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mmmtravis
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Evolution the result of a genetic defficiency?

[I've concurrently posted this on the SETI board Em linked me to yesterday, so it is tailored for them more than for you, but I would still be interested to hear your thoughts]

I think it possible that evolution is a wee bit trickier then it appears as outlined in The Origin of Species. I wouldn't be surprised if evolution's two prerequisites for advancement, "willingness" and "ableness," are inversely related. As a species is more able to survive, it becomes less willing.

Would it be so odd to think a plethora amoebae (or whatever the generally agreed upon first sign of terrestrial life was) may have appeared and disappeared for a great many epochs (with absolutely no need to thrive, reproduce, or "fear" death) before one genetically deficient one [whom I prefer to label Horatio] was "born" with a primative resemblence of an inferiority complex? Essentialy, Horatio sensed death was near and, unlike any other amoeba previously created, got scared. Pardon my personification of its thought, but the reasoning might be something like, "Oh crap, I'm going to die. I'm not content with that. I want to live forever. What do you mean I can't? Hmm, the next best thing would be to leave a part of me here... a legacy.... I know, I'LL DIVIDE!" And so it goes, Horatio then became our very first ancestor. Of course, his lineage all shared the same genetic defficiency... a fear of death, so they too wanted to survive.

I'm rambling, I know, but I think a truly enlightened living creature would sense the futility in a temporal existence and have no need to exist. Perhaps that is how most life begins, except for Horatio and his genetic deficiency. Slowly, I believe, evolution is steering us towards the original insight that removes fear of nothingness.

What philosophical consequences do a diatribe like this imply, even if only partially accurate? 1) Though life may be abundant, evolution may not be (if the primordial signs of life were fully content not reproducing). 2) This certainly explains a lot of human insecurities. 3) In a system where life happens and, like our planet, reproduction also happens, evolution would occur, but ONLY so far as to bring the sentient and dominant beings of the planet to an original stasis, then life would once again cease to exist on those levels.

Yeah, I'm not the most articulate person and I'm probably also crazy.... your thoughts?

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Old Post 07-04-2002 12:25 AM
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Dog Breath
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That makes sense but it is pretty well explained by natural selection.

I doubt there was a "Pure" life with a sudden divergence like "Horatio", more likely as in all other natural structures there is a gradient from one state to another. The lives that feared death more survived more often and just like breeding dalmations for more spots, the changes occur over many generations.

Animals are still born with no fear of death but they still tend to live shorter lives. If the tendency is genetic, it is easy to see how a characteristic could disappear completely. If it is developmental the trait is lessened by social interaction. If the trait is from outside sources the level will stabilize at an equilibrium with the level of outside forces regardless of evolution.

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Old Post 07-04-2002 12:40 AM
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squee
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I disagree mmm.

First of all as I understand it, evolution refers to a species, and not an individual; so I think you'd be more accurate to discuss the survival instinct of a species as a whole, which to my knowledge has never really been studied with an eye to comparison among species...ie, this species triumphs over its competitor because it had a more vigorous survival instinct. I can fully see that "wanting it more" could be just as valid a survival trait as any other, but lacking any data, isn't it just as fair to assume that any species will attempt to survive to the best of its abilities? After all, the study of natural selection to date has only concerned itself with those abilities--this animal runs faster, this one is better at cracking shellfish, et cetera.

Second, I have long read philosophical meanderings on the value of "backing down." A blade of grass survives a tempest that uproots an oak tree because it bends with pressure rather than resists it. Your post makes me wonder--are there circumstances where an organism can ensure its survival by retreating from the "rat race" of Nature, red in tooth and claw? Or does this suppose a kind of will that we can't assume even exists in animals?

Good postage.

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Old Post 07-04-2002 06:42 AM
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toocrazycosmo
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quote:
Originally posted by squee

Second, I have long read philosophical meanderings on the value of "backing down." A blade of grass survives a tempest that uproots an oak tree because it bends with pressure rather than resists it. Your post makes me wonder--are there circumstances where an organism can ensure its survival by retreating from the "rat race" of Nature, red in tooth and claw? Or does this suppose a kind of will that we can't assume even exists in animals?



Isn't that part of survival? Fight or flight?
Either way, it's survival mode. If you can be successful in determining what works best in a given situation, you get to live, maybe even long enough to evolve.

Apparent in nature as well as the rat race

***edit***

By the way... that second part was very Taoiest of you

Mmmm... very good post!

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Old Post 07-04-2002 07:22 PM
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squee
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Speaking of the propogation of the species, how many kids are we going to have, anyway?

