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  #91  
Old 04-12-2011, 11:45 PM
MrFarFromRight MrFarFromRight is offline
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To forestall possible commentary:
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You have to remember that all the "Tarzanists" - the ones who wrote books on the subject - were/are accredited professional evolutionists. Morgan was primarily a journalist and writer for television.
A professional journalist who knew how to research her material thoroughly... and wrote in an easy-to-follow style for the lay reader.
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  #92  
Old 04-13-2011, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by MrFarFromRight View Post
To forestall possible commentary:A professional journalist who knew how to research her material thoroughly... and wrote in an easy-to-follow style for the lay reader.
It is the case that a lay person can successfully refute common wisdom in a professional domain, but it is rarer in the scientific realms than other professions. Having a Ph.D. doesn't make you right. But, it does ensure a certain level of rigor in both developing knowledge in the field and an ability to contribute knowledge to that field.

I wouldn't dismiss a lay point of view out of hand. But, alternative theories need primary research to move into a position to topple the accepted theoretical framework in a field. The goal is not to come up with something plausible but provide a theory that's probable based on the evidence (the goal of primary research).

I haven't read Morgan's theory, but is more often than not the case that a professional journalist work does not meet the same standards of evidence as a professional researcher must meet when publishing scientific work.
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  #93  
Old 04-13-2011, 02:41 AM
MrFarFromRight MrFarFromRight is offline
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Originally Posted by MindfulAgony View Post
It is the case that a lay person can successfully refute common wisdom in a professional domain, but it is rarer in the scientific realms than other professions. Having a Ph.D. doesn't make you right. But, it does ensure a certain level of rigor in both developing knowledge in the field and an ability to contribute knowledge to that field.

I wouldn't dismiss a lay point of view out of hand. But, alternative theories need primary research to move into a position to topple the accepted theoretical framework in a field. The goal is not to come up with something plausible but provide a theory that's probable based on the evidence (the goal of primary research).

I haven't read Morgan's theory, but is more often than not the case that a professional journalist work does not meet the same standards of evidence as a professional researcher must meet when publishing scientific work.
If you look at the link I gave in my first comment - oh hell: I'll save you the bother of looking for it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elaine_Morgan_(writer) - you'll find (among other stuff):
Quote:
Morgan first became drawn into scientific writing when reading popularizers of the savannah hypothesis of human evolution such as Desmond Morris. She described her reaction as one of irritation because the explanations were largely male-centered. For instance, she thought that if humans lost their hair because they needed to sweat while chasing game on the savannah that did not explain why women should also lose their hair as, according to the savannah hypothesis, they would be looking after the children. On re-reading Desmond Morris's The Naked Ape she encountered a reference to a hypothesis that humans had for a time gone through a water phase, the so-called aquatic ape hypothesis. She contacted Morris on this and he directed her to Alister Hardy. Her first book The Descent of Woman (1972) was originally planned to pave the way for Hardy's more academic book, but Hardy never published his book. Morgan's first publication was mentioned by E. O. Wilson in 1975, comparing it to other 'advocacy approaches' such as The Imperial Animal[8] as an 'inevitable feminist' counter, but describing the method as less scientific than other contemporary hypotheses.[9] She accepted this criticism and so her later books were written on more scientific basis or more "po-faced" as she herself described it. As an outsider and a non-scientist she claims to have encountered hostility from academics. Consequently many of her books seem to be written as much to counter the many arguments put forth against the Aquatic Ape Theory as to advance its merits. Her position is summarised in her website.[10] The story of Morgan's quest to have the aquatic ape hypothesis taken seriously was chronicled in the 1998 BBC documentary "The Aquatic Ape".

Morgan's version of the AAH has achieved much popular appeal,[citation needed] but has never achieved significant acceptance or serious scrutiny within the scholarly community.[11][12][13] Despite this, Morgan continues to promote the theory, with invitations to speak at universities[14][14] and symposia[15] including a TED talk in 2009.[16]
So it was Morris who pointed her towards Hardy (although he himself didn't accept Hardy's theory.)

Hardy was a scientist (a zoologist) and if you use the link off that first link, you can read about him:
Quote:
In 1930, while reading Wood Jones' Man's Place among the Mammals, which included the question of why humans, unlike all other land mammals, had fat attached to their skin, Hardy realized that this trait sounded like the blubber of marine mammals, and began to suspect that humans had ancestors that were more aquatic than previously imagined. Fearing the backlash of such a radically different idea, he kept this hypothesis secret until 1960, when he spoke, and later wrote, on the subject, which subsequently became known as the aquatic ape hypothesis in academic circles.
The underlining is mine. Radically new scientific theories always have a tough time in challenging established ideas. Purely on a commercial basis, if Hardy's (and Morgan's) aquatic hypothesis became the accepted standard, Morris' "The Naked Ape" - published in 1967 and probably still the most famous (and best-selling) book for the lay reader on evolution theory - would be relegated to a literary backwater. On a professional pride level, Morris and those who have pooh-poohed the aquatic theory would be left with egg on their faces.

