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The Selfish Gene Theory

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I thought that the ideas behind or in this theory should help out many with the question that is on all or at least most minds, at least to fill in the general background and allow for a more informed and educational debates on Evolution.

 

It's called the Selfish Gene Theory.

 

Here's a brief rundown on it(plus many other goodness):

 

Selfish Gene Theory

 

For more information, great links, book reviews, etc, this is a very good site:

Especially for those who are studying Evolution and or Physical(aka Biological) Anthropology, that site has a wealth of info, or at the very least it can set one on the right path to a great book, etc.

 

World of Richard Dawkins

 

Finally this is a must read, after all , it's what started the Scientific Revolution(Evolution). I still prefer a hardcopy, but someone was nice enough to make it into a digicopy.

 

The Origin Of Species - by C. Darwin

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The Selfish Gene theory is beautifully shown when observing the behaviour of certain bird species especially.

 

I remember studying about the Selfish Gene back in 3rd year University Zoology, under behavioural ecology. Nice thread :)

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I would add Edward O Wilson & Stephen J Gould to the reading list . All genes are indifferent & have no concious direction . The only test is their final morphological / behavioural expression can survive long enough to replicate itself into the next generation . The ultimate definition of bilogical success .

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Finally this is a must read' date=' after all , it's what started the Scientific Revolution(Evolution). I still prefer a hardcopy, but someone was nice enough to make it into a digicopy.

 

The Origin Of Species - by C. Darwin

 

Actually, the scientific revolution started roughly around 1550.

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:D:D:D:D:D:D

 

Wikipedia

-In the history of science, the scientific revolution was the period that roughly began with the discoveries of Kepler, Galileo, and others at the dawn of the 17th century, and ended with the publication of the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687 by Isaac Newton.-

 

 

but yeah i like that selfish gene theory. I am sad to say that i have never heard of the author or his material until now. It does make alot of sense and i will probably recommend it to my friends.

 

Thanks for presenting the material :rolleyes:

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The Selfish Host Theory:

 

Once upon a time, a few genes decided to be selfish and create a host. Suddenly the host decided to take advantage of his new found statis, and started smoking, drinking, and partying like a rock star. The gene wished he could return to his single celled life, but alas, the genes found themselves powerless as the host unlocked the secret of the genes. Suddenly, the selfish gene found itself being manipulated this way and that way to suit the hosts desires. Suddenly, the selfish gene was no longer in Kansas.

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The problem I have with genetic theories of evolution is that although genes are the templates of life, how does the template alter the template? For example, the template of all molecules is connected to atomic orbitals and atoms. From our knowledge of these simple orbital templates one can create nearly endless molecules. The molecules with the best ability to replicate are the ones that are found most commonly in nature. This distribution is dependant on the physical environment. The orbital templates go not change, but if we increase the temp or change the atomic distribution within the environment a whole new distribution of molecules will form. The template is fundamental, the molecular distribution is the result, while the environment is the cause. The fundamental template of life are the base pairs. These remain the same in all environments and in all genes. The genetic material is variable with the environmental potential just like molecules (they are polymer molecules).

 

The changing potentials within the evolving earth environment drove the background potentials by which molecules would form from the orbitial templates, and the DNA distribution evolved from its base pair template. Quantum jumps or genetic mutations may be an conceptual artifact of quantum data collection. Although, the earth has been known to go through abrupt geological changes which coodinate well with abrupt changes within the genetic distribution. The new environmental push on the four base template of life can cause quantum genetic changes. The bridge between the orbitals, the chemical environment, the base pairs and the genetic distribution is hydrogen bonding.

 

One can get more fundamental. The template of orbitals are the electrons, protons, EM force and the nuclear forces. The hydrogen proton is unique. When it is fused with other protons it can create the atoms of life (C, N, O, P, Na, K, S, etc., with the release of a lot of energy. This implies that the hydrogen proton exists at a higher potential than all these nuclear protons. Hydrogen bonding is more than just a slight chemical bonding potential that adds a new twist to the orbital template, it is also the father of C,N,O. It contains a nuclear potential with respect to C,N,O, i.e., could release tremendous energy if it could nuclear fuse.

 

I am not saying that the goal of life is fusion, although its highest expression on earth has learned to fuse hydrogen. What I am saying is that a natural potential exists within the H. Without hydrogen bonding life would still be the primal soup sludge.

