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Thread: The Observing Self vs The Thinking Self

  1. Top | #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    Going to try to respond to you thoughtfully without inflaming further. Will probably fail.

    We're on a dying message board. No one makes threads except in the politics forum, where for some reason we're still talking about whether men or women are better at sewing. Most threads that are made get minimal to no replies, except when it's American politics. We're on a dying message board. Conversation and thread making should be prized.

    And as much as I would love to spend many hours carefully researching a thread subject that I'll probably gain nothing of value out of anyway (really, I actually would), I just don't have the time, so this is what you get. Beyond that, if my threads are a waste of your time you can not click on them, or respond to them. That's not sarcasm, that's a genuine suggestion. If my threads cause you frustration, then put me on ignore.
    I'm sorry, I guess I did overreact.

    My issue is that you have a bit of a history of initiating threads of this kind - where you either postulate or "just ask questions" of a very specific kind. The general tenor seems to be to advocating for a blanket acceptance of all kinds of social ills as god-given, only substituting god with a caricature of evolution as an agentive, purpose-driven entity.
    I see your point, although in truth I'm not really thinking about these OPs too much. I was aware that it was kind of a dumb question when I wrote it, but really it's just a careless conversation starter. Actually, I didn't even really want to talk gender, and probably could have left it out. Enough time passes and I forget the side effects of not being precise and careful in an OP.

    I don't know where you're getting evolution as a purpose-driven entity, though. I certainly don't believe that, nor have I hinted at it.

  2. Top | #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post

    So, even if we know the difference is biologically based, the most probable answer by far for any question like "Why was this small gender difference selected for?" is "It wasn't".
    So testosterone estrogen nothing to them. check. What?*


    *density test
    "What?" is an appropriate response to your post.

    Could you try to repeat whatever point you thought you had in full English sentences? German and Croatian/Bosnian/Serbian works too, if it's not to complex, even Russian and Spanish might. You see, I'm not picky.

    You bring up an important point, however: If a trait can be linked with testosterone/estrogen levels within both men and women, than that's fairly solid evidence for its biological basis even absent a direct cross-cultural information. It does nothing, however, to indicate it is a selected trait. Like every other drug, hormones have side effects.

    In an abstract since, this way of treating evolution as perfect and every bug as a features smells of religious thinking: Instead of accepting nature in its imperfection, in all its fascinating complexities, god the perfect, omnipotent creator has been substituted for evolution without changing the attributes.
    Agreed. A trait being biologically based in no way implies that it is functional or was selected for. In fact, few psychological/behavioral traits would be, because each one is the product of so many genetic factors with every genetic factor influencing countless traits. So, the number of evolutionary functional, selected traits is inherently far outnumbered by the incidental non-functional byproducts of selection. In fact many of those byproducts can be dysfunctional in themselves, but are preserved in the genome b/c their negative impact is outweighed by the more influential positive functional effects of the genetic factors they have incidental overlap with.

    Many who accept evolutionary theory believe that it's elegance and power come from it's ability to tell us why everything is the way it is, but the real power comes from the fact that makes "by random happenstance" and "For no damn good reason" perfectly acceptable and deterministic answers to most such questions.

  3. Top | #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post

    "What?" is an appropriate response to your post.

    Could you try to repeat whatever point you thought you had in full English sentences? German and Croatian/Bosnian/Serbian works too, if it's not to complex, even Russian and Spanish might. You see, I'm not picky.

    You bring up an important point, however: If a trait can be linked with testosterone/estrogen levels within both men and women, than that's fairly solid evidence for its biological basis even absent a direct cross-cultural information. It does nothing, however, to indicate it is a selected trait. Like every other drug, hormones have side effects.

    In an abstract since, this way of treating evolution as perfect and every bug as a features smells of religious thinking: Instead of accepting nature in its imperfection, in all its fascinating complexities, god the perfect, omnipotent creator has been substituted for evolution without changing the attributes.
    Agreed. A trait being biologically based in no way implies that it is functional or was selected for. In fact, few psychological/behavioral traits would be, because each one is the product of so many genetic factors with every genetic factor influencing countless traits. So, the number of evolutionary functional, selected traits is inherently far outnumbered by the incidental non-functional byproducts of selection. In fact many of those byproducts can be dysfunctional in themselves, but are preserved in the genome b/c their negative impact is outweighed by the more influential positive functional effects of the genetic factors they have incidental overlap with.

    Many who accept evolutionary theory believe that it's elegance and power come from it's ability to tell us why everything is the way it is, but the real power comes from the fact that makes "by random happenstance" and "For no damn good reason" perfectly acceptable and deterministic answers to most such questions.
    Can you give a few examples of traits that are biologically based but haven't been selected for?

    Note my use of 'haven't'. Not necessarily functional now, but may have been functional at one time, therefore selected for.

  4. Top | #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    From a cognitive psychology clqass I rember people tend to be able to quickly memorixize and hold up to around a 7 item list.

