Meat-for-sex?

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Meat-for-sex?

Studies continue to shed doubt on the idea that primates share meat for mating rights.

"Males did not achieve more matings with females during cycles they shared (meat) compared with cycles in which they did not share."

 

http://sitemaker.umich.edu/mitani/files/mitani_and_watts_2001.pdf

 

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Watcher, you are the man. 

Watcher, you are the man. 

Seriously, you're one of the only people on this board who takes the time to scour journals to make sure that what I say is accurate.  I really appreciate that.

I haven't seen this article, and I'm going to give it a thorough read later when I have some time. 

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Oh...    I'm not trying

Oh...    I'm not trying to be a thorn in your ass, Hamby.  Honest.  I have a lot of respect for you.

I first read about female chimps being the bread winners in a book I read a couple months ago on human evolution.  I read some of it out loud to my wife and we both laughed about guys being slack asses.

I'd like to point out that this study is not the be-all end-all.  There are other studies that contradict it.  The more I read about human evolution and primate behavior the more confused I get.

Actually it would be really cool to hang out with you sometime and talk about human evolution.  We both are really interested in it apparently.  We could probably trade some books back and forth.

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Quote:Oh...    I'm not

Quote:
Oh...    I'm not trying to be a thorn in your ass, Hamby.  Honest.  I have a lot of respect for you.

I was being totally serious.  I like being right, and if someone can prove me wrong, I'd rather they go ahead and do it instead of letting me wallow in ignorance.

I still haven't read this yet... long day so far... but I don't expect it to be that big of a deal.  As you say, nothing is conclusive, and the meat for sex theory is not fundamental to anything.  In other words, the evolutionary model I advocate will still function if something else was the catalyst for the first runaway selection event.  (The first time our brains grew drastically.)

Quote:
I'd like to point out that this study is not the be-all end-all.  There are other studies that contradict it.  The more I read about human evolution and primate behavior the more confused I get.

No doubt.  There are many conflicting theories.  Besides that, studying the other primates is only a way to get ideas about human evolution, not a way to prove what happened in our evolution.  After all, they've evolved an awful lot since splitting from our common ancestor.  Who's to say they haven't evolved out of trading meat for sex?

Quote:
Actually it would be really cool to hang out with you sometime and talk about human evolution.  We both are really interested in it apparently.  We could probably trade some books back and forth.

OOOH... I love book swaps! 

 

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While the new study is

While the new study is enlightening, you can't directly apply it to our ancestors.  But I'm of the opinion that our most ancient ancestors didn't eat much meat anyway, so I wouldn't be surprised if it was absolutely right.  Australopithecine teeth aren't suited for ripping and tearing tough, uncooked meat--they still look like the teeth of an animal that eats fruit and nuts.  I favor the idea of a bipedal scavenger myself--you get an early form of tool use in the cracking of bones for marrow in with the package.  If you're interested in bipedalism (I think it's the more interesting question--but I'm more of a physiologist by trade, so there you go), Peter Wheeler's theory of lessening radiation exposure and heat stress by reshaping your total surface area and losing your hair still holds up pretty well.  It's fairly clear that everything in an intertidal zone (mussels, crabs, little water bugs) is absolutely obsessed with controlling temperature--a long way from a warm-blooded plains ape, I know, but maintaining homeostasis is still our biggest energy drain after supplying that big honking brain (which probably only got big enough to start thinking about trading anything for sex after it got up on two legs).  No mention of any kind of bartering among modern primates need be mentioned here.  They weren't alive back then, either.

Interestingly enough, no one's ever found a prehistoric Chimpanzee fossil.

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Quote:that big honking brain

Quote:
that big honking brain (which probably only got big enough to start thinking about trading anything for sex after it got up on two legs).

Then again, there are a lot of very unintelligent animals that trade food for sex.  I can't think of the particular one right now, but there's some insect or another that brings a dead carcass to the conjugal bed.  The female gnaws on the thing while the male does his thing.  If he finishes before she does, he tries to steal the carcass and use it to ply another female.

