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Author Topic:   Evolution of Altruism
Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


(2)
Message 46 of 103 (585916)
10-10-2010 2:44 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Stephen Push
10-09-2010 9:09 AM


While this was an extreme example of heroism, such self-sacrificing behavior is common enough in our species to raise a challenge to the TOE. Kin selection doesn't explain such behavior, because non-kin are often the beneficiaries. Reciprocal altruism might explain it, but that seems to be a stretch when a young man who has not had an opportunity to reproduce sacrifices his life for others. Perhaps this behavior is evidence for group selection, but most evolutionary biologists seem to believe that group selection plays little, if any role, in evolution.
There is no way to know very much definitively. But we do know that intelligence and altruism seem to coincide. For instance, dolphins have been known to save the lives of imperiled humans. Why? We don't know. But then, we don't even know why we do the same things.
Why dive on a grenade? It's not something someone cognizantly thinks about. It's a reaction.
Why did this dog save another dog? Who knows... All we know is that they do, and on that basis we cannot rule out some sort of evolutionary reason.

"Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it" -- Thomas Paine

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Dr Adequate
Member (Idle past 368 days)
Posts: 16113
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 47 of 103 (585917)
10-10-2010 2:46 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Stephen Push
10-10-2010 8:49 AM


What's more, I doubt that each Paleolithic band formed a reproductively isolated population. There was probably immigration into the bands, further diluting the degree of relatedness.
Sure, they'd have been exogamous. But that cuts both ways --- it means that someone marrying into a band is likely already some sort of cousin.
An implied assumption of your argument is that human evolution essentially stopped 10,000 years ago. That we are Paleolithic creatures trying to cope in a modern social environment to which we are not adapted. I don't see any grounds for that assumption. The bill lengths of Darwin's finches have changed over a few generations in response to changes in the food supply. Why assume that human traits haven't changed over hundreds of generations?
They have, of course, but not as much as we'd like. Otherwise a sedentary lifestyle would be good for me.

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Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(2)
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 replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 52 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-10-2010 9:07 PM Modulous has replied

  
Phage0070
Inactive Member


Message 49 of 103 (585936)
10-10-2010 4:07 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Stephen Push
10-09-2010 9:09 AM


Stephen Push writes:
Kin selection doesn't explain such behavior, because non-kin are often the beneficiaries.
Now they might not be kin, but evolutionarily speaking the time from when humans lived in familial tribes is a blink of the eye. In fact, the entire duration of the human species is trivial compared to its evolutionary ancestry.
Do we observe altruistic behavior in other mammals? Or other kingdoms? (I think we probably do.) Given that fact, humans being placed in situations where altruism benefits other humans only distantly genetically related has no bearing on its development any more than computer-generated boobies giving young men hard-ons relates to the instinct's evolution.

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Replies to this message:
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frako
Member (Idle past 389 days)
Posts: 2932
From: slovenija
Joined: 09-04-2010


Message 50 of 103 (585939)
10-10-2010 4:12 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by Stephen Push
10-10-2010 10:04 AM


Before he was trained, he chose a profession that he knew would require such risks.
And how would you explain the acts of civilians who risk their lives to save people? Such as some who stayed in the World Trade Center on 9-11 to help others.
well i know why i would or have done in similar situations it is because i would want to get help if i where in the same situation as the one that needs help.
this works whit my special logic in life. (you want to get help you have to help, you dont help then dont bit**** about no one helping you)

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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 2781 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 51 of 103 (585964)
10-10-2010 6:25 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Stephen Push
10-10-2010 8:49 AM


Hi, Stephen.
Welcome to EvC!
There are three points I want to make that I don’t think have been adequately made so far on this thread:
  1. Evolution happens in populations. The existence of an individual who exhibits trait A does not demonstrate that trait A is being selected for in the overall population: all it demonstrates is that trait A exists. For example, is blindness selected for in humans? How can we explain all the people who are born blind if blindness is not being selected for?
    I’m not convinced that true altruism (i.e. sacrificing one’s life for another) is all that common in the human species, so I question the claim that it is being selected for. If it were being selected for, I would expect it to be a lot more common than it actually is.
    -----
  2. Not all characteristics can be selected for by evolution. As Bolder-dash wrote, there probably is no gene for altruism: thus, there is nothing there for natural selection to select for. It’s possible that altruism is a side effect of other things that are selected for (e.g. cooperative behavior), and that the death of an occasional altruist is not a strong enough negative side effect to offset the positive effects of a more generalized pattern of cooperative social behavior.
    -----
  3. Risk is an inherently difficult thing to work with. There is a whole branch of foraging theory that attempts to deal with risk, and with how much risk an organism is willing to tolerate in order to meet some other requirement (e.g. food).
    Example: A hunter needs to enter the woods to find food, but, if he enters the woods, he risks an encounter with a deadly, venomous snake. How does he decide whether to risk the snake attack or not?
    Example: A man needs to protect his family from an attacking mob, but, if he steps up to protect them, he risks being killed himself. How does he decide whether to risk being killed himself to save his family? How does he decide how hard he should try (e.g. how much risk he should take) to protect progressively more distant relatives?
    It seems a bit dubious to me to suggest that evolution would be able to endow a person with the talent of judging when a certain level of risk or self-sacrifice or charity is biologically appropriate or advantageous. It may be that all acts of self-sacrifice are completely unwarranted evolutionarily, and are simply the result of imperfect judgment.
Edited by Bluejay, : minor cosmetic changes

