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Author Topic:   Sexual Selection, Stasis, Runaway Selection, Dimorphism, & Human Evolution
Jon
Inactive Member


Message 106 of 131 (739708)
10-27-2014 7:45 AM
Reply to: Message 105 by RAZD
10-26-2014 12:47 PM


Re: beauty standards
The purpose is not to pass on genes for those traits but to pass on the genes you have ... which incidentally include the genes for wanting to alter your appearance to better fit the desired icon appearance and the genes for selecting that appearance ... maintaining and reinforcing the runaway sexual selection process.

That assumes that the desire to alter one's physical appearance by shaving, dying one's hair, and augmenting one's breast size with artificial implants is genetically encoded.

I think that is quite an assumption and I don't think it would withstand any serious testing.


Love your enemies!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 105 by RAZD, posted 10-26-2014 12:47 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 107 by RAZD, posted 10-27-2014 7:53 AM Jon has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19074
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 107 of 131 (739709)
10-27-2014 7:53 AM
Reply to: Message 106 by Jon
10-27-2014 7:45 AM


Re: beauty standards
That assumes that the desire to alter one's physical appearance by shaving, dying one's hair, and augmenting one's breast size with artificial implants is genetically encoded.

Let me rephrase that for you:

That assumes that the desire to be attractive to the other sex is genetically encoded.

Enjoy


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 106 by Jon, posted 10-27-2014 7:45 AM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 108 by Jon, posted 10-27-2014 8:30 AM RAZD has responded

  
Jon
Inactive Member


Message 108 of 131 (739711)
10-27-2014 8:30 AM
Reply to: Message 107 by RAZD
10-27-2014 7:53 AM


Re: beauty standards
Nice try.

If a newborn from parents obsessed with their physical appearance is traded with a newborn from parents that doesn't care one hoot what they look like, do you think that the newborns will grow up to care about their appearance only and exactly as much as their biological parents?


Love your enemies!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 107 by RAZD, posted 10-27-2014 7:53 AM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 109 by Percy, posted 10-27-2014 9:08 AM Jon has responded
 Message 111 by RAZD, posted 10-27-2014 5:53 PM Jon has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 16020
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 109 of 131 (739713)
10-27-2014 9:08 AM
Reply to: Message 108 by Jon
10-27-2014 8:30 AM


Re: beauty standards
Jon writes:

If a newborn from parents obsessed with their physical appearance is traded with a newborn from parents that doesn't care one hoot what they look like, do you think that the newborns will grow up to care about their appearance only and exactly as much as their biological parents?

There can be little doubt that personality traits have a heritable component. We could look into the scientific evidence, my guess is that it would be sparse, but for a dramatic real-world example listen to the Switched at Birth episode of This American Life.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 108 by Jon, posted 10-27-2014 8:30 AM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 113 by Jon, posted 10-27-2014 7:27 PM Percy has responded

    
NoNukes
Member
Posts: 9992
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 110 of 131 (739724)
10-27-2014 12:17 PM
Reply to: Message 105 by RAZD
10-26-2014 12:47 PM


Re: beauty standards
The purpose is not to pass on genes for those traits but to pass on the genes you have ... which incidentally include the genes for wanting to alter your appearance to better fit the desired icon appearance

There is certainly an inherited instinct to procreate and to propagate whatever genes you have (as you yourself have said). Not much to doubt there.

But as to whether there is some inherited instinct to augment ones appearance, I do have doubts. As compared to most animals, humans seemed to have few instinctive behaviors, so I don't think an argument pointing out what happens in even closely related animals is going to be very persuasive.

In the case of humans, at least, I don't see much to indicate that anything humans do to change their appearance is not learned. Certainly the idea of what constitutes human beauty has varied between cultures. It's also true that humans have plenty of opportunity to learn what constitutes an 'ideal' appearance. Once that knowledge is obtained, the desire to propagate their own DNA is enough to drive the desire to groom, get implants, diet, etc.

In short, there is actually not much of a need for a gene to alter your appearance, and plenty of alternative explanation for why we act the way we do.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him. Galileo Galilei

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. Frederick Douglass


This message is a reply to:
 Message 105 by RAZD, posted 10-26-2014 12:47 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 112 by RAZD, posted 10-27-2014 6:56 PM NoNukes has responded

    
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19074
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 111 of 131 (739767)
10-27-2014 5:53 PM
Reply to: Message 108 by Jon
10-27-2014 8:30 AM


Re: beauty standards
If a newborn from parents obsessed with their physical appearance is traded with a newborn from parents that doesn't care one hoot what they look like, do you think that the newborns will grow up to care about their appearance only and exactly as much as their biological parents?

Well seeing as I would be surprised that both newborns "will grow up to care about their appearance only and exactly as much as their biological parents" without being switched, your argument is logically flawed. (italics added for emphasis).

