Darwinism Evolution Intelligent Design

Might snakes provide a way of testing Dawkins’s selfish gene hypothesis?

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When researchers went to get a look at a cape cobra snake fight, it turned out to be one cobra swallowing another. They named the newly well-fed study animal NN011, otherwise “Hannibal.”

Apparently, “Diner, meet Dinner!” is not an uncommon relationship among cape cobras so a study of the details ensued:

Snake-eating, they found, was common among five of the six species studied, accounting for 13 to 43 percent of the cobras’ diets.

Four per cent of the snake dinners eaten were of the same species as the diner. One researcher reasoned,

In all the cannibalism events that the researchers witnessed themselves, both the eater and the eaten were males, leading them to suspect that this behavior may be a male-only trait. More research will be needed to determine if that’s true. But if it is, Maritz says, “I could see it playing a role in competition for resources or mates. What better way to get ahead in life [than to] eat the guy who is taking your food and mating with females that you might want to mate with?”Sarah Zielinski, “How a snake named Hannibal led to a discovery about cobra cannibalism” at Science News

Hmmm. If you read the story, you will note that researchers were surprised to learn how common cannibalism was among cobras and they had only witnessed a few events. Because those events involved only males, it was theorized that “this behavior may be a male-only trait.” If it is, then it is an argument in favour of the idea that the snake’s genes behave in such a way as to conserve and reproduce themselves. We would then need to figure out how they “know” how to do so.

But if it turns out that hungry females will eat other females, does that count against Maritz’s informal hypothesis? That is, can we determine that a selfish gene hypothesis is explicitly not correct? Or is it the sort of thing for which there can only be evidence in favor, never against?

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See also: Caterpillar “turns into” a snake Has anyone done probability calculations (not rhetoric or theorizing) for purely random evolution for this, via natural selection acting on random mutation (Darwinism)?

11 Replies to “Might snakes provide a way of testing Dawkins’s selfish gene hypothesis?

  1. 1
    AaronS1978 says:

    They would have to explain why this form of cannibalism only seems to be with cobras for the selfish gene to be correct I would not considered an argument for the selfish gene

    For the selfish gene to be correct you would see that exact behavior in almost every single species that competes for food and females

    There are very few species they do this so I would not consider this an argument for the selfish gene. This is only a single case scenario.
    Furthermore there are tons of accounts of gene working together to provide benefits to them selves and to the creature.

    Richard Dawkins made his hypothesis of the selfish gene based off a gene that would inhibit The production of other genes. since then the very genes that he cited as examples of him being right have been shown to have a huge benefit for the organism in gene expression and that they are very much needed and very much not selfish.

    So for the hypothesis to be correct you would have to explain away all of its failed predictions and the fact that it is falling into myth and Obscurity because of its failings

  2. 2
    vmahuna says:

    Some years back I saw a documentary on TV about life in a seasonal pond in some desert someplace. During the short Rainy Season, the pond floods and thousands of hibernating frogs awake, mate, and die. Some weeks later many thousands tadpoles turn into mature frogs. Since this is a seasonal pond, there is NO OTHER LIFE except frogs in the pond. So the maturing frogs dine on less mature frogs before mating and dying. The female frogs lay a new generation of eggs, and then die, many perhaps eaten by the last of the other mature frogs.

    But the part I remember is the narrator noting, “Many of these frogs eat NOTHING EXCEPT OTHER FROGS during their lives.”

    So this cannibalism thing might be much more widespread than is normally assumed.

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    They would have to explain why this form of cannibalism only seems to be with cobras for the selfish gene to be correct. I would not considered this an argument for the selfish gene

    For the selfish gene to be correct, you would see that exact behavior in almost every single species that competes for food and females

    There are very few species that do this, so I would not consider this an argument for the selfish gene. This is only a single case scenario.
    Furthermore there are tons of accounts of gene working together to provide benefits to them selves and to the creature.

    Richard Dawkins made his hypothesis of the selfish gene based off a gene that would inhibit the production of other genes. Since then the very genes that he cited as examples of him being right have been shown to have a huge benefits for the organism in gene expression and regulatio. They are very much needed and very much not selfish.

    So for the hypothesis to be correct you would have to explain away all of its failed predictions and the fact that it is falling into myth and obscurity because of its failings

    I apologize for the last post it was completely unedited and I wasn’t able to take it back I accidentally hit the post comment button

  4. 4
    AaronS1978 says:

    There are many species that do cannibalize, from insects, many different types of reptiles, even mammals. There are however many that don’t. My point is the gene should be universal amongst most species.
    I think the main problem is here is, much like Darwinian evolution, any behaviors supports of any kind supports it. The selfish gene is a philosophical proposition.

