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Altruistic acts of courage and evolution. 
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Post Altruistic acts of courage and evolution.
Consider this scenario:

There is a house on fire and a person is trapped inside.
Before firemen arrive to fight the blaze a bystander (male) risks his life to save the occupant, putting his own life in mortal danger.

This act of courage is counter to the principle of evolution that has been in effect for millions of years. Why? Because by selflessly risking his life, our hero actually greatly increased the probabilities of removing his genes from future generations. And if he had young, dependent children of his own, he further risks his genes not surving into the future.

What is going on here, scientifically speaking?
Are some homo sapeins wired for altruistic acts of courage and some not?

One logical explanation might be this:

The courage our hero showed mimics a peacock's tail in attracting females.
Our altruistic hero enjoys a prestige that helps him attract healthy gorgeous women with good genes.
So if he survives his selfless act of courage, his chances of getting laid are better than those who were less willing to act courageously.

Do you see how easy it is to rescue the principle of evolution with ad hoc gap fillers?
It's nearly as good as magic.

So the next time you have an opportunity to risk it all, do it.
Paradoxically, you will be increasing the odds that your genes will survive into the future.



Sun May 24, 2015 7:16 pm
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Post Re: Altruistic acts of courage and evolution.
Why don’t we kill old people? They’re done reproducing.

Why do people wear condoms, you’re wasting the seed!

Why do we watch TV instead of having more sex!

Why do we do pretty much anything else?

Gee, no one studying human behavior has ever been able to solve these puzzles. Maybe silly evolutionists think all of these actions attract more mates!



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Sun May 24, 2015 7:56 pm
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Post Re: Altruistic acts of courage and evolution.
Gimmie more of dat ol ad hoc magic!



Sun May 24, 2015 8:15 pm
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Post Re: Altruistic acts of courage and evolution.
Most people seem to have an amazing ability to empathise.

If they know someone is in a bad situation they can imagine how awful it must be and even feel a taste of what the poor sufferer must be going through as if they were going through it themselves.

Even watching a movie you begin to identify with the action, if the protagonist gets into bother you tense up, if the protagonist gets away you feel relief, if this happens watching a movie that you know is staged how much more watching an actual event.

Caring for each other is a real strength as all of us benefit from care from time to time.

We are highly social creatures, just witness how much trouble we get into psychologically when we feel isolated, alienated or ostracised, how blissful we feel in good company, having fun together.

Also I think that all things are connected so if a fire were to kill people and make their loved ones sad then I too would have to deal somewhat with that sadness so it's in my own interest also to help out, if I save a child from the fire there will be much joy for all, me included, if I don't there will be much sorrow and I also will have to deal.

So I assess the risk, can it be done, hell, let's give it a shot, might just make it....

Or, damn, flames are too advanced, can't make it..

Ant, you say this act of courage is counter to evolution but I see it could be argued as the product of evolution, we evolve highly developed brain that can imagine and project and empathise etc we evolve as a highly social creature so it makes sense that we would help where we can, and in some cases with some people you would expect extreme examples of self sacrifice even as you would expect ordinary every day examples of co-operation, for example, I'll buy this guy lunch because I have heaps of money and this guys friend bought me lunch the other day when I was short.

after all, we are all in this together.

kindness of strangers has helped me through many a time and so i naturally try to reciprocate, cruelty of strangers has hurt me many a time so i wish for less of that and more of the kindness, it feels better.

Hell I even get sad when I see a tree chopped down unnecessarily.

if my hand refuses to help my leg saying "i am alright jack" the whole body loses, we all lose, so do good as and when you can, we all benefit, seems logical enough.

this is perhaps some common ground between some religionists and some humanists. some religionists might say "we are members one of another" some humanists might say "we are all in this together" voila, common ground.



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Sun May 24, 2015 9:27 pm
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Post Re: Altruistic acts of courage and evolution.
Thanks for the scientific explanation there.
Our brains are advanced and we "project" kindness.
And everybody loses if that person isnt saved from the house fire.



Last edited by ant on Sun May 24, 2015 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun May 24, 2015 9:46 pm
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Post Re: Altruistic acts of courage and evolution.
Image :-D



Mon May 25, 2015 2:56 am
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Post Re: Altruistic acts of courage and evolution.
news.harvard.edu/gazett/story/2012/04/t ... flessness/

The article's a counter argument to the idea of social Darwinism. By pointing out certain species that evolved behaviors, that put the survival of the extended group ahead of the individual, there is a greater likelihood of dominance over those extended groups that favor individual dominance inside the selected group.



