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Jody Mak

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Has the advancement of medicine halted human evolution?

There are around 7 billion people in the world. Now how many of the 7 billion would actually survive without modern medicine? Of course, I do not have that number to tell you nor can I think of any sort of algorithm to be able calculate that due to the complexity of the question; but it is something to think about.

Undeniably, the world is keeping the ill alive. In return, the genes that are predisposed to being ill are passed onto the next generation. These 'illness' genes live on. But medicine will advance so that those most of these illnesses won't become a major factor in one's life.

Now let's return back to the theoretical world without medicine. Countless people die. The strong survive. The stronger genes survive. Cycles of generations pass and genes become stronger than the previous generation.

Imagine 50 cycles of generations later in both scenarios: the one with medicine and the one without medicine. Now take away medicine from the world that had medicine. Which group, as a whole, do you think has a stronger immune system and are more fit for the survival?


A friend of mine asked me, "why are you premed and why do you want to be a doctor?" In short, I told him I want to help people. Then I dug deeper to see if that was the right thing to do. I also happened to be taking a biology course and we were covering speciation, natural selection, and evolution. I reached a conclusion that medicine is keeping the ill alive and in a sense, harming the direction and potential of human evolution. Then I started asking myself how other factors impact this question such as morality, socioeconomic status, technology, and much more. My ideas started to clash and that's why I found this topic so interesting. Are we satisfied with our species' capabilities? Is it right to ever be satisfied with our species? How distant in the future are we willing to care about? I want to hear what you think. I'd like to further give my opinion but this message is limiting my words.


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  • Aug 8 2011: This idea is amazing. Another view could be that the human race has reached its peak in evolution. After gene therapy & modification, we literally rule over diseases/congenital anomalies. Population explosion has begun. On basis of a time line, graphically population would be represented by a j shaped curve. We are approaching the peak of the curve. After the peak, there is only one possibility, a sudden downfall of our species. In that case, either earth would be destroyed, or most probably, a new species will take over the earth. So the crux is that nature always has its own way of controlling life!

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