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  • MR T
  • Bristol
  • United Kingdom

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Are there any human behaviours that can't be logically derived from selfish gene promotion?

We do it with animals in biology all the time, we study animals and realise that the more closely related they are, the more likely they are to help each other. So why, if humans arose under the same conditions (evolution) should we treat ourselves any differently in study?. Arrogance?

Take sharing between friends, one friend shares with another in a time of excess, so that in a time of inexcess the other might reciprocate. This way both fair better than they would alone. Could this be a 'selfish' act?.


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    Nov 27 2013: The behaviour in which typically, humans become happy when they see others happy, for example smiling when seeing others smiling. I critically resolved this in that the happiness gained is simply a contageous reflection of someone or something that you can empathise with. However regardless of how many ways you think about the morality and tendencies of human behavior, good or bad; the conclusion is simply that we do it. Why we behave this way is a more difficult and perhaps important question.

    There is a wide spread assumption that evolution is a perfect ability or explanation of humans. However we have traits and gene pools which actually limit our survivability. Such as empathy, the protective trait, and even anger. Surely if evolution is perfectly consistent in the mentality of humans our emotive structure would be free of limiting factors, for example our reaction to high pressure situations; the fight or flight mechanism. Although this mechanism results in adrenaline production the mentality is flawed and has been shown to limit performance. Thus if the rise of humans above other species is due to our superior intelligence, why would it have ever evolved to be flawed in survivability?
    • Nov 27 2013: Theo,

      The adrenaline production I believe has to do with a response to physically move quickly through the high pressure situations using a narrow cognitive focus be it to fight or to flea... The stick around to observe and decide what happens goes out the window replaced with something like better safe than sorry or live to fight another day observe from a safe distance (in other words jump to that safe distance and then observe).

      The thing is that this natural response may be triggered by other situations that would be better resolved though sticking it out without at the very edge without falling into the fight nor retreating from it nor provoking it. Easier said than done when some feel corralled and backed into a corner that has no way out but to fight for their lives... thing is if they fight everyone loses ... gracefully dancing around towards a resolution is the only way to win for everyone to win... thought that may imply leaving behind certain weapons used as a fundamental support of individual safety. One would drop the weapons and walk through the conflict unharmed thought that may be counter intuitive to those in such situation.
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        Nov 28 2013: Thank you for your explanation Esteban.

        I understand what you are saying about the fight or flight mechanism and its relationship to adrenaline. Could you also explain my other query? That if humans are at the top of the food chain due to our intelligence, why is our intellectual performance flawed when it comes to survival situation in which adrenaline is produced and stress and pressure follows. Because if this were true humans should have evolved to deal with dire situations with calm intelligence rather than adrenaline production because that is the factor that caused us to climb to the top of the food chain. Hence in gene selection intelligent decision making would be favored because it led to survival.
        • Nov 28 2013: Theo,

          This may put a twist into this thread... and may even redefine who or what is at 'the top' of the food chain. BTW the food chain may be more of a shared life cycle where individuals collaborate (willingly on not :) with each other. In this nature cycle we can observe codependent relationships between all sort of organisms plants 'hire' workers to move pollen from one flower to the other and pay-them-workers with nectar. Plants also 'hire' animals to propagate their seeds throughout the land and 'pay them' animals with fruits. I heard that some ants even cultivate their food, defend some plants, and even enslave other ants! (Some slaves also rebel and kill their captors) (http://insects.about.com/od/antsbeeswasps/a/10-cool-facts-about-ants.htm ). This was just to put into context that we humans form a part of an intricate interconnected cycle with all sort of relationships some synergistic, some collaborative, some exploitative. For example we share an intimate relationship with plants... The oxygen we need to live on is put out by plants and the CO2 that plants need to live on is put out by humans (and other animals).

          Now the the twist into this thread.... A while ago I came across the 'Meme' which are sort of like physical genes in the non-physical domain. Another way to envision the memes is a computer programs. The thing is that these 'non-physical' 'creatures' also seek to reproduce and may form intimate relationships with their hosts (willingly or not so willingly) The thing is that a host like a bee may have to be coxed and enticed into working. Some programs are useful thought not so good at spreading; some programs are 'viruses' that spread like fire and may even be vicious to the host computer operational system and user. What caused us to climb to the top (and indirectly to climb to the top certain ideas) I think involves body-mind-spirit interrelationship and codependencies. 'Some' 'control' ideas & action and some chose to be under control
        • Nov 29 2013: Theo,
          My understanding of this differs. Whatever traits exist as a result of evolution are there because at one time they resulted in a mathematically greater percentage of offspring to survive, procreate and pass on the trait. Hence the fight flight response was at one time a trait that helped survival. Unless it subsequently prevents offspring being born and surviving to procreate, it will continue. If subsequent conditions favoured greater cognitive intelligence for procreation and survival, notwithstanding the adrenaline / stress response, then natural selection would begin to favour such a development. There is no evolutionary mechanism that makes the whole system fit for purpose at any future environment.

          For evolution of calm response while under duress to evolve we would need both a mutation or development of some people without the stress response, and at the same time a significant procreation advantage to them and disadvantage to those with the stress response. If in fact those with the stress response are somewhat disadvantaged in terms of, say, good decision making under stress, but there is no reduction in procreation and survival rates, the stress response will still exist.

          For one set of traits to emerge that fuels species success (at least in numerical terms) there is no requirement for others to align to support it - there is only the requirement that that trait gives a numerical procreation and survival advantage.
        • Nov 29 2013: Terry,

          Edited to add and change a bit what I had stated.

          A calm response may be nurtured into nature so as to direct the outcome along the path we seek to establish. The notion that the ones who reproduce the most will establish the traits that dominate would see to imply that poverty, illiteracy, and other world problems will persists because these reproduce more than the conscious responsible ones... still with the notion that memes like genes it may be possible for ideas to reproduce and spread to constrain the physical actions within a set benevolent ways. In other words we are getting to a point of conscious evolution where brute force is guided into subtle collaboration to cultivate abundant and diverse synergistic ecosystems...

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