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wiwaxiathumb



Posts: 5
Joined: July 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 20 2006,05:37   

I have another weird question.
Many scientist are unfazed by Dawkins' selfish gene idea precisely because of its focus on the gene rather than the individual/species/group/whatever. But what about *lower* levels? In a word: couldn't some ultra-dawkinist say that what's thriving to survive and using organisms as vehicules is the carbon atom or the water molecule?

(1- It ain't replicating, but it is persisting through the organism's death, which the gene does not directly. 2- It may not seem to be influencing an organsim's behaviour or makeup, but isn't it doing just that by constraining the ranges of possible physical/chemical interactions (e.g. with carbon-based life, with certain kind of living patterns involving water)?)

  
keiths



Posts: 2041
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 20 2006,07:46   

Hi Wiwaxia,

My two cents' worth below.
Quote
It ain't replicating...

I think that's a decisive difference.  The minimal "ingredients" of a Darwinian process are replication, variation, and selection.  The apparent "selfishness" of the gene arises out of an interaction of these ingredients.
Quote
...but it is persisting through the organism's death, which the gene does not directly.

The physical gene doesn't survive the organism's death, but it's not the physical gene that Dawkins was concerned with, but rather the information encoded therein.

Also, a carbon atom doesn't "care" whether or not it becomes part of a living organism.  Any accommodation by the organism to the physical properties of carbon benefits only the organism, not the carbon atom.

--------------
And the set of natural numbers is also the set that starts at 0 and goes to the largest number.  -- Joe G

Please stop putting words into my mouth that don't belong there and thoughts into my mind that don't belong there. -- KF

  
The Ghost of Paley



Posts: 1703
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 20 2006,07:54   

Quote (wiwaxiathumb @ July 20 2006,10:37)
I have another weird question.
Many scientist are unfazed by Dawkins' selfish gene idea precisely because of its focus on the gene rather than the individual/species/group/whatever. But what about *lower* levels? In a word: couldn't some ultra-dawkinist say that what's thriving to survive and using organisms as vehicules is the carbon atom or the water molecule?

(1- It ain't replicating, but it is persisting through the organism's death, which the gene does not directly. 2- It may not seem to be influencing an organsim's behaviour or makeup, but isn't it doing just that by constraining the ranges of possible physical/chemical interactions (e.g. with carbon-based life, with certain kind of living patterns involving water)?)

You have just uncovered a catastrophic flaw in the amoral ontology of evolutionism. Since evolutionists deny the reality of consciousness in order to deny moral responsibility, they completely erase the distinction between the animate and inanimate. This idiocy usually manifests itself in a desire to reduce human beings to mechanical objects via behaviorism, stong AI, and the like. However they occasionally go the other way and attribute human sentiments to the inanimate--like the idea of "selfish" genes. This is the sort of charcterization we see regularly in fairly tales and nursery rhymes--"The dish ran away with the spoon", etc.--without the merit of being entertaining. In their vain attempt to evade the true God of the Bible and construct a worldview based on their own autonomous reason, they have come to embrace the most primitive, superstitious animism.

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Dey can't 'andle my riddim.

  
deadman_932



Posts: 3094
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 20 2006,08:00   

Quote
Since evolutionists deny the reality of consciousness in order to deny moral responsibility, they completely erase the distinction between the animate and inanimate.


I suppose you can give an example of this claim? Specifically, I'd like to see anyone denying that conciousness exists while saying that rocks and man are exactly alike in cognitive processes. Or will this be another of your multiple claims that you can't support directly, GoP?

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AtBC Award for Thoroughness in the Face of Creationism

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 20 2006,08:05   

Quote
This is the sort of charcterization we see regularly in fairly tales and nursery rhymes--"The dish ran away with the spoon", etc.--without the merit of being entertaining. In their vain attempt to evade the true God of the Bible and construct a worldview based on their own autonomous reason, they have come to embrace the most primitive, superstitious animism.


What's worse, I've heard evolutionists are all liberals, too.

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
MidnightVoice



Posts: 380
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 20 2006,08:16   

Quote (deadman_932 @ July 20 2006,13:00)
Quote
Since evolutionists deny the reality of consciousness in order to deny moral responsibility, they completely erase the distinction between the animate and inanimate.


