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Author Topic:   Laws of Attraction: The seduction of Evolutionary Psychology?
Silent H
Member (Idle past 4154 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 46 of 102 (290913)
02-27-2006 3:57 PM
Reply to: Message 45 by crashfrog
02-27-2006 11:39 AM


scent study 1
There always could be. At what point do you believe Occam's Razor kind of kicks in?

When the coincidences or secondary effects are not just as likely given the evidence available.

it makes me wonder exactly what scientific research you do accept.

I've already said I accept scientific conclusions, even within the nonpop portions of EP. What I use to select whether I trust conclusions is proper methodology.

Here is my analysis:

For those who have not been following along, the study I'm looking at can be found at this link. All quotes will come from there.

BRIEF STUDY SUMMARY:
The study describes that phenotypic body symmetry has been connected to better fitness/health components. There are also reported connections between symmetry and visual attractiveness (which makes sense based on its obvious phenotypic qualities). Separately, women detect scents variably over menstrual cycle, specifically ones related to sexuality (or at least those are the ones which have been tested). The authors attempt to replicate an earlier (and admittedly flawed) study of their own which indicated a correlation between scent attractiveness and symmetry in men.

For argument's sake previous research regarding symmetry will be assumed valid, except to note that the earlier scent study was not rigorous, which means that its results cannot be assumed valid, though it will lead to conduct of other studies (such as this one).

The concept of the authors is that a chemical product is associated with male body symmetry (both having been genetically driven together in some manner), and that females have adapted sensory processes to detect those particular chemicals, in order to select "good genes", just as they have selected visual processes to find "good genes" by finding visual symmetry more attractive. This is supposed to be shown more "convincingly" if women correlate them more highly during times of high fertility.

There are some positive elements to this research, and indeed I am interested in interplay of hormones, including secretion and detection. But I am going to focus on problems because this may be lengthy enough.

THEORETICAL
One has to remember that what they are suggesting is rather a large claim to make. They are not simply trying to locate chemicals that females may cue on during their menstrual cycle, and then find what that may be associated with, and then see what role that may play in survival (or even document its existence demographically and physiologically within men or women).

They are jumping through several assumptions in order to link women's attraction to some substance via scent and its correlation to symmetry, to argue this indicates some genetically driven adaptation with a positive reproductive purpose. Women are genetically keyed to detect X for specific associations.

This raises questions.

1) Symmetry (or its opposite: asymmetry) within any individual has both genetic and environmental factors. The authors do not reveal evidence suggesting that the genetic component is a predominant factor, but assert...

FA variation should reflect heritable fitness much of the time, often making FA an indicator of genetic quality and leading to selection for mate preferences based on FA or on traits such as scents that may covary with FA.

Should reflect, much of the time, and often making. This does not present a state of knowledge such that one can confidently suggest that symmetry would lead to selection for overt mate preference, based on secondary traits that "may covary". This is speculation, and assumption, without weeding out alternative possibilities of how one of those secondary traits might arise and stay within a population.

2) Female cues within menstrual cycles, do not necessarily have to be coded for selecting good genes. It would seem reasonable to postulate that females will experience different sensory experiences during different parts of their cycle. Hormones may make their processing extra sensitive, thus heightening all sensations, or making them selectively heightened. While those with "good genes" may be rewarded, the cues females find attractive may specifically be related to cues on current health or vigor, rather than "overall fitness" capability.

Indeed I am sort of baffled that the authors seem to operate under a concept of "good genes" when such a thing is itself relative to changing environments. If for some reason a person with asymmetric gene-disposition developed an advantageous mutation (lets say immunity to HIV) it would be self-defeating to prefer symmetry gene-disposition. They would become "bad genes" very quickly.

Given the back and forth nature of life and environments it might make more sense that females cue to common traits regarding general present health which would be exhibited by both symmetric and asymmetric men relatively equally in similar health conditions. Thus those surviving well at anytime, and in any environment, would stand out, rather than simple symmetry which may have an advantage under most conditions only at this time.

3) Female cues do not necessarily have to be genetically fixed. I did not see any discussion of research investigating how female scent prefs develop. It could be that females "learn" to associate smells (chemicals) with other traits that they find positive. In this specific case if symmetric individuals put out consistently more or unique pheromones, females may over time create that association, such that it is imprinted as a selective factor. Organic based pref may have nothing to do with evolutionary/genetic hardwiring of selection factors.

4) While this next point could equally be in the results/analysis problems section, I think it also belongs here, because it represents the deductive theoretical problem that the authors exhibit. They state at one point...

In sum, we know of no explanation of our results other than that normally ovulating women use a chemical(s) in men's sweat or skin as a basis for discriminating men who have and have not experienced perturbations that generate FA

They start with this position, make assumptions such that a certain correlation would act as an indicator if the assumption were true, and after getting that correlation state they can't think of any other explanation. If you think you've heard that before, you probably have. It was ID theorists using the same argument to invoke design. While these authors may at least be attributing purpose to an unknown process rather than an unknown creator, the argument is the same... incredulity.

I can agree that they set out to test and do show that there is a change in what women CAN detect and rate as relatively more attractive, and that this includes chemicals associated with male sweat or skin, and that this CAN correlate (though we'll see how much) with symmetry. That is of course what they isolated.

