Posted: Jan 10, 2011 8:42 am
by tribalypredisposed
Please people, if you want to debate with me all I ask is that you keep your words out of my mouth. That is not asking a lot, I think.

Mr.Samsa wrote:
tribalypredisposed wrote:This is a huge claim, the "no innate connection" claim. And it seems to be flat-out wrong. There are universal differences in the normal range of certain behaviors which differ between the two genders. Yes, there can still be significant overlap, but the averages of certain behaviors, for example rough and tumble play, do have a strong innate component determined by gender.

I think the point Beatsong was making was that obviously gender and sex are determined by two different things (i.e. sex does not equal gender) - I'm sure he wasn't denying the possibility that one's sex influences one's gender.

However, I'm confused by your example. Do you have a reference for your claim that "rough and tumble play" is determined by biological sex? Given the work done by Bandura and what we know about social influences on gender, as far as I know "rough and tumble play" has not been identified as a sex-specific activity. Instead it seems that this kind of "observation" actually falls into the realm of gender myths, like the belief that women talk more than men, that men are innately better at reading maps, or that men are more aggressive than women etc.

tribalypredisposed wrote:The idea that there is "no innate connection" between gender and expressed behavior inherently depends on the idea that human behavior is not the product of evolution. To me this is Flat-Earth territory, since there is no scientifically sound hypothesis which can describe how our ancestors, alone of all Mammals, evolved without evolution selecting for both behaviors and structural features. Which is to say that when we look under the covers of the trendy politically-correct view that gender is purely culturally constructed we find folks who are forced to assert that humans did not evolve. When we get right down to it humans obviously are built differently physically, and this reflects different optimal fitness strategies for the two genders (as Evolutionary Psychology obsessively informs us). It is very rare, for example and for evolutionarily understandable reasons, for females to be directly involved in combat in war. So we should not be surprised that boys are far more likely to practice skills needed in combat in the form of play than girls are.

Well you've gone too far there. Yes, the brain is an evolved organ but this doesn't mean that all of our behaviors are selected for by evolution. Even if we ignore things like spandrels, we still have the obvious fact that a large portion of our behaviors have nothing to do with evolution and rather it's just general "learning algorithms" which have an evolutionary link. In other words, trying to find an evolutionary explanation for suicidal behavior is ridiculous, but when we explain it according to basic learning rules it makes more sense.

The kind of thinking that leads to the idea that all behaviors are the product of evolution is the cartoon view of creationists. Obviously no scientist believes anything like that.

tribalypredisposed wrote:There was a recent study which I can track down if anyone cares enough that showed that belief in this idea about gender declines very sharply in the group of people who have had children. Those who are most likely to believe it are Women's Studies and Sociology academics who are childless.

That's certainly interesting, but on the flip side I can link you to hundreds of studies showing that parents are extremely poor at identifying causes of behavior in their children, and can usually only guess at things they like and don't like at a level slightly above chance. So what parents believe is entirely irrelevant because parents are terrible predictors of behavior. This isn't a stab at parents, instead it's a result of the fact that parents have a clear bias and personal interest in the conclusions they draw from analysing their kids, so either consciously or unconsciously they draw bad results.

The contradictory results you are referring to aren't solely discussed in Women's Studies and Sociology classes (which you seem to bring up as a criticism of the validity of their conclusions), and it's pretty universal across all scientific disciplines - neuroscience, experimental psychology, anthropology, etc. Any area that studies human behavior will likely have reached the general consensus that a lot of the things we believe characterise gender, usually don't.

tribalypredisposed wrote:Sure, again, there is variation. Some women are way more macho than me. My mother-in-law, for one. But variation is what evolution selects from, and its existence in no way disproves a role for the "innate" in a behavior. The question is whether or not a behavioral range is universal and seems to be based on evolved predispositions. There are a number of examples of these ranges differing between genders. Of course, culture can alter how these predispositions express, no one is arguing for determinism either. But the assertion that gender is a purely cultural construct and our genes have no part in creating divergent averages or ranges of behavior cannot be correct unless the Theory of Evolution is wrong.

I don't think anyone is actually arguing that gender is purely a cultural construct (at least not in the sense that biology plays absolutely no part), instead they're just pointing out that when looking at gender, biological sex is not a perfect predictor.

With that said, however, there is nothing logically that would force us to reject the theory of evolution by suggesting that gender is a purely social construct. This is because evolution does not determine all of our behaviors, and sometimes it is entirely irrelevant to consider. For example, say we are looking at someone's behavior in a choice situation where they can pick A or B. Since both options rely on the same evolved learning mechanisms, there is no need to consider the theory of evolution and instead we just need to look at the environmental variables. So we can say that if a person chooses option A, then it's a "purely" environmental/social decision, given that the genetic influences were equal in both options.

1)I never said anything approaching the bolded and underlined section of your post, where you strongly imply that the opposite is the case by saying I have "gone too far." If you want to discuss things with me, discuss them with me and not some straw man version of me that you construct. Okay? I am starting to see this as a general feature of the argumentation of the posters here and it pisses me off. If you guys want interesting folks with some smarts and knowledge to stick around here, that needs to stop.

2)Your first sentence of your last paragraph can only be written by someone who has not grasped the Theory of Evolution. The rest of that paragraph assumes that all types of "behavior" would be equally subject to evolutionary selection, which is a farcical assumption. Clearly behavior that has some relevance to reproduction is more subject to evolutionary selection than a preference to wear one's hair in pony tails instead of a bun, and clearly such behaviors are quite likely to be gender specific. Any claims otherwise require truly astounding empirical evidence, which I now will wait to hear.