The Selfish Gene, 2nd Edition, page 55

Jan 26, 2016

Genes work by controlling protein synthesis. This is a powerful way of manipulating the world, but it is slow. It takes months of patiently pulling protein strings to build an embryo. The whole point about behaviour, on the other hand, is that it is fast. It works on a time-scale not of months but of seconds and fractions of seconds. Something happens in the world, an owl flashes overhead, a rustle in the long grass betrays prey, and in milliseconds nervous systems crackle into action, muscles leap, and someone’s life is saved—or lost. Genes don’t have reaction-times like that. Like the Andromedans, the genes can only do their best in advance by building a fast executive computer for themselves, and programming it in advance with rules and ‘advice’ to cope with as many eventualities as they can ‘anticipate’. But life, like the game of chess, offers too many different possible eventualities for all of them to be anticipated. Like the chess programmer, the genes have to ‘instruct’ their survival machines not in specifics, but in the general strategies and tricks of the living trade.

As J. Z. Young has pointed out, the genes have to perform a task analogous to prediction. When an embryo survival machine is being built, the dangers and problems of its life lie in the future. Who can say what carnivores crouch waiting for it behind what bushes, or what fleet-footed prey will dart and zig-zag across its path? No human prophet, nor any gene. But some general predictions can be made. Polar bear genes can safely predict that the future of their unborn survival machine is going to be a cold one. They do not think of it as a prophecy, they do not think at all: they just build in a thick coat of hair, because that is what they have always done before in previous bodies, and that is why they still exist in the gene pool. They also predict that the ground is going to be snowy, and their prediction takes the form of making the coat of hair white and therefore camouflaged. If the climate of the Arctic changed so rapidly that the baby bear found itself born into a tropical desert, the predictions of the genes would be wrong, and they would pay the penalty. The young bear would die, and they inside it.

Prediction in a complex world is a chancy business. Every decision that a survival machine takes is a gamble, and it is the business of genes to program brains in advance so that on average they take decisions that pay off. The currency used in the casino of evolution is survival, strictly gene survival, but for many purposes individual survival is a reasonable approximation. If you go down to the water-hole to drink, you increase your risk of being eaten by predators who make their living lurking for prey by water-holes. If you do not go down to the water-hole you will eventually die of thirst. There are risks whichever way you turn, and you must take the decision that maximizes the long-term survival chances of your genes. Perhaps the best policy is to postpone drinking until you are very thirsty, then go and have one good long drink to last you a long time. That way you reduce the number of separate visits to the water-hole, but you have to spend a long time with your head down when you finally do drink. Alternatively the best gamble might be to drink little and often, snatching quick gulps of water while running past the water-hole. Which is the best gambling strategy depends on all sorts of complex things, not least the hunting habit of the predators, which itself is evolved to be maximally efficient from their point of view. Some form of weighing up of the odds has to be done. But of course we do not have to think of the animals as making the calculations consciously. All we have to believe is that those individuals whose genes build brains in such a way that they tend to gamble correctly are as a direct result more likely to survive, and therefore to propagate those same genes.

-Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, 2nd Edition, page 55


Discuss!

60 comments on “The Selfish Gene, 2nd Edition, page 55

  • I think the gambling aspect plays a minor role. Take the Tommy gazelle for instance; they have very sharp senses and operate as a group with it’s own alarm system, which is very effective. They also know that lions won’t hunt during the day, but the cheetah might. The end result is that only the sick, the old or very young may fall prey to the cheetah. A healthy gazelle can outrun and maneuver the cheetah, and survive. Then there is the matter of the species arms race to consider; gazelles have evolved to run faster and faster to outpace the cheetah, which in turn has evolved to run faster and faster until it’s own build cannot sustain more speed, before it becomes detrimental to the species (Lighter bones e.g. but they tend to break easier, which would be a death warrant to the cheetah).
    The only time that a gazelle takes a minor gamble is with crocodiles that lurk below the surface at the watering hole, but their lightning reflexes serve them very well here as well. In this case the slower individuals will become prey for the crocodile, leaving a herd of supremely healthy animals. And, not least of all, there is a build up of attack experience in the individual animal, which helps it’s survival.



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  • 2
    maria melo says:

    I am not a scientist, why should I comment?
    well, just because of pure curiousity.
    Reading a chapter of the book I am Reading at the moment it concludes that genes are not a unity afteral, and it presents the reader with data such as 45% of our genome hosts “genomic parasites” such as retrovírus and tranposons.

    I can read in the news about Salk Institute research about the role of transposons in autism or schizophrenia:

    The expectation goes against the idea that the genetic divergence that most influences the difference in cognitive ability between humans and animals is not in protein-coding genes, the “workers” of the body, but in parts of the genome involved in regulating them and myriad of RNA molecules (auxiliary molecule of DNA) whose function scientists are unaware of.

    well, discuss it (I am not a scientist)



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  • I like the comparison to gambling. I think it is apt. I think it is an idea that some on the progressive left need to understand better to help control and minimize their use of “evolution” to support all kinds of foul and reprehensible behaviour.

    Many people who want to legitimize their extreme sexual perversions will often assume that they have “inherited” these perversions due to natural selection when they just as easily could have been “inherited” due to random mutation and, thus, it is possible the peversion has yet to be adequately removed from the gene pool.

    How do scientists and everyday evolutionary moralists deterime if a behaviour/perversion is the result of natural selection or random mutation? Is there any criteria that will help people to determine when they can decidely say that a behaviour is the result of natural selection (with the implied “usefulness”) versus random mutation?



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  • 4
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    I enjoyed the colorful wording and somewhat anthropomorphized imagery of this passage. I can just hear the IDers now when they read “patiently pulling protein”, “Like the chess programmer, the genes have to ‘instruct’” , and “Polar bear genes can safely predict” . Ah hah! Design Design Design!

    In closing the shift is to our personal perspective, “All we have to believe”. Ah hah! See, evolution is your religious belief!

    Well, too bad for them. How unfortunate they have not matured enough to enjoy a lively animated description of the molecular world within each of us without confusing the artistic rendering of scientific technicalities with their faith in unsound conjecture.



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  • 5
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    Tyler – “Is there any criteria that will help people to determine when they can decidely say that a behaviour is the result of natural selection (with the implied “usefulness”) versus random mutation?”

    One classic criteria is “if it feels good do it”, which has worked pretty well for me 🙂

    You might want to look into the views of Dawkins on social Darwinism, which is sometimes called the law of the jungle, and would be a rather horrific way to structure our society.



