

Are We Devolving?


Looking at how crazy the world seems to be getting lately it’s reasonable to wonder whether we devolving rather than evolving as a species. Stanford University geneticist Dr. Gerald Crabtree suggests humans are actually devolving – slowly losing intellectual and emotional abilities. In 2012 paper in Cell Press he posits: “The development of our intellectual abilities and the optimization of thousands of intelligence genes probably occurred in relatively non-verbal, dispersed groups of peoples before our ancestors emerged from Africa.”

“In this environment, intelligence was critical for survival, and there was likely to be immense selective pressure acting on the genes required for intellectual development, leading to a peak in human intelligence. From that point, it’s likely that we began to slowly lose ground. With the development of agriculture, came urbanization, which may have weakened the power of selection to weed out mutations leading to intellectual disabilities.”

“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas and a clear-sighted view of important issues. I would also make this wager for the ancient inhabitants of Africa, Asia, India or the Americas, of perhaps 2,000 to 6,000 years ago.”

Dr. Crabtree estimates that within 3000 years (about 120 generations) we have all sustained two or more mutations harmful to our intellectual or emotional stability.

Although we are now surrounded by the technological and medical benefits of a scientific revolution, these have masked an underlying decline in brain power which is set to continue into the future leading to the ultimate dumbing-down of the human species, says Crabtree.

The loss is quite slow though, he says, and future technologies will likely reveal solutions to the problem.

Writing in Scientific American, Michael J. Dougherty, senior staff biologist at Biological Sciences Curriculum Study in Colorado Springs, says it’s a misconception that species evolve or change because they need to change to adapt to shifting environmental demands. Biologists refer to this fallacy as teleology. In fact, more than 99 percent of all species that ever lived are extinct, so clearly there is no requirement that species always adapt successfully. As the fossil record demonstrates, extinction is a perfectly natural.

He writes: “Another misconception is that increasing complexity is the necessary outcome of evolution. In fact, decreasing complexity is common in the record of evolution.”

And an Ancient Origins article notes that research suggests that the human brain is getting smaller. In 2010 when researching a skull that belonged to a Cro Magnon man, scientists discovered the brain of our ancient ancestor was about 20% larger.

Want proof in America? According to a Gallup poll 18% of Americans believe that the sun revolves around the earth. And 42 percent of Americans believe God created human beings in their present form less than 10,000 years ago.

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