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Old Post 07-05-2002 06:42 PM
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toocrazycosmo
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quote:
Originally posted by squee
Speaking of the propogation of the species, how many kids are we going to have, anyway?


You told me you had this relationship all planned out :wink2:

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Old Post 07-05-2002 07:03 PM
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Oracular_Jinx
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Uh, if you had no fear of death and were fine with ceasing to exist, wouldn't there be a lot fewer of that species?

I can picture it now.
"I am not afraid of that bus."
"Although the bus is fast approaching, it does not scare me."
"I am not afraid of the bus, because I am not afraid of death."
SMOOSH.

I suppose that can be categorized as fight or flight as well.
In some cases, it might even be categorized as common sense.

I'm a bit confused on your statement about how a species that is more able to survive is less willing. Can you give me some examples? An example that immediately popped into my head was raccoons (a rare disturbance for many of us, I'm sure, but a real pain in the ass for at least some of us). Raccoons should be less and less able to survive, along with foxes and coyotes in our urban city. Essentially, they should be gone. The fact remains, they have found ways to continue populating the city by residing WITH people. Thus, their struggle to adapt has paid off, from what I see.

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Old Post 07-05-2002 09:24 PM
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squee
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quote:
Originally posted by Oracular_Jinx
Uh, if you had no fear of death and were fine with ceasing to exist, wouldn't there be a lot fewer of that species?

I can picture it now.
"I am not afraid of that bus."
"Although the bus is fast approaching, it does not scare me."
"I am not afraid of the bus, because I am not afraid of death."
SMOOSH.

I suppose that can be categorized as fight or flight as well.
In some cases, it might even be categorized as common sense.

I'm a bit confused on your statement about how a species that is more able to survive is less willing. Can you give me some examples? An example that immediately popped into my head was raccoons (a rare disturbance for many of us, I'm sure, but a real pain in the ass for at least some of us). Raccoons should be less and less able to survive, along with foxes and coyotes in our urban city. Essentially, they should be gone. The fact remains, they have found ways to continue populating the city by residing WITH people. Thus, their struggle to adapt has paid off, from what I see.



Well, I'm trying to get a handle on this idea myself. I remember reading about how in many species, there is a suicide impulse activated in certain members for the good of the "herd" for lack of a better term. For instance, in some colonial organisms like the Portuguese Man o' War there's apoptosis...that is, the same process that leads to you having five fingers (ok, Goatboy, six) instead of a paddle at the end of your arm causes the Manowar to have a distinct shape that isn't totally dictated by the environment rather than being an undifferentiated blob like a slime mold.

I've also seen quite a few studies on population fluctuations. In fact I conducted one myself using Didinia and paramecia as my predator-prey organisms as an undergrad. The result was the predictable sinewave: the paramecia zoom around eating bacteria and odd bits of bioplasm, and the didina zoom around trying to eat the paramecia (about the smallest bout of "Animal Kingdom Kumite" I've ever seen). When the paramecia overpopulated to the point where the food supply was too low to sustain them, there was a population crash, followed soon by one in the Didinia as well. And of course we see this on a larger scale with all kinds of animals. Forests seem to operate in a similar manner vis-a-vis forest fires, where the population gets to the point where it can't grow and may actually decline unless a big fire cleans everything out and enables new life to grow.

It seems pretty obvious to me that there is some advantage for the species in a particular niche if it can self-regulate to some extent. I wonder...what is the mechanism for choosing which organisms live and which ones die? If you take the reductionist view of organisms as vehicles for their genes (the "Selfish Gene" theory) then it could be pre-programmed. Then again I'm sure that the appearance of design in the system would lend some ammunition to the "Intelligent Design" folks. In the human body there may be some kind of cellular signalling system in place that we don't understand yet (this was actually what I wanted to focus my research on when I was considering grad school). What a wonderful question, huh?

And now the inevitable question...what of human self-regulation? There has been lots of debate for the past century about population control, expressed in its harshest forms in the Eugenics Movement and the Third Reich's attempt to create a "Master Race." Nowadays there is a softer approach that takes the form of the UN (and a multitude of organizations in the US) pushing prophylactics and birth control in Third World nations. As these are politically motivated I don't see most of it as anything but propganda, I'll be honest. If you know anything about soil banks you know that humankind is nowhere near a population crash, which disinformation makes me distrustful of the population control agenda in academic circles. In addition my own political views about the value of human life and the nature of government by Republic, which run from Plato to Thomas Jefferson, tilt me contrariwise to anyone who sees invidual humans as expendable units for the good of the species.

