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Dog ejected from car during Sunday crash found on sheep farm, herding sheep (khq.com)
225 points by MaysonL 10 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 137 comments





In case you are in Europe, and would like to read the article - the internet archive got you covered:

https://web.archive.org/web/20210610163014/https://www.khq.c...


I grew up with a friend who had some horses and cattle.

Their cutting horse (used to manage cattle) had an incredible motivation to do it job, all the time, and maybe a bit too much. More than once we'd look out from their living room window only to see the cattle racing across field (not a common thing) and the cutting horse (who had escaped from another field) happily chasing after them. Or everyone wondering where the cattle were, only to find the cutting horse had them all gathered up at the corner of a field.

Poor cows seemed pretty tired of that horse's antics.


My neighbor had a dog for herding 200+ cows in for milking morning and evening, they had to sell him because he kept bringing.in the cows when he could slip away from the farmer, they couldn't get him to stop, instinct is a powerful thing.

Overachiever. Give that dog a heard of 20,000 cattle.

It's always mindblowing to me that we've been able to encode such complex behaviors into instincts just by selective breeding over a few hundred generations.

Related: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesticated_silver_fox


To a large extent the instincts were already there; we’ve just adapted and selected for various sub-patterns of the ancestral pack hunting behavior. Herding livestock is very similar to chasing and driving prey to where you want it.

Dogs are very smart. The wild ones, even more so.

Some of us may remember this episode of Sir David Attenborough's Planet Earth: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0036vfk

The dogs look like a trained commando squad.

This gives you an idea why everyone on the savannah is scared of a Wild Dog pack.


Per https://www.discoverwildlife.com/animal-facts/mammals/huntin... wild dogs have an astonishing 85% success rate in making a kill. However they lose nearly half their kills to other predators such as hyenas and lions. Even so their chase to meal ratio is still better than most predators.

Worth pointing out (maybe?) that dogs-the-domesticated-animal are less closely related to the African wild dogs than they are to wolves and coyotes.

All of which are pack hunters and smart ones to boot. It's just that your first paragraph gives the impression to me that "wild dogs" are the same creatures as domesticated ones, just wild, when that is more true of the wolf than it is of the African wild dog. For instance, the African wild dog and the domestic dog can't interbreed.


Maybe. There was a particular dog breed that I saw all over the place, and it looked a lot like them. Big suckers. Nasty teethies… You didn’t want one of them biting you.

In any case, I’m sure that wolf packs behave in quite a similar manner.


Wolf packs do indeed.

There are of course dogs in Africa, and also the African wild dog: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_wild_dog

Unless you were on safari, what you saw was most likely an African breed of Canis familiaris.


Saw all of the above. I was born there.

There is a common dog that looks a lot like the Rhodesian Ridgeback (although a lot scruffier). I really liked them.


Seriously... there's nature vs nurture, but the nature of this dog is clearly to herd sheep.

I believe the herding instinct was already there for the purpose of hunting. The hunting and kill has been bred out of them and the herding/separating remains.

Actually its been bred out with extreme prejudice. Any sheepdog that bites a sheep gets shot. No second chances. Its a part of the job that shepherds absolutely hate because these dogs are really close and highly valued family members. But its the only way.

Why is killing the dog necessary, rather than just spay/neuter and then letting it do something other than herd sheep?

The dog would need to leave the farm, and couldn’t go to another farm or a home with children. That mostly leaves rescues as the option, and they often don’t have much space, and the farmer or rancher may not be able to safely pen the dog until such space can be found or may not be able to afford feeding more dogs than needed to operate.

*But its the only way."

Are these dogs unsuitable as pets (for non-farming households)?


Sometimes. Border collies will happily herd your children if no sheep are available. You wouldn't want one that had bitten a sheep.

>Are these dogs unsuitable as pets (for non-farming households)?

Does the household have any toddlers to herd?

Working dogs that are not elderly to the point where they prefer to sit on their butts all day generally make terrible pets. Ones that are bred to herd animals and have been kicked out for biting them even more so.


I think it depends if you have the time and energy to exercise them. Kelpies, Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs are popular pets here in Australia, you just need to exercise them.

They are very intelligent, alert and loyal. We adopted a Cattle Dog and just had to be careful around toddlers due to herding, but otherwise he's very well adjusted.

He will follow you up the stairs and nip at your heels as you go, but he never bites hard and does it for attention/affection.


