RE: Group Selection

Gatherer, D. (
Mon, 15 Feb 1999 13:24:14 +0100

Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 13:24:14 +0100
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
Subject: RE: Group Selection
To: "''" <>

The Hutterite example is slightly complicated by the fact that they are
considerably inbred, (one of the reasons why they are such a genetic
'goldmine' for clinical geneticists). This may however lead to
conditions where genetic selection of 'altruism alleles' (should such
things exist - I'm not arguing that they do) will occur. Applying
memetic situational logic to genetically unusual communities is a bit
problematic. The steps might be laid out as follows.

1. Hutterite learned (ie. memetic) religious behaviour was the cause of
a reduction in the genetic diversity of the Hutterite population.
2. This genetic system created the selective conditions for an increase
in the frequency of genetic altruism alleles.
3. The alturism alleles accelerated the frequency with which altruistic
learned behaviour (ie. memes) was exhibited in the population.
4. These memes served to increase the degree of group identity and
therefore fed back into step 1.

The above is something of a positive feedback loop.

But how to get into it in the first place? I think the answer may lie
in the Hutterite's political situation in Central Europe prior to their
migration to America. That is, there must have been a powerful external
pressure to force the adoption of endogamy in the first place.

and how to get out? The cycle could be broken at stage 3 if the
intrusion of behaviours copied from the outside non-Hutterite world were
to increase. Step 4 would then fail and there would be less stimulus on
step 1.

It could also be broken at stage 1 if inbreeding depression really
struck the population. To keep the population healthy, some outbreeding
may be necessary, the selective conditions for altruism genes would then
no longer apply. Step 2 would therefore crash.


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