Sunday, October 28, 2007

The bold prophecy of Zager and Evans

Something I saw online this weekend had me shaking my head. It's this pop-evolution speculation that British biologist Oliver Curry Came up with.
London, Oct 28 (ANI): The human race will one day split into two separate species, an attractive, intelligent ruling elite and an underclass of dim-witted, ugly goblin-like creatures, a leading evolutionary theorist from the London School of Economics has said.

Oliver Curry has said that the human race will reach its physical peak by the year 3000, after which they will begin to regress.

These humans will be between six and seven feet tall and will live up to 120 years, he said.

"Physical features will be driven by indicators of health, youth and fertility that men and women have evolved to look for in potential mates," Curry said in his report commissioned for men's satellite TV channel Bravo.

He said advances in cosmetic surgery and other body modifying techniques would effectively homogenise mankind's appearance.

While men will come with symmetrical facial features, deeper voices and bigger penises, women will boast of glossy hair, smooth hairless skin, large eyes and pert breasts.

Racial differences will also become a thing of the past as interbreeding will produced a single coffee-coloured skin tone, he said.

But this won't be the end. Ten thousand years after humans reach their peak; reliance on technology will dramatically begin to change their appearance, he added.

The human race will split into two distinct species akin to the intelligent and wealthy Eloi, and the dim-witted, ugly goblin-like Morlock as envisaged in HG Wells' science fiction novel, The Time Machine.

"Medicine will weaken our immune system and we will begin to appear more child-like. The report suggests that the future of man will be a story of the good, the bad and the ugly," said Dr Curry.

"While science and technology have the potential to create an ideal habitat for humanity over the next millennium, there is the possibility of a monumental genetic hangover over the subsequent millennia due to an over-reliance on technology reducing our natural capacity to resist disease, or our evolved ability to get along with each other," he said.

"After that, things could get ugly, with the possible emergence of genetic 'haves' and 'have-nots'," he added. (ANI)

First of all, the funniest result here would be if HG Wells came back to life and hired a particularly bloodthirsty lawyer. But beyond the semi-plagiarism, there's a lot wrong here.

First of all, let's talk about the dicks. Big dicks have always been pretty popular, from what I understand. But natural selection has not thus far ensured that only foot-long guys would breed. That may be because we wear clothes, or because women prioritize other traits when selecting a mate. And Lamarck was wrong, so any effects from those happy love pills you buy on the Internet will not be passed onto your progeny. Same with perky breast implants.

Racial differences: well, race is something of an illusion to begin with. It is quite probable that medium-brown skin tones will increase. But racial characteristics are really just mix-and-match genetic traits. "White" people tend to have a lot of recessive traits. Regardless of who has what skin color, there will still be plenty of differences in hair and eye color, nose shape, chins, etc. If the people of the future are inclined to organize these into race, they will be entirely free to do so.

As far as the human race splitting into perfect but frail Eloi and big monstrous Morlocks, that seems kind of optimistic. My guess is that some kind of brouhaha would break out before we ever got to the point of species differentiation. Only one strain would survive.

One thing to remember is that in terms of geologic time, 1,00o years is just a blink. But when your talking about sociobiology, your dealing with society, trends, fashions. In that field, a century is too far to predict, and a millennium is forever.

Curry seems to have good intentions here, and his points about overreliance on technology is not entirely off target. Medical advances could eventually make the immune system atrophy. But this is a generality. The story is quite far from being factual.

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