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    'Selfish' Gene Verified, Says Study
    By News Staff | June 20th 2008 02:30 AM | 33 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    A new discovery by University of Western Ontario scientist Graham Thompson claims to be conclusive evidence that the 'selfish gene', introduced conceptually in 1976 by British biologist Richard Dawkins, isn't just accepted as a natural extension to the works of Charles Darwin, but is now confirmed.

    In studying genomes, the word 'selfish' does not refer to the human-describing adjective of self-centered behavior but rather to the blind tendency of genes wanting to continue their existence into the next generation. Ironically, this 'selfish' tendency can appear anything but selfish when the gene does move ahead for selfless and even self-sacrificing reasons.

    For instance, in the honey bee colony, a complex social breeding system described as a 'super-organism,' the female worker bees are sterile. The adult queen bee, selected and developed by the worker bees, is left to mate with the male drones.

    Because the 'selfish' gene controlling worker sterility has never been isolated by scientists, the understanding of how reproductive altruism can evolve has been entirely theoretical – until now.

    Working with Peter Oxley of the University of Sydney in Australia, Thompson has, for the first time-ever, isolated a region on the honey bee genome that houses this 'selfish' gene in female workers bees.

    This means that the 'selfish' gene does exist, not just in theory but in reality. "We don't know exactly which gene it is, but we're getting close."

    "This basically provides a validation for a huge body of socio-biology," says Thompson, who adds the completion of Honey Bee Genome Project in 2006 was crucial to this discovery.

    The research will be published in the July issue of Genetics.

    Comments

    Culture Imprints Genetics, In Bees Too

    http://www.physorg.com/news133185776.html

    Genes, Earth's primal organisms even when interdependent members of their genome communal cooperative, evolve in response to their survival requirements, which are THEIR CULTURE.

    Darwinism starts with pre-Archaea genes, driven by culture.

    From http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-P81pQcU1dLBbHgtjQjxG_Q--?cq=1&p=409

    - Genes are organisms, interdependent members of genes communes, genomes, all continuously undergoing evolution directed towards survival as long as possible, for maintaining Earth's biosphere as long as possible. This is the reason and purpose of their, and our, existence.

    - Culture is a ubiquitous biological entity and is the major effector of genetic evolution, of capabilities and attributes selected for survival.

    - The major course of natural selection is NOT via random mutations followed by survival, but via interdependent, interactive and interenhencing selection of biased replication routes by genes at their alternative-splicing-steps junctions, effected by the cultural feedback of the second stratum multicells organism or monocells community to their prime stratum genes-genome organisms.

    Dov Henis

    http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-P81pQcU1dLBbHgtjQjxG_Q--?cq=1&p=372

    Puzzled why even Darwinians do not comprehend that Darwinism starts all the way back with Life's day one, with the pre-archaea not-yet-genomed-celled genes...

    Hank
    Help me understand what you're getting at - you listed a press release written by a marketing undergraduate at a university and rebranded on physorg and then two of your blog posts. What is the real data?

    The data is all around you, in the universe and on Earth.

    A few obvious phenomena:

    - shapes and functionalities of OCMs (outer cells membranes)
    - chirality in life
    - Inherent genes' sleep (Circadian Rhythm)
    - Immunity and memory systems

    Look around you, think, use common-sense, the best scientific approach...

    Respectfully,

    Dov Henis

    Hank
    Okay, but this is a science site so asking you for supporting data is is not uncommon. 'Use common sense' is in defiance of science. Using 'common sense', gravity does not react on a feather the same way it reacts on a bowling ball. Yet we know it does.

    Generally speaking, every time I see the word 'chirality' in modern times, it is someone slipping in Intelligent Design. Now, I have no issue with ID (I am not a biologist, so how evolution actually began - old western European guy with a white beard or random spark - makes no difference to me) but it isn't science.

    Hank,

    The background scientific data, thoughts and analyses behind my postings are included in my various blog essays. They are all there. Force of habit (83 yr old retired biochem PhD)...

    Dov

    Genes Are Primal And Genomes Are Evolved Organisms

    A. In view of the information we now have about life and its evolution:

    Earth Life: 1. a format of temporarily constrained energy, retained in temporary constrained genetic energy packages in forms of genes, genomes and organisms 2. a real virtual affair that pops in and out of existence in its matrix, which is the energy constrained in Earth's biosphere.

