RE: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the Priso ner's

Wright, James 7929 (
Fri, 25 Apr 97 08:27:00 EDT

Martz wrote:
>Mr Gates is an unusually wealthy man. When dealing with phenomena on the
>evolutionary scale an isolated individual here or there is unnoticable.<
>Most people have times of lean and times of plenty. For them, setting
>aside some surplus for a rainy day is merely prudence. I think
>'forseeable need' is fairly meaningless in this context as it matters
>not whether the farmer sees a drought coming; if he hasn't prepared for
>it he's fucked. Goddbye one farming family, goodbye any altruistic gene
>they may have carried. This is what I meant when I said altruism would
>be a short-lived blip were it to ever evolve; altruistic people will
>give away things they might need, selfish people won't. Who then has the
>survival advantage when disaster strikes?<

We appear to be arguing around each other; when I declare surplus to be
surplus, you suggest unforeseen need could arise. Hypotheticals arise
continually, but do not disprove existence; clothing and food are donated
daily to many organizations, who distribute them to the needy. We may
have already evolved an altruistic MEME as opposed to an altruistic GENE;
that the altruistic MEME exists and continues (people have supported the
Salvation Army and similar organizations for a few hundred years already)
is difficult to disprove.
Selfish people in times of common difficulty may well be in worse trouble
than the altruistic; the meme for gratitude also exists.

>I was saying that if we happen to be in the middle of the short-lived,
>altruistic blip then it is essential to the survival of the species that
>a significant number of people remain selfish.<


>YOU DON'T WATCH THE SIMPSONS?????? You poor deprived man. It is social
>commentary at its most entertaining.<

I saw it a few times. A stupid, bumbling father, good-intentioned but
vacuous mother, giftedly bright although immature daughter, torrentially
stupid and ill-mannered son still more cunning than the father; this is a
show written for adolescents, by writers still stuck in adolescence. I
have passed adolescence, I suppose.