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You've made a simple process far to complex. Genetic mutations arise either because of environmental insult (radiation, carcinogens, etc) or a copying error. DNA copying protiens are accurate, but not *perfect*, and they screw up about 1 in a million time (more in particular instances like microsatelite repeats).

 

There are no "quantum genetic changes" or any such thing. Just damage and copying errors.

 

Mokele

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My favorite Dawkins quote:

 

"Life results from the non-random survival of randomly varying replicators"

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I am not sure if I can go alone with this random error analysis. For example, viruses and bacteria, are always in a state of change that goes faster than 1 in a million lpng shot. These smart little bugs are improving as fast as we can create medicines for them. This would appear to imply something else creating the potential for change.

 

I view the whole environment setting the needed potential. The bubonic plague in Europe centuries ago resulted from a chain of events stemming from the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. It was not just a mutate strain randomly appearing that randonly cooincided with the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.

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I am not sure if I can go alone with this random error analysis. For example, viruses and bacteria, are always in a state of change that goes faster than 1 in a million lpng shot. These smart little bugs are improving as fast as we can create medicines for them. This would appear to imply something else creating the potential for change.

 

Viruses that mutate quickly are RNA viruses. RNA isn't found in a double helix but a single strand, eliminating any kind of error checking/correcting process. Consequently these viruses are highly variadic.

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That may be true but they are nevetheless heading in the direction of negative consequences instead of equally in the direction of beneficial and negative consequences.

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negative consequences? you mean for us? lol, it just happens that viruses hijacking some of human beings ample resources to reproduce itself does have negative consequences... and if thats what they need to do to reproduce then dna, rna w/e they are coded with, it will eventually mutate to be able to infect no matter what we come up with to fight it.

 

It's like a never-ending arms race. Well, unless we could eradicate every single virus in a species, it will never go away...

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I am not sure if I can go alone with this random error analysis. For example, viruses and bacteria, are always in a state of change that goes faster than 1 in a million lpng shot

 

While it's not always 1 in a million (if varies depending on how error-prone the copying mechnaism is), it's rarely much more than 10 times that. And we know these numbers because we've directly measured the rates of DNA change in various organisms.

 

These smart little bugs are improving as fast as we can create medicines for them. This would appear to imply something else creating the potential for change.

 

No, it wouldn't. Why not? Generation time. Imagine a bacteria that can divide every 90 minutes. Now, imagin that there will be one copying error (mutation) per gene per 100,000 organisms. Both of these values are about right for most bacteria. How much time does it take for a new mutation to show up in every gene (aka, how long until there are 100,000 organism)?

 

The answer is 17 generations, which in real time would be 25.5 hours, slightly more than a day. That yields one new, mutant allele per gene on average.

 

So you see, the rapid evolution of bacteria and other disease organisms isn't due to any additional factor, but simply due to how damn fast they reproduce.

 

I view the whole environment setting the needed potential. The bubonic plague in Europe centuries ago resulted from a chain of events stemming from the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. It was not just a mutate strain randomly appearing that randonly cooincided with the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.

 

Environment plays a role in *selection*, and *can* affect mutation by influencing the rate of copying errors and the damage to DNA, but not in the way you're thinking. Things don't "evolve towards a goal", they simply maximize their fitness in the current fitness landscape.

 

That may be true but they are nevetheless heading in the direction of negative consequences instead of equally in the direction of beneficial and negative consequences.

 

Most mutations are detrimental, yes. Why is this a problem? Look at the above example, and add another factor: only 1 in 100 new alleles will be superior to the old alleles. So, on average, we'd need 10 million bacteria descended from one to get a new beneficial mutation at every gene.

 

This would take 36 hours.

 

As I've just demonstrated, the level of mutation from copying errors and DNA damage alone, coupled with the exceptionally rapid generation time of most bacteria, *more* than account for the necessary genetic diversity.

 

Mokele

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Excellent points, I am convinced of your arguments with respect to virus and bacteria. Your analysis is simple, which is closer to the truth, and hard to refute. Larger organism like animals are a different story. The selfish gene theory may explain the survival of a species but not its evolution into a higher state of another rank of animals.

 

It is also strange that the most advanced cultures restrain the number of childern. The selfish gene theory would suggests being poor and destitude countries are at a higher level of genetic expression.

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Larger organism like animals are a different story. The selfish gene theory may explain the survival of a species but not its evolution into a higher state of another rank of animals.

