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-   -   Science Saturday: Like Animals (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=4795)

Bloggingheads 01-16-2010 11:04 AM

Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Technical difficulties

As several viewers noticed, this diavlog was posted this morning but then became unavailable for a few hours today. It's viewable now. We apologize for any confusion.

--BhTV staff

Craig McGillivary 01-16-2010 12:08 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Breaking the Spell did not compare teaching your kid religion to leaving your swimming pool unfenced. It said that religion is a like a swimming pool. You must take reasonable precautions to prevent people in your faith from becoming crazed suicide bombers etc. One precaution would be to educate your kid on all the other religions in the world and what other people believe. Another would be to encourage the scientific study of religion and to use what it tells us.

Ocean 01-16-2010 12:11 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
I can't access the diavlog. Does anybody else have that problem?

osmium 01-16-2010 12:21 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 146668)
I can't access the diavlog. Does anybody else have that problem?

Yes, me too.

Ocean 01-16-2010 12:42 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by osmium (Post 146670)
Yes, me too.

We've been forsaken! Oh my! ;)

bjkeefe 01-16-2010 01:12 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 146668)
I can't access the diavlog. Does anybody else have that problem?

Yes. I do, too.

I'm guessing from the lack of a link on the bh.tv home page that they know there's something wrong. If SciSat doesn't start working soon, maybe an email would be in order, though. (I'm still catching up on earlier forums at the moment.)

Ocean 01-16-2010 01:13 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SkepticDoc (Post 146681)
I've had problems with Firefox, Google Chrome appears to work faster and more reliably!

The diavlog is excellent, they cover several recent discussion topics.

This is not a problem loading. There is no diavlog. None. Just a bunch of letters like this:

{/exp:weblog:entries}

Ealier I saw the diavlog but it wasn't loading properly. Now it's gone... sniff...

Ocean 01-16-2010 01:18 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 146682)
Yes. I do, too.

I'm guessing from the lack of a link on the bh.tv home page that they know there's something wrong. If SciSat doesn't start working soon, maybe an email would be in order, though. (I'm still catching up on earlier forums at the moment.)

Thank you. We'll have to wait for BhTV staff to figure it out. It is strange that some other commenters had access. Hmmm... the plot thickens... :)

Ocean 01-16-2010 01:21 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SkepticDoc (Post 146685)
The "Young Earth" creationists and Christian fundies are sabotaging BhTv...

It could be those New Pantheist Converts...

Ocean 01-16-2010 01:50 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Now I can see the diavlog. But SkepticDoc's comments have disappeared.

This is great!!! What a mystery!!!

Ocean 01-16-2010 03:11 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
It's was more than worth the long wait and the silliness the delay engendered!

This was a very interesting diavlog which nicely put together and summarized a number of topics that have been discussed in this forum recently. It's great to listen to people who are intelligent, thoughtful and more interested in communicating effectively than in winning points.

Frans is right. The fact that living in large groups makes us act in a competitive way, doesn't mean we are irreversibly competitive.

Frans and David talked about how empathy switches, sometimes rather abruptly to more hostile feelings towards others. But they didn't really discuss why that happens. Aggression from those who were part of the group before can discourage feelings of empathy from those who have been harmed.

I'm looking forward to others' comments.

Wonderment 01-16-2010 03:31 PM

Difference between "perspective taking" and "theory of mind"
 
Can someone explain the difference between what Frans calls "perspective taking" in chimpanzees and "theory of mind?" Theory of mind is often claimed to be an exclusively human capability.

I understand that "perspective taking" is a more modest claim, but I'd like to see some discussion of it. Here is the Wikipedia definition of "theory of mind":

Quote:

Theory of mind is the ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.—to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are different from one's own.

BornAgainDemocrat 01-16-2010 04:23 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 146709)
It's great to listen to people who are intelligent, thoughtful and more interested in communicating effectively than in winning points.

