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Author Topic:   The difference between a human and a rock
Modulous
Member (Idle past 185 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 31 of 102 (539147)
12-13-2009 10:58 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 9:19 AM


So you believe, in the just so stories of Darwinian evolution, that somewhere in the history of advanced life forms such as primates, or the like, that an individual was born with a unique mutation, that caused it to have feelings of empathy, where none ever existed before. And because of this empathy this one individual carried, it had a selective advantage for survival- and thus this trait became a norm? I wonder why this would carry any selective advantage?

It isn't uncommon for an animal that is born to be in proximity to its close family members for some period of time. Even if the parents abandon the offspring - they are often born near siblings.

In short - any allele that can contribute towards a phenotype that increases the survival amongst siblings could increase the differential reproductive success for that allele (after one generation - there is a fifty percent that siblings will also also have that allele so in a litter of eight offspring, four of the offspring are helping each other out*. This is in tension with the concept of 'freeloading' and letting others help you and not helping in return.

There are many interesting mathematical ways of representing this, which turns out to be an a real world occurence of game theory. Certain mixes of cooperative and uncooperative turn out to be stable: These ideas are the study of Evolutionarily stable strategies.

Either way, whatever selective advantage it might have incurred at that time, that advantage is surely lost by now

I look around me. I note that hard working and basically 'good' people generally are more reproductive success than psychopaths. However, it does appear that a certain percentage of people being psychpathic is Evolutionarily Stable, but it seems you do better if you're good at hiding it.

If you are immoral enough to sleep with whoever you can, with whatever trickery you can conjure up, you will likely create more babies.

And you will note that this is a utlized strategy that people attempt to engage in, especially in young males and/or those who have not experienced sexual intercourse for some time. It is a fairly common occurrence indeed. However, if you become known as a 'womaniser' (or as a deadbeat dad), for some reason women tend to find you repulsive unless you have high social status (and can thus protect and provide for all the bastard children).

There is a good reason for this: Females are capable of having less children than men. So the females that are most succesful are those who descended from females that had developed succesful strategies for enforcing monogomy.

In many species (ours included) there is often a protracted mating ritual where it seems the male has to prove a commitment. Males try and get away with as little commitment as they can, women try to extract as much commitment as they can.

It's a fascinating subject, with lots of material on it out there. Not all of it is uncontroversial. See Bateman's principle.

quote:
in most animals the fertility of the female is limited by egg production which causes a severe strain on their nutrition. In mammals the corresponding limiting factors are uterine nutrition and milk production, which together may be termed the capacity for rearing young. In the male, however, fertility is seldom likely to be limited by sperm production but rather by the number of inseminations or the number of females available to him... In general, then, the fertility of an individual female will be much more limited than the fertility of a male... This would explain why in unisexual organisms there is nearly always a combination of an undiscriminating eagerness in the males and a discriminating passivity in the females

And, since we realize that this unusual feeling of empathy is really just a genetic mistake from some long ago primate or hyena, we now must realize that even though we have these awkward feelings, there is nothing fundamentally special about them, and if we can find a way to live without them-its just as well. We really shouldn't care anymore about our morality than we care about our appendix.

It sounds like a compelling argument for nihilism.

Our appendix isn't a structure that gives us feelings of concern, social strategies and other such 'caring' feelings. We shouldn't 'care' about 'caring'. It is as impossible for us to not 'care' about 'caring' as it is for us to see wavelengths rather than colours.

I can look at an optical illusion for hours. I can know it is an illusion. It is still compelling though. It "shouldn't" be, by your understanding of what should and shouldn't be.

But you are right about something, there is nothing fundamentally special about our emotions. There is plenty of things which are subjectively special about them. What you want to do about them is your concern.

* Of course, it may be the case that the allele is prevalent in the population already and works in conjunction with another allele to produce the novel affect - so even by helping selfish siblings it increases the frequency of that allele in the population which increases the probability in the next generation that the mix of two alleles that increases cooperation will meet again in each of them. This point is highlighted by Dawkins' rowboat analogy and the concept of the gene complex.

