• Welcome to the new Internet Infidels Discussion Board, formerly Talk Freethought.

Gender differences in sexual attraction: An illustration of the complex nature -nurtue interaction

ronburgundy

Contributor
Joined
Dec 6, 2014
Messages
5,757
Location
Whale's Vagina
Basic Beliefs
Atheist/Scientist
So, it will surprise no one here to learn that men of all ages prefer the looks of women in the early 20's. IOW, men never change in their sexual attraction to women and like the same age women when they are 50 as they did when they were 20.
It may or may not surprise you to learn that women of all ages prefer the looks of men close to their own age. Women's tastes in men change in correspondence with their own age such that at age 20 women like men around 21, while women at age 50 like men around age 46.

The founder of OK cupid published some data from his site based upon about 10 million users who as part of their attempts to find dates are asked about their preferences. Below are the graphs that show what I just described.

1439100617563564204.jpg


1439100617445469356.jpg


This is NOT a thread about whether this difference in attraction is biologically based or evolutionary adaptive. Please start a separate thread for that argument.

This is a thread about the cultural/social impact that these preferences could have, regardless of where the preference originate from.
Even if these differences in preferences are biological, once these preference exist, they become part of the social/cultural environment that then has other additional impacts on people's behavior and can create other gender differences that themselves may have little direct genetic basis.

Imagine you are a 20 year old person and almost every person who is a possible opposite sex mating partner no matter their age thinks you are at your most attractive now and you will rapidly decline in appeal. Everywhere you go where there are people of all ages of both sexes, you are among the most attractive to almost all the opposite sex there and you'll likely be acutely aware of it. Meanwhile, all the older members of your own sex are also acutely aware it too, likely causing some negative feelings towards you.

Contrast that with being a 20 year old and only the possible mates around your age find you most attractive, but older possible mates do not. As you age, which subset of possible mates find you most attractive ages with you. Everywhere you go where there are various ages of both sexes, you are only the focal attraction of a subset of potential mates and older members of your sex also have their own subset of potential mates who find them attractive.

No matter one's gender, it is likely that such drastically different social contexts would impact many aspects of one's psychology, self evaluations, sexuality, and how one views and interacts with members of one's own and the opposite sex.

And while people of both sexes do vary in attractiveness in ways that are independent of age, the data show that on average females experience the social situations closer to the former while males experience the social situation closer to the latter.

In addition, that is just the extreme difference of what it is like to be a 20 year old female vs. male. The male experience remains somewhat stable, b/c there is an ever changing subset of women who are most attracted to his age group. But the female experience changes drastically, such that an exponentially fewer number of potential mates are attracted to their age group. And as young women, they know this is coming toward them.

Although the effects of these different social experiences seems likely to be large and impact many things, it is difficult in the abstract to know exactly how. But it is worthwhile speculating on what these impacts might be and keeping these possible effects caused proximally by "environmental" when thinking about various gender differences of many sorts.
 
Last edited:

ronburgundy

Contributor
Joined
Dec 6, 2014
Messages
5,757
Location
Whale's Vagina
Basic Beliefs
Atheist/Scientist
D225ULmX4AU-F0Z.jpg


Bateman's Principle

Can you explain how you think that relates to my OP?

The graph doesn't seem relevant to Bateman's principle, because whatever it is showing is clearly not a stable principle of any kind but something that can change greatly over a few years with many years showing no gender difference.

As far as Bateman's principle more generally, it is consistent with the data in the OP and my discussion of it. If males of all ages are trying to have sex with young females at the height of fertility, then most young females will have little problem reproducing. But if females are willing to mate with male's of all ages, then males never pass through a period where most of them have an easy time finding a mate.

But that just reinforces the premise that males and females experience very different social environments. It doesn't comment on the main purpose of the thread which is to discuss what possible impacts on psychology and behavior these different social environments might have.
 

James Brown

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2005
Messages
3,572
Location
Texas
Basic Beliefs
Agnostic Atheist
Somewhere I read (could have been snarky) that men want to mate with women who resemble their mothers when the men were infants--that golden period when their mothers were slim twenty-somethings who didn't hesitate to give them breasts.

The OP also is supported by the lack of work for women in Hollywood. Sally Field (born 1946) played the love interest of Tom Hanks (born 1956) in "Punchline" (1988). Six years later she played his mother in "Forrest Gump."
 

ronburgundy

Contributor
Joined
Dec 6, 2014
Messages
5,757
Location
Whale's Vagina
Basic Beliefs
Atheist/Scientist
Somewhere I read (could have been snarky) that men want to mate with women who resemble their mothers when the men were infants--that golden period when their mothers were slim twenty-somethings who didn't hesitate to give them breasts.

Yeah, that sounds like some Freudian stuff, and most of what Freud said is nonsense. Also, that is only relevant to the question of where these preferences stem from (which I'd rather not bog down this thread with), rather than what the social impact of these preferences are.

The OP also is supported by the lack of work for women in Hollywood. Sally Field (born 1946) played the love interest of Tom Hanks (born 1956) in "Punchline" (1988). Six years later she played his mother in "Forrest Gump."

Kinda. It explains why almost almost all female protagonist or love interest characters in movies geared toward males are in there early 20's, even when the male's are much older. But women could still be playing plenty of other non-sexual roles. So, the absence of older women in movies is a combination of male sexual preferences for younger woman and Hollywood's disinterest in female roles that are not about sexuality.
 
Last edited:

thebeave

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2001
Messages
3,401
Location
Silicon Valley, CA
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
Somewhere I read (could have been snarky) that men want to mate with women who resemble their mothers when the men were infants--that golden period when their mothers were slim twenty-somethings who didn't hesitate to give them breasts.

The OP also is supported by the lack of work for women in Hollywood. Sally Field (born 1946) played the love interest of Tom Hanks (born 1956) in "Punchline" (1988). Six years later she played his mother in "Forrest Gump."

Meh. There's a ten year age difference IRL. Considering women can conceive children in their mid teens or so, and some people can look substantially older/younger than their real age, plus Hollywood makeup....it ain't that much of a stretch. Plus, in Forest Gump, she was his mom when he was a little kid and as a grown adult, so it was smart to cast someone who was closer to his own age. Its easier to make someone look plausibly older than younger so it makes sense.
 

Rhea

Cyborg with a Tiara
Staff member
Joined
Feb 1, 2001
Messages
13,134
Location
Recluse
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
It took me a while to think through all of this. There are a lot of ramifications. One is that at age 20, both have the best chance of getting what they want. And as each gets older, some will be settling, and some will be settled for. Which does indeed make for a different dynamic. The men perhaps thinking that they will later get a new thing that they want, while to woman would think about having to hold onto, and compete for, the thing that they want.

All of this subconscious, of course.

As a woman who got married once at 21 and again at 35, it doesn’t feel exactly accurate, but as a thought exercise... it has interesting implications.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,170
Biologically it makes sense because men need a fertile woman to reproduce, and women usually prefer a man who raises their well-being (with wealth), in order to help raise their child, meaning they'd typically seek out someone with more experience/status than themselves. Obviously this trend doesn't always hold true, as, quoting Bronzeage, people can only pick from the group they have available.

But you didn't ask about biology, you asked about the cultural impact. All that really comes to mind is that most cultures would be oriented to encourage females to find a partner as early as possible, either culturally or legally. These same cultures would also actively promote, or at least not demonize, sexual promiscuity in men (because men are always fertile, and women are those who hold a precious period of fertility).

And as women age society places less and less value on them, and they likely experience more sub-conscious bias (although one could argue that this probably has more of a biological than cultural basis). The same trend would likely be true of men, but I would assume men are more valued for a longer period of time.

Overall - wealth and status flows toward women who have the most reproductive years left in them. And women seek out men who raise their status.

Not sure if that's the cultural answer you're looking for, but I can't really think of any other implications.
 

Don2 (Don1 Revised)

Contributor
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Messages
11,630
Location
USA
Basic Beliefs
Nonpracticing agnostic
So, it will surprise no one here to learn that men of all ages prefer the looks of women in the early 20's. IOW, men never change in their sexual attraction to women and like the same age women when they are 50 as they did when they were 20.
It may or may not surprise you to learn that women of all ages prefer the looks of men close to their own age. Women's tastes in men change in correspondence with their own age such that at age 20 women like men around 21, while women at age 50 like men around age 46.

The founder of OK cupid published some data from his site based upon about 10 million users who as part of their attempts to find dates are asked about their preferences. Below are the graphs that show what I just described.

1439100617563564204.jpg


1439100617445469356.jpg


This is NOT a thread about whether this difference in attraction is biologically based or evolutionary adaptive. Please start a separate thread for that argument.

This is a thread about the cultural/social impact that these preferences could have, regardless of where the preference originate from.
Even if these differences in preferences are biological, once these preference exist, they become part of the social/cultural environment that then has other additional impacts on people's behavior and can create other gender differences that themselves may have little direct genetic basis.

Imagine you are a 20 year old person and almost every person who is a possible opposite sex mating partner no matter their age thinks you are at your most attractive now and you will rapidly decline in appeal. Everywhere you go where there are people of all ages of both sexes, you are among the most attractive to almost all the opposite sex there and you'll likely be acutely aware of it. Meanwhile, all the older members of your own sex are also acutely aware it too, likely causing some negative feelings towards you.

Contrast that with being a 20 year old and only the possible mates around your age find you most attractive, but older possible mates do not. As you age, which subset of possible mates find you most attractive ages with you. Everywhere you go where there are various ages of both sexes, you are only the focal attraction of a subset of potential mates and older members of your sex also have their own subset of potential mates who find them attractive.

