"Sampo Syreeni" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:

> On 2003-07-01, Marko Paunovic uttered to [EMAIL PROTECTED]:
> >Because gene for "not wanting children" will not be around for too long,
> >but only for one generation.
> Not true. For instance, such a gene could have positive effects on the
> other people in your tribe (say, added time for common childcare, which is
> quite common in orang-outang communities), so the gene might well be
> self-propagating in the social evolutionary sense. I mean, you only need
> trivial economic analysis to show that specialisation is useful, and so
> having a percentage of individuals who do not breed but do some other
> useful work for the community could prove very advantageous.

True. Could prove advantageous...

> Why on earth should we presume evolution couldn't take advantage of basic
> economics, when it has lead to far more nontrivial consequences? Genes do
> not care about individuals. They only care about their own survival. Why
> should we presume individuals have some special place in the theory of
> evolution?

I agree completely. However, I don't think that there is any evidence,
except in social insects, for this kind of specialization that you are
suggesting. It is theoretically possible, but I've never heard of
"genetically transfered occupation" (if I can call it that way) in any other
animal species but social insects. I think that evidence would support my
view that male and female of almost all species want to procreate because
their genes want that. Why we are not witnessing more specialization, I
don't know. What we do see, is that many males don't breed (I think that
many male sea-lions don't breed), but I don't think they do any useful work
for the community.

> >It might be good for your genes to "invest" all your time and money in
> >one child or two children.
> But historically they haven't, just as they don't in less developed
> countries today. Thanks to our knowledge of biology we also see that the
> genes in those surroundings are pretty much the same as ours. So where's
> the difference?
> The real difference is that there are other forces at work here besides
> Darwinian evolution. Cultural evolution is the prime one -- it has long
> since overtaken its biological counterpart, just about everywhere. To put
> it bluntly, if you can at least farm, you're no longer guided solely by
> biological dictates. Instead it's information which guides your life.
> Economics still applies, but it isn't as trivial as in the simple case of
> evolutionary biology.

This is of course true. Culture has added some costs (you have higher
opportunity cost of your time) and some benefits (if you have many children,
you don't have to save for retirement because children will look after you)
so the optimal number of children is different. Also, for example, because
of legal "issues", hit-and-run strategy is much less profitable for men. My
point was that there IS some optimal number of children and that simple
maximization of that number is not in the self-interest of genes.

> >> Human genes endow people with the intelligence to choose not to have
> >> children when the cost and risk are high.
> Precisely.
> >I can't really see a situation where decision not to have children is
> >good for your genes.
> Okay. Say you have faulty genes which do not affect your basic
> reproductive ability? Like when you're stupid but oh-so-horny? That isn't
> a trait that would directly interconnect with your ability to breed (your
> groin ain't your brain), so a naive analysis would suggest stupidity is
> irrelevant. But we all know painfully well it ain't.

I don't agree. I think that my stupidity is irrelevant from the standpoint
of my genes. If I am stupid it is still better for my genes if I have
children. It is not good for the genes of my girlfriend, so hopefully women
will (or already have) develop a way to test my intelligence or overall
ability. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is both natural
selection where genes are important (like height or pretty face) and
cultural selection where genes are irrelevent (like wealth). However, they
are strongly connected. Although there is probably no gene for wanting a
rich wife, there is a gene for loving your child. So, if you have well-being
of your future child in mind, you will consider not only genetic features of
his/her mother but also her cultural features.

But, this also works if I AM stupid. It is still better for my genes if I
marry a pretty, rich girl.  Hopefully, she will also be smart and reject my

> The example goes to show that the link between your genotype and your
> ability to breed isn't a direct one. Nowadays I wouldn't actually expect
> any precise, scientific model to be able to capture the precise dynamics
> of mating and procreation. In the stone age, maybe, but not today -- since
> then we did invent nylon, lubrication, lipstick, fermented beverages and
> industrial strength black clothing. It's the same with not having kids.
> Biological principles alone fail to explain that.
> I'm also pretty sure this disconnect is what makes us talk about evolution
> on lists having to do with economics.

Point about link between genotype and ability to breed is well-taken.
However, you are not giving enough credit to the other sex. Presumably, the
other sex will develop a way of finding a good genotype (for human kind, not
only good genotype, but also a set of good cultural features). So, my
ability to breed is not enough. I have to have enough of other features to
attract the opposite sex. Those used to be only physical features, now both
physical and cultural.

> --
> Sampo Syreeni, aka decoy - mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED], tel:+358-50-5756111
> student/math+cs/helsinki university, http://www.iki.fi/~decoy/front
> openpgp: 050985C2/025E D175 ABE5 027C 9494 EEB0 E090 8BA9 0509 85C2

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