Sunday, November 18, 2007

Joseph, Ants, and Meme Stability, part 4

A phenotype is the outward expression, the visible manifestation of a genotype (one's genes). Hence, one may have a gene for a particular eye color. This person's eyes are blue both in her genotype and her phenotype. Phenotypes then, obviously, apply to the physical characteristic of an individual. Yet, a phenotype is not limited to physical characteristics on the individual herself

A beaver is isolated from her family at birth. She is raised without the company of other beavers later to be released as an adult into a wetland void of beavers. Instinctively she sources the flow of water through her wetland, builds a dam, and forces the creation of an artificial pond. This behavior was obviously not learned as she did not learn it by observation: it is instinct and was coded in her genes.

The beaver's dam is, thus, an example of a phenotype: the outward expression of a genotype. Differences in phenotypic beaver dams exist. Some may allow more water flow; others less, etc. One beaver phenotype may present a proclivity for poplar trees, and a later birch-tree fungus, which kills off all available birch, may hence find the poplar-tree phenotypic proclivity of a particular beaver may spare her the plight of absent birch. Another beaver that prefers birch might not fare as well during the same birch-tree kill off.

How does natural selection act on the individual worker ant? She is incapable of reproduction, yet she cares for the larval brood, protects the colony, gathers food, builds and repairs the hill. Are her behaviors adding to the beneficial pressure of natural selection?

The worker ant is the offspring of the colony's queen and one drone who died moments after copulation--possibly weeks, months, or even years ago. The behaviors of the individual ant are phenotypes of the queen. All female ants in the colony share the same DNA; however, worker DNA ignores reproductive coding, soldier DNA recognizes and acts on coding for size and larger mandibles, and the queen DNA acts on coding, ignored by the others, for size and reproduction.

The phenotypic behaviors of the worker ant are actually phenotypes of the queen. If the queen produces phenotypic behaviors among her offspring that lend toward less community stability, then the chances of reproductive differential diminishes. Hence, the workers are phenotypes of the queen. Altruism and social cohesion as phenotypes of the queen favor the survival of the colony and reproductive differential in the queen.

Understanding how this relates to memes and human morality will be developed in the next installments. Particular attention will be placed on the ceremonial observances of the Pentateuch.


Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

You've lost me on this one. I will try re-reading it. Maybe I will understand when you post your next installment. Maybe this is one of your shock and awe presentations? It is a mind-boggler anyway. I cannot fathom the depths of it. : )

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

I am sure that you can undertand this. The largest obstacle, though, would be the use of new vocabularly (phenotype, etc.).

I chance failure to connect with readers by use of such wording; though, I know that several who visit and contribute are already familiar with the vocabulary.

Quite likely you will understand how this all fits together in the end. The nuances of the fit may develop later, but I am sure that you will be able to explain to others the macro picture of altruistic morality and evolution.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

How many hard working, innocent ants will lose their lives due to google ads for exterminators and poisons? : )

Please be careful what you entitle your next blog entry lest related ads appear that might offend your readers!

I am already offended over at the Anthropological Morality thread.. which is why I am back here in a safer zone.

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

yes, those poor ants. I did not realize that the word "ant" was so prevalent in my blog, but google adsense seems to think so. This is an experiment. I do not know if I will keep it running. I pay nothing for it, but it does allow potential income for interested hits. I have been getting a giggle over this for the last few days.

I am sorry to hear that you are offended. I wonder if your offense is from my post about animal mating behavior. If so, I really want to stress that I used appropriate scientific terminology. I did not use street language. And, need I say, such behaviors can be observed in your own backyard....well I don't think that you will see chimps or dolphins, but similar can be observed in goats, horses, cats, chipmunks, toads, bachelor mallard ducks, etc.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

Thank you for kindly responding. I needed a friendly response about now. Do you realize it was one year ago that we met online at TR? Did you ever imagine you would be where you are now? On 11/29/06 you wrote to me about your previous year’s struggle with liberal scholarship, atheism, and evolution. You expressed gratitude to me for encouraging you with my appreciation of your wisdom and knowledge. I was grateful to you for encouraging me and for being a friend when I needed a friend. Strange how things have turned out. But the journey is not over...

