Mutation in Dune (a.k.a. Atreides)

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Mutation in Dune (a.k.a. Atreides)

Postby mrpsbrk » 09 Feb 2009 16:32

Did you notice that, EVERY SINGLE TIME that a mutation happens in this wretched series, it comes from an Atreides chap? You know, the very concept of mutation in biology (didn't this Frank guy supposedly research ecology in order to write the novels?) revolves around chance combinatoric errors, in other words, things that should happen distributed in a random way. Maybe we should call an anti-trust action upon the Atreides monopoly.

(And, yes, this is just a badly disguised attempt at justifying my over-analysis, but anyway i thought you guys might think it curious as well as i do...)
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Postby Drunken Idaho » 09 Feb 2009 16:44

Well, the first example of mutation in Dune that comes to my mind is the Navigators, none of which are Atreides (although Paul and Leto would have made GREAT navigators)...

And second, there's nothing random about the mutations along the Atreides line. The BG had an epic breeding program for thousands of years in order to produce a KH. Perhaps the only random thing was that Jessica disobeyed the BG and made the KH one generation too early. After that, Leto II long foresaw the coming of a Siona, and managed his breeding program accordingly. As for Teg and Odrade, well they could possibly be random mutations, although even Leto II knew that Odrade would one day stumble upon his cache of spice.
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Postby SandChigger » 09 Feb 2009 16:46

Oh, it's those damned Greeks, you know. So ... reversible/versatile. Any Greek on any corner, as they used to say.

:roll:

It's fiction. Their family (and retainers) is the source of the main characters.

But what Frank was REALLY getting at was an indictment of inbred aristocracies and the ultimately pernicious effect they have on societies where they control the political power in addition to wielding financial and social influence.

Blah blah blah. Your fraught take?

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Postby SandChigger » 09 Feb 2009 16:48

Drunken Idaho wrote:Leto II knew that Odrade would one day stumble upon his cache of spice.

No, he didn't. He couldn't see her. Besides, both she and Teg were beyond the 4,000 period he actively surveyed.

He knew a Reverend Mother would discover it, because of the clues he left.

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Re: Mutation in Dune (a.k.a. Atreides)

Postby dunepunk » 09 Feb 2009 16:54

mrpsbrk wrote:Did you notice that, EVERY SINGLE TIME that a mutation happens in this wretched series, it comes from an Atreides chap? You know, the very concept of mutation in biology (didn't this Frank guy supposedly research ecology in order to write the novels?) revolves around chance combinatoric errors, in other words, things that should happen distributed in a random way. Maybe we should call an anti-trust action upon the Atreides monopoly.

(And, yes, this is just a badly disguised attempt at justifying my over-analysis, but anyway i thought you guys might think it curious as well as i do...)


I don't know if I'd attribute it to random mutation so much as BG breeding schemes. These tried to tie together the right characteristics to produce certain effects (such as a KH). At the same time, the BG obviously couldn't predict all of the effects of their breeding program. Genetics is damn complicated (in fact, I think a recent study found that the same genetic sequence coded for two different amino acid structures at different times, but they couldn't figure out the conditions that led to one rather than the other). They knew they would get a male reverend mother with access to both avenues of AM, but the other stuff was kind of unexpected results of the mixture of genes.

As has been discussed elsewhere, the Siona gene that leads to invisibility from prescience could be interpreted as a latent kind of prescience. Obviously, since the Atreides genes already carried a strong propensity to prescience, this was where Leto started his breeding program.

Teg's abilities could be attributed to another extension of this Atreides prescience (especially the ability to see no-ships).

Once all the genes have been collected in one person, their descendants will be much more likely than the rest of the population to have these or similar traits.

Of course, FH may have just used it as a plot device, but even still it makes sense.


Edit: sorry I raised points that have already been addressed-- at the time I started typing a response, there were no other responses. (you guys jumped on this quick!)
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Postby mrpsbrk » 09 Feb 2009 17:10

Drunken Idaho wrote:Well, the first example of mutation in Dune that comes to my mind is the Navigators, none of which are Atreides (although Paul and Leto would have made GREAT navigators)...


Um... yes, the navigators. Forgot them. Still, their mutations do not sound as "Darwinian gene drift to be selected by fitness" -- more like degradation in a biological sense, more like "inbreeding" than "mutation". Anyway, we never really get the details about the navigators deformities...

