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#7970 - 08/04/06 03:40 PM Re: Evolution
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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"Natural selection does work at the level of the individual. Altruism, or apparent altruism can only evolve if the gene or genes which produce the altruistic behaviour are favoured over genes which don't produce the behaviour. Individuals which have the genes would produce more surviving offspring and the gene would increase in frequency in the population."

I don't think so. A honey bee that dies for the hive is not passing on the genes from her own body, but those of her mother in the hive and those of her sisters who become queens.

The queen, of course, has those genes, but the queen is not dying for the hive. The bees that die are indeed passing on their genes, but not directly; rather, indirectly.

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#7971 - 08/04/06 05:22 PM Re: Evolution
DA Morgan Offline
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A honey bee is doing what a honey bee is programmed to do. As you acknowledge her genes are her mother's ... the queen: Her queen. Of course the queen doesn't die for the hive. Do you see elder statesmen picking up swords? If the queen dies for the workers the ability to produce another generation dies with her.

Lets take another example IFF. The cooperative behaviour of schooling fish.

When a tuna approaches ... they knot themselves into a ball: Why? They could all just flee in entirely separate directions and decreasing the density of the apparent food source. Is it altruism? Is it self-destructive? Is it a successful strategy? Millions of years of evolution can't be wrong.
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#7972 - 08/04/06 07:04 PM Re: Evolution
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Dan,

I don't disagree with anything you said. Of course altruism exists. Of course, it is explainable by evolution.

My problem is semantic. The other fellow asserts that Natural Selection works at the level of the individual. He is not alone, as I have heard many others assert the same thing. In fact, I also would agree with that statement in most cases. However, I'm not sure that is a correct characterization of what's happening in the case of the development and propagation of altruism.

I'm not sure the schooling of fish is an example of altruism. This balling probably tends to shock and confuse predators. Individuals who survive will be able to transmit genes through their own gametes and not through a tribal proxy.

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#7973 - 08/04/06 08:25 PM Re: Evolution
soilguy Offline
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Loc: North Carolina
Natural selection does work on the level of the individual, but evolution does not equal natural selection.

Individuals don't evolve (biologically). Populations evolve.
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When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
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#7974 - 08/04/06 08:50 PM Re: Evolution
DA Morgan Offline
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IFF ... Soilguy said it better than I could.

The individual is the smallest unit of measure.
The population evolves.

This may be a terrible analogy ... but a single grain of sand on a beach is the smallest unit of measure. Moving the grain of sand does not move the beach. Move the beach and the grains of sand will be in a different location.
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#7975 - 08/04/06 09:10 PM Re: Evolution
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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I understand that natural selection is not the same thing as evolution.

I understand that individuals do not evolve.

I understand that populations do evolve.

I even understand how - in general - we say that selection operates on the individual.

What I don't understand is how correct it is to say that evolution of altruism occurs via selection on individuals.

It could be that if I cogitate on this for a while, it will come to me. Maybe it will be one of those "aha! why didn't I get that before!" type moments. But right now, I'm just not getting it.

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#7976 - 08/04/06 09:13 PM Re: Evolution
Blacknad Offline
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Registered: 10/05/05
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When we talk about altruism in evolutionary terms are we talking about only the first definition?

1. Instinctive cooperative behavior that is detrimental to the individual but contributes to the survival of the species.

2. Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.

One seems to be an instinctive action, the other is a conscious action.

Am I wrong in thinking there is a difference for the purposes of this debate?

Blacknad.

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#7977 - 08/04/06 09:18 PM Re: Evolution
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Blacknad,

I think definition 1 is what we're talking about.

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#7978 - 08/04/06 10:29 PM Re: Evolution
Blacknad Offline
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Thanks TFF.

Is there no link between the two? Is my ability to act with self disinterest or even self sacrificially, on a conscious level, in any way an extention of zoological altruism?

Or is it an emergent property? I only ask because elsewhere there was a debate that seemed to decide that guilt had its origins in the evolutionary process.

Blacknad.

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#7979 - 08/05/06 12:11 AM Re: Evolution
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Blacknad,

I just don't know.

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#7980 - 08/05/06 03:21 AM Re: Evolution
DA Morgan Offline
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Loc: Seattle, WA
TFF states:
"What I don't understand is how correct it is to say that evolution of altruism occurs via selection on individuals."

I'm not sure I agree with the above sentence. Altruism is an inherited trait in humans just as schooling is in fish.

Those that have that trait are more likely to survive and pass on their genes. Those that don't are more likely to be someone else's dinner.
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#7981 - 08/07/06 07:56 PM Re: Evolution
soilguy Offline
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Registered: 09/28/05
Posts: 414
Loc: North Carolina
Quote:
Originally posted by Blacknad:
Thanks TFF.

