Showing posts with label genetics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label genetics. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Group Selectionism

To many if not most biologists, the selfish gene approach is the best idea anyone ever came up with for explaining altruism in the animal kingdom. The only significant rival explanation, group selectionism, is extremely controversial by comparison. The issue is not yet settled.  Faust

For biologists the gene is the only hammer they have to bang on things with.  Dawkins was a biologist who established his credibility by showing how a gene for distinguishing brighter from darker areas in the environment as an example could have survival value and drive the evolution of complex visual structures collectively known as eyes. He was necessarily working on individual members of the phyla he was studying.  As it became necessary to study more complex traits like altruism the gene hammer became the wrong tool and group selection became an alternative for social animals which are a relatively recent evolutionary development.  I suspect the two theories are not rivals, but are different tools for investigating different evolutionary structures.

The meme theory, still in its scientific infancy (it's developer isn't even dead yet) may well be the tool needed for studying group selection, as social animals must have a non-genetic behavioral modification adaptation for survival as a group.  Group selection works in relatively few generations which make biologists very uncomfortable.  Predatory pack wolves evolved extremely quickly into a larger social structure of follower wolves and eventually dogs (and a smaller individual social organization coyotes etc.) with essentially no genetic adaptation.  Dogs, wolves, and coyotes can crossbreed with viable offspring, although the strong social differences make crossbreeding unlikely in normal environmental conditions.

The God meme has been extremely powerful in group selection at least for predatory human groups.  While it may not prove the existence of God as a real thing, it certainly proves the existence of the collective consciousness of the idea of God.  Whether there is a significant difference is not really a scientific question.  

Whether the God meme can survive above the tribal social level is an open question that is evolving even as we speak, but that is a different topic entirely.  

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Born Good Learn Bad

Social animals are born socially responsible at least within their species.  That is they are born good.  Socialization begins at birth and in general reinforces good social behavior.  Play well with others, share, be empathetic, respect authority, and don't hurt others.  The good and bad news is that the socialization is exclusively within the tribe.  Belief Systems (BS) are not generally important at this stage.  I place the break at about Kindergarten, where children begin to be exposed to those outside the tribe.  At that point BS about "them" enters the socialization process and depending on the BS reinforced in Religious Education, and BS group formation in school, bad habits and prejudice may come into play in the social conditioning process. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Belief Genetics

I doubt that the belief gene has been identified. (And probably won't be, people have been burned at the stake for less.)  But according to Shermer it exists in a large segment of the population.  Not always religious, but politics and religion are the most common expressions.  Probably tribe membership or authority related from an evolutionary viewpoint. 
But look around you.  Believers beget believers.  It would be hard to separate out nature vs nurture, but believers occasionally beget people who can actually read the Bible and the newspapers, or actually think about what they watch on the boob tube (for them.) One might think of them as deficient in the belief gene as the occasional green-eyed redhead is deficient in the melanin gene. 

But non-believers also beget non-believers.  I come from a family that goes back to the earliest colonists for which "He would have been mayor except he pissed off the preacher." was their characterization of most of the famous members.  "He" was usually run out of town as the original settler was run out of England. An ancestor was a General in Washington's army, but was run out of Virginia (and America) to Ohio.  

They also perhaps necessarily marry non-believers weeding out the belief gene.  My great grandmother married into the family but was an atheist, free thinker and feminist.  (late 19th Cen.)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Communities Rules About Sexual Conduct.

Rational Christian All religions have rules about sexual conduct.

Believer No, I said that I didn't feel that some forms of marriage are of equal dignity and honor as others.  I commented on aberrations from traditional, normative marriage.

All communities have rules about sexual conduct.

Right now in universities throughout the developed world are having vehement discussions and legal battles about what constitutes rape.  These all boil down to the issue of whether a man has the right to have sex with whoever he wants to.  Note that universities are generally secular institutions. 

These issues have nothing at all to do with the traditional definitions of marriage and adultery, just whether a woman has any choice in the matter. The issue of choice by women is why many religions are so protective of their normative marriage rules.   

In my ERSSG affirmatively consensual, non-procreative, responsible sex has few other restrictions or rules.  And cohabitation agreements may or may not be legally formalized and generally have little to do with sexual conduct.  

The exception is when a (usually) couple decides to include children in their relationship either naturally or by adoption.   At that point all of society's rules, laws, and traditions of marriage become important and the formalization of the relationship becomes imperative.  It is perhaps ironic that the religious marriage traditions which assumed lots of children a few of which survived to puberty, became an established legal structure in which to raise the few children required for replacement of ones memes and/or genes.    

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gene Mutation Tied to Needing Less Sleep -

Gene Mutation Tied to Needing Less Sleep - "What distinguishes the two women in the study and other naturally short sleepers is that they go to bed at a normal time and wake up early without an alarm. The two women, one in her 70s and the other in her 40s, go to bed around 10 or 10:30 at night and wake up alert and energized around 4 or 4:30 in the morning, Dr. Fu said."

Sounds like I carry the gene. Although 6 hours seems a bit excessive. The 10pm crash time sounds about right, but socially midnight is better, and getting up at breakfast time is important.