What they did not do is attempt to show whether women actually USE these chemicals to discriminate, or COULD USE them in real world settings to select a mate, much less to such an extent that it would have been such a driving factor for genetic selection that it created a relationship for reproductive reasons. Once again, in systems where non-deselection is good enough to maintain existence, correlation does not indicate causation or an organically important relationship, even if one trait also correlates to "good genes".

As it stands I DO have some alternative explanations, specifically in light of their results.

METHODOLOGY
5) Despite claiming that their previous study was small, and that this study would improve upon the earlier study, this group was very small. In addition it was not at all cross cultural, nor cross ethnic. It was also apparently isolated to psych students, who may very well be associated with the authors and their theories. For a study attempting to get at an evolutionary basis for behavior, this is all problematic. Our culture in particular has issues with odors, and sanctioning human odors. This could skew results for different reasons.

6) I have to sympathize with them having to come up with a way of capturing "scent", but I do not have to cut them any slack. Their method was to have people wear a cotton T-shirt to bed for two nights, with a number of restrictions to try to avoid smells coming from outside sources.

They did not provide any explanation of how a T-shirt would be capable of capturing all scents produced by a human body. It specifically cannot pick up scents from breath (saliva), genital-anal area, or feet. Chemicals produced by the body or bacteria native to the body are concentrated in those other areas and produce different chemicals.

In fact T-shirts could potentially favor symmetric individuals as it reaches left-right on the body, rather than across the length of the body.

The fabric might interfere with some pheromones, and some pheromones might simply not last as long as others.

Despite their rules, I notice that they did not mention no masturbation, or even simply touching other parts of the body, followed by the T-shirt. Neither can one discount the possibility of other sexual issues (especially for those with current partners they cannot sleep with) or physical issues (like athletics or current health) which could be in play. And there could also be issues of taking scent "samples" only during sleep rather than during the day when most sweating and pheromone production is likely to go on. It would have been of particular interest to see them explain why that would make no difference.

The plastic bag itself could interfere with certain chemicals, especially when one is measuring scent.

7) I don't really want to get into this particular issue, but its possible that there was an age issue given the larger spread of ages between men and women involved, as well as menopausal issues for women (I don't remember seeing them address these). It might be wrong to place a menopausal or postmenopausal female in the same category as "low-fertility" though it looks like maybe that's what they did?

RESULTS/ANALYSIS
8) Okay this is already getting long, and discussion of statistics might be long and it would definitely be boring. But I need to get across something important.

The pertinent results are listed as r values which in fact are unimpressive, despite discussion suggesting otherwise. For example the high-fert-risk (the ones who should be most correlated) have an r 0.15 for scent attractiveness-symmetry. Thankfully the authors note that that was not significantly different than zero (which means there was no support for their theory at all). After correcting for possible confounding from showers/scents, it only raised to 0.22 which should be of concern to the authors.

In fact the highest they ever get (when they switch to a form of analysis most likely to result in seeing something) is 0.49 which is still not really anything one can say is important. It is there, and it may be internally significant, but it is not "convincing".

They often discuss "significance" but that is actually referring to something about the data to itself and not necessarily toward a conclusion regarding real life correlation.

The best that can be said is that there seems to be a difference in sensing/labeling attractiveness between low and hi fert females.

9) Assuming their own description of r is correct: the results of the first analysis had correlation between fragrances/shower to attractiveness as 0.42, which was extremely higher than symmetry to attr, with a difference significantly greater than that between low and hi fert which they said was meaningful. This raises a question (which they never bring up) of how these supposed pheromones actually have selective effects in the real world, rather than this experimental setting. In the real world other scents will be around and appear to have a much greater effect on attractiveness. This doesn't even have to mean soaps and full baths. How could it come to be selected for?

At this point I have to start wondering if what is actually going on is researchers focusing on something closely and demanding a preference be made, which can be made, but it is in fact artificial. It is not something that would actually take place in the real world.

10) As part of their analysis they say...

That fertile women prefer the scent of male symmetry has now been found in two separate studies (also see Gangestad and Thornhill 1998a). This relationship was also reported by Rikowski and Grammer (1998) from their methodologically similar T-shirt study in Austria involving a relatively small sample of research subjects. When all three studies are considered, the effect of men's symmetry on fertile women's scent attractiveness ratings appears quite robust.

...which makes no real sense. They admit one study has some flaws, they say another is "relatively small" (which if compared to there own is extremely small), and their current one is certainly "small", yet conclude that because results from all three are similar, the ratings are "robust"?

That's not to mention that the additional study likely did not add to cross-cultural issues (Australia is modern and Western). And further this is to take for granted that the results of this study mean much. If the other two studies had correlations as weak as this, we have a "robust" result of "not very statistically important".

11) They do go on to discuss better methodologies and some possible explanations of what chemicals may be involved or how they might be generated. I'll point out what they say would move toward definitive...

Definitive evidence for a scent associated with men's symmetry would involve
the isolation of the chemical and the use of appropriate control odors for eliminating
potential confounds such as novelty. That evidence has not yet been found; hence,
we cannot say with absolute certainty that there exists a chemical emitted by men
that women use to discriminate men who have and have not experienced develop-
mental imprecision.

