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Thread: Is my DNA confused? Is it time to ditch the Dawkins ethic?

  1. #1 Is my DNA confused? Is it time to ditch the Dawkins ethic? 
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    OK, so I started reading a lot of popular literature, including Dawkins. Then I studies a lot of diagrams, bought some elementary books on DNA. (its so easy to get diagramitus)

    My picture was simple. DNA is comprised of genes which are sequences of base triplets.

    So I wanted to go deeper.

    To my suprise I found that only a minute percent (1.5/2 % by some counts) of DNA actually codes for protein. Then I find that even those lengths of genes that do this encoding have lengths of DNA that are 'irrelevent' (intragenic regions) to the protein coding intentions of the gene.

    Introns, exons, promoters, enhancers, overlapping genes, pseudogenes, mobile genetic elements,the picture is getting mighty confusing!

    Then the double whammy...

    The C value enigma. Did you know that there is no correlation between the size of the genome and the complexity of the phenotype! Salamanders and even some forms of amoebas have genomes hundreds of times larger than humans?

    My former idea was that DNA was a static place, where mutations happened only rarely.
    I thought that you were born with a 'set' of genes and a subset of this 'set was passed on to siblings.
    Now I can see that bits of DNA are sawpping around all over the place, and being spliced back in, sometimes in reverse sequence, and a whole mish mash of things is going on at the deeper level.
    However, almost invariably the frequency of such changes and the impact that this has on the genome and its heridity is not quantified.

    Presently I am complexed. They say that 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing' and I must say I am just a learner in this field, however....


    Obviously I have a lot more work to do and Zwirko has given me some guidance, howver I should like the opinion of others...

    Is it time to ditched the Dawkins Selfish Gene philosophy?

    I should like to know what others think?


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  3. #2  
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    I know when I'm not wanted

    However, I just popped in briefly to point out that you're kinda mixing up a few things here. What your post here describes is mostly molecular genetics and genomics. What Dawkins discussed in that particular book, on the other hand, is an aspect of evolutionary theory. Put simply, he argues that the gene is the unit of selection. As you've discovered, a "gene" is not an easy thing to describe and can encompass a wide variety of things. A modern understanding of the genome doesn't lead to a rejection of the selfish gene hypothesis. Although deeply connected, they are a bit like chalk and cheese.

    Whether Dawkins' view is accurate or not is debatable in itself (I don't agree fully with him).


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    Zwirko youve been really good to me, your answers are insightful and knowlegeable,
    you are most definitely wanted!

    I feel like a little baby walking for trhe first time now I have gone into the deep end (mixed metaphores) , so much to learn!

    I realise my questions are half cocked at present

    its going to be a passion of mine I can tell!

    please keep posting!

    PS
    I have just ordered a couple of books:

    Genes 8 Lewin

    Essential Cell Biology: An Introduction to the Molecular Biology of the Cell - Bruce Alberts

    Zero
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    DNA sequences look like a most unintelligent design of a slap dash, haphazard, Rube Goldberg kind of mishmash since that's how mindless evolution built them. Among its junk are old sequences that match what we see in the old fossils. A gene is not alive and so it's not selfish in that regard. Dawkins has spent a lot of time afterwords trying to undo his remarks about genes being selfish in those emotional terms, explaining further what he really meant, beyond that unfortunate catchphrase/title.
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    I used to think that evolution trimmed things up until they were super efficient - this seems that this is not the case

    I also just found out that the base pairs only 'almost always' pair up CG, AD
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  7. #6 Genes that do not code for proteins 
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    A gene in itself has a coding region and a non coding region. The parts in non coding regions influences the coding region that produce the phenotype's characteristics.
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  8. #7  
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    It is also worth remembering that genetics is a work in progress. There remains a lot to discover. For example : 'junk' DNA. Is it really junk? If not, how does it work and what does it do? Is only some junk?

    Geneticists are also in a state of confusion. A very healthy state for scientists! It's what drives them to further discoveries.
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    Alternative splicing

    Now I find out that one gene does not code for one protien

    its all falling apart!