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  • Tyler
    Feb 3, 2016 at 10:15 am

    I like the comparison to gambling. I think it is apt. I think it is an idea that some on the progressive left need to understand better to help control and minimize their use of “evolution” to support all kinds of foul and reprehensible behaviour.

    The misuse of biological and any other science, to facilitate reprehensible behaviour, has nothing to do with the quality scientific information being misinterpreted or misused. When the stone axe was invented, it could be used to gather fire-wood or to attack a neighbour!

    Many people who want to legitimize their extreme sexual perversions will often assume that they have “inherited” these perversions

    First of all the notion of “sexual perversions” is derived from theological dogmas and varies according to the religion involved. Without specified behaviours, no scientific analysis is possible.

    often assume that they have “inherited” these perversions due to natural selection when they just as easily could have been “inherited” due to random mutation

    All evolutionary traits are a combination of mutations and natural selection picking out genetic mutations for survival in future populations. Without variation in a population from a range of pre-existing mutations, natural selection, would have no diversity to select from!

    and, thus, it is possible the peversion has yet to be adequately removed from the gene pool.

    There is no biological reason why any behaviour would be “removed from the gene-pool” simply because some religion claimed it was a “perversion”!

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-dawn/201202/7-things-bonobos-can-teach-us-about-love-and-sex

    How do scientists and everyday evolutionary moralists deterime if a behaviour/perversion is the result of natural selection or random mutation?

    In genetics this is not an either/or situation.

    The problems with most religious dogmas, is that they are based on bronze-age misconceptions about sex, and most of their advocates have never studied sexuality or sexual behaviours in animal populations.

    You really need to acquire a copy of “The Selfish Gene” and study it to understand the basics of genetics. It is a standard biology textbook.

    Is there any criteria that will help people to determine when they can decidely say that a behaviour is the result of natural selection (with the implied “usefulness”) versus random mutation?

    Natural selection is about the survival of genes, not perceived “usefulness” to individuals or societies.
    To identify criteria, a study of behaviour spanning several generations would need to be carried out.
    The evolution of behaviour and development of behaviours in individuals, also involves social conditioning within cultures, and selective effects of environmental forces.
    Many such scientific studies for human and other animal populations, are available on-line.

    Behavioural psychology is a whole science in itself.



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  • 7
    maria melo says:

    You might want to look into the views of Dawkins on social Darwinism, which is sometimes called the law of the jungle, and would be a rather horrific way to structure our society.

    Oh yes, we all should especially US, and I repeat it several times I think (Wendy Wright made a similar remark to Richard Dawkins).
    There´s a book that begins with clear vision of Darwin about social darwinism, I quote:

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”
    ― Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle

    This is the first sentence quoted by S. Jay Gould in one of his books.

    Once for all, let´s make it clear YES, I agree and usually I say as a joke, remember the famous sentence of Marx: “I am not a marxist”? so should Darwin say something like, “I am not a darwinist”.

    It is strange, but US is the most vivid case of social darwinism I know, the first emigrants even used to think if they have survived to the harsh conditions in the ship in their voyage to US, they were naturally selected as the fitest, yet they reject Darwin.
    Once for all, let´s make it clear, shall we?



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  • 9
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    maria melo – It is strange, but US is the most vivid case of social darwinism I know,

    Oh, please do share with us your valuable insights into the way in which citizens of the United States of America are preyed upon with impunity, while the the other 95.6% of the world’s population lives in such great freedom from domination, predatory attacks, and victimization by comparison.



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  • 10
    maria melo says:

    I will not reply with a mindset of me/others, evil/good, black/white.
    I follow comments here on RDF made by some UIS citizens, one of them once mentioning that the generalized idea that someone will thrive if she/he works for that purpose in american society is becoming each day more difficult, and perhaps that´s not to blame lazyness, but social.
    injustice.
    I consider as paramether of an advanced country it´s social welfare, medical care etc. not the size of it´s cars.



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  • 11
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    someone will thrive if she/he works for that purpose in american society

    paramether of an advanced country it´s social welfare, medical care etc. not the size of it´s cars.

    Those 2 statements are at odds with each other.
    One thrives when working for that purpose through freedom of opportunity and a capitalist system that rewards individuals for individual works.
    Social welfare and medical care are the opposite of thriving through individual works, they are socialistic protections of the weak paid for by the strong.

    In America we have both. So do other countries in Europe, as well as Canada, Australia, and Japan. Each country that has an elected government chooses for itself the mix or the formula it wishes to balance retention of individual rewards for individual works as compared to redistributing wealth to be used for social welfare.

    Social Darwinism exists where there is little rule of law, where warlords or dictators rule, the strong conquer, and the weak are enslaved. Libya is one glaring example. There are many more.

    I will share one anecdote with you. I work with people from many countries, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Korea, Taiwan. They came to America for freedom and opportunity, which they found. They weren’t seeking social welfare, rather, the freedom of opportunity. My Vietnamese friends escaped the “promise” of total social welfare, the glorious workers paradise of Ho Chi Minh. Now, instead of scratching out an existence under communist dictatorship they lead prosperous lives with bright futures for their children.

    If truly the “US is the most vivid case of social darwinism” you know then you quite apparently have not looked around the world. I suggest you do before accepting one story of difficulties of one American as being indicative of some kind of social darwinism in America.



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  • 12
    maria melo says:

    “(…) One thrives when working for that purpose through freedom of opportunity and a capitalist system that rewards individuals for individual works.

    Social welfare and medical care are the opposite of thriving through individual works, they are socialistic protections of the weak paid for by the strong.”



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  • 13
    maria melo says:

    (in my previous comment I´ve pushed the button before time)

    well, I really mean that a welfare-state cannot protect the “fitest” and desprotect those in real need, that´s the case of Switerland, really socialist, really fierce when protecting those in real need, not the case of US, nor Portugal unfortunately.
    But you are wrong, the “fittest” receive unnecessary compensations from public finance, that those in real need don´t (this odd fact was as a matter of fact remarked by an american citizen in an internet site I follow). This would never happen in Switerland. I am really fiece about protecting those in need, that think that the car of a person who thrives affects the whole economy, and with real economy I really mean the effort of work and a just compensation, not slavery.
    Well, I am really a fierce socialist.



