Posted: Apr 20, 2018 10:44 am
by SpeedOfSound
Rumraket wrote:It is a valuable field of scientific investigation, but very little competent investigation has been done. Lots of grandiose declarations are made, with very little evidence to show for it.

It has a lot of potential, but the standards are lacking. I suppose one problem is that some the questions that researchers in the field are seeking to address are practically extremely difficult to accomplish as they require data collection across the whole spectrum of cultures and nationalities in the world, needs to be combined with genetics studies again across geographical and national boundaries, and have to yield statistically significant results.

Think of a simple problem like color preference among the sexes, endlessly debated among psychologists. Do boys really intuitively prefer colors different from girls, and if they do, is this a preference that evolved due to natural selection? To ascertain what is true, you have to gather huge amounts of data if you are not in a position to actually fund and set up the rearing of children of the different sexes under properly controlled conditions where they are not culturally forced to think of certain colors as "boy" or "girl" colors. Then you need to combine that with genetics studies to find the genes responsible (supposing you even manage to find evidence for a difference in preference that isn't just due to culture), and then look for evidence of positive selection on certain mutations. This is incredibly difficult, expensive, and time-consuming work. And all to address what seems to be intensely irrelevant anway?

I prefer a bottom up approach. Observation or actually anecdotes gets you an observable and then a hypotheses. Next one has to find through developmental neuroscience what the mechanics are. Evolutionary analysis follows easily. The bottom up approach is the science part. Tis is all very imprecise and should never develop into certainties until of course we have ALL the mechanics worked out.

Still it can inform us as to possibilities. My example with my sons above is how an unproven possible bit of knowledge about biology informed and modified my behavior as a parent. Similar bits can modify my own self as a bigot, a gun nut, a conservative, and a male sexual pig. Thepop science is damned useful if we stop short of making it just another religion.