Talk:The Selfish Gene

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for The Selfish Gene:

Here are some tasks you can do:
  • Expand:
    • Synopsis of book needed (with a brief summary of each chapter); this could probably replace the first three sections we have now.

Survival machine[edit]

This is only a brief article, which I think should be merged here unless this one becomes around 30kb or more. An adequate discussion of survival machines can probably be given here even then. Richard001 11:02, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

  • support merge If the section here ever grows too large, the redirect can always be undone. – ornis 09:21, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
  • support merge. Snalwibma 09:56, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

I don't think there's anything really worth merging, so I'll just redirect it. We should probably have a brief summary of each chapter, however, in which case 'The Gene Machine' would cover this area in better detail than it currently is. Richard001 10:47, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

I'd forgotten about this. I've just re-read the book, and the concept of the outward body being the mechanism whose sole purpose is genetic propagation, basically a survival machine for the gene, is repeated throughout the book. Again, I think survival machine should have its own article or have a description in the book's article. However, consensus should prevail, and I don't have a background in genetics. --ML5 (talk) 00:26, 20 September 2010 (UTC)

In coining the term "meme" (or adopting it from 19th Century usage) Dawkins is aware of the apposite punning significance of "me me"

AdrianHeadingley (talk) 14:42, 25 January 2011 (UTC)AdrianHeadingley 25 January 2011

Fair use rationale for Image:Selfish Gene 3.jpg[edit]

Nuvola apps important.svg

Image:Selfish Gene 3.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to insure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images lacking such an explanation can be deleted one week after being tagged, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.

BetacommandBot (talk) 07:07, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Someone corrected this already. Fred Hsu (talk) 03:51, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think.jpg[edit]

Nuvola apps important.svg

Image:How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to ensure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images lacking such an explanation can be deleted one week after being tagged, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.

BetacommandBot (talk) 23:46, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

I added fair-use rationale to the image. But that is only for the article on the book, not The Selfish Gene. Perhaps we will need to remove this image from this article. Fred Hsu (talk) 03:51, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

Section Ontological criticism[edit]

Quote: "The philosopher David Stove argues in 'Genetic Calvinism' in the book Against the Idols of the Age Published by Transaction Publishers in 2001, that The Selfish Gene introduces unsubstantiated metaphysics, and accuses Dawkins of establishing a religion." The Genetic Calvinism here links to http://books.google.com.au/books?id=aZJIbcvhRj0C&printsec , a chapter on Google Books. I'm not sure that this is according to Wikipedia guidelines. I would also like to include a summary of the arguments against Dawkins, including what makes this argument(s)"Ontological." Glancing over the essay, it seems a bit too unfocussed (It starts by attacking the use of the word "selfish," which Dawkins actually spends a great deal of text explaining in the book.) Cuvtixo (talk) 16:54, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

Unit of selection[edit]

These three edits by Wotnow have introduced good material on what Gould and Eldredge thought about the gene as a unit of selection. Similar material is in Gene-centered view of evolution, which is the correct place to spell out the argument. I think the new text here should be drastically cut back, with a link to a suitable article, because it is not appropriate to rehash the issues about the unit of selection in an outline of a book. Comments? Johnuniq (talk) 02:42, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

The whole premise of the book is the gene as the unit of selection.

Savagedjeff (talk) 03:02, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Yes, but that doesn't mean the entire subject of the gene as unit of selection needs to be detailed in this article - similarly the book is solely about living organisms, but the article does not seek to explain in great depths every aspect of a living organism. Hence in an encyclopaedia there are different articles exploring different aspects of different disciplines, which may overlap to a greater or lesser degree, but are nonetheless treated distinctly, without every aspect being repeated ad infinitum in each article.--JohnArmagh (talk) 14:44, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Aging[edit]

A recent edit added "citation needed" to "A more controversial example is aging, in which an old organism's death makes room for its offspring, benefiting its genes at the cost of the organism." I just had a look and I do not think there is anything like that claim in the book. There is an interesting section around p.40 including "Medawar first dismisses traditional arguments such as: 'Old individuals die as an act of altruism to the rest of the species, because if they stayed around when they were too decrepit to reproduce, they would clutter up the world to no good purpose.'" Note that the claim is dismissed and is certainly not proposed by the book, so I would be quite happy for the cn sentence to be removed. Johnuniq (talk) 04:04, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

Popular culture[edit]

The anime Ghost in the Sell makes a cameo of this book being read by robots. Maybe would be smart to point it on the article. http://imgur.com/NcA3W.png —Preceding unsigned comment added by 168.255.251.50 (talk) 23:24, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Jeff Skilling and Enron[edit]

Would it be appropriate to include the fact the Jeff Skilling used this book to craft the competative and aggressive environment at Enron. I know that Skilling misinterpreted the book, but as long as that fact is made clear, I see no reason not to include how this book became involved in such a large event. Any ideas? JakeH07 (talk) 02:23, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

