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Enhanced evolution 
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Post Enhanced evolution
Looking at the book as a whole, one idea Bloom should have emphasized more was that considering evolution as a system larger than the force of a selfish gene does not contradict individual selection or the theory of evolution itself. Looking at a bigger picture actually strengthens the theory of evolution by showing how natural and social forces, in addition to random mutations and individual gene selection enhance and accelerate the process of evolution. Some of these enhancements could be summarized briefly as follows.

Some bacterial species, by communicating and operating as a system rather than as individuals, are capable of redesigning their genome to solve intractable problems. Recall Eshel Ben-Jacob and his studies of e. coli and other bacteria that can design mutations to effectively turn poisons into food. This accelerated change could lead to huge evolutionary leaps very quickly.

Humans have the counter-forces of conformity and diversity. Groups tend to enforce conformity, increasing uniformity of what is desirable. However, "creative bickering" sets in, forcing sub-cultures that do not agree with the dominant culture to separate and even move away in extreme examples. These sub-groups may move into very different environments, North into the Arctic or South to the tropics, which select against the group in different ways from the environment they left.

The sub groups develop different ideas of what is desirable in beauty, aggression, sociability, and many other characteristics. Genes that support these desires are enhanced, others are repressed. The social aspects of the sub-culture reward genes in different ways from the group they left. Differences are accentuated - recall the anthropologist who found that penis shape and breast size were affected when groups became separated over time. Through isolation, different environmental variables, and cultural differences in gene selection, the gene pools of sub-groups diverge. This divergence is enhanced and accelerated compared to stasis, i.e. if "creative bickering" had not caused groups to split away.

Some societies were much less conformist than others. This spawned more diversity, allowing individuals with similar eccentricities and fetishes to group together. However, the sub-cultures still competed for dominance in the society. Those who succeeded in this more open inter-dependent society were rewarded and tended to pass on more progeny than others



Mon Feb 24, 2003 4:56 pm
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Post Extraordinairy claim?
I really want to know if anyone has repeated Ben-Jacob's findings....because it seems to me that the claim of bacteria essentially controlling their evolution is a fairly extraordinairy. Even with chemical signalling, I don't see any method short of just activating existing genes with a messenger system that would be a viable claim in biology. Perhaps it's just that I don't understand what Bloom is getting at.




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