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This is News For Objectivists--"Microbes may encourage altruistic behavior

Posted by Zenphamy 2 years, 6 months ago to Philosophy
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Maybe it's more than (or simpler than) religion or faulty philosophy that leads to the animosity that Objectivists encounter when we try to explain why we are opposed to a philosophy that encourages Altruism and we propose "selfishness" as a morally justified and rational approach to life. Makes a lot of sense to me. From the article:

"Why do people commonly go out of their way to do something nice for another person, even when it comes at a cost to themselves—and how could such altruistic behavior have evolved? The answer may not just be in our genes, but also in our microbes.

In a new paper, researchers Ohad Lewin-Epstein, Ranit Aharonov, and Lilach Hadany at Tel-Aviv University in Israel have theoretically shown that microbes could influence their hosts to act altruistically. And this influence could be surprisingly effective, with simulations showing that microbes may promote the evolution of altruistic behavior in a population to an even greater extent than genetic factors do.

"I believe the most important aspect of the work is that it changes the way we think about altruism from centering on the animals (or humans) performing the altruistic acts to their microbes," Hadany told Phys.org.

This places an entirely new perspective on the idea of a physical Gulch or just avoiding those that don't get Ayn Rand.

I always knew that the "Others"" weren't well.








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SOURCE URL: https://phys.org/news/2017-01-microbes-altruistic-behavior.html


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  • Posted by dbhalling 2 years, 6 months ago
    Yes, there have been a number of articles purporting to find Altrusim in nature (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/al.... First of all it is important to remember that Ayn Rand was very clear that ethics is based on our nature and if our nature was different a different ethics would make sense. For instance, if we did not think individually, then we would need a different ethics. Animals that swarm (hear) behave like they have a single mind and if they break apart they die. So it makes sense to trade the life of one individual to protect the swarm, as bees and herding animals do.

    Second of all is that they misuse the term Altruism. Comte defined as “The word "altruism" (French, altruisme, from autrui: "other people", derived from Latin alter: "other") was coined by Auguste Comte, the French founder of positivism, in order to describe the ethical doctrine he supported. He believed that individuals had a moral obligation to renounce self-interest and live for others.”

    Third the article assumes that humans are not rational animals.
    “To show that this idea can have a prevailing effect on a population over time, the researchers designed simulations of interacting individuals, some with altruism-inducing microbes, and some without. Then using a prisoner's dilemma payoff scheme, the researchers investigated what happens to this population, its microbes, and its altruistic behavior over many generations.
    The results showed that, as long as horizontal transmission (between individuals) of microbes is allowed, altruism-inducing microbes can take over the population, leading to microbe-induced altruism. This result occurs even when only a very small percentage of the population initially carries these altruism-inducing microbes. The simulations also revealed that the evolution of altruism is successful because the microbes have a chance to either meet genetically related microbes in the recipient or infect and transform some of the recipient's microbes into relatives.”
    Living with other people is not altruism. Phony science with an agenda.
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    • Posted by 2 years, 6 months ago
      Hi db; That's a big part of what interested me--I've never before encountered a suggestion that 'altruistic behavior' is the result of anything other than morality based on belief, or natural human genetics. The study references Rabies as a behavior altering microbe as an example and I've seen some others, but mostly involving simpler lifeforms.

      So this report immediately stirred my WTF neuron sparks. What's the benefit of this type of study or suggestion--what's the agenda? Why the interests in behavior modification by subversive (beneath consciousness) means?

      In a little conspiracy imagining, I've seen lately a few papers and reports on developments and tests of synthetic microbes, one of which is able to successfully 'fool' natural cells. There's also been some recent releases of studies that have shown a correlation between autism and the microbial makeup of the gut, implying a causative relationship.

