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Thread: The shellfish scene.

  1. #1 The shellfish scene. 
    ox
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    What is your take on the Selfish Gene Theory, championed by Dawkins but relying heavily on Hamilton and others?
    Not sure if I want to get totally carried away with the idea, but as it is the only description for why life exists it makes Dawkins a star.
    Or as with memetics and eugenics, is it just a parody of Darwinism?

    Problems might include:
    Difficulty of describing what is a gene.
    Why should there be a transfer of information in genes?
    Is a gene its own unit?
    It assumes that life started through replicating molecules, but nobody knows how life started.
    Life on earth could have started from space by some other process.
    Dawkins makes some amazing metaphorical statements for which he cannot provide hard evidence.
    We don't know exactly what the universe is, what if anything preceded it and why it passes on information.


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    It is difficult to mussel into the shellfish scene. That is for sure. (Sorry I am not up on Dawkins)


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    My hands started to get clammy when I picked up Dawkins' latest book Science in the Soul.
    Here we go again. The passionate rationalist makes the same old arguments as before.
    Why should we trust the witch doctor when we have great medical science? Not sure if we should give up entirely on snake oil, and the mind has its own powers of healing.
    For sure, you can't get the point of the SG theory unless you take the big flip to seeing life from the point of view of the gene.
    I understand that Dawkins' rival S.J. Gould did not get it. Why should he when hardly anyone gets the point of it? That's presumably why Dawkins feels the need to keep publishing out of frustration that the general public seem not to understand.
    I think the one thing I can be sure about is Darwinism which will surely exist long after Dawkins is forgotten, but I'm asking for your impressions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    My hands started to get clammy when I picked up Dawkins' latest book Science in the Soul.
    Here we go again. The passionate rationalist makes the same old arguments as before.
    Why should we trust the witch doctor when we have great medical science? Not sure if we should give up entirely on snake oil, and the mind has its own powers of healing.
    For sure, you can't get the point of the SG theory unless you take the big flip to seeing life from the point of view of the gene.
    I understand that Dawkins' rival S.J. Gould did not get it. Why should he when hardly anyone gets the point of it? That's presumably why Dawkins feels the need to keep publishing out of frustration that the general public seem not to understand.
    I think the one thing I can be sure about is Darwinism which will surely exist long after Dawkins is forgotten, but I'm asking for your impressions.
    I don't want to carp but you should edit your title (you have to go into "Go Advanced" to edit the title)
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    Don't be crabby, now.
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    Seems like it is one step forward and two steps back.
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    Forgive the pun. It's from Chapter 11 of Terry Pratchett's Science of Discworld II The Globe.
    The SG Theory is Dawkins' Magic of Reality, where 'a pointy hat always commands respect in any culture'.
    As I've never met anybody who admits to getting the point of the selfish gene, and its Neckar cube analogy, I'd just like to know if anyone here does and what is their opinion of it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Forgive the pun. It's from Chapter 11 of Terry Pratchett's Science of Discworld II The Globe.
    The SG Theory is Dawkins' Magic of Reality, where 'a pointy hat always commands respect in any culture'.
    As I've never met anybody who admits to getting the point of the selfish gene, and its Neckar cube analogy, I'd just like to know if anyone here does and what is their opinion of it.
    To be honest I haven't (even understood what they are)but I am a bit dense . I am sure I could understand it if I put in the effort. "Memes" is another concept that doesn't stick with me..
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    Selfish Gene Theory is just a very powerful metaphor to help understand how selective pressures lead to natural selection--even Mollusk evolution.

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    If genes have no feelings then how can they be selfish? Dawkins implies that he struggled to find the right metaphor.
    My understanding of a gene is that part of a chromosome which survives many generations, and it contains a recipe for building a protein. As with all other animals Homo sapiens are simply a product of blind evolutionary drift that has enabled genes to build random bodies for their survival and replication. Not only are we nothing special, but we seldom give other animals the respect they deserve.

    Quote by Oliver James in Not In Your Genes (2016).
    'Dawkins portrays us as mere carcasses that enable DNA to be transmitted onwards, if we reproduce. As far as psychological traits go the Human Gene Project is proving him emphatically wrong.'

    It appears that Dawkins had to invent the science of memetics in order to help advance his theory. Just as the body is sculpted by genes, the mind is sculpted by memes.
    I don't think that will make him the new Darwin.

    But I'm still wondering how many get the point of the SG theory having taken the Neckar cube route to seeing life from a totally different perspective, and what is your opinion?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Quote by Oliver James in Not In Your Genes (2016).
    'Dawkins portrays us as mere carcasses that enable DNA to be transmitted onwards, if we reproduce. As far as psychological traits go the Human Gene Project is proving him emphatically wrong.'
    Where's his hypothesis?