    Obviosly the picture is extroardinariliy more complex than the lay view

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    Quote Originally Posted by questor
    Dawkins has spent a lot of time afterwords trying to undo his remarks about genes being selfish in those emotional terms, explaining further what he really meant, beyond that unfortunate catchphrase/title.
    I think that mis-characterizes his views a bit. His intent was not to "undu his remarks," in fact he recently printed a new edition of the same book. What he does is ridicule the creationist and others who cant tell the difference between his useful metaphoric language of "selfish genes," and his explanation of processes of how genes survive though the millenniums.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
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    I have now read a lot of Dawkins and seen a lot of his videos, I do think he is back peddling a little, but his basic tenents remain the same. He also has a habit of taking cheap shots at creationist and cranks. Obviously Religion has a lot to answer for, over centuries it has been an instrument for oppression, however he neglects to mention that science also has a lot to answer for, it has put an inadequate species in charge of the planet and the whole ecosphere is paying the cost.
    We qould not have such problems as we have (we being all living things), if the industrial revolution had not taken place, and it has not led to people treating each other and the cosmos better
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZeroZero
    I used to think that evolution trimmed things up until they were super efficient - this seems that this is not the case

    I also just found out that the base pairs only 'almost always' pair up CG, AD
    Genetic systems are full of noise because that makes them more robust.

    Therefore your thought that evolution trimmed things up was biased on a false notion.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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    I stand corrected by a monkey this is a good thing
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  14. #13  
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    Zero said, about the industrial revolution :

    "it has not led to people treating each other and the cosmos better."


    What makes you think that? Apart from mindless political correctness?

    In fact, before the industrial revolution, the homicide rate was about 100 killed per 100,000 population per year. Today the numbers are 5 in the USA, and 1 in Britain. To me, that looks a lot like we are treating each other better. And the cosmos has not actually noticed Homo sapiens yet.
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    Hi Sceptic,
    In fact, before the industrial revolution, the homicide rate was about 100 killed per 100,000 population per year. Today the numbers are 5 in the USA, and 1 in Britain. To me, that looks a lot like we are treating each other better. And the cosmos has not actually noticed Homo sapiens yet.
    Yes i can see this is an arguable point of view, my view is that the industrial revolution has fed the bellies of the west (sometimes at the expense of the bellies of the third world) and full bellys lead to a reduction in murderous emotions as do many other 'creature comforts'. I still see war ravaging the planet, take Rwanda, the Congo, I shant go on.

    I am not saying science is bad. I am stating that we need a shift in being, in our awareness, a profound shift. Nor am I advocating any form of religious fogma.
    We have pollution on a vast scale (caused by technological means) and typical modern man seems more concerned about whats on at the movies.


    I am , I suppose, filled with a sense of despair, humanity now wages war with the scientific tools we have invented, and most of the world is ruled by dictators. Gross indignities are still being effected even to the young and vulnerable. I dont blame science, at its best it is a valient quest for the truth, but in the hands of mankind we have used this knowledge for our own ends to provide more short term material wealth at the expense of future generations and all the other life on the biosphere.
    I am certainly not arguing for religiousness of any genre. History shows how religion has caused so much suffering and its full of hypocrites of all faiths (loook at the Ryan report).
    My considered view is that the human mind, specifically human consciousness - if you could dignify it with such a label, is not yet fit to handle the really important issues. Its only recently (on biological timescales) been modifed from that of an ape like creature and even more recently say a few geological seconds ago, woke up to seeing even a glimmer of an objective perception of ourselves. Yes, this is more than other animals (as far as I can tell) but is it enough? We sit on the throne of the animal kingdom, but are we able to rule with any wisdom?

    We are still in a state of somnabulism, we dream that we are conscious of our actions but the consequences, the cummulative consequences are devastating to the planet and even to our fellow humans.
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  16. #15  
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    Do not despair.
    Things are actually looking up.
    Deaths from all forms of violence, including war and homicide, have been dropping steadily for more than 50 years, and such deaths on a per capita basis are massively lower today than in pre-civilisation times. The video referenced below is well worth watching, and I urge you to do so.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ramBFRt1Uzk

    On the environmental front, things are not as bad as you think either. It is not so much that humanity is destroying the world. It is more like we are passing through a number of stages, and we learn as we go. In Victorian England (and the USA of the same time) terrible air and water pollution blighted the cities. People died by tens of thousands from breathing poisoned air and drinking poisoned water. That no longer happens.

    Even in countries like China, this kind of pollution is being tackled energetically, and is slowly getting less. Mother Nature has a remarkable capacity to recover from this kind of poisoning, and will do so.