    Earth organism: a temporary self-replicable constrained-energy genetic system that supports and maintains Earth's biosphere by maintenance of genes.

    Gene: a primal Earth's organism.

    Genome: a multigenes organism consisting of a cooperative commune of its member genes.

    Cellular organisms: mono- or multi-celled earth organisms.

    B. Update of life sciences conceptions is now feasible and urgently desirable:

    - First were independent individual genes, Earth's primal organisms.

    - Genes aggregated cooperatively into genomes, multigenes organisms, with genomes' organs.

    - Simultaneously or consequently genomes evolved protective and functional membranes, organs.

    - Then followed cellular organisms, with a variety of outer-cell membranes shapes and
    functionalities.

    This conception is a scientific, NOT TECHNOLOGICAL, life-science innovation.

    It is tomorrow's comprehension of life and its evolution.

    IT EVOKES INTRIGUING DARWINIAN IMPLICATIONS.

    IT IS FRAUGHT WITH INTRIGUING TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS POTENTIALS.

    Suggesting,

    Dov Henis

    http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-P81pQcU1dLBbHgtjQjxG_Q--?cq=1

    No matter how significant this discovery turns out to be, (or insignificant) it will not confirm Dawkins' basic position, which by any fair reading of The Selfish Gene does not comply with the standards of the scientific method or with Popper's standards of falsifiability.

    Pavlov's Smile
    Ameisen Olivier, Imagination Medicine,
    Placebo, God-Religion, Virtual Reality

    (recapitulation of some earlier posts)

    A. Anti-Depressants, like

    - Ameisen Olivier's "end of my addiction"

    - http://www.completehealthdallas.com/Anti-DepressantsNaturalAlternativeDa...

    - http://www.answers.com/topic/serotonin

    B. Imagination Medicine

    http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/39046/title/Imagination_Medicine
    Brain imaging reveals the substance of placebos. Expectation alone triggers the same neural circuits and chemicals as real drugs.

    "It all boils down to expectation. If you expect pain to diminish, the brain releases natural painkillers. If you expect pain to get worse, the brain shuts off the processes that provide pain relief. Somehow, anticipation trips the same neural wires as actual treatment does.

    Scientists are using imaging techniques to probe brains on placebos and watch the placebo effect in real time. Such studies show, for example, that the pleasure chemical dopamine and the brain’s natural painkillers, opioids, work oppositely depending on whether people expect pain to get better or worse. Other research shows that placebos can reduce anxiety."

    C. Placebos: some background info

    http://www.cerebromente.org.br/n09/mente/pavlov_i.htm
    http://www.cerebromente.org.br/n09/mente/placebo1_i.htm
    http://thjuland.tripod.com/placebos.html

    The concept of a placebo comes from medieval times, when professional mourners were paid to stay by the bedside of. deceased person, reciting a psalm beginning "Placebo Domino..." or "I shall please the Lord." "Placebo" gradually became the word used for the paid mourner, whose grief was, in fact, false.

    D. Life's Manifest

    http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/112.page#578

    Genes are the primal, 1st stratum, Earth's organism and genomes are 2nd stratum organisms,
    multigenes consisting of cooperative communes of their member genes.

    Life is a real virtual affair that pops in and out of existence in its matrix, which is the energy constrained in Earth's biosphere.

    E. On Science and Religion

    "Evolutionary Biology Of Culture And Religion"
    http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/20/122.page#492

    The concept “God” is a human virtual reality artifact, experienced only through sensory stimuli. Preoccupation with god-religious matters within a scientific frameworks contributes to corrosion and corruption of science and scientism by manifesting or implying acceptance of virtual reality as reality.

    Everything is discussable scientifically. No limit. Including virtual matters and affairs. But for a scientific discussion the framework must be clearly defined. The totality of subjects that come under the classification "virtual" are not an exception. You can include in the discussion Pavlov and the modes and manners of exploiting virtuality in any area and towards any end.

