Stupid Design – Evolution really screwed us over! *Evolution #2*

Originally posted on Steemit: https://steemit.com/science/@mobbs/stupid-design-evolution-really-screwed-us-over-evolution-2SourceSo in the first part of this series, we took a look at convergent evolution – the process by which two or more separate species develop the same traits despite being geographically separated and isolated for millions of years.

This is, in itself, a demonstration of how brilliant evolution can be; eyes are so complex and specifically formed, yet they developed on SEVEN separate occasions.

Only birds have wings… EXCEPT BATS

Only reptiles have scal – PANGOLIN


SourceSometimes, a great idea is worth hanging on to, and mother nature knows that. But mother nature can also be quite moronic at times, and that’s where we start off; stupid design.

Stupid Design

People naturally look at animals and see the success of billions of years… ok, most smart people. And they’d be right. They’re alive today, or had survived for millions of years, because they evolved in a way that was perfectly adapted to their environment. When that environment changes too rapidly, well, that’s when things typically die off.

But there are some things that don’t seem like ‘adaptations’ at all, but managed to sneak through the evolutionary cracks and survive in animals even to this day.

Giraffe

Perhaps most famously, Richard Dawkins set out to hammer this point home through a dead giraffe.

What he demonstrates is that, given a slow enough process, badly designed elements of an animal can get through without substantial consequence.

In the example of the giraffe (For those of you who cannot watch the video), there is a nerve called the recurrent laryngeal nerve which goes from the brain to the larynx, but rather than taking a direct route of about 2 inches, it takes a huge detour straight down to the heart, U-turning back up and into the larynx, for a journey totaling 4.6 metres!

This inefficient process is a historical legacy going all the way back to fish, in the pre-neck ages. As necks got longer, the nerve subtly got stretched out with no real consequence. You can even see less extreme results in us humans and other animals – even dinosaurs:



SourceThere’s no better place to say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

But sometimes, it IS broken, and life has just has to deal with it

Giraffe 2

Also, ever wonder what it feels like to be born, only to be welcomed with a 5-foot plummet to the ground? Welcome to the life of a baby giraffe. These guys have to sort themselves out, seriously.

Human Stomachs

You know, our stomachs can’t digest the main component in plant matter – Cellulose. Typically, it’s bacteria that does all the breaking down, and cows, for example, have no problem with this. But we don’t have that bacteria at all.

Sea mammals

You’d think, given they spend 100% of their time in the water, they’d learn how to extract air through some kind of… I duno, gill system. This is what convergent evolution was invented for! But no, moving the nose to the top of the head and massively increasing lung capacity should be a sufficient workaround.


It really looks like a nose when you see it close up…
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Human feet

26…That’s how many bones in the human foot. 26 moving parts for a rigid body part. Of course, this is another historical legacy from when our apey ancestors needed flexible feet to swing around and and grab stuff, but now, those 26 bones gift us with:

‘ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and broken ankles’ – Jeremy DeSilva of Boston University


Ridiculous
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The eye

As imperfect as they are perfect. As Claire Ainsworth and Michael Le Page in New Scientist Put it:

’Their light-sensing structure, the retina, is wired up back-to-front, with the light-sensitive cells behind the nerves and blood vessels that support it. Not only does light have to pass through this layer first, obscuring the image, but the nerves and blood vessels have to dive through the retina, creating a blind spot in each eye.’

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Looking back at Part 1 of this series, I showed how the Octopus evolved eyes separately from us, but in the exact same way. They see like we do and the same genes were involved in its development.

However, they got it right. They didn’t have the same evolutionary path as us vertebrates.


Spot the difference
SourceNew Scientist continues:

‘when eyes first evolved in the ancestors of modern vertebrates, the retina arose from an in folding of the developing brain, and the cells that could form light receptors happened to end up on the inside of this fold.’

Having said that, new research supposes a decent reason why.

There’s a whole range of issues with the delicacy and disease-prone eye of a human, but we ain’t got time for that.

All of these are problematic and annoying, but we can just put up and shut up, right? Well… not always.

Fatal Design

If I ask you, you’ll probably start thinking about babies and birth. Correct! What a terrible design. Being bipedal has had a lot of advantages for us, and having a big brain has also had a lot of advantages. But put them together and what’s the solution?

