Posted: Jul 14, 2012 6:55 am
by Mr.Samsa
Mayak wrote:Yeah, after re-watching it again I see what you mean. I don't know if they were picked on purpose. It is interesting that the nurture researchers come from his country and none of them have any international recognition outside of their field of study but on the nature side they all seem to be very well known, and great at popularizing their works. It's funny that the nurture people seem content with their position while the nature people want to popularize their position as much as possible. You're right though, that shouldn't change the facts.

From what I saw, it seemed to be a documentary with a very particular goal in mind (demonstrated by the irrelevant preamble about the laws in Norway and their effect on equality).

Mayak wrote:Yeah, I guess making laws is not the same thing as changing people's minds. I'm thinking of myself when they asked the question of whether or not you would like someone else in the room before your shock treatment, and I instantly told myself no. I wonder why, maybe something with boys are supposed to tough it out while girls should always ask for help. But for me it had more to do with how awkward that would be.

Of course, there will be individual differences like you and me who choose no-one to be there because it seems awkward or unnecessary, but there will be a lot of men out there who refuse simply because they've been taught that men shouldn't have someone there to look after them and hold their hand, and women out there who don't really want anyone there but have been taught that they should have someone there to coddle them.

Mayak wrote:That makes sense, where else would all of our differences in thinking be if not the brain. But by differences they seemed to imply that our brains could be structured differently or wired differently, like in the example they said where testosterone production had a lot to do with how female and male brains develop during child birth.

The problem is that the link between those two claims is entirely guesswork. That is, we know that brains control behavior, and we know that hormones and brain chemicals affect the growth and development of the brain, however, we don't know that the differences between men and women produce any significant differences in brain structures, or that these brain structures have any noticeable affect on behavior.

So it's entirely plausible explanations for why differences could exist, but unless these differences can be identified, they are irrelevant stories.

Mayak wrote:I mean what really shapes our brains? Are genes just the blueprint and the environment fills in the remaining area? Kind of like when you get a computer, there's the hardware and then you, as the environment, choose what software you want to install. But, way back before computers when we threw rocks at each other and our culture consisted of running around naked to the full moon, wouldn't it help to have some "pre-programming" from our genes? Something that guides men to be big, strong hunters and women to be social, friendly child bearers...

It's certainly not blank slatist - there are definite innate structures which affect the way we behave, and we don't just 'fill in the gaps' with experiences. The question, however, is whether there are innate differences between men and women, and if so, what these are. All too often people tend to appeal to claims like "Of course men and women are different!" as if that necessarily supports some specific claim of gender difference. We can accept that men and women are different, whilst rejecting all specific claims of differences.

As for "needing some preprogramming", why would that be? We aren't that far removed from when we first came about, or from closely related species, and they seem to function just fine. I think the key thing to remember is that innate behaviors are incredibly rigid, and very poorly adapted for novel environments and complex behaviors. For things like "hunting" and being "social and friendly", there is far more involved than just innate structures.

Also, keep in mind that the idea of the "hunter-gatherer" tribe is no longer accepted. It wasn't a case of 'men going out hunting', but rather most meat was gathered through traps that were set up by both men and women, and they'd both harvest their fruit and vege together.

Mayak wrote:Pinker, speculative??? :o But he's a professor at Harvard! I kid :grin:

:lol: I assume you're being facetious, but yes, his forte is in speculation (and little else).

Mayak wrote:Well, what to your knowledge is species-specific environmental constraint that we all share that makes men go to certain jobs and women go to others?

It's hard to say as it's something that really needs to be tested, but obviously the average physical differences between men and women would certainly be something that needs to be considered when looking at the differences there.

Mayak wrote:Why do we build bonds with people we spend time with? How did we learn to associate people with the sunk-cost fallacy?

It's something that just necessarily happens through interactions. The more time you spend with someone, the more positive experiences you have with them - sharing food with them, warmth, finding shelter, etc. Unless they are incredibly antagonistic and trying to kill you, you will inevitably form positive bonds with people you spend a lot of time with (e.g. family).

Mayak wrote:Before our learning, when the first cave man had sex with the first cave woman, how did she know that her pregnant belly was not an infection but a baby to protect? I hope that's not an odd question, but I'm trying to think from their perspective before they had tons of cultural knowledge to learn from, her body starts to feel weird, forcing her to throw up, always tired, and then a huge bump on her belly! If I was that first cave woman, I would fucking freak out.

Yeah definitely, it's a weird thing to think about but you have to keep in mind that they would have seen it in their mothers, sisters, and cousins before them, and they would have seen it before them. I imagine a lot still would have freaked out, just as many, many women do today when they find out they're pregnant (and they often know exactly what's going on).

Mayak wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:Lippa, who told us that cross-cultural studies and unchanging opinions demonstrate that there is a biological cause, then explains why some cultures (the non-egalitarian ones) differ from others. In other words, cross-cultural studies always support the biological cause, whether they show consistent results, or divergent ones..

Do you think the reason most cultures show the same pattern is because pretty much every culture has mixed and learned from another? Wasn't there an amazon tribe somewhere that never had contact, ever, with any outside cultures? What did we find out from those guys?

It's hard to say. It could be an innate difference, and I certainly wouldn't rule that out, I'd just like to see some solid evidence of it through studies that attempt to distinguish between all possible causes of the behavior. At a guess, yes there is a lot of overlap between cultures, and added to specific differences between genders, we could get some consistent differences emerging across cultures.

I assume you're referring to the Piraha tribe? I'm not sure what they've found in relation to gender differences there, unfortunately.

Mayak wrote:I looked up domain-general processor, something about how all brain function is interdependent? I thought this was common knowledge?

Domain-general processes essentially refer to 'learning'. The idea is that the brain, at least for some tasks, reaches conclusions through general rules or adaptations. For example, suppose the brain develops a rule that says something like "immediate things are good, delayed things are bad", we would find that the emergent processes of self-control can come from this, and behaviors like alcoholism etc can come about. However, it would be wrong to claim that alcoholism (in this hypothetical situation) is innate just because general processes lead to its development.

Does that make sense?

Mayak wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:Lorentzen makes the good argument that he's not a blank slatist, he just accepts that there is currently no good evidence of a biological link - and he's entirely correct here. There are some studies suggesting it, and the studies are getting better and more interesting, but it's still a leap to accept that position from what we currently know.

Well, what have we currently found out about gene related behaviors in humans? You would think it would have been big news, the first behavior to be directly connected to a gene.

Yeah as far as I know, no human behaviors have been found to have a genetic link. The evidence supporting innate or evolutionary behaviors in humans is shaky enough at the moment. I recommend this book chapter, if you haven't read it before: Evolutionary Psychology and the Challenge of Adaptive Explanation(by Russell Gray).

Mayak wrote:Damn, Pinker is at Harvard, Baron-Cohen is at Cambridge, what gives? I'm even reading Baron-Cohens wikipedia page, and he's on the 'Chair of the NICE Guideline Development Group for adults with autism.' You would think the nurture guys would get all the prestige's positions at the worlds top universities? :grin:

Unfortunately, all the popular books at the moment are in the idea that those nature guys are currently battling those dastardly blank slatists, and hoping that the days of their oppression will finally be over... As such, they sell more books, and get the bigger positions (because if you have a big name associated to your university, you'll get more students, thus more money and research grants).

I'd be very surprised if anyone hired Pinker based on his academic ability and research skills. Baron-Cohen, on the other hand, is a great researcher and has provided some valuable insights in the field, but his specialisation is in autism and related areas, rather than evolutionary psychology.