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Bill Nye ponders, Is the human species still evolving?

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Remember Bill Nye from the Skulls of Ham on Nye?

He offers some thoughts at Popular Science on whether the human species is still evolving: On the one hand:

Is there a Homo superius just around the next corner, waiting to take our place? Let’s think about what it would take: If we were to give rise to a new species, something would have to happen to us to create a bottleneck or isolated place for a founder-person and her or his mate to show up and get separated from you and me and our offspring. In the modern world, that is very unlikely. We have airplanes and ships and the Internet.

On the other hand:

There are a lot of other ways that evolutionary change will march on, no matter what. Those that survive may have a higher tolerance for drinking milk. Babies in industrialized societies have access to milk like no one before us. Maybe a genetic tolerance for milk will slowly help more of those babies survive until they have kids of their own. There is evidence that people with both especially high and especially low blood sugar levels have fewer offspring. So subtle changes at least will make their way into the human population’s gene pool. It’s going on right now.

Sure, but milk could go the way of tobacco (once considered a health benefit), in which case …

Conclusion: You’d have to be a seer to know the answer.

By the way, does Nye realize how obstructive the mobile graphic of him apparently trying to punch someone’s lights out is for a person who is just trying to read what he has written? I had to copy paste the stuff around it just to do so.

I guess no one can tell him directly because Popular Science is the mag that shut off reader comments.

Also: Why is he trying to punch someone’s lights out? Whose?

Note: He has a new book out: Undeniable: Evolution And The Science Of Creation  – 

See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (human evolution), for why the field is in disarray.

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15 Replies to “Bill Nye ponders, Is the human species still evolving?

  1. 1
    phoodoo says:

    Bill Nye is an engineer with no training in biology whatsoever.

    I am sure he is very tolerant of other non-biologists commenting on evolution though…haha

  2. 2
    roding says:

    Bill Nye is an engineer with no training in biology whatsoever.

    Sounds like he’s just speculating. Of course it would be interesting to hear what a trained biologist would think too.

    Besides, how many regular contributors here have degrees or advanced training in biology? Not sure I’m aware of any (vtjorley maybe, don’t know?), but that doesn’t seem to stop people having opinions!

  3. 3
    tjguy says:

    He’s great for science where you do experiments and hands on stuff! He really keeps kids attention.

    But he can’t seem to see the problems with historical science.

    This is where he falters. He thinks it is every bit as certain and settled as experiments real science.

  4. 4
    jerry says:

    He has a new book out: Undeniable: Evolution And The Science Of Creation

    It will be interesting to see just what is “undeniable.” And just how he defines “creation.”

  5. 5
    ppolish says:

    When an article begins with a graphic implying Man evolved from a anatomically modern day chimp, you should not expect deep evo insights.

    “If chimps turned into humans, why are there still chimps?” Blame graphics like the one in the PopSci article for the confusion. Hope Bill will not be teaching kids about Evolution.

  6. 6
    Edward says:

    Ham on Nye? With mustard?

    So when Homo Superius arrives will he keep us a pets?

    Of course Popular Science got rid of reader comments, too many people went off script.

    Ed

  7. 7
    humbled says:

    Still evolving? Heck, after 20+ years of research im still looking for proof we evolved at all.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Contrary to what Bill Nye believes, humans are not evolving into ‘Homo superius’, i.e. into superman, but in fact our best empirical evidence tells us that humans are DE-volving because of the accumulation of detrimental mutations. Even his example of a ‘higher tolerance for drinking milk’ is the result of a detrimental mutation, not a beneficial, information building, mutation.,,, Lactase persistence is actually a loss of a instruction in the genome to turn the lactase enzyme off,,,

    Got milk? Research finds evidence of dairy farming 7,000 years ago in Sahara
    Excerpt: In premature babies, the gene coding for lactase is sometimes not yet active. And in much of the world’s population, the gene is downregulated after weaning, eventually producing some degree of lactose intolerance. Those whose genes are not downregulated are said to have “lactase persistence.” However, even lactose-intolerant people still have genes coding for lactase enzyme; they are just switched off.
    In an adult with lactase persistence, one or both alleles of the lactase gene remain switched on.
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....e-07072012

