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How does intelligence evolve?


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#1 Guest_admin3_*

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 01:11 AM

I was reading an article, which brought this quesion to mind. So how does thinking evolve? How did the first thought happen?

Science often refers to some things that animals do as instinct. How did instinct evolve, and when is it considered an actual thought?

#2 Guest_Yehren_*

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 06:16 AM

"Instinct" is the word we use when we don't understand why the behavior happens.

Even organisms with no nervous tissue at all show behavior and reaction to the environment. It becomes progressively harder to describe consciousness in another human, a monkey, a rabbit, a snake, an octopus, a snail, a leech, a jellyfish, a sponge, a tree, and a protozoan.

I don't think anyone would deny that humans have thoughts, and most people, I think would say monkeys and rabbits have thoughts. But maybe snakes do, too. Octopi seem to play with things, and are able to figure out things in their environment to get food.

How do you draw the line?

#3 Guest_Paul C. Anagnostopoulos_*

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 06:54 AM

Some recommended reading:

Christof Koch, The Quest for Consciousness.

Gary Marcus, The Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought.

Here's a particularly interesting syndrome that illustrates the difference between conscious and nonconscious thought:

http://www.answers.com/blindsight&r=67

~~ Paul

#4 Mack G.

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 07:40 AM

I think another good question is, in the supposed evolution from a unicellular world, why is it that primates are the only species to obtain a signifigant increase in intelligence as they supposedly evolved? No other species of animal got significantly more intelligent as they supposedly evolved. Why did primates evolve to gradually become more and more intelligent? My answer is obviously that humans did not evolve from apelike primates, but for evolutionist, Im curious as to how you explain the contrast between supposed human evolution and the evolution of other species. Why is ours the only one to get significantly smarter as we evolved?

#5 Guest_Paul C. Anagnostopoulos_*

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 10:36 AM

The human brain is incredibly expensive in terms of energy consumption. Maybe most other species are better off without a big brain.

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#6 Guest_Yehren_*

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 11:43 AM

I think another good question is, in the supposed evolution from a unicellular world, why is it that primates are the only species to obtain a signifigant increase in intelligence as they supposedly evolved?


That is the trend in mammals, reptiles, and birds generally. The archosaurs (crocodillians and birds) show much greater intelligence and adaptability than primitive reptiles like lizards, turtles, and snakes.

More advanced mammals like canids, primates, and cetaceans show much more intelligence than primitive ones like tenrecs. Interestingly, the echidnas, (spiny anteaters) which are monotremes, seem to have become rather intelligent members of their small branch, and although they retain some primitive reptillian characteristics (like a cloaca, egg-laying, and skeletal features, are better at figuring out mazes than cats, and perform at "primate level" .
http://www.echidna.e..._third_2002.pdf
(scroll down to "what's new")

We should keep in mind, I suppose that humans are rather primitive mammals in some respects as well, being rather generalized in many ways.

Those who observe parrots and crows are often surprised by the intelligence and adaptability of these animals.
http://www.pbs.org/lifeofbirds/brain/

Humans happen to be an extreme example. But then, extreme examples of other traits exist.

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 12:02 PM

"Instinct" is the word we use when we don't understand why the behavior happens.

Even organisms with no nervous tissue at all show behavior and reaction to the environment. It becomes progressively harder to describe consciousness in another human, a monkey, a rabbit, a snake,  an octopus, a snail, a leech, a jellyfish, a sponge, a tree, and a protozoan.

I don't think anyone would deny that humans have thoughts, and most people, I think would say monkeys and rabbits have thoughts.  But maybe snakes do, too. Octopi seem to play with things, and are able to figure out things in their environment to get food.   

How do you draw the line?

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I don't have a line. But I was curious if science had some kind of law, or theory as to when one thing turned into the other. And if they had examples. I have seen where they think they can explain brain evolution, which had so much speculation going on it made me laugh. But, I figure if they had gone this far, maybe they figured out the other as well.

