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Studio 54 Million BC

 
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brian-hansen
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:14 am    Post subject: Studio 54 Million BC Reply with quote

I'm not above the same parlor game of speculative sociobiology. Compared to other kinds of reasoning, and other fields where I feel more comfortable, I find that I'm probably trying to re-invent anthropology (which I've never studied or even had much interest in), so I naturally feel a bit tentative, whether I succeed in expressing that, or not.

In any case, the primate line starts about 70 million years ago (70Mya) at the end of the Mesozoic and the start of the Cenozoic Eras (old vs. new life). Something happened that doesn't seem to have been exactly a "flood" (just the opposite, as it turns out), but it might as well have been, based on the level of extinction from that time. Most species of sea life went extinct, and the dinosaurs, as well.

I pick up the story at the lemur-like prosimians. To infer something about how they behaved, and how our modern behaviors are linked to them, you look for evidence in species that split from "our" ancestral line at around that time; in this case, lemurs.

This kind of evidence is very fragile, it seems to me, suggestive and impressionistic. If we look along the line of human descent, and look at what we know about our brothers, and cousins, further back in time, it is almost as though we are seeing a random catalog of varieties of reproductive strategies and social structures. It is possible to find matriarchal structures, as well as patriarchal; tournament, harem style, and consort-based pair bonding. You can find total promiscuity (if such a term could be applied to lemurs), or lines where sex is rare and seemingly perfunctory. To this untrained observer, it seems like a total mishmash, defying neat explanation based on some pre-assumed theory or ideology. Which would be a comfort, in any case, since it would tend to reinforce the core lesson of evolution: whatever works. Nature has no ideology aside from this.

One way I tend to think of the sequence is almost like a "political reform movement". Having a male hierarchy, somewhat symbolic status system that had a tournament-style, winner-take-all quality, was actually a kind of reform of what had come before. In particular, in the rutting season, males would engage in frantic hostile behavior, in order to mate. Having a more symbolic status structure seems like an advance over a structure that was sure to leave many individuals weakened or injured.

At this time, there was little male involvement in child-rearing. Somewhere in here (I mention 54 million years ago, merely to make a play on words with the notorious "Studio 54"), a female-based status system seems to have emerged. In some cases, favored males would be taken as consorts to fertile females. More telling, male children left the tribe / family and wandered off, while mothers and daughters stayed to form the "culture" of the society. High-status females, through action and example were able to largely pass on their own high status to their daughters.

I saw a segment of the documentary series "Life" (narrated by Oprah Winfrey) that illustrated some of these notions beautifully. Japanese Snow Monkeys that currently live in the north of Japan, where the winters get quite cold, were featured. There was a scene where natural hot springs in the area have made a perfect 105 degree soaking pond, roughly the size of a suburban swimming pool, and some of the monkeys are clearly contented to be there soaking.

But we're shown a scene where one monkey is waving away some lower-status monkeys with a meaning that is clear enough to the human observer: you can't come in here. The incident is treated so matter-of-factly by both parties, that it is easy to think that we are witnessing a monkey "bouncer", something recognizable as part of our ancestral line, only without the red velvet rope.


Last edited by brian-hansen on Mon May 16, 2011 5:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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jabailo



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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The thing about nature and its roles, it seems to me, is that it does "employ" individuals in societies as "bouncers", "queens", "alpha males".

We as individuals with consciousness like to think that we are "destined" for our job.

Nature may simply have an opening and you showed up on time.

Hence the "high status" monkey is the one that got in the hot tub first.
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brian-hansen
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although I find it a little uncomfortable to disagree about so abstract a topic, I find it more helpful to consider the non-accidental aspects of status, in this context.

In any case, if my theory is correct, you and I, as males, might not have much insight into the question. The kind of status I'm describing is an invention and mechanism of mothers and daughters, and affects males only indirectly.
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jabailo



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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

brian-hansen wrote:
The kind of status I'm describing is an invention and mechanism of mothers and daughters, and affects males only indirectly.


You might find support in the social structure of lions.

Prides of females are the stable structure.

Wandering males are the option...they travel in groups of three and try to "take over" (or, be allowed into the club) of the female pride.

Odd twist -- when a new group of males comes into a pride of females, the ones who are pregnant from the previous males can spontaneously abort...obviously wanting to be part of the New Flavor on the block.
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sorry to say that I perceive little value in your replies on this topic.

If chance predominated, or if we were like lions, then my whole post would be wrong, as I say that it's a "primate thing", and systematic. You can see elements of what I am saying in many species, but I'm trying to focus on the kinds of sociobiological mechanisms that would lead to phenomena we see as "celebrity" and social status.

Early primates did not have much in the way of bonds between parents and children. This includes even bonds between the mother and the weaned children.