I suppose you can give an example of this claim? Specifically, I'd like to see anyone denying that conciousness exists while saying that rocks and man are exactly alike in cognitive processes. Or will this be another of your multiple claims that you can't support directly, GoP?

I just want to ensure this question is repeated enough times so that GoP has to answer it.

--------------
If I fly the coop some time
And take nothing but a grip
With the few good books that really count
It's a necessary trip

I'll be gone with the girl in the gold silk jacket
The girl with the pearl-driller's hands

  
Glen Davidson



Posts: 1014
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 20 2006,08:36   

Quote
You have just uncovered a catastrophic flaw in the amoral ontology of evolutionism. Since evolutionists deny the reality of consciousness in order to deny moral responsibility,


Yeah, right.  Just a flat-out lie, from an egregious liar.

 
Quote
they completely erase the distinction between the animate and inanimate.


Right, that's why we have biology.  And of course we think that everything evolves just like life does:)

Btw, what really broke the stark separation between biology and chemistry was the demise of vitalism.  Now we have plenty of cause to understand life as being different from machines, most notably evolution.  You have none, which is why you and your kind resort to aliens/gods to make life like machines are made.

It's the IDists that suggest that life might be the result of intelligent aliens, in some sort of Frankenstein process.  To be sure, they really think it's all God, but the sort of "design" they're claiming is that of machines.  They even use the term "machine" used for parts of organisms as an argument that life was designed, since they actually think life is made up of machines.

Why don't you take a biology course, or at least learn not to shoot your mouth off about what you know so little--which apparently is everything.

 
Quote
This idiocy usually manifests itself in a desire to reduce human beings to mechanical objects via behaviorism, stong AI, and the like.


No, we're not the ones who are saying that organisms are "designed" like machines are.  It is not we who insist that "machine" be taken in biology like it is in engineering.  You're the mechanist, dumbass.  Christ, you're a dim bulb!

 
Quote
However they occasionally go the other way and attribute human sentiments to the inanimate--like the idea of "selfish" genes.


You obviously don't understand the various meanings that one word can have.  Try reading a little (Dawkins, especially), you know, one time without your rank prejudices getting in the way.

 
Quote
This is the sort of charcterization we see regularly in fairly tales and nursery rhymes--"The dish ran away with the spoon", etc.--without the merit of being entertaining.


Otoh, your mischaracterizations are entertaining, for their incapacity to deal with simple words properly in context, as well as your near-total incomprehension of biology.

 
Quote
In their vain attempt to evade the true God of the Bible and construct a worldview based on their own autonomous reason, they have come to embrace the most primitive, superstitious animism.


I suppose you have to love and believe your lie.  Probably you're too old and stupid to learn anything about biology, though.

Glen D

--------------
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p....p

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of coincidence---ID philosophy

   
Ichthyic



Posts: 3325
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 20 2006,12:21   

Quote
amoral ontology


you died when you wrote that.

--------------
"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

-CC

  
jeannot



Posts: 1200
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 20 2006,12:38   

Quote (MidnightVoice @ July 20 2006,13:16)
Quote (deadman_932 @ July 20 2006,13:00)
Quote
Since evolutionists deny the reality of consciousness in order to deny moral responsibility, they completely erase the distinction between the animate and inanimate.


I suppose you can give an example of this claim? Specifically, I'd like to see anyone denying that conciousness exists while saying that rocks and man are exactly alike in cognitive processes. Or will this be another of your multiple claims that you can't support directly, GoP?

I just want to ensure this question is repeated enough times so that GoP has to answer it.

GoP is a troll who doesn't believe in anything he says. :/

This question is pointless.

  
Chris Hyland



Posts: 705
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 20 2006,13:17   

Quote
they completely erase the distinction between the animate and inanimate.
Thats not true, for example Leslie Orgel came up with a great way to distinguish life from non-life in 1973. He called it specified complexity.

  
MidnightVoice



Posts: 380
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 20 2006,14:45   

Quote (MidnightVoice @ July 20 2006,13:16)
Quote (deadman_932 @ July 20 2006,13:00)
Quote
Since evolutionists deny the reality of consciousness in order to deny moral responsibility, they completely erase the distinction between the animate and inanimate.


I suppose you can give an example of this claim? Specifically, I'd like to see anyone denying that conciousness exists while saying that rocks and man are exactly alike in cognitive processes. Or will this be another of your multiple claims that you can't support directly, GoP?

