Darwin is a cool dude.

I am even more impressed with Darwin than I was before. He is a good and entertaining writer and explained his ideas clearly. He said “I hope that the reader will pause before coming to any final and hostile conclusion on the theory of natural selection.” I wonder what is must have been like to be Darwin? His ideas were not highly popular. I thought it was adorable and honest (and highly untypical of modern science writing) to encourage readers to consider his ideas. I was also surprised by his mention of a Creator in the last part of the second part of the Darwin reading. Nobody would mention a Creator, for any reason, in modern scientific writing. Attitudes towards religion were obviously very different then than they are now–the existence of a Creator was basically accepted in society.

Darwin uses of bees as an example of un-selectable animals. Since people cannot contain them, they cannot mate certain females with certain females. This, he says, domesticated bees are much like un-domesticated bees. This is an interesting idea, but I wonder if it is really the case. Surely bees would at least be affected by “natural” selection in domestication. Perhaps they couldn’t be selected to possess certain traits, but they would be changed by being kept by people, a sort of unnatural “natural” selection.

Of course, natural selection acts on domesticated animals. I had just never really thought about it, though. This idea of what happen at the interface between natural selection, methodical selection, and unconscious selection really fascinates me, because for most of the history of domesticates, this is how animals have been bred. The idea that different strains of cattle, sheep, and pigs developed in different parts of England is clear evidence for this. Different natural environments selected for certain traits. Then, people both intentionally and unintentionally selected certain animals for certain traits. Of course, modern poultry production depends mainly on methodical selection. However, even in that case, there must be some unconscious selection and natural (or, like I mentioned earlier, unnatural natural selection). Unconscious selection is inevitable unless selection is for one single trait and is done based upon numerical values for this trait (like weight at a certain age). And of course, animal ill-suited to their environments will die off, no matter what that environment is.

Pangenesis is a weird theory. I find old scientific theories very entertaining. Why did people think that this was feasible? How did they even come up with it? Why did they not object to the complete lack of evidence?

The Brantz reading was very interesting, particularly the portions on keeping pets and keeping animals in zoos. Reading things like that makes me wish that we had another semester of studying animal domestication–there are so many more interesting things to learn about.

This transition from keeping animals out of necessity to keeping animals as novelty items is an interesting one. Perhaps, people have co-evolved with animals so long that they have some some of innate need for the company of domesticates. Perhaps when  farming became unnecessary for the upper classes, they chose to keep pets to fulfill that innate need.

This process of acclimatization that Brantz discussed is one that would not be acceptable in today’s society–or at least, to today’s scientists. There is, increasingly, a focus on keeping animals and natural spaces as they were “meant to be.” What, though, does “meant to be” really mean? Ecosystems are constantly changing. We humans are but another animal in our ecosystems. Perhaps I am playing devils’ advocate here…
I would love to know more about the early history of zoos. How interesting that zoos originally attempted to “civilize” animals and now attempt to make their environments as natural as possible. I wonder what zoos will be like in 100 years or even 200 or 300. WIll they still exist? Will we conclude that it is unethical to keep animals in cages at all?

Creating Global Consciousness

Since last Tuesday I’ve been entertaining the notion that we, individually and collectively, can contribute to global consciousness though our writing created in a blog. It’s not a secret that I believe we can collectively create a good future and each of us individually have the ability to do so. Very truly, our experiences, creations, relationships, attitudes, and more are the things that create our ever-changing global consciousness, or better known as, our culture.

I think it is in that prospective where I discover my problem with (or at least my little preference for) the scientific biological genetic study of domestic animals. Evolution is simple, I previously nievely thought. I want to talk about individuals from the standpoint of conscious decisions. Like I explained in class last Tuesday, we can choose to achieve our ends though love or though pain (and arguably everywhere in between), we choose what we do, we chose how we do it, we chose our feelings, and we choose what qualities and values make up our character. Therefore, we collectively determine our culture, otherwise known as global consciousness, because we have complete control over what we do and who we are (or do we??).

I’ll admit there are other factors that influence our personal and global characters. What class hierarchy or geographic location one is born into will determine their probability of achieving a higher level of society mitigated by the amount of hard work and determination of the individual. But are these inequalities enough to say you don’t have enough time to create the right future? Do you not have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein?

As it may be, life might be just what this picture below explains.  It’s from a family general store blog about smart and conscious purchasing of canning jars and explained that, “to have a can of peaches was to preserve in a glass jar the memory of a summer day to be remembered in savory-peach-ripeness in the cold days of winter.”

Is life 10% genetics/biology and 90% personal influence/human control? More seriously, I was intrigued to learn how much understanding of the domestication of animals can shed light on the relationship between biology and culture.

Genetic evolution of a species and their respective characteristics, as a basic idea, is simple enough. The psychological character of an individual in a species is not strongly inherited – this is the difficulty of the selection process.

Variability, something humans can’t check or control, is the key to this understanding of human-animal domestic relationships created by biological and cultural pressures.

Domestic animals are integrated into the social life of humans. Pets, entertainment, food, clothes and various other commodities make domestic animals a product of both culture and evolution. Humans have influenced the evolution of animals but genetic variability prevents a perfect expected result. Humans can influence culture but their influence on civilization is dependent on factors like space, land and its contours, climate, vegetation, etc.

It is variability, then, I need to more fully consider when studying the historical relationship developments between humans and animals. After the readings this week, I see a web of moving, interconnected, influenced, influencing and variable parts that make up the history of global consciousness.

I better go ahead and accept that we may not have control over all things but we have  control over somethings. What we can influence with our mindful actions [such as writing a blog to discover thought to contribute to global consciousness, raising chickens in your backyard, or becoming a vegetarian] might be the most important understanding to consider when we’re living our lives. If you’re still convinced genetics and biology dictate the total system your question is, “What is our capacity to influence the future of genetics and biology?”

Or as explained by this pintrest pin quote:

& this is not referring to working your donkey…