    Loss of an instruction (information) to downregulate the gene and only one or two alleles were involved? Not good for evolution!
    Moreover, there is very good reason to believe that ‘non-random’ epigenetic factors were involved in the mutational process! i.e. lactase persistence clearly appears to be a ‘designed mutation’ that has ‘serendipitously’ originated independently three different times:

    Convergent adaptation of human lactase persistence in Africa and Europe
    Excerpt: We conducted a genotype-phenotype association study in 470 Tanzanians, Kenyans and Sudanese and identified three SNPs (G/C-14010, T/G-13915 and C/G-13907) that are associated with lactase persistence and that have derived alleles that significantly enhance transcription from the LCT promoter in vitro. These SNPs originated on different haplotype backgrounds from the European C/T-13910 SNP and from each other.
    http://www.nature.com/ng/journ.....g1946.html

    Even blond hair, blue eyes, and light skin, which Hitler thought to be some of the evidence that Germans were superior to other races, are found to be loss of information mutations:

    Subtle change in DNA, protein levels determines blond or brunette tresses, study finds – June 1, 2014
    Excerpt: The researchers found that the blond hair commonly seen in Northern Europeans is caused by a single change in the DNA that regulates the expression of a gene that encodes a protein called KITLG, also known as stem cell factor. This change affects how much KITLG is expressed in the hair follicles without changing how it’s expressed in the rest of the body. Introducing the change into normally brown-haired laboratory mice yields an animal with a decidedly lighter coat — not quite Norma Jeane to Marilyn Monroe, but significant nonetheless.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....150924.htm

    Daily thought: blue eyes and other gene mutations, April 25, 2013
    Excerpt: “Research on blue-eyes has led many scientist to further affirm that humans are truly mere variations of the same origin. About 8% of the world’s total population has blue eyes so blue eyes are fairly rare. In fact, blue eyes are actually a gene mutation that scientist have researched and found to have happened when the OCA2 gene “turned off the ability to produce brown eyes.”
    http://www.examiner.com/articl.....-mutations

    Melanin
    Excerpt: The melanin in the skin is produced by melanocytes, which are found in the basal layer of the epidermis. Although, in general, human beings possess a similar concentration of melanocytes in their skin, the melanocytes in some individuals and ethnic groups more frequently or less frequently express the melanin-producing genes, thereby conferring a greater or lesser concentration of skin melanin. Some individual animals and humans have very little or no melanin synthesis in their bodies, a condition known as albinism.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanin#Humans

    The claim that we are DE-volving, instead of evolving into superman, is backed up by numerous other genetic studies:

    Critic ignores reality of Genetic Entropy – Dr John Sanford – 7 March 2013
    Excerpt: Where are the beneficial mutations in man? It is very well documented that there are thousands of deleterious Mendelian mutations accumulating in the human gene pool, even though there is strong selection against such mutations. Yet such easily recognized deleterious mutations are just the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of deleterious mutations will not display any clear phenotype at all. There is a very high rate of visible birth defects, all of which appear deleterious. Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Why are no beneficial birth anomalies being seen? This is not just a matter of identifying positive changes. If there are so many beneficial mutations happening in the human population, selection should very effectively amplify them. They should be popping up virtually everywhere. They should be much more common than genetic pathologies. Where are they? European adult lactose tolerance appears to be due to a broken lactase promoter [see Can’t drink milk? You’re ‘normal’! Ed.].
    African resistance to malaria is due to a broken hemoglobin protein [see Sickle-cell disease. Also, immunity of an estimated 20% of western Europeans to HIV infection is due to a broken chemokine receptor—see CCR5-delta32: a very beneficial mutation. Ed.] Beneficials happen, but generally they are loss-of-function mutations, and even then they are very rare!
    http://creation.com/genetic-entropy

    Inside the Human Genome: A Case for Non-Intelligent Design – Pg. 57 By John C. Avise
    Excerpt: “Another compilation of gene lesions responsible for inherited diseases is the web-based Human Gene Mutation Database (HGMD). Recent versions of HGMD describe more than 75,000 different disease causing mutations identified to date in Homo-sapiens.”