Yet turn right around and say...
Nonetheless, the current evidence strongly suggests that there is such a chemical(s).

...as if this means something. Well I suppose it might, IF one begins with their assumption as being the only explanation, and IF one believes in the popEP deductive principle that since evolutionary pressures do shape genetics, all things genetic which show a correlation to a potential survival advantage most likely exist due to that correlation.

Without that what can be said at best (giving them full credit for correlations) is that women at high fert appear to be relatively more attracted to chemicals symmetrical men produce, or more repulsed by chemicals asymmetrical men produce (?), when placed in a situation where they must choose based almost purely on that criteria.

Ugh I'm getting sick of this already. It's not like this is my job, and I could be doing more fun things. I think this says enough for what we need here right now.

This message has been edited by holmes, 02-27-2006 09:58 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 45 by crashfrog, posted 02-27-2006 11:39 AM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 47 by crashfrog, posted 02-27-2006 4:45 PM Silent H has responded
 Message 56 by Thugpreacha, posted 02-28-2006 4:51 PM Silent H has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 47 of 102 (290925)
02-27-2006 4:45 PM
Reply to: Message 46 by Silent H
02-27-2006 3:57 PM


Re: scent study 1
There's a lot here, and I'll get to it, but I need to work on a presentation for class tonight.

But already I can several areas where your criticisms lack merit. Just offhand, you conflate natural and sexual selection several times that I observed simply skimming through the post.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 46 by Silent H, posted 02-27-2006 3:57 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 48 by Silent H, posted 02-27-2006 5:27 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 4154 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 48 of 102 (290932)
02-27-2006 5:27 PM
Reply to: Message 47 by crashfrog
02-27-2006 4:45 PM


Re: scent study 1
I can several areas where your criticisms lack merit. Just offhand, you conflate natural and sexual selection several times

Well that would be wrong. I do discuss sexual selection and natural selection, but the only time I mention them in combination is as the study itself does, not that they are the same thing.

There is a lot there so take time and read it carefully.


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 47 by crashfrog, posted 02-27-2006 4:45 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 4154 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 49 of 102 (290939)
02-27-2006 6:16 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by melatonin
02-26-2006 9:55 AM


Re: schizotypy study
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"...

I tried to get to the paper but the link didn't work. I kept being told it didn't exist. I am interested if you get the time to post another link to it. 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 33 by melatonin, posted 02-26-2006 9:55 AM melatonin has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 50 by melatonin, posted 02-27-2006 6:44 PM Silent H has responded

  
melatonin
Member (Idle past 4544 days)
Posts: 126
From: Cymru
Joined: 02-13-2006


Message 50 of 102 (290940)
02-27-2006 6:44 PM
Reply to: Message 49 by Silent H
02-27-2006 6:16 PM


Re: schizotypy study
Yep, seems the site is down.

Here's a savefile link...

http://www.savefile.com/files/2446211


This message is a reply to:
 Message 49 by Silent H, posted 02-27-2006 6:16 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 51 by Silent H, posted 02-28-2006 4:29 AM melatonin has not yet responded
 Message 52 by Silent H, posted 02-28-2006 1:02 PM melatonin has not yet responded

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 4154 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 51 of 102 (290986)
02-28-2006 4:29 AM
Reply to: Message 50 by melatonin
02-27-2006 6:44 PM


Re: schizotypy study
Cool, thanks for the effort. From the abstract alone, I think this will be interesting and something I generally agree with.


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 50 by melatonin, posted 02-27-2006 6:44 PM melatonin has not yet responded

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 4154 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 52 of 102 (291021)
02-28-2006 1:02 PM
Reply to: Message 50 by melatonin
02-27-2006 6:44 PM


EP Supporters please address Panksepp article
To everyone:
After having supplied critiques to 3 different EP articles, I am starting to realize that this method is not in my best interest. Delivering a real critique takes a lot of time, my free time. And I simply do not have time to address all studies ever made, which is I guess what I'd end up having to do.

So far I have three out there. So far I have one totally unanswered. The other was answered by you (suggesting I had raised valid points). And the third is waiting for some incoming critique. Maybe I'll do the article suggested by Pars, but as he suggested the first one and hasn't answered that, I'm not in a real rush. I'll let them stand, as I shift methods of tackling this topic.

I think what might be more useful is for EP supporters to read the Panksepp article, and explain what they find errant. Why are their (and my) suggestions for how EP should proceed so as to be rigorous (rather than speculative), extremist or unfair or unjustified? And how do you address their points that some current EP hypotheses stand in contrast to current knowledge about actual neurological function and physiology?

As an addition here are responses to their article in that journal. At the very least one will hopefully get the idea that I am not some lone crank who is not aware what EP actually says and does, and am engaged in constructing false charges (mainly straw men). My concerns are real and shared within the scientific community.

So for future debate, let's focus on the Panksepp article and its criticism's/suggestions.

