This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

nonsuch's Profile

nonsuch's Avatar Joined almost 6 years ago
Gender: Male

Latest Discussions Started by nonsuch

The Monkey In The Machine and the Machine in the Monkey - last commented 22 November 2011 10:30 PM

More Discussions by nonsuch

Latest Comments by nonsuch

Go to: The Monkey In The Machine and the Machine in the Monkey

nonsuch's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by nonsuch

GPWC said:

If you are interested, I have the Altruism episode in MP3 format on my computer. I'm no techie, but someone could advise me how to get it to you
Wow, thanks, I'd like that but don't want you to go to any trouble. I'm probably less of a techie than you, but maybe you could send it as an attachment if I give you my email, but this site doesn't seem to have a private messaging facility.

Well, from your user name I put you down as living in Cheam, Surrey where Henry VIII built Nonsuch Palace.

Yeah, I'm a bit further away than that ;-)

Thu, 17 Nov 2011 00:08:04 UTC | #890881

Go to: The Monkey In The Machine and the Machine in the Monkey

nonsuch's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by nonsuch

GPWC, I love IOT with Melvyn Bragg and would LOVE to hear that podcast but, yeah, you're right, I'm from outside the UK and can't get it (they only allow the previous month for a limited time). Did they mention selfish gene theory being used to explain suicide bombers and the like, as this documentary suggests? (it's not altruism so I guess not).I had never heard of it being used to account for the opposite of altruism as this documentary suggests.

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 11:40:40 UTC | #890693

Go to: The Monkey In The Machine and the Machine in the Monkey

nonsuch's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by nonsuch

Thanks for your responses so far. I have to say I had never even heard of selfish gene theory explaining the dark side of human behaviour but Curtis presents it as if it is a well accepted fact. Is this is a convenient straw man so he can say "ah-ha! but the Hutus and Tutsis were lied to and in fact were more closely related than they thought, so Selfish Gene theory is wrong - Nyaaa!!!" But, as I say, I've never come across selfish gene theory as a way to explain genocide, for obvious reasons I have already pointed out.

Red Dog, you seem to know a little about it, what does Hamilton's theory have to say about genocide? Also, a lot of murders are between family members, which raises the same objection on an individual basis.

This discussion compliments the similar issues being discussed today under the recently-posted news article on pyschopathy elsewhere on this site.

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 05:51:33 UTC | #890656

Go to: The Monkey In The Machine and the Machine in the Monkey

nonsuch's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by nonsuch

Schrodengers Cat said:

So there are pressures both increasing the selfish group and decreasing the unselfish group

Michael Shermer wrote a good popular book on this subject (can't remember the title), what you have to take into account is that we are social animals dependant on each other for survival. We evolved in tribes of, say, 120-150 people, for which cooperation was crucial to survival. Reciprocation and a conscience had to evolve and be more prevalent than selfishness and cheating otherwise WE WOULDN'T BE HERE. The cheating strategy is very successful but only if it is a small minority of the group...the best "cheaters and liars" survived and thrived, but if they were ALL that way, social bonds would break down and our ancestors would have starved to death because no one would co-operate for the hunt or anything else. The best strategy for the majority would be to GENUINELY be honest and not fake it, while 5-10% of the really good "honest fakers" get to pass their genes on, the "bad fakers" get shunned and don't.

Sorry I can't recall the title of Shermer's book, but there are others which argue the case as well.

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 05:33:33 UTC | #890654

Go to: Richard Dawkins - Absolute Morality

nonsuch's Avatar Jump to comment 46 by nonsuch

What about our natural moral sense?
Yes, humans in general, to a greater or lesser extent (with the exception of psychopaths)have certain moral proclivities arguably hard-wired in the brain. Christians will often point to this, going so far as to say we have a "sense" that there is "objective morality" and that all humans (sans psychopaths) know "deep down" that certain things are "objectively" really really wrong.

That point is open to debate (certainly the "objective" claim can be shot down), but let us assume the rest to be correct: we have an innate morality. This is an argument from CS Lewis and, like most arguments from CS Lewis they are lame-ass stupid.

So we have an innate sense of morality which we can choose or not choose to follow. So what? How does having an innate sense of morality prove there is a god? It would only prove that you have an innate sense of morality, period. Let us take their claims further: Christians will claim humans have a "god-shaped hole" in our consciousness, deep down (so they think) all atheists "really know that there is a god, and they're just being rebellious children, not wanting to obey His absolute morality" (you know, the one that is "written on our hearts" the "god-given" sense of right and wrong, "deep down inside").

Even if it were true that everybody "sensed" that they were being watched and judged when they committed some act that they felt, deep down, was "objectively wrong", this still wouldn't provide an iota of evidence that morality is objective or that there is a god.

Yet, mysteriously, Christians seem to think that it does. Next time they make that argument, ask them to imagine that everybody (including themselves) believed in a Magic Chicken with supernatural powers - does that mean that it is true? It makes as much sense. They are simply being creationists about certain traits in the human mind. If you don't understand how the moon formed, it is no solution to say "god dunzit" and the same applies for psychological tendencies in the human mind.

If it turned out that we all had a "sense" deep-down that there is "a god watching us" and that there is a real right and wrong...even that can be relatively easy to explain in evolutionary theory. My post is getting kinda long so I'll end here, maybe someone else might flesh-out that last point or else I might give it a go later if anyone wants to know.

Sun, 02 May 2010 01:09:00 UTC | #464802

More Comments by nonsuch