    I went to the mutation database website cited by John Avise and found:

    Mutation total (as of 2014-05-02) – 148,413
    http://www.hgmd.cf.ac.uk/ac/

    Human Genome in Meltdown – January 11, 2013
    Excerpt: According to a study published Jan. 10 in Nature by geneticists from 4 universities including Harvard, “Analysis of 6,515 exomes reveals the recent origin of most human protein-coding variants.”,,,:
    “We estimate that approximately 73% of all protein-coding SNVs [single-nucleotide variants] and approximately 86% of SNVs predicted to be deleterious arose in the past 5,000 -10,000 years. The average age of deleterious SNVs varied significantly across molecular pathways, and disease genes contained a significantly higher proportion of recently arisen deleterious SNVs than other genes.”,,,
    As for advantageous mutations, they provided NO examples,,,
    http://crev.info/2013/01/human-genome-in-meltdown/

    John Sanford on (Genetic Entropy) – Down, Not Up – 2-4-2012 (at Loma Linda University) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....L0#t=1040s

    Notes from John Sanford’s preceding video:
    *3 new mutations every time a cell divides in your body
    * Average cell of 15 year old has up to 6000 mutations
    *Average cell of 60 year old has 40,000 mutations
    Reproductive cells are ‘designed’ so that, early on in development, they are ‘set aside’ and thus they do not accumulate mutations as the rest of the cells of our bodies do. Regardless of this protective barrier against the accumulation of slightly detrimental mutations still we find that,,,
    *60-175 mutations are passed on to each new generation.

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    Here are the papers that were cited by Dr. Sanford in the preceding ‘Down, Not Up’ video at the 24:40 minute mark:

    The high spontaneous mutation rate: Is it a health?risk?* – James F. Crow – 1997
    Excerpt: If war or famine force our descendants to return to a stone-age life they will have to contend with all the problems that their stone-age ancestors had plus mutations that have accumulated in the meantime.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/94/16/8380.full

    Contamination of the genome by very slightly deleterious mutations:
    why have we not died 100 times over? Kondrashov A.S.
    http://www.ingentaconnect.com/.....4/art00167

    Why are we still alive? – LAURENCE LOEWE – Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, – 2006
    Excerpt: In the last few years evolution@home has accumulated over 100 years of computing time in its quest for a better understanding of the consequences of mutations that are slightly harmful and therefore might not be removed from populations by natural selection.,,, Results show that this may be less than 20 million years, resulting in a genomic decay paradox, since mitochondria in the human line are (presupposed to be) older.
    http://www.evolutionary-resear.....till-alive

    Rate, molecular spectrum, and consequences of human mutation – Michael Lynch – 2009
    Excerpt: Thus, although there is considerable uncertainty in the preceding numbers, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the per-generation reduction in fitness due to recurrent mutation is at least 1% in humans and quite possibly as high as 5%.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/107/3/961.full

    Moreover the fossil record for humans, over the past 30,000 years, where the fossil record is far more reliable to read than the more ancient fossil record is, shows this same pattern of degeneration of humans as would be predicted from what we know about the genetic evidence.

    Are brains shrinking to make us smarter? – February 2011
    Excerpt: Human brains have shrunk over the past 30,000 years,
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....arter.html

    If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking? – January 20, 2011
    Excerpt: John Hawks is in the middle of explaining his research on human evolution when he drops a bombshell. Running down a list of changes that have occurred in our skeleton and skull since the Stone Age, the University of Wisconsin anthropologist nonchalantly adds, “And it’s also clear the brain has been shrinking.”
    “Shrinking?” I ask. “I thought it was getting larger.” The whole ascent-of-man thing.,,,
    He rattles off some dismaying numbers: Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cc, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball. The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion. “I’d call that major downsizing in an evolutionary eyeblink,” he says. “This happened in China, Europe, Africa—everywhere we look.”
    http://discovermagazine.com/20.....-shrinking

    Cro Magnon skull shows that our brains have shrunk – Mar 15, 2010 by Lisa Zyga
    Excerpt: Using new technology, researchers have produced a replica of the 28,000-year-old brain and found that it is about 15-20% larger than our brains.
    – per physorg