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Mon May 25, 2015 9:14 am
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Post Re: Altruistic acts of courage and evolution.
Hi Taylor:

An ant will sacrifice itself for the good of its colony. That particular behavior is algorithmic based. It is not an act of autonomous altruism.

Do you think this same type of behavior in humans is hardwired?
What evidence is there that indicates it is?
Is the evidence that one hero who was willing to risk his life?

What is the human analogue to the ant colony in this case?
Is it a family (it most certainly not the hero's own family), the community, the nation, or the human race?

And what if our hero, after saving the person, runs into the house one last time in an attempt to save the person's poor little puppy dog: was that additional act of altruism for the benefit of the human race?

Ps - some more thoughts;

Evolutionary psychological explanations can work out explanations that align with prior theoretical commitments.
Ad hoc explanations are manufactured things. But can they be tested in all instances? Seems to me they are magical explanations if they cant be tested.
Why choose verbal prestidigitation when the scientific method is available?

Or is not the scientific method applicable to evolutionary psychology?

I think my peacock explanation was scientific enough.
But is it true scientifically speaking?



Mon May 25, 2015 6:05 pm
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Post Re: Altruistic acts of courage and evolution.
ant wrote:
Evolutionary psychological explanations can work out explanations that align with prior theoretical commitments.
Ad hoc explanations are manufactured things. But can they be tested in all instances? Seems to me they are magical explanations if they cant be tested.
Why choose verbal prestidigitation when the scientific method is available?


You seem to be looking for strict boundaries where none actually exist. I think it was Dawkins who once used the term "just-so stories" (alluding to Kipling's famous book) to describe hypothetical speculations as to why something is the way it is. For example, why do women live longer than men? The "just-so" story I read once is that older women can be useful in helping rear grandkids. Whereas old men are less useful. I seriously doubt there's any evidence to support this and, just to be clear, there was never any doubt for me that this story was hypothetical. But clearly some people do have a problem making that distinction.

That's how often science starts, emerging from curiosity and uncertainty. We begin to wonder and to ask questions. And, as such it's very natural for scientists to come up with possible explanations. It's a starting point for further exploration. From reasonable conjecture to something testable, that's the how scientific theories get their start.

I was searching the web right now to see where Dawkins does use that term, "just-so stories" and, ironically, I found a number of web sites criticizing Dawkins of using 'just-so stories" passing off as science. But again, I think it's pretty clear that some people have a hard time making that distinction (and it's probably not Dawkins).

Here's David Barash's view.

An excerpt:

Quote:
We believe that a just-so story is simply a story, a tentative, speculative answer to a question, and, as such, a clarification of one's thinking, ideally a goad to further thought, and, not incidentally, a necessary preliminary to obtaining the kind of additional information that helps answer a question (which, in the best cases, leads to yet more queries). When that happens—when the narrative is testable and generates fact-based research—then, in a sense, it is no longer a just-so story, but science, pure and … rarely simple.


http://chronicle.com/article/How-the-Sc ... His/63287/


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Mon May 25, 2015 10:03 pm
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Post Re: Altruistic acts of courage and evolution.
I get how science starts.
But your response is a good one.

Do you think just-so stories are labled as such, or do men like Dawkins and evolutionary psychologists in general try to pass them off as Science (Method)?

Is the tale of the beauty of the peacock's tail a "just-so" story?

What do you think?

http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110418/ ... 1.245.html



Last edited by ant on Tue May 26, 2015 1:21 am, edited 3 times in total.



Tue May 26, 2015 1:09 am
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Post Re: Altruistic acts of courage and evolution.
ant wrote:
This act of courage is counter to the principle of evolution that has been in effect for millions of years. Why? Because by selflessly risking his life, our hero actually greatly increased the probabilities of removing his genes from future generations. And if he had young, dependent children of his own, he further risks his genes not surving into the future.


Biological evolution cannot predict what languages we will develop, or what customs will be in various societies, and what etiquette different people adopt, and what side of the road we'll drive on. These things are born from cultural evolution. Cultural evolution follows a different model and theory. Biological evolution gives us insight into our impulses and predispositions, but culture can override that. Refraining from sex for religious reasons, for example.


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Tue May 26, 2015 11:15 pm
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