No matter one's gender, it is likely that such drastically different social contexts would impact many aspects of one's psychology, self evaluations, sexuality, and how one views and interacts with members of one's own and the opposite sex.

And while people of both sexes do vary in attractiveness in ways that are independent of age, the data show that on average females experience the social situations closer to the former while males experience the social situation closer to the latter.

In addition, that is just the extreme difference of what it is like to be a 20 year old female vs. male. The male experience remains somewhat stable, b/c there is an ever changing subset of women who are most attracted to his age group. But the female experience changes drastically, such that an exponentially fewer number of potential mates are attracted to their age group. And as young women, they know this is coming toward them.

Although the effects of these different social experiences seems likely to be large and impact many things, it is difficult in the abstract to know exactly how. But it is worthwhile speculating on what these impacts might be and keeping these possible effects caused proximally by "environmental" when thinking about various gender differences of many sorts.

I think there may be some other trends in the data:
  • Young women may like slightly older men...like a 20 year old woman may like a 20 year old or a more mature 25 year old, averaging to 23.
  • Many older women who are still "active" may prefer a 40 year old man or a cut off at 40 because of how older men lose testosterone etc. Meanwhile other older women may be interested more in personality and conversation, liking those the same age.
 

Speakpigeon

Contributor
Joined
Feb 4, 2009
Messages
6,317
Location
Paris, France, EU
Basic Beliefs
Rationality (i.e. facts + logic), Scepticism (not just about God but also everything beyond my subjective experience)
Somewhere I read (could have been snarky) that men want to mate with women who resemble their mothers when the men were infants--that golden period when their mothers were slim twenty-somethings who didn't hesitate to give them breasts.

The OP also is supported by the lack of work for women in Hollywood. Sally Field (born 1946) played the love interest of Tom Hanks (born 1956) in "Punchline" (1988). Six years later she played his mother in "Forrest Gump."

A case in point.

Men do want to mate with women who resemble their mothers. Only Tom sort of got it backward. In 1988, somehow, he knew Sally was somehow his mother.


More seriously, I think it's more of a reproduction rationale selected by nature.

Young women are better prospective mothers and it doesn't necessarily cost much to try again and again for men, even compulsively.

Women themselves are only motivated by reproduction when they are young. Later, they have different motivations. And they are realist in their expectations because it's the best strategy.

Something like that... And that explains the OP's diagram.
EB
 

Speakpigeon

Contributor
Joined
Feb 4, 2009
Messages
6,317
Location
Paris, France, EU
Basic Beliefs
Rationality (i.e. facts + logic), Scepticism (not just about God but also everything beyond my subjective experience)
This is a thread about the cultural/social impact that these preferences could have, regardless of where the preference originate from.

I would say marriage, essentially. Optimal solution to an insoluble problem.
EB
 

couch_sloth

Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2005
Messages
341
Location
California
Basic Beliefs
Atheist (weak)
It took me a while to think through all of this. There are a lot of ramifications. One is that at age 20, both have the best chance of getting what they want. And as each gets older, some will be settling, and some will be settled for. Which does indeed make for a different dynamic. The men perhaps thinking that they will later get a new thing that they want, while to woman would think about having to hold onto, and compete for, the thing that they want.

All of this subconscious, of course...

.
I would guess that this is part of the reason why some cultures encourage young women to marry older men.
A Hmong coworker once told me that their cultural tendency was to have girls around 16 yrs old, marry men men who are about 35. She said this helped prevent middle-aged men from looking for new partners, because they already have a young wife.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,170
It took me a while to think through all of this. There are a lot of ramifications. One is that at age 20, both have the best chance of getting what they want. And as each gets older, some will be settling, and some will be settled for. Which does indeed make for a different dynamic. The men perhaps thinking that they will later get a new thing that they want, while to woman would think about having to hold onto, and compete for, the thing that they want.

It'd be interesting if there was a link that explained these results in more detail. Because to me 'look best to them' isn't completely clear. Are these the ages someone actually ends up forming a long-term relationship with, or just the ages that are most physically attractive. Because those are two very different things.

I don't think you can necessarily infer from this data that a 35 year old man who meets a 32 year old woman is 'settling'. The 32 year old might be the total package and a perfect fit, while the twenty-something is physically attractive but not a viable partner.
 

TSwizzle

Let's go Brandon!
Joined
Jan 8, 2015
Messages
6,403
Location
West Hollywood
Gender
Male
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
I am not sure that for men age is as big a factor as being made out. There's a lot more to it than age. I think weight and height are play a bigger part in attraction than age.
 

steve_bank

Diabetic retinopathy and poor eyesight. Typos ...
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
9,369
Location
seattle
Basic Beliefs
secular-skeptic
I warched an experiment.

Men ad women were asked to pick a picture that they thought was aatractive for a mate.

There trende to be bias towards body types and face types. Jaws, noses, eyes.

Part genetic? Female birds select based on the brightness of plumage in some species. The plumage is an indicator of health.

There is also pheromones.

There is also reports I heard in the news that after 60 years of the sexual revolution people are becoming more conservative on sex.
 

Toni

Contributor
Joined
Aug 11, 2011
Messages
14,677
Location
NOT laying back and thinking of England
Basic Beliefs
Peace on Earth, goodwill towards all
I don't know about dudes but I do know that as a young woman, I tended to find that guys my age were less mature than the ones a few years older. As in: younger guys still were all about consuming as much alcohol and perhaps other recreationals as possible, were less interested in having actual conversations that didn't center around them or drinking or games or drinking games or sex. Maturity levels don't start to sync until into the 30's I think, in very general terms. Mileage may vary.
 

Jokodo

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
4,618
Location
Riverside City
Basic Beliefs
humanist
I warched an experiment.

Men ad women were asked to pick a picture that they thought was aatractive for a mate.

There trende to be bias towards body types and face types. Jaws, noses, eyes.

Part genetic? Female birds select based on the brightness of plumage in some species. The plumage is an indicator of health.

There is also pheromones.

There is also reports I heard in the news that after 60 years of the sexual revolution people are becoming more conservative on sex.

That's a lot of words to say "I couldn't be bothered to read the OP"
 

ronburgundy

Contributor
Joined
Dec 6, 2014
Messages
5,757
Location
Whale's Vagina
Basic Beliefs
Atheist/Scientist
So, it will surprise no one here to learn that men of all ages prefer the looks of women in the early 20's. IOW, men never change in their sexual attraction to women and like the same age women when they are 50 as they did when they were 20.
It may or may not surprise you to learn that women of all ages prefer the looks of men close to their own age. Women's tastes in men change in correspondence with their own age such that at age 20 women like men around 21, while women at age 50 like men around age 46.

The founder of OK cupid published some data from his site based upon about 10 million users who as part of their attempts to find dates are asked about their preferences. Below are the graphs that show what I just described.

1439100617563564204.jpg


1439100617445469356.jpg


This is NOT a thread about whether this difference in attraction is biologically based or evolutionary adaptive. Please start a separate thread for that argument.

This is a thread about the cultural/social impact that these preferences could have, regardless of where the preference originate from.
Even if these differences in preferences are biological, once these preference exist, they become part of the social/cultural environment that then has other additional impacts on people's behavior and can create other gender differences that themselves may have little direct genetic basis.

Imagine you are a 20 year old person and almost every person who is a possible opposite sex mating partner no matter their age thinks you are at your most attractive now and you will rapidly decline in appeal. Everywhere you go where there are people of all ages of both sexes, you are among the most attractive to almost all the opposite sex there and you'll likely be acutely aware of it. Meanwhile, all the older members of your own sex are also acutely aware it too, likely causing some negative feelings towards you.

Contrast that with being a 20 year old and only the possible mates around your age find you most attractive, but older possible mates do not. As you age, which subset of possible mates find you most attractive ages with you. Everywhere you go where there are various ages of both sexes, you are only the focal attraction of a subset of potential mates and older members of your sex also have their own subset of potential mates who find them attractive.

No matter one's gender, it is likely that such drastically different social contexts would impact many aspects of one's psychology, self evaluations, sexuality, and how one views and interacts with members of one's own and the opposite sex.

And while people of both sexes do vary in attractiveness in ways that are independent of age, the data show that on average females experience the social situations closer to the former while males experience the social situation closer to the latter.

In addition, that is just the extreme difference of what it is like to be a 20 year old female vs. male. The male experience remains somewhat stable, b/c there is an ever changing subset of women who are most attracted to his age group. But the female experience changes drastically, such that an exponentially fewer number of potential mates are attracted to their age group. And as young women, they know this is coming toward them.

Although the effects of these different social experiences seems likely to be large and impact many things, it is difficult in the abstract to know exactly how. But it is worthwhile speculating on what these impacts might be and keeping these possible effects caused proximally by "environmental" when thinking about various gender differences of many sorts.

I think there may be some other trends in the data:
  • Young women may like slightly older men...like a 20 year old woman may like a 20 year old or a more mature 25 year old, averaging to 23.
  • Many older women who are still "active" may prefer a 40 year old man or a cut off at 40 because of how older men lose testosterone etc. Meanwhile other older women may be interested more in personality and conversation, liking those the same age.

Yeah, those trends are there too. I agree that women in their low 20's probably prefer a man a couple years older than them, due to the typical low emotional maturity of 20 year old males. Most averages are also the most frequent score in a distribution (IOW, most distributions are normal), so I would bet that it isn't that half 20 year old women want a 20 year old and half want a 25 year old, but that the majority want a 23 year old. But by their mid 20's that goes away and women prefer men within 1 year of their age.