Edited by Modulous, : added footnote


This message is a reply to:
 Message 24 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-13-2009 9:19 AM Bolder-dash has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 50 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-13-2009 3:13 PM Modulous has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 32 of 102 (539148)
12-13-2009 11:03 AM
Reply to: Message 29 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 10:34 AM


Reality
Bolder writes:

Yes, it is an empirical fact that they are viewed differently, even though logic should tell us they are the same.

Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on what you are calling "logical".

Bolder writes:

And to frogs and to aardvarks they are the same.

Is that true? Do frogs and Aardvarks not treat other frogs and aardvarks any differently to the way they treat rocks? Really? are you sure? Are frogs and aardvarks being "illogical" in not treating other members of their species as they do rocks?

Bolder writes:

So do you believe that this genetic accident, presumably to a hyena, or to a capuchin or something, would have carried a significant survival advantage for the Morality Eve who was so fortunate to get this mutative mindbend amongst their immoral hyena or monkey brothers and sisters?

Do you think it is "logical" for a parent to care for it's young? Should animals just treat their progeny as they would rocks? Would that be "logical"?

I think your logic is missing a rather important component. Reality.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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hooah212002
Member
Posts: 3183
Joined: 08-12-2009


Message 33 of 102 (539150)
12-13-2009 11:08 AM
Reply to: Message 26 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 9:52 AM


Re: Question Back At Ya
No, I don't think that, but that is because I am not one that thinks morality is just another genetic accident that is a remnant from some animals that proceeded us.

Judging by this, and subsequent postings of yours, it seems as though you have fallen victim to believing what you assume an atheist is, rather than actually learning. You would do well to actually learn a thing or two about why people think differently than you do before you make numerous posts based on assumptions.

As I said in different post (I believe directed to you): you should learn the batting order of the opposing team before selecting your closing pitcher.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16087
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 10.0


(1)
Message 34 of 102 (539158)
12-13-2009 11:54 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 6:05 AM


Yes, but the only reason that people and birds, and butterflies don't want to be smashed is because it is a convenient survival mindset.

And?

As to your second point, I don't believe any 'fundies" as you say, believe that people "should" burn in hell, they probably believe that they will burn in hell.

They think that it's God's will. They think that God's will should be done.

---

Your perplexity is itself perplexing. You point out that atheists think that rocks and humans have one thing in common, and then wonder why atheists don't treat rocks and humans exactly the same.

Well, I think that "Bolder-dash" and bicycles have one thing in common, namely beginning with the letter B. Yet I wouldn't try to ride you down the street.

The answer to your question is that just because I think two very dissimilar things have one thing in common doesn't mean that I treat them identically. Because the fact that they have one thing in common doesn't magically make all the differences between them disappear.


This message is a reply to:
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Modulous
Member (Idle past 185 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 35 of 102 (539159)
12-13-2009 12:02 PM
Reply to: Message 29 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 10:34 AM


Yes, it is an empirical fact that they are viewed differently, even though logic should tell us they are the same.

P1: Something is the same if it shares identical properties.
P2: Rocks and humans share differing properties.
Conclusion: Rocks and humans are different.

You need to be more exact. Logic does not make qualitative statements: the niceness of chocolate ice cream isn't a property that can be found within the chocolate ice cream.

Logic is only as good as the empirical facts behind it.

And to frogs and to aardvarks they are the same.

Hardly. Depending on context humans might be best considered dangerous predators and rocks might be considered immediate threats if they are moving rapidly. Frogs and aardvarks definitely treat humans differently than they do rocks.

So do you believe that this genetic accident, presumably to a hyena, or to a capuchin or something...

It wouldn't be any modern living creature. Nor do social instincts exist purely in mammals.

would have carried a significant survival advantage for the Morality Eve who was so fortunate to get this mutative mindbend amongst their immoral hyena or monkey brothers and sisters?

I think it would be a mistake to think there was a morality gene that just 'popped up'. I'd be more inclined towards the view that the external stimuli that produce a 'threat' tag was modified slightly over time. That brain structures that deal with 'in groups' and 'out groups' develop over many generations into a variety of different strategies.