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 12:19 PM

I think another good question is, in the supposed evolution from a unicellular world, why is it that primates are the only species to obtain a signifigant increase in intelligence as they supposedly evolved?  No other species of animal got significantly more intelligent as they supposedly evolved.  Why did primates evolve to gradually become more and more intelligent?  My answer is obviously that humans did not evolve from apelike primates, but for evolutionist, Im curious as to how you explain the contrast between supposed human evolution and the evolution of other species.  Why is ours the only one to get significantly smarter as we evolved?

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I'll answer the question, even though I know this is kingzfan.

Smarter? Has this been observed? And if they are evolving in intelligence, I have yet to see one speak and hold a conversation. You can get some animals to mimic sounds like some birds do.

Even signing can be a sort of mimic. Animal figures out that it gets a certain reation or thing, by moving it's hands a certain way, just like a bird figures out how mimic certain words the owner has trained it to.

Just like my dog begs to get food. He's learned one reaction gets another reaction. Would that make him as intelligent as a human. or just close to it?

#9 Method

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 01:33 PM

I don't have a line. But I was curious if science had some kind of law, or theory as to when one thing turned into the other.


I don't know of any objective criteria by which animal intelligence is ranked. Many people cite tool use as an objective criteria. The only problem is that other animals, some of which we don't think of as that intelligent, use tools on a regular basis. That said, it is obvious, at a subjective level, that humans are more intelligent than other animals. However, we can't rule out similar intelligence in other animals. We also share brain morphology with other animals, which seems to indicate that evolution tinkered with the brains of our common ancestors.

I have seen where they think they can explain brain evolution, which had so much speculation going on it made me laugh. But, I figure if they had gone this far, maybe they figured out the other as well.

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Until we understand the genetic basis for brain function it will remain speculation. Specific evolutionary pathways are not known for many human functions. That we evolved from an ape-like ancestor is not speculation, however. That theory is backed by a substantial amount of data, but whether or not you agree with the theory is a different topic.

#10 chance

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 01:51 PM

The brain is subject to the forces of evolutionary pressure just like any other organ, i.e there is a survival and reproductive advantage if you are smart. The thing about human intelligence is the ability to predict (as in cause and event), our ability in this area far surpasses any other animal by several orders of magnitude. It is this ability that has turned our evolutionary history so we are no longer subject to many evolutionary pressures (e.g. heat, cold, resources) within limits of course. Social evolution now plays, arguably, a great force in our evolution.

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But I was curious if science had some kind of law, or theory as to when one thing turned into the other. 

I don’t think so, one can only speculate, e.g. Neanderthal lived for a long time with out much social progress (i.e no advance in tool making and no art) his brain is just as large if not a little larger than our own. Yet he was by no means stupid as there is evidence he learned from modern man prior to extinction. What has changed exactly in our brain compared to others is the ability to have abstract thought. Perhaps it’s just the way our brain is wired up.

#11 Space Erased

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Posted 07 March 2005 - 05:27 PM

Abstract thought allowed for better strategies in hunting and planning ahead for harsher times, and we were much better at it than Neanderthals, and sapiens could communicate with enhanced linguistics, giving a stronger social structure. These would have all been evolvd no different to anything else. Those whose brain were better, lived longer, and thus reproduced more, to put it simply. They prevailed where the less intelligent did not, and thus were more suitable for their environment. Those with better strategies didn't get trampled my mammoths. They had more intelligent children, who in turn were better at living. This process may have naturally selected several different intelligence traits into the species, which cumulated to make us a lot more intelligent.

#12 Drewser

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 08:41 AM

I don't know of any objective criteria by which animal intelligence is ranked.  Many people cite tool use as an objective criteria.


Perhaps we can draw the line at instinct vs. train. Most creatures are born with the instincts they need to survive (migrate, hunt, etc.), while humans must train/teach their offspring. We are able to accept or deny the training in which we receive, and we can choose how we want to be. We are able to PRE-adapt to an environment we want to expose ourself to. Animals on the otherhand, do not logically pre-adapt themseleves to a change in environment which they chose.

