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Why do humans get "goosebumps" when they are cold, or under other circumstances? - Scientific American
The contraction also causes the hair to stand up whenever the body feels cold. In animals with a thick hair coat this rising of hair expands the layer of air that serves as insulation. The thicker the hair layer, the more heat is retained. In people this reaction is useless because we do not have a hair coat, but goosebumps persist nevertheless.
butwhy  humans  homosapiens  evolution 
april 2017 by kme
How disgust made humans cooperate to build civilisations | Aeon Essays
However, being squeamish by temperament might have significant, long-lasting effects on your attitudes and beliefs. Pizarro and others have found that the readily revolted are more likely to hold stable political views at the conservative end of the spectrum. They tend to be hard on crime; against casual sex, abortion and gay rights; and authoritarian in orientation. They’re more inclined to think children should obey their elders without question, and they place greater emphasis on social cohesion and following convention. Though the evidence is not as strong, there are even hints that those prone to disgust are more likely to be fiscally conservative (against taxation and government spending programmes).

These twin observations might have direct bearing on a well-documented finding in political science: conservatives typically view the world to be a more threatening place than liberals. That, in turn, could influence their position on issues relevant to foreign policy. In addition to being more distrustful of foreigners, they might be more willing to use force. Next to liberals, conservatives certainly are more outspoken in their support of patriotism, a strong military, and the virtue of serving in the armed forces.

These and related studies raise an obvious question: how have parasites managed to insinuate themselves into our moral code? The wiring scheme of the brain, some scientists believe, holds the key to this mystery. Visceral disgust – that part of you that wants to scream ‘Yuck!’ when you see an overflowing toilet or think about eating cockroaches – typically engages the anterior insula, an ancient part of the brain that governs the vomiting response. Yet the very same part of the brain also fires up in revulsion when subjects are outraged by the cruel or unjust treatment of others. That’s not to say that visceral and moral disgust perfectly overlap in the brain, but they use enough of the same circuitry that the feelings they evoke may sometimes bleed together, warping judgment.

These kinds of studies have led neuroscientists to characterise the anterior insula as a fountainhead of prosocial emotions. It is credited for giving rise to compassion, generosity and reciprocity or – if an individual harms others – remorse, shame and atonement. By no means, however, is the insula the only neural area involved in processing both visceral and moral disgust. Some scientists think that the greatest overlap in the two types of revulsion can occur in the amygdala, another ancient part of the brain.

Psychopaths are notorious for their lack of empathy, and typically have smaller than normal amygdalae and insulae, along with other areas involved in the processing of emotion. They are also less bothered than most by foul odours, faeces and bodily fluids, tolerating them – as one scientific article put it –‘with equanimity.’

Charles Darwin thought our species’ social values might be driven by an obsession with ‘the praise and blame of our fellow man’. Indeed, we care more about our reputations than whether we’re really in the right or not. The face of contempt, which, Darwin noted, is identical to that of disgust, is a powerful deterrent. In prehistoric times, being excluded from the group for antisocial behaviour would have been tantamount to a death sentence. It is very hard to survive in the wild by your skills, fortitude and wit alone. Natural selection would have favoured cooperators, people who played by the rules and reciprocated in kind.

t was exactly at this critical juncture that our forefathers went from being not particularly spiritual to embracing religion – and not just passing fads, but some of the most widely followed faiths in the world today, whose gods promised to reward the good and punish the evil. One of the oldest of these belief systems is Judaism, whose most hallowed prophet, Moses, is equally revered in Christianity and in Islam (in the Quran, he goes by the name Musa and is referred to more times than Muhammad). Half the world’s population follows religions derived from Mosaic Law – that is, God’s commandments as communicated to Moses.

The Torah contains much more medical wisdom – not merely its famous admonishments to avoid eating pork (a source of trichinosis, a parasitic disease caused by a roundworm) and shellfish (filter feeders that concentrate contaminants), and to circumcise sons (bacteria can collect under the foreskin flap). Jews were instructed to bathe on the Sabbath (every Saturday); cover their wells (which kept out vermin and insects); engage in cleansing rituals if exposed to bodily fluids; quarantine people with leprosy and other skin diseases and, if infection persisted, burn that person’s clothes; bury the dead quickly before corpses decomposed; submerge dishes and eating utensils in boiling water after use; never consume the flesh of an animal that had died of natural causes (as it might have been felled by illness) or eat meat more than two days old (likely on the verge of turning rancid).

When it came time for divvying up the spoils of war, Jewish doctrine required any metal booty that could withstand intense heat – objects made of gold, silver, bronze or tin – to ‘be put through fire’ (sterilised by high temperatures). What could not endure fire was to be washed with ‘purifying water’: a mixture of water, ash and animal fat: an early soap recipe.