I just want to ensure this question is repeated enough times so that GoP has to answer it.

Still waiting........

--------------
If I fly the coop some time
And take nothing but a grip
With the few good books that really count
It's a necessary trip

I'll be gone with the girl in the gold silk jacket
The girl with the pearl-driller's hands

  
Ichthyic



Posts: 3325
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 21 2006,01:11   

Quote
like the idea of "selfish" genes. This is the sort of charcterization we see regularly in fairly tales and nursery rhymes--"The dish ran away with the spoon", etc.--without the merit of being entertaining.


meh, gawp's just jealous he can't figure out how to be as popular or entertaining as Dawkins is.  come out with a few bestsellers yourself, before you judge the entertainment merits of someone else's work.

keep working on your act, gawp.  given another 10 or 20 years, it might evolve from the current "boring and inane" to "mindnumbing", or dare i say even "mildly stimulating" (on a good day).

BTW, has anybody here ever seriously tried to debate against the idea of selfish genes at the graduate level?

I have, and it's #### tough to do, when you get right down to it.

You really have to have a well rounded background in molecular biology, genetics, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, and paleontology to even get started.

It's certainly not as simplistic an idea as gawp lamely attempts to make it out to be.  However, of course anyone who actually read Dawkin's book on the subject would already know that.

I for one would welcome a revisit to that debate; it would be far more interesting than hearing the constant target drone of AFDumbass, and the inanities of "liberalism" as espoused by gawp.

anybody else interested?

--------------
"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

-CC

  
Chris Hyland



Posts: 705
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 21 2006,02:12   

It'a an interesting question, like everything else in biology the answer is that it probably applies some of the time. My problem is that I never learned much population genetics so I haven't really looked into the population vs individual arguments. At the individual level my main problem with the idea is that selection tends not to act on individual genes but phenotypes that are caused due to the interactions between genes. So it is possible to see 'selfish gene networks' which appear to function as the replicators Dawkins talks about.

  
jeannot



Posts: 1200
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 21 2006,07:17   

Quote (Chris Hyland @ July 21 2006,07:12)
At the individual level my main problem with the idea is that selection tends not to act on individual genes but phenotypes that are caused due to the interactions between genes.

As I said in another thread, in sexually reproducing populations, recombination breaks the interactions between genes, hence the phenotypes. A phenotype can't be selected if it can't last through generations.
On this basis Dawkins (and before him, Williams) defined his concept of gene : a replicative element that is not broken by recombination.

If a gene can increase its replication rate while decreasing the fecundity of its bearer, it will be selected anyway. Nothing can prevent it, that's the definition of selection.
The main examples of this are altruism, segregation distortion, male cytoplasmic sterility... which BTW completely disprove any Intelligent Design.

  
wiwaxiathumb



Posts: 5
Joined: July 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 21 2006,08:29   

Quote (keiths @ July 20 2006,12:46)
Also, a carbon atom doesn't "care" whether or not it becomes part of a living organism.  Any accommodation by the organism to the physical properties of carbon benefits only the organism, not the carbon atom.

I agree with that, and would even add that being part of a rock could be even better for the persistence of that specific carbon atom.
(<GoP spoiler follows>) But it is not necessary that being part of a livng organism makes a difference. Now, if among the C atoms some find their way (quite early in the history of life) into some specific structures (aka Living) , then those components would by necessity nudge that organism's immediate and evolutionary future toward carbon-favorable developments.
So, no, it doesn't care for the "living" part, but "cares" for the "organism" part (in that case, a structure like any other).

This is just a musing that popped in my mind, a possible way to re-reframe the selfish idea.

  
Henry J



Posts: 4565
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 21 2006,08:49   

Keep in mind that atoms don't stay put in living things - they get recycled all the time, replaced by the atoms in incoming food sources.

Henry

  
Ichthyic



Posts: 3325
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 21 2006,12:38   

Quote
If a gene can increase its replication rate while decreasing the fecundity of its bearer, it will be selected anyway. Nothing can prevent it, that's the definition of selection.


ahhh, but that doesn't mean there still couldn't be genes acting to increase their own reproductive rates, either in conflict or in concert.

think:  "parent-offspring conflict".

no, while you are on the same track I was, it doesn't eliminate the possibility entirely.

besides which, one could easily argue that increasing the fecundity of the host would have a long term benefit to increasing the frequency of whatever gene contributed to it, yes?

