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Author Topic:   Evolution of Altruism
Member (Idle past 269 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005

Message 9 of 103 (585699)
10-09-2010 11:31 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Stephen Push
10-09-2010 9:09 AM

Why does kin selection not work here?

Because they aren't kin?

How do you know who your kin are?

For a social primate whose primal social policies include ganging up with the family to attack nearby settlements - could you not see how on some level the band of brothers we are fighting alongside might be regarded as 'family'?

in-group/out-group interaction suffices well here, the origins of which are likely related to family. Even if they aren't family - it is in your family's best interest that a strong fighing force remains to protect them. 1 person dying versus 5, is simple arithmetic: for the maximising the chances of your family genes being propagated.

Rule number 1 with evolution: It's smarter than you

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Stephen Push, posted 10-09-2010 9:09 AM Stephen Push has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 32 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-10-2010 2:52 AM Modulous has responded

Member (Idle past 269 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005

Message 48 of 103 (585930)
10-10-2010 3:50 PM
Reply to: Message 32 by Bolder-dash
10-10-2010 2:52 AM

If I may just single out your post, as it seems to reflect a lot of other similar responses, and say that I think there is just such pure poppycock on so many levels.

Thanks for expressing your opinion.

First, do you actually believe there is a gene which controls altruism?

No. That's why I didn't say that I did. That's the first point dealt with.

Furthermore, do you think that at some time in the past, there were groups of these social primates, and in those groups NONE of the individuals had any sense of altruism, until one altruistic "eve" started this whole behavior off?

No. From the time there were social primates, there was cooperation. Clue is in the social part. You'd have to go back to a non-social species. Cooperation is a fairly basic strategy, even insects have it, so it's not some insurmountable leap for cooperative behaviour to come about. Something as simple as an interrupted adrenaline pathway can alter behaviour drastically.

These types of stories that evolutionists love to tell, presumably without embarrassment for the sheer audacity of these far out presumptions, really do give me a chuckle.

You realize that you told the story right, not me? I don't know the exact route for how altruism evolved, but I can't see it as an insurmountable problem for a variety of reasons that I previously expressed.

Every thing, every action, every behavior you can think of, is easy enough to explain by simply saying "can't you see the advantage this would have...nana?" .

But don't get me wrong - I agree that just-so stories are really rubbish explanatory structures. It is after all, one of the reasons I reject Genesis (how comes snakes have no legs? Why is our child birth agonising?). And yes, evolutionists have been guilty of so doing - and more have been falsely accused after being challenged 'how could x possibly have evolved' (they gave a possible way, not a just so story). You have an itchy creationist-retort trigger finger there.

Even if you believed every aspect of evolution, including the accidental brilliance of it that you are suggesting, these types of wild fairy tales of chimps or man existing without some behavior (for centuries presumably) and then suddenly getting a weird mutation, (that we can only imagine in our heads because we don't need evidence), then spreading like wildfire through the population as if this was the most important new feature of reproduction selection is far more ridiculous than any Noah's Ark tales that you would find so unconvincing.

Agreed - which is why I am convinced that nobody would be surprised that the story was created by a creationist.

So if you don't mind, can you walk us through a few of the steps of how this first mutation started in your scenario?

I have no idea what the 'first mutation' was but the evidence suggests that it would likely have started as a copying error in a germ line cell. And like with anything in evolution, 'first mutation' is really nonsense since the effect of any genetic change is contingent on any previous mutations that may have occurred.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 32 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-10-2010 2:52 AM Bolder-dash has responded

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 Message 52 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-10-2010 9:07 PM Modulous has responded

Member (Idle past 269 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005

Message 61 of 103 (586082)
10-11-2010 12:12 AM
Reply to: Message 52 by Bolder-dash
10-10-2010 9:07 PM

Oh come on modulus, you are making a natural selection argument for the genetic continuation of altruism. You need several components for that to occur; one a genetically controlled behavior which is inheritable, two a population in which the altruism exists in some individuals, and doesn't in others, and the altruistic one is being selected for, and three a starting point for this altruism.