Yes indeed. No chimps they! I thought the speed dating study was interesting: we tend to like people of the opposite sex who mirror our own behavior. Or in the words of Oscar Wilde, "My idea of an agreeable person is someone who agrees with me." I suppose this explains why liberals and conservatives tend to have so little empathy with each other, especially over the internet, where you cannot see each other.

Frans de Waal 01-16-2010 04:45 PM

Re: Difference between "perspective taking" and "theory of mind"
 
Yes, the two are related. Theory-of-mind is a rather cognitive affair, thought, having to do with me knowing what you know, or think, whereas perspective-taking is much broader and also includes me wanting to know how you feel, or what you need, and being affected by your feelings. I'd argue that there is no evidence that we, humans, have theories about each other. We rather respond to body language and situational information. The term theory-of-mind makes it sound as if it all happens in our heads, whereas modern knowledge tells us that what we know about others is built up, at least initially, by bodies talking to bodies. This also applies to other primates.

For more on this, see:
http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/features/251555/sept

bjkeefe 01-16-2010 05:26 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BornAgainDemocrat (Post 146717)
Yes indeed. No chimps they! I thought the speed dating study was interesting: we tend to like people of the opposite sex who mirror our own behavior.

On the other hand, one very effective way to annoy someone, as every child is able to figure out by about age five, is to imitate that person as closely as possible.

I think it is also true that even apart from this trick (which could be explained away as mockery, granted), there is something that provokes irritation between two people who are "too much alike." Further, there is a reason "opposites attract" is a cliché -- as with many clichés, it touches on something that is sometimes quite true.

Nitpicking, maybe, and I've never speed-dated, but all I can say is that my favorite significant others and longest-lasting relationships involved women whose "arty/poetic nature" and higher reliance on emotions contrasted with, and more importantly, complimented my sometimes excessive emphasis on rationality and Being Serious.

radmul 01-16-2010 06:23 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Superstition poisons reason. As long as you resort to nonsense you will have no argument. I know you want there to be a god , I empathize, but superstition is still superstition and always will be.

Ocean 01-16-2010 06:51 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BornAgainDemocrat (Post 146717)
Yes indeed. No chimps they! I thought the speed dating study was interesting: we tend to like people of the opposite sex who mirror our own behavior. Or in the words of Oscar Wilde, "My idea of an agreeable person is someone who agrees with me." I suppose this explains why liberals and conservatives tend to have so little empathy with each other, especially over the internet, where you cannot see each other.

"Mirroring" in body language is a powerful way of connecting with others. But, if it's done deliberately it may be exaggerated and trigger the opposite effect. What's really interesting is that people tend to mirror those they like. So it is a positive feedback mechanism. The process, when spontaneous, is more or less subconscious.

When it comes to political discourse, the written word is more likely to end up polarizing opinions. When people have to negotiate and compromise they know that meeting face to face is a more positive way of communicating.

Ocean 01-16-2010 07:01 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Did they talk about dating in this diavlog? I truly don't remember if they did. I must have dissociated during that part of the diavlog!

And yes, a combination of some shared interest and some complementary traits probably is essential to successful relationships. But, I'm clearly not an expert.

look 01-16-2010 07:01 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 146725)
"Mirroring" in body language is a powerful way of connecting with others. But, if it's done deliberately it may be exaggerated and trigger the opposite effect. What's really interesting is that people tend to mirror those they like. So it is a positive feedback mechanism. The process, when spontaneous, is more or less subconscious.

When it comes to political discourse, the written word is more likely to end up polarizing opinions. When people have to negotiate and compromise they know that meeting face to face is a more positive way of communicating.

It's a wonder that message boarding is so popular. So much room for misunderstanding without visible cues.

Ocean 01-16-2010 07:09 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by look (Post 146727)
It's a wonder that message boarding is so popular. So much room for misunderstanding without visible cues.

I agree. But advocates of this form of communication may tell you that it forces them to find other effective ways of expressing themselves while bypassing body language.

I think another serious problem is projection. If you find someone with compatible ideas, you may start to build a fantasy image about those qualities that you still don't know about.

bjkeefe 01-16-2010 07:10 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by look (Post 146727)
It's a wonder that message boarding is so popular. So much room for misunderstanding without visible cues.