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  • I apologize if my question misrepresents how evolution works. I can see how it does so, however, my complaint was really about how many people misuse evolution when they try to derive some morality from it. Evolution is a process that is amoral and ultimately indifferent to which mutations survive – it just always picks/selects the winners/survivors. That is what I believe was one of the ideas that Mr. Dawkins was trying to express when he offered the gambling analogy. The gambling analogy was an eloquent way to express both the random mutation part of the evolutionary theory and the natural selection part.



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  • 15
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    maria melo
    well, I really mean that a welfare-state cannot protect the “fitest” and desprotect those in real need, that´s the case of Switerland, really socialist, really fierce when protecting those in real need, not the case of US,

    I love Switzerland. The first time I arrived there was like a homecoming for me. In some sense I wish we could turn the USA into a gigantic Switzerland, or perhaps turn the entire world into a global community of Switzerlands. Such is the stuff of dreams.

    I am really fiece about protecting those in need, that think that the car of a person who thrives affects the whole economy, and with real economy I really mean the effort of work and a just compensation, not slavery.
    Well, I am really a fierce socialist.

    That sounds admirably altruistic, especially to the young and the idealistic.

    I strongly urge you to gird your loins to the onslaught already in progress, perpetrated by those who would seize upon your heartfelt generosity, drain you dry, and spit on your grave, laughing at your naiveté.



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  • Tyler
    Feb 5, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    I apologize if my question misrepresents how evolution works. I can see how it does so, …. . . . .. ..

    Evolution is a process that is amoral and ultimately indifferent to which mutations survive – it just always picks/selects the winners/survivors.

    That is correct, and that is the biological process in the evolution of all living species – as RD explains in “The Selfish Gene”.
    Unfortunately, much rubbish is written about “The Selfish Gene”, by people who have not read it, or who cannot understand science.

    When a wasp parasitises a caterpillar, or a virus attacks an animal, that has nothing to do with human moral philosophies., and I am not aware of any Humanists or reputable scientists claiming it does.

    however, my complaint was really about how many people misuse evolution when they try to derive some morality from it.

    I am unclear which examples of “many people”, you are referring to, although here have been a few right-wing ideologists, who made up pseudoscience as part of their propaganda, and creationists who make up strawman claims about science!

    It is well known the Hitler offered a perverted political version Evolution into “Social Darwinism” and the mythology of a “master race”, but that was political pseudoscience, and fallacious circular thinking, not reputable science.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Darwinism

    Creationists have often maintained that social Darwinism—leading to policies designed to reward the most competitive—is a logical consequence of “Darwinism” (the theory of natural selection in biology).[7] Biologists and historians have stated that this is a fallacy of appeal to nature, since the theory of natural selection is merely intended as a description of a biological phenomenon and should not be taken to imply that this phenomenon is good or that it ought to be used as a moral guide in human society.

    However, you appeared to be referring to some sort of religious dogmas on human sexuality, but lacked details which would enable any meaningful discussion.
    I provided a link which explained the natural diversity of social sexual relationships in primates, but you have made no comment on this.



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  • 18
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    maria melo
    Richard Dawkins Doesn’t Want to Live in a Darwinian Society!
    Clear, now?

    Well, yes, I consider myself clear, although not now after watching that video (again) any more than I had been previously. Such views are what I was referring a couple days ago.

    Stardusty Psyche
    Feb 4, 2016 at 8:07 am
    You might want to look into the views of Dawkins on social Darwinism, which is sometimes called the law of the jungle, and would be a rather horrific way to structure our society.

    Here in the USA we have an extensive system of social services, despite the impression many have. Of the 3.8 trillion 2015 federal budget only 16% went to military spending. The vast majority of the federal budget goes to Social Security (retirement benefits), Medicare and Medicaid (health coverage for the elderly), publicly funded education, unemployment payments, and a host of other social services.

    Any person who thinks the USA does not operate largely on socialistic principles simply does not know the facts.



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  • 20
    maria melo says:

    Well, I had an economy professor, his expertise was/is “east/wes”t economies (what failed in one side what fails in the other, interesting enough to hear from him) he used to comment US does not even has a standart rate of minimum salary, he explained his students (including me) that Hillary Clinton was visiting Europe to learn about different European Health care services to think one for US in need of those services, because so many homeless people died out in streets with no heath care, at this time, Hillary Clinton was in Portugal, I guess. I know there must be some minimun social services there in fact, but I will not discuss a situation which I don´t know in depth, but I have followed such a great controversy that followed with the proposal “Obama Care” in political arena, not to mention that the word socialism might cause such a negative impact as the word antichrist, let´s suppose just to begin.
    Did you find homeless people in Switerzland in your visit I wonder.



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  • Maria, the problem with the concept of a “Darwinian society” is that most people have an incorrect idea of what “fittest” means in the theory of evolution. According to my understanding, “fittest” means “best adapted” and not “strongest” as most people interpret it to mean.

    In one sense, if evolution is true, we live in a Darwinian society no matter how much we want to protest against it. But this doesn’t mean we live in a Social Darwinian society, which holds the inaccurate idea of the fittest, as offered to the world by previous despotic governments.

    Alan, I came across an article Salon Writer: “I WOULD engage in sex play with a child … I will never deny that.” by an individual who analysed the ideology behind the ideas of Todd Nickerson, the pedophile who has tried to argue that pedophilia has some evolutionary usefulness or reason. I don’t think Todd Nickerson has any scientific qualifications that would allow him to have made such an assertion, and it would be very nice to see those who are much better educated about evolution roundly show how these assertions are without any evidence or scientific merit or, in the very least, inappropriate and undeveloped.



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  • Maria, I think what Richard Dawkins says in the video that you link is one of the few times Richard Dawkins colours the priniciples of evolution in a too negative light. Sometimes I think Mr. Dawkins oversells the “darkness” of the theory of evolution. Here he devolves from a great teacher of evolution into an ordinary person espousing his pet peeves. I guess we are all human. (And I don’t say this because I am pro-capitalist, etc… but because I just don’t think a person can say evolutionary principles would lead to the kind of society that Mr. Dawkins says it would lead to in this video.)



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  • Tyler
    Feb 7, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Alan, I came across an article Salon Writer: “I WOULD engage in sex play with a child … I will never deny that.” by an individual who analysed the ideology behind the ideas of Todd Nickerson, the pedophile who has tried to argue that pedophilia has some evolutionary usefulness or reason.

    In Bonobo societies, it has a social bonding function, as my earlier link showed.