    There is short term and long term memopry. It takes time to put information into long term memory.
    Working memory that I was referring to is neither of those. It refers more that one's ability to control the focus of attention on a subset of goal-relevant information in the face of distracting stimuli and non-relevant information. In fact, gender effect in short term memory are the opposite of working memory, with females showing slightly better short term memory than males. But even this is qualified by the fact that what is being remembered impacts who remembers it best, with males having better short term recall if the information is visuo-spatial in nature. That is actually interesting, because visuo-spatial information is something that the "observing self" is most concerned with, which contradicts the OP notion of females being more about the "observing self".

    Also, the whole 7-item in short term memory thing is grossly oversimplified, because people can and do "chunk" information in highly variable ways, such that a list of 30 words might be 30 distinct "items" for one person but only 5 for another person.

  5. Top | #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post

    "What?" is an appropriate response to your post.

    Could you try to repeat whatever point you thought you had in full English sentences? German and Croatian/Bosnian/Serbian works too, if it's not to complex, even Russian and Spanish might. You see, I'm not picky.

    You bring up an important point, however: If a trait can be linked with testosterone/estrogen levels within both men and women, than that's fairly solid evidence for its biological basis even absent a direct cross-cultural information. It does nothing, however, to indicate it is a selected trait. Like every other drug, hormones have side effects.

    In an abstract since, this way of treating evolution as perfect and every bug as a features smells of religious thinking: Instead of accepting nature in its imperfection, in all its fascinating complexities, god the perfect, omnipotent creator has been substituted for evolution without changing the attributes.
    Agreed. A trait being biologically based in no way implies that it is functional or was selected for. In fact, few psychological/behavioral traits would be, because each one is the product of so many genetic factors with every genetic factor influencing countless traits. So, the number of evolutionary functional, selected traits is inherently far outnumbered by the incidental non-functional byproducts of selection. In fact many of those byproducts can be dysfunctional in themselves, but are preserved in the genome b/c their negative impact is outweighed by the more influential positive functional effects of the genetic factors they have incidental overlap with.

    Many who accept evolutionary theory believe that it's elegance and power come from it's ability to tell us why everything is the way it is, but the real power comes from the fact that makes "by random happenstance" and "For no damn good reason" perfectly acceptable and deterministic answers to most such questions.
    Can you give a few examples of traits that are biologically based but haven't been selected for?

    Note my use of 'haven't'. Not necessarily functional now, but may have been functional at one time, therefore selected for.
    It would be far easier and faster if you could give the list of traits that are biological and for which there is clear scientific empirical evidence of how it was selected for. Note that the existence of stories about plausible functionality is not empirical evidence. Everything not on that very short list will be something that was likely not selected for. That includes variability in most human cognitive traits.

    You don't seem to be getting that for the vast majority of behavioral traits there is no possible empirical evidence that can demonstrate past selection, and thus most such speculations are outside the realm of science. What we do have is empirical data on how almost all behavioral traits in humans are the result of countless genes that each with multiple alleles, and that most alleles have many traits that they impacts. We also know that all that evolution requires for an allele to remain in the genome is that the net impact of any allele averaged across everything it impacts is not negative, thus it can range from neutral to positive. From there we don't need empirical science to apply deductive logic (really just basic math) to know that there number of ways that any particular allele variant which causes variations in multiple phenotype traits to have been selected for due to any one particular phenotype variation that it causes is far lower than the number of ways that the allele could be preserved within the genepool without selection for that particular phenotype variation.

    IOW, the basic science of genetics and how evolution operates logically imply that most particular variations in traits were not selected for due to their own impact on reproductive success, but b/c they happen to be part of a network of alleles that produce countless variations on many traits, and the aggregated impact of that is not harmful to reproductive success. So, the scientific default answer to "why was this selected for?" is "It wasn't". And that remains the only rational position until actual empirical evidence shows that a particular variation in a trait is one of the minority of instances where it's impact on reproductive success was sufficient to determine the net impact of all the countless impacts of the countless phenotype effects that increasing that allele in the genepool would have.

  6. Top | #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    In an abstract since, this way of treating evolution as perfect and every bug as a features smells of religious thinking: Instead of accepting nature in its imperfection, in all its fascinating complexities, god the perfect, omnipotent creator has been substituted for evolution without changing the attributes.
    I haven't been implying that at all, not sure where it's coming from.

    If there has been any implication it's that every feature of the body, and every testable gender variation, at one point in our evolutionary history, has had survival value. Not that evolution has purposely created these features and there is a reason for their existence in the here and now. Those are two very different implications.

    I'll grant that my example in the original post is basically nonsense, and that stories not being plausible evidence is obvious. It was just a throwaway question.

    **Although I'll add that when we're talking about psychological traits, a lot of the emergent features are indeed by-products of some deeper system.

  7. Top | #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    Can you give a few examples of traits that are biologically based but haven't been selected for?

