The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'evolution'
A recent study, ranking different breeds of cats in friendliness (to humans), has found that pedigree cats are friendlier than moggies. The study, from the National Veterinary School of Alfort in Paris, found that the friendliest breed being the sphynx, a rare hairless variety.
The researchers believed the sphynx’s affectionate nature could be due to its reliance on humans to keep warm. The study also suggested that the greater affability of pedigrees came about because breeders tended to leave the kittens with their mothers for longer, during a crucial period in their development, when they are becoming used to humans. It could also be the result of selecting more friendly cats for breeding.The selection hypothesis sounds plausible; by comparison, Russian researchers managed to domesticate foxes in a mere 35 generations, and also managed to breed a vicious, highly aggressive variety by selecting for the exactly opposite traits. Presumably pedigree cats have been bred for long enough to significantly alter their psychological make-up compared to free-range varieties.
The sphynx scored an average of 22.83, compared with 18.93 for the domestic short-haired. Because the numbers of other breeds in the survey were generally small, they were grouped together to score an average for pedigrees of 20.40.I wonder whether a study of friendliness in sphynx cats in warm and cold climates would yield any significant differences.
A Russian ecologist has found that the fierce pressure of living in a hostile urban environment is causing Moscow's stray dogs to evolve increased intelligence, including abilities to negotiate the city's subway system:
Poyarkov has studied the dogs, which number about 35,000, for the last 30 years. Over that time, he observed the stray dog population lose the spotted coats, wagging tails, and friendliness that separate dogs from wolves, while at the same time evolving social structures and behaviors optimized to four ecological niches occupied by what Poyarkov calls guard dogs, scavengers, wild dogs, and beggars.
But beggar dogs have evolved the most specialized behavior. Relying on scraps of food from commuters, the beggar dogs can not only recognize which humans are most likely to give them something to eat, but have evolved to ride the subway. Using scents, and the ability to recognize the train conductor's names for different stops, they incorporate many stations into their territories.
Additionally, Poyarkov says the pack structure of the beggars reflects a reliance on brain over brawn for survival. In the beggar packs, the smartest dog, not the most physically dominant, occupies the alpha male position.I wonder whether similar evolutions of animal intelligence, driven by the conditions of living in cities, have occurred in other cities; there have been anecdotal reports of pigeons deliberately catching the Tube in London, with speculation that they commute in to the tourist-rich city to feed before returning to the suburbs. (As such, one could probably refer to them as passenger pigeons.) Not to mention two instances of cats deliberately catching buses (both in England).
One of the most striking differences between European and Asian societies is the question of individualism versus collectivism. This arguably goes beyond the question of individual rights and social obligations, and into the way people think about entities versus systems:
There is no better way to shatter someone's "we are all the same" illusion than to show pictures of a monkey, a panda and a banana to someone from Japan and someone from Britain. Ask them which two images go together. Chances are, the Japanese will pick the monkey and the banana, because they have a functional relationship: the former eats the latter. The Brit will select the panda and the monkey, because they are both mammals. As Richard Nisbett of the University of Michigan described in his 2003 book, "The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently … and Why," Westerners typically see classifications where Asians see relationships. He means "see" literally. When students in one study looked at tanks holding a large fish, a bunch of small fry and the usual aquarium plants and rocks, the Japanese later said they'd seen lots of background elements; the Americans saw the big fish.Now a new hypothesis from evolutionary psychology suggests that these cognitive traits could have been the result of natural selection driven by disease-causing microbes, i.e., in pathogen-rich environments, tendencies towards collectivism were adaptive (i.e., you were more likely to survive), whereas where there were fewer pathogens, populations had the luxury of evolving more ruggedly individualistic tendencies:
A reluctance to interact with strangers can protect against pathogens because strangers are more likely to carry strange microbes that the group lacks immunity to, says Mark Schaller of the University of British Columbia; xenophobia keeps away strangers and their strange bugs. Respect for traditions also works: ways of preparing food (using hot pepper, say, which kills microbes), rules about hygiene and laws about marriage (wed only in-group members, whose microbes you're probably immune to) likely arose to keep pathogens at bay. "Conformity helps maintain these buffers against disease," says Corey Fincher of the University of New Mexico; mavericks are dangerous. In places with a high prevalence of pathogens, such cultural traits—which happen to be the hallmarks of societies that value the group over the individual—would be adaptive. Put another way, societies that arose in pathogen-rife regions and did not have such traits would be wiped out by disease. Societies that did have them would survive.
