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

Wright, James 7929 (
Mon, 28 Apr 97 09:31:00 EDT

Martz wrote:
.On Fri, 25 Apr 1997, "Wright, James 7929" <> wrote:

>>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
>>daily to many organizations, who distribute them to the needy. We may

>>have already evolved an altruistic MEME as opposed to an altruistic

>So you accept that genetic altruism does not exist, except perhaps as
>the occasional blip? I'll deal with your points about an altruistic meme
>when I hear your answer.<

I don't remember genetic altruism being part of the discussion before;
but OK, if you wish...
if there were a genetic basis for altruism, it would show up in some
gene, not as a hard-wired function, but as a coding for cells that could
express altruistic behavior, presumably in the brain. Since genes are
selfish, once such a gene evolved, it would continue to replicate through
the descendants of the organism that first evolved such a gene, and
encourage altruistic behavior as a basis for continued survival among
those organisms that held it.
Does such a gene exist, now or has it ever? I don't know. There's still a
lot of unexplained territory in the human genome, and whether or not
there's a gene that expresses altruistic behavior in the organisms that
have it I can't say. No enough information, for me, to decide one way or
the other. Yet another item in the vast territory of things I'm too
ignorant about to have an informed opinion about one way or the other.
Can you make a case that a gene for altruism cannot exist?

>>that the altruistic MEME exists and continues (people have supported
>>Salvation Army and similar organizations for a few hundred years
>>is difficult to disprove.
>>Selfish people in times of common difficulty may well be in worse
>>than the altruistic; the meme for gratitude also exists.

>Re-read some of my posts. In the scenario you outline the *appearance*
>of altruism would have served just as well as any truly altruistic

I thought we agreed a while back that motive was unprovable?

>>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
>>a significant number of people remain selfish.<[M]

>Read the sentence. 'Short-lived' is the bit to watch out for.<

Oh, I think I see now. The current times of relative surplus (in terms of
survival) are a short-termed phenomenon? Interesting, how did you
determine this?

>>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,
>>stupid and ill-mannered son still more cunning than the father;

>That's it - social commentary.<

More like an excuse for father-bashing, mother-degrading,
adolescent-glorifying propaganda by a morally-bankrupt entertainment
industry bent on sharing their failure with the rest of us. I choose not
to participate.

>this is a
>show written for adolescents, by writers still stuck in adolescence. I

>have passed adolescence, I suppose.[JHW]

>I'll ignore the bitchiness, but I still have to disagree. The show is
>actually written for children, and I hope to remain a member of that
>most fortunate group for as long as I live.<

Innocence is a wonderful thing. We can agree to disagree.