EDIT: in the biology context, the idea of "mutation" is connected to what is termed "wild talents" -- like Teg, Odrade and also Paul. Those seem to always come from the Atreides.

Except for the latest-est Duncan, of course.
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Postby SandChigger » 09 Feb 2009 20:08

mrpsbrk wrote:Um... yes, the navigators. Forgot them. Still, their mutations do not sound as "Darwinian gene drift to be selected by fitness" -- more like degradation in a biological sense, more like "inbreeding" than "mutation". Anyway, we never really get the details about the navigators deformities...

You're kidding, right?

We'll have to call in Master B or another expert for a final call, but I don't believe there's anything Darwinian about genetic drift. What exactly is "degradation in a biological sense"? (Could you put that in scientific terms?) There's no sensible distinction to be drawn between inbreeding and mutation; one is something which happens in limited populations, the other something that happens inside cells. (Unless you're using mutation to refer to some gross physical change only? Even then, though.) And check the thread on Simon's drawings for some details about Navigator deformities.

The hand passes and legerdemain don't work as well for some stuff, unfortunately. Might be why Science and Philosophy parted ways somewhat a while back?

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Postby Freakzilla » 09 Feb 2009 21:24

SandChigger wrote:
mrpsbrk wrote:Um... yes, the navigators. Forgot them. Still, their mutations do not sound as "Darwinian gene drift to be selected by fitness" -- more like degradation in a biological sense, more like "inbreeding" than "mutation". Anyway, we never really get the details about the navigators deformities...

You're kidding, right?

We'll have to call in Master B or another expert for a final call, but I don't believe there's anything Darwinian about genetic drift.


I'm only a layman but I thought genetic drift and natural selection were the main parts of evolution. The former being random and the latter for a cause. I don't think there is anything "Darwinian" about genetic drift, he dealt more with the natural selection area.
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Postby Omphalos » 09 Feb 2009 21:56

Freakzilla wrote:
SandChigger wrote:
mrpsbrk wrote:Um... yes, the navigators. Forgot them. Still, their mutations do not sound as "Darwinian gene drift to be selected by fitness" -- more like degradation in a biological sense, more like "inbreeding" than "mutation". Anyway, we never really get the details about the navigators deformities...

You're kidding, right?

We'll have to call in Master B or another expert for a final call, but I don't believe there's anything Darwinian about genetic drift.


I'm only a layman but I thought genetic drift and natural selection were the main parts of evolution. The former being random and the latter for a cause. I don't think there is anything "Darwinian" about genetic drift, he dealt more with the natural selection area.


Genetic drift occurs; Darwinian law determines whether or not those new characteristics survive.

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Postby SandRider » 10 Feb 2009 05:19

hey, i"mdrunk, soforgive me when I say:

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Postby SandChigger » 10 Feb 2009 06:01

Frank Herbert was an Irish American, and one can see in the series an allusion to another great Irish American family, the Kennedys. Many critics have indeed commented on the similarities between Paul Atreides and John F. Kennedy. But Herbert did not simply praise the politicos from the opposite end of the country: he also included biting criticism. (The reference in the dedication of Dune to "dry land ecologists", for example, is a disguised reference to Joe Kennedy's Prohibition Era rum-running operations on the eastern seaboard.)

Later in the series, the Atreides family changes and, mutatis mutandis, comes to represent the United States and its uneasy relations with the rest of the world during the brief post-Cold-War Pax Americana....

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Postby Drunken Idaho » 10 Feb 2009 14:23

SandChigger wrote:
mrpsbrk wrote:Um... yes, the navigators. Forgot them. Still, their mutations do not sound as "Darwinian gene drift to be selected by fitness" -- more like degradation in a biological sense, more like "inbreeding" than "mutation". Anyway, we never really get the details about the navigators deformities...

You're kidding, right?

We'll have to call in Master B or another expert for a final call, but I don't believe there's anything Darwinian about genetic drift. What exactly is "degradation in a biological sense"? (Could you put that in scientific terms?) There's no sensible distinction to be drawn between inbreeding and mutation; one is something which happens in limited populations, the other something that happens inside cells. (Unless you're using mutation to refer to some gross physical change only? Even then, though.) And check the thread on Simon's drawings for some details about Navigator deformities.

The hand passes and legerdemain don't work as well for some stuff, unfortunately. Might be why Science and Philosophy parted ways somewhat a while back?


