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Old 12-19-2006, 08:20 AM   #16
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Originally posted by anitram
So you're asking whether there is some advantage to thinning out the herd, so to speak?

Not necessarily an advantage, I'm just wondering if it's happened before (not necessarily in experiments but real life), either to humans or other species, and can tell us anything about the HIV pandemic. The only animal I really know a lot about is the cheetah, which used to roam North America until it froze over, killing off most of the cheetahs and forcing them to migrate so they are now in Africa. In this case, thinning of the herd was not advantageous since this is the main reason their gene pool is so diminished (compounded with being killed for supposedly threatening livestock and losing their wild land). A healthy male cheetah often produces 1/10 the amount of viable sperm produced by a male house cat. But that's really the only creature I'm familiar with and that was a climatological change, not a disease epidemic. I don't know much about the Black Plague or whether it could be comparable to HIV.
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Old 12-19-2006, 09:58 AM   #17
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If you think about it, the world could help Africa with AIDS, but they would probably want to help their own populations first and foremost. That, coupled with a general feeling that nothing can be done with so vast a problem as there is in Africa, will lead to no substantial hope of help for many years to come. Unless a cure is found quickly, millions will die well into the future.

Is it God's will that Africa suffer? I don't believe so. I can't accept that God would just write off an entire continent like that.
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Old 12-19-2006, 10:57 AM   #18
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I do NOT believe it was "God's will" or any kind of 'punishment.' Unfortunately, I do see how an argument can be made for the 'natural selection' and 'survival of the fittest' points, though. This kind of thing happens (diseases, 'thinning out') in all aspects of nature, plants, animals, oceans. Humans are another part of nature. Because of the primitive conditions most people in the region reside in, they are more a part of nature than those in more civilized areas. I do not mean to sound insenstive at all, and I hope for the best for all those sick people.

I hate to say this too, but in a way, I also see there may be more to the 'nature winnowing out' type thing all over the world. Ever notice how whenever one deadly disease is conquered, like smallpox or diptheria, another emerges, like AIDS or new strains of germs resistant to any medicine? It's almost like a certain number of us- ALL of us EVERYWHERE- are 'supposed' to die from disease, as sad and chilling as that is
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Old 12-19-2006, 10:59 AM   #19
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Originally posted by Butterscotch
I do NOT believe it was "God's will" or any kind of 'punishment.' Unfortunately, I do see how an argument can be made for the 'natural selection' and 'survival of the fittest' points, though. This kind of thing happens (diseases, 'thinning out') in all aspects of nature, plants, animals, oceans. Humans are another part of nature. I do not mean to sound insenstive at all, and I hope for the best for all those sick people.
Yeah, this is what I'm hearing from people. They never mentioned God or God's will, and they're not lacking compassion or sensitivity. They're not really using it as an excuse not to act or saying we shouldn't act, but they're arguing that our actions may be pointless anyway, if this is part of a natural process. So I guess that's what I'm wondering - is this really a natural process, this many beings succumbing to a pandemic like this?
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Old 12-19-2006, 11:03 AM   #20
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is this really a natural process, this many beings succumbing to a pandemic like this?
To me personally, no. I believe it's a tragedy that a disease with such fatal results found its way into a population that was culturally and finanically unable to contain it until it was too late. On nature's terms, I would call it an enviormental disaster of overwhelming proportions.

A pandamenic like that is on the level of say, the chestnut blight which wiped out about 99% of the four billion chestnut trees in the US and Canada in the first half of the twentieth century. A fungus imported on Chinese chestnut saplings spread into the American trees, which had no resistence. This type of thing is NOT natural, but some kind of major unintended natural disaster, and very harmful to the eco-system. That's how I would label the pandamenic in Africa (not comparing humans to trees, but that same type of thing, an incurable germ wiping out way too much of a population)

Here's another thing about nature: parasites (and fungus, viruses, bacteria) are not meant to kill off their hosts, that defeats their goal of having something to live off of. So when a germ is so strong that it kills everyone (or tree or animal) who gets it, I think that germ is a quirk of nature that was never meant to be. It must have mutated or something, but no it was not a part of the natural process to kill the majority of its victims.
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Old 12-19-2006, 11:17 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Butterscotch


Here's another thing about nature: parasites (and fungus, viruses, bacteria) are not meant to kill off their hosts, that defeats their goal of having something to live off of. So when a germ is so strong that it kills everyone (or tree or animal) who gets it, I think that germ is a quirk of nature that was never meant to be. It must have mutated or something, but no it was not a part of the natural process to kill the majority of its victims.
Thanks, hadn't thought of this before. I think this is more along the lines of the counter-argument I'm looking for.
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Old 12-19-2006, 11:18 AM   #22
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Originally posted by Liesje


Thanks, hadn't thought of this before. I think this is more along the lines of the counter-argument I'm looking for.
Thanks, I hope it helps!
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Old 12-19-2006, 12:53 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by Butterscotch


A pandamenic like that is on the level of say, the chestnut blight which wiped out about 99% of the four billion chestnut trees in the US and Canada in the first half of the twentieth century. A fungus imported on Chinese chestnut saplings spread into the American trees, which had no resistence. This type of thing is NOT natural, but some kind of major unintended natural disaster, and very harmful to the eco-system. That's how I would label the pandamenic in Africa (not comparing humans to trees, but that same type of thing, an incurable germ wiping out way too much of a population)
Note here the impact of humans on wiping out Chestnut trees (and this is true of many other species as well): We bring something into an ecosystem where it has no business being, and where the rest of the system isn't equipped to handle it. Unintentionally, but still destructively.

