eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (B5 - Delenn OMG)
... by the way, guys, this is why I'm interested in the use of Neandertals in prehistoric fiction. Ready? Here goes some Clan of the Cave Bear Jean Auel on the subject of Neandertals...
The women relied on their men to lead, to assume responsibility, to make important decisions. The Clan had changed so little in nearly a hundred thousand years that they were now incapable of change, and ways that had once been adaptations for convenience had become genetically set. Both men and women accepted their roles without struggle; they were inflexibly unable to assume any other. They would no more try to change their relationship than they would try to grow an extra arm or change the shape of their brain. ... Memories in Clan people were sex differentiated. Women had no more need of hunting lore than men had of more than rudimentary knowledge of plants. The difference in the brains of men and women was imposed by nature, and only cemented by culture...
Combine that with articles like this one in the Boston Globe, explaining that Neandertals died out because they "let" their women work? Man.

There are, of course, some awesome fictional Neandertals, and there are books that involve Neandertals in alternate universes going through the industrial revolution without ever doing the "Neolithic" (farming) revolution, and we can talk about, you know, production, and definitions of humanity, and all that. But really, you know that for me it's all about that quote up there, and that news article, and the way Neandertals are leveraged.
eruthros: Ivanova from B5 saying "boom boom boom boom" to Londo -- angry icon!! (B5 - Ivanova boom)
Somehow, I think this fellow is the kind of fellow I want to hit on the head with a hardbound copy of the Modern Synthesis. Or, H.G. Wells meets evolutionary ecology.

Yes, that is a link to a BBC news article detailing Dr Oliver Curry's theory that humans will evolve into a genetic upper- and under-class. In the next thousand years. I quote:
Women, on the other hand, will develop lighter, smooth, hairless skin, large clear eyes, pert breasts, glossy hair, and even features, he adds. Racial differences will be ironed out by interbreeding, producing a uniform race of coffee-coloured people.
That is, unless we become "domesticated." (Dear Dr. Curry: we already are! by definition! sorry!)

Please note? Dr. Oliver Curry is ... actually a political scientist. He's interested in "evolutionary explanations of behaviour, especially human social, moral and political behaviour" and works for the evolutionary moral psychology group. Where they look for the adaptive value of attitudes toward abortion. Yes. Honestly. (Hi, sociobio under another name! Oh, wait, sorry, we're calling that cultural ecology now. Or, wait, did that become too uncomfortable too? Have we moved on to human behavioral ecology? I get so confused.)

I'm sorry. I get so tetchy about evolutionary psychology. I don't object at all to the idea that any neurological system is impacted by evolution, and includes what the EPs call "evolved psychological mechanisms." (Though the modularity of the brain is a matter still under discussion.) Or that natural selection works on people. I just belong to a relativist field; you tell me that human beings have a universal EPM to pick the most genetically fit sex partners, and I go "but in the !Kung..." and you tell me that humans have a universal (natural, evolved, innate) mechanism that prevents incest, and I say "but kinship systems..." and "but define incest first..." People: not everything is heritable. Not everything is genetic. And not everything is universal. Not everything is optimizing. I understand that it's much easier to talk about people if you can make universal statements, and that it's great fun to work in a field that lets you make universal statements based solely on Western cultures, and even more fun to work in a theoretical framework that allows you to make non-falsifiable statements. That's great. Or something. *thwaps*

Dude, these are the folks who like to say that nature vs nurture is a false dichotomy because all cultural behavior (and therefore nurture) is the product of EPMs. (Versus "because environment determines which genes are expressed.") And that men get an evolutionary advantage from rape (more genes passed on!) so that the genes that make that "rape is okay!" EPM get passed on. And thus rape is an inherent part of men's nature. And that men have a genetic tendency to be big game hunters, because big game hunters get to sleep with all the women, and their children will inherent the (genetic) big-game-hunting genes even if they are raised by abalone-diving men. Bah.
eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)
I would like to get copies of a variety of papers on the Modern Synthesis. If you don't know what the modern synthesis is, and you care, read more )

I would then like to bind this series of papers in hardcover.

I would then like to hit most human behavioral ecologists over the head with this document until they promise not to say that farming arose because it is "adaptive under certain natural and social conditions."

And then after I achieved my primary goal, I would actually open the book and make them all read it until they understood why they were never going to use that phrasing ever again. And then I would make them explain to me the difference between genetic drift and gene flow before letting them go.


eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)

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