Perhaps if you saw it from mrpsbrk's point-of-view, you'd gain a little perspective...
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Postby SandChigger » 11 Feb 2009 02:36

Well, luv, when I need advice from you ... shoot me already.

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Postby SandRider » 11 Feb 2009 05:02

wah guess wha ? 345am and I am druk agian just now getting home
so lemetake htis ooportunity to say agian in this thread :


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Postby SandChigger » 11 Feb 2009 05:11

We get a lot of drunk Asians in these parts, but that's not what you mean, is it?

And I'm pretty sure it wasn't a reference to agism and agists. Hmmm ... more special sauce added to the mysterious enigma that is SandRider. :D


Bit of a trigger-happy reply up above. Sorry, DI, which point-of-view did you mean? That of someone using fuzzy concepts in pseudoscientific reasoning? :wink:

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Postby Drunken Idaho » 11 Feb 2009 10:11

Nah, I just wanted to find a cheap way to throw in the word "perspective."

I fully recognize the vast difference between mutation in the Dune sense of the word, and deformity.

IE:

Me -----> Wild talent, mutation

Sole Man -----> deformed, due to inbreeding
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Postby Tleszer » 11 Feb 2009 10:55

Drunken Idaho wrote:Me -----> Wild talent, mutation

Sole Man -----> deformed, due to inbreeding


Cheap shot at the Sloester. Kudos! :lol:
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Postby SandChigger » 11 Feb 2009 11:25

:lol:

The introduction of alien (Plutonian, not Afghani) DNA hasn't helped the family much, either, it seems. ;)

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Postby mrpsbrk » 11 Feb 2009 17:50

SandChigger wrote:We'll have to call in Master B or another expert for a final call, but I don't believe there's anything Darwinian about genetic drift. What exactly is "degradation in a biological sense"? (Could you put that in scientific terms?) There's no sensible distinction to be drawn between inbreeding and mutation; one is something which happens in limited populations, the other something that happens inside cells. (Unless you're using mutation to refer to some gross physical change only? Even then, though.) And check the thread on Simon's drawings for some details about Navigator deformities.


Just to clarify. (As in, Chig, i just do not understand why you waste your time).

Genetic Drift: refers to the fact that, despite gene splitting being very much geared towards conserving the gene structure equal, some differences end up creeping into the further generations, mainly in the long run.

Mutation: refers to a specific gene that the offspring has that the parents do not. This is generally believed to be caused by uncontrolled chemical reactions or radiation or hostile factors like those. Furthermore, the vast majority of mutation detracts from the fitness of the individual.

Inbreeding: as in, having intercourse with close relatives. It has been extensively shown that crossing without a reasonable gene-wise distance leads to noticeable (and sometimes dramatic) decay in most statistics: like weaker, less fertile, more disease prone offspring.

So what actually happens is that is almost no correlation or similarity between mutation and inbreeding, and i did not want to propose them as sides in a dichotomy but only as otherwise unrelated examples.

What is Darwinian about genetic drift is that, as currently understood, "Natural Selection Theory" proposes that all change in living beings comes from the better survival of individuals who had changes in their heredity created aimlessly by genetic drift that happen to make them more apt to live in their environment. This aptness is usually called "fitness".

Degradation in a biological sense is losing of fitness.

Mutation as used about the navigators in Dune seems to me to always mean gross physical thing. Mutation in biology, even though everyone knows are mostly a bad thing, are spoken of as "sources of adaptations" with good connotation generally, as in FH's wild talents.

Being that Dune is supposedly "about ecology" this muddiness about technical terms is somewhat silly, but understandable when you have a more liberal idea about what were Frank's aims.
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Postby mrpsbrk » 11 Feb 2009 17:51

wikipedia is your friend
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Postby SandChigger » 11 Feb 2009 19:16

Actually, dear boy, I rather think I have just wasted your time. ;)

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Postby SandRider » 11 Feb 2009 19:52

Dune IS NOT about "ecology" - see Norman Spinrad
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Postby SandChigger » 12 Feb 2009 04:20

Sure it is. It's about the ecology of concepts!

(Don't discourage him before he gets going again, SR! :roll: )

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Postby mrpsbrk » 12 Feb 2009 07:54

mrpsbrk wrote: is supposedly "about ecology"
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Postby Drunken Idaho » 12 Feb 2009 11:51

Come to think of it, what the Navigators experience is more of a metamorphosis than a mutation.
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