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Zinjanthropos
Post  Post subject: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 3:23 am
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I have to admit, the Darwin Awards' stories are funny despite their conclusions. I don't know why I find someone else's demise or injuries humorous. Perhaps it's the stupidity I find amusing, can't explain it. For example, some guy finds unexploded ordnance and decides to hit it with a hammer with the expected result. Ah, maybe there's a point I can focus on, my expected result versus that of the award winner. I can learn from this!

Didn't take me long to realize I'm a cautious person. Haven't always been mind you but I've become more circumspect in my actions/thinking as I age. There are things I won't do just because I don't like the survival odds. Am I overly attentive?

At one time I thought all phobias arose from man's knowledge of situations that can kill him. I still think there's a connection there. Being scared has probably saved lives on many occasions. Let's face it, normal people don't drive 200 kmh on the freeway, because they're afraid of the consequences. People know what's dangerous. They see it, they hear about it and some learn from it.

I think sometimes that nature is a cruel beast. I'm convinced it's out to kill every living thing on the planet. It's up to me to avoid nature's indiscriminate pursuit and stay alive for as long as I can. One stipulation, I cannot prevent the unexpected. Therefore the odds of staying alive for as long as I can are not 100% guaranteed, there is always something that can finish you off unexpectedly. Not looking for trouble doesn't mean you'll avoid it entirely.

What part does natural selection play? That's certainly something worth considering thinking about in my estimation. It's the Darwin Awards underlying principle IMHO. Did my awareness of potential danger come from my forebears.

My thinking is that there's justification in avoiding what people learn or fear is potentially life threatening.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 6:00 am
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i can see how the Darwin awards can be entertaining

it basically shows how curiosity not tempered with caution and/or understanding of what you're doing can be lethal

my favourite is the woman who rang the hospital because her son had been eating ants, and after been reassured that it was OK, casually mentioned that, just to be on the safe side, she had given him ant poison as well

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 7:35 am
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Perhaps it's the immediacy and crudeness of what is normally considered a gradual and subtle process.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 7:54 am
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Zinjanthropos wrote:
I think sometimes that nature is a cruel beast.


cruelty would imply intent

imo nature is just uncaring one way or another

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Zinjanthropos
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 1:31 pm
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Rory wrote:
Perhaps it's the immediacy and crudeness of what is normally considered a gradual and subtle process.


More specific please. Are you referring to evolution?

Since my life is merely a very short segment along the geologic timeline then most of what happens to me is immediate.

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Zinjanthropos
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 1:37 pm
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marnixR wrote:
Zinjanthropos wrote:
I think sometimes that nature is a cruel beast.


cruelty would imply intent

imo nature is just uncaring one way or another


Writing metaphorically. Isn't that the philosophical way? ;)

Time out for a swim across the Nile alongside wildebeest as they cross during their migration...... Decision making. Nature has it easy sometimes, don't you think?

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 1:53 pm
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Quote:
Zinjanthropos wrote:

More specific please. Are you referring to evolution?

Since my life is merely a very short segment along the geologic timeline then most of what happens to me is immediate.


Yes - natural selection. But you don't die every day. You don't get selected out of the gene pool every day. That normally happens once in an 80-year (or so) life span. In that context, the Darwin Awards are immediate.

I mean, you wouldn't laugh at someone who died after decades of lifestyle-augmented hypertension.

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 1:57 pm
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Parts of us do get replaced everyday, though... both in terms of cell death / regeneration and neural connections in terms of synaptic pruning and plasticity.

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 2:03 pm
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True, but our genome remains intact and able to mix with that of others... once you die that's all over.

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Zinjanthropos
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 2:17 pm
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Decision making on the other hand involves a by the minute education. Perhaps you're ability to progress decision-wise may be limited by your genetic makeup, can't say for sure. However there is enough evidence in one's life to at least form a consensus of what is potentially life threatening. Decision making I think has to evolve during a lifetime, a change for the better i hope.

Then again there may have been a good reason (In his mind) to smack a piece of live ordnance with a hammer*. Unfortunately his mind had reached its limit of decision making progress....goodbye to the ill equipped :D

*If I remember correctly the guy did this in a crowded restaurant/bar. Fortunately the progressively thinking patrons left when they saw what was transpiring. Unfortunately two of the hammer wielder's friends who had progressed as far as their minds would let them, decided to stay. Bad decision.

