Sir David Attenborough: Humans Stopped Evolving Because of Birth Control and Abortion.

human-evolution-by-South-ParkAttenborough says “the plague on Earth” has stopped evolving…

Via Guardian:

Sir David Attenborough has said that he is not optimistic about the future and that people should be persuaded against having large families.

The broadcaster and naturalist, who earlier this year described humans as “a plague on Earth”, also said he believed humans have stopped evolving physically and genetically because of birth control and abortion, but that cultural evolution is proceeding “with extraordinary swiftness”.

“We stopped natural selection as soon as we started being able to rear 90-95% of our babies that are born. We are the only species to have put a halt to natural selection, of its own free will, as it were,” he tells this week’s Radio Times.

“Stopping natural selection is not as important, or depressing, as it might sound – because our evolution is now cultural … We can inherit a knowledge of computers or television, electronics, aeroplanes and so on.”

Keep reading.

37 Comments on "Sir David Attenborough: Humans Stopped Evolving Because of Birth Control and Abortion."

  1. jasonpaulhayes | Sep 10, 2013 at 6:34 pm |

    So basically hes a Neo-Eugenicist.

    • Woobniggurath | Sep 12, 2013 at 10:05 pm |

      No, actually the writer of the bit sucks. Two ideas conflated without clarification: 1. We are no longer subject to natural selection because all of our babies survive (vs. state of nature, practically true.) 2. The earth is vastly overcrowded, please stop pushing out the bairns. I have no idea what the writer was trying to convey, but they gave us typical commercial newsthink instead.

      • jasonpaulhayes | Sep 12, 2013 at 10:13 pm |

        Human progress to overcome death is some how divorced from nature? How should you know how many people the earth can provide for?

  2. sonicbphuct | Sep 10, 2013 at 7:46 pm |

    i get really annoyed when people don’t get evolution but talk about like they do. If he wants to comment on abortion or birth control, then he should have said, they are influencing our evolution since they are selecting agents.

    • Woobniggurath | Sep 12, 2013 at 9:58 pm |

      If you see the article, the headline says “due to birth control and abortion,” but Attenborough says “when we became capable of having 95% survival of offspring.” Quite different. He is no meat puppet.

      • sonicbphuct | Sep 13, 2013 at 5:39 am |

        actually, it’s not different at all. Either way is an agent of selection. Either we select for traits we deem worthy, or unworthy, but we’re still selecting. That we do it consciously has no bearing on the process; the process is the process and it exists regardless. Evolution isn’t a thing to believe in or imagine you’re not impacted by – it is, simply, like gravity.

  3. BuzzCoastin | Sep 10, 2013 at 8:08 pm |

    We stopped natural selection as soon as we started being

    We are the Borg. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.

    sent from my Android Phone

  4. atlanticus | Sep 10, 2013 at 8:19 pm |

    I will never understand why humans who should know better persist in the delusion that we or our technology are somehow outside of nature.

  5. InfvoCuernos | Sep 10, 2013 at 8:27 pm |

    What a strange thing for someone that has made a lifetime study of nature to say. You would think he would have a little better grip on the very things he spent his whole life scrutinizing. It seems like what he’s saying is “breed all you want” but then it says that people should be discouraged from having large families. Maybe Sir Attenborough is getting a little touch of the Alzheimer’s.

    • Dude’s 87. Even filmmakers go senile sometimes. Maybe especially filmmakers.

      • bsackamano | Sep 11, 2013 at 10:32 am |

        He’s no scientist never has been. It’s sad how some guy who has only ever made propaganda films, and is deluded, is called a scientist.

  6. Calypso_1 | Sep 10, 2013 at 8:33 pm |

    Dearest Sir Attenborough:

    Your Council Processing Center is pleased to inform You that all is prepared for the Honored event of Your Going Home.

    Your emanant arrival is forthwith enjoindered.

    • Rhoid Rager | Sep 11, 2013 at 3:18 am |

      I agree. People who criticize or characterize the species wholesale foolishly present themselves as not being part of it.

  7. Rhoid Rager | Sep 10, 2013 at 9:58 pm |

    “our evolution is now cultural … We can inherit a knowledge of computers or television, electronics, aeroplanes and so on.” What about the cultural mores of how we ought to treat each other? That’s culture too, ain’t it, Sir David? Where’s that evolution going?

  8. Bruteloop | Sep 11, 2013 at 3:21 am |

    Am I reading a different article? Obviously we have stopped natural selection. Inevitably, given advances in medicine, abortion and birth control. I see nothing here that suggests he is a eugenicist. We are all eugenicists surely. We live in a society that condones it. We just don’t always like to admit it.
    Why do you think there is currently debate about Down’s Syndrome births? Because people are being encouraged to abort.
    Natural selection is exactly that. Influence it and it is no longer natural.
    He is saying we should think about breeding less. How is that not sensible?
    He does not condone China’s methods. In fact, he suggests that perhaps the best method would be to impress upon a populace so enmeshed in material gain and comfort that sensible population control through individual responsibility, rather than intervention by the state, will directly affect their experience of life positively (the resources that allow their lifestyle will be depleted less quickly etc) and the experience of their offspring. Alternatively, lack of individual responsibility in this area will lead to a world of hurt. A polite way of saying appeal to their greed and self absorption.
    We are a plague? Yes we are. We are on the planet but please don’t think the planet needs humanity any more than it needs shingle. It certainly doesn’t need too much of it.
    Unfortunately there really is no natural process that stops us proliferating. At least not at the moment. There is the talk of superbugs and so on. I grew up through the beginning of the AIDs epidemic and people thought it was the end of the world. Quarantine on islands was discussed seriously. Now, sadly, the disease is taken for granted because it can be controlled to an extent. Nothing, apart from ourselves, guarantees our demise.
    We want to point at disasters, disease or a vengeful god. We rarely point at ourselves. That is all he is doing. Saying things have changed. We have and are changing them. It is not happening naturally. We need to take responsibility for the consequences of this.
    Burroughs said it better – a virus with shoes.

