Re: virus: Rationalism to the point of absurdity

Duane Daniel Hewitt (
Tue, 31 Oct 1995 20:03:16 -0700 (MST)

On Tue, 24 Oct 1995, Janet Taylor wrote:

> proposes. BUT, Help me with this one, when he comes to behavior that can't
> be explained by the desire of genes or memes to replicate, he dismisses it
> as the "law" of irresistibility". Come on, isn't anyone uncomfortable with
> such a gaping hole in his logic? Further, let's talk humans, how would
> Dawkins explain humans love of alcohol and drugs, to the point of
> loss/damage of life?

I don't recall the exact source at the moment but there is an
evolutionary explanation for such self-destructive behaviours.
I think the source may have been Desmond Morris.

Let's start with the peacock (bear with me). The peacock's tail by any
stretch of the imagination is an evolutionary handicap however there is a
_sexual_ selection for the male with the largest tail. Why? It has to do
with the tail being such a handicap that the male must be extremely fit
in his other genes to compensate for the tail increasing his visibility
to predators.

Such selection can work in human reproduction in which individuals who
demonstrate self-destructive traits in certain areas may appear to have
compensating strengths in order for them to survive and achieve success.

> My weak, cynical theory (I am truly open to new
> options other than this one) is that "living" creatures act on whatever
> they feel/believe will bring more "pleasure" and less "pain" to their
> existence, and that pleasure and pain can be different for each person
> (which explains why my mother likes cleaning so much!). Even altruisum is
> performed because it brings more joy to be the giver than whatever is given
> up.

Pleasure and pain were more directly associated with survival when most
of human evolution took place.

Altruism is often a valid strategy in evolutionary terms and is not
necessarily selfless.

Duane Hewitt