    There was a skit on Friends, were a bet was made that in there was no such thing as an unselfish act. Joey was able to redefine every act Febe did as selfish in someway shape or form. The reality though is there’s no such thing as a nonselfmotivated act. Being you are the mover and shaker and you might have reasons for it, this is no different from everything else

    It’s just a matter of perspective

  5. 5
    Mimus says:

    Richard Dawkins made his hypothesis of the selfish gene based off a gene that would inhibit The production of other genes. since then the very genes that he cited as examples of him being right have been shown to have a huge benefit for the organism in gene expression and that they are very much needed and very much not selfish.

    H’uh? What genes are you talking about? And why would “benefit for the organism” be a problem for the selfish gene? Are you confusing selfish genetic elements (i.e. transposons etc) with Dawkins ideas in the selfish gene?

  6. 6
    AaronS1978 says:

    There was a series done on this at discovery.org I’ll try to find it for you since navigating their site has become a little bit more of a pain. The point was that originally, before we knew what the actual inhibitor did, it was replicating itself just replicate itself. It was an example that was used by Richard Dawkins and selfish Gene book. Since then we discovered what that inhibitor was doing. And that it wasn’t purposely replicating itself or the fact that it was replicating itself but it was controlling gene expression such as growing chimpanzee hair out of your back. It was a bit done by a gentleman called Casey Luskin. He went into great detail about it.

    I do not know the name of it and like I said I will try to find links for you.

    Benefit to the organism your right is no problem for selfish Gene because it benefits itself but again I made a comment about that being a matter of perspective just above.

    I hope that clears things up my point being is what was assumed to be a worthless junk gene that was self replicating a.k.a. a selfish Gene producing itself for no other benefit other than producing itself turned out to be a huge benefit to the organism simply because we didn’t understand it.

    Does that help explain what I was getting at?
    Now I might be feeling this out wrong but the way you asked those questions did seem like you’re gearing up for a debate which I don’t intend on doing

  7. 7
    Mimus says:

    Does that help explain what I was getting at?

    It makes it very clear that you don’t know what you are talking about.

  8. 8
    AaronS1978 says:

    And that comment made it very clear that you were itching for a fight

  9. 9
    AaronS1978 says:

    So I’m assuming I felt correctly

  10. 10
    Mimus says:

    Not “itching for a fight”, just trying to work out what you were on about.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    As to this comment from the OP:

    “I could see it playing a role in competition for resources or mates. What better way to get ahead in life [than to] eat the guy who is taking your food and mating with females that you might want to mate with?”

    Along that line of thought, Darwin viewed competition as a founding principle of his theory. i.e. ‘Survival of the fittest’:

    “One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.”
    – Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

    The antithesis of competition is, of course, cooperation.

    In fact Charles Darwin offered the following criteria as a falsification of his theory, “Natural selection cannot possibly produce any modification in any one species exclusively for the good of another species”… and even stated that “If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection.”

    Natural selection cannot possibly produce any modification in any one species exclusively for the good of another species; though throughout nature one species incessantly takes advantage of, and profits by, the structure of another. But natural selection can and does often produce structures for the direct injury of other species, as we see in the fang of the adder, and in the ovipositor of the ichneumon, by which its eggs are deposited in the living bodies of other insects. If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection.
    – Charles Darwin – Origin of Species

    In the following paper, using Darwin’s own falsification criteria, Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig goes over Twelve Thousand ‘ugly facts’ that have now annihilated Darwin’s theory

    Plant Galls and Evolution
    How More than Twelve Thousand1 Ugly Facts are Slaying a Beautiful Hypothesis: Darwinism2
    Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig – 7 September 2017
    Excerpt: in the case of the galls, in thousands of plant species often entirely new organs have been formed for the exclusive good of more than 132,930 other species, these ‘ugly facts’ have annihilated Darwin’s theory as well as the modern versions of it. The galls are not ‘useful to the possessor’, the plants. There is no space for these phenomena in the world of “the selfish gene” (Dawkins). Moreover, the same conclusion appears to be true for thousands of angiosperm species producing deceptive flowers (in contrast to gall formations, now for the exclusive good of the plant species) – a topic which should be carefully treated in another paper.
    http://www.weloennig.de/PlantGalls.pdf

    Moreover, contrary to this central ‘survival of the fittest’ assumption of Darwinian evolution, instead of eating us, time after time we find micro-organisms helping each other, and us, in ways that have nothing to with their own ‘survival of the fittest’’ concerns. The following researchers said they were ‘banging our heads against the wall’ by the contradictory findings to Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ thinking that they had found:

