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The selfish gene board game

by Greg Krehbiel on 24 October 2014

This is going to be a meandering post.

A few decades ago some biologists came up with the idea that it was better to look at evolution from the perspective of the gene than from the perspective of the individual. This idea has been very successful and is used to explain all sorts of things, like why sexual reproduction is better (in some cases) than asexual reproduction. (I’m reading The Red Queen, which discusses a lot of that stuff. I’m not at all sure I’m understanding it very well!)

The idea that a gene could be “selfish” seems like one of those weird anthropomorphisms that evolutionists are often guilty of. The intent is simply that the genes that survive are the ones that have been successful at passing themselves along, so looking at genes as “selfish” helps when you’re trying to figure out what’s going on.

Hold that thought and take a mental leap over to the question about consciousness.

A lot of materialists have a problem understanding consciousness, or subjectivity, and some of them even pretend to deny that it’s real. Their problem seems to be that they think of the universe as just a bunch of stuff, and stuff — like protons and electrons — is clearly not conscious (they think). There’s no “what is it like to be an electron?,” so why, when you throw a bunch of stuff together, is the collection conscious?

That is, if you start from matter and build a human, consciousness and subjectivity seem like a huge enigma.

But what if you start at humans and work in the other direction?

A human is clearly conscious. So is a gorilla. So is a dog. You could even say that there’s “something that it’s like” to be a fish. (I realize that I’m switching back and forth somewhat between consciousness and subjectivity.)

How far can we take that? What about a plant? Or a rock?

People in other cultures, with different philosophical traditions, don’t have such a hard time believing that there is some sense in which a rock has something like consciousness — at some extremely rudimentary level. It doesn’t make sense to me, but it seems to depend on whether you start with the fact of human consciousness and work down, or whether you start with our suppositions about matter and work up.

Now let’s go back to genes. Imagine for a moment that a gene actually does have an agenda. Not in the sense that it sits around in smoke-filled rooms and negotiates to take over the world, but that at some very basic level there is something like intentionality. This intentionality wouldn’t apply to the individual gene, but to all the copies of that gene collectively. A kind of hive mind, I guess.

I know, it seems ridiculous. Quantum physics seems ridiculous to me.

Now with all that rumbling around in your head you’re primed to hear about my genius idea for a new game.

Imagine a board game where each turn was something like reproduction. A deck of cards with various genes would be shuffled and dealt according to a set of rules. You, as the player, would be representing the interests of a particular gene, or set of genes.

There would be various tricks and strategies you could play to try to get your gene to survive until the end of the game. (That’s the really complicated microbiology stuff that I don’t understand. Apparently all kinds of wacky things take place to game the system and give one gene an advantage.)

This game would be an illustration of the idea of the selfish gene. A person with an agenda (you, the player) would be trying to drive the success of a gene.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-24  ::  Greg Krehbiel

The disposable male

by Greg Krehbiel on 24 October 2014

In Eggs are Expensive, Sperm is cheap, I lay out a program for how humans ought to interact given who we actually are — that is, as men and women who have different roles to play in a successful society.

A man I recently met who leans in the men’s rights direction read the book and doesn’t like the fact that I seem to endorse the idea of the disposable male. That is, that since eggs are a rare societal resource, when somebody has to die to protect the tribe, it’s better for it to be the man. I argue that men are more naturally suited to that role in many ways, and that it makes more sense.

That’s heresy to the men’s rights people. They don’t see why men should be considered disposable. Why do we spend all this money on women’s health when men die several years earlier? Why should the women get the seats on the life rafts? Why should the men have to fight the wars? (Aside from the fact that we actually want to win the wars we fight.)

They are correctly realizing that in the modern nightmare where we pretend that men and women are equal, male disposability doesn’t make any sense. Why should men die to protect a culture that despises them? Why should they take a disproportionate share of the risks and costs?

A lot of men have concluded that it’s a raw bargain and they’re not playing that game any more. I can’t fault them for that. At least not on a personal level. All I can do is point out that the solution to equalitarian foolishness is not to play along and try to make it fair, but to fight it.