What I would expect, is that both would care about their appearance and their ability to attract mates and that they will both exhibit behavior that augments their perceived chances according to their ability to do so. Each will try to become as close as they can to the "icon" type.

If you don't think this is happening then you are not that observant imho of cultures here and elsewhere. Look at advertising and ask yourself why do the ads work. Look at the industries that have built up and expanded that provide means to augment your looks and ask yourself why these industries even exist. Ads and industries only provide what people are attracted to. The ads work because they portray the "icon" type to attract attention and in the process they reinforce the "icon" image, especially now as more and more models are photoshopped to extremes not found in the population. The industries grow because they facilitate the ability to become closer to the "icon" type, and because the "icon" is beyond natural ability.

Curiously I see these behaviors becoming more overt as cultural taboos are discarded.

Enjoy


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 108 by Jon, posted 10-27-2014 8:30 AM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 116 by Jon, posted 10-28-2014 7:13 AM RAZD has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19074
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 112 of 131 (739778)
10-27-2014 6:56 PM
Reply to: Message 110 by NoNukes
10-27-2014 12:17 PM


Re: beauty standards and selection
But as to whether there is some inherited instinct to augment ones appearance, ...

You seem to have the same problem that Jon has with this.

... As compared to most animals, humans seemed to have few instinctive behaviors, so I don't think an argument pointing out what happens in even closely related animals is going to be very persuasive.

Do you agree that sexual selection does occur and that this explains the facial hair seen here:

quote:
Message 103: Just a note that facial hair patterns in monkeys and apes have a wide range of displays that would have very low survival advantage but high sexual selection advantage:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_tamarin

quote:
The fur of the emperor tamarin is predominantly grey colored, with yellowish speckles on its chest. The hands and feet are black and the tail is brown. Outstanding is its long, white mustache, which extends to both sides beyond the shoulders. The animal reaches a length of 2326 centimetres (910 in), plus a 3541.5 cm (13.816.3 in) long tail.[4] It weighs approximately 500 grams (18 oz).[1]


Cute fella eh? Looks like a bit of a beard as well as the moustache.


Any bets on whether the reproductive success of male emperor tamarins is linked to the display of facial hair?

In the case of humans, at least, I don't see much to indicate that anything humans do to change their appearance is not learned. Certainly the idea of what constitutes human beauty has varied between cultures. It's also true that humans have plenty of opportunity to learn what constitutes an 'ideal' appearance. Once that knowledge is obtained, the desire to propagate their own DNA is enough to drive the desire to groom, get implants, diet, etc.

The point is that runaway sexual selection means that the 'ideal' appearance does not occur in the natural population. This has been demonstrated in many studies of animals with runaway sexual selection.

The point is that sexual attraction studies using computer generated faces have been done in many cultures and they show two things: male attractiveness is based on an averaged face. female attractiveness is based on unnaturally childlike features for sexually mature women:

quote:
Message 1: ... (see babyface-ness: click), and the summary comments on this include these statements (read Summary: click for the whole summary):

quote:
(3) To sum up, our study shows clearly that the most attractive faces do not exist in reality, they are morphs, i.e. computer-created compound images you would never find in everyday live. These virtual faces showed characteristics that are unreachable for average human beings.

... a skewed {extreme individual icon} tending towards idealized younger looking sexually mature females. That this also demonstrates the same pattern of run-away sexual selection noted for breasts, buttocks and bareness is not likely to be an accident.


The point is that the 'ideal' appearance does not occur in the natural population for humans, demonstrating that runaway sexual selection is still in operation. The reason "that knowledge is obtained, the desire to propagate their own DNA is enough to drive the desire to groom, get implants, diet, etc" happens, is because of runaway sexual selection -- because it is a symptom rather than a driving cause.

In short, there is actually not much of a need for a gene to alter your appearance, and plenty of alternative explanation for why we act the way we do.

But which don't explain why the desirable icon type is outside the realm of natural variation in the species while non-runaway sexual attraction is based on a population average.

Enjoy


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 110 by NoNukes, posted 10-27-2014 12:17 PM NoNukes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 120 by NoNukes, posted 10-28-2014 7:29 PM RAZD has responded

  
Jon
Inactive Member


Message 113 of 131 (739781)
10-27-2014 7:27 PM
Reply to: Message 109 by Percy
10-27-2014 9:08 AM


Re: beauty standards
There can be little doubt that personality traits have a heritable component. We could look into the scientific evidence, my guess is that it would be sparse, but for a dramatic real-world example listen to the Switched at Birth episode of This American Life.

We are particularly talking about whether an obsession to be attractive (as measured against a culturally-agreed upon ideal, I guess) is heritable.

The things discussed in that program were pretty vague, and if you listen until the very end, you'll actually hear the woman who grew up in the outgoing household admit that she tried out to be a cheerleader.