It helps that dogs have 39 pairs of chromosomes, which is more than most other mammals (humans have only 23). So it's relatively easy to selectively breed for certain desirable phenotypes without getting too many undesirable ones. Although the process isn't perfect so we still see a lot of inbreeding and genetic diseases in some purebreds.

Chromosome number is pretty meaningless. Indian muntjacs have just 7 chromosomes (females actually only have 6!), while their close cousins on the other side of the Himalayas have 46 [0]. Chromosomes are, after all, kind of arbitrary divisions of the genome. It's not like all your brain genes are on chromosome 1, your liver ones on c2, etc, the genome is much more spread out than that.

[0] https://academic.oup.com/mbe/article/17/9/1326/994705


You're missing the point. A higher number of chromosomes makes it easier to do targeted selective breeding because it's less likely that a desirable characteristic will be on the same chromosome as an undesirable characteristic.

But linkage is a function of distance from one gene to another, so all you really care about is whether your desirable gene is physically close to your undesirable one. Having things broken up into many chromosomes helps only a little bit, if the break happens to be between the good and bad genes.

During reproduction, chromosomes are "mixed" together [1]. You don't get a straight copy of the parent chromosome.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromosomal_crossover


We're doing it to ourselves too.

Not via selective breeding. At least, not very successfully; there have been attempts, but fortunately most eugenicists let their “I wanna hurt the Inferior People™ – err, Not-People™” rule over actually doing eugenics properly, so we merely got atrocities. And even if they had, you can't get much eugenics done in a handful of generations; I'm not aware of any eugenics campaign longer than ten generations, and even the longest of those are mostly just slow-motion genocides.

In fact, we've mostly neutered evolutionary pressures on ourselves. In ten thousand years, this might be a minor problem, but we'll probably have figured out a way of doing genetic modification without being monsters by then.


"In fact, we've mostly neutered evolutionary pressures on ourselves."

No, we haven't. We've merely changed them, quite significantly. But there's still selection processes ongoing.

Since people tend to hear "Racism!" when this sort of thing gets said, the pressures I'm discussion includes things like being able to survive the civilization's schooling system (teen suicides don't have offspring) and the different ways of attracting and being a good mate than one would pursue in an agrarian or hunter-gather society, such as being a visibly wealthy nerd. There's a lot of things still affecting and shaping civilization through who has how many children with who and how they treat them, and I haven't got a personal list of "good" or "bad" such effects, because it's not really about "good" or "bad", they just are, no matter what labels you put on them.

Another example is the hypothesis that a significant part of why "autism" is on the rise is "assortative mating", or, to put it another way, that there are evolutionary pressures in modern society creating couples who end up essentially breeding for traits that, when overexpressed, may be called "autism". I'm not making a claim that is necessarily true, but it's an example of an evolutionary theory applying in the here & now.


> We've merely changed them, quite significantly. But there's still selection processes ongoing.

Hence “mostly”. But evolution requires large time-scales to function; selection for arbitrarily-fluctuating criteria is practically no selection at all.


You can't breed humans because you can't isolate or consistently provide for an environment for long enough, considering how long it takes humans to mature.

Anyone trying to sell you on selective evolution is either ignorant or has an ulterior motive. There's a reason people tend to hear, "Racism!" when this sort of thing gets said -- it's not based at all in science, so what else would it be based in?


I'm not talking about "breeding" humans as a deliberate process; I used the term in the passive sense that evolution ever "breeds" anything. I'm saying, evolution is still functioning. Who has children and what happens to those children is not uniform simply because some illnesses that used to kill us are now survivable. That was never the only effect on our evolution anyhow, merely a particularly visible one. Many other effects are still in play. It's a myth that evolution has been shut down just because one particular mechanism has been partially blunted. Certainly the net effect has been a population explosion of late, but that's still only on a short evolutionary time frame (and we kinda already know that it can't continue much longer, re: climate change and such), but that doesn't mean every fertilized egg is surviving completely undifferentiated from any other, nor that there are any other selection processes in play.

Getting mauled by a wild animal isn't the only kind of evolutionary pressure. As long as you die without having offspring, the pressure got you.

> Not via selective breeding

Yes via selective breeding. Look into Landian analysis of urban centers as “IQ shredders”. Cities attract the smartest people and then tank their birth rate.

> we've mostly neutered evolutionary pressures on ourselves. In ten thousand years, this might be a minor problem

It’s going to be a problem much sooner than that. Look into Yudkowsky’s analysis of evolutionary error correction bandwidth.


> Cities attract the smartest people and then tank their birth rate.