Birth Canal

A narrow birth canal that can actually squeeze and potentially crush a baby’s skull, making it otherwise impossible to birth naturally. Without modern surgery, people just had to deal with it via death.


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Pharynx

The pharynx shouldn’t even exist at all. This is the passage that allows food to pass through. It’s also the passage that allows AIR to pass through. How efficient, putting them both together! Sure, it dramatically increases the chances of choking, something we all do at least a few times in any given lifetime, but hey!


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Oxygen

Speaking of breathing, how is it that we haven’t actually figured out how to do it?

The human breathing reflex happens due to the detection of carbon dioxide. Think about it. Our breathing reflex is NOT something that comes about directly from the absence of oxygen, the stuff that makes us not die. This indirect way of doing things means that in higher altitudes, humans basically suffocate without even noticing due to the lack of oxygen in the thinned air. Since there is not an abundance of carbon dioxide either, the human body can’t regulate its own breathing.

Wisdom Teeth

If you only have one argument against God, this is the one.
Not only are wisdom teeth vestigial – totally useless – but they are downright painful, and before medicine, ensuing infections could often lead to death. All for a couple of teeth you don’t even need.


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Hyena Clitoris

Prepare your imaginations. During Hyena pregnancy, the mother provides a high level of hormones to strengthen the babies within. Unfortunately, these androgens damage ovaries and make it difficult for those children to conceive when they grow up.

What’s worse, is that the clitoris, which also serves as the birth canal in Hyenas, grows up to 7 inches, protruding like a penis from her body.


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“Imagine giving birth through a penis,” said study co-author Kay Holekamp of Michigan State University

Errr, no thanks.

The consequence of this is that the tiny shaft – barely an inch in diameter – is ripped apart during birth, providing hyenas with a particularly high death rate in pregnant mothers.

The brain

The mother of all f**k ups. I mean, it’s wonderful and all, but there’s a phenomenal amount of inbuilt imperfections that are simply inexcusable. Wisdom teeth, for example. You can blame big brains for those.

Mental conditions are so rife in the human brain that we need a giant, 947 page book, the DSM-5 just to remember them all.

Many of these ‘disorders’ which lead us to shortened lives, suicides, homicides and more were actually evolutionarily advantageous back in the day, but our rapid change in lifestyle and culture made them a hindrance.

Bi-polar disorder, for example, is considered a mental tool that would have had a couple of advantages. First, mood swings would align with seasons and light, in the same kind of way bears hibernate or other creatures change their persona rapidly.

Second, bipolar disorder in women could have been advantageous for procreation, being more ‘manic when it’s summer time and convenient to get busy. This is backed up by the fact that bi-polar disorder is most prevalent in women of reproductive age.

Others include:
• OCD, which served as a psychological immune system
• ADHD was a great tool of innovation
• Dyslexia was a side-effect of a creative, problem-solving mind (only made a hindrance since the invention of writing)
• Austism, which served as a kind of survival superpower back in the hunter-gatherer days, working solo rather than in social groups.
• Stress, another wonderful survival skill now used to make us sick and die more easily.

So there you have it. A small sample of a huge, tangled mess we all put up with; humans AND animals. Next time you look in the mirror, admiring your own perfection, think again.

Mysterious ways

The recent death of my local street cat, Meow, has made me think a lot about things I already tend to think about, but slightly more.

In particular, the lack of a God, and even more particular, the lack of a god worshiped by humans thus far. I know this is about to be a long winded approach to a very simple concept but hell, get used to it.

I mean, from the get go it’s pretty obvious that humans have just been worshiping themselves in disguise this entire time, but what’s to say there isn’t some god we have been too innately selfish to recognize; an asshole god?

Who are we to decide what God is like? Why should a god be all loving and forgiving (lol)?

Meow, as an example, was a lovely, loving, social, friendly fun cat. She was raped by a big mean cat. 2 months later she went through what is probably the worst type of death since the movie Se7en. I’d challenge anyone reading this to imagine giving birth, only to release one dead, and have perhaps 6 more inside, dead or dying.

