Eloi vs Morlock vs Dr Oliver Curry of LSE

October 17th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, cash-for-"stories" | 57 Comments »

This from the wires. I could pick out a quote, but it just zings along from beginning to end in one big galloping rampage of joy. Can’t wait to see if the newspapers pick it up, it feels excellently 1950s and is doubtless much more exciting and important science news than this kind of dreary old nonsense. The Darwin@LSE department, apart from the name (to which the years will not be kind) is quite a sound outfit producing mostly great work. Ho hum. I mean, maybe it’s not that bad. Go, Dr Oliver Curry of LSE!

Embargoed to 0001 Tuesday October 17
By John von Radowitz, PA Science Correspondent
Social division might split humans into two sub-species 100,000 years from now
– just as HG Wells predicted.
The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy,
attractive, intelligent, and creative.
They would be a far cry from the “underclass” humans who will have evolved
into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures.
The forecast was made by evolution expert Dr Oliver Curry, who spent two
months investigating the ascent and descent of Man over the next 100 millennia.
Novelist HG Wells predicted a similar gloomy outcome for humanity in his novel
The Time Machine.
He envisaged a race of frail privileged beings, the Eloi, who lived above
ground in a futuristic ruined city.
They were prey for the cannibalistic ape-like Morlocks, who toiled underground
and whose ancestors were the downtrodden workers of today.

According to Dr Curry, the human race is likely to peak in the year 3,000,
before collapsing into technology-driven decline.
Within a thousand years, humans will evolve into coffee-coloured giants
between six and seven feet tall, he predicts. Improved nutrition and medical
science will see people growing taller and fitter, while life-spans are extended
to 120 years.
Physical appearance, driven by indicators of health, youth and fertility, will
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 skin, large clear eyes, pert
breasts, glossy hair, even features and smooth hairless skin.

Racial differences will be ironed out by interbreeding, producing a uniform
race of coffee-coloured people.
But the golden age of the beautiful people will not last forever, warns Dr
In 10,000 years time humans may have paid a genetic price for relying on
technology. Spoiled by gadgets designed to meet their every need, they could
come to resemble domesticated animals.
Social skills, such as communicating and interacting with others, could be
lost, along with emotions such as love, sympathy, trust and respect.
Humans would become less able to care for others, or perform in teams.
Physically, they would start to appear more juvenile. Chins would recede, as a
result of having to chew less on processed food.
There could also be health problems caused, paradoxically, by reliance on
medicine. Weak immune systems might be one result. Preventing deaths would also
help to preserve the genetic defects that cause cancer.
Humans might improve themselves by using genetic engineering to replace faulty
stretches of DNA, says Dr Curry.
Much further into the future, sexual selection – being choosy about one’s
partner – was likely to create more and more genetic inequality.
The logical outcome would be two sub-species, “gracile” and “robust”
humans representing the rich and poor from long ago in history.

Dr Curry, from the Darwin@LSE research centre at the London School of
Economics, was commissioned to carry out the study by the men’s satellite TV
channel Bravo.
He said: “The Bravo Evolution Report suggests that the future of man will be
a story of the good, the bad and the ugly.
“While science and technology have the potential to create an ideal habitat
for humanity over the next millennium, there is a possibility of a monumental
genetic hangover over the subsequent millennia due to an over-reliance on
technology reducing our natural capacity to resist disease, or our evolved
ability to get along with each other.
“After that, things could get ugly, with the possible emergence of genetic
`haves’ and `have-nots’.”
Bravo asked Dr Curry to make his forecast to mark the channel’s 21st
Director of programmes Johnny Webb said: “It is amazing to think that in just
one thousand years time away everything will be so different.”

161028 OCT 06

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57 Responses

  1. Delster said,

    October 19, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    Kells, post 29

    Disaster is a huge help to evolution, imagine 90% of a population suddenly being wiped out with only the fittest surviving. That would have a big impact in evolutionary terms although this is not to say it doesn’t happen the rest of the time as well.

    Amoebic Vodka, post 49

    Wait till they force through the tracker system on every vehicle they are talking about in the uk, they would be able to tell when you got in the car and where you went in it via what route and at what speed every inch of the way…. all in the name of preventing terrorism of course….. roll on the police state

  2. DrGlenn said,

    October 19, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    …well, after reading some of the comments about Dr Curry from the scientific intelligensia who set themselves up as the guardians of knowledge he may well be right about some aspects of the future! Namely that “social skills, such as communicating and interacting with others, could be lost, along with….respect.”

    While it is fine to be criticial of others work based on reasoned criticism, sarcastic and arrogant know it all comments that show a lack of respect and social skills are the work of a scientific community that is unware of its own politics, social and and political history and its’ social failings, dismissing everything that can’t be measured using ‘objective’ criteria.

    Since even the best ‘hard’ science has a nice little history of getting things wrong because of a lack of social awareness, I wouldn’t be too quick to jump on others’ more quirky conclusions. As for those who commented on who funded Dr Curry, is the politics of funding by the Bravo channel any different to those funded by the big pharma in the name of ‘objective’ science!? I think not.

    Of course he is not right on one point. We won’t be around 100, 000 years from now because all that technology created by those wonderful hard scientists who always thought we could address social issues through ever increasing technological fixes will have caused all that global warming. Now that is badscience.

  3. terry hamblin said,

    October 19, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    In my experience all the really clever men look like Woody Allen or Bernard Levin and all the tall Scandinavian girls with pert breasts are dumb blondes.

    Still I bet Dr Curry got paid for his fantasy a little better than Herbert George did for his.

  4. coracle said,

    October 20, 2006 at 9:24 am

    Terry (#53),

    Must disagree re tall scandinavian blondes, met one at a cell biology and she was very intelligent. Didn’t get the opportunity to assess pertness though…

  5. coracle said,

    October 20, 2006 at 9:26 am

    re 54, cell biology conference that is…

  6. Delster said,

    October 20, 2006 at 3:25 pm


    Don’t worry… we also comment on big pharma…. have a look at the last few articles re fish oil supplements.

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