    Scientists Discover Proof That Humanity Is Getting Dumber, Smaller And Weaker By Michael Snyder, on April 29th, 2014
    Excerpt: An earlier study by Cambridge University found that mankind is shrinking in size significantly.
    Experts say humans are past their peak and that modern-day people are 10 percent smaller and shorter than their hunter-gatherer ancestors.
    And if that’s not depressing enough, our brains are also smaller.
    The findings reverse perceived wisdom that humans have grown taller and larger, a belief which has grown from data on more recent physical development.
    The decline, said scientists, has happened over the past 10,000 years.
    http://thetruthwins.com/archiv.....and-weaker

    Dr. John Sanford, inventor of the gene gun, in the following interview, pulls no punches in his assessment of the situation for humans in regards to our evolutionary future.

    Genetic Entropy – Dr. John Sanford – Evolution vs. Reality – video
    https://vimeo.com/35088933

    Verse and Music:

    Romans 7:24-25
    What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!,,,

    He Knows My Name – Francesca Battistelli
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NHQJWdXfFE

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Here are the papers that were cited by Dr. Sanford in the preceding ‘Down, Not Up’ video at the 24:40 minute mark:

    The high spontaneous mutation rate: Is it a health?risk?* – James F. Crow – 1997
    Excerpt: If war or famine force our descendants to return to a stone-age life they will have to contend with all the problems that their stone-age ancestors had plus mutations that have accumulated in the meantime.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/94/16/8380.full

    Contamination of the genome by very slightly deleterious mutations:
    why have we not died 100 times over? Kondrashov A.S.
    http://www.ingentaconnect.com/.....4/art00167

    Why are we still alive? – LAURENCE LOEWE – Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, – 2006
    Excerpt: In the last few years evolution(at)home has accumulated over 100 years of computing time in its quest for a better understanding of the consequences of mutations that are slightly harmful and therefore might not be removed from populations by natural selection.,,, Results show that this may be less than 20 million years, resulting in a genomic decay paradox, since mitochondria in the human line are (presupposed to be) older.
    http://www.evolutionary-resear.....till-alive

    Rate, molecular spectrum, and consequences of human mutation – Michael Lynch – 2009
    Excerpt: Thus, although there is considerable uncertainty in the preceding numbers, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the per-generation reduction in fitness due to recurrent mutation is at least 1% in humans and quite possibly as high as 5%.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/107/3/961.full

    Moreover the fossil record for humans, over the past 30,000 years, where the fossil record is far more reliable to read than the more ancient fossil record is, shows this same pattern of degeneration of humans as would be predicted from what we know about the genetic evidence.

    Are brains shrinking to make us smarter? – February 2011
    Excerpt: Human brains have shrunk over the past 30,000 years,
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....arter.html

    If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking? – January 20, 2011
    Excerpt: John Hawks is in the middle of explaining his research on human evolution when he drops a bombshell. Running down a list of changes that have occurred in our skeleton and skull since the Stone Age, the University of Wisconsin anthropologist nonchalantly adds, “And it’s also clear the brain has been shrinking.”
    “Shrinking?” I ask. “I thought it was getting larger.” The whole ascent-of-man thing.,,,
    He rattles off some dismaying numbers: Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cc, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball. The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion. “I’d call that major downsizing in an evolutionary eyeblink,” he says. “This happened in China, Europe, Africa—everywhere we look.”
    http://discovermagazine.com/20.....-shrinking

    Cro Magnon skull shows that our brains have shrunk – Mar 15, 2010 by Lisa Zyga
    Excerpt: Using new technology, researchers have produced a replica of the 28,000-year-old brain and found that it is about 15-20% larger than our brains.
    – per physorg

    Scientists Discover Proof That Humanity Is Getting Dumber, Smaller And Weaker By Michael Snyder, on April 29th, 2014
    Excerpt: An earlier study by Cambridge University found that mankind is shrinking in size significantly.
    Experts say humans are past their peak and that modern-day people are 10 percent smaller and shorter than their hunter-gatherer ancestors.
    And if that’s not depressing enough, our brains are also smaller.
    The findings reverse perceived wisdom that humans have grown taller and larger, a belief which has grown from data on more recent physical development.
    The decline, said scientists, has happened over the past 10,000 years.
    http://thetruthwins.com/archiv.....and-weaker

    Dr. John Sanford, inventor of the gene gun, in the following interview, pulls no punches in his assessment of the situation for humans in regards to our evolutionary future.