Then imagine the situation being stuck like that for another week while you constantly try to push and fail from pure exhaustion and pain, to the point that you’re unable to move, react or eat. Finally, on the last day, without any understanding as to what’s going on, your body has already stiffened from death, but you’re still barely alive, twitching and shaking in agony until the second you die, babies still within.

Now I want you to apply that kind of pain to literally millions and millions of people. Nice, innocent people.

I say people  because I understand that people don’t relate to the plight of animals in the same way myself and others do, but the outcoming question is the same; why?

I know the answer, unfortunately. There is no why, there is no because. One could (and One’s do) argue the rhetoric ‘God works in mysterious ways’ (You can tell I’ve watched Se7en recently) which is another way of saying ‘I can’t explain it but I’m smart enough to be able to say something un-falsifiable in return’.

With that in mind, if I was forced somehow by fear or another person to believe in a God of my choosing, I would choose a vengeful, wrathful psychotic god who was really quite unstable. If I was to apply human values in the same way all the current gods are, I’d say he was pretty depressed that his girlfriend goddess dumped him for the long-haired, sporty PHD god down the road, and he needed to take it out on someone.

We all know that humans are awful and evil. But we also all know that humans are wonderful and kind. I understand from the Great Bastard that filtering out who is good and who is bad can be tricky, given that each individual may be both evil and wonderful, and there are many gray areas in which a person cannot be defined as either, but you’d think it would be in the nature of a supreme being to figure out a working system to fully justify in an equal and fair matter.

Not the Great Bastard. His mind is clearly to focused on how best to stalk his ex to research the most effective tactics to win her back. He clearly took a quick look at the world, got confused and frustrated and just sprinkled an arbitrary and random array of pain, suffering and joy across the globe and is probably on his way back to see what happened. Of course, in the cosmic time period that could be millions of years from now, so I’d sit back and accept the plight of life as it is, embrace your emotions and otherwise do whatever the hell you want.

I still miss you, Meow.

Is religion damaging?

Yes.

Not only that, but it’s dangerous.

In a very general sense, I have no qualms with the majority of religion. And by religion, I mean organised religion, but this can mostly be applied to any form of belief in supernatural beings.

Religion has its benefits; it forces people to abide to their own morals that much more, it brings people together in amicable terms, it has beautiful architecture, it gives a sense of inner peace to those in need of it, and religious people mostly don’t affect my immediate life, bar a few people, say, in Korea, who would march around the subway system dressed in a sign informing me that if I don’t repent and believe right now, I will definitely go to hell.

But just a few seconds of thought brings me to the opposite conclusion. Religion brings about ignorance, denial, ostracism, war, abuse and fraud.

  • Ignorance and denial.

    Well of course. Anyone who looks up history can see that religion and supernatural beings arose out of ignorance. Although this may not necessarily be the actual, 100% functioning switch that turned on a global desire to believe, it seems quite intuitive and blatant to me that the human urge to ‘know’ simply forced our minds to resolve via preternatural means  that which we cannot define with our fundamental senses.

    The Sun God came to be until we understood what the sun was. We were the centre of the Universe until we understood what the universe was. Earth was 6,000 years old until we understood what geology, biology, well, science was.

    The God of the Gaps is a term used precisely for this. The less we know, the more we assign to Godly circumstances. This being said, we are in the age of information and we are knowing more and more every single day, and this has been a pattern for centuries. Now that information is online and readily available to almost everyone on earth, it stands to reason that ignorance is simply a choice, and beliefs in the untrue will quickly fade.

    Why hasn’t it? Well, religion. Religion creates a set of mostly unchangeable rules. Set in stone. Final. If science contradicts it, science must be wrong because… because.

Even if you feel much of science is falsified, you cannot deny that Science is a self-correcting mechanism. The process of science requires many people from all angles to peer review, test and retest a theory. If the theory succeeds, it is a fact. It is a fact until that theory falls flat one day, which is usually does. Then the world has learnt something, and the science is corrected.

Religion does not have this mechanism, unfortunately, and it leaves an uncomfortable percentage of the world (I think I heard 70% of Americans believe in a Christian God?) in darkness.

The world is so bewilderingly astonishing and, to be honest, much, much more exciting and wonderful than all the books of ancient times describe, and those who follow religion are left without ever having the chance to appreciate it.

