Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#21  Postby Precambrian Rabbi » Dec 23, 2012 7:30 am

Mr.Samsa wrote:
Beatsong wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:
Reeve wrote:Although, taking the step back from asking "What are they?"; first of all: Should we expect to find them?


Hard to say for sure. It's possible that there are no differences at all and there's no reason to expect that there will definitely be differences, so I don't think we should expect to find them.


Of course we should expect to find them.

The fact that there are similar, clear and consistent differences between the behaviours of the sexes in those other species most related to us - without any influence of culture - is the first clue.


But the point I was making was that there is no necessary reason for us to think that we should expect to find them. There are good reasons to suspect that there may be differences, like you mention, but I don't think this justifies a strong claim like "we should expect to find them".

I may be being overly simplistic here, but if you accept the following two premises -

1) The optimal probability of genes being passed into the next generation is, and has been, reliant on different behaviour in women than in men.

2) Genes have at least some ability to affect behaviour.

It seems to me that you would need to have a pretty good reasons to not expect differential behaviour between women and men to have a genetic, hard-wired, component.
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#22  Postby Beatsong » Dec 23, 2012 12:23 pm

:this: That's kind of what I meant. The assumption of no innate differences until irrefutable evidence proves them is ITSELF an assumption, and one that seems to contradict the observable facts of what contributes to behaviour.

And great references Cali. :cheers:
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#23  Postby Clive Durdle » Dec 23, 2012 1:10 pm

almost chimpanzee creatures


Bonobos?
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#24  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Dec 23, 2012 6:17 pm

My 2cents:-

I think there is a lot of confusion, particularly in evo-psych -about how behavioural traits evolve. In particular, the causes for the origin of a trait may not necessarily be the same as the causes for the maintenence of a trait. Conditions change and traits can take on new functions. The paper below is about eusociality, but it illustrates the principle:-

Hughes, W. O. H., B. P. Oldroyd, et al. (2008). "Ancestral Monogamy Shows Kin Selection Is Key to the Evolution of Eusociality." Science 320(5880): 1213-1216.
Close relatedness has long been considered crucial to the evolution of eusociality. However, it has recently been suggested that close relatedness may be a consequence, rather than a cause, of eusociality. We tested this idea with a comparative analysis of female mating frequencies in 267 species of eusocial bees, wasps, and ants. We found that mating with a single male, which maximizes relatedness, is ancestral for all eight independent eusocial lineages that we investigated. Mating with multiple males is always derived. Furthermore, we found that high polyandry (>2 effective mates) occurs only in lineages whose workers have lost reproductive totipotency. These results provide the first evidence that monogamy was critical in the evolution of eusociality, strongly supporting the prediction of inclusive fitness theory.


http://www.sciencemag.org/content/320/5 ... 3.abstract

There is almost certainly genetic contribution to human behavioural sexual dimorphism as there is to physical dimorphism. But genetic and/or epigenetic contributions may be highly influenced [either reinforced or reduced] by animal brains acting in 'real time", and this may be as true for fruit flies as it is for humans. 10,000 neurons in the fly compared to the billions in humans does seem a wide gap, but drosophila behaviour can be quite complex, and it is clear that they are not total puppets of their "behavioural genes" than humans are, although these genes can and do determine behavioural trends. The whole benefit of an expensive to produce and maintain sensory and nervous system is to react appropriately to environmental stimulii in real time, rather than having to depend on gene/allele frequencies to tune behaviour over generations.
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#25  Postby Mr.Samsa » Dec 24, 2012 1:14 am

Beatsong wrote:
But the point I was making was that there is no necessary reason for us to think that we should expect to find them. There are good reasons to suspect that there may be differences, like you mention, but I don't think this justifies a strong claim like "we should expect to find them".


We may be interpreting the phrase "expect to find them" differently. I didn't see that as suggesting that there is positive, undeniable proof of them; only that the likelihood that they are there is higher than the likelihood that they are not. I saw "expect to find" as referring to where we think we are most likely to find the evidence, in the absence of having sound the evidence YET.