    It appears that Dawkins had to invent the science of memetics in order to help advance his theory. Just as the body is sculpted by genes, the mind is sculpted by memes.
    got really. What other ideas were out there to explain the spread of ideas through culture--it seems not only rather obvious but with good evidence that genes and memes to rather far to explain human self-domestication over the past 100,000 years or so.

    But I'm still wondering how many get the point of the SG theory having taken the Neckar cube route to seeing life from a totally different perspective, and what is your opinion?
    A lot of folks. Dawkin's didn't really anticipate this and found himself flooded by respondents to his earlier work by folks in psychological crisis because their entire religious-based self-esteem was completely shattered. It's probably what got him on the whole atheistic track many folks seem to know him for more than his remarkable explanatory writings for evolution.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Where's his hypothesis?
    He's on the side of nurture.

    What other ideas were out there to explain the spread of ideas through culture--it seems not only rather obvious but with good evidence that genes and memes to rather far to explain human self-domestication over the past 100,000 years or so.
    So why aren't humans silent like other animals? If genes underpin the evolution of one bipedal ape then what is the point of highly developed consciousness? What advantage is this to genes which only want to build survival bodies? We should be zombies. Is this a mistake on the part of the genes? I don't think Dawkins explains this.

    A lot of folks.
    How many is a lot? If his idea was widely understood it could lead to social unrest.

    Dawkin's didn't really anticipate this and found himself flooded by respondents to his earlier work by folks in psychological crisis because their entire religious-based self-esteem was completely shattered. It's probably what got him on the whole atheistic track many folks seem to know him for more than his remarkable explanatory writings for evolution.
    Dawkins tries to speak with such authority that many feel they can't doubt him. He's probably sort of right, but no more than a half truth.
    The God Delusion is more understood than his other books. As an antidote they should read The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, which argues against both theism and atheism.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    So why aren't humans silent like other animals? If genes underpin the evolution of one bipedal ape then what is the point of highly developed consciousness? What advantage is this to genes which only want to build survival bodies? We should be zombies. Is this a mistake on the part of the genes? I don't think Dawkins explains this.
    I have no idea what you are trying to say, or the context of your question--it seems to be about something completely different.

    A lot of folks.
    How many is a lot? If his idea was widely understood it could lead to social unrest. [/quote]
    Religiosity has been on the decline in Europe for decades. Most atheists are familiar with Dawkins. Why do you think it causes social unrest?

    Dawkins tries to speak with such authority that many feel they can't doubt him. He's probably sort of right, but no more than a half truth.
    I never sensed this at all. His ability to explain evolution is 2nd to none--and logic about "god," as social phenomena, or permissive set of memes is rock solid.

    The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, which argues against both theism and atheism.
    Old stoggy language is too difficult for most people. Pain's meandering logic leaves a lot to be desired.
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    I have a copy of the mentioned work, I've gone and dug it up from my Faustian pile. I hesitate to spend mental energy on a "science popularization", but I'll see how it goes over the next few days. At the moment I need to increase my caffiene level and go play some disc at a new park I hear is now complete.
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    Paine was writing before Darwin and a whole lot of others. He was a deist and not a theist or an atheist. His main point is that theism totally devalues a belief in god, as does atheism. Interesting that up to half of scientists today have a similar viewpoint.

    What do you think of this flaming metaphor by Dawkins?

    'We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.'

    Hands up if you consider yourself a robot.
    He also states that genes made us, body and mind.
    I believe it's a whole lot more complex than that. You need to take physics and chemistry into account.
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    you are trying to place way more literal meaning in the phrasing Dawkins uses. Why?
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

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    Sorry for delay...have been taking in some shellfish scenery on beaches in Northumbria and Cumbria. On Monday I watched the sun rising over Bamburgh Castle on the east coast and then drove over to Allonby on the west coast to see the sun setting over the Solway Firth.
    Dawkins didn't need to go all the way to the Grand Canyon to find something so awesome, the story he starts off with in his Science in the Soul.
    As the idea of a perfect theory still eludes us, I assume that's the reason why Dawkins needs to indulge in metaphor. Could he explain the universe as a metaphor.
    He uses selfishness with genetics, science with the soul, delusion with a belief in God. The God Delusion should be titled The God of Abraham Delusion, but it wouldn't sell as many copies.
    The Selfish Gene could be called Gene Puppetry or Genetic Robotics, but again that wouldn't benefit the publishers. I think the German edition did have an image of a puppet on its cover, and that upset Dawkins.
    Even Darwinism may not be a perfect theory. True, it has endured for 150 years and we can assume that life on earth has always been a struggle for existence, but just one observation from finding life in space might cast a doubt. Dawkins likes to believe that should alien life be found it would have evolved from NS. This is pure speculation, from a man who likes to be precise.
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    Its NOT CALLED Darwinism.....