    Doubting Darwin: Algae Findings Surprise Scientists – April 28, 2014
    Excerpt: One of Charles Darwin’s hypotheses posits that closely related species will compete for food and other resources more strongly with one another than with distant relatives, because they occupy similar ecological niches. Most biologists long have accepted this to be true.
    Thus, three researchers were more than a little shaken to find that their experiments on fresh water green algae failed to support Darwin’s theory — at least in one case.
    “It was completely unexpected,” says Bradley Cardinale, associate professor in the University of Michigan’s school of natural resources & environment. “When we saw the results, we said ‘this can’t be.”‘ We sat there banging our heads against the wall. Darwin’s hypothesis has been with us for so long, how can it not be right?”
    The researchers ,,,— were so uncomfortable with their results that they spent the next several months trying to disprove their own work. But the research held up.,,,
    The scientists did not set out to disprove Darwin, but, in fact, to learn more about the genetic and ecological uniqueness of fresh water green algae so they could provide conservationists with useful data for decision-making. “We went into it assuming Darwin to be right, and expecting to come up with some real numbers for conservationists,” Cardinale says. “When we started coming up with numbers that showed he wasn’t right, we were completely baffled.”,,,
    Darwin “was obsessed with competition,” Cardinale says. “He assumed the whole world was composed of species competing with each other, but we found that one-third of the species of algae we studied actually like each other. They don’t grow as well unless you put them with another species. It may be that nature has a heck of a lot more mutualisms than we ever expected.
    “,,, Maybe Darwin’s presumption that the world may be dominated by competition is wrong.”
    http://www.livescience.com/452.....f-bts.html

    Moreover, if anything ever went against Darwin’s claim that “Natural selection cannot possibly produce any modification in any one species exclusively for the good of another species”, it is the notion that a single cell somehow became tens of trillions of cells that cooperate “exclusively for the good of other cells” in a single organism.

    If evolution by natural selection were actually the truth about how all life came to be on Earth then the only life that should be around should be extremely small organisms with the highest replication rate, and with the most ‘mutational firepower’, since only they, since they greatly outclass multi-cellular organism in terms of ‘reproductive success’ and ‘mutational firepower’, would be fittest to survive in the dog eat dog world where blind pitiless evolution ruled and only the fittest are allowed to survive. The logic of this is nicely summed up here in this Richard Dawkins’ video:

    Richard Dawkins interview with a ‘Darwinian’ physician goes off track – video
    Excerpt: “I am amazed, Richard, that what we call metazoans, multi-celled organisms, have actually been able to evolve, and the reason [for amazement] is that bacteria and viruses replicate so quickly — a few hours sometimes, they can reproduce themselves — that they can evolve very, very quickly. And we’re stuck with twenty years at least between generations. How is it that we resist infection when they can evolve so quickly to find ways around our defenses?”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....62031.html

    In other words, since successful reproduction is all that really matters on a neo-Darwinian view of things, how can anything but successful, and highly efficient reproduction, be realistically ‘selected’ for?

    The Logic of Natural Selection – graph
    http://recticulatedgiraffe.wee.....35.jpg?308

    Any other function besides successful reproduction, such as much slower sexual reproduction, sight, hearing, thinking, etc.., would be highly superfluous to the primary criteria of successful reproduction, and should, on a Darwinian view, be discarded, and/or ‘eaten’, by bacteria, as so much excess baggage since it obviously slows down successful reproduction which is practically the central, primary, tenet of Darwinian theory.

    Yet, contrary to this central ‘survival of the fittest’ assumption of Darwinian evolution, instead of eating us, time after time we find micro-organisms helping us in ways that have nothing to with their own ‘survival of the fittest’ concerns.

    We are living in a bacterial world, and it’s impacting us more than previously thought – February 15, 2013
    Excerpt: We often associate bacteria with disease-causing “germs” or pathogens, and bacteria are responsible for many diseases, such as tuberculosis, bubonic plague, and MRSA infections. But bacteria do many good things, too, and the recent research underlines the fact that animal life would not be the same without them.,,,
    I am,, convinced that the number of beneficial microbes, even very necessary microbes, is much, much greater than the number of pathogens.”
    – per physorg

    Moreover, to dive a little bit deeper. The falsification of this ‘survival of the fittest’, i.e. ‘selfish’, thinking occurs at the molecular level too.

    Specifically, genes are now known to be anything but ‘selfish’ and/or competitive. In fact, instead of ‘selfish genes’, as Dawkins falsely envisioned, they should now be termed ‘cooperative genes’.