-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)
Darwin loves you.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by Stephen Push, posted 10-10-2010 8:49 AM Stephen Push has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 53 by Stephen Push, posted 10-10-2010 9:20 PM Blue Jay has replied

  
Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 3713 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 52 of 103 (586043)
10-10-2010 9:07 PM
Reply to: Message 48 by Modulous
10-10-2010 3:50 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.
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?) , 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. 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. How does your side criticize creation with such weakly supported ideas of your own.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 48 by Modulous, posted 10-10-2010 3:50 PM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
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Stephen Push
Member (Idle past 4943 days)
Posts: 140
From: Virginia, USA
Joined: 10-08-2010


Message 53 of 103 (586045)
10-10-2010 9:20 PM
Reply to: Message 51 by Blue Jay
10-10-2010 6:25 PM


I’m not convinced that true altruism (i.e. sacrificing one’s life for another) is all that common in the human species, so I question the claim that it is being selected for. If it were being selected for, I would expect it to be a lot more common than it actually is.
I think almost everyone is altruistic to some degree. Perhaps sacrificing one's life is just an extreme example of this trait, which is adaptive in its more moderate manifestations. Lots of traits are possessed to varying degrees, expressed only in certain circumstances, and absent altogether is some individuals.
Not all characteristics can be selected for by evolution. As Bolder-dash wrote, there probably is no gene for altruism: thus, there is nothing there for natural selection to select for.
It's almost certainly not a single gene. The trait is probably affected by many genes, expressed to varying degrees in various situations, and enhanced or muted to a great extent by culture and learning.
It’s possible that altruism is a side effect of other things that are selected for (e.g. cooperative behavior), g and that the death of an occasional altruist is not a strong enough negative side effect to offset the positive effects of a more generalized pattern of cooperative social behavior.
Cooperation could exist is the absence of altruism; every cooperative interaction could be a win-win scenario. Altruism requires that the altruist make a sacrifice, at least in the short run, although in the long run it may pay off, e.g., in the form of inclusive fitness or reciprocity.
Risk is an inherently difficult thing to work with. There is a whole branch of foraging theory that attempts to deal with risk, and with how much risk an organism is willing to tolerate in order to meet some other requirement (e.g. food).
Altruism need not require detailed risk calculations. It could be nothing more than a compulsion to help others that, in some situations, overcomes self-protecting drives such as fear or hunger. [On second thought, I agree there would have to be some kind of risk calculation, but it need not be optimal. It just has to pay off on average.]
Edited by Stephen Push, : Added last two sentences.

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 Message 51 by Blue Jay, posted 10-10-2010 6:25 PM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
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Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 3713 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 54 of 103 (586047)
10-10-2010 9:36 PM


One big problem I have with these kinds of general propositions made by cosmic chimp and modulous and others, which is so common in every modern pop-science magazine and tv show, is that people who aren't really very educated or even particularly interested in the science of life hear all these things, and just figure oh it must be correct, I heard some smart people talking about it. It is one of the ways in which your side has duped the average person, intentionally or unintentionally.
I would think as ones whose purport to love science so much, that your side would be fundamentally opposed to this type of rather inaccurate impressions being espoused to the public, but I see no such concerns from your side. 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. And yet this absolute lack of any real evidence doesn't stop the multitudes of stories and so called science articles, and forum debates from forming. Your side seems to be content to say-"well, why couldn't it have happened", or 'well, our fairy tales are more believable than your fairy tales (as modulous has just suggested)."
This is what people who say they believe in science advocate? Wild speculations that if said in a scientific tone could be convincing to the uniformed? It sounds much more like a game of trying to win converts than it does any kind of critical scientific thought. And that is one of the biggest problems I have with how the whole evolutionary debate is carried out in our society. It is so little science, and so much bunk, and very very few of the believers on your side even care that what gets portrayed is in no way accurate or solidly supported evidentially. Your side seems to care so much more about just appearing right, to win more public support for your side.
I find such a mindset to be so unintellectual, and just so un-admirable-if all you are trying to do is win people's opinions with junk.
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.