Breast implants are pretty extreme. I don't think a general desire to attract a mate fully accounts for such drastic behaviors.


Love your enemies!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 109 by Percy, posted 10-27-2014 9:08 AM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 114 by RAZD, posted 10-27-2014 8:47 PM Jon has not yet responded
 Message 115 by Percy, posted 10-28-2014 6:47 AM Jon has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19074
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 114 of 131 (739789)
10-27-2014 8:47 PM
Reply to: Message 113 by Jon
10-27-2014 7:27 PM


Re: beauty standards
Breast implants are pretty extreme. I don't think a general desire to attract a mate fully accounts for such drastic behaviors.

Compare breast implants and the studies of birds with long tail feathers (Message 1):

quote:
Richard Dawkins in The Blind Watchmaker also discusses an experiment with a long tailed bird where the male's long tail feathers were cut and then glued back with (1) shorter (2) same length and (3) longer tail feathers and then monitored for breeding success compared to (4) unmodified (control) males. There was no difference between group (2) and (4) (ie the effect of the glue process was eliminated as a variable), but the ones with the artificially long tail feathers were selected above the others: the sexual preference was for expression of the feature to an extent not seen within the population. Natural selection prevented the males from developing the longer tails after a certain point had been reached, but female preference was still for even longer tails.

The glued on tail-feathers are analogous to breast implants in making the individual more attractive to mates.

Breast implants are pretty extreme. ...

Curiously they are becoming more frequent, and are considered an out-patient operation these days (they are the most common cosmetic surgery in US and Britain). And not just in the US (google Brazil breast implants, and for a short chuckle try French breast implants ...). There are even cases where some women have had their old implants replaced with new improved (larger) ones ...

We are particularly talking about whether an obsession to be attractive (as measured against a culturally-agreed upon ideal, I guess) is heritable.

And what you are seeing is the feedback loop that drives the "extreme" behavior.

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : ...


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 113 by Jon, posted 10-27-2014 7:27 PM Jon has not yet responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 16020
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.2


(1)
Message 115 of 131 (739813)
10-28-2014 6:47 AM
Reply to: Message 113 by Jon
10-27-2014 7:27 PM


Re: beauty standards
Jon writes:

The things discussed in that program were pretty vague,...

Well first, thanks for listening to the program, I didn't expect that. It involved an investment of 15 minutes of your time. This American Life isn't everyone's cup of tea, I hope you enjoyed it.

But second, the program wasn't at all vague when it described how the personalities displayed by the switched babies were at distinct odds with the other children of the respective families. While not scientific, it's a clear real-world example of personality traits having a heritable component.

Breast implants are pretty extreme. I don't think a general desire to attract a mate fully accounts for such drastic behaviors.

Of course genetics doesn't "fully account for" personality or behavior. The point is that personality has a heritable component, not that personality is "fully accounted for" by genetics. Your own personal experience should also tell you this is true.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 113 by Jon, posted 10-27-2014 7:27 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 117 by Jon, posted 10-28-2014 2:27 PM Percy has responded

    
Jon
Inactive Member


Message 116 of 131 (739818)
10-28-2014 7:13 AM
Reply to: Message 111 by RAZD
10-27-2014 5:53 PM


Re: beauty standards
If you don't think this is happening then you are not that observant imho of cultures here and elsewhere.

Yes, cultures.

I think you have not demonstrated that the amount of desire to attract a mate necessary to compel one to get plastic surgery is instinctual instead of mostly learned.


Love your enemies!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 111 by RAZD, posted 10-27-2014 5:53 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 118 by RAZD, posted 10-28-2014 5:24 PM Jon has not yet responded

  
Jon
Inactive Member


Message 117 of 131 (739858)
10-28-2014 2:27 PM
Reply to: Message 115 by Percy
10-28-2014 6:47 AM


Re: beauty standards
Well first, thanks for listening to the program, I didn't expect that. It involved an investment of 15 minutes of your time. This American Life isn't everyone's cup of tea, I hope you enjoyed it.

Sure; it was actually an hour, and I listened while eating.

But second, the program wasn't at all vague when it described how the personalities displayed by the switched babies were at distinct odds with the other children of the respective families. While not scientific, it's a clear real-world example of personality traits having a heritable component.

I mean that the qualities themselves are vague. "Outgoing" and "shy" mean different things to different people. Something I didn't mention in my first reply is what we hear at the way end of the program: the biological daughter of the preacher admits to having wanted to be a cheerleader but failing to qualify at tryouts. The fact that the blond-haired girl had been a cheerleader is cited at the beginning of the program as a personality difference.

But obviously they both had want-to-be-cheerleader personalities. Only one was successful.

