My Photo

Salut!

  • Jen-Luc Piquant sez: "They like us! They really like us!"

    "Explains physics to the layperson and specialist alike with abundant historical and cultural references."
    -- Exploratorium ("10 Cool Sites")

    "... polished and humorous..."
    -- Physics World

    "Takes 1 part pop culture, 1 part science, and mixes vigorously with a shakerful of passion."
    -- Typepad (Featured Blog)

    "In this elegantly written blog, stories about science and technology come to life as effortlessly as everyday chatter about politics, celebrities, and vacations."
    -- Fast Company ("The Top 10 Websites You've Never Heard Of")
Blog powered by Typepad
Bookmark and Share

« coming clean | Main | NEW VOICES: cat burglars »

Comments

**which Wilson gleefully pointed out are 2/3 of the biomass; "Insects own the world!'**

Woah... were I to guess, I would have guessed that most of the biomass was in the plant kingdom.

Don't tell my entomologist mother I said this, but... "ew".

(There are reasons why I'm a physicist.)

"If the driving force behind human evolution was caregiving and not aggression, that gives us an entirely different view of ourselves."

It would be if it were true. Unfortunately for the premise, oh, about 100% of all of human history exists as a counter-example, give or take a small percentage. Altruism requires trust - trust that if you give something, it will be returned, in some way. Think about your examples. The soldier who fights is trusting that if he dies, his society will prosper for his family. The anonymous bone marrow donor virtually always knows who he is donating for, and has reasons to want that person to survive. The unrelated friend donating a kidney - same thing.

In the vast majority of the world, for the vast majority of history, humanity has been divided into tribes - related family units. And for most of history, in most of the world, trust is only given to the tribe, and thus altruism is limited to that group. Only in a very few places have humans managed to have societal trust at a level that's higher than that of the tribe. The fact that the authors of these studies live in one of them has blinded them to the reality of the situation.

"Aggression has indeed always been around, but its end result is more often destructive than cooperative nurturing is. So if it's our hardwiring to care for each other rather than to destroy that's really the difference between us and other creatures, where does aggression fit in? Perhaps it's slowly becoming a maladaptive trait."

The end result of agression is that your tribe survives, when the other tribe might not. And that is certainly a driving force of evolution. It's hardwired into us to care for our tribe, and no others. It's really not difficult to look at history and see this.

This is just one more of those studies done by women who don't understand men, and who want society to be composed of nothing but women. It sounds good to them, in theory, but it always runs into facts, sooner or later.

Rob, I am SO with you. That squicked me, too.

Hmmm, Skip, I was following your argument (though not agreeing with it) until you revealed yourself here: "This is just one more of those studies done by women who don't understand men, and who want society to be composed of nothing but women." I challenge you to reverse the genders in that sentence and see how misanthropic it sounds to you. I would also point out that of the two traits, nurturing takes place more often than aggression and has fewer negative results. Historically, war and agression are a male activities, but even men have the ability to be nurturing, and are, when they're not focused on kicking each others asses.

"The anonymous bone marrow donor virtually always knows who he is donating for, and has reasons to want that person to survive. The unrelated friend donating a kidney - same thing." Uh, no, to the anonymous donor knowing who they're donating to. That's what an anonymous donor is; neither party knows the other. And the point about friends donating a kidney is that they don't share enough genes for it to be genetically motivated.

"The end result of agression is that your tribe survives, when the other tribe might not. And that is certainly a driving force of evolution. It's hardwired into us to care for our tribe, and no others. It's really not difficult to look at history and see this." Depends on how you look at history, which tends (a) to be written by the victors of wars who are almost exclusively (b) men. As written, history appears to be nothing but war, which it obviously can't be. If 100% of the population is constantly engaged in war, no social, technological or scientific development occurs. You need a relatively stable society for any kind of advancement to happen. War may spur some technological inventions, but 98% of them are not happening at the front, and they're of limited value.

This sort of nitpicking welcome, Wilson. I'm an English major, not a logician, Jim! ;^)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.