    F. So why Pavlov smiled in 2008?

    Pavlov demonstrated effecting placebo phenomena in multicelled organisms by manipulation of their drives-reactions. Now placebo and imagination phenomena are demonstrated also in the smaller organisms, in the genes and genomes of multicelled organisms, in our primal first stratum and 2nd stratum base organisms. A very good reason to smile.

    Now an interesting chain is exposed to our view, the Genes-Virtual Reality Chain, a most intriguing cultural evolution chain extending from the genesis of our genes to nowadays, throughout life, a virtual reality existence, and by virtual reality phenomena, exploitations and manipulations.

    Dov Henis

    (Comments From The 22nd Century)
    http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-P81pQcU1dLBbHgtjQjxG_Q--?cq=1

    Gerhard Adam
    Ironically, this 'selfish' tendency can appear anything but selfish when the gene does move ahead for selfless and even self-sacrificing reasons.
    How is this sentence anything but gibberish?  Let's see, the gene is "selfish" but it moves ahead in a "selfless" and altruistic way?

    So to paraphrase, we have:

    Genes are completely selfish, unless they're not.
    Mundus vult decipi
    adaptivecomplexity
    This isn't the only example of a 'selfish gene.' Segregation distorter genes responsible for meiotic drive are a classic example. A rough description, taking your father's side of the family as an example
    Your father's genome is made up of your grandparent's genomes, split 50-50.  In the DNA you get from your father, you get either your grandfather's copy of a given gene (your grandfather's allele), or your grandmother's. Generally you have a 50-50 chance of getting a particular allele from your grandfather.

    A segregation distorter skews that 50-50 probability. So, in our example, a particular allele of a given gene would muscle your grandmother's allele out of the way, so that your grandfather's allele is guaranteed to be more highly represented in the next generation.

    I don't know of any human examples, but this occurs in flies and mice.
    Mike
    Gerhard Adam

    Mike, I understand your example, but that begs the question.  Selfish Gene theory says that ALL genes behave selfishly as the mechanism that drives natural selection.  My point is that the most that could be said is that genes behave in a "self-interested" manner.  Your example of the segregation distorter gene is a clear illustration of the point.  Intragenomic conflict creates a situation where a gene "cheats" to gain advantage.  It is clear that this kind of mechanism doesn't prevail under normal circumstances, so it would appear that (for whatever reason), this gene is behaving outside the normal "rules" or "bounds".

    Self-interested allows for the possibility that some genes may behave "selfishly" while others may behave "altruistically".  Under most circumstances, we expect the genes and ultimately the cells and everything else that is expressed to behave in a cooperative fashion.  This could not occur if the controlling mechanism were "selfishness".

    If selfish gene theory were an accurate proposition, then we shouldn't be seeing various examples, we should see all genes behaving in this fashion.

    This may sound like a semantic argument, but we cannot use one term to describe two different states.  Selfish does not allow for altruism, neither does altruism allow for selfishness.  There must be a third term (self-interested) which describes the uncommitted state. 

    Mundus vult decipi
    adaptivecomplexity
    Selfish Gene theory says that ALL genes behave selfishly as the mechanism that drives natural selection.
    I really don't know any practicing biologists that think that way - even Richard Dawkins. It's one way or perspective of thinking about evolution. Nobody, in any technical literature, is arguing that selfish genes are 'the mechanism that drives natural selection.' Part of the problem is an issue of terminology, which is what you seem to be getting at with the term self-interested gene. Dawkins' book isn't about transposons and segregation distorters -it's largely about using game theory and a 'gene's-eye perspective' to think about evolution. But most uses of the term 'selfish gene' in technical journals are about intragenomic conflict. I know of no serious biologist, Dawkins included who has claimed that all genes must act selfishly in the sense that we apply the term segregation distorters. There is no selfish-gene theory like that.
    Mike
    Gerhard Adam

    I beg to differ Michael.  In the quotes I've put together (sorry didn't mean to bury you in them), it should be clear that your statement is not what is being described here.  In virtually every instance, it seems that the proliferation of this idea is considered "main-stream". 