That's pretty simplified – but even if it wasn't, we're not going to run out of “clever genes” because it's not as simple as that. (But even if it were, the selection isn't strong enough for that to happen.)

> It’s going to be a problem much sooner than that.

If our artificial selection pressures remain the same. Which they won't. Two hundred years ago, our society's “artificial selection” was completely different; in two hundred years, it'll be completely different again.


> the selection isn't strong enough for that to happen

Your model is busted - the Flynn effect has already reversed and intelligence is decreasing again.

You’re right that it’s “not as simple” as my one-sentence summary but my claim is directionally correct.

> it’ll be completely different again

The risk has nothing to do with what the concrete pressures are, but how much error correction bandwidth we have vs background mutation load rate.


> Your model is busted - the Flynn effect has already reversed and intelligence is decreasing again.

Which metric are we using to measure intelligence this time? How do you know it gives meaningful results for what you're trying to use it to measure? (Please don't say IQ.) And has the study been replicated?

> The risk has nothing to do with what the concrete pressures are, but how much error correction bandwidth we have vs background mutation load rate.

But the selection effects you've described are all local and weak. Worst-case scenario – absolute worst-case scenario – the city Americans marry rural Africans and the problem goes away. But it won't get to that point.

Eliezer Yudkowsky knows a lot about philosophy of thought, and AI theory, but he hasn't put as much effort into learning about genetics. If the average geneticist isn't worried, chances are that he's made a mistake in his reasoning (or that you're misunderstood his concerns) – and I haven't heard anybody in a biological field worrying about this.

---

Wait, are you talking about his “in the absence of selection pressure, we'll get mutations that aren't filtered out”? If so… that's a hundreds of generations kind of problem, and I'm confident that stuff like IVF embryo selection (selecting against the genes for known genetic conditions) is already counteracting that effect. (Yes, this is technically eugenics, yes it could get dystopian if we're not careful, no it doesn't justify what the word “eugenics” makes you think of, no I shouldn't feel the need to write this parenthetical, yes this is the internet we're talking about.)

Transposons are likely to be a bigger issue. I read that they've started duplicating themselves more recently, and we don't really know why.

But imagine the human genome (for some unidentified reason that hasn't happened in the last thousand years) starts degrading across the entire world, so we only have a hundred years left before no human fœtuses are viable. We could just GM a human embryo to be the genetic child of modern-day humans (whose genome we've already sequenced), and we roll-back any mysterious genetic problems that far-future humans might develop.

There is an upper bound to how bad things can get, even imagining something out of a sci-fi novel, so I am highly suspicious of the motives of people who get loudly concerned about the “decline of the human genome”.


It's far from a conclusion that the Flynn effect has certainly reversed, for what it's worth. The 2018 study most often cited is on a small group of military aptitude tests from families in Norway and hasn't been replicated since.

I'm pretty sure the future is going to look more like Gattaca than Idiocracy. I wouldn't bet against genetic engineering.

This is one possible way of artificially boosting error correction capacity. I hope you are right.

Software engineer ejected from self driving car during Sunday crash found in server farm, herding sheep?

...browsing HN, as if nothing happened. Tons of good stuff, need to know!

... found in server room, dreaming of electric sheep?

Patching software.

Failing to write documentation.

*cats

Exited self-driving car project to make hardware and herd cats, which turns out to be the same thing.

My other career is breeding working dogs.

After observing hundreds of dogs I can tell you breed traits do not disappear just because we make the dog a house pet.

Sometimes the traits will remain dormant and simply need to be 'unlocked' through exposure the environment/conditions the dog was selectively breed for. Thus, when a collie is exposed to a herd of sheep, even if it never herded before, it will herd those sheep. Once this herding behavior is unlocked the dog will begin to herd everything.

This is why we hear stories of dogs which descend from fighting, war or defense breed that 'suddenly' become aggressive and violent. They are simply expressing all of those generations of selective pressure.

Dogs and genetics are truly amazing things.


I couldn’t find a contact email. If you don’t mind, would love to chat about this. Brunomtsousa at goog-email-service you know the one ;)

Feels very strange to see this article on hacker news at all, let alone at the top. Not saying it shouldn't be here -- generally I feel anything that people here find interesting should be here -- but rather that I'm surprised people here find this interesting.

I found it more interesting that while the story focuses on the positives of social media -- even the dog owner says so in the interview. The HN comments are mostly on dog instincts, genetics and breeding.