--------------
"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

-CC

  
jeannot



Posts: 1200
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 21 2006,13:07   

Quote
ahhh, but that doesn't mean there still couldn't be genes acting to increase their own reproductive rates, either in conflict or in concert.
Sure. In fact, the examples I gave often involve conflicts between genes (on different chromosomes or organelles)
Quote

besides which, one could easily argue that increasing the fecundity of the host would have a long term benefit to increasing the frequency of whatever gene contributed to it, yes?

The fitness of an individual can explain most of the observations but not all, and those exceptions matter a lot. Meanwhile, the concept of gene fitness has never been contradicted, AFAIK.
You could also say that increasing natality in a population benefits the alleles contributing to it. True, but can you explain the sex ratio of 1:1 in panmictic populations, while it should be biased towards more females for an optimal growth rate? You certainly has the answer.

  
Ichthyic



Posts: 3325
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 21 2006,13:24   

playing devils advocate, extend the idea of sex ratio bias beyond what you just mentioned.

If you're a self-interested gene, why have sex at all?

wouldn't asexual cloning be faster and cheaper?

I realize this overlaps with the recombination issue, but since you brought up the idea of ESS and sex ratios, I thought it would be worth approaching from that angle as well.

--------------
"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

-CC

  
jeannot



Posts: 1200
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 21 2006,22:20   

Quote (Ichthyic @ July 21 2006,18:24)
playing devils advocate, extend the idea of sex ratio bias beyond what you just mentioned.

If you're a self-interested gene, why have sex at all?

wouldn't asexual cloning be faster and cheaper?

I realize this overlaps with the recombination issue, but since you brought up the idea of ESS and sex ratios, I thought it would be worth approaching from that angle as well.

Sexual reproduction is currently unexplained (or at least no one provided a consensual explanation).  It doesn't contradict the idea of selfish gene more than it opposes the concept of indivual or group selection, the latter being falsified by the sex ratio.

I want to stress that gene selection-or mutation selection to be more accurate-is the natural consequence of DNA replication, which is the basis of reproduction. I think it's the most fundamental conception of natural selection, hence the best we have, by the principle of Occam's razor. We don't need entities like individuals, populations, species, etc. It is also explains observations that the other theories couldn't.

  
guthrie



Posts: 696
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 21 2006,22:34   

Quote (wiwaxiathumb @ July 21 2006,13:29)
(<GoP spoiler follows>) But it is not necessary that being part of a livng organism makes a difference. Now, if among the C atoms some find their way (quite early in the history of life) into some specific structures (aka Living) , then those components would by necessity nudge that organism's immediate and evolutionary future toward carbon-favorable developments.

But its just the language that is the problem here.  
Once a structure started being self replicating, using carbon atoms, then of course it would nudge the erganisms evolutionary future towards carbon favourbale development, because theres no way it could stop using carbon and use silicon instead.  You know, its like once your born, theres no way to stop yourself growing up and getting older, it comes with the territory.  
(Well, no way as of yet, and I am aware of people with genetic or suchlike disorders who dont grow.)

It comes down the the language- its hard to not attribute some direction to things, some volition, even when that is not the case.

But as for the total thread idea, I thought there were some peopel out there who think that the entire universe is conscious.

  
qetzal



Posts: 311
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 23 2006,15:51   

The whole idea of the "selfish carbon" doesn't work, because there's really nothing that will change either the lifetime of an individual carbon atom, or the number of carbon atoms on earth. At least, nothing related to living organisms. The amount of carbon increases by tiny amounts as carbonaceous meteorites impact earth, but that still doesn't fit the original proposal.

I guess water molecules are a bit different, since plants convert water plus CO2 plus light into carbohydrate plus O2, but that goes the wrong way. If anything, life should result in a net decrease in water. The 'unselfish water molecule' perhaps?

In any case, how do you define an individual water molecule. They exchange hydrogen nuclei (protons) with other molecules all the time, so what makes a given molecule unique? Just the oxygen atom? Now you're back to the same issue with carbon - life can't change the number or lifetime of individual oxygen atoms.

