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Author Topic:   Laws of Attraction: The seduction of Evolutionary Psychology?
Silent H
Member (Idle past 5049 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 31 of 102 (290472)
02-25-2006 7:52 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by melatonin
02-24-2006 2:48 PM


schizotypy study
I thought you'd like this study, lol - schizophrenia is largely genetic, schizotypy is associated with schizophrenia, schizotypy is related to creativity, creativity is related to sexual success - therefore sexual success of schizotypy maintains the scizophrenic genes...

Heheheh... yeah this is a nice paper to look at. It isn't as flawed as many EP papers, but that makes it good to show where methodology works and where it doesn't. That reasoning though, yikes. Reminds me eerily of Monty Python's Holy Grail.

I apologize in advance for making minimal quotes from the paper, but it is in pdf and I hate transcribing long sections or mutiple sections. I'll quote sections I believe are necessary and we can mention others in the future as needed.

Okay first for the positives.

1) Unlike many EP papers, this addresses a condition which is shown to have a genetic component. Other papers (such as the whr study) substitute correlation to population for actual evidence of genetics. In this case the genetic component is a predisposition to schiz, it can be seen branching via reproduction in the population, with mediating/provoking effects based on environmental factors.

2) They use a method for measuring schizotypy which is valid so that a (reasonably identified) genetic trait is the actual target for comparison to other variables.

3) They are not exactly seeking why a trait was selected for in humans, but rather given its patently negative effects, why it has not been deselected. There is a difference. A neutral characteristic will arise and remain without any adaptive advantage, but a negative characteristic would (reasonably) be expected to diminish which it appears is not happening.

Now for the problems.

THEORETICAL
1) They do not actually deliver a problem for stability of schiz within populations. The numbers are small (1%) and while they cite evidence full blown schiz can drastically reduce probability of reproduction, this does not pose an "evolutionary puzzle" when they go on to show that genetic predisposition is not synonymous with full blown schiz (it should be noted that later in their paper they reveal it is predominantly one manifestation of schiz which may have the deleterious effects)...

Reduced fitness in sufferers would be expected to lead to the disappearance of the heritable traits predisposing individuals to the condition. The fact that this does not appear to happen has lead many commentators to speculate that there must be other, beneficial effects of the traits, most probably manifest in healthy relatives...

Why would those carrying genes predisposed to schiz have to have beneficial effects, just because those who end up manifesting schiz do not reproduce as much? As long as there was no reproductive bar to those with such predisposition it is possible for schiz total numbers to remain stable. Those predisposed produce a consistent number of offspring, with a consistent minority that do not reproduce (or reproduce less). Given the nature of genes to actual schiz (it is dependent on environmental factors) there would be no reason for it to disappear, only to reach an equilibrium. Indeed given the neutrality (much less the positive traits they argue for within their paper) of schiz dispositive genes, they could easily increase throughout populations, resulting in positive schizophrenic numbers over time.

2) They do not address another, perhaps more obvious, puzzle. Why would %'s remain stable over time and across cultures, when there have been drastic improvements in health care (including mental health) over time and across cultures as well as differences in how artistic creativity is rewarded across cultures? I am personally skeptical of this claim given the relative newness of such testing (and knowledge of schiz) much less its possible testing across all cultures. But I am going to assume their cited studies are correct for now, and point out it poses a problem. Reasonably... evolutionarily... we should see differences.

3) They do not bother to investigate this phenomena further along epidemiological or demographic lines. How is it physically being maintained? By what populations? Instead they ASSUME they are correct that it is healthy schiz-disposed types manifesting some beneficial trait, and ASSUME that it could be based in artistry, in order to jump to a totally separate EP SPECULATION (which itself needs more investigation), and suggest that might provide an answer. In a way they attempt to kill two birds with one study. However that is an error. It is possible for there to be other answers for why schiz-disp gene carriers do not disappear, so finding that creative types might have more reproductive success is an extremely dubious piece of evidence in order to reach a conclusion that it is a likely answer. (One example of another explanation, is that families or groups with schiz-disp genes form reproductive strategies of having more children because some are or will likely become ill.)

METHODOLOGICAL
4) The study was small in scale and completely unicultural. There was no chance of weeding out cultural influences regarding how creativity and artistry in specific is treated within our culture. Within their own results section they mention that...

It is possible that these relationships arise because the specialist artist and poet groups who were recruited, and who are high in unusual experiences... have different lifestyles than the general population.