When the scientists examined how closely collectivism tracked the prevalence of pathogens, they found a strong correlation, they will report in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In general, tropical regions have more pathogens, and societies there tend to be more group-oriented than those at higher latitudes. Ecuador, Panama, Pakistan, India, China and Japan are the world's most group-first societies—and historically have had the highest prevalence of natural pathogens due to their climate and topography. The most individualistic are in Northern Europe and the United States, where there have historically been fewer native pathogens. For years scientists have scratched their heads over why collectivism declines with distance from the equator, and why living in colder regions should promote individualism (you'd think polar people would want to huddle together more). The answer seems to be that equatorial regions breed more pathogens.The research acknowledges that nurture and culture play a significant role (i.e., Asian immigrants in America soon become as individualistic as other members of their adoptive society), so any genetic bias may be a subtle one. Though when a number of individuals form a civilisation, it may only take a slight cognitive bias to change the basic cultural assumptions that evolve.
On the other hand, given that the research is of American and Canadian (i.e., Western) origin, perhaps it rests on a western, individualist cultural bias. Which doesn't necessarily invalidate it, though it makes one wonder how a Japanese or Chinese evolutionary psychologist would theorise the origins of the differences between individualist and collectivist societies.
Evolutionary biologist Carl Zimmer looks at evidence suggesting that romantic love is a biological adaptation, and is not unique to humans; a far cry from the blank-slater hypothesis that romantic love is a cultural construct invented by mediæval troubadors and/or Mills & Boon, and before that everything was unromantically practical arranged marriages and dynastic property transactions:
There are reasons to conclude that romance as well was shaped by the unsentimental hand of evolution. We humans don't have a monopoly on oxytocin and other molecules linked to feeling in love. Love may switch on reward pathways in our brains, but other animals have similar--if simpler--reward pathways too.
In her experiments, Haselton finds evidence for love as an adaptation. She and her colleagues have people think about how much they love someone and then try to suppress thoughts of other attractive people. They then have the same people think about how much they sexually desire those same partners and then try again to suppress thoughts about others. It turns out that love does a much better job of pushing out those rivals than sex does. Haselton argues that this effect is exactly what you'd expect if sex was a drive to reproduce and love was a drive to form a long-term commitment.
(via Mind Hacks)
New research shows that the human race is evolving faster than ever, and that, far from the accepted truth of the human race being biologically homogeneous, different populations have, over the past 10,000 years, been evolving apart, pushed by different selection pressures:
“Genes are evolving fast in Europe, Asia and Africa, but almost all of these are unique to their continent of origin. We are getting less alike, not merging into a single, mixed humanity.
“Our study denies the widely held assumption that modern humans appeared 40,000 years ago, have not changed since and that we are all pretty much the same. We aren’t the same as people even 1,000 or 2,000 years ago.”
The scientists said this reflected the great increase in human populations over that period, which has allowed more beneficial mutations to emerge. Changes in the human environment, particularly the rise of agriculture, also created new selective pressure to which humans adapted.Examples of evolutionary divergences include lactose tolerance among descendents of northern European populations (where the lack of sunlight would have made this mutation beneficial), differences in resistance to diseases such as malaria, smallpox and HIV between European and African populations, and more controversially, the hypothesis that above-average intelligence in Ashkenazi Jews is a result of selection pressures in mediaeval Europe (where they were confined to a small number of primarily cognitively demanding vocations). (And wasn't there a study a while ago that showed that the average IQ of a population was proportional to how many generations their ancestors had lived in urban environments?)
More evidence of neoteny being a characteristic of evolutionary advancement: as coping the modern world requires more flexibility, immaturity levels in adults are rising. Which sounds alarming, until you consider that "maturity" (and the nebulous "wisdom" that comes with it) is a sclerotic set-in-one's-ways inflexibility and resistance to change, which no longer cuts it:
"The psychological neoteny effect of formal education is an accidental by-product -- the main role of education is to increase general, abstract intelligence and prepare for economic activity," he explained. "But formal education requires a child-like stance of receptivity to new learning, and cognitive flexibility."
"When formal education continues into the early twenties," he continued, "it probably, to an extent, counteracts the attainment of psychological maturity, which would otherwise occur at about this age.
