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. In the science fiction story Dawkins cites, is the machine created by the instructions beneficial or dangerous?

2. In Dawkins' metaphor about DNA, what does the bookshelf represent?

3. What shape does the author say water molecules in space make?

4. According to Dawkins, are the self-copying molecules that Dawkins discusses "life" or not?

5. How does Dawkins argue for communication being selfish?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is a cistron?

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

3. In ESS simulations, what happens when a hawk enters a stable group of doves?

4. According to Dawkins, what happened to self-copying molecules that were less successful?

5. Describe the results of the intruder retreat experiment done by Niko Tinbergen.

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

7. How does Dawkins view whether fidelity is important to evolution?

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

9. Describe "crossing over."

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss the biological appearance of purpose in The Selfish Gene.

1) Why do biological structures appear like they have a purpose? What examples does Dawkins give of things in nature that appear to have purpose?

2) What examples does Dawkins give of machines and other things that only appear to have purpose?

3) How convincing are Dawkins' arguments that systems can appear to have purpose without actually having intention? Why does Dawkins give these arguments?

Essay Topic 2

Discuss hive behavior in Dawkins' book.

1) How does Dawkins' idea of the selfish gene explain the behavior of hives and of sterile individuals in a species?

2) Why does Dawkins discuss hive behavior and the behavior of insects? Why does he only devote a part of a chapter to this discussion?

3) How much variation is there in insect behavior? How much variation is there between insect behavior and other types of animal organisms? How does this variation affect Dawkins' ideas?

Essay Topic 3

The opposite of selfishness is altruism, and Dawkins argues that many seemingly altruistic behaviors actually originate with the selfishness of genes. Discuss altruism in Dawkins' book.

1) What altruistic behaviors does Dawkins attribute to selfish genes? How convincing are his arguments?

2) What is "altruism"? Is there such a thing as true "altruism?"

3) How can altruism function for the good of the individual or for the good of the individual's genes?

(see the answer keys)

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