Specifically to Melatonin:
Thank you Melatonin for providing the Panksepp article. It was indeed raising arguments along the exact same lines as I have been, including from my OP. I wish I had been aware of the article beforehand as I would have included it in my OP. I can't say I agree 100% with everything in the article, but I am at least 98% on board with it and it can be used as a decent proxy for my OP. Certainly we have the exact same goal, which is to reign in mainstream (or pop) EP from its methodological errors, as we search for the same kinds of answers.

I found myself wondering if they meant the following with a pointed double meaning...

This brain process also helps establish confirmation biases in organisms- coaxing them to behave with causal "convictions" when only correlations exist in perceptual inputs... We suggest that much of evolutionary psychology, indeed much of science, proceess on the inductive inferences made by such forward-looking, experience-expectant brain processes. Unfortunately, many resulting conclusions constructed in the aroused cortico-cognitive spaces of the mind turns out to be delusional from formal logical perspectives. We urge evolutionary psychologists to ponder the implications of this general-purpose motivational system for the ways they are seeking to understand 'human nature'.

... as it definitely underlines the title of my thread with a physical basis in brain function.

It is weird to suggest answers to questions about physical phenomena should be found in actually examining physical entities and how they operate in the real world, only to be criticized as one wants to end all research and reject all conclusions... Indeed to be told that equally appropriate answers can come from speculation aided by correlation studies such that one can arrive at accurate answers regarding a physical process involving chemical systems without ever looking at them and how they work in situ.

This message has been edited by holmes, 02-28-2006 07:07 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 50 by melatonin, posted 02-27-2006 6:44 PM melatonin has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 53 by crashfrog, posted 02-28-2006 1:48 PM Silent H has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 53 of 102 (291026)
02-28-2006 1:48 PM
Reply to: Message 52 by Silent H
02-28-2006 1:02 PM


Re: EP Supporters please address Panksepp article
It is weird to suggest answers to questions about physical phenomena should be found in actually examining physical entities and how they operate in the real world,

But, indeed, that's what you're being given, and what you're rejecting. The physical entities are human beings, who have genes and the motivation to pass on those genes; in order to do so they have to take the risk of combining those genes with the genes of another human being, in such a way that another's bad genes could extinguish the individual's good genes. Those humans are organisms with many infuences on their behavior, not all of which are conscious, and many of which are the result of protein hormones that are synthesized genetically.

Correlation between behavior or attraction and genetic advantage would seem to me to be conclusive in regards to substantiating a genetic, evolved basis for disposition to that behavior. The subsequent research would not be a matter of if the behavior represents a gene that was selected for, but what genes produce what hormones to dispose the behavior.

Gregor Mendel is recognized as the very father of genetics without so much as having ever looked at a karyotype. Simple mathematics and observations performed on the pheynotype of pea plants were all that was required to substantiate the genetic inheritance of flower color, pea and pod shape, and incidence of dwarfism. I don't see why any more is required here for the same level of conclusion. Indeed, at this point, the onus is on opponents such as yourself to substantiate your position that, indeed, there is no sexual selection pressure for the "smell of symmetry" and that the correlation is either random chance or a hidden third factor. The methodologies of these papers don't seem any different than those of papers I've known you to present as evidence in the past so attacking them from that basis opens you to the charges of double standard that you're referring to, here.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 52 by Silent H, posted 02-28-2006 1:02 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 54 by Silent H, posted 02-28-2006 3:31 PM crashfrog has responded

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 4154 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 54 of 102 (291044)
02-28-2006 3:31 PM
Reply to: Message 53 by crashfrog
02-28-2006 1:48 PM


Re: EP Supporters please address Panksepp article
But, indeed, that's what you're being given, and what you're rejecting.

Ahem. What we are talking about is the brain, how it functions, how genes and environmental effects determine brain forms and function, and finally how the brain developed over time (both structure and function). Correct?

I mean if behavior is directed by the physical object known as the brain and nothing else, then that is exactly what we are discussing.

I am unsure how I can be "rejecting" examining physical entities under discussion or how they operate in the real world, when I suggest that the above is more accurately studied by looking:

1) at the brain itself, 2) how it actually processes physically to produce a behavior, 3) how areas capable for those functions develop over time, 4) how much development is predetermined by genes, and 5) comparing these areas (or genes for these areas) to brains in other species to estimate where it may have evolved in our ancestry.

On the other hand, EP offers me a plausible explanation for how a behavior could have evolved to grant a reproductive benefit. This explanation usually does not involve what part of the brain would be producing this behavior, if such a behavior development is possible in the brain through gene mutation, or if there is evidence to suggest it had or could have formed during the time frame the proposed reproductive benefit would have existed. To research this explanation, a scientist tests for a correlation between a certain behavior (toward X) and the population, and then a correlation between X and potential survival benefit. Right? If I am wrong explain the methodology to me.

Correlation between behavior or attraction and genetic advantage would seem to me to be conclusive in regards to substantiating a genetic, evolved basis for disposition to that behavior. The subsequent research would not be a matter of if the behavior represents a gene that was selected for, but what genes produce what hormones to dispose the behavior.

??? I am not sure what I can say if you believe that correlation is conclusive for causation in that instance. In fact I'm a bit stymied. Even your own citation rejected that logic.

