the lady doth protest too much, methinks

here’s an interesting post from an anthro professor regarding a study done on ovulation in female humans and display (studied through shopping habits). the results of the study found that women bought sexier clothing when they were ovulating as opposed to when they were not.

however, there were some problems with the research. for one, as the anthro prof rightly points out, because of the way the researchers checked the hormone levels of the women in the study, they might have erroneously included some women who were not ovulating. oops. also, the study group was composed of, as per usual, western college students and they might not be 100% representative of all women on the planet.

however, as the anthro prof herself admitted:

“I have noticed more cycle-related variation in emotion [since she had a baby]. In particular, my patience and tolerance for rude behavior, and my tendency to cry sentimentally at even the lamest greeting card, skyrocket in my premenstrual phase. I already have low tolerance for rudeness, and I already cry easily. But something about progesterone decline — which is a normal process towards the end of ovulatory cycles — seems to make it harder for me to repress these behaviors in order to fit in culturally with those around me.

“I tell this to you to say, I don’t doubt that hormones, and hormonal variation through the cycle, plays some role in variation in female behavior and emotion.”

hormonal variation plays some role in female behavior and emotion?! gimme a break. hormonal variation plays a HUGE role in female behavior and emotion! not that there’s anything wrong with that. (~_^) that’s just how it works.

good lord. people really have to get over the notion that humans are “rational actors” and come to terms with the fact that we are just a bunch o’ animals like the rest of the creatures on this planet. we (some of us) do have some capacity for rational thought, but most people run around most of them time operating on automatic pilot. they just feel like they’re the ones making all the decisions. that, however, is (prolly) mostly an illusion.

also, the anthro prof seems kinda stuck on the idea that western women are “objectified.” i get the impression (maybe i’m wrong) that she doesn’t really like that idea, either. she suggests that western women buy more sexy clothes due to this objectification process. it’s something cultural, i guess. i dunno.

well, maybe. but plenty of women i have known like to be looked at and admired (by the right guys) — kinda. like. objects. and men apparently see scantily clad women as objects — in their brains, that is. not that there’s anything wrong with that! (~_^) and should we be surprised? a man sees a sexy woman and “thinks” (or reacts subconsciously) — “i’d like to get my hands on that|her!” so what? that doesn’t mean that all men always think of women as objects. just on one, very basic, biological level they do.

and, so, some women in the world behave accordingly. what’s the big deal?

these behaviors are just the surface expressions of the biological drives that work on us to get us to reproduce, that’s all.

p.s. – here’s some other research that found that women “dress to impress” when they’re ovulating.

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another day…

…another watsoning.

this time it’s a (once) respected doctor by the name of lazar greenfield. here’s what he wrote that’s gotten him into hot water — this was in his st. valentine’s day editorial in the official newspaper of the american college of surgeons:

“As far as humans are concerned, you may think you know all about sexual signals, but you’d be surprised by new findings. It’s been known since the 1990s that heterosexual women living together synchronize their menstrual cycles because of pheromones, but when a study of lesbians showed that they do not synchronize, the researchers suspected that semen played a role. In fact, they found ingredients in semen that include mood enhancers like estrone, cortisol, prolactin, oxytocin, and serotonin; a sleep enhancer, melatonin; and of course, sperm, which makes up only 1%-5%. Delivering these compounds into the richly vascularized vagina also turns out to have major salutary effects for the recipient. Female college students having unprotected sex were significantly less depressed than were those whose partners used condoms (Arch. Sex. Behav. 2002;31:289-93). Their better moods were not just a feature of promiscuity, because women using condoms were just as depressed as those practicing total abstinence. The benefits of semen contact also were seen in fewer suicide attempts and better performance on cognition tests.