It wasn't the "expect to find" that I was interpreting as making a stronger claim, but rather the "should" part of that sentence. Reeve can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure he was actually asking whether we should expect to find differences, rather than whether it's possible there are differences. To the former I'd still answer 'no', and to the latter I'd say 'yes'.

Beatsong wrote:

Occam's razor doesn't work that way. You have to present the evidence first and find which explanation accounts for the most data with the least amount of assumptions - we don't simply look at the answer which is the simplest.


But what I've presented IS evidence. It may not be definitive proof, but it is evidence.


It's not empirical evidence, it's logical evidence. Logical evidence is great for forming connections and informing future research areas, but we can't use generalisations and inferences to invoke Occam's razor, it simply doesn't work that way.

Beatsong wrote:All mammals suckle their young, have hair, are warm blooded etc. etc. If we discovered a species that conformed to the accepted description of "mammal" in every way we know of except for one, then we would expect, before finding the evidence to confirm it, that that remaining way would conform as well - at the very least, that it is more likely to conform than not.


Except if the species we are talking about is recognised for being near-unique in the fact that it has not retained any of the instincts from its ancestors. Given that the selection pressures on humans have largely centred around an organism that needs to learn and adapt to its environment, where instincts and fixed innate behaviors would be detrimental to such ends, it is reasonable to withhold coming to conclusions based on species which differ fundamentally on those key aspects.

Beatsong wrote:
Importantly, there are huge and significant differences in the physiological and psychological development of humans compared to chimps, so using the same pseudo-Occam's principle, we could equally say that it is unreasonable to assume that similarities in other species will translate to humans.


Nobody's assuming anything - we're simply talking about what is most likely.


Based on the assumption that it's reasonable to translate the scarce evidence of behavioral differences of the sexes in related species to humans. There's nothing wrong with making assumptions, as long as it's not treated as evidence in itself.

Beatsong wrote:And 98% of the genetic makeup to chimpanzees and humans is the same. We have much the same organs situated in the same places doing the same things. Of course there are differences, but given the total variety of organisms in the world and the variety of ways it is possible for them to develop, the differences are massively dwarfed by the similarites.


A 2% difference is so unimaginably massive when discussing genetics, especially when we're assuming that these genetic differences will translate into behavioral differences.

Beatsong wrote:
The point is not that there are no differences, but all I'm saying is that we need evidence before even bringing up Occam.


But don't you also need evidence of the opposite?


If someone were to claim that there are no differences, or that we should expect no differences, then yes definitely - I would equally demand that they present evidence of their claims.

Beatsong wrote:In fact it seems to be you who is doing the assuming. You seem to think we should assume a default starting point that there are no differences between men and women, and that evidence gained from other species is irrelevant, until we have absolute compelling evidence to the contrary. But you have not provided any basis for that assumption. There is no actual reason why a difference of zero between human males and females is any more likely than a difference of some other magnitude.


I have made no such assumption. My only position is that I don't think it's necessarily true that we will find behavioral differences between men and women. This does not mean that I think it's true that we won't find differences in the same way that refusing to accept that aliens necessarily exist means that I believe they don't exist.

Beatsong wrote:
Sure, we can certainly argue that the brains of men and women could have evolved differently to deal with different issues. The problematic part is the assumption that differences in the physiology of the brain will result in differences in behavioral patterns.


But they invariably do, in every area that we know anything much about.


Not at all, definitely not.

Beatsong wrote:
It's not ridiculous at all. Knowing that there are different physiological effects in different sexes gives us reason to suspect that there are differences in brain physiology, and differences in brain physiology gives us reason to suspect that there are differences in behavior, but this isn't a deductive argument and one does not necessarily lead to the other. It would be premature and unscientific to assume that we should expect to see behavioral differences due to differences in brain physiology.