While the human mind responds to new information over the course of any individuals lifetime, Charlton argues that past physical environments were more stable and allowed for a state of psychological maturity. In hunter-gatherer societies, that maturity was probably achieved during a persons late teens or early twenties, he said.
By contrast, many modern adults fail to attain this maturity, and such failure is common and indeed characteristic of highly educated and, on the whole, effective and socially valuable people," he said.Some of the symptoms of neoteny include novelty-seeking, which ties in with the possibility of a "neophilia gene" previously mentioned here. In fact, if there was a genetic mutation that caused neophilia, the abovementioned article suggests that, in today's environment, it would be strongly selected for.
Researchers in Japan have found an enzyme correlated with novelty-seeking tendencies.
it seems that genetic differences mean that people produce different variations of a mitochondrial enzyme called monoamine oxidase A. That's according to research from the Yamagata University School of Medicine in Japan, which was recently published in the scientific journal Psychiatric Genetics and mentioned in the New Scientist magazine.
The researchers found that one form of this enzyme was "significantly associated with higher scores of novelty seeking." In other words, people who produce that form of the enzyme are more likely to have novelty-seeking traits in their personality than others.This suggests that there may be a genetic cause for neophilic tendencies. Though some are skeptical about whether a neophilia gene could work:
Colin Campbell, a professor of sociology at the University of York in the UK, has studied the nature of consumerism, and he believes that the existence of novelty seeking is a relatively new phenomenon. So it can't by definition be genetic.
"Pre-modern societies tend to be suspicious of the novel. It is a feature of modernity that we are addicted to novelty," says Campbell. Campbell dates the emergence of novelty seeking to the beginnings of the industrial revolution in the mid 18th century. As he explains, "Modern fashion evolved then."I'm not sure about that. For one, a neophilia gene would cause a predisposition to novelty, which could be indulged or otherwise by the society, culture and economy the individual is in; unless it proved maladaptive (i.e., by making the carriers less likely to pass their genes on), it wouldn't be selected out. And while it may be true that individuals in pre-modern societies would find less to gratify their neophilic tendencies than the white-earphoned, designer-label-wearing channel-surfers and BlackBerry addicts of today, it could also be said that our hunter-gatherer ancestors, being unable to walk into a Krispy-Kreme outlet, had less to satisfy their taste for fatty and sugary foods than today, though it is widely accepted that such a taste evolved back then, when small, expensively-obtained amounts of such food were more likely to ward off malnutrition than cause obesity. It could well be that a "neophilia gene", if one exists, evolved in similar circumstances.
The Fermi Paradox is the observation that it is highly probable that, somewhere else in the universe, intelligent life would have arisen and made its presence known by now, and yet Earth seems to be alone in the universe. Since the paradox was first posed in the 1940s, a number of solutions have been proposed, many of them not cheering, and many reflected the Cold War era they originated in: perhaps any species that reaches a certain technical level inevitably develops the means to destroy itself, and does so. Perhaps in a universe of aliens competing for resources and having little means of achieving agreement, any species that broadcasts its presence is doomed to be preemptively annihilated by others, lest it develop the means to do so. Which means that all those broadcasts of Malcolm In The Middle we're carelessly sending out to space could be responded to by a barrage of planet-killing projectiles travelling at close to light speed.
Now evolutionary psychology has suggested a new possible solution to Fermi's Paradox: perhaps it's not so much a case of sentient species wiping themselves out upon attaining the means to do so, as of turning inwards and devoting all their energy to video games and virtual reality, things much more immediately gratifying than doing battle with the real universe:
Basically, I think the aliens don't blow themselves up; they just get addicted to computer games. They forget to send radio signals or colonize space because they're too busy with runaway consumerism and virtual-reality narcissism. They don't need Sentinels to enslave them in a Matrix; they do it to themselves, just as we are doing today. Once they turn inwards to chase their shiny pennies of pleasure, they lose the cosmic plot. They become like a self-stimulating rat, pressing a bar to deliver electricity to its brain's ventral tegmental area, which stimulates its nucleus accumbens to release dopamine, which feels...ever so good.