While the rerun of results within this specific study showed little difference, the point above still stands not just for artistic groups within other cultures but the inherently different lifestyles within other cultures.

5) The study was a self-assessment test. These are problematic in and of themselves, but I will lay that to the side for this discussion. I am only going to point out that "creative" types may very well skew responses, particularly regarding sexual partners or other experiences culturally linked to artists. The same may be said for people who actually have "impulsive non-conformity" issues.

6) The study focused on numbers of partners. While it states that this is a valid measure of mating success (quantity=success) in some studies, that directly contradicts other EP studies which argue longterm monogamy is an evolutionarily driven psych strategy (quality over quantity).

I will leave that inconsistency alone for now to focus on the more important point that sexual partners does NOT equate to children at all, even if potential is theoretically higher. If the issue is actual sustained numbers, potentials to have children are wholly useless for extrapolation. Interestingly they used a major cultural bias within this part of the test. From their methods section...

The questionnaire also provided information on mating success in the form of the following questions: 'Since you were 18, how much of the time...' and 'Since you were 18, how many different partners have you had...?'

Why would they restrict age at all? As long as one is capable of being pregnant or causing pregnancy, and the issue is creating offspring, that is an artificial construct which may skew results of a study. This would particularly be an issue if psych factors associated with schiz could affect when people become sexual active.

ANALYSIS
7) The first thing to note is their analysis regarding number of children...

For number of children, the only significant association with schizotypy was with cognitive disorganization... {it was negatively associated}

Given that their study assumed that number of partners should match reproductive success (they even begin to refer to it AS mating success) the fact that number of children does not correlate to number of partners is problematic. That the results hold essentially a contradictory correlation is devastating. Yet this rather obvious point is never discussed at all! The results of this study in fact challenge the citations they used to make their assumption. Number of partners here did NOT at all correlate with number of children and so such assumptions cannot be made. This alone should have killed the study as being conclusive.

8) In Figure One they show how creativity relates to numbers of partners. On can clearly see that artistic activity alone does not have an effect. Effects are only seen as artists are engaged in "serious" or "professional" artistry. The authors attribute this to a hypothesis that artistic creativity functions as a mating display, with yet another hidden assumption that serious or professional artists are more creative. While that may be true they do not show any analyses to discount, nor do they bother to discuss, the equally viable (and to my mind more obvious) possibility that success or fame is a factor in attracting partners. It certainly cannot be assumed that success and fame are objectively correlated to creative impulse and output. But strangely they appear to have done that very thing within materials and methods...

Obviously, information on quality of the participants' work was not directly available. However, it is assumed that increasingly serious engagement with the activity is generally correlated with increasing quality and visibility of work.

One generally assumes that only the best and brightest will get elected to lead nations in a free democratic state, and the more they spend time in office the better they will get, but that is not the case. I have no idea how that assumption was allowed to pass by any peer review as acceptable. Heck, even if I were to accept quality as correlated to success or fame, what does quality have to do with drive? Unless they are also assuming that artistic passion translates to artistic talents I am at a loss as to what any of this has to do with schiz-disp genetics which can only produce drive.

Here is an example: the Baldwins are all artists. I cannot say which has the greatest drive, nor that the one that has the greatest drive actually has the greatest talent, or the one that has the greatest talent has the greatest fame. The one thing I can be pretty certain of is that an equally talented though unrelated actor may never reach the same level of fame, not to mention access to the same number of sexual partners, as they do because one of them became famous first.

9) Nowhere did I see a discussion of how their results actually exhibit a statistically relevant conclusion that it is creativity as an attractor which keeps schizophrenia stable within a population. What numbers should I have been expecting to see that would disprove their theory because it would not have been enough?

Conclusion...
I think I'll leave it right there for now. It is some of the major problems I see and which characterize pop EP methodology.

What this appears to tell me (at best) is that talented or "busy" artists within Britain have greater numbers of partners. Separately some forms of schizotypy may have some correlation with numbers of partners, but to what degree such that it addresses the initial "puzzle" I have no idea. At worst it calls into question some of their supporting citations as well as ignoring a more obvious conclusion that success alone might be a factor in finding partners, and so confound making statements about creativity from these results.