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Last edited by Zinjanthropos on Sun May 01, 2016 2:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 2:20 pm
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Rory wrote:
True, but our genome remains intact and able to mix with that of others... once you die that's all over.

I feel like introducing the idea of memes and how our ideas live on through others and how we continue having an influence on the world even after our passing, but I haven't had enough caffeine for such cerebral posts.

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 3:03 pm
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Quote:
iNow wrote:
I feel like introducing the idea of memes and how our ideas live on through others and how we continue having an influence on the world even after our passing, but I haven't had enough caffeine for such cerebral posts.


I absolutely agree, but that doesn't help to explain why people find the Darwin Awards amusing. I mean, nobody will say, "it's not funny that a woman tried to cure her son with ant poison, because he will live on forever through his memes."

There is a massive significance, obviously, to physical mortality. They ought to be saying, "it's not funny that a woman tried to cure her son with ant poison, because he died needlessly" (but they won't).

I think the 'humour' derives from the disparity between what is expected and what is actual, as well as being due to a kind of dramatic irony, and the obvious lack of self-control on the part of the protagonist.

Ultimately, most humour boils down to poking fun at somebody's lack of self-control. Consider toilet humour, or slapstick comedy, for example.

See also: incongruity theory, superiority theory, relief theory. They all seem to apply to Darwin Awards.

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 3:31 pm
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Exactly. Many individuals make themselves feel better by pointing to flaws in others. Pointing and laughing leads to a temporary surge in reward response. It's reassuring to think "I'm not so bad. After all, look at that buffoon over there! Hahaha." It's right there in the word, belittling. Makes one feel bigger to suggest others are somehow smaller.

Helping and empathizing and caring, however, lead to a long term reward for us all.

Both approaches are understandable, and even I still sometimes slip into the first from time to time despite my best efforts to avoid doing so.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 4:48 pm
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that's definitely a philosophical question : how can there be a continuous self when all the parts get renewed all the time ?

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Zinjanthropos
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sun May 01, 2016 11:20 pm
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Do we possess an instinct to survive? If we do then where did it go for the Darwin Award winners? What factors can override a natural instinct? Curiosity? Adulation? Power? Sex? Are humans more apt to lose their survival instincts than another creature farther down the food chain?

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GiantEvil
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Mon May 02, 2016 2:02 am
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Quote:
that's definitely a philosophical question : how can there be a continuous self when all the parts get renewed all the time ?

The parts are replaced by identical parts, the being is determined by the relationships of the parts.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Mon May 02, 2016 7:01 am
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in essence, it's the same question as the river and the water that flows through it
the river isn't the water, and we're not our bodies ?

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Mon May 02, 2016 7:01 am
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in essence, it's the same question as the river and the water that flows through it
the river isn't the water, and we're not our bodies ?

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Mon May 02, 2016 7:33 am
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The parts aren't slways replaced by identical copies, hence the reason we change and develop over the course of a lifetime.

My take on it, is that there isn't an immutable 'self' - it's just that the rate of our change is sufficiently gradual as to allow for recognition over time periods within the mental grasp of humans.

"Our imaginations are forlornly under-equipped to cope with distances outside the small middle range of the ancestrally familiar." Dawkins

I think the same applies to time - if you were to try to recognise a 1,000 year old acquaintance, the extent of change may prove too tasking.

Why do we cling to the idea of a permanent self? Egocentrism?

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Mon May 02, 2016 7:55 am
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no, faulty memories
e.g. I was surprised to see in an old diary of mine my 18-year old self used to love walking in the rain, something I would not relish nowadays, and something I would not have remembered if I hadn't seen it in an old diary

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Mon May 02, 2016 8:05 am
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Another analogy: when the parts replaced are identical - for example, one thymine base is replaced by another thymine base - that has little/no effect on the identity of the organism, because the information is in the sequence of bases, not in the individual bases themselves.

The position of the electrons within the atoms in the bases will change. So, it depends how pedantic you want to be.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Mon May 02, 2016 11:49 am
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when it comes to philosophy, pedantry is a virtue :twisted:

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GiantEvil
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Mon May 02, 2016 1:20 pm
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Rory has the gist of what I meant with the thymine and data. The electrons would be identical parts, their positions are relationships.

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Zinjanthropos
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Mon May 02, 2016 7:11 pm
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I should of changed the thread title to reflect "Interchangeable Parts". ;) Don't mind it though, this forum could use some chatter. Anytime science can be added to philosophical topics is alright by me. On a science forum, that is the idea.