    Gene Pleiotropy Roadblocks Evolution by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, Ph.D. – Dec. 8, 2016
    Excerpt: Before the advent of modern molecular biology, scientists defined a gene as a single unit of inheritance. If a gene was found to influence multiple externally visible traits, it was said to be pleiotropic—a term first used in 1910.2 During this early period of genetic discovery, pleiotropy was considered to be quite rare because scientists assumed most genes only possessed a single function—a simplistic idea that remained popular throughout most of the 20th century. However, as our understanding of genetics grew through DNA science, it became clear that genes operate in complex interconnected networks. Furthermore, individual genes produce multiple variants of end products with different effects through a variety of intricate mechanisms.2,3 Taken together, these discoveries show that pleiotropy is a common feature of nearly every gene.,,,
    The pleiotropy evolution problem is widely known among secular geneticists, but rarely discussed in the popular media. In this new research report, the authors state, “Many studies have provided evidence for the ability of pleiotropy to constrain gene evolution.”,,,
    “Our study provided supportive evidence that pleiotropy constraints the evolution of transcription factors (Tfs).”,,,
    The authors state, “We showed that highly pleiotropic genes are more likely to be associated with a disease phenotype.”,,,
    http://www.icr.org/article/9747

    What If (Almost) Every Gene Affects (Almost) Everything? – JUN 16, 2017
    Excerpt: If you told a modern geneticist that a complex trait—whether a physical characteristic like height or weight, or the risk of a disease like cancer or schizophrenia—was the work of just 15 genes, they’d probably laugh. It’s now thought that such traits are the work of thousands of genetic variants, working in concert. The vast majority of them have only tiny effects, but together, they can dramatically shape our bodies and our health. They’re weak individually, but powerful en masse.
    https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/its-like-all-connected-man/530532/

    Theory Suggests That All Genes Affect Every Complex Trait – June 20, 2018
    Excerpt: Mutations of a single gene are behind sickle cell anemia, for instance, and mutations in another are behind cystic fibrosis.
    But unfortunately for those who like things simple, these conditions are the exceptions. The roots of many traits, from how tall you are to your susceptibility to schizophrenia, are far more tangled. In fact, they may be so complex that almost the entire genome may be involved in some way,,,
    One very early genetic mapping study in 1999 suggested that “a large number of loci (perhaps > than 15)” might contribute to autism risk, recalled Jonathan Pritchard, now a geneticist at Stanford University. “That’s a lot!” he remembered thinking when the paper came out.
    Over the years, however, what scientists might consider “a lot” in this context has quietly inflated. Last June, Pritchard and his Stanford colleagues Evan Boyle and Yang Li (now at the University of Chicago) published a paper about this in Cell that immediately sparked controversy, although it also had many people nodding in cautious agreement. The authors described what they called the “omnigenic” model of complex traits. Drawing on GWAS analyses of three diseases, they concluded that in the cell types that are relevant to a disease, it appears that not 15, not 100, but essentially all genes contribute to the condition. The authors suggested that for some traits, “multiple” loci could mean more than 100,000.
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/omnigenic-model-suggests-that-all-genes-affect-every-complex-trait-20180620/

    Thus, contrary to the ‘selfish gene’ concept, that is more of less directly based on Darwin’s own ‘survival of the fittest’ thinking about competition, genes are instead best thought of as existing in a holistic web of mutual interdependence and cooperation.

    Which is, needless to say, the exact polar opposite of being ‘selfish’. (And should, if Darwinism were a science instead of being the religion for atheists that it actually is, count as a direct falsification of the theory).

    Even Shapiro himself, who shuns Intelligent Design, admits that “the ‘Gene’ Concept Holds Back Evolutionary Thinking”. and further states that “The modern concept of the genome has no basic units. It has literally become “systems all the way down.”

    Why the ‘Gene’ Concept Holds Back Evolutionary Thinking – James Shapiro – 11/30/2012
    Excerpt: The Century of the Gene. In a 1948 Scientific American article, soon-to-be Nobel Laureate George Beadle wrote: “genes are the basic units of all living things.”,,,
    This notion of the genome as a collection of discrete gene units prevailed when the neo-Darwinian “Modern Synthesis” emerged in the pre-DNA 1940s. Some prominent theorists even proposed that evolution could be defined simply as a change over time in the frequencies of different gene forms in a population.,,,
    The basic issue is that molecular genetics has made it impossible to provide a consistent, or even useful, definition of the term “gene.” In March 2009, I attended a workshop at the Santa Fe Institute entitled “Complexity of the Gene Concept.” Although we had a lot of smart people around the table, we failed as a group to agree on a clear meaning for the term.
    The modern concept of the genome has no basic units. It has literally become “systems all the way down.” There are piecemeal coding sequences, expression signals, splicing signals, regulatory signals, epigenetic formatting signals, and many other “DNA elements” (to use the neutral ENCODE terminology) that participate in the multiple functions involved in genome expression, replication, transmission, repair and evolution.,,,
    Conventional thinkers may claim that molecular data only add details to a well-established evolutionary paradigm. But the diehard defenders of orthodoxy in evolutionary biology are grievously mistaken in their stubbornness. DNA and molecular genetics have brought us to a fundamentally new conceptual understanding of genomes, how they are organized and how they function.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....07245.html

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