I apologize if my ending is weak, but I am writing after 1:30am. Hopefully it suffices.


holmes
"What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority." (M.Ivins)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by melatonin, posted 02-24-2006 2:48 PM melatonin has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 33 by melatonin, posted 02-26-2006 9:55 AM Silent H has replied
 Message 34 by melatonin, posted 02-26-2006 10:12 AM Silent H has replied

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 5049 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 32 of 102 (290534)
02-26-2006 7:34 AM
Reply to: Message 28 by melatonin
02-25-2006 2:38 PM


We are an animal, and therefore are affected by the same processes as other species. I don’t feel that EP suggests that genes are the sole determinant of behaviour, just that genes provide a dispostional basis of behaviour

I absolutely agree with this. There are however limitations regarding genes and behaviors which are not existent within other animals. Our brains have a higher analytical ability and may reach organic behaviors due to adaptation to circumstance, rather than having been coded with behaviors to solve any particular evolutionary problem.

Even disposition based on measurable hormonal urges which can be tracked hereditarily, does not inherently suggest that specific behaviors resulting from such urges or how they interact with current environments has any meaning to their continued existence.

Too much is made of neccessity, rather than realizing as long as the behavior is not COUNTERproductive it will remain and can travel throughout communities. Thus there was no PURPOSE for most or any behavior we see to exist, even when common.

These are also heritable and have a neurophysiological basis – HA –serotonin; RD = noradrenaline; NS = dopamine. So we would expect sociopaths to exhibit such physiology – there is data suggesting they do (see Zuckermann, 1989). Researchers also distinguish between ‘primary’ (predominately genetics) and ‘secondary’ (predominately environment) forms of sociopathy.

I am much more interested in studies that begin by tracking actual genetic/hereditary quality of a behavior, especially cued to a brain physiology. That is where I believe the future of EP lies, and where I am hoping criticism will guide it. There is a paradox posed by the above situation. As long as it is seen that environment plays a part, that inherently suggests that it is OTHER environmental factors which are selecting for a trait, rather than having to posit some "original" or overriding reason.

Tania Singer’s group at UCL have shown that males show less empathy (and even pleasure - schadenfreude) to the suffering of an individual who has ‘cheated’ them.

Why could this not be the result of analytical structuring of the brain based almost wholly on dealing with the environment? That is to say the result of creating rules within this culture? I agree that differences in hormonal levels between men and women will influence level of "empathy rules", but that would not suggest hormonal levels were shaped by need/lack of need for empathy in either, or that it had to generate specific outcomes for either sex in behavior. Perhaps this understanding somewhat solves the paradox you noted.

and assessment of comparative neurology would aid in the understanding of human behaviour/evolution of mind.

Not only that but most pop EP theorists don't begin by searching out actual neurological/chemical bases for behavior within humans themselves. The leap from possibility of, to assumption of, based on correlation to population of a behavior.

I would tell her to start with the papers I posted (couple of good reviews there).

Will do and thanks.


holmes
"What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority." (M.Ivins)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by melatonin, posted 02-25-2006 2:38 PM melatonin has taken no action

  
melatonin
Member (Idle past 5438 days)
Posts: 126
From: Cymru
Joined: 02-13-2006


Message 33 of 102 (290554)
02-26-2006 9:55 AM
Reply to: Message 31 by Silent H
02-25-2006 7:52 PM


Re: schizotypy study
oops, double posted :(

OK, may as well use this space...Holmes, don't know if you have seen Panksepp's criticisms of EP. Here's a linky to his paper "seven sins of evolutionary psychology"...

http://www.psy.plym.ac.uk/year3/psy364criticisms-evolutionary-psychology/panksepp_seven_sins.pdf

This message has been edited by melatonin, 02-26-2006 10:14 AM

This message has been edited by melatonin, 02-26-2006 10:27 AM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 31 by Silent H, posted 02-25-2006 7:52 PM Silent H has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 49 by Silent H, posted 02-27-2006 6:16 PM melatonin has replied

  
melatonin
Member (Idle past 5438 days)
Posts: 126
From: Cymru
Joined: 02-13-2006


Message 34 of 102 (290560)
02-26-2006 10:12 AM
Reply to: Message 31 by Silent H
02-25-2006 7:52 PM


Re: schizotypy study
haha, thought you'd enjoy this paper. As you point out, it does have good points but some definite methodological problems and the conclusions drawn are at a stretch.

