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#204710 - 11/27/06 03:44 AM Re: "Selfish gene", not "knowing gene". [Re: Linguascelesta]
redheadgrl Offline


Registered: 09/24/06
Posts: 273
A use it or lose it basis for passing on genetic traits? That makes sense to me-but I'm not a biologist either!

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#204711 - 11/27/06 03:51 AM Passing on genetic traits. [Re: redheadgrl]
Linguascelesta Offline

CoS Warlock

Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 2352
Loc: Europa
Well, let Me put it another way.

Sex is a hereditary desire.

If your parents didn't have it, chances are good neither will you.

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#204712 - 11/27/06 04:09 AM Re: A splendid de facto Satanist. [Re: redheadgrl]
Hagen von Tronje Offline

CoS Priest

Registered: 06/28/01
Posts: 10129
Genes predisposition us to behave in one way but our biology/enviroment comes into play and can cause us to act in ways that are contrary to what our pre-programmed genetic material reflects.

First: if we can truly contradict the behavior then it wasn't a genetically programmed behavior, or else if you're referring to "exceptional" behavior then it is a result of severe warping effects or even genetic anomoly and has no relevance to Dawkins's theory. Deviant behavior, if that's what you mean, isn't related to this at all. If anything it proves his point.

Much of our evolutionary success is because of our ability to adapt-which wouldn't be possible if the ultimate outcome was genetically preprogrammed.

No offense, but you didn't think this one out very well. Aren't we genetically programmed to be adaptable?

Further, your statement is a complete and total contradiction in terms. Think this out: we are evolutionarily successful...but being genetically programmed would contradict that. That's swallowing your own tail, since if genetic programming contradicts evolutionary success, then evolution is impossible. Clearly, you misread Dawkins on this point. He would not support the idea of genetic determinism and goes out of his way to debunk that claim, which is what you seem to think he was supporting.

To clarify this: Dawkins demonstrates that genetic programming precisely supports evolution entirely, and provides a perfect mathematical basis for why natural selection is an absolute certainty.

Why would a selfish gene want to have so much sex, knowing the intent is not to reproduce?

Dawkins never discusses this much to my knowledge, but Desmond Morris does at great length in his books. Reading him would elucidate you on the nature of human sexuality in great detail; essentially nonreproductive human sexuality is a pair bonding mechanism, and is also the reason why our sexual intercourse is so profoundly pleasurable (as opposed to the difficult and even painful copulation of some animals). This is necessary for humans, as a means of ensuring pair bonding long enough to raise our incredibly time consuming and helpless offspring (a byproduct of any number of factors, but especially adult neoteny). Very long story, read The Naked Ape, The Human Zoo, and Intimate Behavior for a far better look at this. Morris is, by the way, a contemporary and friend of Dawkins.

There is so much variance in the way we deal with our specific human drives and it is often affected by cultural customs, religious beliefs and ideologies-or lack thereof.

Yet human customs seem to have certain universal threads in common, something Dawkins points out in this very clip posted. Superb evidence of genetic programming of certain behavior patterns. The aversion to incest, presence of marriage as an essentially lifelong contract (that may be truncated but is rarely set for only a certain length of time), maternal duties and paternal duties being usually distinct and often having similar characteristics cross-culturally, etc, all evidence that this is genetically hardwired.

Genetics are a vital link but take the behavior of a serial killer. Is it genetic or environmental?

You think in inappropriate terms. It very possibly has a link to a genetic predisposition which may not be "a serial killer gene" but rather any number of a spectrum of genes which would predispose one to violence. It almost certainly however has an environmental trigger, since it is usually correlated to certain definable factors in the formative years of the killer. This could fill a whole book.

Basically, what I see is that you expected Dawkins to answer questions that weren't relevant to his thesis. The questions you ask are answered satisfactorily, but they are answered in other books. I highly recommend Morris for answering about 75% of what you ask here, I think you'll find he fills in the "human touch" to Dawkins's hard science.


Edited by LeviathanXIII (11/27/06 04:52 AM)
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"The devil I'll bring you," answered Hagen. "I have enough to carry with my shield and breastplate; my helm is bright, the sword is in my hand, therefore I bring you naught."

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#204713 - 11/27/06 04:50 AM Re: Dawkins at his very best... [Re: Virus9]
Wile_E_Quixote Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 03/14/02
Posts: 2493
That was generally enjoyable but often rather painfull to watch. Whiney voices stumbling over clumsy, ill thought out questions a lot of the time. I save my real contempt though for the questioners that talked about agreeing with most of what Dawkins said but then revealed that they were theists of one flavour or another. You can just picture them sat during the first part of the lecture, arms folded, eyes almost completely covered by their philosophical burqas (to use the same analogy Dawkins used). If you could get an insight into their thought processes at this time, all you would hear would be "Lalalalalalalala I'm not listening to you lalalalalalalalala!"

