Re: virus: Dawkins is an idiot

David Leeper (
Mon, 27 Aug 1956 23:02:05 +0000

Kenneth Boyd,

; > > * Experiements in artifical evolution show that selecting
; > > "less fit" individuals is often useful. One such method is
; > > called "Tournament Selection", there are several others. In
; > > fact, to make selection work as Dawkin's explains it one
; > > must use a special type of selection known as "Elitism".
; > > This type of selection often keeps the same individuals alive
; > > one generation after another, a process that is not and cannot
; > > be duplicated in nature.
; >
; > Actually elitism does exist in nature. It is called cloning.
; > There even exists a species of fresh-water snail that uses
; > cloning in good times, and sexual reproduction in tough times.
; The Ultimate Elitist Plant:
; I don't quite remember its exact name, but it rated an entire
; article in
; a 1995/1996 Scientific American. It's aquatic, it's spread over 6
; continent's worth of rivers/coastlines: and it has no sex. It's ONLY
; method of reproduction is cloning. Coincidentally, it was being
; studied
; for analogies to how muscle grows in animals.

This example (and another presented by David McF, and all the others
where beings reproduce in some non-cross-over way) do not qualify
as "Elitism" as I presented it here. To qualify either 1] the same
individual must be kept alive generation after generation, or 2]
the individual must reproduce without the chance of a modification
that would be "less fit".

Why do I insist on this impossibly difficult definition of
"Elitism"? Because, in his new book, Dawkins claims that Natural
Selection does not allow species to "go down hill". For the
idiotic claim to be true, all life must follow "Elitism" as I've
defined it above.

To be fair, Dawkins does allow two exceptions to this "can't go
down hill rule". 1] When a vacuum is to be filled, such as, says
Dawkins, when a virgin continent is first colonized, or when the
dinosaurs became extinct. 2] When new genes arrive from other
demes. Other than this, says Dawkins, natural selection does not
allow species to "go down hill."

I found Dawkins new book "Climbing Mount Improbable" to be
wonderfully humorous. Even it's title sounds like the name
of a "Long Dong Silver" movie. I recommend it to everyone
looking for a good laugh.

David Leeper
Homo Deus  
1 + 1 != 2