The trend for women in their 40's is interesting. They seem to suddenly want men in their late 30's, but then this fades as women get close to 50s.
That trend might be due to a more non-normal distribution where most women in their 40's want a guy close to their age, but a subset of recent divorcee's go out on the dating scene looking to sow their oats with a much younger man, which pulls down the average.
"Cougars" are real.

Regardless, that mild subtrends don't alter the fact of the more prevailing overall fact that women generally prefer men close to their own age, while the vast majority of men of all ages prefer women in the early 20s.
 

ronburgundy

Contributor
Joined
Dec 6, 2014
Messages
5,757
Location
Whale's Vagina
Basic Beliefs
Atheist/Scientist
I am not sure that for men age is as big a factor as being made out. There's a lot more to it than age. I think weight and height are play a bigger part in attraction than age.

The data make it clear that age is a massive factor men of all ages. That doesn't mean men don't have additional criteria. It just means that most men of all ages that are seeking companions are using young age as a prerequisite before other factors are used to narrow the pool even further. Bear in mind that in this data men are not allowed to state preferences under age 18. That means the possible ages can only be 3 years below the average but up to 30 years above it. So, in order for the reported average preference of several million males to be 21, there would have to be only a tiny % of males stating preferences over age 30, with the vast majority of males of all ages stating preferences in the low 20s.

Of course, that doesn't mean those men would take any 20 year old over any 30 year old. But it means they default to 20 year olds unless other factors override the strong initial importance they place on her being young.

And again, I'm not trying to cast moral aspersions on men for their preference. That's a different thread. I wanted to point out the stark differences in age preferences as a fact that creates stark differences in the social environments that males and females deal with, which in turn would create psychological and behavioral differences that we might otherwise misattribute to being the result of innate brain differences. It's kind of a thought experiment to highlight how one initial gender difference can impact socialization to produce many gender differences, thus leading to an underestimation of the role of social environment.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,170
And again, I'm not trying to cast moral aspersions on men for their preference. That's a different thread. I wanted to point out the stark differences in age preferences as a fact that creates stark differences in the social environments that males and females deal with, which in turn would create psychological and behavioral differences that we might otherwise misattribute to being the result of innate brain differences. It's kind of a thought experiment to highlight how one initial gender difference can impact socialization to produce many gender differences, thus leading to an underestimation of the role of social environment.

That's turning a bit grey for me. Can you give an example of a psychological or behavioral difference that can only be attributed to culture, and not biology?
 

ronburgundy

Contributor
Joined
Dec 6, 2014
Messages
5,757
Location
Whale's Vagina
Basic Beliefs
Atheist/Scientist
And again, I'm not trying to cast moral aspersions on men for their preference. That's a different thread. I wanted to point out the stark differences in age preferences as a fact that creates stark differences in the social environments that males and females deal with, which in turn would create psychological and behavioral differences that we might otherwise misattribute to being the result of innate brain differences. It's kind of a thought experiment to highlight how one initial gender difference can impact socialization to produce many gender differences, thus leading to an underestimation of the role of social environment.

That's turning a bit grey for me. Can you give an example of a psychological or behavioral difference that can only be attributed to culture, and not biology?

It's not about any particular behavior being "only" attributed to culture. It's about influences of "culture" or social environment that could get attributed to biology, simply b/c there are other innate differences that play a role in creating social environment/culture.
I gave potential examples in the OP. Suppose it was the case that older women are more critical of younger women's sexuality than older men are of younger men. There would be a tendency for those looking to use their evolutionary hammer to see this as a evolutionary nail, and think that this psychological tendency in older women is genetically determined and selected for, especially if the tendency was observed across cultures. But if the age preferences differ between genders for biological reasons, this would create a stable cross-cultural difference in the social environments that cause older women to lose their mate's to younger women to a degree not true for older men.

Other people's behavior is a part of the environment that shapes behavior. Thus, any behavior that is genetically determined is an environmental factor that will interact with features of the environment (e.g., limited members of the opposite sex) to become an environmental impact on other behaviors. So, one reason that a behavioral trait can be highly stable across time and societies is because some aspect of biology produces a particular behavioral tendency that then shapes the social environment, and then the social environment shapes many other behaviors, even though there is nothing innate in the people's genes or brains that predisposes them to those other behaviors. On one hand, this means that biology can have an influence in more ways than people realize, because it impacts the environment and thus is a part of "nurture" effects. OTOH, many of those biological influences are indirect and distal, with the proximal and direct influence being the social environment. And such biological influences can be altered without altering innate biology, if deliberate efforts are made to create social contingencies that have a stronger impact on those social environments than those indirect biologically based tendencies. Monogamous marriage is an example of such a cultural practice that reduces the impact that gender differences in age preferences have on the social environment. It reduces the degree to which men can easily follow their age preference and switch to a younger women every time their mate approaches 30. Obviously, men do still often cheat or leave their marriage for younger women, but that behavior and it's impact on the social environment would be far more extensive without cultural norms that hinder it.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,170
And again, I'm not trying to cast moral aspersions on men for their preference. That's a different thread. I wanted to point out the stark differences in age preferences as a fact that creates stark differences in the social environments that males and females deal with, which in turn would create psychological and behavioral differences that we might otherwise misattribute to being the result of innate brain differences. It's kind of a thought experiment to highlight how one initial gender difference can impact socialization to produce many gender differences, thus leading to an underestimation of the role of social environment.

That's turning a bit grey for me. Can you give an example of a psychological or behavioral difference that can only be attributed to culture, and not biology?

It's not about any particular behavior being "only" attributed to culture. It's about influences of "culture" or social environment that could get attributed to biology, simply b/c there are other innate differences that play a role in creating social environment/culture.
I gave potential examples in the OP. Suppose it was the case that older women are more critical of younger women's sexuality than older men are of younger men. There would be a tendency for those looking to use their evolutionary hammer to see this as a evolutionary nail, and think that this psychological tendency in older women is genetically determined and selected for, especially if the tendency was observed across cultures. But if the age preferences differ between genders for biological reasons, this would create a stable cross-cultural difference in the social environments that cause older women to lose their mate's to younger women to a degree not true for older men.

Other people's behavior is a part of the environment that shapes behavior. Thus, any behavior that is genetically determined is an environmental factor that will interact with features of the environment (e.g., limited members of the opposite sex) to become an environmental impact on other behaviors. So, one reason that a behavioral trait can be highly stable across time and societies is because some aspect of biology produces a particular behavioral tendency that then shapes the social environment, and then the social environment shapes many other behaviors, even though there is nothing innate in the people's genes or brains that predisposes them to those other behaviors. On one hand, this means that biology can have an influence in more ways than people realize, because it impacts the environment and thus is a part of "nurture" effects. OTOH, many of those biological influences are indirect and distal, with the proximal and direct influence being the social environment. And such biological influences can be altered without altering innate biology, if deliberate efforts are made to create social contingencies that have a stronger impact on those social environments than those indirect biologically based tendencies. Monogamous marriage is an example of such a cultural practice that reduces the impact that gender differences in age preferences have on the social environment. It reduces the degree to which men can easily follow their age preference and switch to a younger women every time their mate approaches 30. Obviously, men do still often cheat or leave their marriage for younger women, but that behavior and it's impact on the social environment would be far more extensive without cultural norms that hinder it.

Ok yea I generally get your meaning now.

I'd just add that the ability to conform to social norms itself is a huge selection pressure - one is much more likely to produce children if their psychology is conducive to a) working successfully b) obtaining a mate c) fitting in with a group. And so we shouldn't necessarily see innate neurological differences for specific behaviors (although certainly there are some), but we should see a general plasticity to adapt to any given culture. Not neural capacity to carry out the ipso facto behavior necessarily, but a neural capacity to accept social customs as non-arbitrary and real, and then further to internalize them.

So yea, I'd agree that, pending on culture, behavior is quite plastic, but I would think that ability to perform normal cultural roles is selected for. I'd also think that in the case of gender specific behavior, there should be many aspects of our psychology that are very important for performing our cultural specific roles.

For the most part, I'd say that culture is more of a reflection of our biology, with a feedback loop on our evolution. As such it's quite a bit more plastic than biology itself, but most cultures should have core and unchanging components. So I don't think the environment should be understated, but I don't think it should be overstated either. Actually, I don't know how much it should be stated, but for as scientific as a post on a message board can be I'd call biology the primary influence on our behavior.
 

ronburgundy

Contributor
Joined
Dec 6, 2014
Messages
5,757
Location
Whale's Vagina
Basic Beliefs
Atheist/Scientist
It's not about any particular behavior being "only" attributed to culture. It's about influences of "culture" or social environment that could get attributed to biology, simply b/c there are other innate differences that play a role in creating social environment/culture.
I gave potential examples in the OP. Suppose it was the case that older women are more critical of younger women's sexuality than older men are of younger men. There would be a tendency for those looking to use their evolutionary hammer to see this as a evolutionary nail, and think that this psychological tendency in older women is genetically determined and selected for, especially if the tendency was observed across cultures. But if the age preferences differ between genders for biological reasons, this would create a stable cross-cultural difference in the social environments that cause older women to lose their mate's to younger women to a degree not true for older men.