One has to wonder how many stupid questions Richard Dawkins will put up with before he decides that he can't take any more of the futility of trying to explain fairly self-evident things to tiny, parochial minds. He certainly has far more patience than me on this count.

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#204714 - 11/27/06 08:14 AM Re: Dawkins at his very best... [Re: Virus9]
Carkosa Offline


Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 359
What a wonderful find! I highly enjoyed it. Richard Dawkins is so intelligent and remarkably eloquent in his delivery. I was however rather shocked that he did not know that anger is a common reaction for people who have freed themselves from religious upbringing. It is so obvious why these people tend to rebel.

Someone also brought up the tired old debate that God exists outside of the laws of physics so our scientific laws do not apply to Him. Funny how physics don't apply to God, yet people give him human physical characteristics, emotions and tendencies! If such a being is beyond the laws of physics why does he mentally resemble humans so much?


Edited by Carkosa (11/27/06 08:20 AM)

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#204715 - 11/27/06 01:37 PM Re: Dawkins at his very best... [Re: Discipline]
Evil_Eve Offline
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Registered: 09/23/06
Posts: 4234
Loc: 1313 Mockingbird Lane
Quote:

I have been reading The God Delusion. It is wonderful book that uses great examples and sharp wit.




I have wanted to pick up this book and am pleased to see that you are enjoying it. I'm sure I will also.

Currently though, I am still glued to a book by Carl Sagan.
Once I finish with it, I will be certain to pick this one up.
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If you could....would YOU?



"Our religion does not require martyrs."
Magistra Nadramia.

FEARED!
Revered.
YOU can be a voice for the voiceless.


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#204716 - 11/27/06 07:55 PM Re: A splendid de facto Satanist. [Re: redheadgrl]
Poetaster Offline
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Registered: 01/20/06
Posts: 2334
Loc: East Coast, USA.
Quote:

Why would a selfish gene want to have so much sex, knowing the intent is not to reproduce?




On the shoulders of what Mr. Leviathan suggested, which I'm sure are wonderful suggestions (I'm not that familiar with Desmond Morris, so I'll be looking into his work as well), I'd like to recommend that you look into The Red Queen Hypothesis - Parasite Theory.

It may not be the correct answer, but it is certainly a reasonable theory.

However, that theory only accounts for why we have sex sometimes. Currently it's being attacked because it doesn't explain why sex is such a FREQUENT practice. Which is confusing to me when I consider how evolution works. Sometimes, I think unecessarily contentious arguments are raised for sheer entertainment value.

In a genetically deterministic paradigm, isn't it reasonable to suggest that since genes are the driving engine of biological evolution, their main priority is replication, and in order to maximize that priority, pleasure stimuli developed? Thereby making it a sure bet that the host organism would provide more chances for genetic-fecundity and longevity?

Coupling that with the mounting evidence that pathogen defense mechanisms are superior in a heterozygous chromosome, as opposed to an inferior defense mechanism in a homozygous chromosome, I'm left thinking that sexual intercourse is a two-fold positive for a genetic agenda. Doesn't seem like a stretch to disregard the negatives when natural-selection already did.

"The more you swing, the more you hit."

Edit: It just occured to me (and I would love to hear from Mr. Leviathan on this point) that provided the mechanics of natural-selection, is it at all plausible to theorize that asexually reproducing organisms (which is a current argument against the necessity of sexually reproducing organisms) is in fact NOT a concurrently running equal theory, but rather an example of why sexual reproduction IS a necessity?


Edited by AmbientLogic (11/27/06 08:24 PM)
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- Sam Harris





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#204717 - 11/27/06 08:41 PM Re: A splendid de facto Satanist. [Re: Poetaster]
Hagen von Tronje Offline

CoS Priest

Registered: 06/28/01
Posts: 10129
Several things to address:

Sexual reproduction itself has to have a benefit all its own, or it wouldn't have evolved. It's decidedly inferior in convenience to asexual reproduction. That benefit is hotly debated, but Dawkins discusses it at some length in The Selfish Gene. Essentially the benefit is one of genetic heritability and recombination of DNA, but I don't have nearly enough space here to really go into this one. Better read the book for a good explanation.