I am not familiar with the issue you mention, but it may be unwarranted here because it does not seem particularly useful to describe how some individuals have misunderstood the book, and then misapplied their thoughts in entirely different fields. Also, did the book really influence their behavior, or was the book merely used by someone to support their beliefs? If important, the information should be presented in an article on the person. Johnuniq (talk) 03:05, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Good points. It is my understanding (which my be wrong, granted) Skilling saw the book as "justification" for the "sink or swim" culture he built at Enron. In this case, I see that presenting the information in this article would be inappropriate, as it would lead someone to believe the book (and by default, its authors) are responsible for the Enron collapse. Besides, the issue is already mentioned on the Skilling page. If no one else has any ideas, I will consider the issue closed and delete this topic. Thanks a lot Johnuniq!!! JakeH07 (talk) 21:36, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
You should mention that Dawkins himself held up Enron as an example of a misapplication of evolutionary theory in his TV series. I'll try to remember which one. BillMasen (talk) 10:10, 25 July 2010 (UTC)
Great idea! This would present the fact without presenting Skilling's theory as correct. I'll also try to find the source for a ciatation. JakeH07 (talk) 03:24, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Also, Dawkins mentions in his introductions to later editions that people wrongly took him to mean that selfishness was immutable and total in all animals. In fact, one of his prime concerns was to explain the existence of altruistic behaviour, which (he felt) was incomprehensible if we view evolution as competition between individuals rather than genes. BillMasen (talk) 10:35, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Yes that's true, the incongruence of apparently altruistic behaviour. That is, that the gene don't care what body it in, as long as it get there. Si Trew (talk) 10:43, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
I think its somewhat misleading to say "apparently". The point is, the gene's imperative doesnt manifest itself as a subconscious selfish motivation; the gene itself is selfish, and manifests itself as a consciously altruistic impulse, at all levels.
I've found the Dawkins documentary where he singles out Enron as a misconception of evolution (though Dawkins doesn't specifically mention his own interpretation of evolution, the Selfish Gene).
THE GENIUS OF CHARLES DARWIN
http://www.american-buddha.com/geniusdarwin.153.htm - contains the specific repudiation of Enron.
http://www.american-buddha.com/geniusdarwin.146.htm - the beginning of the passage leading up to it. BillMasen (talk) 11:04, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

Frans De Waal[edit]

The article presents Dawkins as responding to critics (like Frans de Waal) as saying that he doesn't believe evolution should decide ethics, while this is right, it is not a response to De Waal. De Waal argues that Dawkins tries to seperate morality from biology, which is what De Waals disagrees with. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.146.248.139 (talk) 00:51, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

Power Struggles are Rare[edit]

I'm not sure I understand the significance of the example used to show an "intelligent" organism having a true battle with his or her genes. Aren't condoms and birth control pills quite common? How does this illustrate the "rarity" of an organism "struggling" against the interests of his or her genes? To me, it seems like abstinence would be the real struggle against genes, rather than just slipping on a condom or popping some pills. I am curious what the wiki community thinks about the appropriateness of this example. ExistentialBliss (talk) 03:02, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

The article is paraphrasing the book, so the issue of whether it is sensible or not is not relevant. The book claims that selection acts on genes, and genes which cause their host to "succeed" (by passing the genes to the next generation) are "rewarded" by becoming more common. Birth control is a rare example of where the product of genes (intelligence) can choose to take actions that do not reward the genes. Johnuniq (talk) 03:41, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
Okay, that makes sense. I have only read quotes from the book, so I didn't realize that the example came right from the book and that the intelligence that the human animal has inherited is indeed rare and gives him the paradoxical freedom to "defy" his own genes. ExistentialBliss (talk) 02:37, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

distinguishing the importance of the 1976 book from that of the ideas it popularized[edit]

It is all very well to say that Dawkins coined the term "selfish gene". That is about as far as his original contribution goes. Titles like Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think are hagiography, and about as objective as making Edison the inventor of the light bulb. I am saying that more effort should be made to link the content of the book to the history of research by the people who actually came up with these ideas. --dab (𒁳) 15:49, 5 August 2012 (UTC)

Nassim Nicholas Taleb in Antifragile (Chapter 4: What Kills Me Makes Others Stronger), though perhaps provocatively, does not even mention Richard Dawkins when he writes "Robert Trivers figured out the presence of competition between gene and organism in his idea of the "selfish gene."" (my emphasis), which is supported in the article for Robert Trivers in a quote from Steven Pinker ("Both bestselling authors openly acknowledged that they were popularizing Trivers' ideas and the research they spawned."), yet the article doesn't mention Robert Trivers in "popularising ideas developed during the 1960s by W. D. Hamilton and others" (only relating to his foreword). I don't know the history enough to change that list, myself: should it be "W. D. Hamilton, Robert Trivers, and others", or something else still? RFST (talk) 13:17, 29 September 2013 (UTC)