Danger or alarm. Binary classifications ?

Pierre sonigo at cochin.inserm.fr
Sun Feb 20 15:55:18 EST 2000

Immunology uses binary classifications (qualities) such as self/nonself,
healthyself/nonhealthy self, etc.
When a quality change occurs (for example from self to non self),  are
intermediary states skipped ? where is the threshold ?
Is it possible to quantify "selfness" or "danger" or is it a all or none
quality ?

"D Forsdyke" <forsdyke1 at home.com> news: 38AC84C2.C0BFCAC8 at home.com...
> The word "danger" is currently popular among immunologists.
> However, "alarm" (Forsdyke, 1995) may be preferable, since it
> conveys the sense of a distinct call to action, whereas
> "danger" is an attribute which leads one to beware, or keep away.
>     Once a critical binary discrimination event is made:
>                     friend or foe,
>                     not-dangerous or dangerous,
>                     self or not-self,
>  an alarm either is not, or is, activated.
>      As far as bodily systems are concerned, "not-self" is
> potentially a foe and dangerous, while "self" is potentially
> a friend and not-dangerous. When "self" becomes dangerous,
> then it may be because some body component has begun to manifest
> unfriendly, dangerous, not-self, attributes. The yard-stick for
> measuring the degree of unfriendliness or danger, is the degree
> of conversion to not-self.
>      Thus, "self" is the ULTIMATE FRAME OF REFERENCE in a
> biological system. Self is that which is encoded in your
> genes at the time of your first appearance on this planet.
> Genes which change during your life (so that different gene
> products are synthesized) may either be considered as still
> "self" (e.g. antibody variable region genes), or be considered
> as transformed to "not-self" (e.g. a potential oncogene, ...
> which you hope the immune system will attend to).
>     I have an uncomfortable feeling that I have not thought this
> matter through as thoroughly as I should have done. Advice/input/
> opinion would be welcome. For more, see the URL below.
> Donald Forsdyke. Discussion Leader. Bionet.immunology
> http://post.queensu.ca/~forsdyke/prions.htm

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