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Old 01-31-2013, 10:54 AM  
tooge tooge is offline
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The Science of being nice

Saw on on the Science Channel last night a very interesting episode about benevolence and how it has been mathmatically proven that people are "kind" and will sacrifice their own needs, including their own lives, not for the act of being a good person, but because it is increases the likelihood that they will pass their genetic profile on.

It involved a Scientist named Price, that got into Genetics and Evolution, but was, by nature, a mathematician.

He looked at natural selection and the evolution of "kind" behavior, and found that it is genetially beneficial to be kind.

The glaring example was a mother that would throw herself in front of the moving bus in order to save her children. The act, of course, improves the odds that her prodigy carry on and pass her genetic material on. Everyone with the "kind" gene, would have the same advantage.

So, Price applies mathmatics to the whole idea, gets published, and becomes somewhat famous. Problem is, he can't fathom that we cant simply be "kind" and selfless because we want to, and that bothers him. So, he spends the rest of his life trying to debunk his own theorem by giving away all possessions to others and taking in homeless people and letting them steal from him, all in the attempt to show that he was being nice by choice. He ultimately goes insane when he realizes that his being nice "by choice" was only a way he could have been disprove his own theorem, which was what he was trying to do anyway, which proves his theorem. Weird, but anyhow, the guy ends up offing himself.

His theory is still one of the backbones of behavioral evolution taught today.
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:58 AM   #2
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:58 AM   #3
loochy loochy is offline
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Right - I've always tried to explain that sort of thing.

People do something that is considered "good", then they say "I'm not selfish, I do it because it makes me feel good." That is not true altruism because there's still a selfish motive.

Everything people do always has been and always will be out of a selfish motive.
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:58 AM   #4
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Yet some women go for the selfish jerkoff.


Sounds about right.
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:59 AM   #5
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Here's a part of the Wikipedia of what I'm talking about. Really amazing shit.

Price developed a new interpretation of Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection, the Price equation, which has now been accepted as the best interpretation of a formerly enigmatic result.[6] He wrote what is still widely held to be the best mathematical, biological and evolutionary representation of altruism. He also pioneered the application of game theory to evolutionary biology, in a co-authored 1973 paper with John Maynard Smith.[11] Furthermore Price reasoned that in the same way as an organism may sacrifice itself and further its genes (altruism) an organism may sacrifice itself to eliminate others of the same species if it enabled closely related organisms to better propagate their related genes. This negative altruism was described in a paper published by W. D. Hamilton and is termed Hamiltonian spite.

Price’s 'mathematical' theory of altruism reasons that organisms are more likely to show altruism toward each other as they become more genetically similar to each other. As such, in a species that requires two parents to reproduce, an organism is most likely to show altruistic behavior to a biological parent, full sibling, or direct offspring. The reason for this is that each of these relatives’ genetic make up contains (on average in the case of siblings) 50% of the genes that are found in the original organism. So if the original organism dies as a result of an altruistic act it can still manage to propagate its full genetic heritage as long as two or more of these close relatives are saved. Consequently an organism is less likely to show altruistic behavior to a biological grandparent, grandchild, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew or half-sibling(each contain one-fourth of the genes found in the original organism); and even less likely to show altruism to a first cousin (contains one-eighth of the genes found in the original organism). The theory then holds that the farther genetically removed two organisms are from each other the less likely they are to show altruism to each other. If true then altruistic (kind) behavior is not truly selfless and is instead an adaptation that organisms have in order to promote their own genetic heritage.

[edit] Helping the homeless

Unable to accept the selfish reasoning for kindness found in his own mathematical theory of altruism[citation needed] Price began showing an ever increasing amount (in both quality and quantity) of random kindness to complete strangers. As such Price dedicated the latter part of his life to helping the homeless, often inviting homeless people to live in his house. Sometimes, when the people in his house became a distraction, he slept in his office at the Galton Laboratory. He also gave up everything to help alcoholics, yet as he helped them they stole his belongings causing him to fall into depression.[citation needed]

He was eventually thrown out of his rented house due to a construction project in the area, which made him unhappy because he could no longer provide housing for the homeless. He moved to various squats in the North London area, and became depressed over Christmas, 19
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:05 AM   #6
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:16 AM   #7
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Here's one more. I figured some of you brain dorks like me would find this incredibally interesting.

The deathbed of an altruist can be a terrible place: "A mattress on the floor, one chair, a table, and several ammunition boxes made the only furniture. Of all the books and furnishings that I remembered from our first meeting in his fairly luxurious flat near Oxford Circus there remained some cheap clothes, a two-volume copy of Proust, and his typewriter. A cheap suitcase and some cardboard boxes contained most of his papers, others were scattered about on ammunition chests."

These were the effects of George Price, an American science journalist. He had perfected an existing mathematical equation that shows how altruism can prosper among basically selfish animals - even humans. So shocked was he by his success in this, and the darker truths about human nature implied by the equation, that he embarked on a desperate career of service to the outcast, and finally killed himself with a pair of nail scissors in a London squat in January 1975.