I don't think trading meat for sex is dependent on having developed a big brain.  While I'm thinking, I also think that the rarity of meat consumption adds credibility to the theory.  If meat was particularly rare, it would have been a damn fine incentive to the ladies.

 

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DamnDirtyApe

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Interestingly enough, no one's ever found a prehistoric Chimpanzee fossil.

Yeah, I've read about the upright stance of humans being a product of minimizing how much of our bodies are exposed to the sun.  Also the finer hair and improved sweat glands for cooling.  Interesting stuff.

"The first convincing chimp fossil has been discovered by scientists.

The two incisors and a molar, probably all from the same individual, date from around 500,000 years ago. They were found in sediments that include fossils of two early humans - Homo erectus or Homo rhodensiensis - suggesting that chimp and human ancestors were contemporaries. A possible fourth tooth is still awaiting analysis."

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7917

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4201666.stm

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Homo erectus was also pretty

Homo erectus was also pretty carnivorous, comparatively speaking.

I don't know how I feel about the temperature regulation thing.  Several questions plague me.  In order to stand upright, humans need to give birth prematurely compared to other apes, due to the rotation and narrowing of the hips.  This is a substantial disadvantage.  Why would the gradual change to bipedalism have been able to just waltz through such an obvious negative consequence for something as secondarily important as temperature regulation.

What were Homos doing that the other primates weren't that led to selection of offspring that were slightly more upright, had slightly more dependent offspring, and had slightly better temperature control?  You know what I mean?  It's not hard to imagine natural selection favoring a male who learned to bribe females with a hunk of meat, or a female who  got a little extra meat around the time of conception.  Figuring out what kind of selection pressure made temperature regulation such a big deal is kind of difficult, at least for me.

How do we account for hunting meat?  As DamnDirtyApe has pointed out, most of our ancestors did just fine on the Granola diet.  Meat was difficult to catch.  It involved lots of coordination to bring down a beast big enough to feed a tribe.  It seems fairly certain that among our first tools were weapons -- either for hunting each other or mammoths.  Human ancestors went to a LOT of trouble to introduce meat into their diets.  Trading for sex provides a parsimonious explanation.  If that wasn't it, what's another explanation?

Speaking of chimps, chimps hunt meat in packs, but don't appear to trade food for sex.  Is it coincidence that they're not upright and don't have big brains?  (I know... the logic doesn't work in reverse like that.  I ask only to point out a possible connection, not to prove anything.)

 

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Clarification:  Chimps hunt

Clarification:  Chimps hunt meat in packs, but they don't organize to kill animals bigger than them.  They hunt for monkeys and small animals.  Human ancestors went to the trouble of learning how to organize well enough to kill animals as a team.

Then again, hunting in a team isn't anything new.  Lions do it, too.  My question isn't how team hunting evolves.  I want to know why our ancestors, of all the primates, switched to a more carnivorous diet, AND went through all the trouble of getting a big brain and developing culture.  Did females randomly select big brains, and then hunting developed as a "side effect" of males getting smarter?  Did males begin to get smarter to ply women for sex?  If that's so, free hands (upright posture) would have been clearly advantageous without the need for the meat theory.  Tool use would explain it perfectly well.

Anyway.  I'm just sort of musing out loud, not trying to make any kind of coherent statements

 

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Hambydammit wrote:Homo

Hambydammit wrote:

Homo erectus was also pretty carnivorous, comparatively speaking.

I don't know how I feel about the temperature regulation thing.  Several questions plague me.  In order to stand upright, humans need to give birth prematurely compared to other apes, due to the rotation and narrowing of the hips.  This is a substantial disadvantage.  Why would the gradual change to bipedalism have been able to just waltz through such an obvious negative consequence for something as secondarily important as temperature regulation.

It's not walking upright that makes us have to give birth to premature children.  It's just the growth in the brain that occurred after we were already walking upright.