It looks like the story got upvoted for other interesting reasons and not the original intent as a feel good social media story.


I recently started to watch youtube videos of painting restoration and cow hoof trimming.

I cannot draw a straight line and was never close to a cow but somehow I find it interesting to watch what others do (when they are passionate about this) and you learn plenty of things.

This is to say that what people find interesting is sometimes surprising (I am also a huge fan of French Middle Age sociology, not sure why after years of reading about the subject)


We had a collie (sheep dog) when I was a kid.

The first time I took it out as a puppy, I threw a ball, and it ran around to the other side in a big arc and lay down looking at it.

I shouted “get it” and it ran in and grabbed it.

Herding behaviour is just baked right in there now!


My cousins had collies as working dogs.

I spent lots of time with the dogs whenever I visited. My favourite was watching them herd rabbits for fun when we went for walks - working as a team to flush them out of hedgerows and then chase them around for a bit.


The instinct of some dogs to herd is amazing.

One memorable experience I have is working on a farm shoveling stuff. As I was working, I suddenly found myself surrounded by chickens and chicks. The farm dog had gotten bored and decided it was time to round up something.

Some dogs are trained to herd a specific way based on whistles or calls. However, the actual instinct to just round up random farm animals is mostly just in the nature of some breads.

Probably some sort of hunting evolution, but crazy none the less.

Collies have it bad.


Herding dogs are like that.

When I was about 5, we took our 1yo Bernese Mountain into a field with grazing cattle. Being young and boisterous, and of a cattle herding breed, he naturally rounded them up fairly quickly.

Cows are smart though. The next time we were in the field, the same cows split up and rounded him into a corner.


This can be a serious problem. Border collies (this dog was a border-collie cross) are bred for sheep herding. However an out-of-control dog doing its herding thang can cause a flock to squeeze so tight for so long that sheep die of stress, heat or exhaustion.


Our dog often "sheep"-herds us - when we are walking - often going around us, trying to put us in a "circle". He's a shih-poo dog rescue (or that's what we've been told). When one of us goes astray, he stops and checks that we are all in form :) - lol

Was the dog ejected because it was not in a crate that was properly secured in the vehicle? I've seen so many people driving with their pets freely roaming around in the vehicle.

This is a sincere issue. Most dogs are not fit or trained to ride unsecured in a vehicle.

The one exception I have found for this are cattle dogs in the American west who are basically raised and live on the back of a truck. These trucks often don't every leave the dirt road.

Dogs which are not secured will be injured, injure a passenger or both during a collision. Ever see a dead dog on a freeway? Most of them have jumped out of a truck or car window.


It was in the back of a pickup IIRC. Quite common around the area.

I bet it wasn't wearing a crash helmet, either. I've seen so many people driving without one.

We have seatbelts and airbags. Dogs have their spines.

I recall a fellow who built what were effectively “wheelchairs” for his dachshunds after he was in an accident and their backs were broken, leaving them paraplegics.


if you have an unsecured dog in the car, definitely you need a helmet cause that dog will become a projectile in any serious accident

Has anyone else noticed that local news websites never put their location in a prominent place on the page? This one includes a Washington address in the footer, which I guess is at least within one state of the event? Half the time there is zero indication of where the station is in the country... or even the world, although US/Canada/UK/Australia is usually more obvious from context.

This is a problem. I noticed that it mentioned Spokane in the weather panel on the right. They know where they are. So it is easy to assume that everyone else does as well.

Most people (myself included) find it hard to appreciate that anything online is accessible from anywhere in the world. I still find it spooky that I can buy on Amazon or get rides on Uber in Iceland and in the UK.


One of our border collies comes from a working line; both of her parents were working sheepdogs on a farm in Ireland.

We once walked her through a field in Scotland that had a couple dozen sheep scattered about. Of course we kept her on a short leash and stuck to the public footpath.

Nevertheless, by the time we'd reached the other side of the field, she had somehow managed to round up the entire flock.


I have a high drive Australian Shepherd. When he was 9 months old I took him to a sheep farm that trains herding dogs. To see him immediately switch from derpy puppy to full on herding mode as soon as he saw sheep was pretty amazing.

This is kind of a weird article to make frontpage of HN

Who among us hasn't dreamed of deleting the IDEs from our computers and going off to be a shepherd? This dog is living the life we all wish we had.

nah, our instinct to herding bugs and new features is too strong.

Or a lumberjack. In the forests of British Columbia.