By "we" are we discussing we humans, or we sexually reproducing organism (all inclusive)? Given the original statement I'll assume humans, and I answered this in short in my post below. Humans have actually evolved a lower fecundity per intercourse encounter for the apparent purpose of cementing pair bonds. Many or even most sexually reproducing organisms have a nearly 100% success rate of fertilization per copulation (at least partial fertility; this statement is partly complicated by organisms with massive broods, but in their case especially at least a portion of the eggs are fertilized, which is what I mean), whereas humans are capable of copulating dozens of times with no fertilization at all even if the female is presently ovulating; further, unlike most animals we regularly copulate when the female is not ovulating, and even while the female is pregnant. The most apparent explanation, given how pleasurable human sex is, is that it serves a non-reproductive function in humans as well as the obvious reproductive function. Compare to bonobos, who use massive sexual networking as a social glue, and who also regularly have sex with no possibility of reproductive success. We use it more specifically as a mate/mate pair bonding glue instead of a social glue, but the principle is virtually the same.

This more or less makes additional theories unnecessary; usually the simplest explanation is by far the most likely, and in this case "why do humans fuck so much?" is a commonsense answer.
_________________________
"The devil I'll bring you," answered Hagen. "I have enough to carry with my shield and breastplate; my helm is bright, the sword is in my hand, therefore I bring you naught."

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#204718 - 11/27/06 08:59 PM Re: A splendid de facto Satanist. [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
Zaftig Offline
CoS Witch

Registered: 09/23/06
Posts: 3406
Quote:

Sexual reproduction itself has to have a benefit all its own, or it wouldn't have evolved.




Which would explain homosexuality, sex between infertile and/or elderly couples, and masturbation. Yes?

I recently went to lecture by Dr. Mark Jordan, a theologian and homosexual, who argues for a redifinition of caring relationships, because the commonly understood religious notions exclude all forms of sex besides that for procration. There's actually no biblical precedent against pre-marital sex.

But that's a theologian trying to apply reason to divine revelation. Still, it's interesting to me that even among theists, they grapple with the idea of "why do humans fuck so much?"

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#204719 - 11/27/06 09:10 PM Re: A splendid de facto Satanist. [Re: Hagen von Tronje]
Poetaster Offline
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Registered: 01/20/06
Posts: 2334
Loc: East Coast, USA.
Dominant selfish-genes as described by Mr. Dawkins wouldn't necessarily be concerned with an overall productivity of sexual reproduction, especially if the gene in question was perhaps a gene that would benefit from a cross-over? Striving to provide ample opportunity for that cross-over by evolving a mechanism within the host, which would be the entire "gene machine" population, that would engender a greater facility and drive for sexual encounters?

I'm stressing too much genetic determnism here, aren't I?

But like you said, "Why do we fuck so much?" Occam's Razor - Because it's pleasurable and provides a social-bonding between genetic hosts. I have a lot of studying and thinking to do.

I appreciate your guidance, even if it wasn't intended that way.


Edited by AmbientLogic (11/27/06 09:22 PM)
_________________________
"People who harbor strong convictions without evidence belong at the margins of our societies, not in our halls of power. The only thing we should respect in a personís faith is his desire for a better life in this world; we need never have respected his certainty that one awaits him in the next."

- Sam Harris





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#204720 - 11/27/06 10:48 PM Re: A splendid de facto Satanist. [Re: Poetaster]
Hagen von Tronje Offline

CoS Priest

Registered: 06/28/01
Posts: 10129
You're making a very, very common fallacy of laymen learning about evolution.

"Survival of the fittest" is not how it works. It's "marginally better reproductive success over the long term of the marginally better suited in all aspects to achieve optimal reproductive success." Evolution is much less about do-or-die and much more about tiny little adjustments to the ratio of reproductive fecundity over an entire lifespan.

No, it wouldn't matter in the least if human sexual reproduction were less "successful" per copulation if we make up for it by copulating a lot, now would it? Snakes copulate once a year, if that, and produce one clutch of eggs out of that (actually they can produce eggs for years later without copulating again). Humans copulate dozens of times a year, and left to their devices unimpeded by modern birth control, will produce another infant about every year until ill health or death claims the mother's fertility. We reproduce at a perfectly acceptable rate, we just get it on a whole lot more in the process.

Incidentally, there are perfectly good reasons why being more fertile would not be highly desirable...we form such strong pair bonds for a reason, it's because we have quite a time raising up our offspring, especially in a primitive state. It takes around 15 years to raise a "near adult," nearly 5 years to raise the child to halfass self-sufficiency, and at least 2 just to get them feeding themselves. Compare to snakes, who can produce a hundred offspring with no need to care for any of them. Yeah, good reason for us to be slower rather than faster reproducers. The human survival strategy is clearly quality over quantity.