Back in the 60's and early 70's the predominate idea was that the ancestor to humans grew a large brain first and then transitioned to bipedalism.  After Lucy was found this turned the idea on its head.  Lucy had a brain comparable to a chimpanzee but was clearly a biped.  There is also a tribe or more of chimps in the inner Congo that seem to have quite remarkably become almost 100% bipedal.  There was a very famous member of these chimps that was featured on national television.  I believe his name is Oliver. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_%28chimpanzee%29

But as far as temperature regulation...*hops back and forth from foot to foot*

Read this, Hamby!

"Biomechanical research reveals a surprising key to the survival of our species: Humans are built to outrun nearly every other animal on the planet over long distances."

http://discovermagazine.com/2006/may/tramps-like-us

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A few points...Brain size is

A few points...

Brain size is not a sufficient gauge of intellect. There are many animals with larger brains than homo sapiens, but none of them can do calculus.  So, the point that Lucy had a similar sized brain to chimps does not mean much.

We must recognize that meat is a far richer fuel source than vegetation - the caveate being, it is harder to get. Should a sufficient source of meat be available, it can fuel big brains and select for certain attributes.

If we look at other mammals, carnivorous or omnivorous animals tend to be more intelligent than herbovoirs. Predators are typically more crafty and have greater intelligence and problem solving skills across the board. They HAVE to be, because they HAVE to hunt in order to survive. Dolphins, whales, large cats and canines bear this out when compared to buffalo and gazelles. There are exceptions such as pachyderms, but the rule is generally that predators have a leg up in the brains department.

Personally, I think humans are where they are, because we evolved from and still are opportunists. We make use of whatever is available to us. Our teeth are testament to that fact.

 

 

 

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Opportunists ! Hey girls,

Opportunists !

Hey girls,  I GOT MEAT for YOU ! 

               well , I do 

       


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Yellow_Number_Five wrote:A

Yellow_Number_Five wrote:

A few points...

Brain size is not a sufficient gauge of intellect. There are many animals with larger brains than homo sapiens, but none of them can do calculus.  So, the point that Lucy had a similar sized brain to chimps does not mean much.

As far as IQ points?  No.  As far as birthing problems?  Yes.  Humans don't have problems giving birth due to how intelligent the child is.  It's the size of that big, honkin noggin that's causing the problems.

I've read Carl Sagan's book Broca's Brain that covered the problems trying to correlate intelligence to brain size.  And the studies of Homo Floresiensis throw even more questions into the mix.

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Hambydammit wrote:Homo

Hambydammit wrote:

Homo erectus was also pretty carnivorous, comparatively speaking.

I don't know how I feel about the temperature regulation thing.  Several questions plague me.  In order to stand upright, humans need to give birth prematurely compared to other apes, due to the rotation and narrowing of the hips.  This is a substantial disadvantage.  Why would the gradual change to bipedalism have been able to just waltz through such an obvious negative consequence for something as secondarily important as temperature regulation.


The point is that temperature regulation may not have been of secondary importance at the time.  Lucy's pelvis was actually narrower than that of Homo sapiens.  Admittedly her species was smaller and was giving birth to smaller babies, especially in the all important dimension of cranial size, but odds are that she still would have had a child that we would call premature in comparison to modern apes.  We actually do have evidence of a major change of fauna in the vicinity of the African Rift Valley around 4 mya (Lucy's at about 3.2 mya), in which likely due to climate change, trees largely gave way to tall grasses.  That is to say, it got hotter and the shade went away, too.  Better temperature management would have been imperative for survival for populations that didn't migrate. 

Quote:

What were Homos doing that the other primates weren't that led to selection of offspring that were slightly more upright, had slightly more dependent offspring, and had slightly better temperature control?  You know what I mean?  It's not hard to imagine natural selection favoring a male who learned to bribe females with a hunk of meat, or a female who  got a little extra meat around the time of conception.  Figuring out what kind of selection pressure made temperature regulation such a big deal is kind of difficult, at least for me.