    We solved the global problem of ozone destroyers. The population explosion is now behind us. Half the world now has negative population growth, and the slowing fertility is predicted to result in population stability by 2050 at 9 billion.
    http://www.un.org/popin/.

    The current biggest global environmental issue is climate change, and we have just begun to tackle that. Given 50 years, that should be well on the way to proper control also.

    No, the world is not about to end, from violence or from environmental degradation.
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    ah skeptic,

    The killing goes on, the war to end all wars taught us nothing, even the jews (who suffered so much) now brutally oppress. I am not really using the murder rarte as a dip stick - it seems you are.
    I acknowledge my opinion is subjecrtive and may be wrong. I started of by stating that Dawkins criticises religion but not science, however science like any tool can be used for oppression and destruction. Also just as there are wild religious claims by cranks and charletons, so also in science we find the same lies and delusions - look at the claims on the back of any hair product.
    I can sense the reader objecting that such things are not science, but science is only science of the correct methoology in the hands of fair and objective people. Yet if such an argument is used of religion - that religion of cranks and liars is not 'true' religion, and the only true religion is X then I sense that any rationalist would reach for his gun.
    We are neck deep in lies and hypocracy. We fool ourselves that we have control. walk into a supermarket look on the shelves, look at the claims, look at the air miles for our wandering fickle desires. Look at the claims that supermarkets are concerned about our healthy lifestyles and watch them sell us cigarettes and lethal ciders. See how htey sneak around adding hydrogenated fats and other nicities purely for thei own convienience.
    See what society demands of us , and teaches us, seduces us to do.. then wonder why human beings are increasingly having less and less to do with nature, even with their own nature, as their consciousness becomes more concerned with the color of their hair and the next installment of their favorite soap.
    No one is really THINKING being a 'scientiist' is no guaruntee of any form of objective awareness, it merely grants an ability to apply a formula.
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  18. #17  
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    Try watching the video I referenced. Prof. Popper has a story to convince you.

    Is science guilty? No, because science is a system, and that system has no morality. Are scientists guilty? Some are, because they are human, and fallible. As you said, it can be used for oppression. However, the vast majority of scientists are honest, dedicated individuals who want their scientific efforts to be used to benefit humanity.

    Commerce and business is different, since business-people have a duty to their shareholders, to make profit, rather than to society at large.

    Religions, though, have a duty solely to their dogmas. Not a problem if those dogmas are correct, but sadly, that is usually not the case.
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    Hi Skeptic,
    I am watching the video. firstly I dont peddle the idea that there was some form of Utopian past. I think that in the past slavery and cannabalism has been far more widespread. However the impact on the globe was trivial. Now with science our impact on the planet is far more severe (on a per person basis). It is you not I that characterises the argument within these ideas odf violence. I do agree that mankinds treatment of other human beings has always been horrendous, as I have said we are still apes in many ways (chimps can be very violent even towards their own chiuldren). I also said that because we now have full bellies we are less likely to be violent. Take any civilised and peaceful city, take away all food for two weeks and ....


    Once, in the sixties, I was at a hippy concert, the overiding ethic was of peace and love. You could talk to anyone and each held a cherished belief that this culture was different.
    For some reason, a police car was seen by the crowd, driving over a nearby field. Within seconds this peace and love crowd, as one, got up and ran to stone the car. Luckily the driver reversed quickly. I as left weeping, no more delusions of peaceful people for me.


    If I were to characterise the forms of violence that we as a species commit, they would be far more towards other species than ourselves. Many species are now in decline because of our activities. We think nothing of building motorways through ecologies.
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  20. #19  
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    A major characteristic of Homo sapiens is the ability to learn. Life has been improving over the last 10,000 years, due to this ability to learn and apply our new knowledge. This is shown in our greater wealth, health and longevity, as well as the reduced numbers of people killed in man on man violence, whether homicide or war (and is there a difference?).

    The learning ability applies to our environmental impact also. I pointed out how we now have Clean Air Acts and Clean Water Acts which reduce those forms of pollution. We learn. Lead in petrol is banned. Mercury in industry is drastically controlled. Non biodegradable pesticides are restricted. CFC's in refrigerators and air conditioners are banned. All these things have already happened.