    I don’t think Todd Nickerson has any scientific qualifications that would allow him to have made such an assertion, and it would be very nice to see those who are much better educated about evolution roundly show how these assertions are without any evidence or scientific merit or, in the very least, inappropriate and undeveloped.

    In modern human societies an extended development through childhood is important for intellectual development and for protection of females who are not yet well equipped for childbirth or motherhood. Hence we afford protection to children from those who would exploit them.
    In certain primitive human cultures, where exploitation and slavery were widespread, little regard was paid to such matters, so death in childbirth, infant mortalities, and immature parents who were still themselves children were common.

    It is recorded that Mohammed married a 9 year old, but over the years, ages of consent have varied by country.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_Europe

    .France: – The age of consent was set at 11 in 1832, at 13 in 1863. In 1942, the age of consent for homosexual acts was set at 21, while that for heterosexual acts was still 13. The latter was increased to 15 in 1945. In 1974, the age for homosexual acts was lowered to 18. In 1982, it was lowered to 15, in line with that for heterosexual acts.

    The age of consent in Germany is 14, as long as a person over the age of 21 does not exploit a 14- to 15-year-old person’s lack of capacity for sexual self-determination, in which case a conviction of an individual over the age of 21 requires a complaint from the younger individual; being over 21 and engaging in sexual relations with a minor of that age does not constitute an offense by itself. Otherwise the age of consent is 16, although provisions protecting minors against abuse apply until the age of 18

    .Spain A new Penal Code was introduced in 1995, which specified an age of consent of 12 for all sexual acts, this was raised to 13 in 1999, and to 16 in 2015.

    .Vatican City – When the Vatican City was first formed, it adopted the then-Italian age of consent of 12 as per the Lateran Treaty of 1929. Until July 2013 it had the lowest age of consent in Europe, but after that month, when the Pope made his decree, it became the highest (@18)



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  • Alan, I didn’t see anything in that Pyschology Today article that you referenced that pedophilia is part of the Bonobo society. Even if pedophilia is part of the Bonobo society that article doesn’t mention it, and more importantly, Bonobo’s are a different species than Human Beings so what may be (and I emphasize may because determining the proposed usefulness of a mutation is one of the very things that is incredibly hard for evoluntionists to agree on and determine) a useful evolutionary adaptation for them may not be for human beings.

    Your information regarding the various ages of consent has nothing to do with the theory of evolution in a clear way. Please explain how your information relates to the theory of evolution and pedophilia in human beings? It is not clear what you’re arguing or what you believe the different ages of consent show.

    Also your argument that pedophilia is not acceptable today because you believe females require extendend develoment through childhood is, to be polite, at best an interesting idea but it is utterly lacking in any evidence to back it up. Do you have any evidence to back up your hypothesis? However, from a moral perspective I am thankful and happy to see that you correctly grouped pedophilia along with the vile institutions of slavery and other forms of exploitation even if your hypothesis as to why pedophilia is found to be morally reprehensible today has not been scientifically supported and is utterly irrelevant in explaining why evolution cannot show that, and has nothing to say about whether, pedophilia is moral or immoral. From the perspective of evolution pedophilia is just something that exists and something that is a fit or unfit adaptation. The morality of pedophilia needs to be argued for or against without appealing to theory of evolution.



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  • Tyler
    Feb 7, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Alan, I didn’t see anything in that Pyschology Today article that you referenced that pedophilia is part of the Bonobo society.

    Perhaps this wiki article is clearer.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonobo#Sexual_social_behavior

    Sexual activity generally plays a major role in bonobo society, being used as what some scientists perceive as a greeting, a means of forming social bonds, a means of conflict resolution, and postconflict reconciliation.[40] Bonobos are the only non-human animal to have been observed engaging in tongue kissing, and oral sex.[41] Bonobos and humans are the only animals to typically engage in face-to-face genital sex, although a pair of western gorillas has been photographed in this position.[42]

    .Bonobos do not form permanent monogamous sexual relationships with individual partners. They also do not seem to discriminate in their sexual behavior by sex or age, with the possible exception of abstaining from sexual activity between mothers and their adult sons. When bonobos come upon a new food source or feeding ground, the increased excitement will usually lead to communal sexual activity, presumably decreasing tension and encouraging peaceful feeding.[43] This quality is also described by Dr. Susan Block as “The Bonobo Way” in her book of the same title “The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace Through Pleasure”

    Even if pedophilia is part of the Bonobo society that article doesn’t mention it, and more importantly, Bonobo’s are a different species than Human Beings

    Bonobos are the closest related species to humans. They share a common ancestor with humans, as do Chimps, but whereas in Chimp societies, sexual activity is dominated by dominant males, in Bonobo societies females dominate. Human societies can show either feature or other features.

    so what may be (and I emphasize may because determining the proposed usefulness of a mutation is one of the very things that is incredibly hard for evoluntionists to agree on and determine) a useful evolutionary adaptation for them may not be for human beings.

    Bonobo sexual relations are about group bonding, which you can look up further if you wish.

    Your information regarding the various ages of consent has nothing to do with the theory of evolution in a clear way.

    It has a great deal to do with the survival of mothers and infants, their future prospects, and those of any subsequent generations.

    Please explain how your information relates to the theory of evolution and pedophilia in human beings? It is not clear what you’re arguing or what you believe the different ages of consent show.

    The ages of consent, relate to the definitions of paedophilia in different legal jurisdictions.

    Also your argument that pedophilia is not acceptable today because you believe females require extended development through childhood is, to be polite, at best an interesting idea but it is utterly lacking in any evidence to back it up.

    Nope! – The evidence is readily available. There is sound evidence from medical research and social studies to support the ideas that early pregnancies are detrimental to mothers and infants.

    https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001516.htm

    Having her first child during adolescence makes a woman more likely to have more children overall. Teen mothers are about 2 years behind their age group in completing their education. Women who have a baby during their teen years are more likely to live in poverty.

    Infants born to teenage mothers are at greater risk for developmental problems. Girls born to teen mothers are more likely to become teen mothers themselves, and boys born to teen mothers have a higher than average rate of being arrested and jailed.

    Adolescent pregnancy is associated with higher rates of illness and death for both the mother and infant. Death from violence is the second leading cause of death during pregnancy for teens, and is higher in teens than in any other group.

    Pregnant teens are at much higher risk of having serious medical complications.

