Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Human Virus

Jake to Universe

Helen's comments on the Exophilosophy posting started me thinking.

There is an old tradition of considering the Earth to be a living entity in its own right (Mother Nature, Gaia etc.) This seems perfectly reasonable to me. Within this perspective it is true that Humans would seem to be a type of virus or perhaps parasite. It is a micro-organism within a larger system that feeds off of that host. This is not a very flattering portrayal of humanity but it may not be as bad as it seems.

It is true that such microrganisms may in fact feed off of the host to such an extent that it may end up killing it. A virus that kills will not be as successful as one that doesn't kill since the less lethal one will have a greater chance of passing on its DNA and sending forth its progeny to other hosts if it can hang around long enough.

So we the Human Virus need to realize that we cannot hope to continue to procreate successfully if we kill our host. I believe that our selfish genes will eventually bring us to realize this on a larger scale. So perhaps we may survive long enough to one day infect another host (settle on another planet) and also not kill that one.

We have perhaps been too harsh on the Viral form of life. They have the same bad rep as the so-called weed. Why would one prefer the green grass to the yellow dandelion? The dandelion is just trying to be fruitful and multiply... just like the green grass, also like the virus and parasite and very much like humans.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On the topic of the human virus, it could be said that the common cold is so successful because it is so mild, it almost never kills its host. At the other end of the spectrum there is the small pox virus; highly contagious and highly lethal, leaving a devastating wake before succumbing to it’s own success and subsiding into silence again. So as far as the analogy goes, the human race needs to leave a softer footprint, like a miserable rhino virus rather than a horrifying small pox outbreak.
On Malthusian waltzing, a more abstact analogy for humans is the mathematical algorithm, namely a feedback loop system that has lost it’s feedback (for the time being). But like all feedback systems they either self-correct or terminate there function.