And it would be short sighted to think that this had a definite benefit to an individual organism. It is easier to consider it as of benefit to the allele in question, as this allows us to consider 'kin selection' effects much more straight forwardly - as per the 'Selfish Gene' concept.


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16087
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 10.0


Message 36 of 102 (539162)
12-13-2009 12:25 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 8:20 AM


There really isn't a quality of goodness to the sense of empathy, or sadness or emotion. In fact these emotions are much more of a burden. if we don't have them it would be much better.

Apparently, you are a sociopath.

But I am not.

It seems that you really do need the threat of burning in Hell to keep you on the straight and narrow --- that you cannot even conceive of a motive for moral behavior except a brute instinct for the avoidance of punishment.

However, I can. It involves loving my neighbor.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 20 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-13-2009 8:20 AM Bolder-dash has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 37 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-13-2009 12:40 PM Dr Adequate has responded

  
Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 1711 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 37 of 102 (539167)
12-13-2009 12:40 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by Dr Adequate
12-13-2009 12:25 PM


Why do you love your neighbors?

Oh, that's right, its just an accident of nature. Or because you have a better chance of survival if you love them. That doesn't exactly sound like a motive, but ok.

I wonder when we will discover which section of DNA contains this infamous "love" mutation. Do you personally feel the first mutant lover was a hyena or a jackal?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 36 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-13-2009 12:25 PM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
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cavediver
Member (Idle past 1724 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 38 of 102 (539169)
12-13-2009 12:47 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 12:40 PM


I wonder when we will discover which section of DNA contains this infamous "love" mutation. Do you personally feel the first mutant lover was a hyena or a jackal?

Your inability to appreciate that such complex social behaviours take much more than a single mutation, and your continued insistence that there must have been a single "first" organism in which such behaviours arose fully formed suggests that you are not very well equipped to discuss these advanced topics - it's a bit of a waste of everyone's time having to deal with someone who claims to have a good grasp of a subject yet reveals their complete ignorance in each post. Can you do better?


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 39 of 102 (539170)
12-13-2009 12:50 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 12:40 PM


Wurgle
Bolder writes:

Why do you love your neighbors?

Why do you?

Bolder writes:

Or because you have a better chance of survival if you love them. That doesn't exactly sound like a motive, but ok.

Motive? As in sitting round consciously deciding that we won't treat other humans as we do rocks because the rocks won't help our personal survival? No. What do you mean by "motive"?

Bolder writes:

I wonder when we will discover which section of DNA contains this infamous "love" mutation. Do you personally feel the first mutant lover was a hyena or a jackal?

It was a wurgle. Obviously.

Do you think that hyenas and jackals care for their young? Are thet being "illogical" for not treating their offspring as they would do rocks? Or have hyenas and jackals found god?

Edited by Straggler, : Spelling


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hooah212002
Member
Posts: 3183
Joined: 08-12-2009


Message 40 of 102 (539173)
12-13-2009 1:19 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 12:40 PM


Just as i suspected. This thread is nothing more than you trying to prove something to yourself. You have failed. Miserably. You should try to learn the opposition's position before you attack it (that's 3 times I've told you that. See a pattern yet?).
This message is a reply to:
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Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 1711 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 41 of 102 (539174)
12-13-2009 1:47 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by cavediver
12-13-2009 12:47 PM


Oh tsk tsk...are you still feeling bitter about being called out for your logical inadequacies in not even being able to understand what the lack of randomness implies. Its ok, you will get over it in time.

I feel the problem is your sides inability to make you just so stories believable. No, it doesn't take one mutation, but it has to start somewhere. Can you make up a fairy tale for how it started somewhere..since you side has such a passion for making up stories that have absolutely no empirical evidence to support them and then criticizing others for their lack of empirical evidence.

I mean heck, you only have about 5 hundred million different traits and characteristics to work with, you would think at least one of them you could prove beyond your Grims Fairy Tales.

