Past Meetup

HuVAT Humanist Viewpoints Afternoon Talk - DARWIN DAY

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The HuVAT program was started by the Convenor Affie Adagio in February 2001, as a means for members and friends to meet regularly to talk about issues of direct interest to the Society to help the formation and development of Society policy. They are held on * usually the second Sunday of the month * note starting time is 4:00pm * at Humanist House 10 Shepherd St Chippendale. * Members and prospective members welcome to attend.

Darwin Day 2013

Presented by John August and Victor Bien

This will be our 2013 celebration of Charles Darwin`s theory of evolution (now more accurately thought of as the law of evolution) .

This year Victor Bien will will be screening about a 10 - 15 minute clip from David Attenboroughs series the Kingdom of plants shown on ABC TV in October to November last year. This is to initiate and stimulate discussion to increase appreciation and understanding of biological evolution; specifically to see the modern answer to a puzzlement Charles Darwin expressed about the sudden rise of flowering plants in the evolutionary time-scale. A meta-object lesson to pick-up is to appreciate a very significant human limitations: specifically our perceptions of time-frame.

John August's talk will be on The Price Equation:

Evolution has long struggled with the idea of "group selection". Evolution is normally "selfish", in that only the survival of the individual matters. An important insight was that you might be willing to sacrifice yourself for relatives, because that means that your own genes would persist, its just that they would not be your own copies - but being identical, they would count much the same. But still the idea of "group selection" persisted. Could there be selection of a more or less unrelated group ? Could there be selection for cooperation ? The Price Equation was the mathematical formulation of a remarkable insight be George R. Price. In summary, The Price Equation tells us that when cooperation has survival benefits, then genes corresponding to cooperation will survive. On the one hand this observation seems almost too obvious, but there is a power in the formulation that tells us so much. The Price Equation can be applied whenever there is a tension between how a gene benefits the individual or benefits others. That can be in terms of abstract notions like cooperation - or biological effects like the prevalence of sickle cell anaemia - something that can provide both a resistance to malaria but also the illness of anaemia. His talk will cover some aspects of this remarkable formula.

These talks are intended to stimulate questions and discussion.