There are good reasons to look at the genes underlying schizophrenia as selective fitness indicators. Most animals have fitness indicators and we would expect the same in humans, common indicators are behaviour (performance) and physical attributes. Schizophrenia generally becomes apparent during the major period of reproductive fitness (15-26) and is rare before puberty. In many species, dopamine agonists stimulate courtship behaviour and we know that dopamine activity is a major dysfunction in schizophrenia (but of course not the only one) and is treated with anti-psychotics that are dopamine antagonists (further, dopamine agonists worsen symptoms). One thing you did mention, and is known, is that schizophrenics in long-term relationships do produce a similar number of children - but if their genes underlie courtship behaviours then we expect them to have difficulties in attracting/retaining a mate - they do have lower rates of future marriage and reproduction/mates when single. Also we would expect sex differences in humans, males do show more frequent and severe symptoms compared to females. So if we want to show that these genes are a fitness indicator, then we need to find how they are used to attract mates. So we have a fair hypothesis - the genes underlying schizophrenia/schizotypy provide a fitness indicator in humans, (and like most fitness indicators, it will be variable across the population). There is a fair bit of research that links schizotypy and creativity, so it is an approach worth using.

On the methodology side, there are problems, as you mention fame may be a confound - but I would say that if you look at society, entertainment is a major industry and source of fame - so we could say that these sort of creative behaviours are highly valued in human society. Maybe because they are fitness indicators (my speculation here). Poor scientists with their analytical minds are much less valued, although we may well provide more instrumental value to society :(

The measure of number of partners seems appropriate to me. We already control our reproduction, so we would have problems in using offspring as an indicator. And as we are interested in selective fitness indicators, number of attracted mates would seem a fair measure.

I also wonder why they used an 18yrs cut-off. I know that many teenagers are sexually active in the UK, so it may have actually helped their study to just assess partners across lifetime. Seems a bit silly.

The cultural issue is always a problem in research. We have limited funds and time. I would love to head off to S. Africa to provide some cultural validity in my research (especially in winter, lol), but it would take a long time to gain ethical approval and perform such studies, never mind the financial cost. We need researchers in these cultures doing similar research. So, we restrict ready generalisation to our culture and tentatively apply it to others. But I agree that if we are looking for universal behaviours (which EP is) then we need this approach.

My major issue is with demand characteristics/exaggeration. We already know that schizophrenics have a tendency to confabulate. Can we really depend on creative people with high trait schizotypy to provide reliable answers to such questions? A simple social desirability questionnaire may help here (maybe they did use one, but I don't see it reported).

From the results, if we ignore the professional artists we only have two correlations; one positive - impulsive non-conformity; one negative - introvertive anhedonia. So it seems to me that there is no real advantage to schizotypal behaviour in the general population - the gains are negated. And in a society where non-conformity is widespread (compared to the 50's), I definitely see issues with the conclusions formed.

So I agree with the many of your criticisms. The conclusion formed is shaky at best. But I do see good reasons to continue this line of research, replication and other approaches are defintely required.

This message has been edited by melatonin, 02-26-2006 10:54 AM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 31 by Silent H, posted 02-25-2006 7:52 PM Silent H has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 38 by Silent H, posted 02-26-2006 6:17 PM melatonin has taken no action

  
Parsimonious_Razor
Inactive Member


Message 35 of 102 (290640)
02-26-2006 3:49 PM


Hey Holmes
You and I have debated this subject before. I had to leave the last debate we had because graduate school and finances constricted greatly my time on the internet. I thought that your proposal for this thread was a little more confined and would be easier to handle. Rather then a complete discussion of the field of Ev Psych in all its nooks and crannies you wanted proposals for good solid research in the field. Here is one that I particularly like. Its out of the University of New Mexico and builds on previous studies that indicated important links between scent and attractiveness. This study really zeroed in on the genetic role of MHC genes in creating the pattern. Let me know what issues you have with this kind of research (if you can’t get the PDF copy I can download it and post a link):

Major histocompatibility complex genes, symmetry, and body scent attractiveness in men and women
Thornhill, R; Gangestad, SW; Miller, R; Scheyd, G; McCollough, JK; Franklin, M Source: BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY; SEP 2003; v.14, no.5, p.668-678


Replies to this message:
 Message 37 by Silent H, posted 02-26-2006 5:46 PM Parsimonious_Razor has replied

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 5049 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 36 of 102 (290669)
02-26-2006 5:35 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by crashfrog
02-25-2006 11:21 AM


I'll post a paper that I think is indicative of the sort of research that I think of when I think of evolutionary psychology. Am I wrong to attribute this article to the field of evolutionary psychology?

