Teaching Evolution

A blog devoted to teaching evolution, both in our schools and in our communities.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Brain May Still Be Evolving, Studies Hint

Evolution is an ongoing process, not a path from Point A to Point B. So headlines like Brain May Still Be Evolving don't do much for me. Neither do sentences from the article like "It had been widely assumed until recently that human evolution more or less stopped 50,000 years ago." I don't think that's true. Evolution never really stops; certain traits will continue to make some people more likely to have children than others, and those traits will become more common. That's what evolution is, and it certainly didn't stop 50,000 years ago.

This article is interesting, though. Take a look at this:

The new finding, reported in today's issue of Science by Bruce T. Lahn of the University of Chicago, and colleagues, could raise controversy because of the genes' role in determining brain size. New versions of the genes, or alleles as geneticists call them, appear to have spread because they enhanced brain function in some way, the report suggests, and they are more common in some populations than others.

But several experts strongly criticized this aspect of the finding, saying it was far from clear that the new alleles conferred any cognitive advantage or had spread for that reason. Many genes have more than one role in the body, and the new alleles could have been favored for some other reason, these experts said, such as if they increased resistance to disease.

What bothers me is that there's a natural inclination to dispute any findings that some racist fool might possibly use to suggest that one group of people is naturally more intelligent than some other group of people. We ought to encourage researchers to find information without suggesting that a researcher who reaches a conclusion that isn't politically palatable has therefore committed bad science.


At 11:27 AM, Blogger dhodge said...

Can your brain still evolve if you don't believe in evolution? Think about it.


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