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16 17 nUrtUrinG natUre Baldwinism, and the behavioral sieve In 1896 James Mark Baldwin 18611934 advanced a theory that learned advantageous behaviors could eventually become instincts. He proposed that behavioral, cultural and even chemical factors could greatly shape a genome. His ideas were ahead of his time, as he had effectively predicted the modern study of memetics page 42 and epigenetics page 18. Organisms possess genes that incline them to behave in certain ways and in certain ways at certain times. When circumstances change, which they invariably do, individuals more inclined to acquire appropriate new behavior patterns will survive better, breed more, and amplify those inclinations see opposite. The debate between those who believe that habits are primarily dictated by DNA and those who believe that they are mostly learned has become ever more tangled. Today, many instincts are understood as needing to be triggered via appropriate nurture. For instance, a monkey reared in the wild learns the fear of snakes from its mother perhaps she screamed on seeing them. A young monkey reared with no knowledge of snakes quickly learns to be scared of them if adults communicate fear in the presence of one. But when an adult monkey trained to be scared of flowers dont ask how is introduced to a young monkey reared in captivity, he can scream at flowers all day but the young monkey will just look at him as if he is crazy. There is no innate triggerable fear of flowers. There is one for snakes. Many genetic instincts work like this, and lie dormant until switched on or accessed. Only certain patterns at the right time will cause them to come to life. Above A group of frogs, recently hatched from a small pool, attempt to cross a river. Different frogs have different inclinations, causing them to learn to either cross a log, jump lily pads, or head for the branches overhead. Above Natural selection takes its course. The slight differences in behavioral inclinations have favored the frogs that learned to climb trees. All the others fall victim to predators in the river. The tree frogs get to breed. Above The useful behavioral inclinations spread through the gene pool and become instincts. New behavioral inclinations and other examples of variation begin to appear and the process begins again.
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