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  #1  
Old 10-10-2009, 03:16 AM
Bloggingheads Bloggingheads is offline
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Default Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

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  #2  
Old 10-10-2009, 05:38 AM
AlexDietz AlexDietz is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Two sitting presidents have won the Nobel Peace Prize, Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson in 1919.
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  #3  
Old 10-10-2009, 05:55 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

George,

That great chart you recommended at National Geographic is good, but it leaves out orangutans among living Great Ape species.

What's up with that?
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Last edited by Wonderment; 10-10-2009 at 05:58 AM..
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  #4  
Old 10-10-2009, 06:01 AM
maximus444 maximus444 is offline
 
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Default Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

The issue of Afghanistan is tough and divides a lot of people from all sides.
But I believe theres more good reasons to stay and go full force in Afghanistan and I just wish it wasn't just the US always begging other nations to help in the fight and there was a unified approach to ridding Afghanistan of http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=240_1193135664
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  #5  
Old 10-10-2009, 10:30 AM
Starwatcher162536 Starwatcher162536 is offline
 
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Default On lightning

Lightning is a really funny thing, its one of those basic phenomenon most people think we probably have nailed down well, which really isn't the case.

(I know at one point they were so mystified about it, that they were having to use some rather esoteric explanations (zero-point energy) to explain certain things (Ball lightning).

As for the theoretical and measured voltage discrepancy, I wonder if its possible that lightning is following some form of transient ionized path created by cosmic rays. Any other ideas?
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  #6  
Old 10-10-2009, 11:41 AM
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
George,

That great chart you recommended at National Geographic is good[...]
I don't get it. What's so revolutionary about this discovery? Chimpanzees and humans branched 7 to 6 million years ago, while "Ardi"(Ardipithecus ramidus) and humans branched 4.4 million years ago, yet everyone talks about the discovery as if the former branch is the one that is more recent.
Last common ancestor with chimps could still look exactly like a chimpanzee and nothing like Ardi. That the discoverd species was both bipedal and quadrupedal is exactly what one would have expected from the creature. Now, was Ardi killing its fellow hominids the way chimps kill their own? Ardi has smaller teeth than a chimpanzee, alright, but humans have smaller teeth yet and look how good that turned out for us. If undeniable propensity of members of our species to kill each other is an instinct/adaption and if it as an adaption we inherited from a chimp-like ancestors, sometime along the way that trait got decoupled from the size of our teeth. That was always part and parcel of the hypothesis. It was assumption before the discovery of Ardi and it is assumption now.

Last edited by JoeK; 10-10-2009 at 12:03 PM..
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  #7  
Old 10-10-2009, 11:59 AM
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Default Question for the hippies

Did it ever occur to hippies that the main resistance from abolishing nuclear weapons will come not from United States but from countries such as Russia and China whose nuclear arsenal is the only deterrence from a guaranteed American aggression? If nuclear weapons disappeared from the face of the earth today, American military superiority would instantaneously grow tenfold.
It would have been impossible a year ago for Americans to resist intervening in Russo-Georgian conflict if Russia had not been a nuclear power. Hack, even the hippies would fancy war in order to liberate Tibet if China could not reciprocate with nukes. For Russians and Chinese, the end of the nuclear age will mark the beginning of the age of war.
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  #8  
Old 10-10-2009, 12:12 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Just started watching this diavlog, but I wanted to second the recommendation for Radiolab. If you're ever in need of some really good stuff to listen to, you'd be hard-pressed to do better than grab any episode from their archives.

I'm pretty sure I've sung its praises elsewhere on this site, but it does bear repeating. It is a truly outstanding show.
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  #9  
Old 10-10-2009, 12:18 PM
George Johnson George Johnson is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

>Two sitting presidents have won the Nobel Peace Prize, Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson in 1919.

Thank you very much for clearing that up.

George Johnson
http://talaya.net

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  #10  
Old 10-10-2009, 12:19 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Johnson View Post
Thank you very much for clearing that up.