By the time you get to Homo, you're effectively in a different ballgame.   And in any case, I think you're either upright or you're not.  The pelvis obviously got wider to accommodate a bigger infant brain and that would have altered posture over time, but we still haven't found a knuckle-dragging intermediate species.  That may be because there wasn't one.  Lots of apes exhibit short-term bipedalism for reaching up for food on tree branches or wading.  Our pelvis (and Lucy's, more importantly) suggests that we we bipedal a long time before our teeth had adapted to the meat eating diet that allowed for that oxygen hog upstairs.  Just to be clear, trading meat for sex seems reasonable enough to me, but I'd argue that you have to look at jaws and teeth to find a starting point.  Behavior can't be separated from physiology.

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Watcher wrote:DamnDirtyApe

Watcher wrote:

DamnDirtyApe wrote:
 

Interestingly enough, no one's ever found a prehistoric Chimpanzee fossil.

Yeah, I've read about the upright stance of humans being a product of minimizing how much of our bodies are exposed to the sun.  Also the finer hair and improved sweat glands for cooling.  Interesting stuff.

"The first convincing chimp fossil has been discovered by scientists.

The two incisors and a molar, probably all from the same individual, date from around 500,000 years ago. They were found in sediments that include fossils of two early humans - Homo erectus or Homo rhodensiensis - suggesting that chimp and human ancestors were contemporaries. A possible fourth tooth is still awaiting analysis."

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7917

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4201666.stm

Good call.  I had forgotten about that.

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human evolution

these are all very interesting statements.  i would like to give a few ideas on future human evolution.

wider hips in females for less premature babies.  the avarage hip size for women is going up (hypothisis only nothing to back that up)

women are having children later so we are going to live longer too.

larger crainial cavities for larger brains.  btw if this is true this site WILL WIN ITS OBJECTIVE

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1029149/Why-people-believe-God-likely-lower-IQ.html

humans are still evolving i hope for the better i see many improvments over my ancesters in the last 300 years

i hope that religion and terrorism are both on their way out

we will have a real world improvement in our mass organisam (hamby i know i got this term wrong srry )

people will live longer more fun and less guilty lives with better rules to live by.

any one else have hypothoses on the future ? plz share

 

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Quote:It's not walking

Quote:
It's not walking upright that makes us have to give birth to premature children.  It's just the growth in the brain that occurred after we were already walking upright.

Duh... brain fart on my part.

 

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Quote:these are all very

Quote:
these are all very interesting statements.  i would like to give a few ideas on future human evolution.

Be careful.  When humans start making predictions about where we might end up evolving, they tend to make guesses about what would be really awesome for humans, not what would be better for the genes.  It's also really hard to predict environmental changes, which makes it really hard to predict dietary changes, lifestyle changes, etc...

Quote:
wider hips in females for less premature babies.  the avarage hip size for women is going up (hypothisis only nothing to back that up)

Take this for instance.  Why would evolution favor women whose hips were wider?  With modern medicine, we are able to do C sections when there are problems.  We can give women really good drugs so they don't feel so much pain.  Babies born to women of all hip sizes tend to survive now.  Women rarely die in childbirth.  What selection pressure is there to drive hip size up?

Yeah.  It would be awesome for women if birthing didn't hurt so damn much.  But, we've solved most of the problems for the genes.  I don't see any selection pressure in this direction.  What selection pressure were you thinking of?

Quote:
women are having children later so we are going to live longer too.

This is a societal change.  Women are still capable of having children at very young ages.  In fact, the age they can conceive has gone down slightly.

Quote:
larger crainial cavities for larger brains.  btw if this is true this site WILL WIN ITS OBJECTIVE

Could be.  It's already been pointed out that larger brains doesn't necessarily equate to more intellect, so it's hard to say.  It's also kind of embarrassing for humans to admit, but the human brain isn't really that great a survival adaptation.  It's possible that it's a big extravagant fitness indicator (like a peacock's tail) that happened to give us a few perks like medicine.