I read your post about the dolphins, etc., to Pat and he was not as horrified as I was about it. In fact he said he had heard that from Rush Limbaugh. I DO appreciate the scientific terminology rather than street language. Definitely. It still makes me uncomfortable though. It must be a guy thing to enjoy discussions about sexual practices...human or animal. Yet I DO want to defend the views of Dennis Prager because I agree with them and I am hoping to convince you. So I guess I’ll have to get over my prudishness and talk about it....

First, I will quote the points that Prager made proving that unrestrained human sexuality is wilder and more objectionable than that of animals:

“Human sexuality, especially male sexuality, is polymorphous, or utterly wild (far more so than animal sexuality). Men have had sex with women and with men; with little girls and young boys; with a single partner and in large groups; with total strangers and immediate family members; and with a variety of domesticated animals. They have achieved orgasm with inanimate objects such as leather, shoes, and other pieces of clothing, through urinating and defecating on each other (interested readers can see a photograph of the former at select art museums exhibiting the works of the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe); by dressing in women's garments; by watching other human beings being tortured; by fondling children of either sex; by listening to a woman's disembodied voice (e.g., “phone sex”); and, of course, by looking at pictures of bodies or parts of bodies. There is little, animate or inanimate, that has not excited some men to orgasm. Of course, not all of these practices have been condoned by societies — parent-child incest and seducing another's man's wife have rarely been countenanced — but many have, and all illustrate what the unchanneled, or in Freudian terms, the “un-sublimated,” sex drive can lead to.”

Pat told me that he heard of someone who penetrated a pumpkin (drilled a hole in it first). Men are worse than animals for the following reasons:

What animal goes outside of its species for sexual stimulation? (beastiality)

What animal engages in gerbilling or other such abusive perversity?

What animal molests babies and the sexually immature?

What animal rapes at gunpoint or murders its victims?

What animal engages in bondage, sick fantasies, etc?


(And don’t wish to discuss it further, thank you!) You have the article if you got my email, and you say you have read it before anyway.

Actually, I was more offended by the insults to my intelligence by Jamie...and then your word, ignoramus. Sorry to be so sensitive, but sometimes I wonder what I am doing here “hobnobbing with scholars and geniuses” and “hanging out with the boys.”

Where is Dan by the way? I have not heard from him in over a week. I am getting concerned. Last I heard he had given himself a computer headache writing three books in less than two weeks. It is not like him not to answer my emails.

Did you see what I posted at the Chronology thread? I am not sure if I am fully grasping the debate. Wish Dan would answer your objections. Are you truly willing to go wherever the truth leads? Even if it means back to the Bible as God’s holy and inspired Word?

I am glad Jamie is here posting his questions and rhetoric. I hope he can be civil though. We are an odd group of internet friends, are we not?

If we can tolerate one another’s diversity and try to get along while posting our strongly held views, maybe there is hope for the world after all. : )

Lead the way, Peter!

P.S. Try to catch some of the CNN Debate tonight and tell me what you think of Mike Huckabee.

PeterS said...


I will reply more in detail later. But there are many many many many animal analogues to the questions that you ask. I am surprised that you even ask these questions as I assume that your familiarity with nature would answer it for you. So, I will answer them.

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

You asked for me not to reply. By so doing you are essentially asserting a right to the last word. Realize, though, that there are very decent answers to these questions.

*Inter-species stimulation*

Animals, especially mammals, are known to engage in inter-species sexuality. The very occurrence of bestiality (humans with animals) demonstrates that animals are capable of inter-species stimulation. The questions posed, though, seeks an answer sans human involvement (assuming that humans are not animals).

A dog will readily mount a cat, pig, goat, sheep, etc. given the opportunity. A tiger will stimulate itself in a mounted position on a canine (a situation engendered by domestic captivity of a tiger with dogs). I have observed male fishes attempt to mate with females of other species on many occasions. The female will occasionally acquiesce, but generally, species differences in morphology or mating behavior prevent actual copulation.

*Bondage, sick fantasies, etc.*

Humans are not unique for evolved proclivities toward higher-level thinking, but we are the general exception in the animals kingdom. The absence of such thinking in most animals precludes some forms of sexuality, but it is incorrect to assert that it is absent. There is a positive correlation between higher-level thinking and variegation in sexual activity. Humans will sexualize both objects and behaviors—loading them with non-native sexual significance. Animals, will, in turn—correlating with the presence of higher-level thought—do the same.

