Does life evolve towards intelligence?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Xylene, Nov 11, 2005.

  1. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    The history of the Earth strongly indicates that intelligence is a lucky fluke.

    The dinosaurs were incredibly successful, surviving for about 150 millions years. They never showed any signs of developing intelligence.

    Our branch of the primate tree has not existed longer than the branches leading to our primate cousins. None of them seems to have evolved very far in the direction of intelligence in the same amount of time that it took our branch to do so.

    The Neandertals seemed to be about as intelligent as our ancestors (give or take a bit), but they did not survive.
     
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  3. TheAlphaWolf Registered Senior Member

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    it's not really a fluke per se, but if you don't need extra brain power, getting it can be a bad mutation. The brain uses a lot of energy, so the more you use the brain, the more energy you need and the more food you need to get.
    I think many times evolution favors NOT intelligence. If you can make a learned behavior an instinct, it gives you an advantage as you don't have to think about it and waste energy.
     
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  5. valich Registered Senior Member

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    I don't know. I think I may have stated this before on another thread. Intelligence evolves where the environment finds it appropriate to do so, or where there is a niche on Earth where intelligence is a favorable trait that allows the organism to survive better than others.

    Any predator-prey competition involves such a niche: there is a constant evolutionary struggle for the prey to outwit the predator and for the predator to outwit the prey. Homo sapiens have succeeded in doing this today.

    As far as AlphaWolf's post, "where has there ever been a species that became extinct because of its superior brain?" Not Neanderthals! They may have had a larger cranium, but intellectually they were not superior.
     
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  7. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    How do you mean "succeeded"? As I see it, humans are both prey AND predator, and it's a constant battle between the two extremes. And I surely don't see how you can call that "succeeding". Please explain.

    Baron Max
     
  8. TheAlphaWolf Registered Senior Member

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    huh? I didn't say that!
    although I have to say that a bigger brain doesn't mean more intelligence, as sperm whales would be so damn smart they could probably teleport or something lol. And elephants' brains are 40x bigger than ours. It's not the brain to body ratio either, as mice would be smarter than us. When they say a bigger brain is better they usually mean that in terms of differences between two humans, and that's not exactly true either as as you pointed out neanderthals had bigger brains but they weren't smarter (supposedly). I think men also have a bigger brain (slightly) than women, but that doesn't mean we're smarter.
    what does matter is how you use your brain, and what PART of the brain is bigger.
     
  9. TheAlphaWolf Registered Senior Member

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    um... have you ever known anyone who got eaten by a lion or something? Yes there are some cases, but "succeeding" doesn't mean being totally devoid of predators, it means that the whole population as a whole is not being eaten by predators as much (because of the intelligence issue)...
     
  10. valich Registered Senior Member

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    Sorry. AlphaWolf stated "I think many times evolution favors NOT intelligence. If you can make a learned behavior an instinct, it gives you an advantage."

    Thanks for the very interesting info! Elephants have brains 40x bigger than ours? Whew!

    I took your post to mean that evolution does not favor intelligence, whether that intelligence becomes an instinct or not, still, the overall effect is a higher incorporated intelligence, no?

    Baron: Who prey's on humans today except for other humans? Yeah sure, maybe a trivial bit here and there if humans camp out in the wild or go face-to-face with a lion, tiger or bear. But?
     
  11. TheAlphaWolf Registered Senior Member

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    ooppss, I guess I didn't clarify. I THINK elephant brains are 40x bigger. I'm not sure... might be heavier or may be another number

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    The point is that they're a lot bigger than ours. (I saw two compared side by side in a nature show)
    as for what my post means, I said MANY TIMES evolution doesn't favor intelligence. That by no means always, as we are living proof.
    Insticts don't count as intelligence, as instincts are done automatically and without thinking. A monarch butterfly isn't smart just because it "knows" to start a migration from canada to mexico.
    intelligence is the ability to learn and apply that knowledge. You can't do that if what you're doing is instinctive as you didn't learn anything and you're not applying anything. Doesn't take as much brain power.
     
  12. valich Registered Senior Member

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    Instincts are imbedded intelligence cycles or traits that the organism no longer has to think about to do them; thus, their intelligence has evolved much farther than their instincts need to be thought about to do.

    What intelligent organism, more intelligent than humans, has ever evolved to survive beyond us?
     
  13. TheAlphaWolf Registered Senior Member

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    ehem... *cough* I just searched, apparently elephant brains weigh 3 times more than humans'
    ... stupid memory. Apparently my brain ain't working very well right now. LOL
     
  14. TheAlphaWolf Registered Senior Member

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    definition of intelligence by m-w.com (took out the irrelevant ones)
    1 a (1) : the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations : REASON; also : the skilled use of reason (2) : the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests) b Christian Science : the basic eternal quality of divine Mind c : mental acuteness : SHREWDNESS
    3 : the act of understanding : COMPREHENSION

    and by wikipedia:
    Intelligence is usually said to involve mental capabilities such as the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn.

    so by those two definitions, instincts are not intelligence as no reason, planning, etc is involved.
     
  15. valich Registered Senior Member

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    "ehem...*cough*" - mental problem? Dah - what does that have to do with the forum?

    I said, "Thanks for the very interesting info! You stated "Elephants have brains 40x bigger than ours." And I also thank you for correcting your post by stating that they weigh 3 times more. Either way these are interesting intellectual facts. Thanks! Lets stick to being intelligent and not being psychopathic, Okay?
     
  16. valich Registered Senior Member

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    None of the definitions for intelligence provide, offer, or suggest their incorporation into evolution. Evolution is dynamic: not static. These definitions are all static.
     
  17. TheAlphaWolf Registered Senior Member

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    Well, that's what intelligence is. You can't change the definition of intelligence to suit your purposes.
     
  18. valich Registered Senior Member

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    Layman people, i.e., the masses, use Webster's dictionary for definitions. It takes ten to twenty years for a definition to become established in Webster's or Merriam-Webster's dictionary. In any case - and all of us here on a scientific forum will agree on this - you cannot use layman definitions and apply them to science as fact: it just doesn't work that way. Science is much more complicated than what you will find in Webster's dictionary: it needs to be exact and precise and up-to-date. This is a forum under "Biology and Genetics": be scientific.
     
  19. TheAlphaWolf Registered Senior Member

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    yeah, I agree websters and other dictionaries suck. They say apes are monkeys. That's why I also posted the wikipedia definition (wikipedia is usually right about scientific stuff). If you want to challange the definitions, search and give me one from a better source then.
     
  20. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    Valich: It bolsters my faith in the existent of intelligence here to see that somebody else realizes how little a dictionary tells you when dealing with complex subjects.
     
  21. Satyr Banned Banned

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    Apparently…….not!

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  22. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    Which is EXACTLY what I said .....some humans are prey, some humans are predators. I said nothing, anywhere, about lions or tigers eating humans!!

    The human prey/human predator relationship can be seen in almost any human interaction, including, but not limited to crime, civil wars, wars, internal violent conflicts and revolutions, insurgencies, terrorism, .....etc.

    With all of that going on in the world, I think it's a little early in the game to call human intelligence a "success", don't you?

    Baron Max
     
  23. spuriousmonkey Banned Banned

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    Bacteria, viruses, protozoan parasites, an assortment of worms (worms is used here in the broadest definition since it isn't an official group of species), etc, al still prey on the human species.

    And succesfully eat and kill them.
     

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