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  #61  
Old 04-02-2011, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by koifish View Post
Interesting. Not all of it well supported by science.
Such statements are more useful if they are accompanied by specifics. Illustrative examples usually suffice for the lay audience.
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  #62  
Old 04-02-2011, 06:25 PM
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Such statements are more useful if they are accompanied by specifics. Illustrative examples usually suffice for the lay audience.
I'm not koifish, but I'll throw one out there. I have a BA degree in evolutionary biology, and found that although the authors have a lot of interesting ideas so far (I'm only just beginning the book) they make a couple common mistakes in their understanding of the mechanisms behind natural selection.

One that rubbed me the wrong way is on page 54, refuting the common argument for male preoccupation with paternity. In the bullet points, they say that the theory presumes that a man must know which children are biologically his--that he must understand sex leads to babies and that his partner was faithful. Nonsense. There needs not be a conscience understanding of the mechanisms at play. Men who just happened to be sexually monogamous and expect the same of their partners would "waste" less of their time and resources on children who were not biologically theirs than men who were promiscuous.

However, I would still agree that the theory presumes pair bonding and a culture organized around biologically related families (not necessarily nuclear in my opinion--grandparents have a stake in their grandchildren's evolutionary success). If ancient humans lived in tribes where all resources were shared evenly among the group, there is little evolutionary pressure for enforced monogamy and male's preoccupation with paternity. However, it is very, very rare for resources to be so evenly split unless the group is evenly related (bees, ants, and naked mole rats are a few examples of this type of relation pattern).

Also, on the page before they take offense at defining "productive" as producing offspring who survive to reproduce, that this is somehow a religious/political tinged word. In the evolutionary sense, that IS the only definition of success. It has nothing to do with politics at all. It's simply the mathematical foundation of all natural selection.

So...I'm sticking with the book. It's an interesting read so far and I hope that they come up with more facts to defend the theories. However, as of page 55 the authors are making a lot of common mistakes around their understanding of the mechanics of evolution and I'd feel a lot more hopeful about the book if one of the authors had a degree in biology.
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Old 04-02-2011, 07:42 PM
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I'll admit that I don't fully understand evolutionary biology, but I'm not sure why producing offspring would be the only definition of success, or why you'd want to only care for your own offspring.
You can transmit other things than your genes, and from an evolutionary point of view it seems to me it certainly benefits the whole species when you take care of younglings that might grow to heal others, and so on. Obviously, for the species to survive, you need to carry on genes, but producing offsprings that survive to reproduce doesn't seem to me to be the only thing. Making sure people, whether your own offsprings or not, live to reproduce is also a good thing. Sometimes, having less offspring to give the ones who survive a better chance is good too.

I think there is a lot of benefit in social creatures to being there are a parent figure, with or without transmitting your genes. I'm speaking of both genders here, you have lots of stories about female animals who adopt and raise an orphan (sometimes of a different species, too), I think these provide advantages as well as they grow to help the rest of the tribe, as well as yourself when you're old. I think it carries the whole tribe and the whole species up.

There is much to survival of the species than sharing your genes is what I'm getting at. Sometimes, it might even be better to make sure you don't share them if you carry something that would endanger future generations or make them weaker. I don't think the species is as simple as each individual selfishly reproducing their own genes, I think there are also cooperative ways that we act naturally and that from an evolutionary point of view are useful to the species, yet have nothing to do with reproduction.
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  #64  
Old 04-02-2011, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by detritus View Post
I'm not koifish, but I'll throw one out there. I have a BA degree in evolutionary biology, and found that although the authors have a lot of interesting ideas so far (I'm only just beginning the book) they make a couple common mistakes in their understanding of the mechanisms behind natural selection.

One that rubbed me the wrong way is on page 54, refuting the common argument for male preoccupation with paternity. In the bullet points, they say that the theory presumes that a man must know which children are biologically his--that he must understand sex leads to babies and that his partner was faithful. Nonsense. There needs not be a conscience understanding of the mechanisms at play. Men who just happened to be sexually monogamous and expect the same of their partners would "waste" less of their time and resources on children who were not biologically theirs than men who were promiscuous.