     

    "we are survival machines-robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes" —Richard Dawkins ("The Selfish Gene")





    "The purpose of evolution is not, as Darwin suggested, survival of the species, it is simply the survival of the information in the genes of the individual. The individual is almost irrelevant to the genes - they are useful containers of the genetic code, but are in the final analysis expendable, and can be cast away if doing so can cause a greater reproduction elsewhere."
    http://bovination.com/cbs/selfishGeneTheory.jsp

    "Our genes made us. We animals exist for their preservation and are nothing more than their throwaway survival machines. The world of the selfish gene is one of savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit. But what of the acts of apparent altruism found in nature - the bees who commit suicide when they sting to protect the hive, or the birds who warn the flock of an approaching hawk ? Do they contravene the fundamental law of gene selfishness ? By no means: Dawkins shows that the selfish gene is also the subtle gene. And he holds out the hope that our species - alone on earth - has the power to rebel against the designs of the selfish gene. This book is a call to arms. It is both a manual and a manifesto, and it grips like a thriller."
    http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/dawkins/WorldOfDawkins-archive/Dawkins/Work/Books/selfish.shtml





    "While Darwin argued that evolution involves a kind of survival of the fittest, Hamilton, Williams, and their heirs argued that it's the fittest gene that matters, not the fittest organism"
    http://aufrecht.org/blog/one-entry?entry_id=13059



    "It has been a mainstay of evolutionary theory since the 1970s. Natural selection acts purely on the level of the individual and any cooperation observed between organisms merely hides a selfish genetic motive."
    http://primatediaries.blogspot.com/2009/03/superorganisms-and-group-selection.html





    But selfish-gene theory reminds us that this need not have been – and indeed is not always – the case: genes have strategies other than the formation of individuals for ensuring that they are passed on into future generations.



    http://web.mac.com/scottukgb/iWeb/OliverCurry/Publications_files/curryselfishgene.pdf



     

    Mundus vult decipi
    adaptivecomplexity
    None of these pieces argues what you claimed selfish gene theory is in your earlier comment - that all genes have to be selfish, in the sense of the term used for segregation distorter.  And these pieces aren't technical pieces - none of them properly or rigorously describes any scientific theory. There is no such thing as a 'fundamental law of gene selfishness' - it's not in any textbook or technical article.


    You're taking metaphors and less rigorous popular writings, and based on this, claiming that research scientists have some rigorous theory that requires genes to be a certain way. There is no such scientific theory used as a framework for research. 

    Mike
    Gerhard Adam
    Ironically, this 'selfish' tendency can appear anything but selfish when the gene does move ahead for selfless and even self-sacrificing reasons.
    http://richarddawkins.net/articleComments,2751,New-discovery-proves-selfish-gene-exists,Phys-Org,page2
    This is precisely why I'm so insistent on the change in terminology.  This sentence becomes gibberish because of the foolish need to maintain multiple meanings for the word "selfish".

    Another problem with this, is that it leads to other statements which argue that the gene is the "unit of selection" in natural selection.  By taking a useful viewpoint (gene-centric) and converting into a literal interpretation, the understanding of natural selection is being skewed into absurdities.
    Mundus vult decipi
    adaptivecomplexity
    By taking a useful viewpoint (gene-centric) and converting into a literal interpretation, the understanding of natural selection is being skewed into absurdities

    In actual research, it's not used as anything more than a useful viewpoint.  What selfish gene absurdities about natural selection can you find in a research paper?

    There is no general theory of gene selfishness that's guiding research.
    Mike
    Gerhard Adam
    This means that the 'selfish' gene does exist, not just in theory but in reality. "We don't know exactly which gene it is, but we're getting close."

    "This basically provides a validation for a huge body of socio-biology," says Thompson, who adds the completion of Honey Bee Genome Project in 2006 was crucial to this discovery.

    Michael, the quote I've included comes from this article which specifically uses this terminology.  If it isn't part of the research discussion, then I certainly can't explain its prevalence in the various topics surrounding "altruism" and game theory explanations for how such behaviors evolved.  The quote I used earlier was also taken from the article (although it seems to have made the rounds in many such press releases).

    Why would a researcher even use the term "selfish gene" if there was no connotation beyond that which you ascribe? 