Especially in the case of males, there was no involvement in raising the children, and, since they (I guess I mean Lemurs here) were "philopatric" (the males left the area upon reaching maturity), the mother / daughter bond was the only one that could really develop.

If you include the larger social groups found amongst primates, and the capacity to teach and learn, you end up with something distinctly hominid: a social status system between mothers and daughters that permeates our history, surviving to this day. A system that might seem illogical or bewildering to a male, but one in which the concept of celebrity makes sense; a system where girls screaming at the Beatles in 1963 is not some incomprehensible data outlier, for instance.
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jabailo



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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking of sociobiology, why not do the Full E.O. Wilson and look at haplo-diploid societies. Males are there as drones, left to wander around idle, fattened up for the "mating" and then the duds are kicked out of the hive.

So, yes, it's always dangerous no matter how low or high up the phyla your use as your metaphor to then make the leap to the human species whose behavior can be as much memes as genes.
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brian-hansen
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I see you coming to my aid, in identifying another way that I might be wrong.

But it seems a bit unfair. After all, I already noted how fragile this kind of evidence is. Meanwhile, by including my status-system creating females in your continuum with lazy diploid drones, you make it all seem absurdly metaphorical, like a fable about why elephants have wrinkles. But I'm not looking at our most remote relatives to learn about homo sapiens, but, rather, our nearest: our cousins, you could say.

If we brush away the noise of all the centuries of memes, there's a chance to see the underlying genetic continuity. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we're more likely to be similar to our cousins than different.

I don't quite know what to think about it, how to test it, even how to express it, but I'm forced to conclude that for millions of years, social structures, culture, perhaps even language itself, were developed and preserved via the one enduring social bond available: mother - daughter. I assume that subsequent change could not have happened so quickly during the span of the hominid line that there would be no traces remaining of this.
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jabailo



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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, hey, that's why we call it Science Hoop Shots and not the Journal of Sociobilogical Genetic Behavior! The idea is to take a shot, and see if it hits...and in this case, I'd say you scored a 3-pointer.

I think the Nature side of Nature vs. Nurture got a big shot in the arm in the last decade with the emergence of the science of Evo-Devo. Evo-Devo says we share many of the genetic structures of our ancestors and cousin species, and its the regulation of those genes that make the differences.

So, a deep highly coordinated and genetically stamped female "club" system that let males and our out which somehow found its way up through the primates? Isn't the ova the ultimate club -- where only one sperm guest is let in and the rest kept by the red velvet rope...
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brian-hansen
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I get frustrated.

I want to protect and explore more this mother/daughter status idea.

But your response, nice as it was, turns it into a metaphor, a very loose metaphor, regarding eggs and sperm. You can figure that if I wasn't happy describing this mother/daughter social status theory as a "lion thing", then I'm not going to be happy thinking of it as an "egg thing".

I guess you meant well; to add some amusing side note, but I can't help but think that if you believe that your response is germane, then you must never have understood what I was saying.

I am trying to not speak metaphorically. Or even in similes. The notion of the historical origin of hominid mother/daughter bonding and the subsequent creation of large group social status systems, is not *like* eggs .vs. sperm, or quarks .vs. baryons, etc. It is specific to *our* "recent" history. If it is true, we should be able to see it's traces from evidence we may already have available from human behavior, anatomy, genetic structure, and history.

For you to be talking about the likeness of this idea to eggs and sperm makes it seem that you are hijacking the idea in order to make some (unrelated) ideological point.

Maybe I am over-reacting, not wanting my idea to get lost in a muddle, or maybe you just have eggs on the mind.


Last edited by brian-hansen on Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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jabailo



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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe you just need someone smarter to play with...well, someday we'll get some more users into YRIHF...

Although it seems odd that you disparage metaphor and simile when you write

Quote:
I tend to think of the sequence is almost like a "political reform movement". Having a male hierarchy, somewhat symbolic status system that had a tournament-style, winner-take-all quality, was actually a kind of reform of what had come before.


So, it's okay to talk about biology as political reform, but not use behavior from other species.

I guess I'm the one who is more confused.
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't mind metaphor, it's just not what I'm doing here. Your metaphor, which must seem apt to you, is just a muddle and a distraction to me. Instead of clarifying what happened 54 (or so) million years ago, whether its true or even important, it offers only a setup for a punchline. That's not how I want a posting that you call a "three pointer" to end. I'm more interested in shifting to think of evidence about it.

Last edited by brian-hansen on Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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jabailo



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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess what it comes down to is I have no idea what you are saying.

Could you perhaps restate the argument using bullet points?
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brian-hansen
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe after a while I'll think of ways to express these ideas more clearly, and I'll have Venn diagrams and bulleted lists, but, for now, I find it difficult to be clearer about it.

