First of all, I'm a fan of yours. I read blood music the short story, slant, vitals, darwin's radio and children and enjoyed them all.
I just was reading a post on incest and genetic sexual attraction on a blog when this idea struck me.
YOu've written a lot about bacteria, viruses and cells communicating via the means of transmissions of air and fluid. The hypthoses being presented in vitals, and the darwins radio is that evolution is not blind. The entire planet's evolution is being guided by an emergent mind constituted by neural networks created by bacteria, correct me if I am wrong.
Now look at GSA and incest from this angle.
Scientists in fields where experimentation is not allowed for ethical reasons, (eg. sociology) search high and low for natural experiments and control groups.Groups in which some things are similar while others are not.
If you look at the emergent evolutionary mind as a scientist, then for creating new information, a brother or a sister who has grown up with different germs around him/her, is an awesome new source of information. You have an automatic control that adjusts for 99.999% of your genes. ( All humans share about 99.99% of their genes) Hence there is a great attraction and affinity, because the mind is interested in the results of the copulation, infection or anything. But during growing up together, the bacteria within and around you form emergent structures with those of your brothers/sisters, which prevent you from looking at them sexually. This is because there is very little new information that can be gained here.
So, one may propose a hypothesis that all of us would feel the highest attraction for siblings who haven't grown up with us, followed by half siblings and only later, total strangers. siblings who have grown up with us have everything in common and hence are not interesting at all, information-wise to the bacterial mind, and hence we don't feel for them. However, if an elder brother and a younger sister grow up in the same family, but in radically different overall environments, for eg. a village hovel and a city flat, there may be some chance of the forbidden spark coming up.
I know these are just arrows in the dark, and we aren't even close to having any experiments done on this, but just thought it might be interesting to speculate. ( I ahve posted a similar comment on the blog which i was readin)Are you aware of anyone who is trying to seriously work on similar ideas? Could you send me links?
From: Greg Bear
Interesting notions, Prakash. We do know that bacteria on our skin (and probably elsewhere) contribute in interesting ways to our odor profiles, especially at puberty. Similar scents from similar households (and similar bacterial populations) might suppress sexual attraction. We know that children who are not related but raised in the same environment ("Kibbutz kids") tend not to pair up when mature. There are of course also social, psychological, and probably other genetic/evolutionary components that block incest, as well. Still--scent might be the start!
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