George Johnson
http://talaya.net
Who was that addressed to, George?
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  #11  
Old 10-10-2009, 12:20 PM
George Johnson George Johnson is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Alex Dietz. I've edited the post to include the quote.

George
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  #12  
Old 10-10-2009, 12:22 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Johnson View Post
Alex Dietz. I've edited the post to include the quote.

George
Thanks.
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  #13  
Old 10-10-2009, 12:25 PM
George Johnson George Johnson is offline
 
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Default Re: On lightning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 View Post
As for the theoretical and measured voltage discrepancy, I wonder if its possible that lightning is following some form of transient ionized path created by cosmic rays. Any other ideas?
That's right. According to one theory cosmic rays trigger a process called "runaway breakdown" and the x-rays are a signature of that.

George Johnson
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Last edited by George Johnson; 10-10-2009 at 12:27 PM..
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  #14  
Old 10-10-2009, 12:56 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Answer for the wingnut

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeK View Post
Did it ever occur to hippies that the main resistance from abolishing nuclear weapons will come not from United States but from countries such as Russia and China whose nuclear arsenal is the only deterrence from a guaranteed American aggression? If nuclear weapons disappeared from the face of the earth today, American military superiority would instantaneously grow tenfold.
I'm not sure I deserve the honor of speaking on behalf of hippies, but here are a few thoughts.

(1) Many other countries fear the US's nuclear arsenal at least as much as they do its "conventional" war-making capabilities. Say what you want about the US's supposed military superiority, but a denuclearized US would find it essentially impossible to completely wipe out another country. I'm pretty sure that if all of our ICBMs, SSBNs, cruise missiles, and heavy bombers were beaten into plowshares tomorrow, you'd hear sighs of relief from plenty of other nations.

(2) As has been demonstrated in Vietnam, Somalia, Iran, and Afghanistan, just to name four over the past forty years, there are clear limits to what America's supposed military superiority is capable of accomplishing. In between the effectiveness of so-called asymmetric war tactics, the difficulty of being the occupying force, and the reluctance of a large fraction of the US citizenry to go along with hawkish and hegemonic fantasies (for a whole list of reasons), I believe most serious military students around the world would agree that in a nuclear weapons-free world, the US would not be able to impose its will by military force anywhere to the degree that you seem to imagine it would be able to.

(3) If you think it, the most obvious explanation for all of the foot-dragging that has gone on in the US regarding reducing its own nuclear arsenal is that most of those who have the most say in influencing US military strategy believe a large nuclear arsenal is what gives us most of our edge. If they thought we would gain an "instantaneous tenfold" advantage from a nuclear-free world, you can be sure disarmament would have been pursued by the hawks much more aggressively than it ever has been.

Quote:
It would have been impossible a year ago for Americans to resist intervening in Russo-Georgian conflict if Russia had not been a nuclear power.
There's no good reason to believe that. There are plenty of places where the US chooses not to intervene where nuclear weapons are not part of the scenario, for all sorts of reasons, good, bad, and open to debate. Not every American is as roused to the sound of John McCain's kneejerk reactions as you might think, particularly in light of how the other current big military operations are going.

Quote:
Hack, even the hippies would fancy war in order to liberate Tibet if China could not reciprocate with nukes.
There inevitably comes a point in every one of your comments where even pretending to take seriously your caricatured view of people who don't share your outlook on life is just not worth the effort. We have reached that point once again.
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  #15  
Old 10-10-2009, 01:42 PM
badhatharry badhatharry is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

I'd be interested to read the 'kafka' study. Being a hiker, I have had the experience of seeing what shouldn't be on the trail and have experienced my brain's attempt to make sense of it.

It was a little unclear about what the students were asked to decipher after reading Kafka. It seemed like there actually was a pattern, although obscure. Also, was there an attempt made by the researchers to explain why reading Kafka sharpened the mind?

And, of course Kafka had a point for everything he wrote. Not sure about David Lynch.
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  #16  
Old 10-10-2009, 02:17 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by badhatharry View Post
I'd be interested to read the 'kafka' study.
Here's the NYT article, if you missed it in the sidebar, and here's the study's abstract. At this point, it looks like you'll have to pay, or already have a "Wiley InterScience user account," to see the whole thing.