    Its called the Theory of Evolution, and it includes nearly 200 years of refinement since written about by Darwin. Only creationists regularly use the term "Darwinism".

    What exactly do you mean "just one observation from finding life in space might cast a doubt", this seems to be a red herring.

    "
    Dawkins likes to believe that should alien life be found it would have evolved from NS"
    Define NS and cite your source for this statement.
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    Its NOT CALLED Darwinism.....
    So Huxley was wrong, and remember how he dismissed soapy Sam.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwinism

    Origin was published in 1859 so how can that be 200 years.


    What exactly do you mean just one observation from finding life in space might cast a doubt, this seems to be a red herring.
    It would make it even fishier. Should Wallace really be given the credit. But he lapsed into spiritualism.

    [QUOTE]Define NS and cite your source for this statement.[/QUOTE]
    I can't do better than Darwin. You wouldn't like me rambling on about pigeons.
    The source comes from What We Believe But Cannot Prove.
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    You avoided the points I made.

    Its NOT called Darwinism and qubbling over the 150 vrs 200 year mark makes it clear you avoided that point.

    Similarly wanting to know who should get credit is utterly irrelevant to what I posted.

    WHY Would it make it fishier?

    You did not define NS.....
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    Its NOT called Darwinism and qubbling over the 150 vrs 200 year mark makes it clear you avoided that point.
    If some creationist religious cult call it Darwinism, the term was still coined by Thomas Huxley (Darwin's bulldog).
    And yes, I will quibble with your inaccuracy.

    If I referred to black holes, would you be upset with me for not calling them 'completely gravitationally collapsed objects'?

    Dawkins tells the joke about the man who having lost his keys in the dark looks for them under a street lamp as it's only place with any light.
    There's little doubt that NS is the best theory we have to explain the diversity of life, but there is no such thing as an absolute truth. To have any chance of finding that we would need to go way beyond planet earth.

    NS doesn't do so well to explain the origin of life itself (almost certainly not a warm little pond), or speciation, or the rapid evolution of humans, or what might lie beyond humanity. Astronomer Martin Rees speculates that we would not find aliens like us but rather their robots. Would these be the product of NS? The human bipedal ape with an optimum sized brain capable of investigating the universe is simply too fast for the very slow process of NS.
    Amazingly, Dawkins puts this all down to the long reach of the gene.

    So, YOU explain why Darwin and Dawkins, NS underpinned by gene mutation is the only way to explain life.
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    It may have been coined 150(ISH!) years ago. BUT it is NOT what the concept is formally know as now, its the theory of evolution, ore vernacularly just Evolution. Natural selection is only one of a number of processes involved in Evolution.

    Science doesnt deal in truth so your statement is irrelevant. And alien life is very very unlikely to falsify or cause problems with evolution

    Why exactly cant you simply write natural selection?

    Your next paragraph is gibberish

    Evolution, NOT Natural selection, get it correct.

    natural selection, or Correctly evolution, does not pertain to the origin of life at all, so your comment on it is irrelevant
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    If some creationist religious cult call it Darwinism, the term was still coined by Thomas Huxley (Darwin's bulldog).
    Correct.
    On the other hand Darwinism is NOT the current paradigm today. Science has moved on - considerably - since Huxley came up with that term.
    Therefore your use of it indicates that either:
    you subscribe to the creationist viewpoint, or
    you're way out of date, or
    you're not sure what you're talking about (and too lazy to check).

    And yes, I will quibble with your inaccuracy.
    Um, the wording was "nearly 200 years" - it's an "order of magnitude" thing.

    NS doesn't do so well to explain the origin of life itself
    Of course not. Because,
    it doesn't even attempt to and
    that's not within its remit.

    or the rapid evolution of humans
    "Rapid" compared to... what?

    The human bipedal ape with an optimum sized brain capable of investigating the universe is simply too fast for the very slow process of NS.
    ?What "should" the timescale have been?
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    Natural selection isn't always slow--in fact, it can happen alarmingly fast, even over just a few generations.