However, I would still agree that the theory presumes pair bonding and a culture organized around biologically related families (not necessarily nuclear in my opinion--grandparents have a stake in their grandchildren's evolutionary success). If ancient humans lived in tribes where all resources were shared evenly among the group, there is little evolutionary pressure for enforced monogamy and male's preoccupation with paternity. However, it is very, very rare for resources to be so evenly split unless the group is evenly related (bees, ants, and naked mole rats are a few examples of this type of relation pattern).

Also, on the page before they take offense at defining "productive" as producing offspring who survive to reproduce, that this is somehow a religious/political tinged word. In the evolutionary sense, that IS the only definition of success. It has nothing to do with politics at all. It's simply the mathematical foundation of all natural selection.

So...I'm sticking with the book. It's an interesting read so far and I hope that they come up with more facts to defend the theories. However, as of page 55 the authors are making a lot of common mistakes around their understanding of the mechanics of evolution and I'd feel a lot more hopeful about the book if one of the authors had a degree in biology.
I think your mixing things up a bit. While working towards a Ph.D. in psychology (unfinished) David Buss was a star in the department. I spent a lot of time with the evolutionary psych folks partly because I had some intellectual interest in the subject matter. But, admittedly, also because David had the hottest grad students in the department (even the males were hot). Anyway, back to our topic.

In the passage you take issue with, Ryan and Jetha are talking about the evolutionary psychology theory of parternity certainty. As they explain, it hypothesizes that selection would favor men who acted to invest in their own children versus others because that investment is costly. It does not actively presume that this is a conscious psychological process that the more casual description in the book may seem suggest. Instead, evolutionary psych proposes that men evolved solutions to the problem of paternity certainty when they're engaged in long term mating strategies. Specifically, men were "evolved" to desire chastity, sexual fidelity, and abhorence for promiscuity in a long term mate. These long term "mating strategies" are hypothesized to be an evolved mechanism in men who have the challenge of paternity certainty.

Consciuos behavior, pre-conscious or unconscious desires are all involved here. Assuming that something has to be conscious to be driving behavior is a mis-understanding of psychological science.

They were simply describing the hypothesis around paternity certainty which is certaintly a cornerstone of theory of Evolutionary Psychology. Which is an area of research populated by both psychologists and biologists. With that further explanation, are you still convinced that they are misunderstanding natural selection?
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  #65  
Old 04-02-2011, 07:55 PM
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Interesting tidbit in the book: many traditional cultures to this day (African, Amazonian, Indonesian) believe the fetus is formed from sperm and the woman must have frequent sex before and while pregnant to start and grow the baby. From several men. This reduces the chance that we deal with in "mono" cultures of having an infertile husband who can't reproduce. Also, all these men will provide meat for the mother and child, making her assured of food from not one man, but several.
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  #66  
Old 04-02-2011, 08:03 PM
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I was looking for a quote to describe paternity certainty more fully, but didn't find one while I was writing above. Here's David Buss and David Schmitt's description...

"Given the tremendous effort that men sometimes expend for their children, we expect that natural selection would not produce men who dispensed it casuallly or indiscriminately... The sexes are asymmetrical in probability of parenthood. Because women, like all other mammals, conceive internally, theere is never any doubt about their parenthood. Maternity is 100% certain. Men can never be entirely sure. Because ovulation is concealed, or cryptic, in women, a man would have to sequester his mate for a period of months to be entirely sure. Even the, he has to sleep sometimes, and this opens the window of possibility of alien insemination."

From Buss & Schmitt (1992) Sexual Strategies Theory: An Evolutionary Perspective on Human Mating. Published in Psychological Review.
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  #67  
Old 04-03-2011, 02:00 AM
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Originally Posted by MindfulAgony View Post
I think your mixing things up a bit. While working towards a Ph.D. in psychology (unfinished) David Buss was a star in the department. I spent a lot of time with the evolutionary psych folks partly because I had some intellectual interest in the subject matter. But, admittedly, also because David had the hottest grad students in the department (even the males were hot). Anyway, back to our topic.

