linkfest – 09/18/11

Neuroscience vs philosophy: Taking aim at free will

Are genes our destiny?“Salk scientists discover ‘hidden’ code in DNA evolves more rapidly than genetic code” – epigenetics.

Why fathers are faithful: Becoming a dad causes a testosterone drop that makes men less likely to stray“Scientists have discovered fatherhood can halve testosterone levels – and stop men from straying.” – the study was of filipino guys.

Serotonin levels affect the brain’s response to anger“Research provides new insight into why some individuals may be more aggressive than others”

Earliest Known Use of Marine Resources by Neanderthals – neanderthals eating shellfish ca. 150,000 years ago.

Neanderthals vs Humans? German Scientists Bring Fossils into the Computer Age

Lesbian cops? – @the inductivist.

Moms who eat high-fat diet before, during pregnancy ‘program’ babies to be fat, at risk“This is the first study to demonstrate that a long-term maternal high-fat diet results in the deposition, in utero, of excess body fat in the newborn.”

How dark chocolate ‘boosts fitness in the same way as jogging’ – YAAAAAAAAAAY! (oh. in mice. squeak?)

bonus: Scientists on trial: At fault?“In 2009, an earthquake devastated the Italian city of L’Aquila and killed more than 300 people. Now, scientists are on trial for manslaughter.”

bonus bonus: The most surreal sunset in the universe – they’ve discovered tatooine kepler 16b!

bonus bonus bonus: It’s All in the Head: Songbirds With Bigger Brains Have Benefited from the End of Communism – of course they have! via diversity is chaos.

(note: comments do not require an email. high iq bird!)

8 Comments

  1. “lesbian cops?”
    i’d say that was very true. prison officers even more so.

    “why fathers are faithful”
    i wonder if this drop in testosterone is connected to the incest barrier? and i wonder if it only works if the father is around the baby a lot i.e scent / pheromones. there doesn’t seem to be much of a testosterone drop among men who have kids but don’t hang around afterwards.

    Reply

  2. @g.w. – “i’d say that was very true. prison officers even more so.”

    i worked with a lesbian gal a long time ago. she said how her mother decided to straighten her out by making her join the ARMY after she graduated from high school. best years of her life, she said. (^_^)

    @g.w. – “i wonder if this drop in testosterone is connected to the incest barrier?”

    maybe. i would think — especially in northern climes like in eurasia — that it could just have been selected for to keep dad around as well as mom. dad the provider. good to have around in a tough environment.

    Reply

  3. “she said how her mother decided to straighten her out by making her join the ARMY”

    hahahahaha

    “best years of her life, she said”

    yes i can imagine. not just disproportionately lesbian but disproportionately high testosterone ones as well.

    .
    “that it could just have been selected for to keep dad around”

    yes i was thinking more of the physical mechanism that could transmit “new baby” signals to the father. i was thinking physical proximity to new-borns i.e scent or pheromones or something. tears even? there was something you linked about female tears having some kind of calming effect. i wonder if male baby-doctors (forgotten the name) have low testosterone?

    Reply

  4. Quoting myself,

    “yes i was thinking more of the physical mechanism that could transmit “new baby” signals to the father”

    The reason i’m so curious about this is i knew an army chaplain many years ago who believed there was a spike of father vs children problems after wars which he put down to PTSD. now i’m wondering if there isn’t a simple bonding / imprinting mechanism that requires the father to be in close proximity to the new-born over some critical period of time. If so then you can compare that with for example a man going off to war while his wife is pregnant and not coming home again until after the critical period is passed.

    if there was such a simple imprinting mechanism then it could have significant policy implications.

    Reply

  5. @g.w. – “The reason i’m so curious about this is i knew an army chaplain many years ago who believed there was a spike of father vs children problems after wars which he put down to PTSD. now i’m wondering if there isn’t a simple bonding / imprinting mechanism that requires the father to be in close proximity to the new-born over some critical period of time.”

    interesting. (and sad.) and that does all make sense. i’m not sure what the bonding mechanism might be between fathers and their children, but there’s probably something. maybe it is the tear thing like you say. mothers and children is pretty obvious — especially with breast-feeding.

    robin fox in “The Tribal Imagination” talked a lot about the westermarck effect (general lack of sexual attraction between siblings — or any kids, really — raised together between ages 0-6) — but he also talked a lot about incest in general (he wrote a whole book on incest — don’t recall the name right now). he mentioned that father-daughter incest is more common than mother-son incest, probably ’cause the mother-child bonding thing is stronger than the father-child thing. (interestingly, he claimed that father-daughter incest is quite frequently initiated by the daughter, so go figure.)

    i can’t help but wonder if the men in some populations are more likely to stick around with their mates and children than some men in other populations — i mean because they have more of that innate drive. heck, we all see this in everyday life — all the problems with black families. ever since i read about the “fidelity gene” found in prairie voles and not in other voles, i’ve wondered if the same or something similar might be true about different human populations. same thing goes for bonding with children, too, i’d guess.

    Reply

  6. “i can’t help but wonder if the men in some populations are more likely to stick around with their mates and children than some men in other populations”

    Well it makes perfect sense. Assuming there’s an evolutionary version of Occam’s razor where the simplest way to achieve some result x is always the most likely to evolve then in an environment where the females can provision the offspring on their own there’s a reason for males to develop high T but no reason for them to develop a mechanism for reducing it after parenthood.

    However as soon as you move into an environment where the female can’t as easily provision offspring on their own the base male will fail to successfully reproduce. They might have lots of kids but they’ll all starve. The most reproductively successful males will be those who were either moderate T or those who were both high T *but* who also had whatever it is that reduces T with parenthood. Given that high T must have had a lot of other advantages in early times i could see the latter option being selected for.

    The more difficult the environment the more selection pressure there would be on men to develop traits that promoted monogamous behavior – females also for the same reason – leading to “Brief Encounter” as a product of evolution. Also if culture evolves to adapt to the environment as well then environments that require fidelity will develop cultures that promote fidelity where cultural penalties apply selection pressures to reinforce the natural ones.

    I assume the traits themselves are random mutations and exist in all populations but the *proportions* will vary greatly based on how highly selected they were or not over the past x thousand years.

    The other side of this of course is it doesn’t mean the original behaviors are neccessarily bred out. They may still be there but in a reduced form or even in the original strength if they are useful in various other ways but outweighed by some other equally strong impulse – strong impulses *and* strong restraint – leading to guilt as an evolutionary by-product.

    Reply

  7. Thinking on it more, speaking as someone who is above average in aggression and with experience of being kept awake by babies crying then as testosterone is related to aggression it would make sense for baby tears to have a testosterone reducing effect similar to the effect mentioned for women

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/01/110106-womens-tears-sex-drive-turn-off-sexual-health-arousal-men-science/

    Another reason for men *not* to cry of course – if their own tears would have the same effect.

    In terms of sequence this would have to come third i think?

    1) Base male just has high T and leaves when woman is pregnant.
    2) Something that makes them stay – lurve?
    3) Something that reduces their aggression once they’ve stayed?

    Reducing aggression wouldn’t be neccessary for males who didn’t need to stay to provision their offspring because the female could do it on her own.

    Reply

  8. @g.w. – “Reducing aggression wouldn’t be neccessary for males who didn’t need to stay to provision their offspring because the female could do it on her own.”

    yes. and then you (can) get the african family situation which might’ve worked ok in traditional african societies, but doesn’t translate well at all to contemporary western ones. =/

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Greying Wanderer Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s