    A new discovery by University of Western Ontario scientist Graham Thompson claims to be conclusive evidence that the 'selfish gene', introduced conceptually in 1976 by British biologist Richard Dawkins, isn't just accepted as a natural extension to the works of Charles Darwin, but is now confirmed.
    This is also a quote from this article, which draws the link that there is conclusive research evidence to Richard Dawkins "theory (and all the quotes I included) and that it is a natural extension to the works of Charles Darwin ....This sounds rather "main-stream" to me and it isn't met with howls of derision for biologists anywhere?  Dawkins and Darwin?  They're joking ... right?

    What selfish gene absurdities about natural selection can you find in a research paper?
    The absurdity I'm referring to is the consideration that arises from "selfish gene theory", that the gene itself becomes the unit of natural selection, instead of the organism (or more accurately a synergy between the two extremes).  Gene research wouldn't necessarily be involved in that, but it is relevant from an evolutionary biology perspective.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Selfish gene concept is basically this: The fundamental unit on which natural selection acts is a "gene". A gene is broadly defined, a gene in this sense could represent a single stretch of DNA coding for a single polypeptide chain, or the term gene can represent many stretches of DNA coding for many polypeptides.

    The idea is that genes or groups of genes are "concerned" only with their transmission into the next generation. They are selfish in the sense that ultimately they are only "concerned" with being replicated.

    In reality this may translate into quite selfless behavior, if the end result enhances the probability that those sequences of DNA are replicated.

    Natural selection does not act on the individual, nor the group, but on the units of replication themselves. This is the selfish gene concept. Looking at evolution through this prospective can yield incredible insights.

    If you really want an in-depth understanding of the selfish gene concept, read the book, cover to cover. Its not that long, and quite an entertaining read.

    Gerhard Adam
    Natural selection does not act on the individual, nor the group, but on the units of replication themselves.
    Except that it isn't true.  With tens of thousands of genes involved in producing an organism, it is far too granular to be a unit of selection.  When this is coupled with the fact that a significant number of gene expressions are not visible, nor apparent, it cannot play a role in sexual selection (which is ultimately what will determine transmission into future generations).

    There is no question that the gene is the mechanism by which an organism develops and will ultimately present for sexual selection, but since a gene cannot predict the future, it is a bit much to suggest that they are in any position to "favor" their replication.

    In particular, whatever the gene expresses, will result in an adult (barring any defects and/or problems) which may be selected for sexual reproduction.  At this point, this is the first opportunity for genes to be passed on, but even here only 50% will make it.  From this point, the offspring must be successfully reared and also reach maturity and reproduce before there can be any indication of possible future generational successes.

    In general, it is clear that while the gene creates the organims, the ultimately determination of whether that creation is worthwhile will be the sexual selection criteria of a potential mate. 

    To use a loose analogy, to suggest that any particular gene can behave selfishly AND influence it's ability to be propagated into future generations is similar to suggesting that you chose the car you drive based on the tires.

    In reality this may translate into quite selfless behavior,...
    This is simply an abuse of english.  Something cannot be selfish and selfless at the same time.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Steve Davis
    The idea is that genes or groups of genes are "concerned" only with their transmission into the next generation. They are selfish in the sense that ultimately they are only "concerned" with being replicated.
    That assumption is the whole problem in a nutshell. It needs to be justified. I've yet to see such a justification.
    The genes aren't "concerned" about anything, that is just a descriptive term I am using. I say they are "concerned" with their own replication because the better they are at replicating, the larger number of copies of them are in existence in the next generation.

    Genes certainly aren't "concerned" about propagating a certain individual, or propagating a species. Their own continued existence depends on their replication. Whether this harms the individual or species in the long run is completely irrelevant. All that matters is the short term replication.

    For instance the hetero zygote advantage.

    People in parts of the world where malaria is a problem have a higher chance of inheriting sickle cell anemia. This is a result of a recessive gene. When a person is a heterozygote, having one copy of the dominant and one copy of the recessive for this gene they have increased resistance to malaria, and therefore increased survival. This ensures that a certain percentage of the population will develop sickle cell anemia. If the fundamental unit of natural selection were the individual you would expect that eventually all the individuals with sickle cell anemia would be selected out of the gene pool. But because selection acts on genes as the fundamental unit, genes that are destructive when in combination with some genes, yet beneficial when in combination with other genes have a high frequency of occurrence.