> Please don't complain that a submission is inappropriate. If a story is spam or off-topic, flag it. Don't feed egregious comments by replying; flag them instead. If you flag, please don't also comment that you did.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Watching the story, they mention that social media is how the farm-owner discovered the dog that was bothering his sheep was the missing dog from the crash-story and was able to find the owners.

This could have happened without social media, but it was a significant facilitator in getting all parties in contact with each other.


I’d be worried if it happened more often. But it’s not totally out of character historically for HN.

I’d say this is sort of interesting. I don’t know my dog breeds but my first thought was this dog must have some sheep dog heritage. I’m amazed looking at my children how many of their thought processes, how their brains are wired, seem to be genetically inherited. And, like what kind of work would my daughter naturally gravitate towards if she was ejected from a car crash at an equivalent age of this dog…


> my first thought was this dog must have some sheep dog heritage

The article says it's a Border Collie, which is an extremely smart, extremely capable sheepdog. My family had border collies and with zero training or interaction with other dogs from which they could've learned the behaviour, they'd naturally try to round us up.


Maybe HN is being footprinted

It is. I mean don't get me wrong, I got a sensible chuckle out of it. But this isn't really technology related in any way, unless the dog has a startup we don't know about.

Dogs themselves are very much a technology for humans. As evidenced by their “instinct” to do useful things for us like herding!

Certainly stretching a bit, but the article is an interesting commentary on one of our most primitive technologies. (Or you can consider the selective breeding process itself to be the technology powering this)


It's a sheep herding startup

It always surprises me when I see my local news on HN...this happened within 2 miles of my shop.

Glad to see they found the dog :)


Interesting, though a border collie with "no tail" is probably an Australian Shepherd.

No onboarding necessary!

Ny uncle once had a large male Border-collie that went missing while he was working in his forest. The dog came back later in the afternoon herding a moose.

It blows me away that people can see things like this and still deny any genetic basis for certain cognitive features in humans.

Humans haven't had multiple generations of selective breeding to select for particular cognitive traits. We have, however, had:

• Sunburn / vitamin D deficiency

• Oxygen deprivation at high altitudes

• Free diving

which have had obvious effects on certain human populations. But mentally, we're all pretty much just human, same as any other; variation is massive, yes, but it can be pretty big between siblings. Seeing “sheep dog breeds have a herding instinct” doesn't tell you much about humans.

When people try to argue a “genetic basis” for a particular trait, they're usually just trying to justify racism.


> Oxygen deprivation at high altitudes

This is actually three examples in one. Tibetans, Andeans, and Ethiopians each have their own unique version of this adaptation.


Same with the skin tone one; skin tone tells you (roughly) the latitude where a population was recently, but (as adaptions go) a population's skin tone changes pretty quickly.

I know people don't want to admit to genetic impacts on cognition but there have been pressures over many generations for these traits and those pressures have been different all over the world.

Take the example of a genetic lineage living in a jungle where it is necessary to know the difference, availability, dietary qualities, medicinal aspects of thousands of plants. Not to mention predatory dangers, snake dangers, environmental dangers, etc.

In this case, the individual with high aptitudes for memorization, categorization and pattern matching would survive at a substantially higher rate than those with lower aptitudes. Remember, a small band does not have the resources to support low producing members so they would not be artificially perpetuated.


Is there evidence to support this, or is it just Internet speculation? For example, do we know what traits would favor someone in a jungle? Have you lived in a jungle or researched the question?

Do we know how evolution works? One thing I believe I understand is that evolution takes far longer than people imagine. A few centuries is nothing. Humans have been in their current evolutionary form for around 200,000 years. Adaptations are not evolution, and our genetics change and adapt during our lifetimes. My children will not be genetically better at typing than the original homo sapiens. Think of that: You are not genetically smarter than humans of 200,000 years ago; someone then is just as able to be a scientist as you are. All of our advantages are from other factors.

Another thing I've learned is that claims need evidence; that's what separates the wheat from the infinite chaff, the science from the witchcraft. The parent comment would require evidence to qualify for even a high school essay.


> Do we know how evolution works? One thing I believe I understand is that evolution takes far longer than people imagine. A few centuries is nothing. Humans have been in their current evolutionary form for around 200,000 years.

Evolution is a continuum. There is no "current form", it is constantly changing with every new human that is born.

> Adaptations are not evolution, and our genetics change and adapt during our lifetimes. My children will not be genetically better at typing than the original homo sapiens.

Your offspring will have different attributes than you. This is evolution.

