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PostPosted: 18 Jul 2008, 02:06 
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That sure confused me. What's the connection?


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PostPosted: 18 Jul 2008, 02:44 
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Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
I have bought the book, despite my better judgement. :)

Out of interest, how does the selfish gene idea deal with the finding of evolutionary developmental biology that biological diversity doesn’t always correspond to genetic diversity, but rather to diversity in the regulation of genes?


Let's try to find a better formulation of an answer than the rather flip assertion that evolution will find a way.

I'd suggest that diversity in the regulation in genes is itself largely genetically determined, and that diversity in the regulation of genes (if I understand what you are saying by that) is ion itself a useful device (from the POV of genes) for the continued replication of the genes in question.

Just as genes which might lead organisms to be kind to other organisms might, in some circumstances, help the genes to replicate, so might genes which allow diversity in genetic regulations can be an effective thing to aid the long term survival of those genes.

David B (feeling a bit muzzy headed this morning, so might get back to this later)


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PostPosted: 21 Jul 2008, 13:46 
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I agree that genes still have a lot of input. The reason that I brought this up is that I understand the selfish gene idea to originate in the view that genes are the sole carriers of hereditary traits. In the new picture, they are still an important source of information, but not the only one. Their significance is further reduced if we consider the problem of form and the fact that cells that carry the same genes develop differently based on their position in the body (probably some kind of field effect). A gene-centric view of biological organisms doesn’t make a lot of sense to me if genes are one of several carriers of hereditary information.

I don’t see humans as biological organisms, but as spirits that utilise biological bodies, so I find the gene-centric view problematic on a whole different level, but that’s another discussion.

Hopefully Richard Dawkins’ book clears up some of my misgivings…


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PostPosted: 22 Jul 2008, 15:02 
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Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
I agree that genes still have a lot of input. The reason that I brought this up is that I understand the selfish gene idea to originate in the view that genes are the sole carriers of hereditary traits. In the new picture, they are still an important source of information, but not the only one. Their significance is further reduced if we consider the problem of form and the fact that cells that carry the same genes develop differently based on their position in the body (probably some kind of field effect).


The trouble is that discussion of that sort of thing tend to be very technical.

I don't understand every word in the following link myself, though I think I can pick up some sort of gist of it. Ichanced upon it today in another board, serendipitously.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008 ... netics.php

Why do you think that field effects have any relevance? I don't see any evidence to that effect, though the word 'Sheldrake' springs to mind.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheldrake

I wonder if you might have become a little misled by his ....well, nonsense, really.

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A gene-centric view of biological organisms doesn’t make a lot of sense to me if genes are one of several carriers of hereditary information.


If I understand things correctly, it is not so much that genes are one of several carriers of hereditary information, as that there are epigenetic factors in which there is feedback. To oversimplify what I get from the pharyngula link.

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I don’t see humans as biological organisms, but as spirits that utilise biological bodies, so I find the gene-centric view problematic on a whole different level, but that’s another discussion.


Hopefully, it will be another discussion.

I do not - except perhaps by viewing the term 'spirit' very unorthodoxly, rather as Hofstadter uses the word 'Soul' - think that spirits exist, outside the world of strong drink.

A belief in spirits as the term might be more generally understood (or - as I would suggest - misunderstood) would be problematic for a gene-centric POV, even one including epigenetic factors.

Want to start a thread on whether spirits exist, and, if so, what they could be, and what evidence for them or against them there might be? Or something along those lines?

I'd welcome such a thread.

What forum would be best?

Quote:
Hopefully Richard Dawkins’ book clears up some of my misgivings…


I'd hope that it would clear up some - though I think your view in some ways more sophisticated, in some ways less, than many of his detractors, who have learnt of his views second hand.

The major, and most simplistic, misunderstanding of his position, is that selfish genes lead to selfish organisms.

And that is a misunderstanding of his position.

But perhaps not one of your misunderstandings of his position.

David B


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PostPosted: 25 Jul 2008, 03:29 
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David B wrote:
The trouble is that discussion of that sort of thing tend to be very technical.

I don't understand every word in the following link myself, though I think I can pick up some sort of gist of it. Ichanced upon it today in another board, serendipitously.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008 ... netics.php

Well, the terminology used in that blog post is certainly way beyond my knowledge of biology. I’ll just have to draw on my knowledge of epigenetics from other, more layman-friendly texts. :)

David B wrote:
Why do you think that field effects have any relevance? I don't see any evidence to that effect, though the word 'Sheldrake' springs to mind.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheldrake

I wonder if you might have become a little misled by his ....well, nonsense, really.

Sheldrake’s hypotheses are definitely ‘out there’, but they are by and large not new. As far as I’m aware, the concept of a field body template was first proposed in the 1920s. This was done in an effort to explain the cells’ ability to develop appropriately for their position in the body (something that, to the best of my knowledge, remains unexplained by epigenetic means).

Robert Becker did some interesting work in this area. He mapped out the electric currents on the skin surface of salamanders and found that he could anaesthetise them by applying an electromagnetic field. He also found that interfering with electric currents at the point of injury could enhance or impede the healing process, leading to the creation of medical devices that use magnetic fields to promote the healing of bone fractures. Becker also discovered that red blood cells that form a blood clot to stop the bleeding slowly devolve into stem cells, and then evolve into cell types appropriate for their position in the body, thereby regrowing the missing or damaged tissue. This is what enabled salamanders to regrow the top half of their heart that was surgically removed.

David B wrote:
If I understand things correctly, it is not so much that genes are one of several carriers of hereditary information, as that there are epigenetic factors in which there is feedback. To oversimplify what I get from the pharyngula link.

Wikipedia refers to these as gene networks. I suspect that this is not what Dawkins had in mind, though, and that the term has been expanded to accommodate the subsequent discovery of the important role of epigenetics. Perhaps not all that important in the context of this discussion.

David B wrote:
Want to start a thread on whether spirits exist, and, if so, what they could be, and what evidence for them or against them there might be? Or something along those lines?

I’m already involved in such a thread at IIDB – Does Consciousness Survive Death – which numbers close to 3,700 posts to date. I’m rather reluctant to start another discussion on the same topics due to time constraints as I’m already spending more time on the IIDB thread than I would like to. If we could keep the discussion more focused, then I would be interested.

David B wrote:
The major, and most simplistic, misunderstanding of his position, is that selfish genes lead to selfish organisms.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t understand the meaning of the term ‘selfish’ in the context of genes, since they possess neither self-awareness nor free will. Or does Dawkins claim otherwise?


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PostPosted: 25 Jul 2008, 08:31 
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Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
David B wrote:
The major, and most simplistic, misunderstanding of his position, is that selfish genes lead to selfish organisms.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t understand the meaning of the term ‘selfish’ in the context of genes, since they possess neither self-awareness nor free will. Or does Dawkins claim otherwise?


I don't think that Dawkins implies that they 'think' and have a unified 'agenda', rather that they work to preserve themselves (their own) and their continued propagation at the expense of others ... If you 'personify' that, you'd classify it as 'selfish'.

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If you can't stand the heat, don't tickle the dragon ...


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PostPosted: 25 Jul 2008, 16:52 
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I'll get back to this.

I have some real life problems at the moment.

David B


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PostPosted: 25 Jul 2008, 16:57 
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real life trumps ilife every time.

We'll be here when you are up to it.

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PostPosted: 26 Jul 2008, 12:11 
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David B wrote:
I'll get back to this.

I have some real life problems at the moment.

David B

Sorry to hear that. We'll be here if you need us. :help:

:wave:


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