Other people's behavior is a part of the environment that shapes behavior. Thus, any behavior that is genetically determined is an environmental factor that will interact with features of the environment (e.g., limited members of the opposite sex) to become an environmental impact on other behaviors. So, one reason that a behavioral trait can be highly stable across time and societies is because some aspect of biology produces a particular behavioral tendency that then shapes the social environment, and then the social environment shapes many other behaviors, even though there is nothing innate in the people's genes or brains that predisposes them to those other behaviors. On one hand, this means that biology can have an influence in more ways than people realize, because it impacts the environment and thus is a part of "nurture" effects. OTOH, many of those biological influences are indirect and distal, with the proximal and direct influence being the social environment. And such biological influences can be altered without altering innate biology, if deliberate efforts are made to create social contingencies that have a stronger impact on those social environments than those indirect biologically based tendencies. Monogamous marriage is an example of such a cultural practice that reduces the impact that gender differences in age preferences have on the social environment. It reduces the degree to which men can easily follow their age preference and switch to a younger women every time their mate approaches 30. Obviously, men do still often cheat or leave their marriage for younger women, but that behavior and it's impact on the social environment would be far more extensive without cultural norms that hinder it.

Ok yea I generally get your meaning now.

I'd just add that the ability to conform to social norms itself is a huge selection pressure - one is much more likely to produce children if their psychology is conducive to a) working successfully b) obtaining a mate c) fitting in with a group. And so we shouldn't necessarily see innate neurological differences for specific behaviors (although certainly there are some), but we should see a general plasticity to adapt to any given culture. Not neural capacity to carry out the ipso facto behavior necessarily, but a neural capacity to accept social customs as non-arbitrary and real, and then further to internalize them.

So yea, I'd agree that, pending on culture, behavior is quite plastic, but I would think that ability to perform normal cultural roles is selected for. I'd also think that in the case of gender specific behavior, there should be many aspects of our psychology that are very important for performing our cultural specific roles.

For the most part, I'd say that culture is more of a reflection of our biology, with a feedback loop on our evolution. As such it's quite a bit more plastic than biology itself, but most cultures should have core and unchanging components. So I don't think the environment should be understated, but I don't think it should be overstated either. Actually, I don't know how much it should be stated, but for as scientific as a post on a message board can be I'd call biology the primary influence on our behavior.

I largely agree with this, except that I don't think it's productive (or scientific) to make general claims about biology or environment being "the primary influence on our behavior." The point of the OP is just one example of the infinitely complex interactions that occur between the biology a person is born with and the environmental context in which behaviors manifest. These make such assertions about % variance due to biology, including those based on twin studies, invalid because some of the variance that such studies would attribute to genes is more directly and proximally caused by environment. For example, studies on race and IQ. If IQ tracks with the child's skin color rather than which parent's raised them, then that variance gets attributed to genes. However, such studies do not control for the effects of living in a racist society or the long term cultural effects of historical slavery/racism. If two black twins are separated and raised by families of different SES that doesn't mean that any similarity in their IQs is biological. Because, if they still both live in a similarly racist culture, then this will cause their IQs to converge with each other and diverge from those of other races, leading to an overall correlation of IQ and "race" that is actually caused in part by cultural racism and how it connects biological skin color to intellectual development.

It is also important to note that because, as you point out, people evolved to be adaptive to culture and culture can and does change, that means that arguments that refer to what is "natural", "biological" or "evolutionarily adaptive" have little to no relevance to discussions about what kinds of cultural, moral, or legal norms we should create or change. As you said, selection pressures have wired people to conform to whatever the norms are and to adapt to norms, which includes to changing norms. So, outside of norms that are biologically impossible, we should ignore what is "biological" when setting or changing our culture, and create whatever norms cohere with our ethical principles and people will adapt to them.
 

TSwizzle

Let's go Brandon!
Joined
Jan 8, 2015
Messages
6,403
Location
West Hollywood
Gender
Male
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
I am not sure that for men age is as big a factor as being made out. There's a lot more to it than age. I think weight and height are play a bigger part in attraction than age.

The data make it clear that age is a massive factor men of all ages.

The data comes from OK Cupid, a dating website. I wouldn't put too much stock in the significance of that small unscientific slice of virtual life. Almost all information on that site will be bullshit. I would think most men (married men in particular) would prefer a younger woman to an older woman, particularly on dating sites but that's hardly news.

That doesn't mean men don't have additional criteria. It just means that most men of all ages that are seeking companions are using young age as a prerequisite before other factors are used to narrow the pool even further.

"Seeking companions" ? Are you having a laugh ? It's a hook up website. There would be no companionship.

And again, I'm not trying to cast moral aspersions on men for their preference. That's a different thread. I wanted to point out the stark differences in age preferences as a fact that creates stark differences in the social environments that males and females deal with, which in turn would create psychological and behavioral differences that we might otherwise misattribute to being the result of innate brain differences. It's kind of a thought experiment to highlight how one initial gender difference can impact socialization to produce many gender differences, thus leading to an underestimation of the role of social environment.

My own theory here is that some women are genuinely using OK Cupid to find a companion and dirty old men are using it to find young chicks to bang.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,170
It's not about any particular behavior being "only" attributed to culture. It's about influences of "culture" or social environment that could get attributed to biology, simply b/c there are other innate differences that play a role in creating social environment/culture.
I gave potential examples in the OP. Suppose it was the case that older women are more critical of younger women's sexuality than older men are of younger men. There would be a tendency for those looking to use their evolutionary hammer to see this as a evolutionary nail, and think that this psychological tendency in older women is genetically determined and selected for, especially if the tendency was observed across cultures. But if the age preferences differ between genders for biological reasons, this would create a stable cross-cultural difference in the social environments that cause older women to lose their mate's to younger women to a degree not true for older men.

Other people's behavior is a part of the environment that shapes behavior. Thus, any behavior that is genetically determined is an environmental factor that will interact with features of the environment (e.g., limited members of the opposite sex) to become an environmental impact on other behaviors. So, one reason that a behavioral trait can be highly stable across time and societies is because some aspect of biology produces a particular behavioral tendency that then shapes the social environment, and then the social environment shapes many other behaviors, even though there is nothing innate in the people's genes or brains that predisposes them to those other behaviors. On one hand, this means that biology can have an influence in more ways than people realize, because it impacts the environment and thus is a part of "nurture" effects. OTOH, many of those biological influences are indirect and distal, with the proximal and direct influence being the social environment. And such biological influences can be altered without altering innate biology, if deliberate efforts are made to create social contingencies that have a stronger impact on those social environments than those indirect biologically based tendencies. Monogamous marriage is an example of such a cultural practice that reduces the impact that gender differences in age preferences have on the social environment. It reduces the degree to which men can easily follow their age preference and switch to a younger women every time their mate approaches 30. Obviously, men do still often cheat or leave their marriage for younger women, but that behavior and it's impact on the social environment would be far more extensive without cultural norms that hinder it.

Ok yea I generally get your meaning now.

I'd just add that the ability to conform to social norms itself is a huge selection pressure - one is much more likely to produce children if their psychology is conducive to a) working successfully b) obtaining a mate c) fitting in with a group. And so we shouldn't necessarily see innate neurological differences for specific behaviors (although certainly there are some), but we should see a general plasticity to adapt to any given culture. Not neural capacity to carry out the ipso facto behavior necessarily, but a neural capacity to accept social customs as non-arbitrary and real, and then further to internalize them.

So yea, I'd agree that, pending on culture, behavior is quite plastic, but I would think that ability to perform normal cultural roles is selected for. I'd also think that in the case of gender specific behavior, there should be many aspects of our psychology that are very important for performing our cultural specific roles.

For the most part, I'd say that culture is more of a reflection of our biology, with a feedback loop on our evolution. As such it's quite a bit more plastic than biology itself, but most cultures should have core and unchanging components. So I don't think the environment should be understated, but I don't think it should be overstated either. Actually, I don't know how much it should be stated, but for as scientific as a post on a message board can be I'd call biology the primary influence on our behavior.

I largely agree with this, except that I don't think it's productive (or scientific) to make general claims about biology or environment being "the primary influence on our behavior." The point of the OP is just one example of the infinitely complex interactions that occur between the biology a person is born with and the environmental context in which behaviors manifest. These make such assertions about % variance due to biology, including those based on twin studies, invalid because some of the variance that such studies would attribute to genes is more directly and proximally caused by environment. For example, studies on race and IQ. If IQ tracks with the child's skin color rather than which parent's raised them, then that variance gets attributed to genes. However, such studies do not control for the effects of living in a racist society or the long term cultural effects of historical slavery/racism. If two black twins are separated and raised by families of different SES that doesn't mean that any similarity in their IQs is biological. Because, if they still both live in a similarly racist culture, then this will cause their IQs to converge with each other and diverge from those of other races, leading to an overall correlation of IQ and "race" that is actually caused in part by cultural racism and how it connects biological skin color to intellectual development.

It is also important to note that because, as you point out, people evolved to be adaptive to culture and culture can and does change, that means that arguments that refer to what is "natural", "biological" or "evolutionarily adaptive" have little to no relevance to discussions about what kinds of cultural, moral, or legal norms we should create or change. As you said, selection pressures have wired people to conform to whatever the norms are and to adapt to norms, which includes to changing norms. So, outside of norms that are biologically impossible, we should ignore what is "biological" when setting or changing our culture, and create whatever norms cohere with our ethical principles and people will adapt to them.

As far as twin studies go, I believe most experts would agree that similarities between them are going to be mostly genetic, especially as it pertains to IQ. Essentially, their brains would be genetically equivalent, and only save some extreme type of socialization a lot of their traits would turn out the same. So socialization does play a part, but I think you're off base here and understating genetics. Chemically, twins are the same person, which has a much more profound influence than socialization, which has been borne out by twins raised in different environments (check out Google Scholar here.. or Pinker's The Blank Slate).