Oh, it was kin selection..haha, yea, Nevermind that this one has already been proven wrong. Maybe it was eukaryote new age group therapy. ho ho ho


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Son Goku
Member (Idle past 45 days)
Posts: 1120
From: Ireland
Joined: 07-16-2005


Message 42 of 102 (539175)
12-13-2009 1:49 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 8:20 AM


Bolder-dash writes:

Its interesting that you use the term risen.

In what sense is this a form of rising? There really isn't a quality of goodness to the sense of empathy, or sadness or emotion. In fact these emotions are much more of a burden. if we don't have them it would be much better. Then if people died we wouldn't care, and then we really could have survival of the fittest.


This might be slightly at a tangent to the thread, but I must say something about your use of the term survival of the fittest.
Evolution is not a compatition for literally the "fit to survive" and produce "fitter" individuals. Otherwise all animals would evolve into armoured hulking beasts with rending talons and jaws of steel.

Rather it was whatever strategy that makes you live that evolution "selects" (quotation marks because evolution doesn't think).
If an animal's emotions allow it to survive better, then that is the fittest from evolution's point of view.
If an animal caring for other individuals helps it survive, then that is the fittest from evolution's point of view.

It's not survival of the fittest, but rather the fittest are those who survive, whatever quality or technique they may use.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 20 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-13-2009 8:20 AM Bolder-dash has responded

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Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 1711 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 43 of 102 (539177)
12-13-2009 2:00 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by hooah212002
12-13-2009 11:08 AM


Re: Question Back At Ya
No, I don't think that, but that is because I am not one that thinks morality is just another genetic accident that is a remnant from some animals that proceeded us.

Judging by this, and subsequent postings of yours, it seems as though you have fallen victim to believing what you assume an atheist is, rather than actually learning. You would do well to actually learn a thing or two about why people think differently than you do before you make numerous posts based on assumptions.

Was this post supposed to actually mean something in the sense of...well in any sense?

Which exactly was the assumption that I was supposed to learn about before I made numerous posts about it?

That morality is just another genetic accident that is a remnant from some animals that proceeded us. Oh, that's incorrect then?

hmm, you got me there...I sure thought that's what they were saying it is. Maybe you can clue me in then, since its not that, what is it?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 33 by hooah212002, posted 12-13-2009 11:08 AM hooah212002 has acknowledged this reply

  
Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 1711 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 44 of 102 (539179)
12-13-2009 2:13 PM
Reply to: Message 42 by Son Goku
12-13-2009 1:49 PM


Yes that's right...thus the word "really" in the line: "Then if people died we wouldn't care, and then we really could have survival of the fittest." In other words, the ones who survived would be the ones who killed all the other ones, get it?

So now I am trying to get a plausible explanation for how these 'emotions" could have such a survival advantage over raw brutishness, over good looks, over cunning trickery, over a better coat of fur, over bigger pectoral muscles to kick other sexual competitors asses, and a whole host of other traits to select for.

Of course I am fully aware that all your side has to offer on this front are some entertaining allegory, but I just wanted to hear what some of you might come up with.

Heck modulous even suggested that sexual trickery wouldn't be as good of a long term strategy as honesty and morality because you would get a reputation as being a womanizer or deadbeat dad. Forgive me, but that one really gave me a good little chuckle.

Not too impressed so far other than that.


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hooah212002
Member
Posts: 3183
Joined: 08-12-2009


Message 45 of 102 (539183)
12-13-2009 2:33 PM
Reply to: Message 44 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 2:13 PM


It's been laid out for you. Just because you don't want to understand it doesn't make it not so.

Not too impressed so far other than that.

Yet the world keeps spinning regardless of your ignorance.

So now I am trying to get a plausible explanation for how these 'emotions" could have such a survival advantage over raw brutishness, over good looks, over cunning trickery, over a better coat of fur, over bigger pectoral muscles to kick other sexual competitors asses, and a whole host of other traits to select for.

There's this thing called society. We kind of need it for survival. The traits you've mentioned above don't exactly benefit society, now do they?

Of course I am fully aware that all your side has to offer on this front are some entertaining allegory...

Please show us all where there is any allegory that has been supplied to you on "our" behalf.

but I just wanted to hear what some of you might come up with.

The information is there, you just refuse to see it.


This message is a reply to:
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