Why Doesnt Evolution Get Rid of Ugly People?

Discussion in 'The NAAFI Bar' started by jaybee2786, Jul 13, 2007.

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  1. Why isn’t everyone beautiful, smart and healthy? Or, in a less-polite formulation, why haven’t ugly, stupid, unhealthy people been bred out of the population—ugly people because no one will have them as mates, meaning they don’t get the chance to pass their ugliness to the next generation; stupid people because they’re outgunned in the race to financial success (that is, acquiring resources needed to survive and reproduce); unhealthy people because they die before they get a chance to reproduce?

    Evolutionary theory predicts that the unfeeling hand of natural selection would lead to a culling of disadvantageous traits—or, as biologists more delicately phrase it, “depletion of genetic variation in natural populations as a result of the effects of selection.”

    But look around, and you’ll see that that has not happened—not in people, and not in wild animals where homely and infirm offspring are born all the time.

    Evolutionary geneticists try to explain this paradox by positing that mutations for disadvantageous traits keep popping up no matter how hard natural selection attempts to wipe them out, but in their more honest moments the scientists admit that in real life undesirable traits are way more common than this mechanism would account for; “ugly” mutations just don’t occur that often. In a groundbreaking study, biologists at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland have figured out why, at least in one species: genes that are good for males are bad for females and, perhaps, vice versa.

    The scientists studied red deer, 3,559 of them from eight generations, living on Scotland’s Isle of Rum. They carefully noted each animal’s fitness, who mated with whom, how many offspring survived, which offspring mated and with what results. Bottom line: “male red deer with relatively high fitness fathered, on average, daughters with relatively low fitness,” Edinburgh’s Katharina Foerster and her colleagues conclude in tomorrow’s issue of the journal Nature. “Male red deer with a relatively high lifetime [fitness, which includes their reproductive success, the only thing evolution cares about] sired, on average, daughters with a relatively low [fitness].” The reverse also holds. Males that were relatively less successful in their reproductive success and fitness had daughters that were extra successful.

    The reason is that any particular gene-based trait may have very different effects on males than in females. Extrapolating to humans (and oversimplifying, sorry) you might imagine that a particular shape of the nose or turn of the chin would look drop-dead hunky on a male, but horsey on a woman; dad got to mate because his looks attracted a female, but the result of their togetherness produced daughters whose pulchritude was less than obvious. Traits that evolutionary psychologists tell us make women unfit for mating (having the “wrong” shape) remain abundant in the human race because the DNA for the traits, when inherited by sons, confers a selective advantage; when those sons have daughters, presto—more females with less-than-hourglass shapes. Or as the Edinburgh biologists put it, “optimal genotypes differ between male and female red deer, because a genotype that produces a male phenotype with relatively high fitness will, on average, produce a phenotype with lower fitness when expressed in a female.”

    This discovery reminds me of other seminal studies that contribute to our understanding of why “bad” genes persist. The best know is the gene for sickle-cell disease, which is prevalent through the Mediterranean region and much of Africa. Why wouldn’t natural selection get rid of it? Because, it turns out, carrying one copy of the gene increases your resistance to malaria (this is explained well here), which is prevalent—surprise!—in the exact same regions.

    Much of the theorizing about fitness in human biology has been undermined by empirical studies (see, for instance, “Adapting Minds” by David Buller). The study of red deer provides one more cautionary tale for those who would be tempted to weed out “undesirable” traits in the human population. On a less lofty note, it should make us think twice before we reject as a mate someone who does not conform to the “fitness” stereotype promulgated by evolutionary psychologists (such as a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7 for women, and alpha-male behavior for men). You may think, subconsciously, that you’re choosing someone who will transmit “good genes” to your kids, but just ask yourself how that perky little nose will look on your son or those rippling pecs on your daughter.
     
  2. BEER.
     
  3. mysteron

    mysteron LE Book Reviewer

    Sorry, I thought you were asking a rhetorical question. If you were the appropriate question you should pose is why you are alive...... :wink:
     
  4. old_fat_and_hairy

    old_fat_and_hairy LE Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    Because there wouldn't be women for ugly blokes like me.
     
  5.  
  6. Unfortunately until they find a cure for beer goggles, ugly women will continue to get laid and so will at some point pollute the gene pool with more ugly offspring.
     
  7. There will always be a place for the ugly, the unkempt, the obese. They fulfill an evolutionary niche. Especially in garrison towns.
     
  8. Hasn't this one been a busy badger in Basra?
     

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  9. I used to shag ugly birds quite regularly. At the time I thought it was just because they were available at five past closing time and grateful with it. With the wisdom the years bring, I am now quite certain that I actually preferred them to decent birds. I am probably a significant factor in the maintenance of the ugly gene in the population of Hampshire.

    So to all of the uglies in the Thatched cottage in Farnborough - hello loves! Regards to Ruth, Heather and the one with the malevolent, tattoed hardman husband who was convinced somebody was knocking off his wife and suspected one person in particular. Well Tony, we all were but he wasn't...
     
  10. Briefly-the conditions for nautral selection to take place are:

    1. There must be a struggle for existence.

    2. Some traits (phenotypes) must confer a reproductive advantage on certain members of the population-remember that to be reproductively successful it is not enough just to reproduce-your offspring must be fertile too so you are only successful when you become a grandparent.

    3. These traits must be genetically controlled (genotype)-either directly by making you more attractive in some way or making you clever enough to overcome your limitations.

    4. The trait must be heritable-you must be able to pass it on.

    Sadly being ugly or stupid is not a sufficient turn off to prevent these traits being passed on to future generations, there is no selective pressure. Add in genetic drift, mutation and founder events/extinctions and ugly people are likely to be with us for a few years yet.

    I hope this helps.
     
  11. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    One has to consider other factors beyond the handicap of 'Beer Goggles'. The main issue is the portion of the population that would otherwise not get said portion due to their uglyness/stupidity. One of the main problems is that uglyness and stupidity is not confined to one sex; if it was, such elements would have been bred out millenia ago. Just like dribblers congregating outside lollipop shops, munters and chavs of both sexes congregate in council estates or the worst nighclubs, where sheer desperation for a bit of action drives them into each others arms.

    The problem is ugly or stupid people breeding with each other, which furthers the degradation of the gene pool significantly (Posh and Becks being a case in point).

    Had Posh married and bred with Alan Greenspan, and Becks bred with . . . sorry I don't know any bright ladies, but you get the idea, then the quality of the offspring would show an upward trend.

    The only other alternative is the enforced sterilisation of various sections of the populace, but this has been tried before without success. It only takes one bad apple to ruin the barrel.
     
  12. just blame the women

    i think its their fault - she might be a minger but a right goer in the sack and they trap us by getting pregant so the gene pool wil always contain some rancid genes

    There are also gwars they keep on popping up as well, hair dye gets rid of that tell tale colour and if she is shaven as well you dont realize untill you pumped your load what it is in.
     
  13. Coffee your argument falls down mate what about their eyebrows/lashes and the rancid smell of twiglets/pish or were you just born blind with no sense of smell?
     
  14. nah. der need 2 b ugly folk 4 der 2 b gud lukin folk. its jus da way it is.