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Author Topic:   Evolution of Altruism
jar
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Posts: 30986
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 7 of 103 (585691)
10-09-2010 10:26 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Stephen Push
10-09-2010 9:09 AM


Social Customs
What makes you think altruism is something that evolved biologically? There are, I will admit, many possible examples of what we might call altruism found in other critters, but is that the same thing as what you describe?

The behavior you describe is more likely a learned behavior, indoctrination over the lifetime of the individual that evolved (yes that word) but as a societal function.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
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jar
Member
Posts: 30986
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 30 of 103 (585770)
10-09-2010 5:01 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by Stephen Push
10-09-2010 3:32 PM


As a general rule the ToE, as I understand it, predicts that animals behave in their own genetic self-interest.

I'm not so sure of that at all.

There is nothing in the Theory of Evolution that I know of that involves self interest.

No genes want to survive, or want pizza for that matter.

Evolution is only visible in hind sight. There is no direction involved. What survived survived and it is those that survived long enough to pass on their genes that will be represented in future gene pools.

What you have used as examples so far, soldiers, firefighters, police, are all examples where behavior is societal and evolved over the lifetime of the individual through training and personal experience.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
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jar
Member
Posts: 30986
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 39 of 103 (585898)
10-10-2010 9:56 AM
Reply to: Message 37 by Stephen Push
10-10-2010 8:49 AM


You also raise the interesting idea that military organizations basically trick soldiers into treating the members of the unit like biological brothers. That may be a plausible explanation for why the Marine dove on the grenade. But it cannot explain why a firefighter would enter a burning building to save someone he has never met.

Well, maybe an old ex-smoke eater (breathing devices were just starting to appear) can help.

The story begins as a little child, the first of a whole herd of kids, born changing baby diapers if I can still remember that far back.

I was taught that my job was to take care of the little ones, protect them and that also meant I had to protect and take care of their little friends as well.

During my mid to late teen years I became a Volunteer Fireman (the only kind we had at the time) and the training continued. The idea of priorities was stressed, that the priority was save lives first, property next. Lives were always paramount.

Many years of training followed eventually becoming one of the Instructors for the University of Maryland's Fire Service Extension System when I then trained others.

Is there a Genetic component to such behavior? Possibly. Of the passel of kids one brother became an ambulance first responder (we didn't have EMTs way back then) but none of the other brothers or sisters.

The biggest influence seems to be training, training from a very early age that I was responsible for the safety of others, and then lots of training on how I could do that with the least risk to myself while still doing my duty.

Yup, the "D" word.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 41 by Stephen Push, posted 10-10-2010 10:12 AM jar has responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 30986
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 42 of 103 (585904)
10-10-2010 10:30 AM
Reply to: Message 41 by Stephen Push
10-10-2010 10:12 AM


I have no doubt that training plays a major role. But you can't train a pig to fly. And you can't train a misanthrope to be an altruist.

Porco Rosso.

While your first example is just silly, do you have evidence to support the later?

Even if true, what is your point?

I know of no evidence that suggests that everyone will behave the same. But again, even if that were true, it still has nothing to do with the topic.

As I pointed out to you in Message 7 there can be several reasons. In the examples you have presented, the soldier throwing himself on a grenade to save his comrades and in the case of a fireman rushing in to a burning building to save someone, a major part is training. In the former is could be espirit d'corps and in the later, the priority training.

Is there also a genetic component? Almost certainly. Consider bees dying to protect the hive.

Both evolved over time, one an example of biological evolution, the other an example of societal evolution.

Edited by jar, : every ---> everyone


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
This message is a reply to:
 Message 41 by Stephen Push, posted 10-10-2010 10:12 AM Stephen Push has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 44 by Stephen Push, posted 10-10-2010 11:16 AM jar has responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 30986
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 45 of 103 (585913)
10-10-2010 2:20 PM
Reply to: Message 44 by Stephen Push
10-10-2010 11:16 AM


The issue of the genetic component is being investigated, and it is NOT something that is just limited to humans, it shows up in other species as well. I mentioned the example of bees swarming to protect the hive.

It is interesting that the bees that actually do that do not even contribute to passing on genetic information anyway.

But in humans, it seems to be very closely related to human intelligence. Even very young pre-speech stage 8-12 month old children exhibit an urge to cooperate, to see those that cooperate as better than those that do not.

Those tendencies however limited also get enforced or discouraged by training and experience as we mature.

The big difference between humans and the rest of the animals is that we have greater computing capabilities and so we do learn, do get trained, do train others.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
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jar
Member
Posts: 30986
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 95 of 103 (586875)
10-15-2010 10:51 AM
Reply to: Message 92 by Wounded King
10-15-2010 4:50 AM


Humans may show individual acts of self sacrificing altruism but the vast majority of individuals in a eusocial Bee colony are acting altruistically in terms of working for the reproductive benefit of the queen rather than themselves.

The question I have regarding some of the examples like bees, is one that I at least think important.

In many animals such as bees, the response does appear genetic. The worker bees cannot do other than follow the "altruism" gene.

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.

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.

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.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
This message is a reply to:
 Message 92 by Wounded King, posted 10-15-2010 4:50 AM Wounded King has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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