I do take your point, but there is also:

1. The attraction of the challenge of trying to express oneself when text is all that is available. (Oh, and pictures, too, to be fussy.)

2. The freedom to say things that might not be so easy to say in person. While this leads to a lot of undesirable behavior, it also means some things get said that ought to be said.

3. The advantage that communicating in writing sometimes offers over speaking face-to-face, in that complex thoughts can be laid out without interruption.

4. The clarification one sometimes finds by the very virtue of having to put a feeling or vague notion into words.

Ocean 01-16-2010 07:12 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 146729)
I do take your point, but there is also:

1. The attraction of the challenge of trying to express oneself when text is all that is available. (Oh, and pictures, too, to be fussy.)

2. The freedom to say things that might not be so easy to say in person. While this leads to a lot of undesirable behavior, it also means some things get said that ought to be said.

3. The advantage that communicating in writing sometimes offers over speaking face-to-face, in that complex thoughts can be laid out without interruption.

4. The clarification one sometimes finds by the very virtue of having to put a feeling or vague notion into words.

What was I saying just a minute ago...? :)

Wonderment 01-16-2010 07:14 PM

Re: Difference between "perspective taking" and "theory of mind"
 
Thanks for clarifying and expanding, Professor.

And thanks for your body of work which has greatly enriched my life and helped me become a happier ape.

bjkeefe 01-16-2010 07:18 PM

Re: Difference between "perspective taking" and "theory of mind"
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Frans de Waal (Post 146718)
Yes, the two are related. Theory-of-mind is a rather cognitive affair, thought, having to do with me knowing what you know, or think, whereas perspective-taking is much broader and also includes me wanting to know how you feel, or what you need, and being affected by your feelings. I'd argue that there is no evidence that we, humans, have theories about each other. We rather respond to body language and situational information. The term theory-of-mind makes it sound as if it all happens in our heads, whereas modern knowledge tells us that what we know about others is built up, at least initially, by bodies talking to bodies. This also applies to other primates.

For more on this, see:
http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/features/251555/sept

Thanks for the link -- a good read -- and also for the diavlog and for checking into the forums.

bjkeefe 01-16-2010 07:18 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 146730)
What was I saying just a minute ago...? :)

Yes. How rude of you to type while I was!

;)

MargaretH 01-16-2010 08:06 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
This was a very useful diavlog. It helps me understand factors that contribute to my feeling that society at large is mad. It also reminds me of a lecture I heard by Robert Putnam, who wrote Bowling Alone and other titles. Putnam discusses the ideas of bonding and bridging as fundamental to human society. With our potential social group growing ever larger and stress-provoking, the need to bond within a comprehensible smaller group (a mega church, tea party, progressive democrat group, pro-life group, etc.) is very strong. The impulse to bridge (feel empathy with) to another group--particularly one with which I've already formed a negative bias--is difficult.

Ken Davis 01-16-2010 08:40 PM

Re: Empathy
 
In her beautiful 1987 book The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World, Elaine Scarry said that most of the time our first response when someone tells us they are in pain is to doubt it. This sounds reasonable to me as I recall my junior high football coach in my face yelling "you're not hurt!", "shake it off!", and "sissy!". I wonder if the lower apes feign pain in order to gain favors or light duty, as human beings are wont to do, resulting in the inculcation within us higher apes of the skepticism of which Scarry wrote?

Baltimoron 01-16-2010 08:44 PM

Re: Difference between "perspective taking" and "theory of mind"
 
Talk about a knife cutting through the fog! This explanation reminds me of Koreans telling me, that westerners think with their minds; Koreans also think with their hearts.

chamblee54 01-16-2010 09:08 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
This is technically out to lunch. The guys are talking through voice synthesizers. The result is unlistenable.

Baltimoron 01-16-2010 09:10 PM

That's a Diavlog!
 
For the record, I'd like to exclaim that, and register my vote for newer faces connected to knowledgeable people who don't resort to boilerplate or appeal to the lowest common denominator.