Given your discussion points, there are alot of behaviors and actions that exist in the animal world which seem to imitate human behavior.

Since Natural Selection is the driving force of evolutionary theory, it seems rather odd that humans can opt-out of the selection process through reasoning and adaptation. This is not the same adaptation (microevolution), but instead a concious change in behavior or environment.

Evolution depends on pre-adaptation via variations in genetic code to prevent extinction. There is no post adaptation. Anytime in history where the environment turned unfavorable and there were no variations which were favored by the Natural Selection process a species became extinct.

Humans seem to contradict the evolutionary model...

Animals:
Species -> Variation -> Natural Selection Event -> Variation Favoratism (aka, adaptation or microevolution)

Humans:
Species -> Variation -> Natural Selection Event -> Adaptation via Reasoning (thus no Favoratism)

It is not our genetic makeup that varies and thus causes adaptation, but it is our logic/reasoning ability.

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 11:57 AM

Perhaps we can draw the line at instinct vs. train.  Most creatures are born with the instincts they need to survive (migrate, hunt, etc.), while humans must train/teach their offspring.


Many vertebrates also must learn from their parents, in order to know what to do to survive. They depend less on their parents than humans, in most cases, but they still have to learn.

Predators do miserably if they aren't trained by their parents. Chimps are completely unable to get along, if not trained about food, hunting, shelter, etc.

So it's a matter of degree, not kind.

We are able to accept or deny the training in which we receive, and we can choose how we want to be.


Only with considerable difficulty. Few really manage to turn completely from their upbringing.

We are able to PRE-adapt to an environment we want to expose ourself to.  Animals on the otherhand, do not logically pre-adapt themseleves to a change in environment which they chose.


Coyotes do a very good job of that. They adapt rather well to urban encroachment of their territory, learning how to use greenbelts and use garbage and domestic pets as sources of food.

Chimps adapt different strategies when they move out onto Savannah, and away from forests. Some of them have cultural biases toward one or the other, and they pass that on to their offspring.

Orcas seem to do that, too. They have two different "traditions" with some pods living mainly on fish, and others on marine mammals.

Given your discussion points, there are alot of behaviors and actions that exist in the animal world which seem to imitate human behavior.

Evolution depends on pre-adaptation via variations in genetic code to prevent extinction.  There is no post adaptation.  Anytime in history where the environment turned unfavorable and there were no variations which were favored by the Natural Selection process a species  became extinct.


Tell that to the coyotes, which have actually increased their range in response to humans. Rats, too.

Humans seem to contradict the evolutionary model...


Couldn't say that, from the examples you mention. We see a continuum of adaptability in individuals, and much parental training in many cases.

#14 chance

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 01:34 PM

Drewser

Since Natural Selection is the driving force of evolutionary theory, it seems rather odd that humans can opt-out of the selection process through reasoning and adaptation. This is not the same adaptation (microevolution), but instead a concious change in behavior or environment.

It not odd if one looks at the reasons that adaptation must take place, i.e. environmental pressure. Evolving smarts is a very good solution, it allows rapid response to environmental change that will leave every other organism floundering.

Evolution depends on pre-adaptation via variations in genetic code to prevent extinction. 

No, it just requires that you are able to make do with what you have.

There is no post adaptation.

Oh my word there is, one an organism is in a high stress environment, evolution is at it’s fastest.

Anytime in history where the environment turned unfavorable and there were no variations which were favored by the Natural Selection process a species became extinct.

Timing is everything and evolution is limited in the speed that it can work. E.g some geological calamity could cause mass extinctions if large scale environmental change is caused, because evolution can only work within the constraints of the speed of the reproductive cycle. If disasters happen fast your extinct.

Humans seem to contradict the evolutionary model...