As it is that would be a problem, even if the brain was not adaptable within ones lifetime. Given that it is, that acts as a confounding factor in making any such "conclusive" statements, based on correlation to one item.

And well, I just said that the citation describes how one correlated "conclusion" by an EP theorist was shown to be unrealistic (practically implausible) given actual brain function/physiology/development.

I would like you to read the Panksepp article and respond to the points made within it, especially regarding developments in neurobiology and comparative neurobiology.

Gregor Mendel is recognized as the very father of genetics without so much as having ever looked at a karyotype.

Mendel examined a physical process. It is true he did not look directly at genes, but he was looking at how phenotypes were exhibited through heredity... directly. He crossed lines and recorded what the results were. That is nothing close to a correlation study.

at this point, the onus is on opponents such as yourself to substantiate your position that, indeed, there is no sexual selection pressure for the "smell of symmetry" and that the correlation is either random chance or a hidden third factor.

Based on 3 correlation studies with less than 300 participants total, with no cross cultural studies, with little to no cross-racial representation? Oh yeah, and very weak to absolutely inconclusive correlation values? Am I to assume you have not made it through my analysis?

The methodologies of these papers don't seem any different than those of papers I've known you to present as evidence in the past so attacking them from that basis opens you to the charges of double standard that you're referring to, here.

That would be a false charge. Let's pick the game up.


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 53 by crashfrog, posted 02-28-2006 1:48 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 55 by crashfrog, posted 02-28-2006 4:29 PM Silent H has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 55 of 102 (291063)
02-28-2006 4:29 PM
Reply to: Message 54 by Silent H
02-28-2006 3:31 PM


Re: EP Supporters please address Panksepp article
1) at the brain itself, 2) how it actually processes physically to produce a behavior, 3) how areas capable for those functions develop over time, 4) how much development is predetermined by genes, and 5) comparing these areas (or genes for these areas) to brains in other species to estimate where it may have evolved in our ancestry.

And how would we do that, exactly? How do we examine the functioning of a living brain? Invasive surgery to introduce electrodes? Positron emission tomography only tells us where the blood is going, not necessarily what kind of thinking is happening.

It's not clear to me how you expect there to be a large amount of research about the functioning of a hormone, or series of hormones, or series of other unknown compounds, on a human brain. How would you expect that research to proceed? Studies on the chemistry of single neurons aren't going to be able to report the behavior you want to study. Studying people, you aren't going to find too many who are going to consent to invasive cranial surgery and at any rate, that's far too risky to be justified by the question.

How do you expect to study the genetic development of the brain? And we don't even know that this is an issue of brain development or structure as determined by genes, but merely the introduction of a signalling hormone that causes the brain to dispose towards this behavior.

Remember earlier when I faulted your criticisms because of your unrealistic expectations for research? This is what I was talking about.

This explanation usually does not involve what part of the brain would be producing this behavior, if such a behavior development is possible in the brain through gene mutation, or if there is evidence to suggest it had or could have formed during the time frame the proposed reproductive benefit would have existed.

And remember when I accused you of conflating sexual and natural selection? This is what I was talking about. There is no "time frame" that this trait would have had to evolve under because the benefit is constant - greater access to healthy mates. That's never anything but a good thing.

That's what I meant before when I criticized you for faulting scientists for failing to establish something that wasn't relevant in the first place. The time frame isn't relevant.

??? I am not sure what I can say if you believe that correlation is conclusive for causation in that instance. In fact I'm a bit stymied. Even your own citation rejected that logic.

I read through and I couldn't find this language that you're referring to.

As it is that would be a problem, even if the brain was not adaptable within ones lifetime. Given that it is, that acts as a confounding factor in making any such "conclusive" statements, based on correlation to one item.

If you're going to assert that this is simply a physiological adaptation to environment, then the onus is on you to develop a model for how the brain learns that a certain odor is associated with symmetry, and that symmetry is a desirable trait. I can't think of any environment where a brain would be trained to do that; such training would proceed from trial and error, and that would require having children, and we see the same behavior in women regardless of their status as parents.

So it seems to me that brain adaptation can be rejected from the data. The brain is promoting these behaviors absent any experience of its own that it should do so; clearly, it inherited this knowledge and genes are the mechanism of phenotypic inheritance.

Mendel examined a physical process.

And from it, inferred "genes". He never saw a gene, or used the sort of flourescent markers we use today to identify genes; he never used PCR or the Southern Blot to examine the genetics of plants. He did it entirely from phenotype, as have these researchers. Now, naturally, we would prefer that the most definitive techniques be used whenever possible, but I don't see that they're possible in a lot of these cases. I think you're asking for an impractical level of rigor.

Based on 3 correlation studies with less than 300 participants total, with no cross cultural studies, with little to no cross-racial representation? Oh yeah, and very weak to absolutely inconclusive correlation values?