That said, I don't conceive of social groups and individuality distinct tactics in survival. I think humans, and to a certain sense scientists are currently studying in other mammals and species, use both cohesion and individuality as competitive tactics against other species, and more so on the past when there was a real battle. For instance, offspring require a long period of maturation and socialization to reach adulthood, longer than most other species. It's that process, when humans learn the line between self and group, that ensures survival.

Aren't we also conflating sexual and natural selection?

Baltimoron 01-16-2010 09:12 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
My audio is clear.

look 01-16-2010 09:57 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 146730)
What was I saying just a minute ago...? :)

Yes, thanks to you both for your thoughts.

wreaver 01-17-2010 02:32 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Regarding this portion of the video...

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/253...2:02&out=24:06

I believe that neither Frans de Waal or David Berreby understands why some people don't want Socialized Medicine.

They seem to characterize one being against Socialized Medicine as going against human nature by turning off their empathizing "drive".

Humans do not only have a "drive" towards empathizing. But they also have a "drive" towards fairness. Some people see having money taken from them to pay for other people's medicine as unfair. (Some even see it as theft.)

Note, I'm not trying to argue for or against this position. But only trying to point out my observation as to why some people are against Socialize Medicine. And that I believe Frans de Waal and David Berreby have (I'd assume unintentionally) created a straw man as to why some people as against Socialized Medicine.

bjkeefe 01-17-2010 09:39 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by wreaver (Post 146783)
[...] They seem to characterize one being against Socialized Medicine as going against human nature by turning off their empathizing "drive".

Humans do not only have a "drive" towards empathizing. But they also have a "drive" towards fairness. Some people see having money taken from them to pay for other people's medicine as unfair. (Some even see it as theft.)

Yes, but wouldn't you agree that at some point, insisting on what is "fair" amounts to ignoring one's instinct for empathy? Seems to me that when one says, "This is my money, I worked for it, and no one else is entitled to it," however legitimate that view may be, it means "I am not going to give even a portion of it to someone less fortunate."

Ocean 01-17-2010 09:52 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by wreaver (Post 146783)
Humans do not only have a "drive" towards empathizing. But they also have a "drive" towards fairness. Some people see having money taken from them to pay for other people's medicine as unfair. (Some even see it as theft.)

It all depends on how you define fairness. If understood by your paragraph above, it seems to be a very limited and shortsighted view of fairness.

You can't define fairness at one discrete point in time. The same person who has to contribute money for someone else's medicine today, may need others to contribute for their own health care tomorrow.

In my opinion most of the people that make the kind of argument that you describe, are people in a position of privilege who don't need help from others now and don't anticipate they will need it tomorrow. They can ignore those who don't have the same level of privilege and come up with all kinds of justifications for their position that is selfish and, indeed, lacks empathy.

Empathy, in the sense discussed in this diavlog, implies having a sense of community and understanding that we all share responsibility for the well being of the rest of the members of that community.

BornAgainDemocrat 01-17-2010 11:15 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 146720)
On the other hand, one very effective way to annoy someone, as every child is able to figure out by about age five, is to imitate that person as closely as possible.

I think it is also true that even apart from this trick (which could be explained away as mockery, granted), there is something that provokes irritation between two people who are "too much alike." Further, there is a reason "opposites attract" is a cliché -- as with many clichés, it touches on something that is sometimes quite true.

Nitpicking, maybe, and I've never speed-dated, but all I can say is that my favorite significant others and longest-lasting relationships involved women whose "arty/poetic nature" and higher reliance on emotions contrasted with, and more importantly, complimented my sometimes excessive emphasis on rationality and Being Serious.

Good points, BJ. Same story with my wife. I think anonymity on the internet, plus lack of facial communication, contribute to the flame wars.