    This is, of course, a work in progress. There is still a long way to go. Coal is still burned to generate electricity. Motor vehicles spew exhaust. But further developments are underway. New electricity generation from non polluting sources. Electric cars etc.

    The thing is that humanity can and does learn. We have come a long way. We still have a way to go, but we are heading in the right direction.
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    "But we are heading in the right direction". We head toward more consumerism, more consumption, there is less distribution of wealth and starvation, genocide, suppression, torture, suppression of ideas, and other brutalities are still widespread. We do have more private swimiming pools, more four by fours, more(miniscule amounts of electric cars) in the west we are surrounded by disposable tatt that spend most of its life in land fill because our whims and desires change, we spend up to eight hours a day (or even more) hypnotised by a box that delivers a diet of cooking programs, how to decorate your home, soaps, and vacuous documentaries which have as little content as a supermarket pie. Almost everywhere we go we are bombarded by seductive please to buy this, buy that. We are doggedly tracked by cameras and the best surveillance money can buy to get us to consume more.
    Our politicians are only barely able to give a superficial illusion of control. None of them are really thinking, they dare not 'buck the market'. The financial system system is tottering on the edge of collapse the rich still get their bonusses. Science and technology is used mostly for consumerist ends, drug companies invest only where rich pickings are available. When you say 'we are heading in the right direction', we are becoming increasignly alien to our own nature, the whims and fancies of the modern conscious mind conduct a whirly-gig that even our own subconscious mind has a trouble folowing. So, instead of worrying, we sit back in our chairs, open another supermarket ready meal of dubious content.

    Imagine there was a council of creatures on this planet, would they come to hte conclusion 'we are heading in the right direction'.

    Our waistlines in the west are getting larger, but are they heading in the right direction? Well I suppose you could mount an argument for even this as 'progress'.
    Yes it is better than starvation.

    I think we need to wake up and head off in a totally different direction.
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  22. #21  
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    Consumerism is a small evil. Some primitive societies have so much conflict that up to 60% of the male population is routinely killed in male on male conflict.

    Most of the other evils you mentioned are reducing.

    If you think humans are going to be, or should be, motivated totally by altruism, then think again. The "greed is good" philosophy is and will remain a big part of any successful society. Not a problem. We can work with that. Those who work towards selfish and materialist goals can have their energy tapped in ways that benefit all. It takes good leadership, but that is not as rare as you think.
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  23. #22  
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    Total agreement with what skeptic said.

    Also, you said:
    We are doggedly tracked by cameras and the best surveillance money can buy to get us to consume more.
    I wish to confirm you were just being sloppy in what you wrote. If not, if you meant what you said would you provide some evidence to support your contention that surveillance cameras are used to promote consumerism.
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    Even I agree with skeptic to a degree

    Concerning survellience, I live in the UK and we have the reputation of being surveyed by cameras almost everywhere

    Reviewing my sentence, perhaps it was not clear.

    What I meant was that

    1] We are constantly surveyed by cameras (I can look in my bedroom window using google) traffic cameras check my tax disk, shopping cameras check my basket. High street cameras check whethrr I drop my cigarettes.

    the British Police hold 5.5 milliom records of DNA much of which is off innocent people - this in a 'benign' democracy. How long before we have our DNA stored at birth, perhaps logged on our birth certificate and it is used to indentify our every activity?

    We are constantly targeted to consume.


    Today I have been telephoned by a robot 'customer satisfaction' survey.
    Yeserday I had a double glazing glazing salesman call, the third one in a month.

    Through my door this morning I had mail asking me to buy pizzas, take a loan, by wintershield coating for my house walls, pet insurance, health insurance. I expect buy the end of the day there will be more. Supermarkets use 'loyalty' cards to track our purchases and target us with offers.
    On my table is a newspaper, in it are hundreds of ads. if i listen to the radio it is only a few minutes before someone wants to sell me something, then there are the adds on TV.
    Using the internet is also a bombardment for comsumption, sohpsticated tools cookies etc ensure that advertising is targetted to my interests (and perhaps, weaknesses). Online there are sophisticated databases that specialise in such things.
    Under this form of pressure almost all eventually succumbs.