It is clearly EP. While it is not as wholly controversial as some of the more popEP studies (such as whr, or the "similar looking partners" stuff you suggested in the other thread), it certainly straddles into that territory.

I finished reading it today and before I write an analysis I thought I'd actually like to hear more about what you think this study suggests. Do you believe it is definitive? Highly suggestive? Suggestive? Largely Speculative? Are there any weaknesses that you see in this study, including methodology? If so, what are they?

I would also ask if you understand methodology or statistics so that its discussion makes sense?

Without such knowledge one may be left at the mercy of their more layman styled conclusions, without knowing if what they say they have matches what they actually achieved. I myself was rusty enough with stats that I had to run my understanding past someone else to make sure I was right (thankfully I was), and to understand better some elements they used for determining significance.


holmes
"What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority." (M.Ivins)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 27 by crashfrog, posted 02-25-2006 11:21 AM crashfrog has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 39 by crashfrog, posted 02-26-2006 6:26 PM Silent H has replied

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 5049 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 37 of 102 (290676)
02-26-2006 5:46 PM
Reply to: Message 35 by Parsimonious_Razor
02-26-2006 3:49 PM


Re: Hey Holmes
Major histocompatibility complex genes, symmetry, and body scent attractiveness in men and women, Thornhill, R; Gangestad, SW; Miller, R; Scheyd, G; McCollough, JK; Franklin, M Source: BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY; SEP 2003; v.14, no.5, p.668-678

I already have a critique outstanding for you within this thread (an article I believe was recommended by you as an example of a good EP study). I am willing to take on more, but at this point have two others. The one analysis of the study melatonin gave, and the analysis I will write later on crash's citation.

The citation you give is from the same author's as the cite from crash. Being a latter article on a possibility mentioned within the crash cite, my guess is it is follow up research. Would it be okay to start with the earlier article that crash provided?

I'd like to see what you think of their methodology and conclusions of that earlier article, particularly as this relates to the likelihood of evolutionarily driven mechanism of scent pref.

This message has been edited by holmes, 02-26-2006 11:47 PM


holmes
"What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority." (M.Ivins)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 35 by Parsimonious_Razor, posted 02-26-2006 3:49 PM Parsimonious_Razor has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 42 by Parsimonious_Razor, posted 02-26-2006 9:54 PM Silent H has replied

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 5049 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 38 of 102 (290691)
02-26-2006 6:17 PM
Reply to: Message 34 by melatonin
02-26-2006 10:12 AM


Re: schizotypy study
as you mention fame may be a confound - but I would say that if you look at society, entertainment is a major industry and source of fame - so we could say that these sort of creative behaviours are highly valued in human society. Maybe because they are fitness indicators (my speculation here).

But that would clearly not be the case over time and cultures. Some cultures rewarded violence or other forms of overt power, or knowledge, rather than artistry. I might also add that even though our society rewards some artists greater than any other position, there are a lot of artists out there with nothing to show for it but a job waiting tables.

Mmmmm yes, let me give a particular example. Van Gogh. Clearly schizophrenic in disposition, and clearly talented. Yet almost wholly unrecognized for his talent during his lifetime and not really rewarded with much opportunity for mating success. Like him, many "great artists" have been long suffering in their lives, only to be discovered later, while famous artists in their day went on to obscurity.

The measure of number of partners seems appropriate to me. We already control our reproduction, so we would have problems in using offspring as an indicator. And as we are interested in selective fitness indicators, number of attracted mates would seem a fair measure.

This may be our major source of disagreement, and I'll try my best to convince you. The study set up a problem that schiz was steady state across time and cultures. Okay so they then propose to use number of partners as a measure of mating success.

Now what they actually found was that numbers of partners did not correlate in the same way as number of children. That automatically suggests that at least at present, partners does not suggest reproductive success. Worse still it should have at least shown that children were negatively correlated with the damaging form of schiz... which it didn't. That is a big problem for both the problem they set up initially, as well as for the assumption they made correlatively.

But let's set that aside. If the reason that partners does not scale to actually having children is because of reproductive regulation, then why was schiz steady state over time and cultures? There are clearly changes in ability to regulate reproduction over time and across cultures.

I might also ask why it wouldn't be that schiz types who are generally more creative or impulsive non-conformist would engage in more sexual acts with goals of procreation? Perhaps more partners is combined with less procreative acts (homosexual or nonvaginal)? It might be noted that many artists tend to have same sex lovers, which means an increase in partners would have nothing to do with reproductive advantage.

