Thursday, December 29, 2005

Fitness Fun and Acronymnical Inanity

Hmmm ... why am I at it again? Obsessive I guess. Woke up this morning wondering how I could lose a few pounds and my mind wandered back to my all-time favorite tee-shirt seen gracing a rotund tummy on the ferry from Long Beach to Catalina. It said "Physically phffft!" And then of course my mind leaped to the question of species fitness.

Was Darwin clued in to "fitness" for the "fittest"? Darwin's curious notion about new and improved species by random processes has been propped up by Neo-Darwinian population geneticists long after the blissful genetics- ignorant demise of Sir Charles himself. Problem is, the human population is getting less fit, not more fit. As I stand on the scale checking my current tonnage, I am just a microcosm. Physically phffft indeed!

So, how about "fitness"? Population geneticists would say "fitness" is reproductive success due to superiority of the whole organism ("phenotype"). In that vein, yet another humongous crack is showing in the just-so fairy tale of human evolution. According to M. Kimura (Theoretical Aspects of Population Genetics, Princeton UniversityPress, 1971), fitness has low heritability. And according to J. F. Crow (The high spontaneous mutation rate: is it a health risk?, PNAS 94:8380-8386, 1997), the fitness of the human population is degenerating at a rate of one to two percent per generation due to mutational loading. If even only one percent, that would mean that human "fitness" would overall decline by more than 75% in only 150 generations. Taking a typical generation to be 30 years, that means more than 75% loss of fitness in the last 4,500 years (i.e., in the approximate period since the Biblical flood of Noah).

Maybe Darwin was standing on head when he saw everything going up. Propping up a dead Darwin is task enough,but propping him up on his head means for sure that the old boy is a-comin' down.

Well, time for some acronymnmania. When I got into this blog and was reading (er, trying to read) about blog posting, I was informed all about What You See Is What You Get , or "WYSIWYG" (pronounced wizzy-wig) editing technology. Looking at the long and very creative list of legitimate and illegitimate children of WYSIWYG has spurred me upward (or maybe downward?). I guess we could acroname the human population as WYSIAGAIIEGTG, that is "What You See Is As Good As It Is Ever Going To Get."

Whizzy-Aggie-Egg-Tag? Sounds like a food fight in a Texas Tech men's bathroom.

What a lousy way for me to get ready to eat breakfast.


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