Quote:
humans are still evolving i hope for the better i see many improvments over my ancesters in the last 300 years

Remember, better only exists for genes.  If something turns out better for the life form attached to genes, that's kind of cool, but there's no variable for it in natural selection. 

Our genes don't care if we have shorter work weeks or nice cars.  They care if we keep reproducing successfully.  Notice that the best reproducers in the world are the poorest people with the worst standards of living?  Notice that there are ALWAYS a lot more poor people than rich people?

Coincidence?

Quote:

we will have a real world improvement in our mass organisam (hamby i know i got this term wrong srry )

people will live longer more fun and less guilty lives with better rules to live by.

I think it's unlikely.

My best guess is that we will continue to reproduce at approximately the same rates.  Our lifespans will probably increase a little, but not too much.  At some point, either our own contributions to the greenhouse effect, our overharvesting of food sources, our pollution, or more likely, a combination of all three will result in mass starvation.  Once a lot of humans starve, we'll probably see a fairly rapid period of evolution, probably mostly affecting our ability to digest different food sources, survive higher temperatures, and process pollutants.

I don't really think it will be all that awesome.

 

 

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 To all the ladies out

 To all the ladies out there: don't let this discourage you from buying me steak. Steak is an aphrodisiac for sure.

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hamby & Watcher

     Let me see if I can throw some light on this subject.   I am an engineer type,  my specialty is human mechanics. I also have an interest in why quad-peds turned into bipeds.  See if you agree with my analysis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     On the job I have to build the machines the workers ergonomic efficiencey :Back straight; head up, arms bent slightly, hands moving at about  armpit level,   weather the operator likes it or not.  They continually readjust the controls so they can slouch a bit, their comfort level. Completely ignoring their own experiences that slouching causes back pains, pulled muscles, and fatigue. Early hominids would have gone for comfort over comen sense without the IQ level to understand why.

      walking upright because of lack of shade, I do not buy into either; but I'm not qualified to argue the point with an anthropologist.  I can tell you after 31 years in a Tire Factory that humans can endure a great deal of heat, far more then you could expect and keep on working as if it were nothing. These are men acclimated to Canada remember. Working a tire pressline in mid summer is heat incarnate 140 degrees and more yet they suck back the Gaterade and water and keep going. 

      Your posts reminded me of an ABC 20/20 interview with Desmond Morris meny years ago. They use hidden cameras at a singles bar while Desmond explained human mating habits. He focussed on food sharing and other nuances and predicted who would go home with whom, with a good success rate.  I noticed a nuance, very subtle, that he did not mention.  When ever a pretty girl got near a single guy, the guys stood straight, heads up. I couldn't them to do it for a pay check or good health (guaranteed) but for possible/maybe SEX they stand upright.

 

      I believe early hominids were trying to impress the girls, as soon as everyone strutted about the next way to get notice above the crowd was to bring food with the strutting. The next step to impress the girls would be to show caring traits to her children. These changes took place over generations, adding IQ  points with each  new behavior.   Humans walk upright  because we want to get LAID.

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Quote:humans are still

Quote:

humans are still evolving i hope for the better i see many improvments over my ancesters in the last 300 years

The amount of genetic evolution that takes place over the course of 300 years will be negligible at best. At this point, the totally determining factor for the trajectory of human future is culture, memes (if you believe in memes), not genes. Memes change a lot faster than genes.