> Think of that: You are not genetically smarter than humans of 200,000 years ago; someone then is just as able to be a scientist as you are. All of our advantages are from other factors.

This is conjecture. You don't know that modern humans aren't "genetically smarter" than those from 200,000 years ago. Neanderthals existed up until around 40,000 years ago, all the while interbreeding with other humans.

> Another thing I've learned is that claims need evidence; that's what separates the wheat from the infinite chaff, the science from the witchcraft. The parent comment would require evidence to qualify for even a high school essay.

Meanwhile, you provided zero evidence.


> Evolution is a continuum. There is no "current form", it is constantly changing with every new human that is born.

It's an inspiring philosophical concept, but it's like saying 'the world changes with every breath you take'.

> Your offspring will have different attributes than you. This is evolution.

They have different attributes for many reasons that have nothing to do with evolution (and are not hereditary). And any real evolutionary changes are so small that they practically don't exist.

> This is conjecture. You don't know that modern humans aren't "genetically smarter" than those from 200,000 years ago.

It's not conjecture; it's based on evidence: I can't cite the exact science off the top of my head, but humans have been biologically the same for around 200,000 years.

> Meanwhile, you provided zero evidence.

You are the one making the claims; you need to provide the evidence. I'm not going around the Internet finding citations for everyone.


>You are the one making the claims; you need to provide the evidence.

There is evidence that human evolution is actually speeding up since the dawn of agriculture.

"...scientists can study the changes in the frequency of an allele occurring in a tiny subset of the population over a single lifetime, the shortest meaningful time scale in evolution"[0]

>humans have been biologically the same for around 200,000 years.

Human evolution did not abruptly stop. It has continued. [1]

>any real evolutionary changes are so small that they practically don't exist

Evolution can occur in tiny changes and large changes. Most changes are adaptive evolution which changes the species over time. [2]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recent_human_evolution [1] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/culture-speeds-up... [2] https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/evolutionary-adapt...


> It's an inspiring philosophical concept, but it's like saying 'the world changes with every breath you take'.

It's literally what evolution is. Each generation of organism is different from the next. There isn't some break-point where changes ceased, it's been continuous since the life began, i.e. a continuum.

> They have different attributes for many reasons that have nothing to do with evolution (and are not hereditary). And any real evolutionary changes are so small that they practically don't exist.

The reason is literally evolution. They are different in small (or large) ways, because every generation is different. If they survive and pass part of their genes along to the next generation, their offspring will be different as well.

> It's not conjecture; it's based on evidence: I can't cite the exact science off the top of my head, but humans have been biologically the same for around 200,000 years.

But they haven't been biologically the same. They have changed in each generation of offspring. There wasn't some magic point 200,000 or so years ago when humans stopped evolving. We are still evolving today, every time a new child is born.

I have a feeling you don't actually understand evolution.


we are smarter than humans of 200,000 years ago; symbolic. abstract thinking evolved 50000-60000 years ago (source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048993/ )

No; the individual with high aptitudes for memorisation, categorisation and pattern-matching would become the local healing expert, likely apprenticed to whoever was best at it before. Everyone else would focus primarily on the predatory and environmental dangers, plus their own specialisms (and, you know, everything else).

Remember: we live in a society. So did our ancestors. Intelligence is a pretty general skill; all sorts of different selection pressures push it up, not least of all interpersonal politics; in a band of well-to-do humans who have elders, long-term survival is probably common enough that the dating scene has a higher impact on reproductive fitness than raw survival skill.


>in a band of well-to-do humans...

Very sincere question.

From my understanding, most bands were not well to do and specialization wasn't so common until recent history ( agrarian ages ). So in these instances wouldn't cognitive abilities be more generally valuable?

Also, if you were a gathering type and needed to survive for a week away from your group the cognitive skills to recognize resources, weather, threats, etc as well as navigate back to your group would require a certain aptitude. Those without the aptitude would simply not return. Correct?


> From my understanding, most bands were not well to do and specialization wasn't so common until recent history ( agrarian ages ).

I don't know about ages, but in recent non-agrarian cultures (e.g. Buffalo-hunters in North America) there were often medical specialists. But if we're getting pedantic, individualism would also have been a lot lower; people tend to look out for each other when they live together. Your “memorisation skills improve survival” argument doesn't work all that well when the memorisation required is well within the ability of almost all modern humans, if that's what their lives are centred around. (How many pieces of trivia does the average person know about celebrities? And that's not even deliberately-learnt knowledge.)