    A few months back I was walking through a shopping centre called the Harlequin. My phone beeped, the name Harlequin briefly appeared - i gess they were tracking my movements ( I dont shop lift or anything) . It will not be long before they can identify a customer simply by gait.

    its so easy to bug a phone:

    http://www.mobile-spy.com/

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-11025318

    even our dustbins have microchips to track our recycle activties.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...e-million.html

    the press have been bugging the phones of politicians (and public0 on a casual and frequent basis

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11195407

    Just in order to go to work I have to have frequent Criminal record checks - If I dont I cant work ( I work in health).

    http://www.crb.homeoffice.gov.uk/

    Just in case I might be a paedophile

    Even the house of Lords agree that this is totally out of hand

    Now that our mobile phones have compasses and Sat Nav capability, its only a matter of time before our exact location is monitored by this means.


    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7872425.stm?lsm

    Now at present, one might imagine that our government is fairly benign, but what if such tools are used to oppress the citizan? It is less than a century since we narrowly missed being ruled by the third reich.

    A close friend of mine works for a marketing research company. They are emloyed by corporations to monitor brain function of consumers (Red Bull consumption). They ask consumers to drink at the same time recording their brain activity using EEG. They also use other furtive means to watch consuming behaviours - two way mirrors etc. All this to increase oiur comsumtion of a highly dubious liquid. Such marketing studies are common place.

    here is more legitimate evidence

    http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documen...eport_2006.pdf

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_surveillance
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  25. #24  
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    So, in short, you were just very sloppy in what you wrote. You placed two unrelated thoughts in the same sentence, within a grammatical structure that postulated a clear link between the two. You did not intend to do so.

    Despite this, you make almost the same error in your reply. You list a whole sequence of ways in which we are subject to surveillance - none of which I am denying occur - then, in a total non sequitur, with no caveat to distinguish this as very clearly a totally new thought, you state "We are constantly targeted to consume."

    I'm gettiing on your case, because you have some valid arguments which are diminished when you structure them badly. Part of my aim is to help you present your case in a more convincing manner.
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    Fair enough O

    Partly it is laziness, when I go to the screen to reply its cumbersome tpo keep gopmg back to my own exact words.
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  27. #26  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZeroZero
    Partly it is laziness, when I go to the screen to reply its cumbersome tpo keep gopmg back to my own exact words.
    I appreciate your honesty. But consider this: your laziness means your readers have to exert more effort in order to understand what you are trying to say. Why should they invest extra effort in something you are not willing to invest much effort in? It's not just polite to try to be as clear as possible, it's also damnably smart.
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  28. #27  
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    Kinda interesting how this thread has developed - from a genetics/mutation question to social evolution.

    Zero has introduced another idea - how government sponsored surveillance etc may interfere with citizen privacy. I have certainly things to say on this, but it probably should be a new thread.
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  29. #28  
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    I dont blame science, at its best it is a valient quest for the truth, but in the hands of mankind

    Science is a human endeavour and as such does not exist independently of mankind.
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  30. #29  
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    I will try to be more polite then O
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    Tridimity,
    What IU mean is that theoretically the scientific method is a search for truth. Sciience is not a dogma, like religious claims often are.

    If by scientific method it was proved that little pink rabbits can fly aeroplanes, if it is verified by a number of properly controlled experiments, 'science' accepts this as true.
    Many psychotropic drugs for example are accepted as useful in science though we do not know how they work.

    However, in the hands of man how have we used this knowledge once it has been revealed? My position is that we have used it chiefly (though not exclusively) to increase our ability to consume and satiate our wandering superficial desires.

    In a sense there is something very noble about science, in it is pure untarnished form it is truly objective. It will accept the truth no matter how difficult this may be for its central canons (see how Einstein turned over Newtonian mechanics). This cannot be said of Catholocism or Islaam.

    What human beings do whith this scientific knowledge is another matter however.
    Science may have evolved, but has humanity evolved with it in any commensurate sense? Our behaviour as an animal is becoming increasigly odd and our common consciousness cares little for the biosphere.

    I hope I have watched my P's and Qs
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  32. #31  
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    What the hell happened to this thread? If there's no more biology discussion happening here then this can't stay here.
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    Hi biologista, when I sraterd this thread it was a genetic question in my mind, as its developed i admit I have crossed genres.

    Be my guest and move the thread though i dont at this time have mre to say..

    I want to say that I lke the forum and the way that others take me to task on my ideas

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  34. #33  
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    I am starting a new thread under the title of "how guilty is modern man", in the environment forum, to explore this theme.
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