How's this for an quote?
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After graduating, Einstein spent almost two frustrating years searching for a teaching post, but a former classmate's father helped him secure a job in Bern, at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property, the patent office, as an assistant examiner.[28] He evaluated patent applications for electromagnetic devices. In 1903, Einstein's position at the Swiss Patent Office became permanent, although he was passed over for promotion until he "fully mastered machine technology".
It was while Einstein was working in that patent office [let's repeat this: having been disregarded by the scientific powers-that-be] that he did the work that later won him the Nobel Physics Prize. (Contrary to popular belief, it wasn't for his more famous Theory Of Relativity.)

Please don't let's allow this thread (originally about "Sex At Dawn") to be further highjacked into a discussion of Einstein!

The point that I originally wanted to make was that - no matter how widely-accepted, no matter how scientific-hierarchically approved, no matter how appealing to the lay reader - a hypothesis is a hypothesis. "Sex At Dawn" and "The Descent Of Woman" may both be - for all we know - spot-on in their theories... or both a load of populist bunk.

Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice.
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Old 04-13-2011, 02:55 AM
MrFarFromRight MrFarFromRight is offline
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The goal is not to come up with something plausible but provide a theory that's probable based on the evidence (the goal of primary research).
So where's the "rigor" or the "evidence" to assert that female proto-humans developed fatty breasts to mimic their buttocks, so that male would accept sex at the front??? That one was advanced by a qualified scientist! As well as the one about losing hair for coolness and putting on fat for nighttime warmth. How many humans do you know who can unzip their layer of fat to go hunting in the hot sun? (I know that there are thousands who wish that they could!)

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Originally Posted by MindfulAgony View Post
I haven't read Morgan's theory, but is more often than not the case that a professional journalist work does not meet the same standards of evidence as a professional researcher must meet when publishing scientific work.
So, read it! [That's what I've been advising all along.] And then come back and tell me how it falls short in scientific rigor...
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  #95  
Old 04-13-2011, 04:49 AM
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And you are missing the point.

Einstein's theories WERE controversial until (a) he was able to prove that they were mathematically consistent. He needed to develop the mathematical "proof" which he did about the same time as a mathematician completed the proof. And (b) his theories were further reinforced through direct observation (specifically, star light bending around a solar eclipse). There were many teams of astronomers trying to be the first to prove or disprove Einstein's theory with this test. But, they were very controversial until those two things happened - many years after he published his three foundational papers.

Extra-ordinary claims require evidence. Any theory that's inconsistent with prevailing theories are going to be considered radical.

I'm not familiar with the science. So, I can't tell you the evidence for any of the theories.

My point was quite simply that scientific process is based on finding evidence for theories. Theories that can not be tested with evidence (even if circumstantial) are philosophy not science.

I'm neither trying to refute her claims nor reinforce the prevailing paradigm. What I am saying is that there are good, useful and valid reasons why a lay person's theory doesn't get traction in the scientific community.
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Old 04-13-2011, 05:01 AM
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Originally Posted by MrFarFromRight View Post
The point that I originally wanted to make was that - no matter how widely-accepted, no matter how scientific-hierarchically approved, no matter how appealing to the lay reader - a hypothesis is a hypothesis. "Sex At Dawn" and "The Descent Of Woman" may both be - for all we know - spot-on in their theories... or both a load of populist bunk.

Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice.
The scientist would probably say that not all hypothesis are equal. It's not a crap shoot. It is, however, an empirical question. Every scientific hypothesis should be tested to see if it is consistent with the data. As we get more data, there's more inconsistencies discovered in current dominant theories. At some point, alternative hypotheses will be adopted that can explain a larger proportion of the available data. Thus, marches science forward.

It ain't perfect. But, it is the best we know how to uncover truth.