Again, I haven't assumed anything. But given the importance of the brain in all aspects of behaviour where its role has been studied, it would be more likely that the two are linked than not - which is the way the OP was framed. If evidence emerges to the contrary, then I will be surprised but I won't ignore it. You presumeably agree with this anyway because if you didn't, why would one give you "reason to suspect" the other?


It is simply not true that differences in brain physiology leads to behavioral differences - there is no part of neuroscience or psychology that would or could ever support such a claim as it is patently false. Brain physiology can result in differences in behavior, which is why I say that it can be used as a reason to suspect behavioral differences, but it is not an argument in itself. Just compare human brains with insect "brains" - insects don't even have brains as such, yet they interact with their world according to the exact same laws of learning as humans do. The point being that extremely major differences in brain structure and physiology can still result in remarkably similarly behaviors, so minor differences between the brain physiology in the sexes of the same species is not enough to deduce differences in behavior.

Beatsong wrote:
And that's interesting but it would essentially work against the point you're making. If men and women have evolved different brains due to the differences in levels of hormones and other brain chemicals, then flooding a "female brain" with "male chemicals" would tell us nothing about how a "male brain" is affected by or processes "male chemicals".


No that doesn't make any sense. Postulating differences between male and female brains doesn't suggest that they are like aliens from different planets and nothing is similar about them! Any reference to such difference is a reference to statistical averages.


There's no need to assume they're like aliens, but from a scientific perspective they are radically different samples. You can't reach conclusions about one sample population by comparing it to another sample population that differs on a number of measures.

Beatsong wrote:For example the idea that men are better at maths and women are better at language. The jury is still out on the nature/nurture question in relation to that, but ignoring that for the moment, it doesn't mean that the way women process language tells us NOTHING about ho men process language! They are differences of degree, emphasis, etc. within the same basic organ. And indeed we know that certain sex hormones do have similar effects upon the behaviour of men and women, so it would make complete sense that they also have similar effects upon brain development.


The reason why we can use information from women in those situations is because scientists don't assume that the physiology of the brain has evolved differently between men and women to cause behavioral differences in the areas they are studying. If they did believe that the physiology was different, and produced behavioral differences, then it would be absurd to inject a sample of women with male hormones, measure their results, and argue that they've replicated the results they would have found if they had measured men.

Beatsong wrote:
You are presenting a very narrow form of learning there. Learning is not limited to explicit learning (i.e. teaching) or observational learning (seeing another individual perform the behavior). It also comes about through the natural interaction with its environment. When you have organisms with the same basic traits and they're placed in the same basic environment, then it is inevitable that they will perform some behaviors which are exactly the same purely as a result of environmental factors. For example, a popular example when teaching this topic of species-specific constraints producing universal behaviors is the fact that all people, of all cultures, of all times, have always eaten hot liquids from a curved container (e.g. bowl or cup) rather than something flat like a plate. Is this because there are innate predispositions which lead to a "eat-soup-from-a-bowl instinct"? Of course not, it comes about because being burnt is aversive to all humans, and the fact that flat plates result in hot liquids like soup spilling over into our laps.


Interesting angle. But how are the environmental factors influencing the males of most mammal species so very different from thos influencing the females, that this learning would be so consistently stratified along sex lines?


The males and females of most species have significantly different physiological designs (e.g. males tend to be larger), and this would necessarily produce consistent gender differences. These differences can result in different rewards and punishments for engaging in different acts, for example, male infants are able to play rougher without hurting themselves as much as smaller females, and so the males will tend towards activities of that nature and the females will tend towards quieter activities. In chimpanzees, for example, this occurs when young males start hanging out with the older males and imitate charging displays, whereas the young females hang out with the older females and practice taking care of the young.