However ...

Quote:
It was a little unclear about what the students were asked to decipher after reading Kafka. It seemed like there actually was a pattern, although obscure. Also, was there an attempt made by the researchers to explain why reading Kafka sharpened the mind?
... the NYT article and the abstract do address these questions.
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  #17  
Old 10-10-2009, 03:15 PM
harkin harkin is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

"The Nobel committee hates George Bush's guts" says it all.

"So many people won't accept that they lost the election" shows why two esteemed scientists know less about the Nobel's history than I do.

"It also can be very useful in pushing him not to be over-concillatory" is just too surrealistic for words....especially coming from someone whose profession requires a bit of logic.

Would that this non-concilliation extend to those in his party that seek to have him abandon his campaign promise to post bills for citizen review before they are passed.


Quote:
Being a hiker, I have had the experience of seeing what shouldn't be on the trail and have experienced my brain's attempt to make sense of it.

Try coming across a bloody salmon flopping on the trail a hundred yards up from the river in Alaska. My brain had no problem with that one.
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  #18  
Old 10-10-2009, 03:33 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Quote:
I don't get it. What's so revolutionary about this discovery? Chimpanzees and humans branched 7 to 6 million years ago, while "Ardi"(Ardipithecus ramidus) and humans branched 4.4 million years ago, yet everyone talks about the discovery as if the former branch is the one that is more recent.
If Ardi were more chimp-like, it would suggest that so are we. Since Ardi and perhaps older specimens are less chimp-like than anticipated, it suggests chimps and bonobos are less like us than we previously thought.
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  #19  
Old 10-10-2009, 03:43 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Question for the hippies

Quote:
Did it ever occur to hippies that the main resistance from abolishing nuclear weapons will come not from United States but from countries such as Russia and China whose nuclear arsenal is the only deterrence from a guaranteed American aggression? If nuclear weapons disappeared from the face of the earth today, American military superiority would instantaneously grow tenfold.
Nukes must go because they are inherently so dangerous. They are weapons that must NEVER be used by anyone. There is far too much at stake.

One phase in abolition would REDUCE arsenals dramatically to NEAR-ZERO. That would give countries a few years to adjust. For example, China currently has very few nukes (relative to the US and Russia). You can deter with very few weapons.

Also, for a while, we would be nuke-free, but capable of re-assembling and deploying quickly. That factor would also assuage fears.

But I agree that nuclear disarmament ultimately makes the most sense in a world less prone to war. It should develop in a broader context of conflict resolution and world peace.
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  #20  
Old 10-10-2009, 04:06 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by harkin View Post
"The Nobel committee hates George Bush's guts" says it all.
harkin: sense of humor: fail.
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  #21  
Old 10-10-2009, 04:49 PM
harkin harkin is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe
harkin: sense of humor: fail.
"Gotta admit, I laughed"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment
Also, for a while, we would be nuke-free, but capable of re-assembling and deploying quickly. That factor would also assuage fears.
Gotta admit, I laughed that time.
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  #22  
Old 10-10-2009, 04:53 PM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default Re: Question for the hippies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Nukes must go because they are inherently so dangerous. They are weapons that must NEVER be used by anyone. There is far too much at stake.

One phase in abolition would REDUCE arsenals dramatically to NEAR-ZERO. That would give countries a few years to adjust. For example, China currently has very few nukes (relative to the US and Russia). You can deter with very few weapons.
Dismantling the federal government might move us all closer to a nuclear weapons free world. The reassembled republican states would focus on missile defense and would have no interest in foreign wars. The democrat states? My best guess is they would inherit the nukes and military, but would be just as disinterested in having it all as the republicans.
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  #23  
Old 10-10-2009, 07:14 PM
harkin harkin is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

It's telling that so many of the kool-aid drinkers are saying that anyone who criticizes Obama's Nobel is 'furious' or 'hate-filled'. Believe me, we are laughing heartily. It's like the Nobel committee decided to one-up SNL and The Onion in one shot.