Now...
What was your question again?

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Old Post 07-05-2002 10:17 PM
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toocrazycosmo
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Since we are completely off topic...

Assume that there is an evolutionary process. Assume there are members of the species that are predestined to be weeded.

Does that make charity irrevelent?

For instance. You give your 52 cents a day to save Starvin Marvin. If they are eventually predestined to die off as a weaker specimen of society, aren't we just pissing in the wind (as it were)?

Can we, as a species, change what is "pre-determined"?

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Old Post 07-05-2002 10:38 PM
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IBeFree
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To drain the swamp .... or not to drain the swamp ...??? that is the REAL question.....

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Old Post 07-07-2002 06:54 AM
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GoFuckYourselves!
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I'm very wary of swamp dust, IBeFree. So, if you decide to drain, please wear a protective mask.

Regarding evolution: You can't have nothing... and then... from that nothingness... end up with a human being. Even if you had all the time in the world. UNLESS, that is, WE'RE NOT HUMANS AFTER ALL!

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Old Post 07-07-2002 07:03 AM
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wonderaz
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quote:
Originally posted by squee
I disagree mmm.

Your post makes me wonder--are there circumstances where an organism can ensure its survival by retreating from the "rat race" of Nature, red in tooth and claw? Or does this suppose a kind of will that we can't assume even exists in animals?

Good postage.



When I read that I immediately look up at the tank above my computer.
How about those Madagascar Hissing roaches? Over 200,000,000 years old, the exact same creature that roams the forest floors of that primitive island has been found preserved in amber.
They have retreated by hiding in the leaf litter on the ground, the perfect coloration for blending in and the interesting mask of having no easily disernable odor and that includes their droppings. They will eat about anything but hunt nothing.
They are combatative amongst themselves (mostly the adult males hissing and shoving each other about, nothing to the death or anything) but rely solely upon their hiding regarding other creatures.
They seem to fit your description.

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Old Post 07-07-2002 07:32 AM
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GoFuckYourselves!
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And I'm beginning to look exactly like my computer. In evolutionary terms, this is called "adaptation".

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Old Post 07-07-2002 07:40 AM
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squee
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wonderaz, I was thinking more of a species being more able to survive because it does not compete...I mean, let's say you have four or five similar species of jellyfish competing for the same ecological niche...with various environmental pressures and whatnot...I wonder if one species might be more successful in the long run if it does not compete with the others...maybe the others will kill each other off or something? The more I think about it, the less robust the idea sounds. Unless the competitors destroyed themselves then the survivors would just keep getting stronger and stronger. Maybe it's not such a good idea after all.

But I still wonder if among species there is some impulse that makes the losers "lose" after a certain point...or do they keep fighting to the last? Hmm.

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Old Post 07-07-2002 02:13 PM
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wonderaz
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Makes sense to me.
I also see these roaches doing that. They did find a niche where they have no competition. This could explain why they haven't changed in 200 million years, there was no need to adapt to anything different.

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Old Post 07-07-2002 06:03 PM
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toocrazycosmo
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quote:
Originally posted by GoFuckYourselves!
. UNLESS, that is, WE'RE NOT HUMANS AFTER ALL!


I, personally, am soilent green

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Old Post 07-07-2002 08:22 PM
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toocrazycosmo
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quote:
Originally posted by squee
I wonder if one species might be more successful in the long run if it does not compete with the others. Hmm.


Well, in the political sense, communism proved a failure... but of course that's because it's easily corrupted.

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Old Post 07-07-2002 08:27 PM
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GoFuckYourselves!
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Communism is a failure because their whole modus operandi is to KEEP PEOPLE DOWN!

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Old Post 07-07-2002 09:05 PM
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mmmtravis
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Oh, and communism failed because Marx sucked at interpreting Hegel.

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Old Post 07-07-2002 09:32 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by GoFuckYourselves!
Communism is a failure because their whole modus operandi is to KEEP PEOPLE DOWN!


Communism failed because there is no way to factor out greed for money and power.

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Old Post 07-08-2002 03:11 AM
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mmmtravis
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quote:
Originally posted by toocrazycosmo


Communism failed because there is no way to factor out greed for money and power.



Heh, yeah, I too saw the episode of Duck Tales that incorporated the bottle caps as currency.

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Old Post 07-08-2002 07:59 AM
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toocrazycosmo
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quote:
Originally posted by mmmsivart


Heh, yeah, I too saw the episode of Duck Tales that incorporated the bottle caps as currency.




Everything on T.V. is true

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