(NOT saying that humans brought AIDS into existance - just commenting on a sad phenomenon)
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Old 12-19-2006, 08:23 PM   #24
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What bugs me about the "thinning of the herd" idea is that it just happens to be the black members of the herd that are mostly getting thinned out.

There's been a history of using the whole "natural selection," "survival of the fittest" to justify racism.

I think I see what Liesje is looking for. An evolutionary counter-argument to this. And for those that believe in evolution, I would think it is vital that one be found.
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Old 12-19-2006, 08:31 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by Butterscotch




A pandamenic like that is on the level of say, the chestnut blight which wiped out about 99% of the four billion chestnut trees in the US and Canada in the first half of the twentieth century. A fungus imported on Chinese chestnut saplings spread into the American trees, which had no resistence. This type of thing is NOT natural,
But then neither was the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. That too would have been an unintended natural disaster.

Perhaps the issue is whether the "unintended natural disaster" is something we can either prevent or do something about once it's happened. It would seem to me that from an evolutionary point of view nothing is really inherently "natural" or "unnatural." It just is what is.

I think my argument would be that evolution doesn't have to be this kind of "unconscious" thing that happens to us, but one that at least our species can actually postively or negatively impact, at least to a degree. I would argue that we don't have to just "let the herd be thinned." I would argue that if you can save just some of the herd, even if you can't save them all,then that would be worthwhile. If I were a person who believed in a loving God and who also believed in evolution that's a fairly easy and consistent argument to make.

(Full disclosure: I'm a Christian and not an evolutionist--or rather I don't claim to be certain as to exactly how God brought this world and us into existence. But if I WAS one, that's the argument I would make).
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Old 12-20-2006, 04:48 AM   #26
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Originally posted by maycocksean
What bugs me about the "thinning of the herd" idea is that it just happens to be the black members of the herd that are mostly getting thinned out.

There's been a history of using the whole "natural selection," "survival of the fittest" to justify racism.

Not to mention the use of Social Darwinism by the Nazis to suggest that Germanic/Aryan peoples were superior.
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Old 12-20-2006, 08:29 AM   #27
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Not to mention the use of Social Darwinism by the Nazis to suggest that Germanic/Aryan peoples were superior.
Yep.
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Old 12-20-2006, 02:10 PM   #28
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Originally posted by Varitek


Note here the impact of humans on wiping out Chestnut trees (and this is true of many other species as well): We bring something into an ecosystem where it has no business being, and where the rest of the system isn't equipped to handle it. Unintentionally, but still destructively.
The IGNORANCE of humans has caused many species to be lost. If you read the stories of how the Great Auk and the Passenger Pigeon and the Tasmanian Tiger all met their demise, it will make you sick to your stomach, and make your head hurt to imagine how stupid people can be.

The last known Great Auk seen in the wild was actually stomped to death by sailors in the early 1800's who believed it was a 'witch' because they'd heard the species was extinct. I believe they also broke her eggs after they killed her.

The last known Passenger Pigeon flock seen in the wild was gunned down by young boys in 1899, so excited they had found the rare birds everyone had been on the lookout for, that they shot every last one and came dragging them back into town! They were too ignorant to realize these were the last ones, and the reason they were supposed to look out for them was to SAVE them, not go 'lookie here what I bagged'. (is there a smilie for "Dumbass?')

The last of the Tasmanian tigers, a very unique creature who was a mixture of a mammal and a marsupial, with the jaws of a crocodile, were hunted to extinction even after wise people warned they were on the brink of being lost.


may I scream now?
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Old 12-20-2006, 02:20 PM   #29
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Originally posted by maycocksean
What bugs me about the "thinning of the herd" idea is that it just happens to be the black members of the herd that are mostly getting thinned out.

I am sure over the years it's been used on every group at some point. Remember in Scrooge where he said if the poor were going to die, they had best do it, and decrease the excess population That was the attitude at the time of many British upperclass looking down on their own poor countrymen. I do think the key thing is poverty more than race. Somehow those with no money or financial worth are seen, even subconciously, as less worthy to live by the greedy world.

And you are right about the asteroid and the dinosaur, another good example of unnatural disaster, perhaps the largest scaled one yet.

Oh, and as the chestnut trees were wiped out by a foreign germ they had no resistence to, so were thousands of Native Americans when they caught European germs. (disgracefully, there are accounts of some whites giving infected blankets to the "Indians" in hope of this result)
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Old 12-20-2006, 02:32 PM   #30
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What bugs me about the "thinning of the herd" idea is that it just happens to be the black members of the herd that are mostly getting thinned out.


the gay ones too. at least in the Western world.

i remember that in the beginning of the AIDS crisis in the early 80s, there were t-shirts (or something) made that said, "AIDS is killing the right people" -- in reference to gays, Haitians, and IV drug users.

i understand what this thread is arguing, but to be really heartless about it, as pandemics go, AIDS isn't all that effective at thinning out the heard. the earth's population is continuing to grow dramatically, we'll be at, what, 9bn people by 2020 (or 2050?), so if AIDS (or whatever) is supposed to be thinning out our numbers, it doesn't seem to be succeeding.

also, woudn't AIDS then be afflicting those who consume the most resources (if it were smart, that is)? instead, it remains a disease of poverty and ignorance and afflicts the most vulnerable members of the population.
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