Excerpt from another great article on the ridiculousness of the Obama Nobel (with a thoughtful nod to the more deserving):

"With this pick, the Nobel Committee has declared itself to be a debating society -- and it has given its shiny prize to the nice man who gave the best speech. It's like those beauty pageants wherein the MC asks contestants what they would do to promote world peace. The best answer earns applause, flowers and a trophy. But no one expects the winner to actually go out in her tiara and ballroom gown and stop people from fighting."
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  #24  
Old 10-10-2009, 07:29 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by harkin View Post
It's telling that so many of the kool-aid drinkers are saying that anyone who criticizes Obama's Nobel is 'furious' or 'hate-filled'. ...
I think your definitions are tautologies. As far as I can tell what you mean by "kool-aid drinkers" is anyone who disagrees with you about Obama. "Anyone" who criticizes Obama's Nobel has not been described as "furious" or "hate-filled." For the most part, that seems to have been limited to those who are, in fact, furious and/or hate-filled. And, sadly, of those latter there seems to be no shortage.
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  #25  
Old 10-10-2009, 09:01 PM
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Default Cognitive Dissonance

The 'university somewhere' is the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the two psychologists Proulx and Heine probably deserve to be mentioned by name as well. Here's the link to the NYT article.

I'm a big fan of chaos and order. Living in challenging environments where I don't know wtf is going on around me most or all of the time is usually fun; as long as I have a home base to return to. It's a great article. Mix it up.

Last edited by kidneystones; 10-11-2009 at 10:09 AM..
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  #26  
Old 10-11-2009, 11:58 AM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

John - it's not just the new do and glasses - you also look especially good in gray, which I think you were wearing when your do and glasses were initially unveiled to us.
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  #27  
Old 10-11-2009, 01:29 PM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

People who want to use Ardi to magically dismiss the reality of an innate and chimp-like tendency among humans toward violence must still explain the following, among other problematic human behaviors:

"Very few animals live in patrilinal, male-bonded communities wherein females routinely reduce the risks of inbreeding by moving to neighboring groups to mate. And only two animal species are known to do so with a system of intense, male-initiated terriorial aggression, including lethal raiding into neighboring communities in search of vunerable enemies to attack and kill. Out of four thousand mammals and ten million or more other animal species, this suite of behaviors is known only among chimpanzees and humans." (Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson).

The chimp propensity to kill members of their own species, a relative rarity that some think is correlated with high intelligence, is another behavior chimps and humans have in common.

The discovery of Ardi does not change the facts about how people behave. Aggressive, violent, and tribal male coalitional behavior against fellow humans and societies/cultures that reflect and facilitate this behavior are and always have been characteristic of humans. Discovering more ape fossils does not change this, something that seems to be getting lost in the rush to use science to bolster ideology.
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  #28  
Old 10-11-2009, 03:50 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Quote:
"Very few animals live in patrilinal, male-bonded communities wherein females routinely reduce the risks of inbreeding by moving to neighboring groups to mate. And only two animal species are known to do so with a system of intense, male-initiated terriorial aggression, including lethal raiding into neighboring communities in search of vunerable enemies to attack and kill. Out of four thousand mammals and ten million or more other animal species, this suite of behaviors is known only among chimpanzees and humans." (Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson).
But not bonobos.

Quote:
The chimp propensity to kill members of their own species, a relative rarity that some think is correlated with high intelligence, is another behavior chimps and humans have in common.
But not bonobos. (And we don't really know how common it is among chimps either).

Quote:
The discovery of Ardi does not change the facts about how people behave. Aggressive, violent, and tribal male coalitional behavior against fellow humans and societies/cultures that reflect and facilitate this behavior are and always have been characteristic of humans. Discovering more ape fossils does not change this, something that seems to be getting lost in the rush to use science to bolster ideology.
No argument there, except that it does balance the other ideology that WAR is inevitable among humans. War, as John noted, was not a feature of human behavior for almost all of our existence as a species. It's a social phenomenon that began with the development of agricultural settlements.