And of course artists being highly sexual may be a generally popular nonconformity at this time, but not always. There have been famous asexual artists, and some take pride in asceticism. If I remember right Warhol, though surrounded by sexual people, was not very. I tend to think of that being very subjective to culture.

Success of Fame on the other hand, no matter the field, may open up chances for mating and actually having children, more so than artistry.

My major issue is with demand characteristics/exaggeration. We already know that schizophrenics have a tendency to confabulate. Can we really depend on creative people with high trait schizotypy to provide reliable answers to such questions? A simple social desirability questionnaire may help here (maybe they did use one, but I don't see it reported).

Heheheh. Artists wouldn't make things up would they? Especially ones having impulsive nonconformity issues?

You really don't have to reply to this I guess. Only if you think there is something solid which addresses a couple of my concerns above. Otherwise we I think we're in sync.

Again let me say (and this will be the last time) I value your input as you have been providing excellent material and discussion. Just assume I think that with your posts until I say otherwise. I guess I should just put you in for a POTM.


holmes
"What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority." (M.Ivins)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 34 by melatonin, posted 02-26-2006 10:12 AM melatonin has taken no action

  
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 696 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 39 of 102 (290694)
02-26-2006 6:26 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by Silent H
02-26-2006 5:35 PM


I finished reading it today and before I write an analysis I thought I'd actually like to hear more about what you think this study suggests.

Well, many things. It certainly substantiates the position that human attraction has organic influences, influences that have been shaped by sexual selection and genetic fitness. I mean obviously it suggests exactly what it claims to - that women, statistically, rate the smell of more symmetric men more pleasing - but beyond that, it would seem to suggest that there may be many influences in regards to what we find attractive in mates that have to do not with our individual conscious desires, but what our bodies are programmed to recognize as superior genes in mates.

I don't think it suggests that women are mind-controlled to always mate with symmetric men. I don't think it suggests that human beings aren't morally culpable for our behavior. I don't think it suggests that we should throw open the prison doors because all the inmates are just poor bastards who simply did what they were programmed to do. I think the phrase used was "dispositional influence" and I think that's a great way to put it.

Do you believe it is definitive? Highly suggestive? Suggestive? Largely Speculative?

Can't it be all of those? Definitive and suggestive? Isn't that what makes for a really significant paper, in fact? That it definitively answers the question it set out to address, and suggests new avenues of exploration?

I would also ask if you understand methodology or statistics so that its discussion makes sense?

I'll be honest with you. If I didn't, would I know?

I'm not completely ignorant of statistics, and I'm employed by scientists so I'm familiar with at least some aspects of methodology. I've begun an undergraduate degree in biology. If your analysis is going to be a highly technical criticism of their math I'm probably not going to try to follow it.

I don't claim any degree of expertise, only that I'll do my best to try to follow along and make whatever reply I see best.

I hope that answered your questions. I look forward to your review of the paper.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 36 by Silent H, posted 02-26-2006 5:35 PM Silent H has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 40 by Silent H, posted 02-26-2006 6:55 PM crashfrog has replied

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 5049 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 40 of 102 (290712)
02-26-2006 6:55 PM
Reply to: Message 39 by crashfrog
02-26-2006 6:26 PM


It certainly substantiates the position that human attraction has organic influences, influences that have been shaped by sexual selection and genetic fitness. I mean obviously it suggests exactly what it claims to - that women, statistically, rate the smell of more symmetric men more pleasing - but beyond that, it would seem to suggest that there may be many influences in regards to what we find attractive in mates that have to do not with our individual conscious desires, but what our bodies are programmed to recognize as superior genes in mates.

By saying "certainly substantiates" I will take it that you feel the above items have been more than merely speculated at, or suggested by the paper, and that it has provided highly suggestive to definitive evidence.

That was what I was trying to get at with my spectrum of certainty questions, not that it involved many different levels of exploration of different phenomena, but rather how positive the level of evidence was at showing what it set out to look at.

As a heads up, this study did not "certainly substantiate" what you claim it did. It was admittedly (the authors state it plainly) not definitive, and its methodological flaws leave it hardly suggestive, except for perhaps future research that can be done to try and draw out more substantive conclusions. You might want to look again. I'm surprised you missed the key statement they made which was straight out of an ID argument.