    Infants born to teens are 2 – 6 times more likely to have low birth weight than those born to mothers age 20 or older. Prematurity plays the greatest role in low birth weight, but intrauterine growth retardation (inadequate growth of the fetus during pregnancy) is also a factor.

    Teen mothers are more likely to have unhealthy habits that place the infant at greater risk for inadequate growth, infection, or chemical dependence. The younger a mother is below age 20, the greater the risk of her infant dying during the first year of life.



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  • 26
    maria melo says:

    Dawkins colours the priniciples of evolution in a too negative light. Sometimes I think Mr. Dawkins oversells the “darkness” of the theory of evolution.

    Dawkins was replying, Wendy Wright said she didn´t consider correct a society ruled by darwinan principles, and Dawkins replyed accordingly.
    Creationists tend to oversell the beau and perfetion of eye, the beauty of nature, I dont´see nothing wrong with the answer.
    Even Jane Goodall taht remarks chimps are so wonderful animal, remarks they are wild, reported a
    a “darkside”, that indeed some may think it is overselling, but nature has the two sides.

    I don´t see nothing wrong with the answer RD gave to Wendy Wright, besides, everyone has the right of having a point, to overcritize what others said or thought at the moment seems to me childish, I respect what Dawkins said, even if was wrong.



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  • 27
    maria melo says:

    “Man is the cruelest animal,” although has a second nature

    L’Homme et la mer

    Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer!
    La mer est ton miroir; tu contemples ton âme
    Dans le déroulement infini de sa lame,
    Et ton esprit n’est pas un gouffre moins amer.

    Tu te plais à plonger au sein de ton image;
    Tu l’embrasses des yeux et des bras, et ton coeur
    Se distrait quelquefois de sa propre rumeur
    Au bruit de cette plainte indomptable et sauvage.

    Vous êtes tous les deux ténébreux et discrets:
    Homme, nul n’a sondé le fond de tes abîmes;
    Ô mer, nul ne connaît tes richesses intimes,
    Tant vous êtes jaloux de garder vos secrets!

    Et cependant voilà des siècles innombrables
    Que vous vous combattez sans pitié ni remords,
    Tellement vous aimez le carnage et la mort,
    Ô lutteurs éternels, ô frères implacables!

    — Charles Baudelaire

    Well, humans can be both cruel and kind, and I am not selling nothing but facts.



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  • @maria melo

    Dawkins colours the priniciples of evolution in a too negative light. Sometimes I think Mr. Dawkins oversells the “darkness” of the theory of evolution.

    I wonder which principles are presented as “too negative” and which ones are “darkness”. It’s just that I don’t have this feeling about any of these principles.

    Could it be possible, Maria, that you have some difficulty accepting certain truths about our human nature and are grappling with your feelings about this? I saw you have some difficulty accepting the realities of female reproductive strategy on the other paragraph of the week.

    Why do we need to have feelings about scientific truth?



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  • LaurieB
    Feb 8, 2016 at 9:34 am

    If you don’t mind, I will step in to untangle this.

    Tyler
    Feb 7, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Maria, I think what Richard Dawkins says in the video that you link is one of the few times Richard Dawkins colours the priniciples of evolution in a too negative light. Sometimes I think Mr. Dawkins oversells the “darkness” of the theory of evolution.

    I think Maria has quoted this without formatting it!

    maria melo
    Feb 8, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Dawkins was replying, Wendy Wright said she didn´t consider correct a society ruled by darwinan principles, and Dawkins replyed accordingly.



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  • Alan, I don’t follow what point or points you are trying to make. If I interpret them uncharitably it appears by referencing the article on Bonobo sexual practices you’re trying to assert that there is an evolutionary “use” for pedophilia. Please don’t let me interpret your words incorrectly, and please be clear as to what you’re trying to say.

    If I interpret everything that you’re saying charitably I could say that you’re making my point that Bonobos are not human beings and that what they’re doing is completely inappropriate and risky for Bonobos, especially young Bonobo females? Can’t Bonobos exploit one another just as you claim Human Beings are able to? Or is exploitation a completely human charateristic in your opinion? Are young Bonobo females lives or health at risk when they get pregnant at young ages? Does an early pregnancy affect the health of the Bonobo born as a result of an early pregnancy?

    The information you present seems to be making contradictory points, and seems to be going at cross-purposes. Your reference to the sexual practices of Bonobos seems to justify and even find merit in pedophilic behaviour, while your reference to medical research on the detrimental effects to early childbearing among human females seems to find reasons against pedophilia. Which is it? What is your point/argument?

    Finally perhaps by presenting this contradictory information you’re really trying to say that pedophiles have only evolved to the levels of Bonobos and should not be doing what they’re doing! If this is your point – congratulations, you have a heart and you would probably be closer to the correct moral position on the matter. But please go ahead and express your own views, don’t let me do it for you.

    (Also, it is a courteous act to write in paragraphs and to use the cut/paste/quote feature only as needed. )



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  • Tyler
    Feb 8, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Alan, I don’t follow what point or points you are trying to make. If I interpret them uncharitably it appears by referencing the article on Bonobo sexual practices you’re trying to assert that there is an evolutionary “use” for pedophilia. Please don’t let me interpret your words incorrectly, and please be clear as to what you’re trying to say.

    Yes, That it serves a purpose in promoting the effectiveness and survival potential of the Bonobo group.

    The information you present seems to be making contradictory points, and seems to be going at cross-purposes. Your reference to the sexual practices of Bonobos seems to justify and even find merit in pedophilic behaviour, while your reference to medical research on the detrimental effects to early childbearing among human females seems to find reasons against pedophilia. Which is it? What is your point/argument?

    The point is to illustrate the difference between the amoral actions of evolution in promoting the interests of genes and survival of genes, and survival of wider populations, – even where this is to the detriment or exploitation of some individuals – in contrast to the moral objectives of Humanists in caring for the interests and well-being of individual humans.

    I provided a link earlier (see below) in which biologists explained the “naturalistic fallacy” of quoting the mechanisms of evolution, as a basis for human moral decisions. There are numerous examples of the brutality of nature “red in tooth and claw”, which should not be taken as examples of moral behaviour to be copied by humans.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/01/the-selfish-gene-2nd-edition-page-55/#li-comment-196913
    Biologists and historians have stated that this is a fallacy of appeal to nature, since the theory of natural selection is merely intended as a description of a biological phenomenon and should not be taken to imply that this phenomenon is good or that it ought to be used as a moral guide in human society.