Hence, an animal such as a chimpanzee may develop a shoe fetish through sexualization of her caregiver’s shoe. A cat in heat will readily allow anyone or anything to rub her hindquarters or even penetrate her to the point of orgasm. Bonobos will stimulate themselves on inanimate objects. A female ferret in heat will self stimulate to orgasm using a variety of objects such as a stone or her own tongue.

An important principle to consider is the challenge that sexual behavior imposes on an individual. Reproductive displays targeted at attracting a mate (bright coloration in males, mating calls, etc.) increase the chances of reproduction, but they also spotlight the individual for predatorial attention. Similarly, when two organisms are engaged in a mating posture, they are extremely vulnerable to predation. As a result of the survival or evolutionary pressure on an organism, it is less likely that it will display extended sexuality unless it is first benefited with a full belly, sufficient shelter from the elements, and safety from predation.

As a result of this principle, it is less likely that an animal will express its full range of sexual options when in danger. This principle also leads to the observation that “aberrant” sexuality generally occurs more frequently in organisms higher up on the food chain. There are a myriad of exceptions to this rule, but it still holds true as a generality.

*Relations with the Immature*

There are so many examples of this that it is hard to even answer this. Again, I am somewhat surprised that you have not observed this in nature or with domesticated animals. The ermine will often forcefully mate with infant males. My roomate’s mature female cat tries to coerce a resident immature male kitten into mounting her.

*Mate Murder*


Also, when a new alpha male mandrill takes the troop, he will slaughter the young of the previous alpha male. Not quite mate murder…but horrid nonetheless.

Homosexual necrophilia has also been observed in ducks… along with gang rape, etc.

I am sorry to not spare detail, but other options could have been chosen. I am going to stop now…I have said enough that can be used against me.

Note: I am not advocating sexuality that compromises the rights of others. Altruistic sexuality is beneficial for humans, and I endorse it.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

Okay, you had the last word. I read your post and you were as tactful as possible which I appreciate. I am sure you know more about this subject than I do. Perhaps I have not observed these kinds of behaviors because of the FENCES and other barriers installed as I raised goats, horses, purebred dogs, cats, etc. Cats were spayed/neutered. Horses were gelded. Goats were fenced....though I never observed attempted matings between my bucks and immature goat kids. Goats born in early Spring come into heat in the Fall. They were young, but of breedable age. I did have a spina bifida kid born to a young goat due to a lack of adequate nutrition for a still growing doe and multiple offspring. I chose to keep the buck away from the younger does after that unfortunate occurrence. I also had a hermaphrodite goat born one time. An oddity. I have observed "proud cut" geldings react to my mares in heat...but again, good fences prevent bad behaviors...a principle humans do well to consider.

I had a German Shepherd who dug through the bathroom wall to get to the female Shepherd in heat in the next room. We built a kennel after that! Yet this lustful dog never went after any other pets or livestock. I have never seen anything like you describe. Dogs, both males and females, mounting one another and humping. That is about the extent of my observations. I must spend more time looking at trees and trails than observing the mating habits of God's creatures. I have noticed the peculiarity of the mourning dove, however. Mated for life, they do not mate again after losing their spouse, choosing to remain single.

Meanwhile, I just read in the paper about our new community jogging trail by the scenic riverside being the site of a rape of a young girl in broad daylight as she jogged!

I still say humans can be the worst "animals" when it comes to sexual deviancy. Sodom may not have needed to be destroyed if the lust had not risen to the level of attempted rape of strangers. I know there were other sins involved...but that was one of them.

I like your last sentence the best. Wasn't there anything you liked about the Prager article? I thought it was outstanding, especially the way it described the difference between the immoral sexuality in pagan religiosity compared to Torah-based religion. God's Revelation was definitely one giant step forward for mankind in my opinion.

I hope this subject matter will not provide ammunition against you. If so, feel free to delete these posts now that we have expressed our views back and forth. I accept that your knowledge of the natural world is greater than mine. There was never any doubt in my mind about that!

I look forward to part 5 of your series.