For the second time in a week, I find myself wondering if the BBC is seriously just fucking with us. Just when you thought evolutionary theorists were the reasonable ones, along comes Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics to tell us that H.G. Wells was right — somewhere down the line, the human race will split into two sub-species.
One will look like this:
And the other will look like this:
The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative and a far cry from the “underclass” humans who would have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures.
Um, how is that different from the way people regard thin, rich people vs. fat, poor people now?
Oh wait, it’s not. Which explains a lot.
Arguing the science here would be just too much for my tiny, female, humanities-trained, goblin-like brain. Maybe the human race will be split into Eloi and Morlocks in 100,000 years — the great thing about being an evolutionary theorist (or a sci fi writer) is, you’ll never find out if you’re wrong. But let’s take a look at some of Oliver Curry’s assumptions about just which characteristics we’ll select for as we get “choosier.”
Okay, wait, first, there’s the assumption that we will get choosier. Note that he specifically says this is with regard to picking sexual partners, not mucking around with genetic engineering. So, everyone who can’t bag a tall, slim, healthy, creative person is just gonna… abstain from sex? ‘Cause… why again? Article doesn’t say.
It does, however, tell us just how we’re all gonna get prettier before we split off into the hottie and goblin sub-species.
[I]n the nearer future, humans will evolve in 1,000 years into giants between 6ft and 7ft tall, he predicts, while life-spans will have extended to 120 years, Dr Curry claims.
Physical appearance, driven by indicators of health, youth and fertility, will improve, he says, while men will exhibit symmetrical facial features, look athletic, and have squarer jaws, deeper voices and bigger penises.
Women, on the other hand, will develop lighter, smooth, hairless skin, large clear eyes, pert breasts, glossy hair, and even features, he adds. Racial differences will be ironed out by interbreeding, producing a uniform race of coffee-coloured people.
Hoo boy, where to begin? I mean, apart from noting that they left out how women will also develop cold, wet noses and improved flyball skills along with the clear eyes, even features, and glossy hair?
All right. Let’s go with what I do buy out of all that:
- “A uniform race of coffee-coloured people” — check. I don’t know about “uniform,” especially in only a thousand years, but I do suspect really dark people and ghostly pale fucks like me are likely to get bred out.
- Increased height and life span — check. Already happening.
- Generally better-looking people than we have now — check. For all my flaws, I’m definitely cuter than Lucy.
Aaaand… that’s pretty much it. ‘Cause the rest of it? Is way too deeply rooted in current cultural beauty standards to make any sense.
Let’s start with what we all know goes along with the increased height and life span: increased weight. Then let’s think about the so-called “obesity paradox.” (If you haven’t read Sandy’s series on it, check out the links on her sidebar.) “Paradoxically” — only if you believe the bullshit “obesity crisis” hype in the first place — fat seems to protect people against a whole whack of diseases, and lots of pesky studies show us outliving thin people.
Now, in the western world in 2007, it may seem bugfuck crazy to suggest that a majority of people would ever choose sexual partners because they’re fat. But we’re not just talking about westerners, or about what will happen in our lifetimes. We’re talking about the human race – which includes 850 million+ hungry people — and the next thousand years. So first, I know how TOTALLY ZANY this sounds, but I’m pretty sure not everyone in the world associates thinness with health, fertility, and A+ genes. Second, a thousand years will probably be long enough for even folks in the west to figure out that on average, fatter people live longer than really skinny people. 500 years might not be, but a thousand? I’m cautiously optimistic that a majority will have noticed that quirk by then.
Now, granted, there’s nothing about thinness, specifically, in the predictions for 1,000 years down the road — but there is in the predictions for 100,000 fucking years down the road. The “genetic upper class” of our extremely distant future will be “slim,” according to Oliver Curry. Despite what is already known about fat being associated with health benefits — especially in old age, which just might be of interest to a population living much longer than ever before — and about thinness being a greater threat to one’s longevity than moderate fatness, he really believes that things are gonna keep moving in the direction of slimness?
Mmkay. Tell you what, Oliver Curry. I’ll bet you a nickel you’re wrong. And as soon as someone invents a time machine, well head out to 102,007 and settle this.
Now back to 3007. I can’t decide if my very favorite new characteristic will be the bigger penises or the pert breasts. It’s so hard to choose!
I know that cultural norms are bound to change a LOT over the next thousand years, but I don’t imagine more and more people are going to be walking around naked. And one thing I’ve learned about living in a society in which most of us don’t walk around naked all the time is, I generally don’t find out the size of a guy’s penis until after I’ve decided to sleep with him. And since tiny penises work pretty much the same as big ones, I don’t really see big penis genes winning out at the end of the day, which means… there’s no logical reason why there would be more big penises in the future. Well, except insofar as it corresponds to us getting taller and fatter and shit, but that doesn’t mean cocks are gonna get proportionally bigger.
Also, I’d just like to point out that if penises did get bigger, vaginas would have to get bigger along with them, or else the big-dick genes would, in fact, die out. Technological advances aside, it’s gotta fit in the hole to make a baby, yo. And somehow, I sincerely doubt that Oliver Curry’s vision of a master race includes Amazon women with cavernous hoo-has.
Amazon women with “pert breasts,” however? Now you’re talkin’!
You all know how much I hate to puncture male fantasies, but I’m afraid I must now reveal the sad truth about “pert breasts” on women over the age of 18. Are you ready? They only come in three varieties: tiny, fake, and held up by a good bra. It’s certainly possible that cultural beauty standards will change over time so that naturally small breasts end up favored, but other than that, we run into the same basic problem described above in re penis selection: the guy’s not gonna know how pert those boobs actually are until he gets the chick nekkid, at which point, he’s probably not going to stop and say, “On second thought, no thanks. I was looking for someone with better genes.”
I mean, sure, he might use a condom that time and keep looking, just as women might keep looking for a guy with a bigger cock. But in the process of searching, you can be sure that some needle-dicked men will fall head over heels for some saggy-boobed women, and vice versa, and then they’ll have babies and it’ll all go to hell for another generation. Perhaps a generation of Morlock ancestors, granted, but still… I really don’t see those characteristics going away any time soon. And a thousand years is pretty damn soon, when you’re talking about making a population’s penises bigger and breasts firmer via evolution, not spam offers.
Having said all that, upon further reflection, I don’t think either one of those is actually my favorite predicted characteristic. No, my very favorite would have to be the “lighter skin” for women. At the same time we’re mixing up the races more and becoming a “uniform race of coffee-colored people,” teh womenz? Are somehow gonna get lighter skin. How do you suppose that one works? Is Unilever involved?
And that right there kinda sums up why I think Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics is full of crap. Are all these changes possible from an evolutionary theory standpoint? I can’t say for sure. I’ve got a female brain and a BMI over 30, so it’s a wonder I can tie my shoes. But the simple fact that this douche predicts evolution will make human beings look more and more like the western cultural — not biological — ideals of today tells me he’s almost certainly talking out his ass. I’m no scientist, as many a troll has reminded me, but I’m pretty fucking sure genes don’t thrive over the long run because they’re fashionable in certain places, during certain eras.
Of course, my short, fat ass is probably a proto-Morlock, so maybe I just can’t face the truth.
(Forgot to add: thanks to apricotmuffins for the link!)