Unnatural selection

Perhaps I’m missing something, but the following strikes me as a profoundly stupid question:

Why do women long outlive their fertility?

Human ovaries tend to shut down by age 50 or even younger, yet women commonly live on healthily for decades. This flies in the face of evolutionary theory that losing fertility should be the end of the line, because once breeding stops, evolution can no longer select for genes that promote survival.

Women don’t outlive their fertility in their natural environment. The life expectancy of primitive humans averages between 20 and 35 years. And the women fare worse than the men, because a quarter of them die in childbirth.

We non-primitive humans live a great deal longer because of modern medical care, the entire purpose of which is to interfere with natural selection. Nature has plenty of mechanisms for eliminating women from the world long before they reach menopause, but we do everything in our power to prevent those mechanisms from operating.

Saying that this “flies in the face of evolutionary theory” is an indication of staggering cluelessness. Evolutionary theory describes how evolution works in a natural setting. Of course it fails when you try to apply it to a technological society with advanced medical care. Next you’ll be telling me that space travel flies in the face of gravitational theory because space probes go up instead of down.

Women live long enough for their reproductive systems to shut down for the same reason that both men and women live long enough for our teeth to start crumbling and have to be repaired or replaced. In our original environment (the savannahs of Africa), human bodies only had to last for 20 to 35 years. Beyond that point, it didn’t matter what systems might fail; we were never going to live that long anyway.

But now we’ve changed the rules. We routinely keep our bodies running for three or four times as long as they were originally designed to operate. Of course some parts stop working! It is unnatural for humans to live as long as we do. We are interfering with human evolution on a massive scale.

What really baffles me is that the people asking this stupid question are evolutionary biologists, and the article quoting them is in Scientific American. Why do expert scientists and science journalists have so much trouble seeing such an obvious explanation?

1 thought on “Unnatural selection

  1. What is obvious to one is not obvious to many. Just depends on what logic failings they have. Correct context or proper comparable magnitude appear to be the correct ones to use to evaluate the above data properly.
    We all have our blind spots in particular logic areas. Some people are bad at noticing things out of sequence, others can not determine what a correct target should be, others can’t see correct source for their information.
    In the above, I named 5 out of many ways something can be illogical.
    There is also the unfortunate point of trying to evaluate with false data without knowing the data is false. One example of that I recently found is the claim that the reason men’s brain’s are 10% larger than women’s is because men have more muscles. That is so obviously patently false as to be laughable. Men and women have same number of muscles unless there is a difference in the genitals (I didn’t check) but that difference would be negligible. If they want to claim muscle mass, that would imply body builders should get increased brains and the skinny shrimps get extra small ones.
    Anyway, the point is that if additional research is done with false and incorrect data used as part of the building block, people will have trouble down the road.

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