The Selfish Gene Essay Research Paper In

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The Selfish Gene Essay, Research Paper In the popular science book, The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins explains his theory of evolution, and its occurrence for the good of the gene rather than the good of the species or individual. Dawkins believes the gene to be practically immortal, carrying on generation upon generation. By calling them ?selfish? Dawkins describes a genes? strategy of competition for survival, its tendency to behave in a manor suited to ensure its propagation. ?Genes are competing directly with their alleles for survival, since alleles are rivals for their slot on the chromosome of future generations.?(P.36) Dawkins? work is written exceptionally well, and easily comprehendible with his use of metaphors. Significant theories are broken down to a level that

makes grasping the concept of the book easy as it is opening it. For example, he uses the metaphor of an architect?s plan, mixing the language of the metaphor with the language of the real thing. ?Volume? is used for chromosome, and ?Page? for gene. Put into context it describes the role of DNA. The first theory Dawkins explains is evolution, the process of gaining complexity from simplicity. Under the influence of ultraviolet light from the sun, Dawkins suggests that organic substances became locally concentrated and combined into larger molecules. At some point, a molecule with the ability to duplicate itself was formed. Dawkins calls this molecule a Replicator. It was the replicators that became widespread in the ?primeval soup? acting as template, not for an identical copy,

but rather a ?negative? which in turn would make copies of the original. However, no copying process is without error, and so mistakes arose in the ?soup?, giving birth to various forms of replicators. The ones that became most abundant displayed accuracy, longevity, and speed. The more complex the replicator became the more it needed protection, so simple protein walls were formed, called survival machines. Dawkins claims that presently, humans are the gene?s survival machines. Second, Dawkins explains the difference between selfish and altruistic genes. However, one gene does not control an entire behavioral pattern. An organism that behaves in a selfish manor benefits at the expense of others. For this Dawkins uses the example of blackheaded gulls which nest in large colonies,

nests being only a few feet apart. ?One gull might wait until a neighbor goes to fish, then pounce on one of the neighbors chicks and swallow it whole. It obtains a nutritious meal without having to leave its own nest unprotected.?(P.5) An entity that behaves in an altruistic manor increases another?s welfare at its own expense. Yet, it is often discovered upon inspection that an altruistic act was really selfish in disguise, but not consciously. One example of altruism Dawkins? gives is of ground nesting birds. If a predator comes to close to the nest the parent bird limps away drawing the predator further from the young chicks. (P.6) Underlying selfishness or not, altruism it crucial to gene survival. ??a species? whose individual members are prepared to sacrifice themselves

for the welfare of the group may be less likely to go extinct than a rival group whose individual members place their own selfish interests first.? (P. 7) Dawkins continues to elaborate on survival machines in the fourth chapter: The Gene Machine. He believes the body not to be a colony of cells, but rather, a colony of genes. And states that selection has favored genes that cooperate with others. (P.47) They have made our bodies into a coordinated unit, achieving rapid movement by evolving muscle, and reasoning capabilities by evolving brains. The main way brains contribute to the success of survival machines is by controlling and coordinating contractions of muscles by use of motor nerves. Natural selection has preferred animals that became equipped with sense organs such as