Outsmarting science

Again, while none of my studies involve science I have also been the process of evolution. I enjoyed the scholar article by Russell  outlines three steps  variation, inheritance and selection.  I liked that he took such a complex process and broke it down into three easier requirements.  The article then goes on to talk about some of the problems with organisms somewhat outsmarting our defenses for illness. The example he gave was will tuberculosis but what I immediately thought of was the flu being that it is currently flu season. Every year I hear the debates about whether or not to get a flu shot. Some people believe that the virus is becoming stronger and stronger by us constantly finding immunity to it and others believe it is completely reckless not to protect yourself because of the serious consequences that can arise. I would like to know some of the facts that back both of those arguments up because as of now I always get a flu shot out of habit. How quickly can the virus outsmart the immunity?


“is that with most of the early animals—dogs first, then pigs, sheep, and goats—there was probably a long period of time of unintentional management by humans.” The word domestication “implies something top down, something that humans did intentionally,” he says. “But the complex story is so much more interesting.”

I liked the short national geographic article especially the last quote posted above because when I have thought about domestication I have always associated it with the process humans did to animals instead of a more complicated process suggested by the article. What was the extend of this unintentional management? Are we currently unintentionally domesticating another animal?

I liked Dunn’s writing style better than Bulliet and Clutton-Brock. While I enjoyed more of Clutton – Brock’s scientific analysis, I believe Dunn includes similar references in an easier to understand manner. I also think he raises some interesting points especially with the relationship animals and humans had post weapons. I think he brings a humorous style to his writing while still managing to get his point across in an educated manner. For example, when he says ,” we (humans) are nearly as well packaged for consumption as a hot dog.” He draws attention to how poorly adapted we are to being able to defend ourselves but in an easy joking fashion. I enjoyed reading chapter 11 about how , “each species constructs the world out of the signals received from its senses.” This was interesting to me in a broader view because even amongst humans everyone sees the world differently. In theory with more or less the same capabilities humans should have similar views of the world but that is becoming increasingly opposite in today’s world. More wars, conflicts, and disputes are emerging because of differences of opinion, beliefs, priorities, religion, and desires. Do animals have these same types of conflicts or are we just more intelligent and advanced and therefore these types of disputes only exist within our species? Dunn addresses some of these human differences by saying, “relatively few of the truths we hold to be self-evident are held to be so everywhere.”



3 thoughts on “Outsmarting science”

  1. You’ll have to tell us more about your thoughts on “unintentional management” tomorrow. (I think that quote and part of your first paragraph might be missing something?) Dunn’s equation of humans to hotdogs is funny and provocative. What did you make of his discussion of the development of the fight-flight mechanism and its legacy?

  2. Some of human conflict stems from abstract concepts- religion and ideals- which animals obviously don’t have the intelligence capacity to understand, much less wage war over. But territorial disputes make up another large basis of war in the human world, and that is definitely something animals could relate to as well. It’s not as obvious to us because in the grand scheme of things, the outcome of which pride of lions gets pride rock isn’t going to affect the rest of the world like a nuclear war will. There are also animal disputes over mates, which is no strange thing in the human world either. However, it’s interesting to note that the things animals fight over are necessary for survival- food, mates, territory. While humans fight over these essentials as well, some of our largest battles have been over disagreements in policy, religion, and opinion. We may be the most intelligent species, but obviously that has its drawbacks when it means we’ll sacrifice thousands of lives for something that, in the end, doesn’t really matter.

  3. I liked what you picked up on in reference to “unintentional management.” It occurs to me that this point of view makes animal domestication by humans seem very much part of a natural evolutionary process. In my opinion, people begin thinking of human actions as artificial when the human brain comes into play. As if our brain function is some higher power that belongs above the other organisms on the planet. I’m still unsure about this idea, but your points definitely add some fuel to the fire.

Leave a Reply