The Selfish Gene Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What does Dawkins call the molecule that he imagines as the first molecule to make copies of itself?

2. What molecules does Dawkins say existed in ancient seas and formed amino acids?

3. To what does Dawkins compare ESS conclusions about individual behaviors within a species?

4. When a cell divides to make a new cell with identical DNA, what is the process called?

5. What would molecules that started to manufacture energy using the sun eventually become?

Short Essay Questions

1. What examples does Dawkins give of humanity's valuation of its own species?

2. How do genes directly and indirectly control behavior?

3. What are the main actions living organisms do, as gene machines?

4. How are the beginning and end of genes in DNA marked?

5. Describe the behavior of chains of atoms in human blood, as Dawkins describes it.

6. In Dawkins' metaphor about DNA, what is the role of page numbers?

7. In war of attrition scenarios, what is the best bet for individual behavior, according to Dawkins' reports?

8. Explain what a prober-retaliator is.

9. How does Dawkins view many-celled life forms?

10. Explain Dawkins' argument for why cannibalism is very rare.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss Darwin's treatment of siblings in The Selfish Gene.

1) In what ways are siblings in competition? Why doesn't competition between siblings typically escalate to deadly competition?

2) In what ways do siblings cooperate or benefit each other?

3) How do the relationships between siblings vary between species in the natural world, and how does this relate to Dawkins' overall theory.

Essay Topic 2

Discuss the role of game theory in Dawkins' book.

1) What is game theory? How does it allow scientists to look at systems in the natural world?

2) Why does Dawkins use game theory to support his arguments about the selfish gene? How convincing is the support that Dawkins provides using game theory?

3) What are the limitations of game theory in analyzing natural systems?

Essay Topic 3

Discuss aggression within a species in Dawkins' book.

1) Why does Dawkins raise the question of cannibalism as a potentially viable food source for species, and what are his conclusions about the question?

2) How does Dawkins analyze aggression between members of a species? Are his arguments convincing?

3) What various personality types does Dawkins identify in regard to aggression? How simplified is this model compared to the natural world?

(see the answer keys)

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