10 December 2008

Loath to Admit It, but Denyse and I Share Genes

Normally, I don't bother to give Denyse O'Leary and her Shady Valley Link-Farm & Dairy the time of day.  But seeing as how it's the middle of the night, and how her latest prattle at Uncommon Descent contains a particularly glaring nugget of stupid, I'll make an exception.  Don't worry, I'll keep it brief.

Ms. O'Leary regularly tries to make hay of a perceived conflict between altruistic behavior and evolution.  Her strategy seems to consist of alternating between heartwarming tales of good deeds and gross ignorance of actual science.  This time, she invokes acts of heroism during the recent attacks in Mumbai, and then follows it up with some truly ignorant genetics:
[A]ltruism would mean helping one’s own kinfolk in order to preserve one’s own genes - which one shares with them (= Dawkins’s ” “selfish gene”). That really doesn’t apply to situations where people help strangers at the risk of their own lives.
Purely for the sake of this statement, let's assume that altruism evolved so the individual would work to preserve his kin and thereby preserve their shared genes.  Did it ever occur to O'Leary that two strangers might share some genes in common?  Like, the vast, vast majority of them?  We are, after all, all distant kin.  Hell, I'm preserving a fair number of my genes by feeding my cat.1

Poor, short-sighted O'Leary...

1 Though, if that's the goal, getting him neutered was probably a step in the wrong direction...

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