In the meantime, you might re-read it, and post any specific questions you might have. Or not.
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jabailo



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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 12:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Studio 54 Million BC Reply with quote

brian-hansen wrote:

[m]ales would engage in frantic hostile behavior, in order to mate. Having a more symbolic status structure seems like an advance over a structure that was sure to leave many individuals weakened or injured[,]

[then...]

[a] female-based status system seems to have emerged. In some cases, favored males would be taken as consorts to fertile females....mothers and daughters stayed to form the "culture" of the society. High-status females, through action and example were able to largely pass on their own high status to their daughters.


So, you are proposing that there was a transition from a system where the success of an individual to mate was determined entirely by the result of male contest (real or symbolic)...with females essentially taking a passive role as "prizes"...to one in while females formed their own hierarchy with selective rules as to who would be the winner.

And this is either a replacement system, an evolution, or something that works in concert with the male fitness contests.

So males are the contestants on American Idol, and females are the judges (?)
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jabailo



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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While riding my bike this afternoon, I remembered that the phrase that caught my ear when first reading your article was

Quote:
High-status females, through action and example were able to largely pass on their own high status to their daughters.


This is actually the more interesting thought...because it suggests a kind of Royal Line formed by behavior.

We, the blue bloods of the primates have a certain way of bathing that you commoner monkeys could not understand. And we teach our young the small nuances can never be learned by the man in the street. A nod and a wink is all it takes to distinguish the titled few from the grinding mass monkey.

It suggests many lines of inquiry.

First, prove that the female offspring of high status females become the next generation of high status offspring.

If so, next, isolate control groups to find out if its by learned behavior genetics. Call these the Princess and the Pauper experiments.

It could get difficult because perhaps there are potential high status genetics in the society who could learn the behavior. At the same time, maybe there are others who never would.

Is this the real seed of Revolution?

I have read that revolutions occur not because of downtrodden masses, but because one set of elites wants to battle for power with another. So, in China, Tienanmen Square, the revolt was driven by the children of ousted, low status Party leaders. In the 1960s, the revolt came from the children of the middle class who wanted to control things at the same level as those in the elites.
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brian-hansen
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes. I believe you're on the right track.

jabailo wrote:
... a kind of Royal Line formed by behavior.

We, the blue bloods of the primates have a certain way of bathing that you commoner monkeys could not understand. And we teach our young the small nuances can never be learned by the man in the street. A nod and a wink is all it takes to distinguish the titled few from the grinding mass monkey.


So, yes. You've definitely got it. It's a story line. It's not exactly original with me. I've just been a rather poor scholar who has been building up this story, almost like a fairy tale, and confirming parts of it here and there, as I bring in other sources. Meanwhile, it is arguably a "real" thing, and not metaphorical, and a "new" thing (large group status behaviors weren't "taught" before, but were after).

Meanwhile, that story line does have a lot of "moving parts". The earliest hominid males had absolutely no parental contribution to the survival of offspring. And yes, the earliest pro-simian lemurs were, from what I can tell, pretty much indiscriminate about mating. with just a little search, I've found evidence of quite a number of shifts in reproductive patterns. Since you introduce the word, I suppose you could think of them as "revolutions". I notice many cases where these shifts seem to be linked to speciation, which is intriguing. At some point, paternal investment in child-rearing started being a factor, and that would've been a revolution certainly.

Stepping back to your previous post, I'd say that, yes, I think that your "American Idol" analogy is apt. Technically, we're in a pattern where both sexes "choose" (I forget the term for this), but, for someone raised as I was, the underlying notion has always been that it is "lady's choice".

You seem to want to find something in this idea to fuel some next revolution, but what that fuel might be is quite unclear to me.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Human Evolution Enters an Exciting New Phase

Quote:
In the most massive study of genetic variation yet, researchers estimated the age of more than one million variants, or changes to our DNA code, found across human populations. The vast majority proved to be quite young. The chronologies tell a story of evolutionary dynamics in recent human history, a period characterized by both narrow reproductive bottlenecks and sudden, enormous population growth.

The evolutionary dynamics of these features resulted in a flood of new genetic variation, accumulating so fast that natural selection hasnít caught up yet. As a species, we are freshly bursting with the raw material of evolution.


http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/11/recent-human-evolution-2/
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jabailo



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Culture war in the deep blue sea: Scienceís contentious quest to understand whales and dolphins

Quote:
This is not to say that proposing culture as an explanation for animal behavior does not meet resistance from our closest colleagues, but it does so only from the angle of questioning what the evidence is that a particu≠lar behavior results from some kind of social information. There are now, however, enough solidly demonstrated examples that this does in fact hap≠pen in many species for the study of social learning to be accepted as a valid and growing field within mainstream animal behavior. science.


http://www.salon.com/2015/01/02/culture_war_in_the_deep_blue_sea_sciences_contentious_quest_to_understand_whales_and_dolphins/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow
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