Incidentally, if you're wondering how well pair-bonding translates to Dawkins's gene-centric theory, see his thoughts on genetic altruism and consanguinuity for a perfect, brilliant explanation of this.
_________________________
"The devil I'll bring you," answered Hagen. "I have enough to carry with my shield and breastplate; my helm is bright, the sword is in my hand, therefore I bring you naught."

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#204721 - 11/27/06 10:55 PM Re: A splendid de facto Satanist. [Re: Zaftig]
Hagen von Tronje Offline

CoS Priest

Registered: 06/28/01
Posts: 10129
Using the quote you provided...no.

Homosexuality is something with zero genetic usefulness. By far the best explanation I've heard is Desmond Morris's malimprinting explanation (very briefly, he considers it a fetish formed like any other clinical fetish).

Sex between infertile couples: simple, your genetically programmed instincts don't know (or care) that what they are doing is useless. Instinct says do this, not "do this if you logically know it will work." Genes don't really work that way, so even behaviors that are biologically useless will be carried out. This is perfect, prime evidence of the validity of Dawkins's theory.

You're thinking way, way too advanced here. Humans didn't evolve sexual reproduction, we inherited it from some pretty damned distant ancestors. Pretty much all animals reproduce sexually (there are a few exceptions), and most plants do as well. Sexual reproduction cleary evolved very early on in evolutionary history, and it clearly evolved independently multiple times. That's amazing, and it's perfect proof that it obviously carries distinct benefits to the gene.

Maybe your confusion is a failure to note the definition of sexual reproduction (the one we're using anyway): reproduction achieved by means of two parents, one carrying an egg cell and one carrying a sperm cell, which are combined into a single zygote containing equal portions of each parent's genes.

The way I'm using it doesn't even suggest intercourse, since many animals (frogs for example) don't have intercourse, they fertilize the eggs externally via the male spraying sperm onto the eggs as the female lays them, thus fertilizing them. That's still sexual reproduction, though it has nothing in common with sex as you and I know it.
_________________________
"The devil I'll bring you," answered Hagen. "I have enough to carry with my shield and breastplate; my helm is bright, the sword is in my hand, therefore I bring you naught."

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#204722 - 11/28/06 12:42 AM Re: "Selfish gene", not "knowing gene". [Re: Linguascelesta]
Groundhog Offline


Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 306
Um, it doesn't sound like many orgasms have been had around Lttd. lately. I could be way off-base here, if so, sorry. I mean, sex is a great stress-reliever. i also heard today, that male contraceptive devices will be available by 2008.
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#204723 - 11/28/06 12:59 AM Pardon? [Re: Groundhog]
Linguascelesta Offline

CoS Warlock

Registered: 11/01/05
Posts: 2352
Loc: Europa
Quote:

Um, it doesn't sound like many orgasms have been had around Lttd. lately. I could be way off-base here, if so, sorry.




Sorry... what? Did I miss something?

Quote:

I mean, sex is a great stress-reliever.




Even if that's what you mean, it's not what you said. Alice aside...

It is a valid point in its own right, but what bearing does this have on the discussion? Evolution is the topic at present.

Quote:

i also heard today, that male contraceptive devices will be available by 2008.




Actually, there was such a device invented quite some time ago, popularly known as a "condom"

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#204724 - 11/28/06 01:09 AM Re: Pardon? [Re: Linguascelesta]
Groundhog Offline


Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 306
I just wanted to interject, in a non-scientific way, that sex is more than just procreation to me and provides a real physical benefit and it sounded to me like nobody was seeing it in this light. I usually don't manage to get my point across in a proper way. I believe in evolution but I don't think that it always wins out because society has a lot to do these days with the laws
of who has babies by controlling abortions and then there's how the parent takes care of themselves. They could have the best genes in the world, but drink and smoke like a villian and the designer baby could come out a K-mart special.

This came from the Wikipedia:

As far as male contraceptives go: On October 31, 2006; CBS News reported that the drug Adjudin had made male laboratory rats infertile for 20 weeks and they became fertile again soon after with no side effects for the adults or the babies. Adjudin was mixed with a synthetic type of the female hormone FSH and injected into the bellies of the rats, because oral intakes of Adjudin alone were too toxic for the rodents. The study came from the Population Council's Center for Biomedical Research in New York city. Years from now, it might be used by humans.


Edited by ooo (11/28/06 01:15 AM)
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