When I say biology is the primary influence on behavior I'm not just talking genetics, though, I'm also talking about the profound influence of biology on culture itself. It's a given that culture is plastic, but culture is also a reflection of our biology and psychology. This is a critical point because if cultural realities ultimately originate from our physiology, then those influences are constrained by the same reality.

- How about a society where some form of partnering doesn't exist?
- A society that doesn't prize youth in females?
- A society without some form of religious or idealistic beliefs?
- A society where members don't compete for resources?
- A society where men aren't naturally aggressive
- etc

And so it's not just genetic behavior per se, but the reality of being human, in a human built society that dictates most of what we do. It's kind of a false dichotomy to contrast genetic/environmental influence, because our genetics build the environment in the first place.

In your second paragraph you mention we should change norms that aren't biologically impossible, so I think you're on base with this, but I'm more or less of the opinion that those mold-able parts of our culture are actually much more rigid than you, which seems to be the main difference between our arguments. As far as ethics go I don't know if you can consciously shape that, outside of the natural evolution of a community that's building scientific knowledge and increasingly protecting human rights. And even then a sizable component of any community are likely going to be self-serving, one way or another.
 

steve_bank

Diabetic retinopathy and poor eyesight. Typos ...
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
9,369
Location
seattle
Basic Beliefs
secular-skeptic
Does anyone want to argue there are no inherent behavioral differences between males and females?

As to IQ and race from my experince working with people from around the world those with similar backgrounds and education generally perform the same.

Culture does matter. Back in the 80s I went through training at a high school for a kids at risk mentoring program. We were told by a teacher to never single out a kid from a traditional Native American culture even for praise when in groups. The culture deemphasizes the individual.

Sexuality is also cultural. There is a Pacific island culture where both men and women go bare breasted, except in tourist areas. In that culture the exposed thigh is consdered sexualy provactive. Back in the 70s when I lived with coed roomates once youget over the novely nudity becomes routine.

I have been watching old movies and TV shows from a newer perspective. Shoving and slapping women is common. Typicaly there is a line for real abuse, but the women accept it as normal. Women exist to be seduced, they want to be seduced and saying no is part of game.

The old cowboy show Gunsmoke is riddled with what today we conder abuse of women, portrayed as a norm in the culture. Noy all men are portrayed as abusive but within the culture an amount of abuse is considered normal.
 

Jokodo

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
4,618
Location
Riverside City
Basic Beliefs
humanist
I largely agree with this, except that I don't think it's productive (or scientific) to make general claims about biology or environment being "the primary influence on our behavior." The point of the OP is just one example of the infinitely complex interactions that occur between the biology a person is born with and the environmental context in which behaviors manifest. These make such assertions about % variance due to biology, including those based on twin studies, invalid because some of the variance that such studies would attribute to genes is more directly and proximally caused by environment. For example, studies on race and IQ. If IQ tracks with the child's skin color rather than which parent's raised them, then that variance gets attributed to genes. However, such studies do not control for the effects of living in a racist society or the long term cultural effects of historical slavery/racism. If two black twins are separated and raised by families of different SES that doesn't mean that any similarity in their IQs is biological. Because, if they still both live in a similarly racist culture, then this will cause their IQs to converge with each other and diverge from those of other races, leading to an overall correlation of IQ and "race" that is actually caused in part by cultural racism and how it connects biological skin color to intellectual development.

It is also important to note that because, as you point out, people evolved to be adaptive to culture and culture can and does change, that means that arguments that refer to what is "natural", "biological" or "evolutionarily adaptive" have little to no relevance to discussions about what kinds of cultural, moral, or legal norms we should create or change. As you said, selection pressures have wired people to conform to whatever the norms are and to adapt to norms, which includes to changing norms. So, outside of norms that are biologically impossible, we should ignore what is "biological" when setting or changing our culture, and create whatever norms cohere with our ethical principles and people will adapt to them.

As far as twin studies go, I believe most experts would agree that similarities between them are going to be mostly genetic, especially as it pertains to IQ. Essentially, their brains would be genetically equivalent, and only save some extreme type of socialization a lot of their traits would turn out the same. So socialization does play a part, but I think you're off base here and understating genetics. Chemically, twins are the same person, which has a much more profound influence than socialization, which has been borne out by twins raised in different environments (check out Google Scholar here.. or Pinker's The Blank Slate).

When I say biology is the primary influence on behavior I'm not just talking genetics, though, I'm also talking about the profound influence of biology on culture itself. It's a given that culture is plastic, but culture is also a reflection of our biology and psychology. This is a critical point because if cultural realities ultimately originate from our physiology, then those influences are constrained by the same reality.

- How about a society where some form of partnering doesn't exist?
- A society that doesn't prize youth in females?
- A society without some form of religious or idealistic beliefs?
- A society where members don't compete for resources?
- A society where men aren't naturally aggressive
- etc

And so it's not just genetic behavior per se, but the reality of being human, in a human built society that dictates most of what we do. It's kind of a false dichotomy to contrast genetic/environmental influence, because our genetics build the environment in the first place.

In your second paragraph you mention we should change norms that aren't biologically impossible, so I think you're on base with this, but I'm more or less of the opinion that those mold-able parts of our culture are actually much more rigid than you, which seems to be the main difference between our arguments. As far as ethics go I don't know if you can consciously shape that, outside of the natural evolution of a community that's building scientific knowledge and increasingly protecting human rights. And even then a sizable component of any community are likely going to be self-serving, one way or another.

I don't know that " our genetics build the environment in the first place" is a meaningful thing to say, and I'm not seeing much of an argument that it is.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,170
I largely agree with this, except that I don't think it's productive (or scientific) to make general claims about biology or environment being "the primary influence on our behavior." The point of the OP is just one example of the infinitely complex interactions that occur between the biology a person is born with and the environmental context in which behaviors manifest. These make such assertions about % variance due to biology, including those based on twin studies, invalid because some of the variance that such studies would attribute to genes is more directly and proximally caused by environment. For example, studies on race and IQ. If IQ tracks with the child's skin color rather than which parent's raised them, then that variance gets attributed to genes. However, such studies do not control for the effects of living in a racist society or the long term cultural effects of historical slavery/racism. If two black twins are separated and raised by families of different SES that doesn't mean that any similarity in their IQs is biological. Because, if they still both live in a similarly racist culture, then this will cause their IQs to converge with each other and diverge from those of other races, leading to an overall correlation of IQ and "race" that is actually caused in part by cultural racism and how it connects biological skin color to intellectual development.

It is also important to note that because, as you point out, people evolved to be adaptive to culture and culture can and does change, that means that arguments that refer to what is "natural", "biological" or "evolutionarily adaptive" have little to no relevance to discussions about what kinds of cultural, moral, or legal norms we should create or change. As you said, selection pressures have wired people to conform to whatever the norms are and to adapt to norms, which includes to changing norms. So, outside of norms that are biologically impossible, we should ignore what is "biological" when setting or changing our culture, and create whatever norms cohere with our ethical principles and people will adapt to them.

As far as twin studies go, I believe most experts would agree that similarities between them are going to be mostly genetic, especially as it pertains to IQ. Essentially, their brains would be genetically equivalent, and only save some extreme type of socialization a lot of their traits would turn out the same. So socialization does play a part, but I think you're off base here and understating genetics. Chemically, twins are the same person, which has a much more profound influence than socialization, which has been borne out by twins raised in different environments (check out Google Scholar here.. or Pinker's The Blank Slate).

When I say biology is the primary influence on behavior I'm not just talking genetics, though, I'm also talking about the profound influence of biology on culture itself. It's a given that culture is plastic, but culture is also a reflection of our biology and psychology. This is a critical point because if cultural realities ultimately originate from our physiology, then those influences are constrained by the same reality.

- How about a society where some form of partnering doesn't exist?
- A society that doesn't prize youth in females?
- A society without some form of religious or idealistic beliefs?
- A society where members don't compete for resources?
- A society where men aren't naturally aggressive
- etc

And so it's not just genetic behavior per se, but the reality of being human, in a human built society that dictates most of what we do. It's kind of a false dichotomy to contrast genetic/environmental influence, because our genetics build the environment in the first place.

In your second paragraph you mention we should change norms that aren't biologically impossible, so I think you're on base with this, but I'm more or less of the opinion that those mold-able parts of our culture are actually much more rigid than you, which seems to be the main difference between our arguments. As far as ethics go I don't know if you can consciously shape that, outside of the natural evolution of a community that's building scientific knowledge and increasingly protecting human rights. And even then a sizable component of any community are likely going to be self-serving, one way or another.

I don't know that " our genetics build the environment in the first place" is a meaningful thing to say, and I'm not seeing much of an argument that it is.

It's one of those things that you're not going to see a scientific study done on, because it's not really something that would be the object of a study. But if you understand anything at all about neurophysiology then you basically just need to look around.

Or just use logic - how could every aspect of human cultures not be tied back to human nature, somehow? Where else would it originate?
 

Jokodo

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
4,618
Location
Riverside City
Basic Beliefs
humanist
I don't know that " our genetics build the environment in the first place" is a meaningful thing to say, and I'm not seeing much of an argument that it is.

It's one of those things that you're not going to see a scientific study done on, because it's not really something that would be the object of a study. But if you understand anything at all about neurophysiology then you basically just need to look around.
I'm fairly positive I understand more of neurophysiology than you do.
Or just use logic - how could every aspect of human cultures not be tied back to human nature, somehow? Where else would it originate?