      So WTF and what's the agenda?
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  • Posted by  $  CBJ 2 years, 6 months ago
    This is a simulation. Reality likely is different. The researchers are using “close physical contact” as a proxy for altruism. This is a weak connection, since close physical contact frequently includes behavior that is anything but altruistic (warfare and rape, for example), and many actual acts of altruism do not involve physical contact at all (such as financially supporting a worthless relative out of a sense of duty). Furthermore, some of what they are calling “altruism” may be simply generosity or cooperative behavior, such as holding open a door for a stranger. The fact that such behavior does not result in an immediately obvious payoff does not make it altruistic, as the term is understood by Objectivists.
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  • Posted by  $  allosaur 2 years, 6 months ago
    So in other words, a donor is a germy groaner almsgiver with the quivers, a philanthropist is a microbe infected altruist, benefactors have mentally gone "It Came From The Gut" crackers and saints are just plain sick..
    Me dino is looking forward to this new search for a cure added to all the charitable donation requests that I receive in my mail.
    I'll likely open the envelope, scan the printed plaintive plea, groan "Hell, I can't afford to help everybody" and toss it into my little trash can that I line with a cheap plastic bag that once carried groceries from a Walmart, a Publix or a Piggly Wiggly. .
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  • Posted by  $  CBJ 2 years, 6 months ago
    In the simulation, the microbes themselves are not behaving altruistically, they are encouraging their hosts to do so in order to increase their (the microbes') numbers. The simulation showed the altruism-inducing microbes taking over the entire society. Not sure if it would apply to humans in the real world. Results of the recent election would indicate otherwise.
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    • Posted by  $  puzzlelady 2 years, 6 months ago
      Beg to differ, CBJ. The recent elections are prima facie evidence of the microbes' pulling large cohorts of the population together to benefit their own agenda. And Trump is the magnetic center, Patient Zero of a spreading infection. What's fascinating is that not all microbes are monolithic. We are the battleground of their warfare, conducted below our conscious awareness and expressed through our own conflicts of ideas (and ideologies). I see the makings here of a super science fiction story, or has someone already written it?

      Mind you, most of our inhabitant microbes are symbiotic with our own cells and help keep us alive. It's amazing that humans have not studied this phenomenon to the deepest level, along with quantum theory.
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  • Posted by chad 2 years, 6 months ago
    One of my best friends suspected genetics. I married a woman who already had two children, pretended to be conservative was really a socialist and her first husband was a socialist. The next three children we had all are very conservative, my son is an objectivist like his dad (me) and the two older girls voted for Barracula just like their mom. Perhaps the objectivist gene is carried by the male??
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    • -1
      Posted by Seer 2 years, 6 months ago
      Women do have problems thinking in long terms. That is, long-term strategic planning seems to be a masculine trait; women are very much settled in the here-and-now. And they would have to be, since they are the ones raising and caring for the safety of the next generation. It's in the genes.
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      • Posted by 2 years, 6 months ago
        So how do we explain AR?
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        • Posted by Seer 2 years, 6 months ago
          The same way you explain me.

          I don't worship AR, by the way. There were things that she didn't study, or knowledge not available to her many years ago.

          Nor do I think Objectivism should be a cult.
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          • Posted by 2 years, 6 months ago
            But I don't explain you, Seer, although on a Post of mine, I might well question you. My question to you concerning AR was intended to draw you out about her ability for 'long term' thinking as compared to your position that women have a problem with such thinking.

            I thoroughly agree with you concerning 'worship and cults'. In matter of fact, I suspect that I'm less influenced by 'worship' of anybody or anything than you are, and since Objectivism is all about logically reasoned facts applied rationally to existence, I would think it's the furthest thing from a cult I can imagine. That's certainly not to say that there do not exist certain humans calling themselves Objectivists that think and act as if they're a cult, just as there are many conservatives that think of themselves as Objectivist and even original thinkers. Sad.
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            • Posted by Seer 2 years, 6 months ago
              I guess what I mean is it's harder for women to engage in long-term strategic planning. As smart as I am, and I'm damn smart, my many brilliant men friends can control events happening in the reality of the present, so that the future events they are planning will come to fruition. And all I can say, Oh, I see!
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              • Posted by 2 years, 6 months ago
                Yes, there are differences and yes, some have greater effect than others. Women can perceive more color variations than men. The sex hormones cause an increase over the number of color detecting rods and cones in women. It's an evolutionary genetic survival trait. It's also one of the reasons that color blindness is more predominant in males than females.

                There's also more range of variance among males than among females, but there are variances in all humans. Every human is composed of those differences and variances. Each is unique and each is an individual.

                There are probably hundreds more. Hail the differences. Hail the Individual.