The result is that we don't seek reproductive success directly; we seek tasty foods that have tended to promote survival, and luscious mates who have tended to produce bright, healthy babies. The modern result? Fast food and pornography. Technology is fairly good at controlling external reality to promote real biological fitness, but it's even better at delivering fake fitness--subjective cues of survival and reproduction without the real-world effects. Having real friends is so much more effort than watching Friends. Actually colonizing the galaxy would be so much harder than pretending to have done it when filming Star Wars or Serenity. The business of humanity has become entertainment, and entertainment is the business of feeding fake fitness cues to our brains.This comes down to the reward mechanisms that served our ancient ancestors' genes well being far too slow to adapt to technological hacks that short-circuit these reward mechanisms:
Fitness-faking technology tends to evolve much faster than our psychological resistance to it. With the invention of the printing press, people read more and have fewer kids. (Only a few curmudgeons lament this.) With the invention of Xbox 360, people would rather play a high-resolution virtual ape in Peter Jackson's King Kong than be a perfect-resolution real human. Teens today must find their way through a carnival of addictively fitness-faking entertainment products: iPods, DVDs, TiVo, Sirius Satellite Radio, Motorola cellphones, the Spice channel, EverQuest, instant messaging, MDMA, BC bud. The traditional staples of physical, mental and social development--athletics, homework, dating--are neglected. The few young people with the self-control to pursue the meritocratic path often get distracted at the last minute. Take, for example, the MIT graduates who apply to do computer game design for Electronics Arts, rather than rocket science for NASA.The author posits the idea that all intelligent species that develop the technology to create computer simulations of this sort go through the "Great Temptation", and subsequently die out, and that this is happening to humanity, with our only hope of survival as a species would be to develop a puritanical opposition to virtual reality, a sort of biological fundamentalism:
Some individuals and families may start with an "irrational" Luddite abhorrence of entertainment technology, and they may evolve ever more self-control, conscientiousness and pragmatism. They will evolve a horror of virtual entertainment, psychoactive drugs and contraception. They will stress the values of hard work, delayed gratifica tion, child-rearing and environmental stewardship. They will combine the family values of the religious right with the sustainability values of the Greenpeace left.
This, too, may be happening already. Christian and Muslim fundamentalists and anti-consumerism activists already understand exactly what the Great Temptation is, and how to avoid it. They insulate themselves from our creative-class dreamworlds and our EverQuest economics. They wait patiently for our fitness-faking narcissism to go extinct. Those practical-minded breeders will inherit the Earth as like-minded aliens may have inherited a few other planets. When they finally achieve contact, it will not be a meeting of novel-readers and game-players. It will be a meeting of dead-serious super-parents who congratulate each other on surviving not just the Bomb, but the Xbox.
Scientists have discovered that climate change is causing species to evolve more rapidly to adapt to new conditions. Meanwhile, a White House spokesperson has issued a statement saying that both global warming and evolution are unfounded theories with no concrete evidence to support them.
More news on the state of scientific thought in the World's Leading Nation: An exhibition celebrating the life of Charles Darwin has failed to find a corporate sponsor in the United States as no company wants to be associated with something as reviled as the theory of evolution.
In contrast, the Creationist Museum in Ohio has recently raised US$7m in donations.
Freaky Trigger has one of the best music-book concepts I've seen:
The book was being edited by SR and was called Biology, named after the famous Old Skool Rave party organisation. It was a series of essays exploring the interface between biology and music taste - race, gender, endo/ectomorphs and dancing, the extent to which attractiveness defines taste (music scenes and the idea of "beautiful people"), notions of blindness in blues and rock, plus more general explorations of the theories of evolutionary biology as they might apply to pop! WOW, I thought, this sounds like it's going to be a great read! I was about to click and read more but then I woke up.Unfortunately, it only exists in a dream.
An interesting MSNBC article speculating on the future of human evolution, and interviewing scientists including Richard Dawkins:
Some environmentalists say toxins that work like estrogens are already having an effect: Such agents, found in pesticides and industrial PCBs, have been linked to earlier puberty for women, increased incidence of breast cancer and lower sperm counts for men.
"One of the great frontiers is going to be trying to keep humans alive in a much more toxic world," he observed from his Seattle office. "The whales of Puget Sound are the most toxic whales on Earth. Puget Sound is just a huge cesspool. Well, imagine if that goes global."