The onus is still on you to show that a "signal" (the correlation), albiet a very weak one, detected several times through different kinds of "noise", is just a random coincidence or the result of an unknown factor. The methodology is sufficiently sound to me. If you're going to contend with the conclusion, you have to do it with evidence, not rhetoric.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 54 by Silent H, posted 02-28-2006 3:31 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 58 by Silent H, posted 03-01-2006 6:36 AM crashfrog has responded

  
Thugpreacha
Member
Posts: 13344
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 56 of 102 (291064)
02-28-2006 4:51 PM
Reply to: Message 46 by Silent H
02-27-2006 3:57 PM


Laws Of Attraction? No Sweat!
I dont know much about scientific studies, but it wouldseem to me that the sscent/symettry link may be do to the simple fact that people with desireable symmetry are usually more athletic and active than non-symmetrical ones. In other words, buff guys sweat more, and lazy guys eat doritos and watch TV. While I know of no conclusions, I would guess that more activity produces a cleaner sweat with a different scent.

I used to call girls that always tried to snag my attractive friends "breeders" because I knew that they subconsciously wanted a baby from the guy. And the guys whom were "snagged" always became whipped and never did anything with the crew anymore...

Kinda irritated me...maybe I missed the scent. :laugh:


This message is a reply to:
 Message 46 by Silent H, posted 02-27-2006 3:57 PM Silent H has responded

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 Message 57 by Silent H, posted 03-01-2006 5:04 AM Thugpreacha has not yet responded

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 4154 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 57 of 102 (291146)
03-01-2006 5:04 AM
Reply to: Message 56 by Thugpreacha
02-28-2006 4:51 PM


Re: Laws Of Attraction? No Sweat!
it wouldseem to me that the sscent/symettry link may be do to the simple fact that people with desireable symmetry are usually more athletic and active than non-symmetrical ones.

Wasn't hard was it? And there are more. The above is similar to an alternative I suggested, and indeed explains why the correlations they found were so small. It may simply be the fact that odors are more clear, when they are "cleaner", which could hinge somewhat on symmetry but perhaps more on health/athleticism. Thus while some of the symmetrical men may have been athletic, perhaps there were enough athletic (or athletic enough?) asymmetrical men to deflect a real... substantive... correlative value.

AbE: What's interesting is that there is another obvious possibility here, which no one has mentioned (though one of Pars's posts should have given a hint). I'll wait till I see a critique of my critique before discussing it.

This message has been edited by holmes, 03-01-2006 12:58 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 56 by Thugpreacha, posted 02-28-2006 4:51 PM Thugpreacha has not yet responded

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 4154 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 58 of 102 (291147)
03-01-2006 6:36 AM
Reply to: Message 55 by crashfrog
02-28-2006 4:29 PM


Re: EP Supporters please address Panksepp article
And how would we do that, exactly? How do we examine the functioning of a living brain? Invasive surgery to introduce electrodes? Positron emission tomography only tells us where the blood is going, not necessarily what kind of thinking is happening... (followed by extensive incredulity).

Isn't this simply an assessment of your own ignorance of a field? Since YOU cannot think of how it can be done, it cannot be done?

And it is an indication you have not read the Panksepp article, where he explains this, nor anything (or much of anything) within neurology, developmental biology, or comparative biology. Believe it or not there are scientists working on these questions with some success.

Even if your claim of inability to do this was true... which it is not... that does not give credit to pseudo-scientific techniques. Look at what you said to me, that is almost mirror to what Behe argues in Black Box, as well as Dembski. That we have reached a plateau where they cannot think of how to explore further and so we must rely on stats and speculation, rather than continue to stay focused on pushing the borders of knowledge further via acceptable methodology and holding our tongues until we do so.

The race for knowledge is not a sprint, it is a marathon.

There is no "time frame" that this trait would have had to evolve under because the benefit is constant - greater access to healthy mates.

??? It had to evolve within a specific time frame. You are talking about a specific gene mutation which then spreads over time into the population. It had to start somewhere. If the trait being keyed to is specified then that sets a time frame. If the brain development is specified then that sets a time frame.

Or do you believe that brains developed by starting as what we see now, only smaller, then growing bigger with evolution? You do understand that that is not what is indicated by evidence, right? That during evolution parts of the brain related to different functions emerged at different times? Its sort of like looking at geological strata, some layers have to have been put down before others, and so set timeframes for development.

That's what happens when we leave sheer speculation behind and look at how a thing actually works. The brain is amazing.

I read through and I couldn't find this language that you're referring to.

Then read my criticism, I cite it there.

then the onus is on you to develop a model for how the brain learns that a certain odor is associated with symmetry, and that symmetry is a desirable trait. I can't think of any environment where a brain would be trained to do that

Once again this is within my criticism of their paper. Its easy for you to keep talking about outstanding onuses when you haven't read my analysis, nor Panksepp, nor Gould, nor Wilson, nor Sacks, nor...

I might add that Phat has now provided a plausible alternative.

But let me take this another direction. Why is there no onus on EP theorists to show that this did happen? And if they try to, how will this be done? And if I am to disprove their hypothesis, am I able to do so using purely correlational study?

Oh by the way I didn't assert anything happened, I am not saying I know anything other than that their hypothesis, even if plausible, is not indicated nor substantiated by their findings. You keep trying to read something more into what I am actually arguing. I have only given plausible alternatives which could fit with the data. That is a problem for them.

He did it entirely from phenotype, as have these researchers.