Beatsong wrote:
The fact that learning often produces universal behaviors is exactly that; a scientific fact. The existence of these behaviors is what prompts us to be able to distinguish an innate cause from a learnt one when looking at universal behaviors. Sure, in many cases we can argue that it's "reasonable" to assume innate over learning, or we can assume that it's probably an evolutionary adaptation, but science requires more than that to reach conclusions - we need evidence. I have absolutely no problem accepting that there are sex differences in the manifestation of mating behaviors, but if someone presents a specific example that they believe demonstrates this, then I'll be interested and ask them for a link to the study which attempted to distinguish innate explanations from learning explanations. If no studies can be found, I'll remain skeptical of concrete conclusions.


But what you actually seem to be saying is that if no studies can be found, you'll ASSUME that the sex differences are due to learning rather than innate factors.

Why?


This is not at all representative of anything I've said. My position has consistently been: "There is no reason to believe that there necessarily will be differences between men and women, but there is reason to suspect that there might be".

If a sex difference is found then evidence needs to be presented for whatever claim is made. If the claim is that the difference is innate, then I want to see evidence. If the claim is that the difference is learnt, then I want to see evidence.

Precambrian Rabbi wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:
But the point I was making was that there is no necessary reason for us to think that we should expect to find them. There are good reasons to suspect that there may be differences, like you mention, but I don't think this justifies a strong claim like "we should expect to find them".

I may be being overly simplistic here, but if you accept the following two premises -

1) The optimal probability of genes being passed into the next generation is, and has been, reliant on different behaviour in women than in men.

2) Genes have at least some ability to affect behaviour.

It seems to me that you would need to have a pretty good reasons to not expect differential behaviour between women and men to have a genetic, hard-wired, component.


I don't think the first premise is true. I think we're putting the cart before the horse a little here though: before claiming that we need good reasons to not expect differential behavior between men and women to have a genetic, hard-wired, component, I think we first need to find a sex difference. We also have to take into account the fact that most sex differences in other species are instinctual, and humans have no recognised instincts (excluding physiological reflexes like the knee-jerk response). This means that any innate sex difference would be the result of a much vaguer genetic predisposition and so will be heavily affected by our learning capabilities, which could result in many actual innate differences disappearing when we get to the behavioral level.
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#26  Postby DavidMcC » Dec 24, 2012 12:12 pm

[quote="Mr.Samsa]I don't think the first premise is true. I think we're putting the cart before the horse a little here though: before claiming that we need good reasons to not expect differential behavior between men and women to have a genetic, hard-wired, component, I think we first need to find a sex difference.[/quote]

2010 NIH paper: IS MALE BRAIN DIFFERENT FROM FEMALE BRAIN?

...
Today we know that at least in rodents, it is testosterone metabolite estradiol that masculinizes the brain. We know that brain structure could be altered by hormones in different periods including puberty and probably even in adult life. We know many locations in the brain where sex steroid hormones act to cause permanent structural changes.
...

I take it that structural changes in the brain can cause behavioural differences.
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#27  Postby ElDiablo » Dec 24, 2012 6:17 pm

:popcorn:
God is silly putty.
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#28  Postby Beatsong » Dec 24, 2012 6:45 pm

Mr.Samsa wrote:Interesting angle. But how are the environmental factors influencing the males of most mammal species so very different from thos influencing the females, that this learning would be so consistently stratified along sex lines?


The males and females of most species have significantly different physiological designs (e.g. males tend to be larger), and this would necessarily produce consistent gender differences. These differences can result in different rewards and punishments for engaging in different acts, for example, male infants are able to play rougher without hurting themselves as much as smaller females, and so the males will tend towards activities of that nature and the females will tend towards quieter activities. In chimpanzees, for example, this occurs when young males start hanging out with the older males and imitate charging displays, whereas the young females hang out with the older females and practice taking care of the young.


But if that were the basis for it, we would see typically male levels of typically male traits, in those females who just happened to have been born as physically large as males. And typically female levels of typically female traits, in those males who happened to be physically small.