The equalitarian heresy will destroy western civilization. Men and women are not equal, and pretending that they are will send the culture on a death spiral.

Some men say fine, we’ll “go Galt” and let this decadent, irredeemable society fall under the weight of its foolishness. Some of them add that they’ll do their best to enjoy it in the process.

Again, it’s hard to fault them, except for that nagging optimism I have that society can be saved, and that Ayn Rand did not have the right prescription.

There does come a point when you simply have to head for the hills and let the rest of society eat itself. I hope that we’re not there. I hope that there’s still enough respect for reality and tradition that we can turn this monster around. But I could very easily be wrong about that, and I can’t fault anybody who disagrees with me.

-- 1 comment  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-24  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Male spaces and gamergate

by Greg Krehbiel on 24 October 2014

I haven’t followed “gamergate” much because I’m not a gamer. About the extent of my “gaming” experience was playing D&D in high school, playing a helicopter gunship game on my Commodore 128 in my 20s, and playing Axis and Allies from time to time.

I’ve played a few other things. There was a time when I liked Panzer General. But generally speaking, games don’t interest me.

From what I’ve read, gamergate is basically about a bunch of girls who want to invade the boys’ tree house and then redecorate it and have a tea party, and the boys are kicking them out. It has become an icon of the generalized assault on masculinity. “Male places” and masculinity are under attack.

The story gets sidetracked when people start to ask things like, “isn’t Ivy in Soulcalibur over the top? Do you really approve of the way women are portrayed in games?” Etc.

Those are valid questions, but you don’t argue about the right way to polish your sword when the Hun is attacking. And make no mistake about it, the Hun — that is, the “social justice warriors,” or SJWs — are attacking. They are intent on finding every male space and feminizing it.

The gamers are saying “if you don’t like our games, go make your own.” As Dalrock points out, the gamers are showing a resolve and courage that most churches have failed to show.

If the line to the woman’s restroom is too long and a woman slips into the men’s room to pee, the men aren’t going to care. But if she starts telling them how to behave, she has to leave.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-24  ::  Greg Krehbiel

DNA percentages confuse me

by Greg Krehbiel on 23 October 2014

We’re frequently told odd statistics like we share 95% of our DNA with chimps and 50% with a banana. But then when the subject turns to ancient humans — like this guy — he has 2% Neanderthal DNA. I often read things to the effect that modern Europeans have between 2 and 3% Neanderthal DNA.

Then … how much DNA does a Neanderthal have in common with a chimp or a banana?

I strongly suspect they’re using completely different standards for the different stats. E.g., a human has a gene for pigment and so does a banana, so that’s common. But Homo Sapien has this particular gene for pigment while Neanderthals have this other gene for pigment, so that’s different.

I would be very interested to know what these stats really mean.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-23  ::  Greg Krehbiel

“It’s for the environment”

by Greg Krehbiel on 23 October 2014

Just because someone says that a new law is for the environment, or for the children, or to protect baby seals, or whatever, doesn’t make it so.

Forbes says the new California ban on plastic bags is wrong-headed. It won’t help the environment, won’t lower energy use, won’t help marine animals, will make more trash and will increase food-borne illnesses.

I don’t know if Forbes is right, but I tend to trust Forbes more than I trust the California legislature.

The more important point is that the battle over a bill is often in how it’s labeled. If it’s a bill to “protect the environment” and you vote against it, you’re in trouble. It doesn’t really matter what the details are. You’re against the environment.

--  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-23  ::  Greg Krehbiel

The eight-year, three term president

by Greg Krehbiel on 22 October 2014

I’ve wondered about a tactic that a political party could use to keep control of the presidency. The idea would be for the president to resign one day more than two years into his second term, allowing the VP to take over. The VP would then be the incumbent in the next election, and would therefore have an edge on the competition.

The 22nd Amendment allows this, and as long as the VP didn’t serve more than two years of the previous president’s term, he could run for office twice.

22nd Amendment: Section 1: No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once.

The VP — now president — could do the same, potentially ensuring that an incumbent is always running for president.

Of course the strategy would require someone in power to relinquish power, which few would do. And sometimes incumbents lose. But it would be an interesting strategy.