“So there’s a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there’s a better gift for that day than chocolates.”

ok. so maybe the closing joke is a little tasteless for a professional journal. but that, of course, is not what the good doc is in deep sh*t for. apparently, everyone’s now questioning if he — AND the whole american college of surgeons — is sexist, racist, hates gays & lesbians, pulls the wings off flies and kicks small dogs. ok, ok. not the last two. but the rest — i kid you not!:

“While women now make up almost half of all entering medical school classes in the United States, fewer than a third choose to go into surgery, in part because of a perceived male bias, negative attitudes of surgeons and a lack of female mentors. Once in practice, studies have shown, well over half of all women surgeons report feeling demeaned, and nearly a third say they have been the objects of inappropriate sexist remarks or advances….

“It is less clear what attitudes Dr. Greenfield or other leaders of the organization have toward the college’s gay and lesbian members. ‘I think race and religion have made a lot more progress in the college than women, and particularly gay women or men,’ Dr. Brophy said. ‘This is probably the first time I’ve ever seen the word ‘lesbian’ used in a piece or associated with the college. Ever.'”

ok. now even i got why watson was watsoned. i mean, i didn’t understand it, of course — but even i know that you can’t say anything even remotely implying any differences between the races, especially if it reflects badly on non-whites, and even if your intentions are good.

but i really don’t get how what greenfield said was politically incorrect. ok. the joke at the end was a bit tasteless (i found it funny, tho — of course, that prolly confirms that it’s tasteless!) — but the rest of it is sound, afaics. if people have a problem with the FACTS, why don’t they go and try to disprove them?! (that’s a rhetorical question. don’t worry. i get it. we’re talking about power and political correctness here.) i mean, here’s the original research about depression in women and semen. GO TEST THE HYPOTHESIS AGAIN and see if it holds up or not!

sheesh.

and what the h*ck did he say about lesbians (and gays) that was offensive? just that their menstrual cycles don’t synchronize when they live together? (i never knew that.) what — WHAT — is offensive about pointing out that (apparent) FACT?!

i know, i know. we’re ALL THE SAME! heaven forbid someone points out any differences between people. ’cause then it will be TEOTWAWKI!!!!

(*roll eyes*)

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more reductionism working

i like reductionism. reductionism works (on a certain level).

from the economist:

Cry havoc! And let slip the maths of war

“Warfare seems to obey mathematical rules. Whether soldiers can make use of that fact remains to be seen….

“[T]he link between the severity and frequency of conflicts follows a smooth curve, known as a power law. One consequence is that extreme events such as the world wars do not appear to be anomalies. They are simply what should be expected to occur occasionally, given the frequency with which conflicts take place….

“In a paper currently under review at Science, however, Neil Johnson of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, and his colleagues hint at what that something useful might be. Dr Johnson’s team is one of several groups who, in previous papers, have shown that Richardson’s power law also applies to attacks by terrorists and insurgents. They and others have broadened Richardson’s scope of inquiry to include the timing of attacks, as well as the severity. This prepared the ground for the new paper, which outlines a method for forecasting the evolution of conflicts.

“Dr Johnson’s proposal rests on a pattern he and his team found in data on insurgent attacks against American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. After the initial attacks in any given province, subsequent fatal incidents become more and more frequent. The intriguing point is that it is possible, using a formula Dr Johnson has derived, to predict the details of this pattern from the interval between the first two attacks….

“Though the fit between the data and the prediction is not perfect (an example is illustrated right), the match is close enough that Dr Johnson thinks he is onto something. Progress curves are a consequence of people adapting to circumstances and learning to do things better. And warfare is just as capable of productivity improvements as any other activity….”

cool!

neat mathematical patterns like this (and this) — patterns that look just like those found in the behaviors of other species — are found when we look at human behaviors ’cause human behavior is just a product of our biological natures, just like ant behavior is a product of their biological natures.

it may seem to each and every one of us like we are acting rationally, or religiously, or whatever, but we’re really just acting biologically:

“Call it the physics of terrorism….

“‘When you start averaging over the differences, you see there are patterns in the way terrorists’ campaigns progress and the frequency and severity of the attacks,’ he says. ‘This gives you hope that terrorism is understandable from a scientific perspective….’

“It is weird when you step back and say, ‘There are thinking, social beings in these organizations, they have families and causes and ideals and so on.’ And I’m thinking about them as being a little bit like particles.