Yes we do, we have eliminated (partially) external environmental pressures …. but amplified social evolution pressures. But one could argue that social insects like termites have achieve something similar by insulating themselves from some of the environment.

#15 Drewser

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 01:52 PM

Drewser an organism is in a high stress environment, evolution is at it’s fastest.

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So your saying parental DNA alters itself based upon the environment? I can't think of one instance where variations occured spontaneously during an event. This is akin to saying that fish suddenly sprouted wings because the pond dried up.

I think this goes against basic genetics.

#16 Method

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 02:09 PM

So your saying parental DNA alters itself based upon the environment?  I can't think of one instance where variations occured spontaneously during an event.  This is akin to saying that fish suddenly sprouted wings because the pond dried up.

I think this goes against basic genetics.

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In a stressful environment, beneficial mutations allow for a much higher reproductive rate compared to other individuals without that mutation. This causes beneficial mutations to be amplified at a much higher rate compared to less stressful environments. I think this is what chance was trying to say.

#17 chance

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 02:47 PM

Drewser

chance>  an organism is in a high stress environment, evolution is at it’s fastest.

So your saying parental DNA alters itself based upon the environment? I can't think of one instance where variations occured spontaneously during an event. This is akin to saying that fish suddenly sprouted wings because the pond dried up.

I think this goes against basic genetics.

To clarify – No, the process of the actual DNA altering is not subject to the environmental pressure, that is a constant. However those animals subject to the pressure will live or die depending on how well they are adapted (inherited beneficial or detrimental DNA). The environmental pressure just makes the selection process more extreme.

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 01:52 AM

It's useful to remember that individuals don't evolve, populations do. So, in a stressful environment, i.e. one in which the population is not fit, one will expect more variation to occur. This has been confirmed by observation. If the environment has many open niches, you will see selection lead to different populations, each adapted to a specific niche.

If the niches tend to be filled, you will usually see directional selection, or extinction.

#19 Drewser

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 09:53 AM

To clarify – No, the process of the actual DNA altering is not subject to the environmental pressure, that is a constant.  However those animals subject to the pressure will live or die depending on how well they are adapted (inherited beneficial or detrimental DNA). The environmental pressure just makes the selection process more extreme.

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Exactly. Case in point, when DDT was first applied, mosquito populations declined rapidly, but not entirely. Thos mosquitos that contained a DNA trait which caused them to resist the effects of DDT survived. This new gene population began to flourish, and rebounded. Once DDT was banned, the mosquito population eventually became saturated as before, with a mixture of DNA that resited and did not resist DDT. The beneficial DNA was there before, and remainded thereafter, but did not dominate the resulting population.

Doesn't macro-evolution require the genetic change to remain constant? Doesn't the above observation contradict that?

Evolutionary thinking can be summed up as:

Adapt or die.

But the evidence sums it up as.

If your not preadapted, your as good as dead.

Evolution suggests that changes occured over time. The change had to already be present in oder for the change to proceed further. As you stated,

depending on how well they are adapted


Note your usage of past tense, as in "it already occured".

Walter Gehring: Master Control Genes and the Evolution of the Eye

Although I don't agree with everything stated in this article (I believe in Master Design), I do find that his discovery of a master switch is no surprise.

#20 chance

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Posted 09 March 2005 - 01:43 PM

Drewser

Doesn't macro-evolution require the genetic change to remain constant? Doesn't the above observation contradict that?

Evolutionary thinking can be summed up as:

Adapt or die.

But the evidence sums it up as.

If your not preadapted, your as good as dead.

I see what you mean, in the case of resistance to disease I would have to say you are correct.
If had a look at the DNA of entire population of mosquitos, then I suspect that mutations have been building up over a great period of time giving individuals resistance to DDT and many other forms of pesticide or germs. One thing resistance need not be an all or nothing, individuals may be able to shrug off a 5% dose of DDT (if they were on the fringes of the spray) and gradually build stronger and stronger resistance by the same process, but there are limits, a full DDT blast in the face will still kill a mosquito.




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