Re: Altruism

Dwight W. Read (dread@ANTHRO.UCLA.EDU)
Thu, 1 Aug 1996 15:23:02 -0700

Cook replies:

>Has anyone actually identified an allele for altruism in the human genome?

Two issues are raised: (1) is it reasonable to talk about an "altruism
allele" at all and (2) in general, has anyone found an allele that links to
a specific behavior? I don't know the answer to the latter--in some sense
the answer would be yes if one includes behaviors that are associated with
genetic disorders. But I think it may be more useful to realize that
alleles code for proteins and the way in which proteins are eventually
implicted in behaviors is obsviously not a simple one and, in most cases,
very indirect. E.g., the protein may be an enzyme which catalyzes a
chemical reacting which lead then does ..... and so on until finally one
gets to the brain and what it is doing that eventually leads to person X
doing Y, which we then observe.

D. Read