In the same sense it's connected to gravity and the electromagnetic force - trivially true in the abstract, but not very informative in practice
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,170
I'm fairly positive I understand more of neurophysiology than you do.
Or just use logic - how could every aspect of human cultures not be tied back to human nature, somehow? Where else would it originate?

In the same sense it's connected to gravity and the electromagnetic force - trivially true in the abstract, but not very informative in practice

I'd call it informative, in a lot of ways. But I'm not talking about it's predictive power, I'm claiming that our biology is an ultimate force beyond the environment, because the environment is constrained by it.

Besides things like variation in political ideals, religious beliefs, and sexual practices, human cultures don't really vary that much. And that's because human nature sets the framework. So even if there are environmental influences within culture, the entire culture is set in motion by our biology in the first place, which is why I'm calling biology the primary influence.
 

Jokodo

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
4,618
Location
Riverside City
Basic Beliefs
humanist
I'm fairly positive I understand more of neurophysiology than you do.
Or just use logic - how could every aspect of human cultures not be tied back to human nature, somehow? Where else would it originate?

In the same sense it's connected to gravity and the electromagnetic force - trivially true in the abstract, but not very informative in practice

I'd call it informative, in a lot of ways. But I'm not talking about it's predictive power, I'm claiming that our biology is an ultimate force beyond the environment, because the environment is constrained by it.

Besides things like variation in political ideals, religious beliefs, and sexual practices, human cultures don't really vary that much. And that's because human nature sets the framework. So even if there are environmental influences within culture, the entire culture is set in motion by our biology in the first place, which is why I'm calling biology the primary influence.

You could say the same about particle physics. In fact it's more clearly true about insofar as even historical contingencies are constrained by it.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,170
I'd call it informative, in a lot of ways. But I'm not talking about it's predictive power, I'm claiming that our biology is an ultimate force beyond the environment, because the environment is constrained by it.

Besides things like variation in political ideals, religious beliefs, and sexual practices, human cultures don't really vary that much. And that's because human nature sets the framework. So even if there are environmental influences within culture, the entire culture is set in motion by our biology in the first place, which is why I'm calling biology the primary influence.

You could say the same about particle physics. In fact it's more clearly true about insofar as even historical contingencies are constrained by it.

You could. Human history is a subset of ecological history, and ecological history is ultimately about resource availability and all that entails.

It might seem trivial, but it's really not, and I'll throw back to an earlier comment I made:

I'm more or less of the opinion that those mold-able parts of our culture are actually much more rigid than you, which seems to be the main difference between our arguments

To me there is more of a danger in the belief that man can disrupt the evolution of history and culture in a dramatic fashion for the better, than the belief that he can't. Take something like Marxism as an example - we had some high ideals, but they ended up having a massive human cost.

Social change needs to be slow, intentional, scientific, deliberate, and based on the reality of how people work - which is more rigid than most of us realize.
 

skepticalbip

Contributor
Joined
Apr 21, 2004
Messages
6,952
Location
Searching for reality along the long and winding r
Basic Beliefs
Everything we know is wrong (to some degree)
You could. Human history is a subset of ecological history, and ecological history is ultimately about resource availability and all that entails.

It might seem trivial, but it's really not, and I'll throw back to an earlier comment I made:

I'm more or less of the opinion that those mold-able parts of our culture are actually much more rigid than you, which seems to be the main difference between our arguments

To me there is more of a danger in the belief that man can disrupt the evolution of history and culture in a dramatic fashion for the better, than the belief that he can't. Take something like Marxism as an example - we had some high ideals, but they ended up having a massive human cost.

Social change needs to be slow, intentional, scientific, deliberate, and based on the reality of how people work - which is more rigid than most of us realize.

Indeed... humans, like all animals, are driven by self interest. Humans can, and do, have altruistic ideals of how cultures should be to attain whatever lofty goals they can imagine but it really boils down to how they think others should live. Certainly humans will help others but not (or extremely rarely) at the cost of their own well being. We are concerned with the plight of the homeless but how many of those who wear that concern on their sleeve invite a homeless family to share their home? A recent example in the news is Bernie being a millionaire even though he continually rants that it is unfair for there to be millionaires while there are people in need. If not for the human (animal) concern for self interest Bernie would have, without giving it a second thought, shared his wealth with the needy.
 

Jokodo

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
4,618
Location
Riverside City
Basic Beliefs
humanist
Besides things like variation in political ideals, religious beliefs, and sexual practices, human cultures don't really vary that much.

... if we interpret "political ideals" very loosely as conceptions and expectations about how you should treat whom, and "religious beliefs" similarly broadly as ideas about how the world functions, and "things like" as everything else that happens to vary, sure. There's variation in whether or not your paternal grandparents are considered family, and cultures that, under certain circumstances, expect you to kill your half-brother if a feud breaks out between your families. Now there may well be a biological disposition not to kill the people you share genes with irrespective of what your culture considers relatives, and cultures to some degree avoid putting individuals into this kind of dilemma by making up taboos against marrying people from non-allied clans, but that's some really broad sense of "political ideals".

How did "sexual practices" get onto this list though? It's quite possibly one of the most culturally invariant (though with a large degree of inter-individual variation) aspects of human behaviour, if only because it's often a taboo topic to talk about so every generation has to figure it out on there own, with little culture to build upon.

And that's because human nature sets the framework. So even if there are environmental influences within culture, the entire culture is set in motion by our biology in the first place, which is why I'm calling biology the primary influence.

That statement is so broad as to be meaningless. You can do better than this.
 

Jokodo

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
4,618
Location
Riverside City
Basic Beliefs
humanist
Certainly humans will help others but not (or extremely rarely) at the cost of their own well being.

Unless you're living a life in total isolation, I'm pretty certain you've done so several times today. I'm sure I did

- when I held the door of the tramway open for a stranger
- when I passed my colleague a cup during coffee break
- when I held my daughter tight instead of moving to the couch to get some proper sleep
...

The cost in each of these cases may be minor, but it's very real. Far from "extremely rare", it's so common that we don't even notice it.
 

skepticalbip

Contributor
Joined
Apr 21, 2004
Messages
6,952
Location
Searching for reality along the long and winding r
Basic Beliefs
Everything we know is wrong (to some degree)
Certainly humans will help others but not (or extremely rarely) at the cost of their own well being.

Unless you're living a life in total isolation, I'm pretty certain you've done so several times today. I'm sure I did

- when I held the door of the tramway open for a stranger
- when I passed my colleague a cup during coffee break
- when I held my daughter tight instead of moving to the couch to get some proper sleep
...

The cost in each of these cases may be minor, but it's very real. Far from "extremely rare", it's so common that we don't even notice it.

That is a really odd interpretation. None of those actions were at a cost to your well being. In fact common courtesies are generally helpful to your well being because they make you more acceptable in society. Now if you had taken a homeless family into your home or some other action that actually cost you a reduction in your personal living standards (to raise the living standards of someone needy) you would be closer to what my post said.
 

Jokodo

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
4,618
Location
Riverside City
Basic Beliefs
humanist
That statement is so broad as to be meaningless. You can do better than this.

Can you explain why in reference to the core point of my post?

The core point being what? As far as I can tell, you just like the sound of "biology is the prime mover" without being able to construct any kind of hypothesis out of this proposition that's precise enough to derive any predictions whatsoever.

This forum is social science, not social musings.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,170
That statement is so broad as to be meaningless. You can do better than this.

Can you explain why in reference to the core point of my post?

The core point being what? As far as I can tell, you just like the sound of "biology is the prime mover" without being able to construct any kind of hypothesis out of this proposition that's precise enough to derive any predictions whatsoever.

This forum is social science, not social musings.

Ok, can you explain this:

That statement is so broad as to be meaningless. You can do better than this.

I'm not trying to be a dick, I'm just more interested in your argument than I am in explaining mine.
 

Jokodo

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
4,618
Location
Riverside City
Basic Beliefs
humanist
Certainly humans will help others but not (or extremely rarely) at the cost of their own well being.

Unless you're living a life in total isolation, I'm pretty certain you've done so several times today. I'm sure I did

- when I held the door of the tramway open for a stranger
- when I passed my colleague a cup during coffee break
- when I held my daughter tight instead of moving to the couch to get some proper sleep
...

The cost in each of these cases may be minor, but it's very real. Far from "extremely rare", it's so common that we don't even notice it.

That is a really odd interpretation. None of those actions were at a cost to your well being. In fact common courtesies are generally helpful to your well being because they make you more acceptable in society. Now if you had taken a homeless family into your home or some other action that actually cost you a reduction in your personal living standards (to raise the living standards of someone needy) you would be closer to what my post said.

All of them were - if only in the sense that they were an unnecessary expenditure of calories. Though the potential cost is actually more severe than that in each of those examples and many others: e. g. by holding the door open, I might cause the tramway to miss the green light and be minutes later than I otherwise would have been - and thereby attract the wrath of everyone else on the tram who was in a hurry; by handing the cup, I risked dropping it, in which case I might have been held liable to replace it.

And while what you call "common courtesies" towards people you expect to regularly interact with are arguably beneficial in the long term, I chose an example involving a total stranger I might not see again.
 

Jokodo

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
4,618
Location
Riverside City
Basic Beliefs
humanist
The core point being what? As far as I can tell, you just like the sound of "biology is the prime mover" without being able to construct any kind of hypothesis out of this proposition that's precise enough to derive any predictions whatsoever.

This forum is social science, not social musings.

