Evolving as We Speak
Everybody is talking about a new finding in human genetics. Some papers by Bruce T. Lahn, Ph.D., have been publicized in the BBC, as well as elsewhere. Dr. Lahn thinks that we are "still getting smarter". Two genes in particular have been tentatively traced back to date and place of origin. The first, a brain-related mutation occurring 37,000 years is now represented in 70% of the human species. This is big for two reasons. 1) There are 30% of us who do not carry the gene, and 2) the speed of uptake by the gene pool indicates it is something that makes an impressive difference in fitness.
The second gene is even more interesting. It will make for a lot of very disturbing speculation. It appeared just 5,800 years ago, about the time that civilization began to take off, and is now distributed among approximately 30% of the human population. The related eugenics issues have got to push a lot of hot buttons. Social Darwinism is always lurking in the wings. Moreover, the coincidental time of the gene’s appearance will provoke fundamentalist Christians in unpredictable ways.
The deeper the scientists dig, the more they find. There will be more and more emotionally challenging findings as time goes on. Will we respond with denial and taboo, or with fascination and adaptation? Will we be using this knowledge to modify our society, economy and environment in an inclusive way, to get the best from all, or will we continue to emphasize estrangement from one another, contest, competition, winners and losers?
9/12/2005 2:46 AM