The equations for altruism are not a figure of speech. They were first discovered by WD Hamilton, an Oxford biologist, who tells the story in his newly published collected papers. He is now Royal Society Research Professor of Zoology at Oxford, laden with scientific honours, but was then scrabbling around the fringes of the academic world with only a second- class degree from Cambridge, poor and so lonely that he sometimes worked at night on a bench in Waterloo station rather than return to his bedsit.

Even now, when he is one of the most revered biologists in the world, there is an extraordinary shyness and simplicity about his manner. When I went to see him in his office, he had entirely forgotten our appointment, and yet talked for 40 minutes with the utmost courtesy.

The first, clumsy equations that he produced represent one of the great explanatory triumphs of Darwinism. They show how genes for self-sacrificing behaviour can spread through a population even though they harm some carriers of the genes in question. They demonstrate how animals can develop astonishingly selfless behaviour: how bees can evolve that sting fearlessly even though they must die in consequence. The secret is to ensure that altruistic actions also benefit relatives of the altruist - who are themselves likely to share the gene in question. This helps to clarify why a mother may lay down her life for her children. But how much should she risk for a third cousin twice removed? The equations produce answers to such questions for every living thing on earth.

When Price first read Hamilton's equations he recognised that they raised a terrible problem. He saw that altruism in this biological and equation- bound sense is limited. It cannot supply the absolute and universal commandment of Christianity or the other global ethical systems.

The Hamilton/Price equations may tell us we must love our neighbours, but in ways that are about as far from the religious sense of the words as possible. They are descriptive, not prescriptive. There is no "ought" about their command to love. We love our neighbours because our genes built us that way, the equations say; and because the neighbours have probably been built the same way, too, and so will love us back.

This insight so shocked Price that he set out to check Hamilton's work himself and find the flaw he was convinced must be there. Instead, he ended up with a more elegant and general way to express them.

This new formulation made even clearer a worrying implication that he had already grasped: that the same equations that demands the spread of altruistic behaviour may sometimes demand its opposite. He recognised that a fondness for torturing, raping and murdering your neighbours is just as heritable and may be as easily spread as the urge to love them.

When Price discovered this, he was a militant atheist. Indeed, his atheism had played a role in his divorce from a Catholic in America and emigration to London. The discovery plunged him into a severe depression, from which he was delivered by an experience of God. "He never described it to me in detail," says Hamilton, explaining the story in his recent book. "He could tell that I was practically as he had been in his former life, and not open to anything that would seem intrinsically supernatural.

"He described himself running through the streets of London in the neighbourhood of his flat in Marylebone. He was looking for a church, he said, and entered the first he came to and prayed for guidance. The immediate result was his complete dedication to Christianity."

As an atheist and materialist, Price had been insufferable: for instance, he had proposed controls of almost impossible stringency on any experiment designed to prove ESP to eliminate the remotest possibility of fraud. As a Christian, he was just the same. He soon quarelled with with the priest who received him, whom he found insufficiently zealous. He was not a fundamentalist in any normal sense: he completely accepted Darwinian evolution, and continued to work on his equations. He did not believe in the literal truth of biblical narratives. But he seems to have heard the sayings of Jesus as directly and unarguably as a bee feels the imperative to defend its nest
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:16 AM   #8
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:22 AM   #9
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Here is science you can trust.

Be a nice guy and get laid less. Be a dick and get laid more.
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:26 AM   #10
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Here is science you can trust.

Be a nice guy and get laid less. Be a dick and get laid more.
Dominance = ability to pass on genes = biological/psychological reason...
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:29 AM   #11
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Learned about this in undergrad. My problem with it is the inherent issue in quantifying "nice". I know the theory relies more on evolutionary fitness than it does the actual act of being nice, but quantifying something with so many influences is impossible.

And, using humans as a model for this sort of study is flawed. We have entirely too many influences on the nice phenotype to even begin to remotely account for all the variables. In essence, studies such as his are more an exercise in proving a hypothesis rather than coming up with any tangible results.
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:27 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Cephalic Trauma View Post
Learned about this in undergrad. My problem with it is the inherent issue in quantifying "nice". I know the theory relies more on evolutionary fitness than it does the actual act of being nice, but quantifying something with so many influences is impossible.

And, using humans as a model for this sort of study is flawed. We have entirely too many influences on the nice phenotype to even begin to remotely account for all the variables. In essence, studies such as his are more an exercise in proving a hypothesis rather than coming up with any tangible results.
Actually, it's being altruistic, rather than just "nice". Like the honeybees. They off themselves while protecting the hive, but in the long run, they are passing on "like" genetics.
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:28 PM   #13
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Here is science you can trust.

Be a nice guy and get laid less. Be a dick and get laid more.
By dick, you mean confident. Correct, unconfident guys get laid less.
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:06 PM   #14
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That is not true altruism because there's still a selfish motive.
Altruism doesn't exist. It's a myth.
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:50 PM   #15
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Altruism doesn't exist. It's a myth.
exactly, and that is what this guy proved mathematically.
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