Luke Hobbs

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"Free Will" or genetic illusion for promoting self-survival?

So I'm at the pub (talking about The Avengers of all things, and why we find it strange to mix mythology with science) when this very English voice behind me says "Can I just say that I'm a lecturer in genetics and I find your discussion simply fascinating." Oh boy, he should so not have introduced himself that way... by the end of the night (morning actually, 4a.m.) we went from how cool Hulk looked to "IS free will "real", or simply just a trick played on "us" by our collective atomic energies, being "I am legion, for we are many" - but the many called the unified collective "I"?"

Example: Alpha Males have been shown to have weak immune systems. Could it not simply be the case of the collective genes "recognizing" it's weakness and so takes on an "Alpha Male" personality to protect itself?

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    Jul 12 2012: question: if there was no free will, how would you feel? would you feel any different? corollary: what kind of experiment could theoretically prove the existence of free will?
    • Jul 12 2012: I should have read your comment before posting but as for an experiment, how about this one?

      Find out how far apparent altruistic behaviours can reach between increasingly genetically distant individuals, whether they are more or less frequent in closely related individuals.

      This would be best done in a species without family units
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        Jul 12 2012: can someone explain that to me? how that even classifies as an experiment?
        • Jul 12 2012: Well I can... Lets say you get a bunch of vampire bats which regurgitate blood to feed those that haven't fed at a cost to themselves, this is altruistic behaviour. You tag each bat and sequence their DNA for comparison, to see which ones are most closely related. You record which individuals are giving out the free meals to other individuals. You compare the frequency of the altruistic behaviours with the closeness of the bats individual genetic sequences. If there is a correllation eg. bats give more free meals to those closely related to themselves then you have support for Altruism and hence (I won't ellaborate here) free will.

          If an exception to this correlation (inverse relationship) can be found in nature then this could be used in support of the argument that free will exists. Turning the idea of 'selfish genes' on its head. Get it?

          It would be of interest to see precisley what levels of genetic similarity are translated to altruistic behaviours. From studying animal species in the wild, a model could be made to attempt to predict the occurence of this behaviour in humans.
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        Jul 13 2012: well, that's the problem with consequence-less questions. the evidence you brought here is so weak. you simply excluded one single factor and then claimed there are no other factors. if we were talking about your life insurance policy or investing your savings, you would not accept such weak data.
        • Jul 13 2012: What are you talking about! I have not brought evidence, this is an experiment, which as of yet is un-tested, so there is no evidence... What data exactly would I be looking for when talking about my life insurance policy?

          Of course there will be other factors that might affect whether one bat donates to another, but these such as: existing family bonds can be removed by studying bats in a lab using random individuals introduced at the same time. I'm not here to write a full scientific paper but I did hope atleast that you may get the gist of what I'm trying to say, as it seems to me you have ignored the theory behind the experiment. And are pedantically exploiting those finer points that I haven't cared to mention at this stage in tthe discussion.

          Please go on and name me the other factors that I have missed....
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    Jul 12 2012: In every discussion I have had on this subject I have ended at the same place. I would rather believe that I have free will, and I do not find the evidence to the contrary overwhelming enough to stop me from doing what I want : )
  • Jul 13 2012: A subconscious reaction to a medical condition that is unknown would not be out of the question. A machine as complex as our brain would surely notice that there is some sort of weakness, so as to promote self-survival, we would take on a personality that not only shields us from our "kryptonite," but eliminates the need for us to be near it at all. If the kryptonite is disease and being the alpha male keeps you away from the sick, then you will naturally want to evolve to that role. If you have a weak immune system when you get a little sick you will feel bad. You eventually pick up on the fact that the muck you have been rolling in is somehow connected to your feeling bad, and you also notice that the Alpha Male is not ever required to roll in muck, so to avoid feeling yucky, you try to become the alpha male. It could also work the other way. If an alpha male does not come in contact with disease, its immune system may start to dwindle like unused bones and muscles.
  • Jul 12 2012: An intersting experiment would be to find out how far apparent altruistic behaviours can reach between increasingly genetically distant species. I believe this may shed some light on an answer to your question.
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    Jul 12 2012: Free Will vs Predestiny is the same argument as nature vs nurture, just in a different pair of trousers.

    My bet is that all exist.
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    Jul 12 2012: Collective genes?
    Now what in the name of Jesus Christ do you mean by that?

    I think your mate lied about being a lecturer in genetics.
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      Jul 13 2012: meh it was 4am we were drunk, I can't remember exactly what he said. Sounded cool though.