Is there no link between the two? Is my ability to act with self disinterest or even self sacrificially, on a conscious level, in any way an extention of zoological altruism?

Or is it an emergent property? I only ask because elsewhere there was a debate that seemed to decide that guilt had its origins in the evolutionary process.

Blacknad.
I can't pretend that I know, but I think we tend to justify some of our instincts intellectually. Fear of snakes is one example of that.

In the case of the altruistic lizards, the lizards behave altruistically toward other lizards that are naturally marked as having an altruistic tendency. Humans don't have such markings, but I think we have a tendency to be more altruistic toward other people we view as altruistic, and less altruistic to selfish assholes, which is a highly technical term used by social scientists.

I tend to be altruistic toward all children -- without thought. When I do think about it, it makes sense: kids helped through altruism may be more likley to behave altruistically from then on. However, I have not thought about this until very recently. Weighing the pros and cons of whether I should behave altruistically in a situation does not generally occur -- except in the case of a proven selfish asshole. In those cases, I might consciously stop myself from lending an SA a hand, unless it were a matter of life and death.
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When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
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#7982 - 08/07/06 08:26 PM Re: Evolution
Anonymous
Unregistered


If one of those SA's needed a bone marrow transplant and you were the only match for a possible donor, would you donate?

How far does your altruism go?

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#7983 - 08/07/06 08:39 PM Re: Evolution
DA Morgan Offline
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Loc: Seattle, WA
With respect to an SA ... I would suddenly become religious and deduce that their plight was the works of a higher being providing a just and well deserved lesson in humility.

I would then not be so presumptuous as to come between the SA and his or her maker?
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#7984 - 08/07/06 08:44 PM Re: Evolution
Anonymous
Unregistered


Spoken like a true hypocrite!

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#7985 - 08/07/06 10:40 PM Re: Evolution
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Precisely! I do hope the sarcasm came through.

If not ... please mentally include <SARCASM> tags around my previous post. I didn't do it there so as to, hopefully, provide the full impact.
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#7986 - 08/08/06 07:49 AM Re: Evolution
dougalbod Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/04/06
Posts: 3
Quote:
Originally posted by Blacknad:


1. Instinctive cooperative behavior that is detrimental to the individual but contributes to the survival of the species.

Blacknad.
It's a common misconception, but natural selection and evolution has nothing to do with 'the survival of the species'.

Natural selection and evolution is an entirely passive process. It's worth remembering that of all the species that have ever existed, virtually all of them have become extinct. Only a tiny fraction of species survive. Don't be fooled into thinking that natural selection is a beneficial process!

Altruistic behaviour, that is behaviour which is beneficial to others but has no benefit or is detrimental to the individual displaying the behaviour, can only evolve through natural selection if the individuals which benefit pass on genes which cause the behaviour.

Doug

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#7987 - 08/08/06 01:43 PM Re: Evolution
soilguy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/28/05
Posts: 414
Loc: North Carolina
Quote:
Originally posted by dougalbod:
It's a common misconception, but natural selection and evolution has nothing to do with 'the survival of the species'.

Natural selection and evolution is an entirely passive process. It's worth remembering that of all the species that have ever existed, virtually all of them have become extinct. Only a tiny fraction of species survive. Don't be fooled into thinking that natural selection is a beneficial process!

[snip]

Doug
Huh? Evolution is beneficial for sustaining life. Keep in mind that a number of "extinct" species represent ancestral chronospecies of currently living species.

If life failed to adapt to changing environments, would you consider that beneficial?
_________________________
When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
--S. Lewis

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#7988 - 08/08/06 01:52 PM Re: Evolution
soilguy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/28/05
Posts: 414
Loc: North Carolina
Quote:
Originally posted by Amaranth Rose:
If one of those SA's needed a bone marrow transplant and you were the only match for a possible donor, would you donate?

How far does your altruism go?
I would, because I would feel lots of guilt if I did not.

Now if the person was beyond an SA, and I considered him/her evil, that would be a different story. (Take, for instance, an FA.)
_________________________
When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
--S. Lewis

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#7989 - 08/08/06 05:23 PM Re: Evolution
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
F ... I presume stands for Flaming. ;-)

Next question ... are you registered with a bone marrow donor program?

If not ...
http://www.marrow.org/

Time to step up to the plate and be counted. Not knowing you could save someone's life (ignorance) is not immunization.

There are a lot of people in need of transplants where no matches can be found. And this is not directed just at soilguy. Everyone ... here's an opportunity to show what you really are.
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DA Morgan

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