 

The only difference, and the source of much of the variation of form we see in the animal kingdom, is that in multicellular animals mutations can not only affect the actual workhorse protiens, but the genes and protiens that govern development and how multicellular forms arrise. It's a burgeoning new field, called Evolutionary Developmental Biology, or just Evo-Devo for short. I actually just finished a book on it, "Endless Forms Most Beautiful", which I highly recommend.

 

It is also strange that the most advanced cultures restrain the number of childern. The selfish gene theory would suggests being poor and destitude countries are at a higher level of genetic expression.

 

Quantity versus quality. It doesn't matter that you have more kids if less of them survive to adulthood. It's basically a strategy to deal with the environment. If there's going to be a high mortality rate no matter what, it's best to have lots of kids and invest little energy per kid. If, however, investing more energy into kids cuts their mortality rate substantially (usually in stable environments near the top of the food chain), then that will be the preferred strategy.

 

That's also the reason for the population explosion in developing countries. Modern medicine has reduced the mortality rate, and the reproductive strategy hasn't caught up yet.

 

Mokele

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When one thinks of it, the poor countries would have an advantage if there was a global catastrope. These people an dtheir bodies are used to living in a very rarified world. They would have the best chance of survival thereby being one of the primary gene pools for the future of humanity. People in the richer countries are like beautiful flowers than require very specific cultural conditions to thrive.

 

This brings up an interesting point in that culture is sort of a prosthesis device that allows higher human expression, which may help evolve human genetics beyond the natural environment. Most of us exist within a higher state of life due to culture providing everything in the background. In a case of a global catastrope, the cultural prosthesis is removed. Most people would have a hard time maintaining their new car, never mind the production of their own food. Money allows one to hire someone else to be an extension of onself. Without that extension, walking upright with one's head held high in a wild environment is no longer that easy. We may need to look for an American Indian to help us earn to live off the harsh land.

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I haven't read his book, but have a question: does Dawkins also apply genetics to human evolution? I.e. evolution from one generation to the next within society. Can you give me any passages where he says this? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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Finally this is a must read, after all , it's what started the Scientific Revolution (Evolution). I still prefer a hardcopy, but someone was nice enough to make it into a digicopy.

 

You forget Lamarck. And.. anyway, Darwinism nearly died right after the "revolution" in question. Darwinism had a second breath with the help of Haldane, Fisher and Wright's "modern synthesis".

 

I haven't read his book, but have a question: does Dawkins also apply genetics to human evolution? I.e. evolution from one generation to the next within society. Can you give me any passages where he says this? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

 

I can't give you a specific passage, but I don't think you'll find an evolutionary biologist claiming there's no genetic evolution in human. Evolution is always present, like it or not, even if there was no natural selection at all, no gene flow, there would still be genetic drift.

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Why is this called the 'selfish gene theory' and attributed to Dawkins?

 

The same reason The Law of Accelerating Returns is called such and attributed to Kurzweil when really it's just an extrapolation upon the ideas of Moore's Law, Carl Sagan, Alvin Toffler, and others. The idea has been more developed, supported by example, simplified, and clarified from the original model to remove specifics which hamper application to generalized processes.

 

Of course, you don't have to ask me twice about what I thought the truly novel part of The Selfish Gene was (Here's a hint: it has two m's and two e's)

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Why is this called the 'selfish gene theory' and attributed to Dawkins? The idea described at http://bovination.com/cbs/selfishGeneTheory.jsp

for example is just one facet evolution by natural selection (and not very well expressed at that)' date=' as originated by Darwin.[/quote']

 

It's true. In 'selfish gene theory', 'theory' is a big word, it's not really a theory, and it's not even close from being a theory of evolution. It's a somewhat provocative expression of G.C.Williams' gene-centered view of evolution, it's usefull in a limited number of situations. Dawkins hasn't invented it, he popularized it.

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Does the "selfish gene"-point of view explain anything that is not covered by general evolution theory?

i didnt read all the links that were presented in this thread, but the essence that i got from this "theory" seems unlogical to me. What is the advantage of the concept to assign a general "purpose" to a species, just like being a host for a molecule that wants to be reproduced? I really do not get it.:confused:

 

For me it sounds like this: "selfish biomass":D

biomass has the purpose to expand spatially, no matter how it is achieved. that is why birds evolved, to transport Biomass to the sky, and the brain to develop a rocket to bring biomass into space.

 

there is no purpose of anything in evolution, just mechanisms.

did i miss something important to understand the theory?

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