    There is nothing abusive of the english language to say that something can appear "selfish" on the molecular level, but it can have a selfless phenotypic expression at the behavioral level.

    Gerhard Adam
    Their own continued existence depends on their replication. Whether this harms the individual or species in the long run is completely irrelevant. All that matters is the short term replication.
    This is also irrelevant.  For "selfish gene theory" to mean anything than the movement into future generations must be long-term.  Short-term replication is meaningless.  Similarly whether it is harmful or not, makes a huge difference, since harmful expressions will destroy the possibility of future replication.

    If your only point is that chemicals react in the short-term, then that is not only obvious, but it gives us nothing in terms of predictive power.  While it might be a novel way to view evolution, it simply isn't a true description of the mechanism.

    The genes aren't "concerned" about anything, that is just a descriptive term I am using. I say they are "concerned" with their own replication because the better they are at replicating, the larger number of copies of them are in existence in the next generation.
    What does that even mean?  There is one copy of a gene passed on for any particular trait.  What are you suggesting when you say that "larger number of copies" of them are brought into existence?  If you mean that successful transmission ensures that larger numbers of the original are spread throughout a population, then that contradicts your previous statement which says that only short-term replication matters.  Once again, this can only occur during sexual selection.  The genes have nothing to say about how mates are chosen except when viewed as a whole.  The total package is what's up for selection, there are no individual genes, it is a fully cooperative compliment of genetic material that is at stake.  Therefore to attribute selection at the gene level suggests something which simply can't happen.
    There is nothing abusive of the english language to say that something can appear "selfish" on the molecular level, but it can have a selfless phenotypic expression at the behavioral level.
    But that isn't what you said.  You said that the "selfish" gene can behave "selflessly".  It attributed the same trait to the same entity.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Steve Davis
    The genes aren't "concerned" about anything, that is just a descriptive term I am using.
    If they are not concerned with anything, do not use the word. It is not a descriptive term for the process you describe.
    Perhaps I am misunderstanding your argument Gerhard.

    Are you suggesting that that basic unit of selection is the whole organism? The whole genome?

    Natural selection can only act on replicators with a certain level of fidelity and that transmit changes to the next generation. Changes in the genome are passed on to the next generation, but a genome has no fidelity in sexually reproducing organisms. Even chromosomes have little fidelity in being transmitted to the next generation due to crossing over. If a bird loses its leg during its life the loss of the leg is not transferred to the next generation. The organism itself simply cannot be the basic unit of natural selection because it is simply a vehicle for the genetic material, changes to the vehicle does not affect future vehicles.

    Yes genes are acting in concert with tens of thousands of genes. A gene that allows for color vision will only produce color vision if there are genes present for producing eyes themselves. Selection will act on these differences. If seeing in color translates into a survival advantage the color vision gene will be selected for at this specific loci. You're right, its the whole package that is up for selection, but differences between the packages are due to differences between a small number of genes relative to the total number of genes in the genome of a particular species.

    Sexual selection is an important kind of selection and I don't think anybody is arguing this. The point made is that selection is happening on the individual replicators themselves, the genes. Selection is not happening on entire genomes, chromosomes, or organisms.

    Selection ultimately is about the differential survival of small segments of chromosomes this has been the point I interpreted from "The Selfish Gene" and the only point I am trying to make here.

    I apologize if my response is not as clear as I've intended it to be. I am enjoying this discussion greatly. It is difficult to find online, or in real life people willing to discuss such ideas (outside of university of course). Do you belong to any scientific forums?

    Gerhard Adam
    Well you've hit on the difficulty in this whole discussion.  You're absolutely right that it will be the variations in individual genes that affect the entire package, however, it will be the entire package that acts on reproduction.

    I've used a computer analogy to try and explain my point, so let's see if that works.  Imagine an operating system (like Windows or Linux).  There's no question that the operating system, as a whole, can also be described as a collection of individual programs and routines.  However, we wouldn't argue that the operating system's success or failure is only based on any one of these, it is based on the entire package.  If there's a bug in a particular program, then the vendor would presumably fix this, and that change would go into future generations of the operating system (I realize natural selection isn't about fixing things).

