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Go to: Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence

Sanpete's Avatar Jump to comment 48 by Sanpete

Phil, the group selection at issue is genetic, as is the individual selection, and there has been no hand waving about it. We're talking about biological evolution. The cultural factors I've referred to aren't biological, but they would affect biological evolution via selection at the individual level so that individual selection wouldn't work against selection at the group level. The cultural factors would probably come from people just seeing how advantageous altruism is to the group and would persist as long as they increased group fitness. Sorry if I was unclear.

I don't think your model of tribal leaders as free riders and "sociopaths" would be universal, and probably not the most successful model in group competition.

The hive consciousness Haidt speaks of is just as adaptable to large groups as small ones. Put another way, the "tribes" it can extend to can be very large these days.

Hive consciousness would be of no help to kin selection in humans.

Thu, 22 Mar 2012 23:48:00 UTC | #929761

Go to: Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence

Sanpete's Avatar Jump to comment 45 by Sanpete

The big question, though, is are those necessary, mooted causal "cultural factors" attributes solely of genes or are they substantially an attribute of cultutal replicators?

I'm not sure what you have in mind, but I had in mind to distinguish cultural from genetic factors. The point is that cultural factors could remove the problem of instability of selection raised by Coyne that would result from group selection working in one direction while individual selection works in the opposite one. There's no question that there are cultural factors that increase the individual fitness of those with altruistic behavior and decrease that of those without it, e.g. recognition for heroism in battle and shame or worse for cowardice. Whether that kind of thing could be enough to overcome the fitness costs of altruism is an open question, but it's plausible enough. In that case, both individual and group selection would favor altruistic traits.

Haidt believes the most likely unit of group selection for human altruism was the tribe. I don't follow the reference to intelligent design.

Thu, 22 Mar 2012 15:31:42 UTC | #929626

Go to: Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence

Sanpete's Avatar Jump to comment 41 by Sanpete

The Coyne link is helpful in illuminating Coyne's views. He misreads Haidt willy-nilly and has very little knowledge of the basis for Haidt's views. For that, you'll have to read Haidt.

It should be noted that Coyne's argument against group selection for "true altruism" in the evolutionary sense, i.e. behavior that benefits others at a net cost to individual/inclusive fitness, doesn't address group selection for true altruism in the psychological sense, i.e. behavior that benefits others at a net cost to the individual--not a fitness cost (usually) but a cost that would count psychologically like money or a limb. (This whole issue is unfortunately muddled by the use of psychological, intentional language for nonpsychological, nonintentional evolutionary concepts.)

In arguing group selection wouldn't work to produce "true altruism," Coyne assumes that trait must lower individual fitness, which follows directly from his definition of "true altruism." That's not necessarily the case with true altruism in the psychological sense. If cultural factors sufficiently rewarded altruism and punished the lack of it so that true altruism became weakly adaptive individually (making it a form of "apparent altruism" in Coyne's evolutionary sense, but no less true altruism in the psychological sense), while intense group competition made it strongly adaptive at the group level, group selection could become quite a significant factor. And since selection for the trait would depend to a great extent on its advantage to the group (otherwise it would probably disappear, along with the cultural rewards for it), it would be group selection largely driving and shaping the selection of the trait.

Darwin thought that was a reasonable view, and so it remains.

Wed, 21 Mar 2012 23:41:35 UTC | #929464

Go to: Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence

Sanpete's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by Sanpete

It's not like we all plug out ears and go la la la when the subject comes up.

For those of you who don't want to buy my book, just email me and I'll send you chapter 9

I listened to most of your talk, and if your book is anything like your talk then I feel as if I would be wasting my time. Some of your thoughts are Deepak Chopra like crazy. No thanks.


Not all plug their ears, but some do. It's a fair inference from Jon's comment that the book cannot be judged by the talk, a point I can attest to. Most of the comments so far are based on misunderstanding. The book won't run to the tastes of those who are more engaged in preserving their views than challenging them, but it's full of interesting ideas and evidence, even if it's largely speculative at this stage.

Tue, 20 Mar 2012 19:40:10 UTC | #929068

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