Ok, can you explain this:

That statement is so broad as to be meaningless. You can do better than this.

I'm not trying to be a dick, I'm just more interested in your argument than I am in explaining mine.

I don't see what there is to explain.

Here's some statements you've made throughout this thread.
  1. but most cultures should have core and unchanging components
  2. I'd call biology the primary influence on our behavior
  3. I'm more or less of the opinion that those mold-able parts of our culture are actually much more rigid
  4. Besides things like variation in political ideals, religious beliefs, and sexual practices, human cultures don't really vary that much.

each one of them is a non-statement as long as you don't give as a hint what those unchanging components are or should be, relative to what it is a big or small influence, what counts as 'things like', etc. It is trivially true that behaviours that are impossible to perform with human physiology will never become the cultural norm, and from all we know that's about all you're saying. And every one of those statements can be said with equal validity if we replace biology with physics: Just like whatever set of norms or beliefs you believe are running against human nature isn't going to materialize in any culture (and you have barely given us an idea what that would be), so equally you aren't going to find a lot of cultures where people expect a stone dropped to start moving towards the sky, or where people put on heavy woolen jumpers in summer only.

The whole point of the OP is that the ways biology influences cultural practices can be quite indirect, and it's arguing against a naive nativist conception where people take every (seemingly) universal behaviour as sufficient evidence that this behaviour was specifically selected for.
 

skepticalbip

Contributor
Joined
Apr 21, 2004
Messages
6,952
Location
Searching for reality along the long and winding r
Basic Beliefs
Everything we know is wrong (to some degree)
That is a really odd interpretation. None of those actions were at a cost to your well being. In fact common courtesies are generally helpful to your well being because they make you more acceptable in society. Now if you had taken a homeless family into your home or some other action that actually cost you a reduction in your personal living standards (to raise the living standards of someone needy) you would be closer to what my post said.

All of them were - if only in the sense that they were an unnecessary expenditure of calories. Though the potential cost is actually more severe than that in each of those examples and many others: e. g. by holding the door open, I might cause the tramway to miss the green light and be minutes later than I otherwise would have been - and thereby attract the wrath of everyone else on the tram who was in a hurry; by handing the cup, I risked dropping it, in which case I might have been held liable to replace it.

And while what you call "common courtesies" towards people you expect to regularly interact with are arguably beneficial in the long term, I chose an example involving a total stranger I might not see again.

Just bedamned... you are really stretching. If you honestly believe (rather than just being argumentative) that such simple common courtesies are personal sacrifices of your self interest then you are an extreme, over the top example of what I was talking about. I certainly wouldn't expect anyone who honestly believes simple curticies are sacrifices to actually go out of their way and sacrifice to help a stranger. When you do the minimum and simply buy a hungry stranger a meal, let me know.
 
Last edited:

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,170
Ok, can you explain this:

I'm not trying to be a dick, I'm just more interested in your argument than I am in explaining mine.

I don't see what there is to explain.

Here's some statements you've made throughout this thread.
  1. but most cultures should have core and unchanging components
  2. I'd call biology the primary influence on our behavior
  3. I'm more or less of the opinion that those mold-able parts of our culture are actually much more rigid
  4. Besides things like variation in political ideals, religious beliefs, and sexual practices, human cultures don't really vary that much.

each one of them is a non-statement as long as you don't give as a hint what those unchanging components are or should be, relative to what it is a big or small influence, what counts as 'things like', etc. It is trivially true that behaviours that are impossible to perform with human physiology will never become the cultural norm, and from all we know that's about all you're saying. And every one of those statements can be said with equal validity if we replace biology with physics: Just like whatever set of norms or beliefs you believe are running against human nature isn't going to materialize in any culture (and you have barely given us an idea what that would be), so equally you aren't going to find a lot of cultures where people expect a stone dropped to start moving towards the sky, or where people put on heavy woolen jumpers in summer only.

The whole point of the OP is that the ways biology influences cultural practices can be quite indirect, and it's arguing against a naive nativist conception where people take every (seemingly) universal behaviour as sufficient evidence that this behaviour was specifically selected for.

Ok, I'll try to go into a little more detail, keep in mind here that I'm talking about biology and human nature as a framework, and I'm going to tie this back into the OP eventually.

Core, Unchanging Components of Culture

Need for Food, Need for Water, Need to maintain internal temperature

Let's start with the stuff that is intuitively obvious about human nature and our survival: we need to maintain an internal metabolic temperature, we need to eat, we need water. Right there we've already identified three aspects about human nature that are absolutely critical to any human society, and if you want to call it that: culture.

This may seem trivial at first glance, but in reality every aspect of our day to day life is centered around these three facts. As children we go to school so we can be trained how to work (yes I realize this varies but lets generalize), as adults we spend our lives working or otherwise trying to obtain money so we can eat. This kind of thing is so essential to society that it almost seems arbitrary and not worth any notice, but already we're looking at the overwhelming majority of any given human's behaviour throughout their entire life, simply because it is essential that they eat.

No this is not predictive of what schools someone will go to, or what work they will do, but it is predictive of a few things:

- it is essential that people have food, and a mechanism to get food
- it is intrinsic to any culture that there are functions which work toward the end of obtaining food
- people's behaviour for an overwhelming majority of their time will be focused on finding and eating food

With internal metabolic temperature we get a few more facts:

- housing, buildings, and architecture are universal among human communities
- without the invent of fire, and later the technology to use natural resources, most modern day societies just wouldn't exist in the first place

Reproduction and Gender Roles

Now let's move to the sexual aspect of our genetics, which is nearly as critical as those already mentioned: our species needs to reproduce itself, and men and women have real psychological differences due to variance in gender roles

Due to these facts we will assuredly see that every human culture will have fertility rituals, and that men and women will generally have a different path in life.

No this isn't predictive of what fertility ritual a community has, but it is predictive of that existing, and the likelihod of how both man and woman in a relationship will live their lives. There is going to be variance from community to community, but again, biology now has it's hand in another overwhelming aspect of human behavior, how we spend most of our lives looking for a partner, and later raising kids. It also has a real hand in our psychology and how genders approach this game.

Religion, sexism, racism, tribalism

Ok so some of the obvious stuff is out of the way, let's move to our psychology: a need to resolve our cognitive dissonance about suffering, sexism, racism and prejudice, tribalism.

Honestly, at this point I'm just getting tired of writing this post, but I'll continue. Some would argue that these things are fixable, I don't think that they are. Because of the above points religious and/or idealistic beliefs are universal across human cultures. If not religion, it's idealism and utopian thinking about politics.

Then we get into sexism, racism, prejudice, and those aspects of our psychology that keep us feeding the people who are close to us (family) and ignoring the people who aren't close to us. I won't get into much detail here, but I presume that you get the point.

Once again, a huge portion of our behavior is dictated by a few simple facts about our psychology, that have evolved over a huge amount of time. They aren't predictive of individual human behavior, but they are predictive of these phenomena existing in any given culture: ethnic conflict, racism, nationalism, you name it. I would say that's some important predictive power.

Tying back to the OP

So when I tie this back to ronburgundy's point that behavior isn't necessarily dictated by actual neural differences, I'm left with the notion that behaviour is dictated largely by neural realities, and our ability to conform tightly to these neural realities is selected for. So where biology isn't ipso facto causing the behavior, it's instead producing the culture where the behaviour is derived, and the selective pressure is actually coming from our ability to conform to the culture that's been derived by our biology. This selective pressure is certainly going to mold real genetic differences where necessary, and I would probably go as far as saying that it's the most critical aspects of our culture that actually become embedded in our genetics.

So when we start talking about how to mold culture to our will, we're contrained by biological reality. And with the above in mind I'm not completely sure what's left to mold.

And bear in mind, that the above list of unchanging components of culture is anything but exhaustive, I could go on for a while.
 
Last edited:

Jokodo

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
4,618
Location
Riverside City
Basic Beliefs
humanist
That is a really odd interpretation. None of those actions were at a cost to your well being. In fact common courtesies are generally helpful to your well being because they make you more acceptable in society. Now if you had taken a homeless family into your home or some other action that actually cost you a reduction in your personal living standards (to raise the living standards of someone needy) you would be closer to what my post said.

All of them were - if only in the sense that they were an unnecessary expenditure of calories. Though the potential cost is actually more severe than that in each of those examples and many others: e. g. by holding the door open, I might cause the tramway to miss the green light and be minutes later than I otherwise would have been - and thereby attract the wrath of everyone else on the tram who was in a hurry; by handing the cup, I risked dropping it, in which case I might have been held liable to replace it.

And while what you call "common courtesies" towards people you expect to regularly interact with are arguably beneficial in the long term, I chose an example involving a total stranger I might not see again.

Just bedamned... you are really stretching. If you honestly believe (rather than just being argumentative) that such simple common courtesies are personal sacrifices of your self interest than you are an extreme, over the top example of what I was talking about.

It is an objective fact that they are. They are small, and I've said so, but they're enough to demonstrate the falsehood your sweeping claim humans basically never make personal sacrifices for the good of another. Far from being "extremely rare", humans helping another and making a personal sacrifice in doing so is so common that we've built a whole ideology of "courtesy" and "manners" around it to hide the costs it does incur.
 

skepticalbip

Contributor
Joined
Apr 21, 2004
Messages
6,952
Location
Searching for reality along the long and winding r
Basic Beliefs
Everything we know is wrong (to some degree)
Just bedamned... you are really stretching. If you honestly believe (rather than just being argumentative) that such simple common courtesies are personal sacrifices of your self interest than you are an extreme, over the top example of what I was talking about.