It is also hard to discount their physical difference when considering their personalities:

quote:
"Blondes Paid More than Other Women" from The Telegraph:

Blonde-haired women, who are often stereotyped as carefree and ditsy, earn seven per cent more than women with hair of other colours, researchers claim.

And in addition to their preferential pay packets blondes also marry wealthier men, who earn an average of six per cent more than the husbands of other women.


Perhaps the more outgoing personality and success as a cheerleader were simply the results of receiving more personable treatment than the dark-haired members of the family were used to. I too would probably be more outgoing if people were constantly fighting one another to be around me (actually, I'd probably be a megalomaniac, but anyway).

That's kind of what I was talking about when I said 'vague': the traits aren't very specific and they don't really demonstrate heritability of personality traits.

Of course genetics doesn't "fully account for" personality or behavior. The point is that personality has a heritable component, not that personality is "fully accounted for" by genetics. Your own personal experience should also tell you this is true.

I don't think either explanation fully accounts for the behavior. Likely accounting for the behavior is an instinctive drive to attract a mate (probably present in many creatures) combined with personally- and culturally-learned ideals, standards, etc.

The flow of genes doesn't tell the whole story. And the change in 'ideals', even though it may effect a change in population characteristics, isn't likely bringing about a change in instinctive desire to attract a mate. Even when the desire appears stronger people may still care just as much as always about attracting a mate but voice their concern more due to increasing difficulty of meeting the 'ideal' standards.

I don't think we are evolving to a population instinctively more accepting/desiring of getting cosmetic surgery. That's the evolution of our culture and it is fueled by an innate desire to attract a mate that probably hasn't changed a whole lot in the last several thousand years.

Jon

Edited by Jon, : No reason given.


Love your enemies!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 115 by Percy, posted 10-28-2014 6:47 AM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 119 by RAZD, posted 10-28-2014 5:30 PM Jon has responded
 Message 121 by Percy, posted 10-28-2014 8:11 PM Jon has not yet responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19074
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 118 of 131 (739884)
10-28-2014 5:24 PM
Reply to: Message 116 by Jon
10-28-2014 7:13 AM


Re: beauty standards
Yes, cultures.

correction: across cultures. When the same behaviors is seen in different cultures then it is likely a broader cause than cultural.

I think you have not demonstrated that the amount of desire to attract a mate necessary to compel one to get plastic surgery is instinctual instead of mostly learned.

What we see is that modification behavior is limited by the availability of modification means.

Shaving is pretty available and pretty universal.

Wrinkle/age hiding creams are also fairly commonly used.

Cosmetic surgery is not as available and not as universal -- it is usually engaged in by women that have less financial hindrance and readily available surgery sources. The most common such surgery is the one with the "biggest bang for the buck" ... breast enhancement.

What is the point of these behaviors if not to attract a (better than average potluck) mate?

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : ..


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 116 by Jon, posted 10-28-2014 7:13 AM Jon has not yet responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19074
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 119 of 131 (739885)
10-28-2014 5:30 PM
Reply to: Message 117 by Jon
10-28-2014 2:27 PM


Re: beauty standards
I don't think we are evolving to a population instinctively more accepting/desiring of getting cosmetic surgery. That's the evolution of our culture and it is fueled by an innate desire to attract a mate that probably hasn't changed a whole lot in the last several thousand years.

Which is still within the time-frame of runaway sexual selection for specific traits ... the only thing that has changed is the ability to provide such services, the desire for it was there before.

Enjoy


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 117 by Jon, posted 10-28-2014 2:27 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 122 by Jon, posted 10-28-2014 8:24 PM RAZD has responded

  
NoNukes
Member
Posts: 9992
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 120 of 131 (739888)
10-28-2014 7:29 PM
Reply to: Message 112 by RAZD
10-27-2014 6:56 PM


Re: beauty standards and selection
The point is that runaway sexual selection means that the 'ideal' appearance does not occur in the natural population. This has been demonstrated in many studies of animals with runaway sexual selection.

I'm not sure that's true for humans. There are of course people who prefer exaggerations, but that does not make those exaggerations ideal.

Do you agree that sexual selection does occur and that this explains the facial hair seen here:

I've explained why I don't find animal behavior great evidence for human behavior.

And the question is not whether or not men find a particular asset attractive. The question is whether there is some gene that would cause a woman to modify that attribute. I'm suggesting that motivation to attract a mate is enough impetus for a women to make a conscious decision to groom herself.

In short, we don't need to postulate a grooming gene or a grooming instinct. All that's necessary for a man or woman to groom himself or augment him or herself is a belief that the opposite sex requires or likes it.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him. Galileo Galilei

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. Frederick Douglass


This message is a reply to:
 Message 112 by RAZD, posted 10-27-2014 6:56 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 123 by RAZD, posted 10-29-2014 1:20 AM NoNukes has responded

    
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