Actually I'm making the argument that kin selection effects can mathematically contribute towards altruistic behaviour for non-kin so it is not ruled out straight away as the OP indicated. I was discussing the part in the OP that said

Kin selection doesn't explain such behavior, because non-kin are often the beneficiaries.

By pointing out that just because non-kin are the beneficiaries that does not rule out kin selection.

You are not make a very convincing plan about how this could all develop (well, truth is your are not making a plan at all, you are just puling this idea out of thin air-the only clue your are giving is that you believe it had to start in a germ line mutation of a non-social species-any candidates you wish to propose?)

I wasn't aware I was compelled to give a complete account. Since we do not have complete knowledge of animal behaviour that is clearly an absurd demand.

I am merely putting forward the notion that kin selection effects can still come into play for non-kin and how that might occur, which I outlined in Message 9. I was not trying to argue for the origins of altruistic behaviour - but how once we have altruistic behaviour among kin, we might get it between non-kin.

so I don't see how you can consider what you are saying as any more scientific than any creation story that i didn't make that you are deriding

I'm talking about kin selection effects and how behavioural strategies derived from them might lead to behaviours that benefit non kin (I know I'm repeating, but hopefully it will clear things up).

When you make a scientific argument, you should at least have some basic idea about how you are believing this to be true other than just saying evolution is smarter than you think.

I hadn't supported the idea you pinned on me, because it's not my idea. If you'd like to talk about the mathematics to see under what conditions kin selection effects could lead to altruistic behaviours for non kin, I'm happy to see what we can do. But first you have to understand what I was saying in my first post, and not make up stuff and claim I'm proposing absurdities.

There is no evidence at all that these types of behavior are genetically controlled, and it is even extremely more speculative to suggest that natural selection has played any role whatsoever in developing these types of human characteristics.

Indirect Genetic Effects Influence Antipredator Behavior in Guppies: Estimates of the Coefficient of Interaction Psi and the Inheritance of Reciprocity Bronwyn H. Bleakley and Edmund D. Brodie III

We measured ψ, the coefficient of the interaction, which describes the degree to which an individuals phenotype is influenced by the phenotype of its social partners. The genetic identity of social partners substantially influences inspection behavior, measures of threat assessment, and schooling and does so in positively reinforcing manner. We therefore demonstrate strong IGEs for antipredator behavior that represent the genetic variation necessary for the evolution of reciprocity.

OR The Genetic Basis of Political Cooperation
James H. Fowler, Laura A. Baker, and Christopher T. Dawes

These results suggest that heritability (h2) generates about 61% of the variance in turnout behaviour. The 95% credible interval (C.I.) for the estimate is (28%,77%), indicating that we can reject the hypothesis that genes play no role in political cooperation.

A germ line mutation in a non-social species, sometime before there were insects. That is the type of scientific theories we are getting here. What a lot of crap.

You asked me, "how this first mutation started", I answered 'the evidence suggests that it would likely have started as a copying error in a germ line cell'. I appreciate this didn't answer whatever question you were trying to ask, but it did answer the question you actually asked. I was hoping you'd take the hint and word your question more precisely so as I can understand exactly what you are asking.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 52 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-10-2010 9:07 PM Bolder-dash has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 76 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-15-2010 12:10 AM Modulous has responded

Member (Idle past 269 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005

Message 80 of 103 (586827)
10-15-2010 2:47 AM
Reply to: Message 76 by Bolder-dash
10-15-2010 12:10 AM

I think I was being precise enough, in that I was asking if you actually DO believe that altruism evolved as a genetic mutation to an exiting gene then what is a rough picture of how you see this happening.

I'm glad we cleared up that I don't accept that the picture is so simple as that.

If you are now saying that you don't necessarily have an opinion about whether or not it arose in the simple Darwinian fashion that others are suggesting, but were simply pointing out that kin selection works mathematically if we are only looking at it that way, but not necessarily logically, fair enough.

Are you saying that mathematics is not logical?


Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 76 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-15-2010 12:10 AM Bolder-dash has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 82 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-15-2010 3:16 AM Modulous has responded

Member (Idle past 269 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005

Message 93 of 103 (586847)
10-15-2010 5:04 AM
Reply to: Message 82 by Bolder-dash
10-15-2010 3:16 AM

I hope that your intention in writing on a scientific forum is to do more than word play.

