Artificial Selection is a term used when humans interfere with Natural Selection. Natural Selection is the term often associated with Charles Darwin and speaks to the relationship between the surivial of the fittest, and how that effects the way a species adapts to its environment over generations.
So, in nature, plants and animals tend to gradually adapt to better survive. Then humankind figured out a way to manipulate those adaptations so that they gradually adapted to serve humankind’s purposes. Artificial Selection.
As an example, farmers allow the plants and animals with desirable characteristics to reproduce. The prize stud gets the breeding duties. The best crops were nurtured to create higher quality produce.
Another example is breeding dogs. Breeders are careful to mate their precious poochies with only the highest quality partners in order to breed puppies with the most desirable qualities. Some breed for hunting dogs. Some breed sprinters for racing. Some breed dogs for protection. Some breed them for sheer cuteness. And unfortunately, some breed them for fighting (I’m a big advocate of blame the owner not the animal).
Did you just picture a breed of dog for each of those five examples as you read them? Care to quickly scroll down until you see more text the same colour as this section to see the breeds I visualised? You will be able to use the colour change to find your place when you come back. If you thought of different breeds, leave a comment with the breed that you associated with those breeding categories.
However, when it comes to selecting desirable traits, humankind still tend to leave things up to Natural Selection.
With many species, the female selects her mate based on the attributes that are most important to survival.
With other species, the female selects her mate based on looks.
With humans, it seems to be looks and money. So are we going to adapt over time to see males become increasingly narcissistic, self centred, and greedy? Don’t you suddenly wonder if we can already see signs of these adaptations taking place?
Imagine what we could become if women favoured intellgence and respect in their men? What that future could be like? Doesn’t that sound exciting? Placing our future as a species genetically in our control and designing the direction we want our future to go?
(Article continued after some dog pictures. Just process everything so far for a moment before continuing. Plus – cute puppies!!!)
Dog breed answers here:
Are you ready for the scary part?
There is a word for this concept of Artificial Selection in humans. Eugenics.
A philosophy whose principles have been tracked way back to Ancient Greece.
Eugenics has two aspects based on how Artificial Selection is encouraged or enforced. Positive eugenics, encouraged through things like financial and political reward, fertility programs, and cloning to select preferred breeding characteristics.
The second aspect is negative eugenics which may include methods such as sterilization of those with undesirable traits, segregation, forced abortion for undesirables, or making abortion illegal for those with preferred characteristics.
Nazi Germany used both aspects, negative and positive eugenics in pursuit of their preferred breeding characteristics.
Does the idea of Artificial Selection amongst humans seem as exciting now? To imagine that a variation of what the beginning of this article discussed may have once been used to sway people toward the Aryan race ideology?
This isn’t to say the concept of Artificial Selection is wrong or evil. But we humans do like to mess with nature to make things the way we like them. We don’t always take the time to consider whether that is good idea, or just a convenient one.
Science opens many doorways. But we must never forget to consider whether we should before opening them.