How about the 'selfish carbohydrate'? Life definitely increases the number and variety of carbohydrates on the planet. Is a plant just a carbohydrate's way of making another carbohydrate?

I don't think so.

  
selfishgene



Posts: 3
Joined: July 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 23 2006,16:52   

I think, as expressed above, the main point about why say a carbon atom would not be considered a selfish entity is because it is not a replicator.

On a related note of reducing the idea of a replicator to levels at which it becomes absurd, to quote from The Extended Phenotype
Quote
… a genetic replicator is defined by reference to its alleles, but this is not a weakness of the concept….  It is a fundamental truth, though it is not always realized, that whenever a geneticist studies a gene ‘for’ any phenotypic character, he is always referring to a difference between two alleles. [emphasis original]

Dawkins addresses the reductio ad absurdum of, say, speaking of a selfish nucleotide, in part saying that the reason that a single nucleotide is not the replicator or “unit of selection” because it is meaningless to speak of the phenotypic effect of a single nucleotide on an organism.

A nucleotide can only be said to have a certain phenotypic effect within a given DNA sequence. Cytosine cannot be said to have a certain phenotypic effect on an organism compared to adenine except in a given sequential order of nucleotides.  However, it is meaningful to speak of the phenotypic effect of, say, a gene for green eyes as opposed to a gene for blue eyes, for a gene can be said to have a consistent phenotypic effect which is for the most part independent of its location in the genome, which is not true of a nucleotide.

  
jeannot



Posts: 1200
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 23 2006,21:24   

Welcome to AtBC. :)
Quote
A nucleotide can only be said to have a certain phenotypic effect within a given DNA sequence. Cytosine cannot be said to have a certain phenotypic effect on an organism compared to adenine except in a given sequential order of nucleotides.  However, it is meaningful to speak of the phenotypic effect of, say, a gene for green eyes as opposed to a gene for blue eyes, for a gene can be said to have a consistent phenotypic effect which is for the most part independent of its location in the genome, which is not true of a nucleotide

I don't completely agree. A single gene doesn't have more effect than a single nucleotide. If I follow your reasoning about the nucleotide (that I find correct), a gene alone is also meaningless, without the hole genome and the environment (which includes the cytoplasm and translation mechanism that is present in the zygote).
For point mutations that have a significant effect on fitness (typically, some cases of resistance to antibiotics or insectisides), the mutated nucleotide is the fundamental unit of selection : the gene where the mutation occured can be broken by recombination (even if a similar gene is reconstituted), but the mutated nucleotide can't. We can assimilate it as the replicator which increase its replication rate.

  
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 24 2006,11:04   

Just a simplistic point following on from Qwetzal's post.

Carbon atoms (i.e. carbon 12 isotopes) are identical. There is no way to identify or mark an individual carbon atom (c13s {any atom isotope in fact}are similarly indistinguishable), so there is no way to check how any carbon atom could be "more selfish" than another.

  
Glen Davidson



Posts: 1014
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 24 2006,11:32   

Under the right conditions, carbon is "happy to" combine to form sodium-23 and neon-20.  Thermodynamically, carbon "prefers" to become iron than to remain what it is, although nucleosynthesis to iron happens at very high temperatures and pressures.

That's just it, though, energy states are all that can be seen to govern the "preferences" of carbon.  It combines with hydrogen or oxygen according to Gibbs free energy equations, or its nucleus fuses according to temperature, pressure, and the thermodynamic tendency of atoms and systems to settle into lower energy states.

A gene is "selfish" because it sort of catalyzes (in a complex interplay), or provides the template for, the details of DNA replication.  Since it is a kind of self-catalysis or self-templating, it reproduces itself  and not something else.  Gibbs free energy and equilibrium conditions are not what govern DNA replication in organisms (though the necessary energies and conditions must exist for replication), rather it is the catalytized processes which decide what is produced in life's reactions.

Carbon, like its compounds, has stable states, but nothing other than energy processes can be seen to affect how carbon reacts chemically or in the nuclear sense.  Life exists away from the equilibrium states that decide the fate of carbon in typical chemical and physics processes, thus self-replication of DNA to states which remain well above equilibrium states are possible.  Here the particularities of the interactions are crucial to the outcome, rather than what the lowest energy state might be.

Glen D

--------------
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p....p

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of coincidence---ID philosophy

   
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