Re: look out! long-haired gun loon! | natural balances

CurtAdams (
Thu, 18 Dec 1997 20:47:25 EST

In a message dated 97-12-18 17:38:52 EST, << (Wings of
the Morning) writes:

>> Viruses have no "purpose." They exist to replicate, period.
>> Whatever they do to the host is either a side effect or used as a
>> replicative advantage. (You sneeze, friend gets sick)

> Things evolve for a purpose. If you look at any living thing you can
clearly see that.
>Perhaps they did come to be just to replicate, but I think the idea that
they came about as a
>natural means of controling population is just as feasable. Think about
what happens to
>animals in a certain area when there is an outbreak of disease. Animals
will die, and when
>all the animals are dead, the virus will die out too. (once the population
is contained, no
>more need for the virus, it goes bye bye, until more animals come along,
plus the fact that
>since animals spread disease, the more animals there are, the easier it is
for a virus to be
>transfered, the lower the population, the harder) But yes there's no real
way to prove
>sucessfuly prove if what I'm saying or if what you're saying is true or not.

Why no, it's quite easy. Any replicator evolves to be the best possible
replicator it can.
It's been shown over and over again that a virus will evolve to spread as best
it can;
viruses that are benign to their host evolve to become more virulent if that
aids their replication
(HIV); viruses that are lethal evolve to become benign if *that* aids their
(rabbit myxomatosis). Effects on the host are just means, not ends.

This applies to any replicator. Over time, the replicators that replicate
better will replace
those that don't. There is no way to hold a mutating replicator to any
purpose other than
replication. People, memes, or viruses; it's all the same.