                This topic needs to have and move to a Post of it's own.
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                • Posted by Seer 2 years, 6 months ago
                  You see color blindness more in men than inwomen because it is sex-linked via chromosomes. And it is passed on to male children through the female. It's been awhile since I studied it, so my memory isn't exact, but I believe it has to do with the genetic code being on the X-chromosome, and so a male with the code for color blindness would not have 2 chromosomes where one could compensate for the presence of the code in the other. My husband had a type of color blindness, so that when we studied types of cell slides, he would have to ask me what the colors were. He had trouble with pastels and dark colors, mostly. He couldn't detect polychromatophilic dye preparations.
                  And he never got blown away by rainbows, either.
                  You said sex hormones, but they are governed by the presence or absence of the code. Are you a biologist of some sort?
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            • Posted by Seer 2 years, 6 months ago
              Can you give me an example of her "long range strategic planning"?
              I did mistake you; I took you to mean that women have the same ability as men to think abstractly. It is the rare woman that can do that. I have been called a mathematical genius and polymath; but I have always felt that the ability to abstract from the concrete is a masculine quality, probably because It has been more necessary in masculine forms of endeavor. Women have needed to provide care in the family unit; men must provide stability.

              I doubt that you are less influenced by worship of anybody or anything than myself. That assumption is completely unwarranted. But I'm glad to hear you are aware of some of Rand's shortcomings, few as they are.
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              • Posted by 2 years, 6 months ago
                I don't think of the 'shortcomings' of Rand as a human so much as I do about her uniqueness and genius in her abilities and perseverance to lay out a complete philosophy based on the nature of man in words that nearly all can comprehend, though not necessarily fully apply through the internal and infernal self-battles with conditioned belief systems.

                I can't think of another except Huxley and Orwell during the 20th Century, that could comprehend and predict so accurately, the process and ultimate results of the changes in human actions she observed in life and the progressions that were being implemented and planned, and then describe it so well.

                I don't pretend to argue the biologically inherited differences in the male and female of the species and the demonstrated strengths of each in their own realms, though I can think of many exceptions to the generalities within each sex that I've dealt with throughout life. Many of those exceptions were joys to my life and remembrances and would certainly take up chapters in any attempt to prepare a biography.

                I sympathize in having to contend with labels such as genius and polymath, though for myself it was Renaissance Man, while working to define and interest oneself in life rather than trying to live up or down to others' expectations. But I've always loved good challenges.
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                • Posted by Seer 2 years, 6 months ago
                  I didn't mean to imply that I don't think Rand is a genius. To be able to perceive the consequences of that malignant 19th century European philosophical in both its moral and practical explications, then to stand alone in confronting it, takes not just genius, but fortitude.
                  In the forward to one of her novels, Peikoff reported she said, about that philosophy: "Because they are wrong." One woman, and a Russian, stood up to them. I agree, she understood human nature better than any at that time.
                  Her ability to write enabled her philosophy to be transmitted to millions. Her interest in film making
                  was also a plus. I read her novels, and some of her philosophical writings, at the age of 15.
                  Yet there are things I disagree with. Not many, but some.
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                  • Posted by 2 years, 6 months ago
                    Piekoff I don't care much for. He's one of the prime movers in much of the closed and cultish attitudes of some Objectivist circles. But I like your Rand description.

                    Post some of your disagreements and lets see what responses and comments you garner. That's what the site's supposed to be about.
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                    • Posted by Seer 2 years, 6 months ago
                      I think you're right about Piekoff. He inherited her estate, I believe, didn't he? He has done some good studies of her, but I feel he has made her into some sort of cult figure, which was never what she was about. Individualism and strict adherence to doctrine are incompatible, and was one of the things Rand was vehemently against.

                      I might post some things, but I've tried it before (about 2 years ago) and all I got was: "But Rand said..." when I wanted to know what YOU think, not what Rand said.
                      You seem to think for yourself, though. If there is one "doctrine" Rand put forth, that I heartily agree with, it is that men use consciousness to make choices; that choice uses reason and rationality (though justifiably, and in the end, based on one's "emotional" values. As she said at the end of Anthem (and I'm paraphrasing here) "It is my eyes that give beauty to the world." Meaning there is no such thing as a collective heart or collective feelings..
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                      • Posted by 2 years, 6 months ago
                        There are a few on the site 'that think for themselves, though less than a year or two ago. But more Objectivist posts might well entice some of them back.
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                        • Posted by Seer 2 years, 6 months ago
                          There is a lot going on in the world, though, and I have always wished that more Objectivists would pay attention to world events.
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  • Posted by Mygood 2 years, 6 months ago
    Well, overly consuming sugar also seems like altruistic behavior toward abnormal gut flora, candida :) we service them all day long!
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