It is true that every scientific theory, hypothesis and proposition are held to scientific rigor and therefore have some chance of being proven false or incomplete. But, that's very different from saying that they all have an equal chance of being true, which is far from the case.
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Last edited by MindfulAgony; 04-13-2011 at 05:35 AM. Reason: spelling :-/
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Old 04-13-2011, 05:48 AM
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And, now I feel compelled to tie this all back to the original topic. What Ryan and Jetha have done is to
(a) provide alternative theory to explain current data,
(b) suggest current data is partially corrupted by experimental contact (ex., chimps were made more aggressive than natural because of using feeding to make the chimps easier to study),
(c) widen the pool of data that isn't being considered or is under-weighted (ex., the bonobo as equally appropriate as a subject of comparative biology as the the chimps), and
(d) presenting additional testable propositions (specifically with respect to immediate return hunter gatherers).

From my point of view, it was impressive in covering so many of the basis that lead to breaking down a set of theoretical assumptions.

Is it a better theory than the so-called standard narrative? The answer to that question has to play out as people compare the current evidence, develop new ways to test the theory, and see if it compares favorably against the current paradigm.

I enjoyed the book because it is, in part, a well founded and expertly argued scientific critique and, in part, just very good story telling.
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  #98  
Old 05-28-2011, 03:28 PM
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Nearly a year later, I still this book is one of the most important things to hit the poly movement in a very long time. Here's why:
http://polyinthemedia.blogspot.com/2...-movement.html

And here's my earlier article about <i>Sex at Dawn</i>:
http://polyinthemedia.blogspot.com/2...-roots-of.html

Alan M.
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Old 05-29-2011, 02:16 PM
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To me there's a lot more said in this book than the title - or all the commentary - completely captures.

What struck me (and I think this was even quite literally mentioned in a place or two) is that the ramifications of this are a culture wide concern.

It's not about "sex" per se.
It's not about "love" (poly, mono or otherwise)

It's about those pieces of the lives of a very social and fragile species.

Many thinkers and authors have have bemoaned the fall of the 'tribal' lifestyle. There's been much written about the fact that we humans do not fare well in very large groups. We don't fare well when we become disconnected from 'nature' - the natural world around us. We cannot substitute money and physical possessions for a warm breeze, a cool drink or a sweet fruit.
Preferably in the company of our tribe that we can share all this with.
That we can depend on each other for.

"Sex" is only a small part of this and the meaning of the term "love" is subtly woven through this existence.

To me, Ryan and Jetha are trying to impress this point.

We have - and are continuing to - lose/lost a lot ! But 'nature' has it's way of establishing balance. As it guides us carefully towards our own destruction.

GS
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Old 05-29-2011, 02:46 PM
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Yes, we have been losing, and have lost, a lot. Especially in "advanced" (capitalist-industrial modern) society, which commodifies nearly everything.

From - http://polyinthemedia.blogspot.com/2...-movement.html :

"...Of course, one of the big unanswered questions is why is jealousy such a powerful emotion, especially if monogamy was never meant to be such a big deal, and paternity certainty isn't as paramount as we at first thought. The standard evolutionary explanation holds that jealousy helps to ensure paternity certainty — making a man more sure about whether a child who emerges from a new mother's loins is his own. But Ryan argues this is a cultural construct with an economic justification. In its basic form, he says, jealousy is just fear of losing something that seems essential. "If you look at sexuality as a commodity — as it is now and has been for 10,000 years, more or less — it makes perfect sense that people are very afraid of losing it, because like all other commodities, it exists in the context of scarcity," he says. "So we fear losing our lover or relationship because we can't imagine ever replacing that feeling that we get from that person — that feeling of security, that feeling of intimacy. "If you imagine a society in which sexual pleasure — and intimacy and companionship and help with the kids and all the rest of it — was not a commodity and was not a scarce commodity, then people wouldn't be scared of losing it."..."


Edit:

Is it not obvious that the taboo on non-monogamy ("enforced monogamy") actually creates crucial conditions of scarcity in the love-sex domain? If we overtrow this cultural norm, we likely won't have so much of that addictive seeking after surrugate needs (as I like to call them). Examples of "surrogate needs" are consumerism / materialism and status-seeking--which addictive pursuits not only tend to erode the quality of our relationships with one another, but with all of life (as in environmental, ecological destruction). I see the modern world as a vast surrogate needs machine fueld by (a) being out of touch with our real needs and (b) seeking instead the culture's advertised and sanctioned pseudo needs and wants. Mainstream American culture (for exampe) needs us to devote ourselves to pseudo needs and pseudo lives, in which we are chronically unfulfilled. Our insatiable desire is its main product, with which it hopes to grow the GDP into the stratosphere. Gawd forbid that people should find greater satisfaction leading materially simple lives focussed on quality relationships and non-consumptive pleasures!
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Last edited by River; 05-29-2011 at 08:08 PM.
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