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evolution and endangered species

Discussion of everything related to the Theory of Evolution.

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evolution and endangered species

Postby kajsateresa » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:16 am

Hi.
I'm a person who has always been interested in "saving endangered species", but lately while discussing with people who don't share my beliefs they throw the "evolution - survival of the fittest"-argument in my face and I don't really know what to answer to that.
Is it possible to be a believer in evolution and at the same time fight to save species that are soon to be extinct (usually because humans are hunting them/destroying their habitat etc)?
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Postby Rap » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:19 am

You have to keep separate your knowledge of how things work and how you want things to be. The first part is science, the second part depends on a value system. You cannot use science to prove that your value system is "correct", you can only hope that, deep down, you and the people you are discussing this with have the same value system, and then you can argue about how things work and maybe reach an agreement. If you don't share the same values, then its futile.

The polio virus is an endangered species and according to my value system, good riddance. Do you agree? Ask your friends, if their child got polio, would they shrug their shoulders and say "oh well, whatever, survival of the fittest".

So you have to ask yourself - why do I value endangered species? What is it in your value system that points you in this direction?

Personally, my value system holds human welfare above that of any other species. If saving an endangered species benefits humans, then save it, if it endangers humans, kill it, if neither, then leave it alone. I am not in favor of killing off any species unless we fully understand it, its DNA sequence, why its dangerous, and how it makes its living. We have to understand how things work in the long run, too, not just does it put money in our pockets today and to hell with tomorrow. We cannot, at this point, understand any species fully, so by exterminating it, we lose some information that we may never recover. So, unless its really dangerous or seriously impeding human welfare, save it. There's another aspect - disrespect for other species may create an environment of disrespect for "difference" and we probably don't want that.

On the other hand, we don't want to value difference for its own sake. The polio virus shouldn't be exterminated because it's different but because its bad. Respecting other species because you value diversity may create an environment of disrespect for humanity, and we probably don't want that either. I reject "diversity" and "conformity" as fundamental values, because it's dumb.
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Postby Cat » Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:52 pm

Rap, your argument is flawed. First of all, I am sure that Kajsateresa has no interest in saving poliovirus, but more interested in those on the endangered species list. Second, poliovirus infection is asymptomatic in 95% infected individuals. Thus, it probably plays a significant role is eliminated some specific human genotype. We, humans, might not like it, but elimination of this virus as well as vaccinations against it are probably doing significant damage to our (human species) genetic pool.
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Re:

Postby Rap » Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:24 am

Cat wrote:Rap, your argument is flawed. First of all, I am sure that Kajsateresa has no interest in saving poliovirus, but more interested in those on the endangered species list. Second, poliovirus infection is asymptomatic in 95% infected individuals. Thus, it probably plays a significant role is eliminated some specific human genotype. We, humans, might not like it, but elimination of this virus as well as vaccinations against it are probably doing significant damage to our (human species) genetic pool.


Ok, I may have misunderstood Kajsateresa's idea of "endangered" species, but I stick to the "philosophy". With regard to the polio virus, if you are correct and we don't fully understand it yet, then by my own reasoning or philosophy, we should be careful about erasing all traces of it.
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Postby Luxorien » Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:08 am

I second everything Rap said.

The question of whether we should save endangered species is simply not a scientific one.

As for the "survival of the fittest" argument, I can think of no better response than the words of Darwin himself:

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature.

-The Descent of Man, Chapter V

Just because something is natural doesn't mean it's good.
If arguing with people on the internet helps me understand science, then I will do it. FOR THE CHILDREN.
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Re:

Postby Cat » Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:50 pm

Luxorien wrote:
Just because something is natural doesn't mean it's good.


The meanings of "Good" and "Bad" are relative. And to make the argument more interesting, consider this:

There is no Good without Bad just as there is no light without darkness.
Without contrast in the opposite, there is only sameness.
Since Good would not exist without Bad, Bad must actually be Good overall...
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Postby JackBean » Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:32 am

also agree with Rap. Why are pandas more worth saving then some bugs?

Cat: agree about the degeneration, that's basically what Luxorien quoted. So, will we save the virus and spread it around?
http://www.biolib.cz/en/main/

Cis or trans? That's what matters.
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Re:

Postby Cat » Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:44 pm

JackBean wrote:So, will we save the virus and spread it around?


No one in the right mind would agree to that. I would re-evaluate need for mass vaccinations to everything...
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Re: Re:

Postby Rap » Sat Sep 29, 2012 4:06 am

Cat wrote:
JackBean wrote:So, will we save the virus and spread it around?


No one in the right mind would agree to that. I would re-evaluate need for mass vaccinations to everything...


This is where you really can run into a case where people with different values are talking at cross purposes. On the one hand vaccinations immediately save lives, a good thing, but on the other hand, you have increased the number of people who will have low natural immunity, in the genetic sense. Unless the wild virus, or whatever, is eliminated, you will have a steadily increasing number of people who depend on vaccination for survival. In other words, who controls the vaccine controls their lives. If the wild virus is eliminated, then who controls the virus controls their lives. Now we are into politics, and the bullshit starts flying thick and fast, left and right. I pray to God neither side wins a decisive victory, because I think it's that chaotic struggle that really generates progress, just like biological evolution.
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Postby Mizero » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:40 am

May you please assist me with the meaning of endangered species!
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Postby Biologist123 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:10 am

I totally agree with you, saving endangerd species is a very important topic. We should fight to save our wildlife because it's a good chance humans are the reason they are dying.
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Re:

Postby Cat » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:07 pm

Biologist123 wrote:I totally agree with you, saving endangerd species is a very important topic. We should fight to save our wildlife because it's a good chance humans are the reason they are dying.


What do you mean by "fight"?
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