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I thought I would make a quick video to clarify some points on evolution and maybe clear up some points of ambiguity in some of my previous videos. So when you go to the natural history museum and you see these drawings where they start with a primitive ape and they show progressive species that show some form of progress, at least some form of progress when it comes to walking on two feet, it culminates with Homo Sapiens-- us-- you imagine that evolution is kind of this process that creates better and better things. You imagine that there's this notion of progress that, as time goes on, each successive species is better than its first. And I want to be very clear that this notion of better really makes no sense in an evolutionary or natural selection context. That all that matters is fitness to your environment or the frequency with which you're able to reproduce in an environment, which doesn't really match to our notion of better. So some people kind of think of, well, what's going to be the next step in human evolution? And they imagine some human with a big brain that can move things with mental energy and all of that and can see through things or whatever else. They imagine some kind of progress, that, look, we're more intelligent. We can do all of these things that an ape couldn't do. Maybe the next stage in evolution somehow will be some type of superhuman. And I don't know what the next stage of evolution, if there is any next stage for-- I can't go into that debate, but the idea is that that's not necessarily the case. Even if you take our current human population, success in evolutionary terms is very different than success in our kind of societal definition. For example, let's say that you have two people. You know, this guy, some dude here, he's got a Ph.D, he's got an MD, he's got a lot of money, I mean, just everything that society says is a success, but because he did his MD, Ph.D, he's been in school a long time, and he decides not to have children, or if he wants to be very responsible, he looks at how many people there are in the world and the overcrowding and the environmental impact. So let's say him and his wife, who is also an MD, Ph.D, and has all this money and degrees and have spent a lot of their time in school, they decide to have one child. Let me see, this is his wife, who has kind of similarly-- she's similarly educated, and from our point of view is a very successful, very responsible couple. Now let's say that there's some other guy over here, and he's just kind of-- for the sake of it, let's say he's just nuts, that from the get-go he was very irresponsible. He produced one child after another. Let's say by the time he's 30 years old, he has 10 children, all with different mothers, maybe some of the children had to go up for adoption. Who knows the situation with this guy's life? I don't want to be judgmental of it, but the general idea is that in society, we would say, oh, this guy is less successful. But from an evolutionary point of view, this guy was far more successful. In fact, people like this guy, the frequency of their genes is increasing much faster than the frequency of these people's genes. So when we talk about fitness from an evolutionary point of view, it's not necessarily fitness from the point of view that we like to think of it in our regular kind of value system that we have in society. These people looked very fit, intellectually and, who knows, maybe physically as well, but they weren't reproducing. Their genes aren't being passed on with the frequency of these guys. I forgot the statistic, but there's something like 80% of people in Asia have genes from either one man or some small collection of men who date-- actually, I think it's from one man-- from the 1200s. And it's either probably one of the Mongol warriors, whether it's Genghis or Kublai Khan, but it just shows you that there are some very-- and I'm not going to make any judgments here, but you could have very kind of aggressive people who may have raped and pillaged whole societies, and they were very successful from an evolutionary point of view, even though we might think that their actions are despicable. So I want to give you the sense that there's not necessarily the sense of progress. If this pattern I described keeps happening, then this type of person will become less and less frequent in the gene pool and this person will become more and more frequent in the gene pool. So we might end up with eventually a more aggressive human population or a less quote-unquote responsible one. So I want to make that one clarification that evolution, or natural selection, is not just a series of progressive steps where we'll slowly and slowly become-- or any organism becomes kind of a better and more intelligent and faster animal. It just depends on its environment and what it's being selected for. Now the other thing I want to clarify is, really, some of the points I made on the video regarding intelligent design. In that video, my intention was not to really make a comparison between intelligent design and evolution. So you have evolution on this side and you have intelligent design on this side. And I want to be clear, and I didn't maybe make it clear enough in that video, that this debate is an artificial one. Evolution really is the basis of modern biology. If you want to understand how the flu works, or if you wanted to understand the human genome, or if you wanted to understand heredity, evolution is the cornerstone of that. And it's not complete. Every day, every year, we're discovering more and more about how the process of natural selection works. There are still open debates. People aren't sure the pace at which evolution occurs, other factors that might make it occur faster or slower, but I want to be clear. This does explain all of our observations. Or let me put it this way: All of our observations in modern science are backing up evolution and natural selection. And if anything, it is the basis of modern biology. So if one were to deny natural selection and evolution, they're really denying our understanding of modern biology. Intelligent design is a belief system, and my whole point behind making that is to try to maybe reconcile the parties that favor this with the idea of evolution, so that they could reconcile one's religious beliefs while not having to deny what is the cornerstone of modern biology. And when I talk about design, I make the point that, look, you know, rather than looking at the particular design, whether it's the eye or a particular organism, and I even make the point that there is no particular design. Even if you were to point to the human eye, there's not one version of the human eye. There's an infinite variation in the human eye, so it would even have to be intelligent designs, not intelligent design. But my whole point behind the video was to say if you are inclined to believe in a designer, then the more elegant design is at the system level, which really is evolution. Now, I wasn't trying to say there is a designer or there isn't a designer. I was just saying if you are inclined to believe in one, this is more profound and gives more justice to the designer that you are inclined to believe in. This is not science at all. Intelligent design is a denial of what all of modern science is telling us today. And it's not a theory, as some proponents of it put it, and they kind of surround it with scientific-sounding terms, but it's not a theory. You cannot test intelligent design. There's no data point that will confirm or deny whether somehow something was designed by some type of sentient creator. This is just a belief system that is essentially rejecting this. But I don't want to be disrespectful of those who believe in this belief system, because it comes out of closely held beliefs. My goal really is to reconcile that. And if you do want to give your belief in a creator due credit, you're better looking at the system rather than the design. So I just wanted to make those two points, two clarifications. One on the evolution/intelligent design-- quote-unquote-- debate. But it's not really a debate. This is kind of the cornerstone of modern biology. This is something that just rejects that. It isn't a provable or disprovable theory. And I wanted to make the point that evolution doesn't necessarily mean a straightforward line of progress in evermore intelligent and impressive creatures.
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