    --
    Always thought the attempted sharp distinction between abiosis and evolution rather silly--since the definition of life isn't even consistent or that sharp of a demarcation with a whole host of the life-like characteristic event in a wide range of relatively simple chemicals.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    ...you subscribe to the creationist viewpoint
    Now, please duck, I've only spent the last 8 years on this forum arguing against the 'truth' of religion, therefore I am NOT a creationist! I am on the side of Darwin. I was born just 50 miles away, I share his birthday (12th February), and I subscribe to just about everything he says in the Origin. However, I think we should still give credit to Wallace for probably being the first to the idea of evolution by natural selection.


    Um, the wording was "nearly 200 years" - it's an "order of magnitude" thing.
    If my sums are correct, Darwin's Origin was published 158 years ago which makes it nearer 150 than nearly 200, during which time it has not always been subject to positive refinement as stated by Paleoichneum. Remember when science hunted in vain for the missing link between apes and humans, like the excavations in Java.

    Of course not. Because, it doesn't even attempt to and that's not within its remit.
    Yet if you wound the clock back you could possibly find the point where NS started. In chapter 6, Darwin talks about difficulties with his theory:
    If species have descended from other species by fine gradations, why do we not find transitional forms? (What does the fossil record reveal?)
    Why does NS produce organs of trifling importance? (such as the tail of a giraffe).
    Why do animals appear to have instincts? (this question could be addressed today by quantum physics, but it's still WIP).

    "Rapid" compared to... what?
    Let's say the horseshoe crab.

    What "should" the timescale have been?
    Again, QM might play a part in the runaway human brain.

    But I was really hoping this would be a discussion about Dawkins and not Darwin.
    I've not seen him myself, but I have spoken to others who have and I am told he is not a man of the people. You won't be able to engage him in conversation, unless it's for his own publicity in the media.
    So to reiterate my point. Have you been able to take the Neckar Cube route to understanding his ideas about evolutionary biology and genes, and what are your impressions or experiences?
    I mean, one way of looking at it is this (from chapter 1, Unweaving The Rainbow).
    Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place...outnumber the sand grains in Arabia.
    These are the unborn ghosts allowed by our genes.
    Yet, I'm certain it has occurred to innumerable people in time that unless their parents and grandparents hadn't mated, that person wouldn't have lived at all and most likely someone else would be there in their place. So life is a whole series of improbable coincidences going back to the dawn of our species. I don't think it requires Dawkins to invent ghosts or tell me every time I see a crowd of people I am seeing an unlikely mathematical probability.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Now, please duck, I've only spent the last 8 years on this forum arguing against the 'truth' of religion, therefore I am NOT a creationist!
    Then which of the other alternatives that I gave is your excuse for persistently using the term "Darwinism"?

    If my sums are correct, Darwin's Origin was published 158 years ago which makes it nearer 150 than nearly 200
    Which part of "nearly" did you not understand? How about "order of magnitude"?
    You've never rounded up figures? Said "Nearly two hours" for example instead of a (more) precise "1 hour 35 minutes"?

    during which time it has not always been subject to positive refinement as stated by Paleoichneum.
    The word "positive" wasn't in Paleo's post. Refinement, positive or negative, is still is refinement.

    If species have descended from other species by fine gradations, why do we not find transitional forms?
    I do hope that's rhetorical question.

    Let's say the horseshoe crab.
    Different niches, different "rates of evolution". I fail to see any reason why humans and [any other species] should have precisely the same "rate of evolution".

    Have you been able to take the Neckar Cube
    Necker.
    (Different take on that here).
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    We do find transitional forms ox, nearly every single new fossil species/genus/family is a transitional form. Only a creation advocate does not understand that.

    Hoseshoe crabs HAVE evolved, as their much more stable environmental conditions have changed so has that liniage of arthropods.

    We have been over your absurd assertion that humans are magically evolving faster then any other species before. Sadly that thread was in the LOST YEARS(tm)(r). Your belief that humans are evolving too fast is still bunk.
    Last edited by Paleoichneum; July 21st, 2017 at 09:20 AM.
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    Perhaps you can enlighten me as to which creationists use the word Darwinism. If any do, no doubt they twist the meaning of other words to suit themselves.
    The term Darwinism (coined about 150 years ago) might have got into my head from the foreword to Straw Dogs (2003) by the atheist philosopher John Gray, where he argues against Humanism which Dawkins embraces.

    As for the horseshoe crab, it has hardly changed in about 450 million years. Humans have changed substantially in the last 6000 years with language, writing, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, health care.
    Yes we do find transitional forms in the fossil record, but to Darwin it was an enigma.