I tend to agree that male aggression will sooner or later lead to the extinction of humanity, but there's plenty of room to doubt that such an outcome is inevitable.
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  #29  
Old 10-11-2009, 09:38 PM
shmoe shmoe is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

RadioLab is indeed excellent. The best part is that ALL there episodes are available at WNYC.org (and else where). It's like This American Life only "science oriented" and better, I really recommend all of them to anyone.
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  #30  
Old 10-12-2009, 01:31 PM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
But not bonobos.

But not bonobos. (And we don't really know how common it is among chimps either) .
Not sure why bonobos are relevant to my point. I'm making a point about commonalities between chimps and humans and about the fact that discovering Ardi does not change them. I am not aware of many commonalities between bonobo-specific behavior and human behavior.

Also, I am curious as to the source of your last statement above. Intentional, lethal, chimp-on-chimp male coalitional violence and aggression is a very well documented phenomenon, as is its frequency. It is the peacefulness of male bonobos that is considered by many to be overestimated, since much of that data is derivedfrom bonobos in captivity, not in the wild.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
No argument there, except that it does balance the other ideology that WAR is inevitable among humans. War, as John noted, was not a feature of human behavior for almost all of our existence as a species. It's a social phenomenon that began with the development of agricultural settlements.
Here, too, I am curious as to the source of this claim. It very much depends on how you define war. If the definition of war requires institutions that were not in place prior to the development of agriculture, then it makes no sense to compare war among preagricultural groups with war among post-agricultural groups, since, by definition, the former cannot have engaged in war. If, instead, you include lethal raids among coalitions of hunter-gatherer males in the definition of war, then war has been a constant feature of human behavior. If I recall correctly from an earlier diavlog, John's claim is based on data that excludes genocide and lethal raiding and includes only formal state-based acts of war, which renders it more useful for understanding modern politics than for understanding innate human behavioral tendencies.
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  #31  
Old 10-12-2009, 02:14 PM
Ray Ray is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

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Originally Posted by Me&theboys View Post
I am not aware of many commonalities between bonobo-specific behavior and human behavior.

Yeah!

Here's a resource that provides a discussion of commonalities between bonobos and humans.

Specifically, you'll find this discussion in the ardipithecus segment.
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  #32  
Old 10-12-2009, 03:40 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Quote:
Not sure why bonobos are relevant to my point. I'm making a point about commonalities between chimps and humans and about the fact that discovering Ardi does not change them. I am not aware of many commonalities between bonobo-specific behavior and human behavior.
Of course, it's relevant to your point. If your point is that humans are chimp-like because we are relatively close to them in evolution, then it's just as legitimate to argue that humans are bonobo-like because we are just as close to them in evolution.

The old stereotype that bonobos are like hippies (peace and free love) and chimps are like Hell's Angels is based on this legitimate questions: Whom are we more like -- bonobos or chimps (orangutans and gorillas usually get pulled into this argument as well).

The discovery of differentiated bonobo behaviors, temperament and psychology in the 20th century is what raised these questions, just as the discovery of Ardi may raise new questions now (although probably not as dramatically).

Quote:
Also, I am curious as to the source of your last statement above. Intentional, lethal, chimp-on-chimp male coalitional violence and aggression is a very well documented phenomenon, as is its frequency. It is the peacefulness of male bonobos that is considered by many to be overestimated, since much of that data is derived from bonobos in captivity, not in the wild.
I don't recall all the details of the arguments, but one thing I do recall is human interference in the violence-provoking behaviors. The chimps in the first studies had been raised on human-harvested bananas. Also, there are so few chimps left in the wild (this is true for all great apes except humans) that it's hard to draw conclusions based on small samples of groups tainted by human presence. The violence may have to do with habitat reduction (over-population pressures). Having said that, I do accept the evidence that has been compiled suggesting that male adolescent chimps will attack and injure rivals gangs. Do they intend to kill them? That's certainly not clear. In the reports I've read, they leave them once they've beaten the shit out of them, perhaps causing a later death.