    Finally perhaps by presenting this contradictory information you’re really trying to say that pedophiles have only evolved to the levels of Bonobos and should not be doing what they’re doing!

    Evolution does not have “levels”, other than the order of predation in food-chains, and levels of complexity.

    It would appear that the Bonobo cultural model works fine for Bonobos.
    Human models are different, but have varied greatly in different cultures.

    Some cultures were even more male dominated than Chimps!

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2010/08/1-in-200-men-direct-descendants-of-genghis-khan/#.VrnSSk8R9Vk
    As Y chromosomes are only passed from father to son, that would mean that the Y is a record of one’s patrilineage. Genghis Khan died ~750 years ago, so assuming 25 years per generation, you get about 30 men between the present and that period. In more quantitative terms, ~10% of the men who reside within the borders of the Mongol Empire as it was at the death of Genghis Khan may carry his Y chromosome, and so ~0.5% of men in the world, about 16 million individuals alive today



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  • Alan: Yes, That it [pedophilia] serves a purpose in promoting the effectiveness and survival potential of the Bonobo group.

    Seriously, moderators how is this comment (https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/01/the-selfish-gene-2nd-edition-page-55/#li-comment-197145) allowed?? Does this site have no respect for the victims of pedophiles? That is a ridiculously statement Alan especially given what you said about the impact of pregnancy on young Human females. How do you know that pedophilia helps the Bonobos to survive? How do you and your supposed scientists know that pedophilia doesn’t cause the same harms to the Bonobo females as it does to Human females? Why are these scientists promoting and valuing the “sexual activity” of the Bonobos as a good survival adaptation, when Human beings are thriving way better than any other species on the planet??? Why are they ignoring the medical reserch and social studies that show the impact of pedophilia done on the Human species? Isn’t this simply a good example of the politics of the left, and the depravity of certain human beings, influencing how they interpret the amoral and indifferent behaviours of animals. How can an evolutionist determine which behaviours are good adaptations and which behaviours are bad? I am not sure you or the scientists you have referenced understand the naturalistic fallacy when you so readily commit it!

    Yes, I understand that evolution does not have levels!! It was an expression and part of a larger point that you obviously missed. Do you understand that evolution does not have levels? Then you shouldn’t be citing the example of the Bonobos at all. Pedophilic behaviour in Bonobos (if it exists) is pointless and utterly irrelevant to whether there is pedophilia in the Human species and to how we are to treat the subject of pedophilia morally. You’re putting meaning into the “sexual activities” of Bonobos that is not there.

    Alan, the rest of your comment is trying to dodge and pivot onto new issues in order to divert people’s attention away from your very disgusting assertion.



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  • 37
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    Tyler – Seriously, moderators how is this comment (https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/01/the-selfish-gene-2nd-edition-page-55/#li-comment-197145) allowed?? Does this site have no respect for the victims of pedophiles?

    Alan has made no incitement to criminal behavior in humans. Other species of animals do all kinds of things that would be utterly monstrous for humans to do, but their behaviors nevertheless may well confer a propagation benefit, and may thus have a positive evolutionary effect.

    Is it disrespectful to the survivors of domestic violence to discuss a female spider that kills the male after mating? What about all those poor kids that no longer have a father because mom killed him? Aren’t they going to be traumatized by such discussions?

    Perhaps you feel I should be banned for even raising the subject.

    We must be able to discuss facts and consider their ramifications rationally. I have said a few things here that turn out to be rather unpopular, but I appreciate the time and effort of those who have engaged me here, yet I find the appeals to emotion and other logical fallacies unconvincing.

    I think we should focus on arriving at truth to the extent one can through well formed rational argument, and not worry too much about hurt feelings simple statements of fact sometimes elicit. In my view exposure of truth is more important than protection of feelings.



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  • Stardusky Psyche: Alan has made no incitement to criminal behavior in humans.

    If you re-read Alan’s comments and consider the context in which they were said I can’t see how they cannot be considered an incitement to criminal behaviour. He crossed the line. He raised the Bonobo example not to simply assert that Bonobos have a different culture from human beings as he sheepishly says in his last post. He raised it to excuse and claim a legitimacy for pedophilic behaviour in Human beings.



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  • Tyler
    Feb 9, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    The point is to illustrate the difference between the amoral actions of evolution in promoting the interests of genes and survival of genes, and survival of wider populations, – even where this is to the detriment or exploitation of some individuals – in contrast to the moral objectives of Humanists in caring for the interests and well-being of individual humans.

    You still don’t get it, despite this clear explanation!

    Alan, the rest of your comment is trying to dodge and pivot onto new issues in order to divert people’s attention away from your very disgusting assertion.

    I am unaware of any “disgusting assertion”, but am well aware that many aspects of animal behaviour may be perceived as “disgusting” by those who are given to emotional responses rather than objective observations.

    You are still conflating scientific studies of animal behaviour, with human emotional responses and human moral codes, even before we look at the varied anthropology of different human cultures, – some of which contain disgusting features (such as captured slaves and human sacrifice), when judged by modern standards.

    That does not mean they cannot be rationally be discussed by adults!



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  • Tyler
    Feb 10, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Stardusky Psyche: Alan has made no incitement to criminal behavior in humans.

    If you re-read Alan’s comments and consider the context in which they were said I can’t see how they cannot be considered an incitement to criminal behaviour.

    If you read my posts, you will see quite clearly, that I factually listed the varied legal definitions of paedophilia in various jurisdictions, without making any judgements or recommendations.
    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/01/the-selfish-gene-2nd-edition-page-55/#li-comment-197040

    I realise that for those who have fixed ideas based on “faith”, the concept of diverse views may come as a shock, but that should not be allowed to detract from accurate reading and comprehension.

    He crossed the line. He raised the Bonobo example not to simply assert that Bonobos have a different culture from human beings as he sheepishly says in his last post.

    If you actually read my post, (Alan4discussion Feb 8, 2016 at 7:48 am) you will see that in the very same post as I gave the Wiki link and quote about Bonobo behaviour, I explicitly explained and linked, the objective basis why humans should be protected from paedophiles and early pregnancies.
    https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001516.htm

    He raised it to excuse and claim a legitimacy for pedophilic behaviour in Human beings.

    It was in fact yourself (as quoted below), who mistakenly claimed that there was no evidence to support my objective view that paedophilia was unacceptable because early pregnancy was detrimental!