    Again, what I am asking is what if any impact Dawkins' theory of genes has had on you.
    I have never met anyone who has both read The Selfish Gene and taken the big flip to looking at life from the genes' perspective. I hear that it has caused some people to be depressed and even suicidal. To me it felt more like an epiphany, but these days I question just how much of it is valid. I'd say no more than a half truth.
    Because he invented memetics in The Selfish Gene, how true is that additional theory? I'd say no more than a quarter truth.

    I could also include Darwin's Origin of Species. How many of you have actually read it? Do you understand the full ramifications of this theory, and how would you describe the impact it had on you?
    I guess even fewer people have read both Darwin and Dawkins and get the point of both.
    Last edited by ox; July 22nd, 2017 at 04:24 AM.
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    Strange that the previous post didn't show on the board.
    Okay, it's there now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Perhaps you can enlighten me as to which creationists use the word Darwinism. If any do, no doubt they twist the meaning of other words to suit themselves.
    https://link.springer.com/article/10...052-008-0111-2 Start here for an overview of the problem with the term.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    The term Darwinism (coined about 150 years ago) might have got into my head from the foreword to Straw Dogs (2003) by the atheist philosopher John Gray, where he argues against Humanism which Dawkins embraces.
    We KNOW the history, stop bringing it up

    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    As for the horseshoe crab, it has hardly changed in about 450 million years. Humans have changed substantially in the last 6000 years with language, writing, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, health care.
    They have NOT NEEDED to develop agriculture etc, that is a red herring.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Yes we do find transitional forms in the fossil record, but to Darwin it was an enigma.
    Thats because paleontology was just taking off, its NOT at ALL surprising that Darwin didn't see them. YOU on the other hand made that assert that we STILL dont see them

    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    I could also include Darwin's Origin of Species. How many of you have actually read it? Do you understand the full ramifications of this theory, and how would you describe the impact it had on you?
    I guess even fewer people have read both Darwin and Dawkins and get the point of both.
    Reading on the origin of species wold only give a very vague idea of what the Modern syntheses, so it would not actually inform me the way modern education on the subject will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    Reading on the origin of species wold only give a very vague idea of what the Modern syntheses, so it would not actually inform me the way modern education on the subject will.
    Err...whut?

    I think I might have to accept that nobody here actually gets the startling point of The Selfish Gene.
    It appears that the Royal Society don't get it either, because they have described it as the most inspiring science book ever. Inspiring?
    It's always seemed to me that either you get or you don't and there's no easy way to explain it. Even Gould didn't get it, and there appear to be no biologists who publicly endorse and comment on it. Attenborough gave it a brief mention in one of his TV documentaries, but only saying that Dawkins had reduced evolution to the level of the gene.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    I'm waiting for you to respond to the rest of my post as well,before addressing the problem with this one.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    I think I might have to accept that nobody here actually gets the startling point of The Selfish Gene.
    It appears that the Royal Society don't get it either, because they have described it as the most inspiring science book ever. Inspiring?
    It's always seemed to me that either you get or you don't and there's no easy way to explain it. Even Gould didn't get it, and there appear to be no biologists who publicly endorse and comment on it. Attenborough gave it a brief mention in one of his TV documentaries, but only saying that Dawkins had reduced evolution to the level of the gene.
    Your arguments from incredulity aren't very good. I doubt there's a single biologist or sociologist not familiar with the work and understands it both its point and explanatory power--the key message of "selfish genes" is things that support groups without benefiting individuals do not provide advantage thus don't' get selective pressure--thus answering a very common misperception of both non-science and amateur-science people.
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    As I still don't know if you get it or not, I'll quote one reviewer who almost certainly has.
    'What some people seem to find hard to understand is that there's a part of you, in fact the most important part, that's immaterial and immortal. Your body is really no more than a temporary shell for the immortal part, and houses it for a little while until it dies.'

    There are also many others who have claimed sleepless nights and depression.

    You and your ancestors are no more than ghosts popping in out of genetic space and time, and of zero importance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    'What some people seem to find hard to understand is that there's a part of you, in fact the most important part, that's immaterial and immortal. Your body is really no more than a temporary shell for the immortal part, and houses it for a little while until it dies.'
    Now that's a good example of promoting a supposition as if it were fact.
    It should have been phrased as "What some people seem to find hard to understand is that there are some people who believe there's a part of you, in fact the most important part, that's immaterial and immortal. And also believe that [y]our body is really no more than a temporary shell for the immortal part, and houses it for a little while until it dies: unfortunately they have no evidence to support this belief.

    Edit: Dawkins does understand that some people believe this - but he's equally aware that that belief has no place whatsoever in the book he wrote.
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