View Poll Results: Is a single celled human zygote an 'organism'?

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  • Yes, a single celled zygote is in fact an organism

    99 51.30%
  • No, a single celled zygote is not in fact an organism

    94 48.70%
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Thread: Is a single celled human zygote an 'organism'?

  1. #151
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    Question Re: Is a single celled human zygote an 'organism'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsunami View Post
    It is true that new DNA begins after fertilization, during the first mitosis. But if you define an organism by DNA that makes identical twins a part of the same organism. So I don't think DNA can be the defining characteristic.
    First of all,... there is more to the individuality of a newly formed zygote than just it's DNA. As a matter of physics (for example) two ojects can not be in the same place at the same time,...

    Before I digress,...

    "In the absense of twinning,... would not not agree that a zygote is in fact an organism? That,... the life it is living is it's own?
    Last edited by Chuz Life; 01-29-10 at 10:25 AM.

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    Re: Is a single celled human zygote an 'organism'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz Life View Post
    First of all,... there is more to the individuality of a newly formed zygote than just it's DNA. As a matter of physics (for example) two ojects can not be in the same place at the same time,...

    Before I digress,...

    "In the absense of twinning,... would not not agree that a zygote is in fact an organism? That,... the life it is living is it's own?
    I have already pointed out that the answers to this question depend upon the definition of organism. So I assume you are asking for my personal definition. To me, an organism is a separate life form capable of sustaining itself. So:
    • Even if viable, a fetus and the mother are still a part of the same living system, and thus are the same organism, until separated at birth.
    • Conjoined twins are one organism even if they have two brains and are legally considered separate people, because they are connected and often cannot survive apart. If they are separated by surgery they become individual organisms.
    • A male anglerfish is a separate organism until it attaches itself to a female. Afterwards it is unable to self-sustain and they become a single organism.
    • A leech remains a separate organism while feeding off a host. In this case the physical attachment is voluntary and doesn't remove either organism's ability to survive independently.
    • An ovum in a laboratory test tube is an organism. But if it is implanted and begins to live off someone else they become one organism.

    As you can see, my opinion of an organism is independent from my opinion on personhood and would probably not make a good legal distinction. But it makes sense scientifically.
    Last edited by Tsunami; 01-29-10 at 11:20 AM.
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  3. #153
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    Re: Is a single celled human zygote an 'organism'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsunami View Post
    I have already pointed out that the answers to this question depend upon the definition of organism. So I assume you are asking for my personal definition. To me, an organism is a separate life form capable of sustaining itself. So:
    • Even if viable, a fetus and the mother are still a part of the same living system, and thus are the same organism.
    • Conjoined twins are one organism even if they have two brains and are legally considered separate people, because they are connected and often cannot survive apart. If they are separated by surgery they become individual organisms.
    • A male anglerfish is a separate organism until it attaches itself to a female. Afterwards it is unable to self-sustain and they become a single organism.
    • An ovum in a laboratory test tube is an organism. But if it is implanted and begins to live off someone else they become one organism.

    As you can see, my opinion of an organism is independent from my opinion on personhood and would probably not make a good legal distinction. But it makes sense scientifically.
    you could make the argument a fish and the ocean are part of the same living system, or the bacteria in your gut are not organisms.
    or perhaps a leach living off someone?
    or any type of parasite or mutual symbiotic relationship?

    independence is not a requirement for something to be an organism, all it has to do is be alive, which a cell is.

  4. #154
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    Re: Is a single celled human zygote an 'organism'?

    I can answer the entirety of Chuz's most recent post to me (#140) largely by quoting myself from this thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz
    The Poll results on this subject (as of right now) are three to one against your position, Ian. What percentage does it take to have a consensus? A majority? A Genereal agreement?
    Quote Originally Posted by iangb, post#98
    If you can show that your 40-person voluntary-response poll of a political debate forum is representative of the scientific community and free from bias, you might have a point. However, I doubt that's going to happen.
    Change that to a '49-person poll' and add in the fact that it's closer to 2-to-one, and that's still an accurate response. Also...
    Quote Originally Posted by iangb, post#108
    I actually read through the thread itself an noticed something, Chuz. The poll says what it says - but if you look at the responses of the people who have posted here, many of those who voted 'yes' have a definition for 'organism' that differs from both mine and your use of the term - more specifically, they have one that also calls a skin/blood/sperm cell an organism.
    ***
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz
    What's say we have a contest? I'll post as many links to as many scientific sources that define a zygote as an organism,... and you provide as many as you can find where scientists say they are not.

    (I've posted several, already)

    At the end,... we will see which of us can support the notion of a "scientific consensus."
    Quote Originally Posted by iangb, post#95
    many of Chuz's sources disagree with the dictionary use shown above. However, the vast majority of them only show scientific opinions, not the consensus which is needed to get a definition into a widely used dictionary as I have been using. The problem with relying on individual people/sites is that to argue based on such sources naturally biases the argument towards false positives - it's far more likely that someone will consider a zygote to be an organism and use that on their website than for someone to consider a zygote not to be an organism and post it - after all, a zygote is not a great many things, why should 'not an organism' be specifically listed unless an agenda is present, making for an easy dismissal of the source? Most of the places to be found where a scientist states that a zygote is 'not an organism' are when they have been directly asked the question
    In short - I posted dictionary links which supported my position, which is far more consensus than you can hope for. Also, it's an unfair 'contest' as it is skewed towards positive returns - there is little point in someone saying 'a zygote is not an organism', even if they consider it to be the case; it's like trying to find someone saying 'a zygote is not a teapot'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lakrite, post#146
    No debate is necessary. An organism is a living being that has (or can develop) the ability to act or function independently. A human zygote is a human organism at the earliest stages of development. It is not developing into an organism, it is an organism that is continuing to develop into its full self. Babies and children are developing, but that does not automatically imply they are not organisms.
    A zygote is not 'a living being' in any way that differentiates it from a sperm cell.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lakrite
    The pile of ingredients is not analogous to the cake in its earliest stages of development, but rather to the sperm and egg. When they unite the "cake" or zygote (which is the organism) is brought into being.
    So a cake mix is a cake?