Yes, which is why when a poster suggests that kin selection is not up to the task of explaining a certain phenomenon it might be more than word play to discuss how kin selection might be employed to explain the certain phenomenon.

I don't think there is anything clear at all about what you want to say-that seems to be your intention.

I was intending to communicate with a person that understands the issues of altruism and kin selection. You misunderstood my post as being an argument for the origin of altruistic behaviour, which is a different kettle of fish altogether.

Do you feel Darwinian evolution accounts for altruism or doesn't it?

Neo-Darwinian evolution? Yes, I think it does.

If you feel it does, can you explain in any clear fashion how you see that happening.

I would do, but I'm not entirely persuaded you have a suitable background in the subject to make it straightforward. I can't tell you what happened, but I can describe the kinds of things that might be involved. I've already described some of the kinds of things.
But if I start a long discussion with you about altruistic evolution am I going to get a response challenging me to show that animal behaviour can be influenced by genetic changes? I'd like reassurances that we are accepting as given certain concepts (even if you don't accept them as true).

All you seem willing to do is just obfuscate the question with semantic silliness. Hello Kitty is also cute to some people I suppose, but equally void of meaning.

If you think my response to Stephen Push is meaningless you should explain why. It isn't meaningless that I answered a different question to the one you wanted me to be answering when I answered a different person who raised a different question.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 82 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-15-2010 3:16 AM Bolder-dash has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 269 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005

Message 96 of 103 (586885)
10-15-2010 11:20 AM
Reply to: Message 95 by jar
10-15-2010 10:51 AM

Hi jar,

But at some point we also start seeing a social and intellectual component. Some humans can override genetic components. They can choose to be altruistic or not be altruistic. The bees die to defend THEIR hive, but some of the worker bees can't decide not to defend the hive.

Bees can decide not to defend the hive..and this may in fact happen. Assuming that even a single worker bee not defending the hive has net negative consequences then we can say:

Any queen that creates workers that don't defend the hive even 1% of the time an opportunity arises will face negative selection pressure and that lineage is more likely to go extinct. As such - we tend to see a lot of suicidal worker defence going on. But there might be positive selection towards not having ALL workers kill themselves in defence...there is a deterrent effect in swarming, so 'fly away in a swarm (with the queen)' while others die to delay the attackers, might be feasible.

As we look at other species, mostly mammals that I am familiar with, we increasing see expanded choices. Young are taught behaviors. For most it still revolves around group, family, kin, tribe, but we find that there are individuals that decide NOT to participate.

Yup - some of that may be genetic again - only because of the way genetic reproduction works here - there is more emphasis on the individual than with bees.

An individual that leeches of society may be successful, but generally the communal punishments make it difficult. So a mixed strategy might work. A strategy of where you think you might get away with it, break the rules if it is to your advantage. Or maybe doing so some percentage of the time etc.

When we get to humans we see an even greater set of possible reactions, for example alliances between groups, concern for others that may not even be known personally and even what looks like altruistic treatment of unrelated species.

I don't doubt that there is a genetic component but there are also intellectual and societal inputs.

Absolutely. It would be basically impossible for the genome to tell me whether to put arsenic in your coffee or sugar. But a genetic instruction to 'not kill allies' and 'allies are people that aren't trying to kill you' should suffice. Let the brain figure out who is and is not trying to kill you based on experience and other evolved danger alerts.

So if we learn that dog is a man's best friend, we might run into a burning house to save the dog. It might make genetic sense if it was a human best friend.

We haven't been caring for animals for very long - and maybe there is selection pressure on creating cross-species caring in humans: It may certainly have helped with the agricultural revolution.

On the other hand - if we learn that cats are evil or otherwise not worthy of consideration we might set fire to them instead.

Either way - there is almost certainly a genetic component to developing a brain that is good at learning relevant social customs quickly and adapting to changing local developments. In crude terms: where hosting a cat-burning might have got me laid once, it probably won't now, and this probably isn't because we've genetically become more 'altruistic'.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 95 by jar, posted 10-15-2010 10:51 AM jar has acknowledged this reply

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