Re: Orthologs was RS

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sun 07 May 2006 - 17:57:35 GMT

  • Next message: Derek Gatherer: "Cultural Evolution Workshop Proceedings"

    At 01:00 AM 5/6/2006 +0100, you wrote:
    > > increased status has not resulted in a large number of extra
    > > wives
    >ROFL you're not going to the right conferences :D


    >What's interesting in biology is the large numbers of women and the lack
    >of concern about that -- we're easily the most balanced of the hard
    >sciences; that also means we have our fair share of alpha females...

    Hunter gatherer environment accounts for the psychological traits leading to alpha males. It isn't as obvious why alpha females would be favored, though I think you can get a hint of it in Jane Goodall's description of Flo. Flo tended to stay in the very center of the territory where lethal attacks by males from surrounding groups seldom threatened put her offspring at risk.

    I suspect that for human groups, the children of high status women were more likely to survive in hard times.

    >Which is the thing about the genetic angle -- I think that the analysis of
    >behaviours with reference to the period when our social roots were really
    >established for the later homo spp. is useful, but what we should think
    >about is a kind of deep-time analysis of _meme_ evolution throughout --
    >how would the fundamental concepts established in primal human groups
    >evolve and what might we expect to see now; same basic analysis, just a
    >different inheritance model. James Dean (for e.g.) has in effect
    >reproduced despite living a rubbish live from a gene-centric pov. iyswim.
    >okay a bit obscure.

    I don't entirely agree with you here. You can't hold genes steady and look at meme evolution alone, well maybe you can in the past few hundred years, but in deep time, you just have to consider the gene-meme co-evolution. Memes, for certain ones like rock chipping and baskets, made the proto-humans who were good a learning them more (reproductively) successful. But the ability to learn memes is deeply dependant on genes.

    >When similar environments produce similar behaviours in women (alphas) I
    >fear the genetic EP argument becomes uncomfortably complex?

    Not at all. Unless having high status in women made them far less likely to reproduce in the EEA, there is no reason a trait largely selected in males would not also show up in women. After all, men have nipples, it just isn't worth the cost in genetic complexity to leave them entirely out of males.

    >Might we also look to a form of memetics here? Might we more usefully
    >consider how the perhaps necessary structures imposed by physical form,
    >basic midbrain stuff (face recognition being about as sophisticated as it
    >gets) and emotions etc. (yawning, anyone?), along with lifestyle in early
    >hominid groups might have shaped their core cultural values (cities make
    >people) and what that means for our own? I'm a great believer that where a
    >memetic transmission mechanism works any genetic analogue would be lost

    In enough generations, maybe. But again you have to consider the gene-meme interplay. It is *far* easier to learn to fear snakes than other dangerous items like light bulb sockets. We are pre wired by genes that make it easy to pick up the "fear snakes" meme and not so easy for the meme to fear lamp sockets.

    Best wishes,


    >(redundancy = drift) so I'm interested in how particular situations over
    >the long term might make us the society we are given our successive
    >environments and equally, how minds from that background respond in
    >'realtime' in given (maybe stressful for e.g.) situations.
    >Tired. Warbling. nn.
    >Cheers, Chris.
    >Keith Henson wrote:
    >>At 10:33 AM 5/5/2006 +0100, Chris wrote:
    >>>Now despite that rant I'm split on this; as a memeticist of sorts I am
    >>>delighted to see all this novelty springing from this (linguistic)
    >>>innovation; just like bicycles or butterflies or brands -- innovate,
    >>>capitalise, make variations on the basic theme to create/discover/fill
    >>>as many niches as possible blah blah blah. And I do get a good laugh out
    >>>of some of them. It's all fun in the end, with that hat on.
    >>>However, I simultaneously see it as misleading nonsense that is deployed
    >>>in an attempt to smear kudos on otherwise mundane work. I don't claim
    >>>that the work being done is valueless, just that this stupid distraction
    >>>of delineating and rebranding what is fundamentally just a region of the
    >>>multidimensional bioscience continuum is confusing to some, wastes space
    >>>and time and generates ridiculous turf/ownership scraps where someone
    >>>will invent a new omics just because the one they would have gone for is
    >>>'controlled' by a big name they don't like, or simply didn't involve
    >>>them from the start.
    >>>This is as cringe-making as the physicists with that 'brane thing --
    >>>basically it's an attempt to be 'cool' in some weird way, to appear
    >>>cutting edge and savvy. Let's leave 'cool' to the teen magazines.

    >>I have over the last ten years or so added this big hammer, evolutionary
    >>psychology, to my tool box. Admitting that to a guy with a hammer
    >>everything looks like a nail, let me take a swat at it.

    >>"Cool," "big name," "turf/ownership scraps" all relate to primate
    >>status. It is easy to see how a psychological trait to seek attention
    >>(where the integral of attention is status) would arise--in males anyway,
    >>i.e., no status, no nooky, no nooky, no kids.

    >>Now speaking as the person who coined "memeoid" and "capture-bonding" (I
    >>took out the sorry numbers they show on Google) I must say that there is
    >>a flavor of status associated with having done so. The fact that the
    >>increased status has not resulted in a large number of extra wives,
    >>"extra pair" matings and dozens of children is *entirely* due to the
    >>mismatch between the EEA and the modern environment.

    >>Well, to be honest, it might also have something to do with spending my
    >>spare time staring at a tube rather than picking up chicks at singles
    >>bars. :-)

    >>But you get the drift, it's a feature, not a bug, and you will just have
    >>to deal with it.

    >>Best wishes,
    >>Keith Henson
    >>This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    >>Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    >>For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    >This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    >Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    >For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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