> Those without the aptitude would simply not return. Correct?

Those without the aptitude wouldn't go on such an expedition in the first place, if they had any sense in them.

You're trying hard to think of hypothetical scenarios where your hypothesis is true, and not hypothetical scenarios where your hypothesis is false. If I get to come up with loads of situations where my theory is true, I can justify any theory to myself. That's why scientists care so much about falsification.


I get what you are saying. So let's start with the hypothesis then. We must ask a question first to begin to create tests ( thought experiments in this case ).

"Environment and/or society ( which is part of your environment ) apply selective pressures favoring cognitive abilities. These selections produce increased cognition in decedents indicating genetic influence in cognitive abilities."

Human cognition has not remained stagnant over time. It has evolved. This evolution of cognition was driven by selective forces regardless of those forces being social or environmental or combination thereof. It is important to not confuse technology with our ability to think. However, there is a point where cognition allows for the advancement of knowledge and technology. Somehow we reached that point.

To assume that once we reached this point, human cognition stopped evolving would be more elective than attempting to explore hypothetical situations as applied to our understandings of past peoples to help analyze the question.

We know that we can force selection for intelligence in other mammals [0]( dogs in this thread ). We also know there are significant indications of intelligence related to genetics in humans [1]. ( the wikipedia names a number of caveats, however there remains significant evidence that a portion of intelligence is determined genetically ).

The fact that societies advance to where the selective pressure for cognitive abilities reduces is recognized and not part of this argument. The argument is specifically regarding the selection for intelligence. It is also understood that IQ can be increased through training and society.[2]

[0] https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ADA555235.pdf [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability_of_IQ [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect


> To assume that once we reached this point, human cognition stopped evolving would be more elective than attempting to explore hypothetical situations as applied to our understandings of past peoples to help analyze the question.

Evolution doesn't work that way. My criticism was with your assumption that such selection would differ markedly between populations.

Also, IQ is not a suitable proxy for intelligence, if you want to make the conclusions you're making. It's an aggregate metric that takes into account things that aren't intelligence (e.g. certain aspects of culture); how do you know you're not detecting heritability of those? Any study that starts at IQ and ends with new conclusions about intelligence is probably wrong.


Exactly.

Different populations of humans vary wildly by almost every physical trait, such as height, build, bone structure, skin, hair type, eye color, muscle fiber.

But when it comes to the brain, we are all exactly the same.


Muscle fiber variations across humans are pretty small. They're really only very noticeable as far as the extremes, or in quite small populations.

Similarly, hair types are barely different. But to tell you a story, the village my ancestors lived in for centuries had people with smooth blond hair and people like me with extremely stiff black hair. Same for eye color. Anyways, I digress, these are generally single-gene variations which is why you will find most of the variation in most populations.

Height and build is an interesting one. For most of history heights were very similar across populations. Actually, the only exception we know of were Anglo-Saxon settlers, and some peoples in South-East Asia.

This suggests that people even in extremely remote places had incredibly similar evolutionary pressures that led to almost identical heights. But nowadays, the specificities of the impact on a changing diet are different [https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/20780389.2012.65...].

Skin is really the biggest one, because Vitamin-D deficiency and skin cancer are huge evolutionary pressures. But as we've seen, otherwise it's pretty clear humans evolved in broadly similar environments and found very similar tradeoffs. This is especially true for intelligence where the biggest load for intelligence was social interactions, and where social structures are very similar.


Have humans been bred for hundreds of generations for extremely specific tasks? No? Then there is no reason to assume differential cognitive features in humans. Humans have by and large evolved in extremely similar cognitive environments where the most complex cognitive tasks were associated to social functions and as far as we can tell these are extremely similar for 99% of human evolutionary history across all groups.

It's impossible that cross-cultural variations in societal structure or environment imparted a selection bias acting upon certain cognitive traits that would explain the observed disparities we see in modern data?

Which ones? For the vast majority of human history societal structures were incredibly similar. And you can observe any societal structure in any general geographic area, more or less, controlling for very low population densities. So no, I don't see it.

Similarly, I don't see what kinds of environmental factors would have a huge impact of cognitive load. For the vast majority of human history they are staggeringly similar and less of a factor than social structure.


You don't need hundreds of thousands of years to have meaningful shifts in allelic distribution. 10,000 years of agriculture is more than enough to select for height, lactase persistence, and more [1]. I don't think it's a far shot to conjecture a relationship between certain modes of civilization and cognitive features that they select for. I can't point to conclusive empirical evidence for this but my problem is just with people making the study of these issues taboo and denying the scientific possibility.