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Mon May 02, 2016 11:17 pm
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Going back on-topic slightly - the Darwin Award "winners" also have survival instinct (after all, the mother who tried to cure her son using ant poison was trying to cure him, allegedly). I don't know how familiar you are with Evolutionary Biology but there are examples in the wild of apparent lapses of survival instinct (think, individual meerkats calling attention to themselves loudly in the presence of a predator). This is an example of kin selection - individuals sacrificing themselves in order to save their immediate relatives. Essentially, the "martyr" is saving copies of its own genes that exist in the bodies of its relatives. From a gene's eye point of view, this may be the optimal survival strategy if, say, you plan on having no more offspring and by sacrificing yourself you save 5 of your existing offspring.

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Zinjanthropos
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Tue May 03, 2016 3:03 am
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I don't think one can compare a meerkat intentionally drawing a predator away from its relatives to an idiot hitting live ordnance with a hammer, as a lapse in instinct. In fact I might think the meerkat reacted instinctively although I can't prove it. Perhaps in nature, the needs of the many outweigh that of the few.

Yes the meerkat probably lessened the odds of his survival by drawing attention to himself. However, besides the distraction strategy he may have a few more tricks up his sleeve unknown to us. He is also passing on some valuable information to the original target(s).

I was just suggesting that the instincts required for survival may be inversely proportional to the intelligence of the species. The more dominant a species gets, the less there is to fear and that intuitive edge your ancestors may have possessed is no longer required or is lost.

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Tue May 03, 2016 3:06 am
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It's just kin selection. See selfish gene theory. The needs of the gene pool outweigh the needs of the individual.

http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-the- ... #gsc.tab=0

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Zinjanthropos
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Tue May 03, 2016 3:22 am
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iNow wrote:
It's just kin selection. See selfish gene theory. The needs of the gene pool outweigh the needs of the individual.


Instinctive or learned behavior? Surely the meerkat isn't sitting there calculating the percentages.

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Tue May 03, 2016 3:31 am
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That's what selected reward mechanisms are for.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Tue May 03, 2016 6:31 am
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Zinjanthropos wrote:
iNow wrote:
It's just kin selection. See selfish gene theory. The needs of the gene pool outweigh the needs of the individual.


Instinctive or learned behavior? Surely the meerkat isn't sitting there calculating the percentages.


and still, in many cases many types of animals act as if they do calculate those percentages
On a related topic, you could read "Optima for animals" by R. McNeill Alexander: many things that animals do appear as if they've calculated the optimum solution to a problem - that's natural selection for you

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Tue May 03, 2016 3:59 pm
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Imagine having to design your own eye, from scratch, before you have even been born

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Zinjanthropos
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Thu May 05, 2016 4:24 pm
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Rory wrote:
Imagine having to design your own eye, from scratch, before you have even been born


Sorry, I'm missing your point.

'Before you have even been born'... as in the womb, a developing fetus? Design as in evolutionary, personal, divine?

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Thu May 05, 2016 7:54 pm
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every normal human embryo "creates" its own eyes before it gets born
it's basically the combination of embryology and epigenesis

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Zinjanthropos
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Thu May 05, 2016 9:24 pm
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marnixR wrote:
every normal human embryo "creates" its own eyes before it gets born
it's basically the combination of embryology and epigenesis


Is this theoretical or proven fact?

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Thu May 05, 2016 9:27 pm
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Is it theoretical that the eye has already formed before we're even born? Not sure I understand your question, nor what is confusing about marnix' comment. Can you clarify?

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Zinjanthropos
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Fri May 06, 2016 2:10 am
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The "creates" part threw me but since it's in quotation marks, I think he means something different than what I first thought. No big deal. I'd feel bad if it was meant to be humorous and I missed it :(

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Fri May 06, 2016 2:13 pm
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the creation that is part of embryology is basically a sort of origami where chemical gradients dictate what forms where
i think this type of origami-like development from undifferentiated blob to differentiated foetus imo deserves the epithet "creation"

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Staying Alive (for as long as possible)  |  Posted: Sat May 07, 2016 8:30 am
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My point about embryonic eye development was to highlight the extent to which immensely intricate biological features can be genetically determined and require little/no learning on the part of the organism. It's the same with sentry behaviour in meerkats: the behaviour is instinctual. The meerkat need not calculate the selectivity coefficients, or even know what a gene is.

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