    Tyler – Also your argument that pedophilia is not acceptable today because you believe females require extended development through childhood is, to be polite, at best an interesting idea but it is utterly lacking in any evidence to back it up.

    Alan – reply – Nope! – The evidence is readily available. There is sound evidence from medical research and social studies to support the ideas that early pregnancies are detrimental to mothers and infants.



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  • Stardusty Psyche
    Feb 9, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    Alan has made no incitement to criminal behavior in humans. Other species of animals do all kinds of things that would be utterly monstrous for humans to do

    Perhaps biologists, should avoid discussing cannibalism in chimps, in case it gives some people criminal ideas! 🙂

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/564321
    Infant killing and cannibalism in free-living chimpanzees. – Goodall J.



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  • It was interesting to see a program on the Congo river where two bonobo groups, unable to cross the river, evolving with a matriarchal dominance on one side and patriarchal on the other. When fights broke out, one side used the fist to control it whilst the other (matriarchal) used sex to achieve the same results of calming things down. It was a free for all with no age or sex limits. I doubt very much any of them used the word sex in their diaries that evening.



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  • 45
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    Maybe the expression “Make love not war” originated from observation of matriarchal bonobo conflict resolution behavior.

    In the West today it is generally abusive for an adult to have sex with a teenager or pre-teen and that can indeed result is some very serious trauma for the child, as is rightfully a crime.

    But, in other social contexts sex, say between an older man and a young boy, has been part of a normal social mentoring relationship, such as was the case for the ancient Greeks. It wasn’t considered abusive, rather, and integral part of normal social behavior.

    Teenage marriage is still allowed in the USA and has been a cultural norm for thousands of years. Today, I would have been horrified if my daughter of 12 wanted to marry an adult man, but it is actually still legal in Massachusetts.

    Critics of Islam often condemn Muhammad as a pedophile, but apologists, rather reasonably I think, counter that is hypocritical citing the low ages of marriage such as we still have in Massachusetts right here in the good ol US of A.



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  • @Stardusty Psyche

    Feb 10, 2016 at 9:54 am

    I would have been horrified if my daughter of 12 wanted to marry an adult man, but it is actually still legal in Massachusetts.

    Critics of Islam often condemn Muhammad as a pedophile, but apologists, rather reasonably I think, counter that is hypocritical citing the low ages of marriage such as we still have in Massachusetts right here in the good ol US of A.
    I would have been horrified if my daughter of 12 wanted to marry an adult man, but it is actually still legal in Massachusetts.

    Here is the link to the state laws on this subject.

    http://www.mass.gov/courts/case-legal-res/law-lib/laws-by-subj/about/sex.html

    The section in question:

    MGL c.265, s. 23A Rap and abuse of child aggravated by age difference between defendant and victim or by when committed by mandated reporters; penalties

    Whoever unlawfully has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse, and abuses a child under 16 years of age and:

    (a) there exists more than a 5 year age difference between the defendant and the victim and the victim is under 12 years of age;

    (b) there exists more than a 10 year age difference between the defendant and the victim where the victim is between the age of 12 and 16 years of age; or



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  • Olgun
    Feb 10, 2016 at 8:53 am

    What a dirty stunt to try and pull Tyler!!!!

    I don’t think it was deliberate, but rather the effect of reading through “faith-blinkers”, which can only see in terms of dogmas, sin, and guilt! – Producing confused thinking, even when looking at animal behaviour.

    The concept of making moral judgements on the Humanist basis of consideration of evidenced projected effects on other people, rather than knee-jerk responses to creeds and diktats, seems difficult for theists to grasp.

    The “I don’t like the sound of that, so I can deny there is any evidence supporting that view, as God-did-it-and-the preacher-told-me-what to think,-so-I-need-look-no further!
    Not even when the information is only as far away as Wikipedia or a medical encyclopedia!



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  • Tyler
    Feb 7, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    You may recall asking this question about Todd Nickerson:

    a) Misusing evolution as a Naturalistic fallacy, in an attempted justification of his behaviour.

    b)Todd Nickerson, stating that in nature paedophilia has some evolutionary usefulness.

    In one sense, if evolution is true, we live in a Darwinian society no matter how much we want to protest against it. But this doesn’t mean we live in a Social Darwinian society, which holds the inaccurate idea of the fittest, as offered to the world by previous despotic governments.

    Alan, I came across an article Salon Writer: “I WOULD engage in sex play with a child … I will never deny that.” by an individual who analysed the ideology behind the ideas of Todd Nickerson, the pedophile who has tried to argue that pedophilia has some evolutionary usefulness or reason.

    It therefore seems strange that you now object to me providing you with links and well informed answers in this later post!

    Tyler
    Feb 9, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    Do you understand that evolution does not have levels? Then you shouldn’t be citing the example of the Bonobos at all.*

    Pedophilic behaviour in Bonobos (if it exists)

    You really should have read the two links I provided, but feel free to look up as many additional scientific papers as you wish.

    is pointless and utterly irrelevant to whether there is pedophilia in the Human species and to how we are to treat the subject of pedophilia morally.

    Which is what I told you earlier about avoiding conflating scientific observations of animal behaviour and the genetics of evolution, with Humanist morality.

    You’re putting meaning into the “sexual activities” of Bonobos that is not there.

    You asked about the evolutionary usefulness of paedophilia .
    I gave you the correct answer.
    If you don’t like it, that has no bearing on its validity!

    I have given you the links about the cultural effects of sexual activities in Bonobo societies.
    If you want to understand further details look up some of the work of social scientists and primatologists.
    Denial of science adds nothing to an intellectual debate.
    http://www.eva.mpg.de/primat/research-groups/bonobos/publications.html



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  • 49
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    LaurieB

    SP – I would have been horrified if my daughter of 12 wanted to marry an adult man, but it is actually still legal in Massachusetts.

    LaurieB – Here is the link to the state laws on this subject.
    http://www.mass.gov/courts/case-legal-res/law-lib/laws-by-subj/about/sex.html
    The section in question:
    … defendant and victim or by when committed by mandated reporters; penalties
    …Whoever unlawfully has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse, and abuses a child under 16 years of age …

    I don’t see why you jumped from the subject of a legal marriage to a 12 year old to the very different subject of unlawful sexual intercourse. Yet you seem to think they are the same subject.

    In some sense, I think Tyler is making a similar jump. It seems that for many people just mentioning any kind of sexual activity under any circumstances for a minor calls for a trigger warning. Well, I don’t do trigger warnings.