Nothing like this is the case in reality. Degrees of both kinds of traits do of course vary among both sexes, but not in simple ratio to physical size. You would have to be seriously resistent to the idea of innate male-female differences to postulate this as more likely than them, when it s contradicts the observed evidence.

Then you would need further explanations for things like differences in sexual behaviour etc, which account for their remarkable consistency across different cultures - while also allowing that the sheer extent to which individuals resemble those of the opposite sex, is no indication of how much they behave like those of the opposite sex.

As we have seen and have documented evidence of, however, certain hormone levels ARE such an indication.

Mr.Samsa wrote:
Beatsong wrote:
But the point I was making was that there is no necessary reason for us to think that we should expect to find them. There are good reasons to suspect that there may be differences, like you mention, but I don't think this justifies a strong claim like "we should expect to find them".


We may be interpreting the phrase "expect to find them" differently. I didn't see that as suggesting that there is positive, undeniable proof of them; only that the likelihood that they are there is higher than the likelihood that they are not. I saw "expect to find" as referring to where we think we are most likely to find the evidence, in the absence of having sound the evidence YET.


It wasn't the "expect to find" that I was interpreting as making a stronger claim, but rather the "should" part of that sentence. Reeve can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure he was actually asking whether we should expect to find differences, rather than whether it's possible there are differences. To the former I'd still answer 'no', and to the latter I'd say 'yes'.


The statement that we "should expect to find" something only indicates that it is more likely than its opposite. The fact that the sun comes up every morning meant that prehistoric people - even without the scientific knowledge we have of why it happens - "expected to find" that it would do the same the following morning. They didn't just say "oh, we don't fully understand it, so it must be a 50/50 chance."

You don't seem to recognise any state between "both are possible, but we have NO idea which is more likely so we must make no statement either way", and "we know with absolute certainty which is correct". This is strange - the reality of human knowledge is that we are often somewhere between those states, making an estimation of which answer is more LIKELY, given the incomplete nature of our knowledge. (Indeed one could argue that that is what we do most of the time, even when we fool ourselves that our knowledge is "certain").

There is far more evidence for there being some innate differences between male and female behaviour than for there being none. I've presented some in this thread, as have Cali and others. There's a lot more out there. I don't see any real evidence for there being none, other than some rather implausible accounts of how the divide could be accounted for by things like physical size - even though the behaviours we're looking at don't vary along those lines, they just vary by sex.

Mr.Samsa wrote:I think we're putting the cart before the horse a little here though: before claiming that we need good reasons to not expect differential behavior between men and women to have a genetic, hard-wired, component, I think we first need to find a sex difference.


I don't understand this. There are loads of well documented differences in behaviour between human males and females - the only question is whether they're hardwired or not.

We also have to take into account the fact that most sex differences in other species are instinctual, and humans have no recognised instincts (excluding physiological reflexes like the knee-jerk response). This means that any innate sex difference would be the result of a much vaguer genetic predisposition and so will be heavily affected by our learning capabilities, which could result in many actual innate differences disappearing when we get to the behavioral level.


Of course humans have instincts. All of our babies would long ago have starved to death if we didn't. :scratch:
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#29  Postby kennyc » Dec 26, 2012 12:30 pm

Reeve wrote:I mean specifically behaviour.



Absolutely. The only question is "how much" hardwired and it's individual effect.

I think it varies across individuals as do most things behavioral or physical.
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#30  Postby kennyc » Dec 26, 2012 12:32 pm

tuco wrote:Maybe hard-wired by some code ;)


Now. Stop That! :lol:
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#31  Postby TMB » Jan 02, 2013 11:08 pm

Reeve,
It seems that your question has raised the usual ‘dance the tangent’ and drowning in the semantic bog seems inevitable that occurs when we try to ‘communicate’ even in the name of rationality.

What exactly do you mean by hardwired, and why are you framing the question in this way, instead of trying to just understand the differences and similarities between men and women and then describe them as they are in simple terms, instead of trying to prove or disprove a specific premise based around the ambiguous terminology ‘hard wired’?