In the passage you take issue with, Ryan and Jetha are talking about the evolutionary psychology theory of parternity certainty. As they explain, it hypothesizes that selection would favor men who acted to invest in their own children versus others because that investment is costly. It does not actively presume that this is a conscious psychological process that the more casual description in the book may seem suggest. Instead, evolutionary psych proposes that men evolved solutions to the problem of paternity certainty when they're engaged in long term mating strategies. Specifically, men were "evolved" to desire chastity, sexual fidelity, and abhorence for promiscuity in a long term mate. These long term "mating strategies" are hypothesized to be an evolved mechanism in men who have the challenge of paternity certainty.

Consciuos behavior, pre-conscious or unconscious desires are all involved here. Assuming that something has to be conscious to be driving behavior is a mis-understanding of psychological science.

They were simply describing the hypothesis around paternity certainty which is certaintly a cornerstone of theory of Evolutionary Psychology. Which is an area of research populated by both psychologists and biologists. With that further explanation, are you still convinced that they are misunderstanding natural selection?
The quote that bothered me seemed to imply that the desire for paternity certainty was conscious--but it's entirely possible that it was one of those shorthand ways of describing evolutionary processes that seem to indicate motivation or goals where there are none. I've only gotten to just that passage, so they may backfill with more details that satisfy me.
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  #68  
Old 04-03-2011, 02:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Tonberry View Post
I'll admit that I don't fully understand evolutionary biology, but I'm not sure why producing offspring would be the only definition of success, or why you'd want to only care for your own offspring.
You can transmit other things than your genes, and from an evolutionary point of view it seems to me it certainly benefits the whole species when you take care of younglings that might grow to heal others, and so on. Obviously, for the species to survive, you need to carry on genes, but producing offsprings that survive to reproduce doesn't seem to me to be the only thing. Making sure people, whether your own offsprings or not, live to reproduce is also a good thing. Sometimes, having less offspring to give the ones who survive a better chance is good too.

I think there is a lot of benefit in social creatures to being there are a parent figure, with or without transmitting your genes. I'm speaking of both genders here, you have lots of stories about female animals who adopt and raise an orphan (sometimes of a different species, too), I think these provide advantages as well as they grow to help the rest of the tribe, as well as yourself when you're old. I think it carries the whole tribe and the whole species up.

There is much to survival of the species than sharing your genes is what I'm getting at. Sometimes, it might even be better to make sure you don't share them if you carry something that would endanger future generations or make them weaker. I don't think the species is as simple as each individual selfishly reproducing their own genes, I think there are also cooperative ways that we act naturally and that from an evolutionary point of view are useful to the species, yet have nothing to do with reproduction.

Actually, selection pressures don't act upon the species as a whole. Most research supports Dawkins' theory that evolution acts at the level of individual genes, although I think there are a number of biologists that disagree and believe it acts at the individual level. Basically, there is almost always a higher level of competition between individuals of the same species than there is between entire species or populations. Most kind acts that look selfless (caring for unrelated young, etc) have their basis in pretty selfish motivators (if I care for their young, they will return the favor later). If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend Dawkins' Selfish Gene or Stephen Jay Gould's The Panda's Thumb.

That's not to say that we shouldn't be cooperative or kind. It's dangerous to take moral cues from evolutionary processes, it's just that I find them pretty fascinating.
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  #69  
Old 04-06-2011, 12:00 AM
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I just finished Sex at Dawn and was happy to see the authors address current trends in contemporary life to deal with humans' natural need for sexual variety, in the last chapter. Polyamory, swinging and open relationships were all mentioned. So was the sad fact that most couples therapists today are not on the bangwagon, and try to enforce monogamy at all costs.
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  #70  
Old 04-06-2011, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Magdlyn View Post
I just finished Sex at Dawn and was happy to see the authors address current trends in contemporary life to deal with humans' natural need for sexual variety, in the last chapter. Polyamory, swinging and open relationships were all mentioned. So was the sad fact that most couples therapists today are not on the bangwagon, and try to enforce monogamy at all costs.
haha... semi comical side point. Could it be because most people seemingly suck at regular monogamous relationships and having multiple relationships will just be that much more tumultuous. Therapists might be more inclined to endorse non-monogamy if more people were better at being in a relationship with themselves first and then their lovers.

If I were a therapist, and saw cases roll through where the primary relationship wasn't doing well and someone took on another lover.. I would not be endorsing it either. With how high the ratio is on these poly sites, I wonder how negative it all feels to the therapists.
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