[QUOTE] If, instead, you include lethal raids among coalitions of hunter-gatherer males in the definition of war, then war has been a constant feature of human behavior. QUOTE]

I don't think so. My understanding is that we only have evidence of this in cultures that live in a context of surrounding agricultural settlements, or are semi-agricultural themselves. There is no "pure" evidence of coalitional homicidal raiding among the prehistoric small bands of humans.

There is no doubt that population pressures will induce violence, but that doesn't make it built into the genes necessarily.
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  #33  
Old 10-12-2009, 04:41 PM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray View Post
Here's a resource that provides a discussion of commonalities between bonobos and humans. Specifically, you'll find this discussion in the ardipithecus segment.
I listened to that originally, before my initial post, and again now and didn't hear anything about specific commonalities between bonobos and humans, though John did describe some attributes of bonobos. If they discussed commonalities, you'll have to provide a more specific dingalink. I don't generally put much stock in John's verbal comments on bhtv. In this diavlog, he specifically stated that chimps are the only primates that kill each other (I guess he does not consider humans primates). If that makes chimps outliers, then I guess it makes humans outliers, too.

If you have some links to data about human/bonobo behavioral commonalities, please post them.

Here's a useful link about bonobos that makes it pretty clear that skepticism about claim regarding bonobo behavior is in order, given how little is actually known about them.

Here are some quotes from the article:
"Two hundred or so bonobos are kept in captivity around the world; but, despite being one of just four species of great ape, along with orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees, the wild bonobo has received comparatively little scientific scrutiny. It is one of the oddities of the bonobo worldand a source of frustration to somethat Frans de Waal, of Emory University, the high-profile Dutch primatologist and writer, who is the most frequently quoted authority on the species, has never seen a wild bonobo."

"The media still regularly ask Frans de Waal about bonobos; and he still uses the species as a stick to beat what he scorns as veneer theorythe thought that human morality is no more than a veneer of restraint laid over a vicious, animal core. Some of his colleagues in primatology admit to impatience with his positionand with the broader bonobo cult that flattens a complex animal into a caricature of Edenic good humor. Frans has got all the best intentions, in all sorts of ways, but there is this sense in which this polarizing of chimps and bonobos can be taken too far, Richard Wrangham said. Hohmann concurred: There are certainly some points where we are in agreement; and there are other points where I say, No, Frans, you should go to Lomako or Lui Kotal, and watch bonobos, and then youd know better. He went on, Frans enjoyed the luxury of being able to say field work is senseless. When you see wild bonobos, some things that he has emphasized and stretched are much more modest; the sex stuff, for example. But other things are even more spectacular. He hasnt seen meat-sharing, he has never seen hunting."

"I think Frans had free rein to say anything he wanted about bonobos for about ten years, Stanford told me. Hes a great scientist, but because hes worked only in captive settings this gives you a blindered view of primates. I think he took a simplistic approach, and, because he published very widely on it and writes very nice popular books, its become the conventional wisdom. We had this large body of evidence on chimps, then suddenly there were these other animals that were very chimplike physically but seemed to be very different behaviorally. Instead of saying, These are variations on a theme, it became point-counterpoint. He added, Scientific ideas exist in a marketplace, just as every other product does."

"Because of Hohmanns disdain for premature theories, and his data-collecting earnestness, it had sometimes been possible to forget that he is still driving toward an eventual glimpse of the big pictureand that this picture includes human beings. Humans, chimpanzees, and bonobos share a common ancestor. Was this creature bonobo-like, as Hohmann suspects? Did the ancestral forest environment select for male docility, and did Homo and the chimpanzee then both dump that behavior, independently, as they evolved in less bountiful environments? The modern bonobo holds the answer, Hohmann said; in time, its behavior will start to illuminate such characteristics as relationships between men and women, the purpose of aggression, and the costs and benefits of male bonding."
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  #34  
Old 10-12-2009, 06:14 PM
kezboard kezboard is offline
 