I can look at the prevalence of poor education and violence within black communities and infer a connection between phenotype and "inhereted traits" of ignorance and aggression. While I did it entirely from phenotype, that does not make my study anything like what Mendel did.

Mendel's research has nothing in connection with EP research except that it involves phenotype and genes. He crossed strains and looked at results of those crosses. Because of their consistency in patterns over generations, with his "environmental selection" being known, an underlying mechanism for how phenotypes were controlled could be posited.

The onus is still on you to show that a "signal" (the correlation), albiet a very weak one, detected several times through different kinds of "noise", is just a random coincidence or the result of an unknown factor. The methodology is sufficiently sound to me. If you're going to contend with the conclusion, you have to do it with evidence,

I gave you a full criticism which was NOT rhetoric. You have yet to deal with it, and instead have attempted to draw me into some argument based on personal insults.

This is about science and I'm very interested in this subject as a scientist. It is important as it speaks to proper methodology and not losing modern science to popular notions and deductive logic.

You can look at my analysis post to see specifics, but I will discuss one point again here. You now seem to accept that it is a "weak" signal. What does that mean when the total sample population is extremely small and not representative of different cultures and ethnicities? Do you not understand that it could simply be a fluke of testing? That it could be related to culture?

That is not to mention that it was AT BEST weak. Their first analysis run actually showed no support (though tucked away it was admitted as being no different than zero). Whether the idea is appealing to you or not, their methods and results do not suggest anything "conclusive". There are valid concerns about it.

I want to end this with a discussion about correlation studies, deductive reasoning, and knowledge of the human body. I have tried to explain you are following the same logic as ID theorists, but perhaps it would be better to just use historical examples of previous arguments along this line.

Originally behavior could be correlated to feelings in parts of the body, especially the heart. It was thought then that this was the organ of thought and decision. Were such studies accurate? Given that they did not like chopping up corpses and messing with people, that's what they could draw conclusions based on.

There were also correlations between substances within the body and health, which in turn could be correlated with behavior and emotion. Thus they believed these were the source of control of such things. Given that they did not like chopping up corpses and messing with people too much, that's what they could draw conclusions on.

In the east, medicine and science specifically developed along lines of correlation between treatments/therapies and reactions (in mind and body). Thus there were concepts of energy channels and depositional areas within the body. What's more (and better than the western medics) they could achieve practical results using these theories.

After brains were considered the "seat" of behavior in western thought, their physical nature drove correlations between body, mind, possible "evolutionary" stages, and behavior. The results were phrenology and atavism.

All of these theories fell apart as people investigated the physical mechanisms at play, rather than relying on correlation and speculation based on what they knew of physical mechanisms at that moment alone.

Right now we have an understanding that the brain is the center of emotion and decision, and that genes control its formation, while environment ultimately controls its development. That's the popular "black box" (to borrow Behe's concept). We don't (especially among layman) understand exactly how all of these elements interact in a physical, mechanistic way, or how they interacted over generations.

Yet, as in the past, people are rushing to correlations which could involve these elements, to suggest how they actually interact (or interacted) on the physical, mechanical level. Given historical precedent, I am sticking with with what modern science developed as proper technique. IF behavior is linked to physical entities, controlled by physical processes, then our only conclusive source of knowledge is based on careful study of those processes, rather than correlating behavior to the limited popular knowledge of what makes up those processes.

That last bit was rhetoric, though with a pretty sound logic applied to the history of science (apologies where brevity did not wholly allow for 100% accurate description).

Once again I am pretty certain demanding research directly on physical processes, is not a rejection of physical research of physical processes. Its had the only success over time.

This message has been edited by holmes, 03-01-2006 12:39 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 55 by crashfrog, posted 02-28-2006 4:29 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 59 by crashfrog, posted 03-01-2006 10:03 AM Silent H has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 59 of 102 (291177)
03-01-2006 10:03 AM
Reply to: Message 58 by Silent H
03-01-2006 6:36 AM


Re: EP Supporters please address Panksepp article
Isn't this simply an assessment of your own ignorance of a field?

So educate me. Inform me as to the specific techniques you would see applied.

Then read my criticism, I cite it there.

Link? Quote? Anything? I went back to your criticism and still couldn't find it.

It had to evolve within a specific time frame.

Certainly. But why would we have to know what that time frame was in order to substantiate the genetics?

Honestly, Holmes, I've never ever heard of that as a requrement to establish genetic causation. You have heard of oncogenes, right? Such genes as BRCA1 and BRCA2? I've never, ever heard that they had to establish the time frame for the development of these genes in order to establish that they actually were genes. Not ever. That's nonsense.

Why is there no onus on EP theorists to show that this did happen?

It would seem to me that they did show this. The behavior is likely hormonal; hormones are produced by genes; genes are the result of evolution. As we've established you've accepted all of these statements so the conclusion from them is pretty clear.

I am not saying I know anything other than that their hypothesis, even if plausible, is not indicated nor substantiated by their findings.

