Forum:Genetic evolution vs memetic evolution (LQT!)
|Thread title||Replies||Last modified|
|SUBJ1||77||15:50, 7 April 2011|
|Should there be a term for "voluntary eugenics"?||0||20:26, 24 January 2011|
Last edit: 15:50, 7 April 2011
"I am a machine built to propagate my genes. Not yours, not society's best, mine. That's what I'm built to do, that is my purpose, my raison d'etre. This is why I want to have my children with my genes. Any other arrangement, whether rational or not, simply won't be acceptable. End of. Jack Hughes (talk) 15:54, 10 January 2011 (UTC)"
- <monotone> Errrrr, I am Lumenati ReasonDiva 8000. According to my sensors your lumenator has malfunctioned.</monotone> You don't seem like one who would consider themselves to be a "social darwinist" so this must be some new fashionable scientificish evolutionary theory? Could you please explain how you came to the conclusion that you are "a machine built to propagate [your] genes"? ~ Lumenos (talk) 21:55, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Read the Selfish Gene by Dawkins. It gets even more interesting though. It turns out that there can be interchromosomal competition between genes in the same organism. In highly polygamous species the male chromosome often develops genes that try and over extract resources from the mother, while the mother's chromosomes try and suppress this.
I can dig up some specific papers on this if you want. One of my favorite demonstrations of it was two sub-species of mice, one was highly polygamous the other monogamous. They could interbreed though. If you took a polygamous male mated with a monogamous female you wound up with giant babies, if you did the reverse you wound up with scrawny under nourished babies. This gets into the Red Queen's race issues of signaling, but its intra-organism selection.
Que? I don't know that mice have any understanding of the future consequences of who breeds how and when, thus I don't understand how that proves that Jack Hughes is programed to propagate his genes.
Is it possible Jack has been programed by some sort of "education"?
Individuals are a product of genes, the traits that genes encode for are traits that increased the propagation of the gene that encodes that trait.
Isn't that kinda like saying computers are the product of hardware?
Various 2 cents:
What's a meme anyway? Yes, "cultural information", I know, but what is it? I like to imagine it as a bunch of information and calculations solidified in someone's neurons. I mean, when someone has a stroke or brain damage, which causes him to lose a memory, pointing to the damaged area and saying this is where that meme/memory was, sounds pretty accurate. Neurons and the laws that govern them are not genes. They are large-r scale structures above the gene level and I think thats pretty important.
A trickier question is, what is conciousness? Is it a gene or a meme thing? Epilepsy, anesthesia, coma, sleep etc all show that conciousness and the feeling of I-am-ness, is tied to the activity of the brain, and in fact to specific kinds of it (aka not random or all at once). So what about everything else that makes you, "you". Memories, experiences etc. Take for example the knowledge of knowing how to build suspension bridges.
Imagine you take someone and put him in a box since birth with a food & shit tube. Sure enough, he would grow. And in doing so he would be a pure expression of his genetic information. But surely he wouldn't know how to build suspension bridges. That's because that information isn't included in the genes and has to come from the external universe (usually we call it education). More interestingly, that knowledge wasn't included in any other peoples genes either.
That knowledge (or bunch of information, which remember, it has a very physical presenses, I am not talking "energies" here) got created through the combination (can I use a sexy word like trans-computation? I just made it up) of a ton of other memes, running in brains, be it "engineering", "public need" or "the fact of gravity". The only thing genes did, was to make a structure complex enough (the brain), which had the potential to "run" them. Genes did not create the neurons and store information in their relationships betweem them however, just the neurons and some simplistic laws that govern them. Everything else has been caused by exo-genetic information from the external universe. There are some gene-included pre-programmed brain stuff, and those would be the things we call insticts.
'Tis my humble opinion then, that conciousness and self-awareness is a bit of a mistake. There is an entire ecosystem of memes, with their own evolution and such, which appeared once the "universe underneath", they run on, (brainz!) became complex enough to support them. Similar to the way genetic evolution had to wait for the "universe underneath" (chemistry) to become complex enough, for it to appear (aka, the death of the first generation stars so that heavy elements and planets can form). The whole thing reminds me of virtual machines running inside another computer but I digress.
Concidering how many things of the human experience then are "memes", I like to think that a more accurate description of humans would be gene-meme hybrids, as opposed to, say, bacteria, which are actual pure gene automatons. And if you will allow me the sci-fi plug, under that definition a strong A.I. would be a machine-meme hybrid, while a clock is a machine automaton.
The thing is then, that just as there is inter-genetic organism competition, there is, obviously, inter-memetic competition, and there can also be inter-gene-memetic competition, even in the same organism. Aka, when someone (who is childless, so no "he does it for his kids" cop out there), suicides, suicide bombs, or even "dies for glory".
Take for example a position like (yes, you knew I was going to plug in Transhumanism somewhere, soz), like ditching our bodies for immortality. How the hell can a position like this, ever benefit the genes? However, what it does, is pretty much spell the wishes of what I can only refer to as the (wait for it), Selfish Meme.
In regards to some things that have been mentioned so far, I would like to note that I do think that adoptive children / parent relationships can be Very strong. Exactly because even if they are adoptive, if they share your family experience and usually your knowledge, they become "memetic children" (memetic material being transferred from brain to brain literally through the air as the family interacts with each other) while on the other hand, if a secret genetic child of mine turned out of nowhere and was a fundamentalist conservative (aka zero shared experience and an enemy meme), it would leave me rather indifferent. And in fact in the scenario of the second one attacking the first (ie, for being a liberul), it would be the first one that would get my total support.
None of that is a proposition for eugenics or anything. I am rather laissez faire about these things. Just because I like fast cars, I don't see why this must automatically be an opinion that slow cars must be banned.
Currently the RationalWiki article on eugenics has a section called "Modern eugenics" and a distinction is made between "private voluntary eugenics" and "mandatory eugenics". The fact checkers have aimed two "s" suggesting that such terms are not found in a wp:reliable source, or something. Some might argue that aborting a fetus for a genetic flaw, would not be completely voluntary for the fetus. Perhaps a better term would be "pro-choice eugenics".