“‘But,’ he says, ‘the patterns speak for themselves.'”

previously: reductionism works

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linkfest – 04/17/11

Actions and personality, east and west“Cultural differences are evident very deep in the brain, challenging a commonsense notion that culture is skin deep.”

Clear Genetic Links to Poor Impulse Control, Drug Dependency – @al fin.

The Art of Scientific and Technological Innovations“[Nobel laureates] are twenty-five times as likely as average scientist to sing, dance, or act; seventeen times as likely to be an artist; twelve times more likely to write poetry and literature; eight times more likely to do woodworking or some other craft; four times as likely to be a musician; and twice as likely to be a photographer.”

Familial concordance for age at menarche: analyses from the Breakthrough Generations Study“[A]pproximately half of the variation in age at menarche was attributable to additive genetic effects with the remainder attributable to non-shared environmental effects.” via diversity is chaos.

Two-Faced Brains – @overcoming bias.

Group solidarity among whites – from inductivist: “Bottom line: whites either tend identify with groups at all levels or no groups at any level. To put it in exaggerated terms, ethnicists are racialists are patriots. Individualists are individualists are individualists.”

Language like people came out of Africa“All languages stem from the same source, claim scientists, after tracing origins of speech to sub-Saharan Africa around 150,000 years ago.”

bonus: Classic car culture in red states and blue states – from agnostic.

mea culpa?

great article in the telegraph:

The human brain: turning our minds to the law

“Our understanding of the way the brain works could help us create a better legal system, says neuroscientist David Eagleman….

“The problem is that the law rests on two assumptions that are charitable, but demonstrably false. The first is that people are ‘practical reasoners’, which is the law’s way of saying that they are capable of acting in alignment with their best interests, and capable of rational foresight about their actions. The second is that all brains are created equal. Everyone who is of legal age and above an IQ of 70 is assumed, in the eyes of the law, to have the same capacity for decision-making, understanding, impulse control and reasoning. But these ideas simply don’t match up with the facts of neuroscience.

“Along any axis that we measure, brains are different – whether in aggression, intelligence, empathy and so on. Brains are more like fingerprints: we all have them, but they are not exactly alike. As Lord Bingham, the senior law lord, put it, these myths embedded in the legal system do not provide a ‘uniformly accurate guide to human behaviour’.

“The legal system needs an infusion of neuroscience. It needs to turn away from an ancient notion of how people should behave to understand better how they do behave….”

i agree with eagleman 1000%. how can everyone be held equally accountable for their actions when everyone is not equal?

for example, how can someone who is born with the genes predisposing him towards psychopathy — AND who is raised in the right (or should that be wrong?) environment — be held responsible for his actions in the same way that a non-psychopath can be? answer: he can’t.

the psychopath behaves differently because he has a very different neurology than a non-psychopath. how can he be in any way personally responsible for his psychopathic actions? he certainly cannot be reformed! (without a lobotomy or something drastic like that.)

i’m not saying that criminals shouldn’t be locked up — we need to do that to keep society safe. but, we do need to rethink the basis of our legal system given what we now know (and will learn in the future) about our biology.

previously: who’s responsible?

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“no male-female wage gap”

great! can everyone just shut-up about it then already?!

here’s from another (apparently) sane, rational woman out there (there are a few of us — a very few, I know — but there are a few):

There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap

“A study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30 found that women earned 8% more than men….

“Choice of occupation also plays an important role in earnings. While feminists suggest that women are coerced into lower-paying job sectors, most women know that something else is often at work. Women gravitate toward jobs with fewer risks, more comfortable conditions, regular hours, more personal fulfillment and greater flexibility. Simply put, many women — not all, but enough to have a big impact on the statistics—are willing to trade higher pay for other desirable job characteristics.”

yes! women chooooose jobs that they want to do! whew! is that really so hard to understand?

sheesh.

p.s. – actually, according to that one study, there IS a male-female wage gap amongst single, urban, childless workers between the ages of 22-30 — and it’s in the women’s favor!

previously: the hard sciences are soooo sexist!

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