If we count humanity's technology as part of the evolving package &emdash; the extended phenotype, as Dawkins called it &emdash; then that will become part of the future of humanity, even if only due to the inevitable increase in pollution of an increasingly crowded Earth. Our descendants will have microscopic flotillas of nanobots in their bloodstreams, hunting down toxins and zapping proto-cancerous mutations. Perhaps corporations will remain the dominant species on earth, and the nanobots will be rented from the corporation that owns the patents for them; any human unlucky or imprudent enough to miss a payment can look forward to dying of massive organ failure, turning into a mass of tumours or having their suddenly naked immune system eaten alive by superbugs within 24 hours. Unless you live in the future's equivalent of Brazil or somesuch, in which case you'd get free open-source nanobots, considered by the America of the future to be pirated. But I digress.
Further on, the article speculates about whether humanity will diverge into different species, looking at Eloi/Morlocks scenarios, whether any sort of apocalyptic scenario could divide humanity into enough separate subgroups for them to evolve separately, and the question of body enhancement:
"You're talking about three different kinds of humans: the enhanced, the naturals and the rest," Garreau said. "The enhanced are defined as those who have the money and enthusiasm to make themselves live longer, be smarter, look sexier. That's what you're competing against."
In Garreau's view of the world, the naturals will be those who eschew enhancements for higher reasons, just as vegetarians forgo meat and fundamentalists forgo what they see as illicit pleasures. Then there's all the rest of us, who don't get enhanced only because they can't. "They loathe and despise the people who do, and they also envy them."
Then there is the question of germline genetic engineering, which could create instant races of superhumans or monsters, the AI singularity and even the vaguely retro-sounding prospect of spacefaring.
Scores in general intelligence tests have been steadily rising for some decades; so much so that tests have to be replaced with new, harder ones every decade. Some claim that this is due to a more cognitively demanding environment, with things such as television programmes, badly-designed user interfaces and especially video games exercising the mental faculties responsible for problem-solving tasks of the sort covered by IQ tests:
Over the last 50 years, we've had to cope with an explosion of media, technologies, and interfaces, from the TV clicker to the World Wide Web. And every new form of visual media - interactive visual media in particular - poses an implicit challenge to our brains: We have to work through the logic of the new interface, follow clues, sense relationships. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these are the very skills that the Ravens tests measure - you survey a field of visual icons and look for unusual patterns.
The best example of brain-boosting media may be videogames. Mastering visual puzzles is the whole point of the exercise - whether it's the spatial geometry of Tetris, the engineering riddles of Myst, or the urban mapping of Grand Theft Auto.
The message there is that things derided as stultifying, such as TV programmes and computer games, actually make you smarter; in contrast, locking yourself in a room and reading the classics instead, as wise authorities would recommend, will cause these cognitive skills to atrophy.
Of course, human neural capacity hasn't been increasing steadily over the past century; our brains are roughly the same same size as those of our great grandparents were, and made of the same kinds of neurons and synapses. As such, it'd be a matter of give and take. As some skills increase, pushed on by new technologies, others atrophy, and conservatives decry the mind-rotting effect of new technologies. This is not a new phenomenon; when writing was invented, there surely were grumpy pundits decrying the inevitable decline of epic-poem memorisation skills (and I doubt whether anyone today, with the possible exception of certain autistic savants, would not appear hopelessly stupid to the ancients by such criteria were they sent back in time); ditto the decline of mental arithmetic skills with the advent of calculators. (Some among you will remember debates on whether giving schoolchildren calculators will harm their mathematical skills.) And, of course, agriculture and the city lifestyle has just about killed wilderness survival skills for any but professional experts trained in these.
Anyway, back to the point in question. One thing I would expect to emerge is improved skills at dealing with an information-rich environment, such as abstract problem-solving and multitasking skills. The other side of the coin would be shortened attention spans; as compulsive multitaskers constantly bombarded with multiple flows of information, we don't need the ability to patiently focus on one thing as our ancestors did, and so it has atrophied. (I once read that one of the reasons that Hollywood remakes so many old films, other than marketing with new casts/soundtracks/gimmicks, is that a lot of people these days find the original films too slow-paced and boring.)
(via bOING bOING)
A new range of stickers for believers in evolution and the scientific method wishing to take the fight to the streets:
An amusing take on the evolution-vs.-"intelligent-design" debate. (via Toby)
Scientists may have discovered an evolutionary basis for (male) homosexuality, previously considered a paradox of evolutionary biology. It appears that the same genetic factors that are responsible for homosexuality in men cause higher fecundity in women; i.e., whilst (most) gay men don't have children, their female relatives (who share the genetic factors) make up for this. (via FmH)
"This is a novel finding," says Simon LeVay, a neuroscientist and commentator on sexuality at Stanford University in California. "We think of it as genes for 'male homosexuality', but it might really be genes for sexual attraction to men. These could predispose men towards homosexuality and women towards 'hyper-heterosexuality', causing women to have more sex with men and thus have more offspring."