    In general, organisms reproduce as soon as they are able. Traditionally, humans have done the same. Our modern society creates a very great tension by blocking that most natural behavior, to engage in sex as soon and the desire and the capability develop.

    “Sex, for lack of a better word, is good”
    Gordon Gekko (almost)

    That applies to the pubescent as well, within the context of a positive experience.



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  • @stardustypsyche

    In general, organisms reproduce as soon as they are able. Traditionally, humans have done the same. Our modern society creates a very great tension by blocking that most natural behavior, to engage in sex as soon and the desire and the capability develop.

    Very Great Tension. Most Natural Behaviour.

    It’s what we adults call civilization. What was acceptable in the stone age when passing on your genes was you only priority is no longer considered civilized. Sex and sexual relations, while physically possible post puberty, see here:-

    The onset of puberty varies among individuals. Puberty usually occurs in girls between the ages of 10 and 14, while in boys it generally occurs later, between the ages of 12 and 16. In some African-American girls, puberty begins earlier, at about age 9, meaning that puberty occurs from ages 9 to 14.

    doesn’t mean the individual has reached maturity in the social sense. The laws exist because society realized exactly this, and enacted laws to impose civilization on the stone agers who still walk among us.



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  • @Stardusty Psyche

    Feb 11, 2016 at 12:56 am

    SP – I would have been horrified if my daughter of 12 wanted to marry an adult man, but it is actually still legal in Massachusetts.

    I posted the laws of MA because YOU brought the whole thing up.



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  • 56
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    LaurieB

    SP – I would have been horrified if my daughter of 12 wanted to marry an adult man, but it is actually still legal in Massachusetts.

    LaurieB – I posted the laws of MA because YOU brought the whole thing up.

    Uhmm… it still seems as though you do not see the distinction.

    You posted “the” laws of MA as they pertain to crimes.

    It is not a crime for an adult man to marry a girl 12 years of age if her parents consent. How is your posting of criminal acts relevant to the fact of legal marriage age in this state?

    An adult man and a 12 year old girl can legally consummate their marriage in the same city of Harvard and MIT. How is your citation of criminal law relevant to that fact of American society?



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  • @stardustypsyche

    What passes for “civilized” sexuality is often nothing more than small minded repression.

    One of the most traumatic things I ever had to do in my career was to interview victims of child sexual abuse. A child, or an immature person is gullible and easily confuses adult affection with love and friendship. They are willing participants, at first. They are being groomed, like catholic priests did all over the world. But when the relationship turns sexual, because that’s all the predator ever had in mind, and the child or immature person is grievously injured by the encounter and suffers for the rest of their life, as they always do then a civilized society demands legal sanction. Suicide is common in victims of child sexual abuse. They live with it for the rest of their lives. There are no consenting adults present. There is a predator and a child.

    To argue that our stone age evolutionary sexual drives should have full expression in society is uncivilized. We are better than that. Children must have the right to live though childhood innocence and arrive at maturity intact and whole. The laws exist because society has found the atrocities committed against children require harsh and expedient legal sanction. This is one of the most heinous crimes on the statutes.

    I feel anxious and livid just typing this and reliving the hours spent with the victims. Shame on you for concocting an argument that slanders Bob Dylan.



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  • Moderator message

    On the subject of pedophilia, we will always draw a distinction between comments that discuss it as a phenomenon, including possible evolutionary explanations for it, and comments that actively endorse or condone it. The comment complained of above falls clearly into the first category and was not in breach of the site rules; a later comment from a different user could be interpreted as straying into the second, and has been removed.

    In any case, pedophilia is not the topic of this thread, and we would ask that all further comments be directly related to the OP, please.

    Thank you.

    The mods



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  • 59
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    Anyone interested in why I came to this thread in the first place can go here

    the-selfish-gene-2nd-edition-page-55/#li-comment-196686

    Nothing I said even remotely looks like an endorsement of criminal pedophilia. To suggest that it does, have it complained about, and have it removed only provides further evidence for my points about the inability of so many people to make clear distinctions and why being labeled as uncivilized by such people is of no matter to me.

    The topic of this thread is “The Selfish Gene”. In my comments that were deleted I explicitly discussed our genetic connection to the past.

    Yes, I find it exhilarating that I both experience and am aware of so much of those same primitive urges that have been passed on to us through the 3.5 billion year process of evolution, genes that have changed little in the last 100,000 years. I am an animal physiologically nearly identical to my stone age ancestors, and not much different genetically from my primate cousins, yet for the first time in all those 3.5 billion years of life I have the privileged position of being able to have some real self awareness of my intrinsically primitive nature from a scientific perspective.

    ‎”Matter flows from place to place, and momentarily comes together to be you. Some people find that thought disturbing; I find the reality thrilling.” Richard Dawkins

    David R Allen – I feel anxious and livid just typing this

    Quite apparently, David, you find my words disturbing, I find the scientific understanding of our genetically encoded primitive realities thrilling.



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  • Quite apparently, David, you find my words disturbing, I find the scientific understanding of our genetically encoded primitive realities thrilling.

    I am all for an anthropological discussion about the history of homo sapiens and what occurred during that history. To understand what we did then, informs us as to what we should do now. It’s like that crazy American claim that guns are part of our US culture, ergo, I should have a gun today. Genital mutilation was part of some cultures in the past, but has now been rejected. Cultures should not be set in stone. Cultures can and do change if civilization moves forward and finds that what was done in the past is no longer acceptable. Like mass gun ownership in America.

    I am also fascinated by the study of animal behaviour and how it relates to our behaviour. This is all science and I find it thrilling also. There is a wonderful David Attenborough documentary about the Hamadryas baboons of Ethiopia. Troops of a hundred plus. What was absolutely fascinating was the “Office Politics” within the troop. Who’s on the up. Who’s on the outer. Who can I bring down. Who can I ally with. If you changed the baboons for people in an office, you would not have known the difference. “Politics” is valid evolutionary strategy that when executed well passes on more of your genes…. in a tribe of baboons. But in a modern office, those villains who participate in office politics kill the office and productivity. Because we did it in the past is no justification for doing anything now or in the future.

    Why. Because we can now think and reason. We can come to reasoned judgements as to what is acceptable behaviour. But it takes a willful act of intellectual discipline to override you’re 30,000 year old stone age brain. I would encourage all readers to shed their stone age drives.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01l45m4



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