This raises the question of what the human future will be like in the context of our genes. We have fucked up pretty badly, especially over the last 50 years or so, in terms of determining a reasonable future. One important thing worth noting is the "slaves-to-the-genes" hypothesis is problematic. The problem comes from the fact that the notion appears internally contradictory. We are programmed to do certain things by genes. In the ensuring the continuity of genetic material, we (the carriers of genetic material) are in possession of toolkits, physical embodiments of the genetic material, that are the basis for the successful continuity of the genes. It is, however, a logical error, to extend this principle to state that it is not possible for the organism in which this toolkit is embodied to counteract the programming of these genes. The toolkits in question are there because they are successful at generating the proliferation of the genes, thus they flourish under natural selection. An aspect of the toolkit we possess is flexibility. This flexibility in effect, this flexibility is a primary feature allowing this toolkit (OK, from now on, when I say toolkit, read: the brain) allows for the counteraction of instinctual programming that results from the genetic material. This raises the question of why it is advantageous.  The answer is because we usually don't counteract the instructions programmed by genetic material, although we are capable of doing it. We are capable of doing it because the flexibility of our toolkit allows for the production of a second-order set of abstract replicators that Richard Dawkins call memes. Meme flourishing does not necessarily reflect the instructions of genes, they only reflect the selectivity of memes. In some cases, the selection of memes depends on genetic programming. In some cases, it does not.

So, it would be correct to say that our genes program us to be selfish, short-term-thinking organisms with all the other previously mentioned traits that are causing such catastrophe on our environs, but it would be inaccurate to say that we cannot counteract this. We are perfectly capable of long-term thinking, of conservationism, of a myriad of things that counteract our psychology. Because if we weren't, this would constitute a tight limitation on the flexibility of our primary selective advantage, which in turn would loosen selective advantage. Thus, it may be overly hasty to say "we will destroy our environs because we are selfish, short-term creatures who are incapable of doing otherwise". What we will do, in the future, will depend on memes. Because I reject this hypothesis just put in quotes, I am probably not as pessimistic about the human future as Hamby, although that should not be interpreted to say that I am optimistic in the manner that the poster I quoted is.

One reason confusion is created by these metaphors is that people have this image that genes are like evil little slave-masters that watch over us. This isn't the case. Genes are genes. Stretches of nucleic acid holding the code for a physical organism which possesses certain phenotypic traits determing their phenotype. If we do something counteractive to pyschological instinct, then it is not as if these dissenting actions will be locked down. Genes don't care what you do. They don't care about anything, because they are not conscious. One thing that is commonly pointed out is that if life is "heredity+environment" then the degree to which one or the other affects phenotype (here "phenotype includes our personality and our tendancies, as well as things like hair and eye color), then the ontogenic flexibility of that characteristic will determine the degree to which the trait is determined by one or the other factor. Something like eye color, for instance, has no flexibility. You are stuck with the eye color you've got. Something like the human brain, as its primary advantage, has ultra-high flexibility. It wouldn't be an advantageous thing to carry around if it didn't. Because of this, it is perfectly possible for people to think long term, and to not burn through the planet if some effort is put in. Our genes are no excuse. So we should not fall into the idea that we can't possibly do something if it is counteracted by our programming of nature.

Lastly, there is a mistake some people make and that is to say that our modern tendencies toward such things as birth control, abortion, etc. constitutes a violation of embedded instinct towards having children. This is inaccurate. The embedded instinct is sexual urge, this in turn results in the production of children. The latter is only indirectly embedded. The former is much, much harder to bring under control, and doing so can have damaging psychological consequences.

PS are you (H) going to look at the Llama thread? You should. It's funny.

 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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DamnDirtyApe
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Jeffrick wrote:      

Jeffrick wrote:

       walking upright because of lack of shade, I do not buy into either; but I'm not qualified to argue the point with an anthropologist.  I can tell you after 31 years in a Tire Factory that humans can endure a great deal of heat, far more then you could expect and keep on working as if it were nothing. These are men acclimated to Canada remember. Working a tire pressline in mid summer is heat incarnate 140 degrees and more yet they suck back the Gaterade and water and keep going. 

Well, yeah.  But if Wheeler et al are correct, then your co-workers have already undergone evolution specifically for the purpose of handling heat more efficiently.  Quadrupedal protohumans in the Rift Valley four million years ago quite clearly hadn't.  And they didn't have Gatorade, either.

"The whole conception of God is a conception derived from ancient Oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of free men."
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DG, I don't think I disagree

DG, I don't think I disagree with anything you've said, but I do want to clarify my opinion on the future (and present) of humanity a little.