I notice you did not mention if you found any flaws or limitations. There were some and they should have been obvious. I notice pars has posted an example paper he wants to look at which is by the same team and is perhaps a follow up study. From the sound of the title they may have started plugging some of the holes they mentioned within this article. It might be something for you to peruse.

If your analysis is going to be a highly technical criticism of their math I'm probably not going to try to follow it.

I was not going to be highly technical regarding stats, but I was going to discuss some of their stated results. I'll go ahead and make my comments. I just didn't want it to be a case of my making a statement, and your not being able to understand that my criticism has merit, if it challenges a statement they have made.

I'll write up my critique within the next two days. Most likely it will be tomorrow, but I want some wiggle room.

As a side note I want to be accurate, which means it eats up some time, and I have just recently got some extra work to do which will definitely eat up time, so responses here may move a bit more slowly than normal. I hope that will be okay.


holmes
"What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority." (M.Ivins)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 39 by crashfrog, posted 02-26-2006 6:26 PM crashfrog has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 41 by crashfrog, posted 02-26-2006 9:17 PM Silent H has replied

  
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 696 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 41 of 102 (290739)
02-26-2006 9:17 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by Silent H
02-26-2006 6:55 PM


By saying "certainly substantiates" I will take it that you feel the above items have been more than merely speculated at, or suggested by the paper, and that it has provided highly suggestive to definitive evidence.

Sure. If I were trying to defend the positions I've outlined above, I would offer this paper, among others, as evidence; and I would expect readers to find that evidence convincing. I wouldn't, of course, say that this one single paper proves the whole thing.

As a heads up, this study did not "certainly substantiate" what you claim it did. It was admittedly (the authors state it plainly) not definitive, and its methodological flaws leave it hardly suggestive

Maybe as inculcated as I have become in the biological sciences I'm far more tolerant of little methodological hiccups than you may be. If you're looking for the rigor of a mathematical proof, or even of an experiment in physics with spheres and slanted surfaces, you're not going to find it in the biological sciences.

There are simply far too many factors to be controlled. Living things are complicated, and the experiments that I suspect you would find necessary to substantiate genetic influence of certain traits in humans would constitute crimes against humanity. Identifing genetic traits in humans must always be a fairly circumspect process, since we can't just go in and disable genes in a zygotic human and see how the adult develops. That would be a barbarity.

I hope that will be okay.

Please, Holmes, feel absolutely free to take your time. I do mean that.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 40 by Silent H, posted 02-26-2006 6:55 PM Silent H has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 43 by Silent H, posted 02-27-2006 5:33 AM crashfrog has taken no action

  
Parsimonious_Razor
Inactive Member


Message 42 of 102 (290746)
02-26-2006 9:54 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Silent H
02-26-2006 5:46 PM


Re: Hey Holmes
I have never bothered to explore the Schizophrenia research in ev psych so I am disinclined to delve into critiscms of it. So I will abstane from that. I looked at crash's citation and indeed it is an earlier version of research realted to the study I cited. I cited the one I did because it brought into the picture MHC genes as a mecahnism for genetic variation of scents.

I thought it might be good because you seem to disagree with the statement that there really is a strong genetic tie to any of this. The MHC paper shows how scent preference relates to the prescense of specific genes that are clearly realted to survival. Preference for heterozygosity in MHC alleles makes good genetic sense. Of course the preferences are much more complicated than that in practice as the article talks about.

A fellow graduate student is working on the smelling end of the spectrum, his work is in proccess but he thinks he might even have the organ in the nose thats detecting the smells. A little vasaline in the right part and the preferences disappear.

Anyway, look at things in what ever order you like, I am a little unclear about what it is you wanted me too look at in the citation crash gave.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by Silent H, posted 02-26-2006 5:46 PM Silent H has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 44 by Silent H, posted 02-27-2006 6:00 AM Parsimonious_Razor has taken no action

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 5049 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 43 of 102 (290792)
02-27-2006 5:33 AM
Reply to: Message 41 by crashfrog
02-26-2006 9:17 PM


If you're looking for the rigor of a mathematical proof, or even of an experiment in physics with spheres and slanted surfaces, you're not going to find it in the biological sciences.

Heheheh... no I'm not impressing any unobtainable methodology onto biological sciences. I have been close with and am quite familiar with the methods and limits to methods within biological science.

I might point out though that limits, whether due to current tech, or moral restraints which prevent doing the most accurate experiements, does NOT allow any conclusion to be considered as having some greater weight.