    Genetic Entropy – Dr. John Sanford – Evolution vs. Reality – video
    https://vimeo.com/35088933

    Verse and Music:

    Romans 7:24-25
    What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!,,,

    He Knows My Name – Francesca Battistelli
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NHQJWdXfFE

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Tim Kershner interviews Dr. Behe – just uploaded
    “Lights Out” S1 (Episode 4) – with Prof. Michael Behe
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reRTAD_6R84

  12. 12
    mahuna says:

    Nye was publicly humiliated within the last year during his bungled attempt to defend the absurd Theory of Global Warming against a man who had actual FACTS. I wouldn’t trust him to teach ANYTHING to ANYONE. He appears to be a perfect idiot, which is itself a great achievement, perfection-wise.

    But on his argument for homo superius, see Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart”. What has been happening in the US since the 1960s is that college has become a “sorting machine” where smart kids find mates among other smart kids. This can’t happen in high school because we’re talking about the top 0.5% of the generation. So at most high schools there are only a handful of VERY smart young humans. Having found mates and arranged jobs in college, the smart young humans then accept jobs at companies run by other smart humans, get higher than average pay, and buy homes in neighborhoods populated entirely by other smart humans. Their offspring then grow up with ONLY smart neighbor kids, are introduced to influential smart people throughout their lives, and repeat the cycle of finding smart mates, etc. Note that this is NOT about social class. It’s about demonstrated IQ, and it’s self-selection: each generation is allowed to find an appropriately smart mate.

    So, I don’t think we need Nye’s “bottleneck”. Homo superius is already in development, having found or created an Environment in which only extraordinarily smart humans can survive and breed.

    Their less smart cousins, who continue to make up more than 99% of the species worldwide, control most of the human habitat, but the competition between humans was never about mere quantity.

  13. 13
    Eric Anderson says:

    Nye:

    If we were to give rise to a new species, something would have to happen to us to create a bottleneck or isolated place for a founder-person and her or his mate to show up and get separated from you and me and our offspring.

    No. I don’t believe this is correct.

    To be sure, things like bottlenecks and isolation and the founder effect are proposed as ways to speed up the alleged evolutionary process (and from a standpoint of population genetics, each of these is indeed a legitimate contributor to variations in the genetic pool — though the question of forming new species, and how that is defined, is much more speculative). But the grand overarching evolutionary principle of minor variations over time allegedly leading to new species does not depend on bottlenecks, and isolation and the founder effect.

  14. 14
    Eric Anderson says:

    And, yes, it is too bad that Bill Nye has reinvented himself as a popularizer of the twin propaganda-based, “consensus-science-driven,” heavily-politicized projects that are materialist evolution and global warming alarmism. He has destroyed his own credibility. (Interestingly, the NCSE is now heavily steeped in the global warming cause, too.)

    Nye should have stuck to popularizing practical, empirical, bench science for young people.

  15. 15

    I’ve read Nye’s excerpt from Popular Science, and it comes across as just someone trying to write cleaver prose in an attempt to make a serious point … all fluff and no meat.

    However, after reading Nye’s stuff my mind went back to a book by A.E. Winder-Smith “He Who Thinks Has To Believe” at http://www.amazon.com/He-Who-T.....0890510733 that takes us to a place similar to that in which Nye wants to take us, but in the short but very vivid and powerful narrative, Wilder-Smith’s Neanderthals take the measure of Modern Man and soundly trounces the fairy tales of the Moderns.

    The subtitle of this book could/should vary well be “He Who Thinks Should Have This Book On His/Her Bookshelf”

    An excellent and very short counter to the Modern Man – Bill Nye.

    This is a one of a kind book. A short story set on an island peopled with Neanderthals, on which a group of moderns crash and proceed to have a series of discussions on the origin of life. Wilder-Smith was one of the main inspirations of the founders of the ID movement

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