BornAgainDemocrat 01-17-2010 11:41 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MargaretH (Post 146737)
This was a very useful diavlog. It helps me understand factors that contribute to my feeling that society at large is mad. It also reminds me of a lecture I heard by Robert Putnam, who wrote Bowling Alone and other titles. Putnam discusses the ideas of bonding and bridging as fundamental to human society. With our potential social group growing ever larger and stress-provoking, the need to bond within a comprehensible smaller group (a mega church, tea party, progressive democrat group, pro-life group, etc.) is very strong. The impulse to bridge (feel empathy with) to another group--particularly one with which I've already formed a negative bias--is difficult.

Apropos, there was a recent story in Science Daily, Rural America More Prosperous Than Expected, Study Finds, which found that "Geographical factors like climate, topography, distances to cities and airports, and interstate highways are unimportant in distinguishing prosperous counties from others. Instead, the results supported what many rural people believe to be true -- civically engaged religious groups and a common ancestry can really matter."

The article went on to reference "impressive stories that link local churches, a shared ethnic identity, small colleges, locally owned manufacturing, innovative farmers, and extraordinary cooperation and civic engagement to job creation, education, and housing."

At the end it depressingly noted there were "few prosperous rural counties with a minority concentration."

harkin 01-17-2010 02:28 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

It all depends on how you define fairness. If understood by your paragraph above, it seems to be a very limited and shortsighted view of fairness.

You can't define fairness at one discrete point in time. The same person who has to contribute money for someone else's medicine today, may need others to contribute for their own health care tomorrow.
Or....two people may have the same jobs and income, but the one who's not in a union will be subject to a new tax to pay for others while the union member will not.

Or.....citizens of one state may be forced to fund new medicaid beneficiaries while citizens of another who have a holdout Obamacare senate vote do not.

I doubt anyone could seriously argue this is fair, esp considering that the unfairness is being wirtten in for purely political expediancy.

Change You Can Believe In!

wreaver 01-17-2010 02:28 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 146793)
Yes, but wouldn't you agree that at some point, insisting on what is "fair" amounts to ignoring one's instinct for empathy?

If you are suggesting that these people who are against Socialized Medicine feel a "drive" for empathy and a "drive" for fairness (and that they are both of equal strength), and choose fairness over empathy, I'm not convinced that that is actually the cognition going on.

I'm reminded of Jonathan Haidt and Joshua Knobe's BloogingHeads episode...

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/13700

And I think I agree with Jonathan Haidt in that, I think people actually have different kinds of cognition going on. (And don't have the equal "drives".)

I don't think these people who are against Socialized Medicine are even feeling a empathetic "drive" in this situation. (Or at least, not feeling any significant empathetic "drive", relative to their fairness "drive". I.e., the fairness "drive" is overwhelming.)

(I think that it is the taxation part of it that is preventing them from feeling an empathetic "drive", and is instead triggering their fairness "drive". Contrast that with something like charity, which I believe would trigger their empathetic "drive". And just to be explicit, these people don't conflate taxation with charity.)

Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 146793)
Seems to me that when one says, "This is my money, I worked for it, and no one else is entitled to it," however legitimate that view may be, it means "I am not going to give even a portion of it to someone less fortunate."

Regarding, "I am not going to give even a portion of it to someone less fortunate". I don't believe that this is quite accurate, from their point-of-view.

The problem these kind of people have is that they are not "giving" their money, but their money is being "taken".

To figure out their position on "giving to the less fortunate", I think you'd need to look at charitable giving from these people (instead of something paid through taxation).

Ocean 01-17-2010 02:50 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Like Animals
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by harkin (Post 146816)
Or....two people may have the same jobs and income, but the one who's not in a union will be subject to a new tax to pay for others while the union member will not.

Unionized jobs tend to have better benefits. That's what unions are for. Free market doesn't work that well when it comes to benefits.

Quote:

Or.....citizens of one state may be forced to fund new medicaid beneficiaries while citizens of another who have a holdout Obamacare senate vote do not.
True. It's a terrible flaw of the system. Voting for healthcare has become so politicized that it has created this kind of circus. A good example is all Republican Senators voting NO to HCR.

Quote:

Change You Can Believe In!
Yes, legislators haven't come around to change all that much. They may need more time...


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