    Is it going to get worse? I would imagine so. Hell, another war is possibly about to start. Why deal with the problems we are causing when you can just add another one to the shitpile?
    Seems to me a man who has travelled extensively, lived through massive cultural changes, involved himself with the natural world all his life dares to call it like he sees it and ruffles the feathers of those who probably have never travelled outside their own country and have yet to find something they feel so passionate about that they are willing to dedicate their life to it.

    • HowardBrazee | Sep 11, 2013 at 8:29 am |

      So he doesn’t want to use the word “natural” because it is something that people do. It doesn’t change reality though. Some people will procreate more, others less. Those that procreate more are selected, along with their traits.

  9. bobyouruncle | Sep 11, 2013 at 5:28 am |

    this is a WHITE perspective and a problem created by white people. give Gia back to the aborigines of the earth.

  10. Ted Heistman | Sep 11, 2013 at 5:32 am |

    This is a good book about recent evolution:

    Basically a lot of artificial selection happened in Eurasia as hunter gatherers were forced to adopt agriculture and many people became slaves/peasants.

    Hunter Gatherers are generally anarchists and many got weeded out of the gene pool.

  11. Ted Heistman | Sep 11, 2013 at 5:43 am |

    The west is actually 1/3 or less of the planet. Even if you could argue that all natural selection has been removed from modern life, 2/3 of the people on Earth don’t live a first world lifestyle.

    But it is true that Europeans have accumulated more potentially harmful mutations than other populations.

  12. Ted Heistman | Sep 11, 2013 at 5:57 am |

    What happened in Europe 5,000 years ago is basically an invasion of Agricultural People from the Middle East who killed off many of the scattered and diverse hunter gatherer groups and stole some of the women. We know this because of the prevalence of mitochondrial DNA from hunter gatherers and Y chromosomes from Neolithic farmers from the Middle east in various European populations.. So this created a genetic bottleneck. But then this limited gene pool was ballooned up in size due to the fact that intensive agriculture allows for larger populations than hunting and gathering.

    A similar thing happens when wild animals are domesticated.

  13. howiebledsoe | Sep 11, 2013 at 9:06 am |

    We evolve every day. Think about the amount of radiation, new poisons, pesticides, MGO’s, air, water and food polution. We have to evolve or we wont make it. Babies with HIV infected parents are coming into the world healthy. Sure, lots of us will die, but some of our offspring will survive, and this boils down to evolution.

  14. Microhero | Sep 11, 2013 at 9:33 am |

    Call it unnatural selection if you will. There’s still selection and still evolution both biological and cultural and still determined by the same principles. And like in the natural world there isn’t a single environment or adaptation but many, and many niches within each separate environment.
    Survival is no longer an absolute concept (in some populations), i.e. life or death, but lifestyles and genetic predisposition still influence it. and the way we chose mates, and our reproductive success are still quite relevant for human evolution. Even if eventually all of us get to choose a big part of the genetic traits of our children, you could consider that a form of natural selection being our choices will be the product of a “cultural and social environment” that privileges some traits over others.

    We’re messing with the form but not the content or essence of the natural rules.

    • Woobniggurath | Sep 12, 2013 at 10:08 pm |

      I believe that is Attenborough’s point – that we have hacked one of the fundamental systems of life with no concept of what will come of it, and we fuckin up, boy.

  15. bsackamano | Sep 11, 2013 at 10:30 am |

    I used to love his nature shows, but there is always such a misanthropic element and subtle brainwashing to them I can’t watch his stuff anymore. He does hate human beings and his whole life has been in service of brainwashing the public for his master Lord Rothschild and company. These people steal land for nature “conservatories” to both corner the resources market and for their own personal plunder. He’d have third world babies killed, and probably does in the satanic rituals, in the name of population control. Awful man.

  16. it is and always has been social selection….

  17. I’m usually 100% AGAINST government intervention in our personal lives, but reproduction is one exception. People should have to pass a psychological exam and prove that they have the income needed to raise a child. This issue is more about the well-being of the child and the effect of overpopulation on society than personal choice. This “I have a right to have as many babies as I want!!!1!1!1!” bullshit will be the end of us.

    Instead of picketing abortion clinics and railing against birth control, we should be protesting IVF clinics! What sense does it make to spend thousands to produce a test tube baby when millions of kids THAT ALREADY EXIST need loving homes? How selfish can you be?

    Downvote away.

    • sonicbphuct | Sep 13, 2013 at 5:42 am |

      You contradict yourself. You state: “People should have to pass a psychological exam and prove that they have the income needed to raise a child.” and then suggest that we should be opposed to IVF because it makes no sense to spend thousands to produce.

      That is a contradiction. Those who can go to the IVF clinics have met your requirement of proving “they have the income needed to raise a child.”

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