If the only way to shift research away from sheer speculation, to a bona fide strong experimental result is to kill 1000 people in horrific ways, we can't say well sheer speculation is the closest we'll get so let's run with it. The actual result is "we don't know".

Athough I am not suggesting we'd even need to alter dna of individuals, the idea that its barbarity should aid a circumspect theory carry more weight in public discourse, is countered by historical example. Much of medical science was circumspect theorization because mutilating corpses to find actual evidence was considered barbarity.

This is all to say that if EP research has limits, and is circumspect, then its conclusions should be treated as such in a much more clear manner than is being done.

I'll be writing the analysis today. It should be done by later afternoon/evening, unless something comes up.

One last question though... which you do not have to answer in reply to this post, but may wait until answering my analysis. You have stated in the past that you have problems reading through my lengthy posts, and have suggested here that you may not have a more complete knowledge of statistics. This paper was quite lengthy and relied heavily on statistical analysis... yet you feel confident that the evidence is convincing. I am interested if you read through the entire paper, and feel you fully understood the methods and statistics underlying its conclusions? If not, what made you feel confident about the evidence provided?

The reason I ask goes to the title of this thread. I myself, being a firm believer in evolutionary theory, and organic basis for behavior, and genetic basis for potentially most of our organic makeup, find the general hypotheses of EP to be seductive. If left to trusting the words of EP authors regarding the quality of method and data, I'd likely not be raising the questions I am. And I wonder how much of its popularity rests in people not understanding what they are actually doing and finding, and rather that it sounds plausible.


holmes
"What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority." (M.Ivins)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 41 by crashfrog, posted 02-26-2006 9:17 PM crashfrog has taken no action

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 5049 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 44 of 102 (290795)
02-27-2006 6:00 AM
Reply to: Message 42 by Parsimonious_Razor
02-26-2006 9:54 PM


Re: Hey Holmes
I cited the one I did because it brought into the picture MHC genes as a mecahnism for genetic variation of scents.

When I read the crash's cite I thought that was an intriguing avenue to explore, and I will go ahead and look at your cite, following the analysis of his cite.

I thought it might be good because you seem to disagree with the statement that there really is a strong genetic tie to any of this. The MHC paper shows how scent preference relates to the prescense of specific genes that are clearly realted to survival. Preference for heterozygosity in MHC alleles makes good genetic sense. Of course the preferences are much more complicated than that in practice as the article talks about.

There is a difference between being skeptical of claims made by researchers or being critical of methodologies in a field, and disbelieving the possibility of plausibility of a hypothesis.

Once again, I am not arguing that I feel that there can be no genetic connection, nor that there is no genetic connection. My criticisms are methods (theoretical, logical, and experimental) used within much of what has come to be popular EP research to reach a conclusion.

A good example is the reasoning found within the schiz study, as well as what you just stated above. Yeah all of that is plausible, but that does not mean finding certain correlations makes it a scientifically suggestive conclusion. I haven't read your cite yet, which may do a good job, but if it was handled in the same way as crash's cite then there are serious problems.

Personally I think smell (even unconscious portions) are important, and I am interested in such research. While some may have more hardwired aspects, not all need to be, and certainly not all hardwired have to have been genetically selected for due to being an advantage or keying on advantage. There can be coincidence and secondary effects which may confound any such conclusions.

I am a little unclear about what it is you wanted me too look at in the citation crash gave.

You were citing a later, and hopefully better, study by the same team. Crash feels that the study he cited should be convincing. I am wondering if you feel that it was, or if you spotted flaws within it.


holmes
"What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority." (M.Ivins)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 42 by Parsimonious_Razor, posted 02-26-2006 9:54 PM Parsimonious_Razor has taken no action

Replies to this message:
 Message 45 by crashfrog, posted 02-27-2006 11:39 AM Silent H has replied

  
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 696 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 45 of 102 (290851)
02-27-2006 11:39 AM
Reply to: Message 44 by Silent H
02-27-2006 6:00 AM


Re: Hey Holmes
There can be coincidence and secondary effects which may confound any such conclusions.

There always could be. At what point do you believe Occam's Razor kind of kicks in?

I mean, if you're relying on researchers to eliminate every last possibility of hidden, confounding factors that make it falsly seem like they've found exactly what they were looking for, it makes me wonder exactly what scientific research you do accept.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 44 by Silent H, posted 02-27-2006 6:00 AM Silent H has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 46 by Silent H, posted 02-27-2006 3:57 PM crashfrog has replied

  
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