Replies to this message:
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 Message 56 by Granny Magda, posted 10-10-2010 10:01 PM Bolder-dash has replied
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 Message 58 by Nij, posted 10-10-2010 10:20 PM Bolder-dash has not replied
 Message 64 by Blue Jay, posted 10-11-2010 1:48 AM Bolder-dash has replied

  
Dr Adequate
Member (Idle past 368 days)
Posts: 16113
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 55 of 103 (586049)
10-10-2010 9:52 PM
Reply to: Message 54 by Bolder-dash
10-10-2010 9:36 PM


There is no evidence at all that these types of behavior are genetically controlled ...
Could you suggest an alternative?
Take ants, for instance. Do they indoctrinate their larvae into the fundamental principles of ant society? Does an ant sacrificing its life for the good of the nest burn with patriotism and murmur to itself: "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"?
Feel free to speculate wildly.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 54 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-10-2010 9:36 PM Bolder-dash has replied

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Granny Magda
Member (Idle past 121 days)
Posts: 2462
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 56 of 103 (586051)
10-10-2010 10:01 PM
Reply to: Message 54 by Bolder-dash
10-10-2010 9:36 PM


Hi BD,
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.
Yes, it is a lot of crap. But then, no-one actually said that or any such thing. You just misunderstood.
Go Back, read Mod's post again. He never said that any mutation for social primates would have taken place before the emergence of insects. Before insects, there weren't even any vertebrates on the land, social or otherwise. The point about insects was that social behaviour is ubiquitous. It has probably evolved in multiple times in multiple species.
Mutate and Survive

"A curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it." - Jacques Monod

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Replies to this message:
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Stephen Push
Member (Idle past 4943 days)
Posts: 140
From: Virginia, USA
Joined: 10-08-2010


Message 57 of 103 (586052)
10-10-2010 10:02 PM
Reply to: Message 54 by Bolder-dash
10-10-2010 9:36 PM


There is no evidence at all that these types of behavior are genetically controlled,...
I know this is a brief summary from a secondary source, but I think it shows that there is scientific evidence behind these claims:
We're Sorry - Scientific American
I'll try to post some primary sources as this discussion continues.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 54 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-10-2010 9:36 PM Bolder-dash has not replied

  
Nij
Member (Idle past 4973 days)
Posts: 239
From: New Zealand
Joined: 08-20-2010


(1)
Message 58 of 103 (586056)
10-10-2010 10:20 PM
Reply to: Message 54 by Bolder-dash
10-10-2010 9:36 PM


Ah, yes, because rambling wildly about something you know nothing of is a much better proposition than accepting what the experts say about it.
And of course they are duping us!
Because you know, these people who study science all their lives would never think to actually check their results, would they?
No, they are all unintentionally misleading the public on the back of unconfirmed reports and half-baked studies, or deliberately tricking us with their incessant mantra that "evolution is correct" and never actually doing the research.
Honestly, do you ever actually read what you have written? It's a broken record of looped creationist complaint: that because we don't know exactly what happened in a certain instance therefore the entirety of what we do know is incorrect, and we must have exactly one explanation, not none, not more than one possibility, otherwise all (nonsupernatural) explanations are invalid.
If you are uncomfortable with untrained people such as Modulous -- who did include the disclaimer that he is not a professional biologist -- providing their opinions on possible sources of altruism and social behaviour, then it should be a simple matter to either:
  • provide alternate explanations yourself;
  • find a properly trained biologist to give you an explanation which can be passed on to the forum;
  • study biology yourself and research the phenomenon in question, then present your findings to us;
  • give reasons why the proposed explanation is insufficient;
  • or shut the fuck up and let us do the above for you.
    Please note that "whine about 'evil-ution'" is explicitly not included in the list above.

  • This message is a reply to:
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    Bolder-dash
    Member (Idle past 3713 days)
    Posts: 983
    From: China
    Joined: 11-14-2009


    Message 59 of 103 (586066)
    10-10-2010 10:52 PM
    Reply to: Message 56 by Granny Magda
    10-10-2010 10:01 PM


    Let me just be clear, in case there was some confusion. When I was referencing remarks that modulous made about his ideas of how altruism was formed, I was NOT referencing remarks about granny magdas opinions about how altruism may have evolved.
    However, I will make note of the fact that in granny magdas version of how altruism arises, I guess we can conclude that it is a common mutation that has arisen independently a number of times. What this mutation is, when it has occurred, and how it was selected for is of course not known or expressed in granny Magdas version of events.
    This is not at all an unusual explanation from you I realize, as it is a well known goal of yours to just throw out as much speculation as possible, in defense of your strong need to expound upon the greatness of atheistic thought, and claim that this is science because its not creationism.
    So anyway, I get the gist of YOUR theory of how altruism has arisen-that is that it is ubiquitous and probably evolved multiple times. As for modulous, he is probably capable of explaining his own believes about his own theory, but if you don't feel he is maybe you can ask him.

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 56 by Granny Magda, posted 10-10-2010 10:01 PM Granny Magda has replied

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    Stephen Push
    Member (Idle past 4943 days)
    Posts: 140
    From: Virginia, USA
    Joined: 10-08-2010


    Message 60 of 103 (586079)
    10-10-2010 11:50 PM
    Reply to: Message 59 by Bolder-dash
    10-10-2010 10:52 PM


    Some more literature on the evolution of altruism:
    Evolution of Altruism - Bibliography - PhilPapers
    The nature of human altruism | Nature

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