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Dismantling the federal government might move us all closer to a nuclear weapons free world.
Have at it, horse.
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  #35  
Old 10-12-2009, 06:17 PM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Of course, it's relevant to your point. If your point is that humans are chimp-like because we are relatively close to them in evolution, then it's just as legitimate to argue that humans are bonobo-like because we are just as close to them in evolution.
Where do you find me making that point? I said nothing about humans being chimp-like because of relative evolutionary closeness. I drew a comparison between chimp and human behavior. The whole point of my post was to communicate the fact that finding Ardi does nothing to change the realities of human behaviors and their similarity to chimp behaviors, not to explain cause and effect. Bonobos are irrelevant to that point.

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
I don't recall all the details of the arguments, but one thing I do recall is human interference in the violence-provoking behaviors [of chimps]........ My understanding is that we only have evidence of this in cultures that live in a context of surrounding agricultural settlements, or are semi-agricultural themselves. There is no "pure" evidence of coalitional homicidal raiding among the prehistoric small bands of humans.
I don't know what to say other than that the weight of primate studies is against you on the first count, and the weight of archaeological and anthropological evidence and consensus is against you on the latter. 10,000 year old Australian cave paintings depicting war, weapons that serve no hunting purposes, skeletons with axe-shaped dents and arrowheads buried in them, and direct statements from members of such societies themselves explaining the reasons for their behavior (most commonly, women). Horgan himself wrote about this evidence in chimps and in early human societies. Can you provide a dingalink to where John discussed lethal violence and aggression as not being part of human pre-agricultural history?
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  #36  
Old 10-12-2009, 06:48 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

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Where do you find me making that point? I said nothing about humans being chimp-like because of relative evolutionary closeness. I drew a comparison between chimp and human behavior. The whole point of my post was to communicate the fact that finding Ardi does nothing to change the realities of human behaviors and their similarity to chimp behaviors, not to explain cause and effect. Bonobos are irrelevant to that point.
Well, if it has nothing to do with evolutionary proximity, you may as well make a comparison between human aggression and lizard aggression. For most people, however, chimp behavior is interesting because of their proximity to us. All you seem to be saying now is that independently of Ardi, chimp behavior remains chimp behavior and human behavior remains human behavior. Those are tautologies.

As for the origins of "war", here's what Frans de Waal says in the article John and George linked to:

Quote:
The assumption that we are born killers has been challenged from an entirely different angle by paleontologists asserting that the evidence for warfare does not go back much further than the agricultural revolution, about 15,000 years ago. No evidence for large-scale conflict, such as mass graves with embedded weapons, have been found from before this time. Even the walls of Jerichoconsidered one of the first signs of warfare and famous for having come tumbling down in the Old Testamentmay have served mainly as protection against mudflows. There are even suggestions that before this time, about 70,000 years ago, our lineage was at the edge of extinction, living in scattered small bands with a global population of just a couple of thousand. These are hardly the sort of conditions that promote continuous warfare.
He also discusses Bonobo/Chimp differences in the article and at much greater length in his books.
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  #37  
Old 10-12-2009, 07:14 PM
Ray Ray is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

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Originally Posted by Me&theboys View Post
I listened to that originally, before my initial post, and again now and didn't hear anything about specific commonalities between bonobos and humans,
Ok.

You have no idea what the debate you're commenting on is about.

Bonobos and chimps are humanity's closest genetic relatives, thus some people think observing them gives an insight into human nature.

Bonobo behaviors are quite different from chimp behaviors.

Some people say human nature is more like chimp nature; some people say human nature is more like bonobo nature.

Or to put it a different way, some people argue that our genes dispose us to behave more like chimps; other people argue that our genes dispose us to behave more like bonobos.

John and George discussed this argument through an examination of two of its leading figures, one on each side of the debate.

I don't understand how this is confusing you.