[1] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151123202631.h...


I'm not making these issues taboo. You claim that agriculture selected for height, yet height amongst humans was of almost identical height except for a few outliers.

What the study you linked showed was a change in around 12 genes across 10 000 years of agriculture that were all related to diet or sunlight exposure. This was because they moved to an environment that forced a completely different diet.

However we know that for 10 000 years we could notice almost every kind of societal organization in most geographical regions, from hunter-gatherer societies, to agricultural societies, to urban societies, etc...

From Africa, to Asia, to India, to the Americas, every single one of these societal structures were observed, and in almost every case the optimal predictor of the presence of these structures were economic and political, not genetic or of ancestry.

So again, that leads me to the question I formulated above, which populations that you're thinking about did not organize in which societal mode? What hypothesis do you have linking which organizational mode to which population leading to which expected cognitive effect? I honestly, really cannot find anything. If you could find something, a study could be made, just like the one you cited above, trying to find the genetic changes as populations transitioned societal modes or between populations in similar environments but different societal modes (the last are fairly rare just off the top of my head).

There just isn't enough to make a solid hypothesis here. If you can make one that's worthwhile I'm all ears, but there just isn't anything to draw on.


> It's impossible ... ?

That's our standard? Anything beyond the impossible? This is gonna be a wide-ranging discussion.


Huh, this happened about a mile from my house.

Hello....fellow Kootenai county resident :)

Are you missing any sheep?

What does it mean for a dog to be herding sheep without a human indicating what to do?

Oh! My first "451: Unavailable due to legal reasons" I love the future.

It's infuriating and so disingenuous to say it is unavailable for "legal reason". It's unavailable because the website does not want to respect their users' privacy is what it is.

What a feel good story! I'm glad he's safe and still grinding!

451: Unavailable due to legal reasons in Europe.

Off topic but since it affects this article and several are posting archive.org links, I just find this kind of error message ridiculous:

> 451: Unavailable due to legal reasons > We recognize you are attempting to access this website from a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) including the EU which enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and therefore access cannot be granted at this time. For any issues, contact q6news@khq.com or call 509-448-6000.

I mean really, what is the big deal about allowing a no-cookie visit?


Even if you don't care about advertising to EU visitors implementing GDPR costs money. (But since a consent-management-system is useful for compliance with California's privacy law it'd make sense to allow EU visitors as well.)

They'd rather sell their children to ISIS than serve a plain HTML with no ads. Monetization on the web is no joke.

It's in ROM, can't be erased.

Living his best life man

Good boys will be good boys

doggos gonna doggo

> We recognize you are attempting to access this website from a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) including the EU which enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and therefore access cannot be granted at this time. For any issues, contact q6news@khq.com or call 509-448-6000.

Why do they do that? It seems to be a news website, which holds read-only content. Readers are not "users", I don't see how the GDPR can apply here.


Yeah, seriously. "We recognize that we want to be tracking the hell out of you and unfortunately you live in a regulated area where there are laws somewhat trying to protect you."

Anyway, fellow European netizens, you can read this here: https://web.archive.org/web/20210610163014/https://www.khq.c...


Has anyone tried calling them?

it doesn't say the country, must be haiti? (509 prefix)

509 is the area code for eastern Washington state.

> 451: Unavailable due to legal reasons

> We recognize you are attempting to access this website from a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) including the EU which enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and therefore access cannot be granted at this time. For any issues, contact q6news@khq.com or call 509-448-6000.

What about a correct usage of people's data?


I really don't think a local news website from Spokane Washington can be expected to place international laws as a high priority.

Even if they already practiced correct usage of people's data (unlikely) having someone on-staff that understands those laws enough to communicate the requirements to whoever is developing & hosting their IT infrastructure just to get confirmation of compliance is enough of an economic deterrent to make the landing page you see seem like a more reasonable solution.


And yet they understand the law enough to block EU access? As "a local news website from Spokane Washington", why even bother? I think some scepticism is valid here.

It's a local news station in another country. There are undoubtably many local businesses in your country that will not do business with me because they don't comply with the legal requirements of doing business in my country. Not every company is financially able to have global legal compliance.

Next step: cat videos and I'm here for it.

Can I haz the HN cat videos?


Sure. I'll fire up a bash shell and type a few commands for you...

Dog: This is my life meow.

Cute. But this so much doesn't belong here.



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