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  • Ostracism and fraud.

    A belief system of any kind really can be seen as a kind of racism. I know more people than i’d like who are firm believers in Astrology. The very premise of Astrology is that people who are born at certain times are directly linked to various arbitrary star combinations in the sky, which, under know logical course or system of proof, directly affects your personality throughout your life.That being said, does that mean I am born with all my personality traits waiting to develop, and there is nothing about me that is unique, and nothing in the environment and society around me contributes to who I become?So when I meet a Leo, I am not compatible according to the stars, we shouldn’t be friends. The girl seems interesting enough, with a lot in common with me. But that which we have in common must be a lie and I should stay away.Maybe she was my dream girl!

    There are so many occasions where people will go and get their star signs read to them, and they believe is so heavily that they will break up their relationship or make wild, stupid decisions based on the results.

    This seems ridiculous to most of us but it’s very real, and don’t think your religion is excluded from such things. If you are Muslim, you stay away from the Christians. If you are Christian, you stay away from the Muslims. You cannot marry each other, and for the most part you cannot even hang out with each other.

    Of course this is speaking generally, and I don’t think it’s a written rule, but the fact that these divides exist causes a large trench between the two ‘races’ of belief; they are two totally different species.

    Surely it makes much more sense in this world to just accept we are the same species with a lot more in common with everyone than we realise?

    Churches, palm readers, Homeopathy ‘doctors’, they all get $$$ in an uncounted proportions for this gigantic collection of lies. homeopathy is even funded by the NHS in Britain. A treatment which is completely reliant on the Placebo Effect – Something which is actually illegal in the rest of the world of proper medicine.

    People have years and years of training in Acupuncture, learning and memorising the Chi points, locations in which the needles should be poked. yet proof has repeatedly confirmed that what little effect acupuncture does have on the body is indistinguishable from applying needles in completely random positions over the body.  Again, this process mostly relies on the Placebo Effect, and in many cases, it’s actually less effective than a placebo.

The false nature of Acupuncture, Astrology, Homeopathy, Dowsing etc… has been repeatedly proven for years, yet people need
to believe it. People have practice these things for decades, completely oblivious to the fact that it doesn’t work because

A) They want to believe, and those occasional coincidences confirm their beliefs.

B) There is a lot of money in it, so even if, deep down they know full well 
it’s fraud, they like money more than truth.

  • War and Abuse.

    War is an obvious one. Religious defenders will argue immediately with the words Stalin and Hitler, atheists who created two of the greatest atrocities on earth.Myth: Hitler was an atheist.
    Hitler was a catholic, and although he may not have practiced it to the extend of a fully fledged pope, he often spoke and wrote about it.

These are defunct arguments. Why? Neither started wars because of Atheism. Their
goals, ambitions and ideals were not remotely related to atheism. Yes, Hitler ran
through what you could argue as a Darwinian process of selection.

But Darwinian isn’t Atheism, it is a scientific process. And I don’t think any sensible
person  of any belief or non-belief would seriously suggest a Darwinian style society,
which would of  course bring mass death and suffering around the globe.

No, there is no person that comes to mind that created war and death in the name of
Atheism. Religion? Well, I don’t even need to discuss those examples.

But Religion doesn’t only work on such an obvious scale as war. It has a more subtle
approach to destroying civilization.

When religious families bring a child into the world, this child is immediately religious. They are stamped as religious in their birth certificates, they follow their families to their churches or cult gatherings or whatever, and they grow up with a set of lies embedded into them, before they even knew how to doubt what their parents told them.

This use of authority to brainwash a child is a form of child abuse if you want to put it bluntly. You are denying the child a right to think for itself. Sometimes those children can, over time, pull out of it, much to the shame and disappointment of their family. Leaving ones religion is called apostasy, and  I can think of one religion that would sentence those poor fellows to death:

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A child is forced, against its will, to follow the will of an authority. Why not let the child grow up first, and allow it to learn about the world and make its own decision? Perhaps because these organisations know that the child will not join their cult, will not pay for their gold plates and cathedrals, ceremonies and bullet proof cars, instead preferring the direction of truth.