The Selfish Gene Question Set 2
Chap 6. Genesmanship
1. What is "Green Beard Altruism?" Is it an evolutionary stable strategy?
The Green Beard Atruism Effect is a theoretical possiblity that states that it is possible to
have a gene that would arise that would display a visible label, such as a green beard, and
also a tendency to be nice to bearers that also have the visible label. Dawkins says that
this gene for the visible label would be able to recognize itself in others also displaying
the label, thus enabling the gene to prosper in the gene pool. He uses an example of the
altruistic gene for "saving lives" being a visible label (equivalent to the green beard) that
could be recognized by others that possess this same altruistic gene for saving lives. If the
bearer of this gene for saving lives is displayed visibly by rescuing someone, then there is
the possibility that others with the same alturistic gene for saving lives will recognize this.
The gene regonition will ensure the gene is successful in the gene pool.
Although the theory may be a possibility, it would not be an evolutionary stable strategy
because of cheaters. The bearers of this gene for altruism (or green beard) would be
visible in a population because of their physical display of the gene. If cheaters recognize
those with the green beard will be altruistic towards them, they will become dependent on
the altruistic bearers, thus enabling their own survival and the chance to pass on their own
cheater genes. This exploitation of the green bread altruistic individuals will result in
their own decline in the gene pool and the surivival of those that exploit the altruist, thus
making green beard altruism not an evolutionary stable strategy.
2. How does Dawkins suggest that a gene could "recognize" copies of itself in other
The possesor of an altruistic gene might be recognized simply by the fact that he does
altruistic acts. A gene could survive and do well in the gene pool if it said, "Body, if A is
drowning as a result of trying to save someone else from drowning, jump in and rescue
A." The reason such a gene could do well is that there is a greater than average chance
that A contains the same life-saving altruistic gene. The fact that A is seen to be trying to
rescue somebody else is a label.
3. How is that parents and children certainly share half their genes, but siblings only
share half their genes
Parents and children share half of their genes because a child gets 50% of thier genes
from their mother and 50% from thier father which makes it always exactly half. Siblings
share on average half their genes. Dawkins calls this by the luck of the meiotic draw. The
genes they get can be more or less similar to each other because there is no control of the
genes. A mother can contain gene a,b,c,d and a father can contain gene e,f,g,h. The mom
can give one child a,b and the father can give e,f and the other child they give c,d,
f,h. which will give them less than 50%. Another case could be that one child receives