RE: virus: Strange attractors and meta-religions (was God and

Mark Hornberger (
Fri, 04 Apr 1997 19:08:12 -0600

At 08:15 AM 4/4/97 EST, you wrote:
>Mark Hornberger wrote:
><Snip backquote>
>>I think the first two above examples are different from the third. A
>>percentage of those in experimental medical programs volunteer because
>>feel they have nothing to lose - someone with AIDS might rationalize the
>>'risk' by saying that they're going to die anyway, so what's the point
>>being cautions about the treatment?
>I didn't have these people specifically in mind. When Walter Reed was
>investigating the treatment of yellow fever (then a virulent killer), he
>asked for volunteers to determine whether or not it was spread by
>mosquitoes. Those already infected would not be suitable subjects; it was
>HEALTHY volunteers he asked for, and received.

I guess you have me there. But I'm quite the cynic, so even then I would
question the validity of their altruism. We all have a particular
worldview, and a set of principles which we like to think we live by. I
think people do what they want, even if it is self-sacrificing, to validate
what they believe, in a sense, to make themselves feel better. Witness how
many people will obsess that they 'could've done *something*' after a
crisis or whatnot, then go on later to find a niche in which they can help
others. This is a vague example, but I think you understand. Charity
workers, or those who work with the disabled, do so from a personal need to
feel that they are doing some good. The end result is that others are
helped (we hope lol) but I don't think that was how the process started
out. Perhaps my reasoning is insignificant in that this activity would
still be called altruistic, regardless of how the impulse started in the
person's heart, but I've always felt people have their reasons for doing
everything. That isn't bad per se, just (to me) a realistic observation.

>> As for the third example, the answer is usually a 'yes,' but
>>I think that's largely hard-wired into us, and I would be hard-pressed
>>to attribute it to a conscious decision.<
>A good point, but is it really hard-wired? I can present counter-examples
>of negligent parentage.
>Thank you for a well-written and thoughtful post.
Ah, toasters are hard-wired, but I can supply you with examples of faulty
toasters. There will always be anomalies, but I think the impulse to care
for our young is definitely hard-wired in, and not a learned behavior per
se. The species wouldn't have persisted otherwise, methinks.

take care