    Of course every cell in the human body is not an individual organism, hence the fact that humans are multicellular organisms. However, a zygote is a new organism. Its DNA is NOT identical to the somatic cells of either the mother or the father. (the claim you made is untrue).
    He did say 'almost identical'... Later on in pregnancy, immune cells with the ZEFs DNA often transfer to the mother and persist for quite some time. Given that they too differ from the DNA of the mother, your reasoning so far should claim that they are organisms in their own right.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spud
    how's that a contradiction, a single human skin cell is still an organism, even if i is part of a greater whole, amoeba are still organisms, and they're only a single cell, it is because of the actions of individual cells that a human can function, you can respond to stimuli, because the sensory neurons in your skin fire electro-chemical signals to the nerve cells in your brain. it is individual cells working as a whole that hadle everything your body does.
    Ah, apologies, I hadn't realised that you were using a different definition from both me and Chuz. Given your definition, I agree that there is no contradiction - by your definition, every cell in a persons body is an organism.
    Out of interest, would you call a person (a collection of billions of organisms) an organism in their own right? If yes: if those billions of organisms are part of the whole person-organism, in what way is a zygote not part of that person-organism?
    Last edited by iangb; 01-29-10 at 01:39 PM. Reason: Spud
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    Cool Re: Is a single celled human zygote an 'organism'?

    Maybe I'm just tired from lack of sleep,....

    But something tells me we are now just beating some dead horses.



    Quick poll,....

    Is anyone still reading this exchange?

    Is there any need or benefit for me to respond to Iangb any further in this vein?

  6. #156
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    Re: Is a single celled human zygote an 'organism'?

    Is there any need or benefit for me to respond to Iangb any further in this vein?
    If 'this vein' consists of repeating old arguments which I have already directly adressed - and then refusing to even acknowledge that I have done so - then I would definitely say there isn't much point.

    The dictionary disagrees with you. Some scientists agree with you - but some disagree with you, too. You have yet to respond to arguments against your position beyond outright denial without reasoning, and you are repeating several arguments which have already been dealt with. I'd suggest you try a new vein.
    The truth may be out there, but lies are in your head. ~Terry Pratchett

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    Cool Re: Is a single celled human zygote an 'organism'?

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    If 'this vein' consists of repeating old arguments which I have already directly adressed - and then refusing to even acknowledge that I have done so - then I would definitely say there isn't much point.

    The dictionary disagrees with you. Some scientists agree with you - but some disagree with you, too. You have yet to respond to arguments against your position beyond outright denial without reasoning, and you are repeating several arguments which have already been dealt with. I'd suggest you try a new vein.
    As I stated earlier,...

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz Life View Post
    (My philosophical) difference is that I think it's despicable to use the Constitution, the U.S. Code, precident, dictionary definitions and scientific findings to EXCLUDE that which is clearly the offspring of human sexual reproduction from 'personhood',.... rather than using those sources to INCLUDE and to protect them.
    If you posted a dictionary definition that refutes my conclusion (that a zygote is an organism),... it's buried now.

    Would you like to repost it or link to it so I (and others) can know what it is you are talking about?
    Last edited by Chuz Life; 01-29-10 at 03:25 PM.

  8. #158
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    Re: Is a single celled human zygote an 'organism'?

    Post #95!

    The dictionary says that an organism is an individual which is 'capable of independent existence'. The definition of viability says that a zygote is not capable of independent existence.
    Furthermore, the definition of the placenta says that the ZEF is 'a single unit' (united) with the mother, microchimerism shows that the ZEF exchanges cells with the mother (making it even less of an individual), the definition of the reproductive cycle says that a new individual is only produced by parturition (birth), and the definition of a zygote itself says that the single cell 'develops into' an organism, implying that it is not already an organism (because if this was not the case, the entire definition would be grammatically redundant).

    That's... four dictionary definitions and a cited wikipedia link.
    Last edited by iangb; 01-29-10 at 03:32 PM.
    The truth may be out there, but lies are in your head. ~Terry Pratchett

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    Re: Is a single celled human zygote an 'organism'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz Life View Post
    As I stated earlier,...



    If you posted a dictionary definition that refutes my conclusion (that a zygote is an organism),... it's buried now.

    Would you like to repost it or link to it so I (and others) can know what it is you are talking about?
    Hold on...so you're saying the only thing you will accept is your own view? Well, glad you told us that, we'll stop trying to reason with you
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    Re: Is a single celled human zygote an 'organism'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz Life View Post
    Maybe I'm just tired from lack of sleep,....

    But something tells me we are now just beating some dead horses.



    Quick poll,....

    Is anyone still reading this exchange?

    Is there any need or benefit for me to respond to Iangb any further in this vein?
    No, he beat you down quite some time ago
    Veni. Vidi. Vici.
    -Gaius Julius Caesar
    The Only Thing to Fear is Fear Itself.
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