It is an objective fact that they are. They are small, and I've said so, but they're enough to demonstrate the falsehood your sweeping claim humans basically never make personal sacrifices for the good of another. Far from being "extremely rare", humans helping another and making a personal sacrifice in doing so is so common that we've built a whole ideology of "courtesy" and "manners" around it to hide the costs it does incur.

So you really are an extreme, over the top example of the human nature I described? You really, really believe that handing a work mate a cup is a sacrifice of your personal well being? Sad.

That hungry stranger is just going to have to suffer.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,170
Just bedamned... you are really stretching. If you honestly believe (rather than just being argumentative) that such simple common courtesies are personal sacrifices of your self interest than you are an extreme, over the top example of what I was talking about.

It is an objective fact that they are. They are small, and I've said so, but they're enough to demonstrate the falsehood your sweeping claim humans basically never make personal sacrifices for the good of another. Far from being "extremely rare", humans helping another and making a personal sacrifice in doing so is so common that we've built a whole ideology of "courtesy" and "manners" around it to hide the costs it does incur.

A species that prioritizes people outside of it's own family above it's family can't exist. We can extend our goodwill to strangers, but only as far as our own family is still provided for. As soon as we sacrifice to an extent that our children die, are never born, or don't reproduce themselves, we fall out of the gene pool.

Any abundance of goodwill we see in rich countries basically come from the fact that we have too much fucking money at the expense of the environment.
 

Jokodo

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
4,618
Location
Riverside City
Basic Beliefs
humanist
Ok, can you explain this:

I'm not trying to be a dick, I'm just more interested in your argument than I am in explaining mine.

I don't see what there is to explain.

Here's some statements you've made throughout this thread.
  1. but most cultures should have core and unchanging components
  2. I'd call biology the primary influence on our behavior
  3. I'm more or less of the opinion that those mold-able parts of our culture are actually much more rigid
  4. Besides things like variation in political ideals, religious beliefs, and sexual practices, human cultures don't really vary that much.

each one of them is a non-statement as long as you don't give as a hint what those unchanging components are or should be, relative to what it is a big or small influence, what counts as 'things like', etc. It is trivially true that behaviours that are impossible to perform with human physiology will never become the cultural norm, and from all we know that's about all you're saying. And every one of those statements can be said with equal validity if we replace biology with physics: Just like whatever set of norms or beliefs you believe are running against human nature isn't going to materialize in any culture (and you have barely given us an idea what that would be), so equally you aren't going to find a lot of cultures where people expect a stone dropped to start moving towards the sky, or where people put on heavy woolen jumpers in summer only.

The whole point of the OP is that the ways biology influences cultural practices can be quite indirect, and it's arguing against a naive nativist conception where people take every (seemingly) universal behaviour as sufficient evidence that this behaviour was specifically selected for.

Ok, I'll try to go into a little more detail, keep in mind here that I'm talking about biology and human nature as a framework, and I'm going to tie this back into the OP eventually.

Core, Unchanging Components of Culture

Need for food, Need for Water, Ned to maintain internal temperature

Let's start with the stuff that is intuitively obvious about human nature and our survival: we need to maintain an internal metabolic temperature, we need to eat, we need water. Right there we've already identified three aspects about human nature that are absolutely critical to any human society, and if you want to call it that: culture.

This may seem trivial at first glance, but in reality every aspect of our day to day life is centered around these three facts. As children we go to school so we can be trained how to work (yes I realize this varies but lets generalize),

No, let's not generalize. A universal claim is either universally true, or it's false.

as adults we spend our lives working or otherwise trying to obtain money so we can eat. This kind of thing is so essential to society that it almost seems arbitrary and not worth any notice, but already we're looking at the overwhelming majority of any given human's behaviour throughout their entire life, simply because it is essential that they eat.

I don't know about your shitty job, but I'm pretty sure I could buy a month's worth of supplies plus pay the electricity bill for cooking the stuff with one or two days worth of my salary, without suffering any kind of malnourishment nor indeed relinquishing any of my favourite foods. Add a couple hours a day for cooking, eating and washing dishes, but this still isn't getting us anywhere near a majority of my waking time.

So this claim about an "overwhelming majority" of one's time is clearly false. This isn't even something particular for modern post-industrial societies. Studies on hunter-gatherer societies in the 20th century suggest an average of at most 3-5 hours a day spent on acquiring food - and these were studies on societies living in some of the world's scarcest environments (remember the 20th century? Most of the world's fertile land had long been occupied by farming cultures). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_affluent_society or

No this is not predictive of what schools someone will go to, or what work they will do, but it is predictive of a few things:

- it is essential that people have food, and a mechanism to get food

Sure. It's also essential that people have ground to walk upon since we're born without wings.

- it is intrinsic to any culture that there are functions which work toward the end of obtaining food

Whatever that means
- people's behaviour for an overwhelming majority of their time will be focused on finding and eating food

This is simply not true - see above.

With internal metabolic temperature we get a few more facts:

- housing, buildings, and architecture are universal among human communities
- without the invent of fire, and later the technology to use natural resources, most modern day societies just wouldn't exist in the first place

This is true, but I don't see how it helps make your point. You're basically saying: Without culture, we couldn't even exist, therefore, biology is king.

Reproduction and Gender Roles

Now let's move to the sexual aspect of our genetics, which is nearly as critical as those already mentioned: our species needs to reproduce itself, and men and women have real psychological differences due to variance in gender roles

What is universal is that men and women, on aggregate, show differences within any one culture. What exactly is considered typical male or typical female behaviour varies to some degree from culture to culture, and even when it doesn't, concluding that the reason is directly caused by genetics is a leap of faith. All adult traits, not just psychological ones, are determined by an interplay of genetics and environment, and not just in humans either. We call a trait "innate" for short when it reliably materialises in all typical environments of the species, but that doesn't make it any less co-determined by environment.

Due to these facts we will assuredly see that every human culture will have fertility rituals, and that men and women will generally have a different path in life.



No this isn't predictive of what fertility ritual a community has, but it is predictive of that existing, and the likelihod of how both man and woman in a relationship will live their lives. There is going to be variance from community to community, but again, biology now has it's hand in another overwhelming aspect of human behavior, how we spend most of our lives looking for a partner, and later raising kids. It also has a real hand in our psychology and how genders approach this game.

Religion, sexism, racism, tribalism

Ok so some of the obvious stuff is out of the way, let's move to our psychology: a need to resolve our cognitive dissonance about suffering, sexism, racism and prejudice, tribalism.

Honestly, at this point I'm just getting tired of writing this post, but I'll continue. Some would argue that these things are fixable, I don't think that they are. Because of the above points religious and/or idealistic beliefs are universal across human cultures. If not religion, it's idealism and utopian thinking about politics.

This is may well be true, but it doesn't follow from anything above.

Then we get into sexism, racism, prejudice, and those aspects of our psychology that keep us feeding the people who are close to us (family) and ignoring the people who aren't close to us. I won't get into much detail here, but I presume that you get the point.

No I don't. Innate psychology doesn't even dictate who we do and do not consider family.

Once again, a huge portion of our behavior is dictated by a few simple facts about our psychology, that have evolved over a huge amount of time. They aren't predictive of individual human behavior, but they are predictive of these phenomena existing in any given culture: ethnic conflict, racism, nationalism, you name it. I would say that's some important predictive power.

Tying back to the OP

So when I tie this back to ronburgundy's point that behavior isn't necessarily dictated by actual neural differences, I'm left with the notion that behaviour is dictated largely by neural realities, and our ability to conform tightly to these neural realities is selected for.

What would an "ability to conform to neural realities" even mean?

So where biology isn't ipso facto causing the behavior, it's instead producing the culture where the behaviour is derived, and the selective pressure is actually coming from our ability to conform to the culture that's been derived by our biology. This selective pressure is certainly going to mold real genetic differences where necessary, and I would probably go as far as saying that it's the most critical aspects of our culture that actually become embedded in our genetics.

Another leap of faith. If an advantageous trait more or less reliably materialises in the vast majority of environments where the species typically lives without being specifically coded in the genetics, there is 0 selective pressure to change that. Evolution doesn't do unit tests with edge cases.

Conversely, if a trait reliably with no selective advantage shows up due to the interplay of other, selected traits and environmental constants, it's going to be just as universal as a selected trait, so finding that a trait is universal is sufficient neither to conclude that it is genetic, nor beneficial.
 
Last edited:

Jokodo

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
4,618
Location
Riverside City
Basic Beliefs
humanist
Just bedamned... you are really stretching. If you honestly believe (rather than just being argumentative) that such simple common courtesies are personal sacrifices of your self interest than you are an extreme, over the top example of what I was talking about.

It is an objective fact that they are. They are small, and I've said so, but they're enough to demonstrate the falsehood your sweeping claim humans basically never make personal sacrifices for the good of another. Far from being "extremely rare", humans helping another and making a personal sacrifice in doing so is so common that we've built a whole ideology of "courtesy" and "manners" around it to hide the costs it does incur.

So you really are an extreme, over the top example of the human nature I described? You really, really believe that handing a work mate a cup is a sacrifice of your personal well being? Sad.

That hungry stranger is just going to have to suffer.

You made a generalization that doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Ad hominems and intentional misunderstandings of my point won't change that. I'm not making a claim about what should, nor drawing any conclusions about what I or you should do. I'm making an observation about what is: That humans, including you and me, make sacrifices small and big for others, including strangers, all the fucking time (of course, more often small than big).
 
Top Bottom