Interesting newcomers to the blogosphere: an old friend of mine from university, Toby, has recently got a blog (well, actually, a LJ), to which he posts various interesting links relating to topics such as biology, computer graphics and a bit of social issues; links such as this transcript of Andrew Denton interviewing Sir David Attenborough:
Andrew Denton: When you see this sort of stuff, do you ever get a sense of God's pattern?
Sir David Attenborough: Well, if you ask...about that, then you see remarkable things like that earwig and you also see all very beautiful things like hummingbirds, orchids, and so on. But you also ought to think of the other, less attractive things. You ought to think of tapeworms. You ought to think of...well, think of a parasitic worm that lives only in the eyeballs of human beings, boring its way through them, in West Africa, for example, where it's common, turning people blind. So if you say, "I believe that God designed and created and brought into existence every single species that exists," then you've also got to say, "Well, he, at some stage, decided to bring into existence a worm that's going to turn people blind." Now, I find that very difficult to reconcile with notions about a merciful God. And I certainly find it difficult to believe that a God -- superhuman, supreme power -- would actually do that.
Scientists discover what I had suspected all along: artistic creativity is a mutation; more specifically, it's a mutation that appeared some 50,000 years ago, resulting in the rise of abstract art and symbolism.
(I wonder what proportion of people have the creativity gene, or whether it's just one gene. A population of eccentric artists would not necessarily be sustainable; society needs practical, uncreative people much like an insect hive needs drones. Though perhaps it'd be a recessive gene, with one copy being normal and two turning you into Damien Hirst or David Bowie or someone?)
When memes compete for mindshare in the ideosphere, one of the things they're selected for is emotional impact. The most sensational story wins, as does the most disgusting urban legend, according to this paper. (via FmH)
(Which all makes sense; by the same token, there are other (so far anecdotal) laws of memetics. For example, it has been observed that urban legends that mention a "brand" of some category mutate to refer to the best-known brand. (For example, the one about some small fried-chicken restaurant chain supporting the Ku Klux Klan mutated into an urban legend about KFC, and it's probable that the "Albert Einstein said we only use 10% of our brains" UL started as a claim about some lesser known very smart person making that statement.) I'd speculate that this is the result of a selection for economy or consistency with one's existing knowledge/memes, or a streamlining process that erodes memes into more agile forms.)
A study by German geneticists supports the controversial theory that human intelligence is the product of sexual selection, or evolved primarily as a courtship device (much as the peacock's tail). Furthermore, the study argues that women are responsible for the evolution of intelligence by selecting intelligent mates (though some might well argue that they are responsible for stupidity by selecting dumb, brawny meatheads over the scrawny, brainy geek types).
Famous paleontologist and evolutionary scientist Stephen Jay Gould has passed away. He was best known for his theory of punctuated equilibria (which, some say, paralleled his youthful Marxist beliefs in the impossibility of reform and the necessity for sudden revolution for change, though you won't see CNN mention that for some reason). He was also a key critic of Dawkins' "selfish gene" theory. (via VM)
Our Furry Masters: A psychology researcher at Cornell University has found that domestic cats' meows have evolved to hook into human perception, and better communicate with (or manipulate) humans, over the millennia of domestication. Recordings of the calls of wild desert cats (believed to be closely related to domestic cats' wild ancestors) were found by test subjects to be harsher and less pleasant-sounding than those of domestic cats.
"I think cats have evolved to become better at managing and manipulating people."
A detailed and informative article on the evolution of creationism: (New Scientist)
[the Kansas State Board of Education] deleted all references to evolution or the big bang, and inserted fundamentalist material. For instance, the original standards defined science as seeking "natural" explanations. That was changed to "logical", which can include supernatural explanations. The revision also says-- incorrectly--that "natural selection . . . does not add new information to the existing genetic code". Willis believes that dinosaurs lived in the US until late in the 19th century, and his school standards ask students to "analyse hypotheses about extinction of dinosaurs" and "show the weaknesses in the reasoning".