    Note my use of 'haven't'. Not necessarily functional now, but may have been functional at one time, therefore selected for.
    It would be far easier and faster if you could give the list of traits that are biological and for which there is clear scientific empirical evidence of how it was selected for.
    Every essential organ in the body, sensory, reproductive, endocrine, nervous etc. While I couldn't point you to any papers, these features of the body are being selected for every time they produce a functional human that can reproduce.

    I wasn't trying to be combative, just interested in where you were taking the conversation.

  8. Top | #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    In an abstract since, this way of treating evolution as perfect and every bug as a features smells of religious thinking: Instead of accepting nature in its imperfection, in all its fascinating complexities, god the perfect, omnipotent creator has been substituted for evolution without changing the attributes.
    I haven't been implying that at all, not sure where it's coming from.

    If there has been any implication it's that every feature of the body, and every testable gender variation, at one point in our evolutionary history, has had survival value. Not that evolution has purposely created these features and there is a reason for their existence in the here and now. Those are two very different implications.

    I'll grant that my example in the original post is basically nonsense, and that stories not being plausible evidence is obvious. It was just a throwaway question.

    **Although I'll add that when we're talking about psychological traits, a lot of the emergent features are indeed by-products of some deeper system.
    And to add: in our theoretical example I would assume propensity for observation isn't psychological or behavioral, but rather an intrinsic part of our nervous system.

  9. Top | #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    Can you give a few examples of traits that are biologically based but haven't been selected for?

    Note my use of 'haven't'. Not necessarily functional now, but may have been functional at one time, therefore selected for.
    It would be far easier and faster if you could give the list of traits that are biological and for which there is clear scientific empirical evidence of how it was selected for.
    Every essential organ in the body, sensory, reproductive, endocrine, nervous etc. While I couldn't point you to any papers, these features of the body are being selected for every time they produce a functional human that can reproduce.

    I wasn't trying to be combative, just interested in where you were taking the conversation.
    Notice how your list is basically tautology? "essential organs" are by definition things that humans cannot exist without and thus, by definition, humans without those things could not survive to reproduce.
    Also, that only explains the simplistic binary presence or absence of such systems. Each of those systems vary in countless ways and have specific features that don't need to exist and could have been replaced with an infinite number of alternative "specs". The reason that the specs are what they are is not b/c that is the most functional way for them to be. It is usually b/c the many genes and alleles that give rise to any particular "spec" also give rise to countless other specs and the net benefit of all the other specs impacted by the set of alleles that give rise to that one particular spec determine was gets passed on and thus force that spec onto the a given system whether its functional for that system or not. In addition, what about all of the variation in each of those specs? Both individuals and groups (like genders) vary along many dimensions of those specs and they almost all survive to pass on those variations. Thus, there is nothing essential or particularly functional about having one variant over the other.
    The fact that humans can observe at all or think at all likely has a functional basis that was selected for. But the exact ways in which we do so and the variations in those ways are not likely to be functional or selected for.

    Also, note that your list includes no specifics about the millions of traits that impact exactly how humans process information and who processes it differently. Because, the "evidence" of trait selection is limited to most broad categories of traits that are essential to the person even surviving the first year of life. But within those "traits", i.e., broad "systems", are actually millions of other traits, most of which went along for the ride on the backs of those things that were essential or of major importance to survival.

    Here is one last try to dispell the religion of "biology means adaptive function". This time using formal logical structure and showing that your own premise that a given biological trait was selected for requires that you also accept that most other biological traits were not.

    Let's say we accept a particular functional argument for a trait in the form of the following premise"
    P1"The specific impact on trait Y is what caused Allele X to be propagated in the genepool".

    Basic genetics and evolutionary mechanisms confirm the following additional premises:
    P2"Allele X has many other impacts other than it's impact on trait Y."
    P3"If the specific impact on trait Y is what caused Allele X to be propagated in the genepool, then all those other traits impacted by Allele Y would also be propagated in the species, regardless of their functionality and relation to selection pressures."

    Then basic math tell us
    P4 "Many traits are many more than one trait."

    Conclusion: There are many more traits produced by Allele Y that were not functionally selected for than there are traits produced by Allele Y that were selected for.

    Since the above logic applies to all Alleles, we can further conclude that for every genetically based trait variations within a species there are many more genetically based trait variations that were not selected for.

    So, either you must reject the most basic facts of genetics and evolutionary mechanisms, or or must accept that most biologically based traits (which includes all variations of human thought and behavior shaped by genes) were not themselves selected for a particular function.

  10. Top | #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    In an abstract since, this way of treating evolution as perfect and every bug as a features smells of religious thinking: Instead of accepting nature in its imperfection, in all its fascinating complexities, god the perfect, omnipotent creator has been substituted for evolution without changing the attributes.
    I haven't been implying that at all, not sure where it's coming from.

    If there has been any implication it's that every feature of the body, and every testable gender variation, at one point in our evolutionary history, has had survival value. Not that evolution has purposely created these features and there is a reason for their existence in the here and now. Those are two very different implications.
    Most bugs are just bugs, not deprecated features.

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