    The point is that just as the operating system isn't about particular programs only, neither is the operating system a complete entity without considering the effect of these individual programs.  They are both synergistically required together to produce the result for the future.

    Similarly in biology.  The gene-centric view can be a useful perspective, but that's all it is.  The gene can't be specifically selected for, because it is often undetectable at the sexual selection leve.  There's no question, that whatever genetic variation occured (in concert with all the other genes) will produce an organism that is presumably capable of reproducing.  In that case, if there is a slight "fitness" advantage, then that whole package will be transmitted into future generations.

    In some cases, it will even be the group itself that may exert selection pressures, such that those that are more cooperative, or oriented to the group will have better reproductive options.

    Another analogy (pretty loose) is when a recording artist makesa CD, or an actor makes a movie.  Whatever all the component parts are, it is the entire work that is judged and accepted or rejected.  Similarly with an organism.  Regardless of all the pieces that make it up, in the end it comes down to whether the animal is selected as a mate.  That makes it the entire organism that is selected.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I always thought the selfish gene theory made sense

    life is about being perpetuated, after all

    Steve Davis
    nina,you're right, life is about perpetuation, but why does that require selfish genes?
    SynapticNulship
    According the book in question--in which Dawkins made the scientific work of others available in one volume and accessible to a general audience--there was never a debate that the level at which natural selection acts is selfish.  Dawkins admitted in the 30th anniversary edition that the word "immortal" might have been a better adjective to use than "selfish."  Some of the comments here seem misguided--there is no paradox of something being selfish and altruistic at the same time.  One level is selfish, and that in turn can cause more complex levels to be altruistic.  Genes are one level, with organisms, species, groups, ecosystems, etc. being at other levels.
    Steve Davis
    Samuel, you've been taken in by a smooth talker.
    Dawkins did say that perhaps a better word could have been used, then went on using exactly that word "selfish." He loves it! And why not? It made him rich and famous! He also said at one point that the selfish gene was merely a metaphor, then later referred to it in terms that were clearly not metaphorical. 
    SynapticNulship
    How is describing what another author said being "taken in"?  It's possible that you have indeed found many people who are abusing metaphors and truly think that sections of DNA are living agents with cute Disney eyes and teeth--but don't assume that for everybody.

    In your PR campaign against Dawkins and Selfish Gene Theory, maybe you can sneak in a couple arguments.  Maybe you are right but I can't possible know because the closest thing to an argument I can find in your blogs is that you seem to think cells must be the unit of selection because they are the smallest form of life, a leap which does not make any sense to me.
    Gerhard Adam

    The first problem is that Dawkins has elected to define a gene in such a way, so that it is both meaningless and applicable to any context.  In general, the concept of the "selfish gene" is a trivial construct since a gene can't even be assured of it's own replication.  In addition, a gene cannot be consistently defined to produce a particular trait since it is the expression of the gene (and not the gene itself) that will make the difference in the organism.

    Another problem is the effect of epigenetics on the gene's ability to be expressed.  Since there is an external mechanism at work, the gene can't even marginally be considered as having a predictable outcome.

    Overall a much more serious issue is multicellular organisms.  In effect, it is difficult to argue that genes are "selfish" in the sense of "wanting" to be propagated into future generations while at the same time having to consider that a single human has about 10 trillions copies of a gene, while only half of one set has a chance of being propagated into future generations.  Instead of "selfishness" this suggests an almost extreme form of cooperation in which trillions of genetic copies are "willing" to give up their own chance at reproductive success on the chance that a singular copy may make it through.

    NOTE:  My choice of words is not intended to convey a sense of awareness, desire, intent, etc. to the gene but rather to extended Dawkins' idea of such a self-interested entity and whether such an explanation makes any sense.  Clearly we can take such an argument to an extreme reductionist perspective an argue that Hydrogen has a "self-interested" "desired" to form bonds with other chemicals, but that isn't a terribly helpful way of looking at chemistry, although it could be considered technically accurate.

