He then gives several examples of animals who seem to be behaving altruistically in nature including:
Small birds giving alarm calls to their flock when they see a predator, even at the risk of drawing attention tothemselves.
The parents of ground nesting birds who appear to predators as if they have broken their wing and distract thepredator away from their nest at high risk to themselves.
Gazelles who leap out in front of predators in order to distract them away from the heard in an act called "strotting"
Kamikaze worker bee's stinging intruders and then dying
Siblings, parents and children looking out for each other and helping one another to survive and reproduce.
Survival of the Stable
Richard Dawkins then introduces a principle called "survival of the stable". He explains that in nature things eventuallyfinds a stable state and once something has found a stable state, it has a tendency to stay that way. This is the case of most species in a population. They have found an Evolutionary Stable Strategy (ESS) that allows their genes to survive intheir current environment. The stable prevails.
The Chess Program Analogy
The reason your genes don't take control of your body is that they simply give the instructions. Dawkins gives the analogyof a chess program. A chess program is designed by the computer programmer and then it is "set loose" against a humanor other computer as an opponent. The programmer no longer has any control over the outcome of the game. He simplydesigns and the releases the program to do as it will.
The "A for Andromeda" Analogy
This is another analogy for why genes function the way they do, based on the book "A for Andromeda" by John Elliot andFred Hoyle. In this book, an intelligent society, 200 light years away from earth devises a plan to communicate with other intelligent civilizations across space. They reason that since it will take a very very long time to communicate with a distantintelligent society (with earth it would take at least 400 years just to get back a response from a message sent out) theycame up with a solution. They devise a code that was then transmitted as a constant stream of data out into the universe.200 years later the data is picked up by humans on earth. The signal is decoded and discovered to be a computer program. The scientists who discovered it then develop the program and find out that it contains instructions to build amore advanced computer with more advanced software. The government soon finds out about the project and takes over and the "Andromeda Computer" is build. They soon find out, however, that the Andromeda computer does not havecompletely altruistic intentions and soon begins controlling the minds of those around it. It also directs them to construct anew life form which eventually, with the computer's help, works to destroy the human race and take over the earth. Themachine and the lifeforms created with it's assistance are soon destroyed by the main character and the story ends shortlythereafter. This whole story is a good example of how our genes work like the broadcasted signal from Andromeda tocreate us, their lumbering robot machines, to do their bidding.
The Bird Census Game
Some species of birds are known to gather into close knit flocks in late fall or early winter. When they are doing this, theyare actually taking a census of their local population. They are each selfishly inspecting to see how many offspring theyare capable of rearing in the coming breeding season. This however is a game that can have certain strategies employedthat will result in a benefit to the genes of whichever individual employs them. One example is that a bird could try to makeas much noise as possible to simulate to the other birds that there are actually more birds present than there actually are.This may cause some birds to underestimate the number of potential offspring they can rear in the coming season. If abird in this situation were to employ this strategy effectively, it could reasonably expect that other birds may be fooled andit can expect more resources available to it's own offspring in the coming breeding season. This will then increase thegenes in that population of birds in the coming season who are capable of employing this strategy. This is seen in theactual populations that the noises made by these birds are indeed very loud during this "census gathering" every season.
The Selfish Gene Explanation for Why Women Have Menopause
Most children contain exactly 1/2 of the genes of each parent and most grandchildren contain exactly 1/4 the genes of