Quote:
It is, however, a logical error, to extend this principle to state that it is not possible for the organism in which this toolkit is embodied to counteract the programming of these genes.

Yes.  It is also an error to assume that because we can, we will.  The heart of my stance on humanity's future stems from the belief that we will override our genetic predispositions to some degree, but not enough to prevent some pretty bad problems.  i don't believe we will drive ourselves extinct.  I believe we'll drive nearly everything extinct, and then we will adjust to the new (much worse) conditions.

Some genetic predispositions are harder to overcome than others.  Sugar is an easy example.  We are genetically designed to eat sugar just about any time we can get it because sugar is an indication of being non-poisonous and nutritious.  Millions of people bypass this programming and eat very little sugar (incidentally, by doing this, they approach the nutritional intake that our genes originally designed the cravings for.)

On the other hand, the genetic predisposition to reproduce isn't just a predisposition -- it's the single strongest drive any surviving creature has outside of staying alive long enough to reproduce.  Among creatures without the ability to predict the future (pretty much all of them besides us) the normal means of maintaining stable populations are starvation and predation.  We've pretty much dealt with those two, so long as the environment remains stable and the means to domesticate and farm still exist.

That's the main thrust of my view.  The ability to farm and domesticate will be outstripped by our population at some point.  Whether this is from pollution, extinction, or environmental changes, and whether environmental changes are primarily non-human or human in origin, is irrelevant.  At any given point, no matter how bad things are getting, the average human being is going to feel entitlement, particularly with regard to reproduction, which is going to be the single most relevant trait that we're going to have to address if we're going to avoid a grim future.

Quote:
Thus, it may be overly hasty to say "we will destroy our environs because we are selfish, short-term creatures who are incapable of doing otherwise".

I do not say this.  I say that we will very likely destroy our environs because we are nearly exactly like every other creature with regard to reproduction, and we tend to reproduce regardless of the logical reasons not to.  We are capable of controlling our reproduction en masse, but we are very unlikely to do so because it is programmed with such ferocity into our genes.

Mass conservation is, I think, an extension of Game Theory that does not come easily to humans.  It requires a second order logic wherein the normal solution to the Prisoners' Dilemma doesn't apply anymore, and the defect/cooperate choice is replaced with defect/cooperate/cooperatively sacrifice, where both parties gain no significant advantage from choosing the most advantageous option for the species.

I believe that people who think that humans are capable of mass movements towards conservation and sustainable population are falling victim to the outdated idea that evolution can happen from the group level.  Instead, the principle of the selfish gene has taught us that group evolution is an emergent characteristic of individual selection.  {EDIT:  Change to:  "I believe that people who think humans are likely to engage in mass movements towards conservation".}

Quote:
Because of this, it is perfectly possible for people to think long term, and to not burn through the planet if some effort is put in. Our genes are no excuse. So we should not fall into the idea that we can't possibly do something if it is counteracted by our programming of nature.

I agree.  Despite my opinion that the effort won't matter, I do everything I can because I do believe that I could be wrong.  Morally, I feel an obligation to be as environmentally active as possible even though I believe that our efforts will, in the long run, be futile.

As you say, our genes are just genes. Excuses are for humans, not genes, and I make no excuses for the excess of humanity.  I think that you and I just come down on different places in the same spectrum.  We agree that the human brain is incredibly adaptable.  We just disagree on how much the brain will adapt.

In a way, it's like religion.  You and I are empirical proof that the tendency to conform to social norms regarding superstition is just that -- a tendency, not a requirement.  However, the 85% of the population that does conform to social norms regarding superstition is a stinging indictment against the view that humans can deviate from our "programming" en masse.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Watcher wrote:Studies

Watcher wrote:

Studies continue to shed doubt on the idea that primates share meat for mating rights.

"Males did not achieve more matings with females during cycles they shared (meat) compared with cycles in which they did not share."

 

http://sitemaker.umich.edu/mitani/files/mitani_and_watts_2001.pdf

 

 

Ahem...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7988169.stm