-- 1 comment  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-22  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Do Democratic men vote against their self interest?

by Greg Krehbiel on 22 October 2014

There’s a tired meme on the left that conservatives are always voting against their own self interest. They mean, for example, that poor, working conservatives vote against labor unions, and labor unions would help them. IOW, the premise of the meme is that the left gets to choose what the self interest of the poor should look like and then … surprise … conservatives don’t vote that way. Ha ha. What dummies those conservatives are.

The case can be made the other way on numerous fronts, but this one is interesting to me. Why would any man vote Democrat?

Many Democratic policies either ignore the needs of men, or they are hostile to them. Most men have figured this out, which is why men trend Republican. Particularly white men.

As always, there are arguments to be made both ways. Some people would say that Obama’s efforts to get troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan help men, since they’re not coming back in body bags or with missing limbs. Others would say that his pro-union, pro minimum wage positions help men. I disagree on those counts, but I can appreciate the arguments.

Still, the article I cite above raises several issues where Democratic policies are decidedly anti-male, either by omission or commission. The thing is, if the Republicans are better on any of those issues, it’s only by a little.

-- 1 comment  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-22  ::  Greg Krehbiel

The un-tutored female atheist who puts the pope and the cardinals to shame

by Greg Krehbiel on 21 October 2014

There’s been a fair amount of ink spilled over the recent summit on the family at the Vatican. The liberals want to spin the story of a progressive wing that’s desperately trying to cast off the shackles of the past and enter a new age of tolerance and acceptance. The conservatives see a divinely protected institution that can never officially err, fighting the long defeat against the forces of darkness.

I don’t give a fig what the cardinals end up saying, but while all this was going on I had a huge surge of empathy for the poor Catholic conservatives — waiting in fear, wondering how they were going to spin whatever nonsense belched forth from the summit.

It’s really, really hard to believe in any sort of divine guidance for these robed wonders when a divorced waitress can give better commentary on contemporary issues than the bishops could ever dream of providing.

As an example, see Men not marrying? How deep does “the problem” go? And after you watch that, take in a couple other girlwriteswhat videos. I guarantee that you’ll learn more about sex, marriage and family in an hour than you could possibly have learned listening to 20 years of homilies.

(I’m pretty sure that girlwriteswhat is a divorced atheist who works as a waitress. If I’m mistaken on any of those points, please correct me.)

The gift of prophecy seems to have left the church. You can now find it on Youtube. But you have to look really hard.

-- 5 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-21  ::  Greg Krehbiel

“Diversity” is not a virtue

by Greg Krehbiel on 21 October 2014

This morning on CSPAN I heard a young woman ask a Congressman about diversity in the House. He accepted the assumption of the question — that diversity is a good thing — and started right in on how much they’ve improved, and how much more diverse the Congress is these days.

I would like to hear a politician with the guts to say that he rejects the premise that “diversity” is a good way to measure the Congress. Or almost anything else, for that matter.

These politically correct morality tales rarely match up with reality. Just in the last few days there have been stories about a new Gallup poll showing that workers don’t like to have a female boss, and that it’s even more true of women!

So who’s representing “women’s issues” here?

We’ve come to accept that “women’s issues” means nothing like “what actual women want.” We’ve allowed it to become a ruse to confuse and brow-beat the people who can’t stand up to the harpies.

In the same way, the whole thing about diversity is a lie. Are non-lawyers proportionately represented in the Congress? How about non-denominational Protestants? No in both cases, but that doesn’t matter to the people who care about “diversity” for the simple reason that they really don’t care about diversity. Diversity is only a convenient stick to beat people with, and when it’s served its purpose they’ll move on to something else.

-- 3 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-21  ::  Greg Krehbiel

Liberal intolerance comes out again

by Greg Krehbiel on 21 October 2014

A Pew media survey finds that liberals …

… are more likely than conservatives to “defriend” or block “someone on a social network — as well as to end a personal relationship — because of politics,” …

Is anybody surprised?

-- 2 comments  ::  What do you think?  ::  2014-10-21  ::  Greg Krehbiel

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