Are we defending two different hypotheses? Here's what I maintain is confirmed by their paper:

quote:
A previous study by the authors showed that the body scent of men who have greater body bilateral symmetry is rated as more attractive by normally ovulating (non-pill-using) women during the period of highest fertility based on day within the menstrualcycle. Women in low-fertility phases of the cycle and women using hormone-based contraceptives do not show this pattern. The current study replicated these findings with a larger sample and statistically controlled for men’s hygiene and other factors that were not controlled in the first study. The current study also examined women’s scent attractiveness to men and found no evidence that men prefer the scent of symmetric women.

None of your criticisms of their methodology seem to undercut that hypothesis. I simply don't find your criticisms compelling. They're nonsense objections.

I can look at the prevalence of poor education and violence within black communities and infer a connection between phenotype and "inhereted traits" of ignorance and aggression.

And many have. These people are called "racists." Of course the difference is that ignorance and aggression are not traits that are known to have a reproductive advantage or be generally found attractive.

In other words like most of your posts you draw a fallacious analogy.

I gave you a full criticism which was NOT rhetoric. You have yet to deal with it, and instead have attempted to draw me into some argument based on personal insults.

That's a fairly surprising thing for you to complain about, since personal insult is a regular feature of every single one of your posts. Indeed this very thread began with personal insults, where you accused your opponents of mental illness, as evidenced by the utter insanity of daring to disagree with the piercing intellect of Holmes.

You now seem to accept that it is a "weak" signal. What does that mean when the total sample population is extremely small and not representative of different cultures and ethnicities?

Nothing, to my mind. If you believe there's a mechanism whereby culture disemminates information about what individuals have the best natural smell, it's up to you to propose it. (And, no, scratch-and-sniff adds in Vogue don't count.) And I'm not inclined to simply dismiss the study because the researchers didn't spend millions to fly all around the world handing out t-shirts for people to smell. It's just another one of your nonsense objections that doesn't seem to recognize the reality that scientific research has to operate in.

If another study shows that the correlative effect is the result of culture and not something else then I'll be happy to change my mind. But again, the onus is on you to support that position.

Do you not understand that it could simply be a fluke of testing? That it could be related to culture?

It could be anything, Holmes. But you've already accepted that we employ Occam's Razor when the alternatives are less likely. The alternatives to their hypothesis are less likely. It's far less likely that these women's brains have "learned" to detect the best smell during ovulation; it's far less likely that culture has taught them to prize certain smells during their most fertile menstrual periods. Thus, those alternatives are rejected. If you believe that those alternatives are more likely then by all means share the data that leads you to believe that.

But researchers are under no obligation to satisfy your nonsense game of "what-if". I see a paper that adequately controlled for the most obvious controllable factors, and one where other factors simply could not be controlled for within the scope of the research, and yet they got a data signal anyway. That's successful research in my book.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 58 by Silent H, posted 03-01-2006 6:36 AM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 60 by Silent H, posted 03-01-2006 2:05 PM crashfrog has responded

  
Silent H
Member (Idle past 4154 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 60 of 102 (291235)
03-01-2006 2:05 PM
Reply to: Message 59 by crashfrog
03-01-2006 10:03 AM


Re: EP Supporters please address Panksepp article
I simply don't find your criticisms compelling. They're nonsense objections.

Your post is filled with non sequitors and name-calling like the above. At the same time you ask questions which indicate you have not read my analysis, or Panksepp's article, the article on EP (where you might have learned that EEA is understood by EP theorists), or even your own citation (beyond the abstract), so its hard for me to take the above seriously, even if it wasn't a pair of logical fallacies.

If you had something constructive to add to the discussion, my guess is you would have contributed it by now. I am more than comfortable leaving it at this, my detailed critique against your... "nonsense objections" statement.

As far as something you said at the end which touches on general science issues.

The alternatives to their hypothesis are less likely. It's far less likely that these women's brains have "learned" to detect the best smell during ovulation; it's far less likely that culture has taught them to prize certain smells during their most fertile menstrual periods. Thus, those alternatives are rejected.

I gave alternatives which were consistent with their data. Which means that they are equally supported. There is no rule in science that the first hypothesis made is "more likely". And it is not true that "less likely" alternatives are rejected out of hand. Occam's razor works against added unnecessary complexity. You never mentioned what the complexity was other than perhaps your incredulity? In point of fact, critics are applying (or at least raising the issue of) Occam's Razor to EP.

But researchers are under no obligation to satisfy your nonsense game of "what-if". I see a paper that adequately controlled for the most obvious controllable factors, and one where other factors simply could not be controlled for within the scope of the research, and yet they got a data signal anyway. That's successful research in my book.

My game? I have shown that my criticisms are shared by a number of scientists. I suppose it is easier to pretend that I alone am being unreasonable, than actually reading my and others' criticisms. As it is I showed how they could have controlled for more factors. This was hardly a successful study. It certainly didn't hurt them (well except for the first analysis which gave them nothing), but it did not really help them either, and ultimately it advanced nothing in the knowledge of brain functions and how they evolved.

Unless you are going to reply with specific statements regarding points made in my analysis or Panksepp's article, we are done.

This message has been edited by holmes, 03-01-2006 08:08 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 59 by crashfrog, posted 03-01-2006 10:03 AM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 61 by crashfrog, posted 03-01-2006 3:20 PM Silent H has responded

  
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