Last edited by Ray; 10-12-2009 at 07:17 PM..
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  #38  
Old 10-12-2009, 07:39 PM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Well, if it has nothing to do with evolutionary proximity, you may as well make a comparison between human aggression and lizard aggression. For most people, however, chimp behavior is interesting because of their proximity to us. All you seem to be saying now is that independently of Ardi, chimp behavior remains chimp behavior and human behavior remains human behavior. Those are tautologies.
Maybe you should read my post again. Here is how it began: "People who want to use Ardi to magically dismiss the reality of an innate and chimp-like tendency among humans toward violence must still explain the following, among other problematic human behaviors:". I'm not making random comparisons. I'm responding to people who are acting as if the indication that there may be less evidence than previously thought of evolutionary closeness with chimps somehow changes the nature of human behavior itself. In my book, what matters is not who we get our behavior from but the fact of our behavior. I really didn't think my point was that difficult to understand......unless one was trying to read into it something that was not there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
As for the origins of "war", here's what Frans de Waal says in the article John and George linked to:
In your quote, de Waal is specifically referring to large scale conflict and warfare, which by definition excludes preagricultural societies, as we previously discussed, and thus does not refute claims of evidence for a long history of human violence and aggression, for which there is evidence.

Regarding de Waal and bonobos, you should read the NYT article I linked to in my response to Ray in order to get a balanced view of the data. de Waal's conclusions are fiercely disputed and based on bonobos in captivity. If human interference is a legitimate reason for you to object to drawing conclusions about chimp behavior, surely it should be so as well for de Wall's drawing conclusions (and in rather florid prose) about bonobo behavior, don't you think?.
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  #39  
Old 10-12-2009, 08:05 PM
Me&theboys Me&theboys is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

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Originally Posted by Ray View Post
Ok. You have no idea what the debate you're commenting on is about.
Tsk, tsk, such non-bonobo like behavior. I'm going to ignore the snide remark.....this time.

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Originally Posted by Ray View Post
Bonobos and chimps are humanity's closest genetic relatives....... I don't understand how this is confusing you.
I'm not confused about any of that, nor do I have the slightest idea why you think I am confused. Here's a replay of our conversation:

Me: I am not aware of many commonalities between bonobo-specific behavior and human behavior (this in reply, by the way, to comments made by Wonderment, not to comments made by John and George).

You: Here's a resource that provides a discussion of commonalities between bonobos and humans. Specifically, you'll find this discussion in the ardipithecus segment. (you provided a link to john and george's entire diavlog)

Me: I listened to that originally, before my initial post, and again now and didn't hear anything about specific commonalities between bonobos and humans (and I asked you to provide a specific dingalink and provided a link to an article that calls into question the representativeness of many of the early observations of bonobo behavior).

You: You have no idea what the debate you're commenting on is about.

If anything is confused, it's the basis for that last sentence.
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  #40  
Old 10-12-2009, 08:20 PM
Ray Ray is offline
 
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Default Re: Science Saturday: Kafkaesque Edition

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Originally Posted by Me&theboys View Post
I really didn't think my point was that difficult to understand......unless one was trying to read into it something that was not there.
No; what's mystifying is that you don't seem to understand why you used the terms "innate" and "chimp-like".

As in:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Me&theboys View Post
"People who want to use Ardi to magically dismiss the reality of an innate and chimp-like tendency among humans
Alongside this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Me&theboys View Post
what matters is not who we get our behavior from but the fact of our behavior.
You're making no sense. Either it matters that our behavior is innately chimp-like or it doesn't. If it doesn't matter, then why are you describing our behavior as innately chimp-like?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Me&theboys View Post
Regarding de Waal and bonobos, you should read the NYT article I linked to in my response to Ray in order to get a balanced view of the data.
Yes; you are taking one side in the debate: the side that believes humans are genetically-predisposed towards violence, as a consequence of a genetic code that is like that of chimps. The other side believes humans are genetically-disposed toward settling disputes with orgies, like bonobos.

But just because you are taking this side in the debate doesn't mean that there was no debate. Indeed, there was a debate! John and George discussed it!
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