If we are trying to understand reality rather than defending preconceived positions, surely the logical starting point is to ask if physical differences can/do create behavioural differences in living entities. If there is a case where having 4 as opposed to 2 legs, or wings as opposed to fins leads to behavioural differences then a basis is established that physical differences will affect behaviour. Then assess if we can forecast these behaviours to be consistent across all members of the group in all situations etc.

Logically the argument does hold that a physical difference will often affect the behaviour but accurate projections and type will vary depending upon the environment, the degree of physical difference etc. So it means that while it is certainly possible that our physical state affects our behavioural state, each case should be assessed based upon various criteria.
Then you need to decide if the above cases can be described as ‘hardwired’ and I think this is where you will run into trouble using a non specific and ambiguous term like this. If we are born with legs does this mean we are ‘hardwired’ to walk, or fins making us ‘hardwired’ to swim?

Since I have so far taken a distant position from human males and females, lets ask if having a penis and testes with their associated hormones and functions will produce different behaviours from someone with a vulva and ovaries also with their implicit differences (assuming a normal phenotype). There are differences in musculature, brain chemistry etc, between men and women and while some are controversial, there are enough to be sure that there are physical differences between men and women. Do these differences make us behave differently? Does taking a standing piss versus a sitting one, qualify as a behavioural difference? Does being a ‘penetrator’ as opposed to a ‘penetrated’ make us behave differently, and if it does can we accurately and consistently project those different behaviours, and if we can, shall we define them as ‘hard-wired’

My perception of the debate thus far is that some of the posters are defending political positions and are supporting (or not) the OP along the lines of how this will affect their political position.
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#32  Postby Reeve » Jan 08, 2013 12:23 pm

TMB wrote:Reeve,
It seems that your question has raised the usual ‘dance the tangent’ and drowning in the semantic bog seems inevitable that occurs when we try to ‘communicate’ even in the name of rationality.

What exactly do you mean by hardwired, and why are you framing the question in this way, instead of trying to just understand the differences and similarities between men and women and then describe them as they are in simple terms, instead of trying to prove or disprove a specific premise based around the ambiguous terminology ‘hard wired’?


I meant something that's inherited in the biology that you couldn't change even if you wanted to (except by technology) - that's general across everyone.
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archibald wrote:I don't take Reeve seriously. I don't think he takes himself seriously.
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#33  Postby Rilx » Jan 08, 2013 1:17 pm

What do you guys think of baby fever?
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#34  Postby TMB » Jan 09, 2013 4:49 am

Reeve wrote:
TMB wrote:Reeve,
It seems that your question has raised the usual ‘dance the tangent’ and drowning in the semantic bog seems inevitable that occurs when we try to ‘communicate’ even in the name of rationality.

What exactly do you mean by hardwired, and why are you framing the question in this way, instead of trying to just understand the differences and similarities between men and women and then describe them as they are in simple terms, instead of trying to prove or disprove a specific premise based around the ambiguous terminology ‘hard wired’?


I meant something that's inherited in the biology that you couldn't change even if you wanted to (except by technology) - that's general across everyone.


OK so you are looking for behaviors that cannot be changed under any conditions (except by technology) and are different between men and women? framing the criteria like that I would suggest that there is only one single behavior that is immutable for all species and genders. This means that in answer to your OP, it means there are no behaviors that are different to men and women that are hard wired - unchangeable.
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#35  Postby Precambrian Rabbi » Jan 09, 2013 12:17 pm

Rilx wrote:What do you guys think of baby fever?

That the only prescription is more baby cowbell? :dunno:
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Re: Hard-wired behaviours in human males and females?

#36  Postby ecarolus » Jan 26, 2017 9:59 am

Oldskeptic wrote:
for example, mountain goats practicing butting heads as kids, and then using it when they're older to fight for resources - no hard-wiring needed).

A problem with that logic. Where/when/why did the initial goat learn to do that?
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