    Like it or not, life originates from inanimate chemistry and ascribing some sort of "intent" regardless of how circumspect does nothing to advance the explanation.  No matter how often people consider genes to be the unit of selection, the reality is that genes are rarely directly selected and must satisfy the requirement of being both viable and fertile at the organism level before such a possibility can exist.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Steve Davis
    Samuel, you said that I "seem to think cells must be the unit of selection because they are the smallest form of life,..." I don't know where you got that idea from, the unit of selection is an area I've mentioned, but tried to keep clear of, as I think it's a distraction. However, I do believe that the cell, the primary level of life, has been pushed to the side by selfish gene theorists as they attempted to give genes a greater role in evolution than exists in reality. This pushing aside of the cell has been detrimental to science and has been a disservice to the community as a whole.
    Gerhard, I think your reference to the bonding quality of hydrogen is actually quite helpful. It's those chemical forces of attraction and repulsion that are at work in the cell, that have led to the falsehood of selfish genes.
    THE 2012 Science Problem:

    Eppur Si Muove, Higgs Particle YOK
    Regardless Of Whatever Whoever

    Regardless Of Whatever Is Said By Whoever Says It -
    Higgs Particle YOK.

    S Hawking is simply wrong in accepting it. Obviously wrong.
    Everyone who accepts the story of the Higgs particle is simply wrong.
    Plain commonsense.
    Singularity and the Big Bang MUST have happened with the smallest base universe particles, the gravitons, that MUST be both energy and mass, even if they are inert mass just one smallest fraction of a second at singularity. All mass formats evolve from gravitons that convert into energy i.e. extricate from their gravitons clusters into mass formats in motion, energy. And they all end up again as mass in a repeat singularity.
    Universe expansion and re-contraction proceed simultaneously..

    Dov Henis (comments from 22nd century)
    http://universe-life.com/
    http://universe-life.com/2012/02/03/universe-energy-mass-life-compilation/

    ===========================

    Refresh Present SCIENCE Comprehensions And Restructure Science Plans, Policies And Budgets

    Who Suppresses Science Creativity? Does Academia Suppress Creativity?

    Again and again, ad absurdum:
    Since the 1920s SCIENCE is suppressed by a Technology Culture, tightly supervised by a religious old style trade union , the AAAS…

    Liberate Your Mind From Concepts Dictated By The Religious Trade-Union AAAS:

    USA Science? Re-Comprehend Origins And Essence

    * Higgs Particle? Dark Energy/Matter? Epigenetics? All YOK!

    * Earth-life is just another, self-replicating, mass format.

    * All mass formats evolve from gravitons, the primal universe mass-energy particles.

    * Since singularity gravitons are extricated from their big-bang clusters , i.e. become mobile, energy, at a constant rate.

    * All mass formats follow natural selection, i.e. intake of energy or their energy taken in by other mass formats.

    * Evolution Is The Quantum Mechanics Of Natural Selection.

    * Quantum mechanics are mechanisms, possible or probable or actual mechanisms of natural selection.

    * Life’s Evolution is the quantum mechanics of biology.

    * Every evolution, of all disciplines, is the quantum mechanics of the discipline’s natural selection.

    See:
    Update Concepts-Comprehension…
    http://universe-life.com/2011/12/13/21st-century-science-whence-and-whit...
    Earth life genesis from aromaticity-H bonding
    http://universe-life.com/2011/09/30/earthlife-genesis-from-aromaticityh-...
    Universe-Energy-Mass-Life Compilation
    http://universe-life.com/2012/02/03/universe-energy-mass-life-compilation/
    Seed of human-chimp genome diversity
    http://universe-life.com/2011/07/10/seed-of-human-chimp-genomes-diversity/
    New Era For Science Including Genomics
    http://universe-life.com/2012/04/14/new-era-for-science-including-genomics/

    Dov Henis (comments from 22nd century)

    =================

    Universe Inflation And Expansion

    Inflation on Trial
    Astrophysicists interrogate one of their most successful theories
    http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/342219/title/Inflation_on_Trial

    Commonsense:

    Inflation and expansion are per Newton.

    Since the Big Bang galactic clusters loose mass at constant rate. Mass, gravitons, continue escaping at constant rate from their Big Bang fragments-clusters thus becoming energy, mass in motion, thus thrusting the clusters. Constant thrust and decreasing galactic clusters weight accelerate the separation of clusters from each other.

    Common sense.

    Dov Henis (comments from 22nd century)

    http://universe-life.com/