Equally prescient from the standpoint of modern disease control, Mosaic Law has numerous injunctions specifically related to sex. Parents were admonished not to allow their daughters to become prostitutes, and premarital sex, adultery, male homosexuality and bestiality were all discouraged, if not banned outright.

For that reason, some thinkers have come to view disgust as a sacred gift. Leon Kass, chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics under the administration of George W Bush, counselled that we should heed ‘the wisdom of repugnance’. This voice that wells up inside us warns when a moral boundary has been crossed, he argued. In an article for the New Republic in 2001, he called for people to listen to its outrage at acts such as human cloning, abortion, incest and bestiality. Repugnance, he wrote, ‘speaks up to defend the central core of our humanity. Shallow are the souls who have forgotten how to shudder.’

Compared with their less easily revolted counterparts, they were also more prone to harbouring an exaggerated sense of the prevalence of crime in their own neighbourhoods. A related study whose participants included law students, police cadets and forensic experts similarly showed that disgust sensitivity correlated with a tendency to judge crime more severely and punish the perpetrators with longer sentences – and this association held up even for veteran forensic experts who were accustomed to seeing gruesome evidence. To put it plainly, prosecutors benefit from having jurors with acute sensitivity to disgust, while defence attorneys (and the defendants) gain from having jurors with the reverse disposition.

‘I’ve been approached by people who do work for jury selection,’ said Pizarro, ‘and they wanted to know what to tell lawyers about this. It creeped me out because you really could use this emotion to your advantage, and I don’t want to be a part of that.’
psychology  suggestion  evolution  evolutionarypsychology  culture  sanitation  religion  morality 
june 2016 by kme
Does evolution explain the social antipathy to refugees? | Aeon Essays
Thus, present-day humans must grapple with legacy systems. These are cognitive routines that were highly adaptive and useful in another time, but that have since become outmoded, clunky and sometimes detrimental – yet they cannot be dumped or overwritten because they underlie basic functions of the human machine. One of these legacy systems relates to forming coalitions with other humans.

Various experiments demonstrate that people feel an almost irresistible urge to form and react to groups – to both consciously and subconsciously identify self and a select cohort of others as part of an ‘in-group’, with the rest belonging to ‘out-groups’. Just what is required for a group to form can be trifling, and the mechanism is evident in our youngest selves.

Few Westerners who travel long distances choose to do so by foot or boat – and certainly not by traipsing through muddy fields, or boarding overcrowded wooden fishing vessels and cheap rubber dinghies. Exacerbating that are the images of brown-, black- and olive-skinned people who are distressed, confused, exhausted, bedraggled and sometimes angry. These markers build on differences already inferred through language, religion, ethnicity, culture and ideology.

Few groups engender so many markers of difference as refugees. As Neuberg points out: ‘All those cues come together and activate the threat-management systems, and altogether make immigrants and refugees a perfect storm for prejudice.’

This happens rarely, primarily because humans routinely hold multiple competing or inconsistent positions on a single subject, and simultaneously believe in the absolute good and absolute truth of those inconsistent positions. Robert Kurzban, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind (2011), explains that: ‘It’s a mistake to pay attention only to what comes out of the mouth when we’re trying to understand what’s in the mind, because there are many, many parts of the mind that can’t talk.’

In the context of evolution, this makes sense. In Palaeolithic times, altruism toward an in-group member had a cost but promised a return, whereas altruism toward an out-group member had only costs. ‘Remember that we lived for nearly all our evolutionary history in relatively small groups with people we had longstanding, reciprocal cooperative exchange relationships with,’ Neuberg says. ‘To the extent that you feel empathy for a member of your group who is in pain or in difficulty in some kind of way, it increases the likelihood that you will help them and, over time, that increases the likelihood that they will remain productive members of the group. It increases the likelihood that you will have someone to go to later when you’re in need.’
evolutionarypsychology  evolution  history  prejudice  refugees  psychology 
june 2016 by kme
Charles Darwin Quotes (Author of The Origin of Species) []
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities... still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.
quotes  evolution 
april 2015 by kme
LOOM 4K Short Film [HD]: From Luke Scott, Ridley Scott & RED Camera - YouTube
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

—Origin of Species

The Hidden Paw:

Plot seems to be about a man living in a world where all natural meat sources, and possibly all natural food sources have been lost. Either intentionally, or through reckless choices made by mankind which led to the extinction of all food crops and species. Corporations now hold all the rights to food and, possibly human cloning, because they have claimed ownership of the genomes associated with them. The man in the story says that the human genome is not proprietary, meaning, it cannot be and is not privately owned, and controlled with any measure of exclusiveness. He is competent in his ability, and seems lonely, so he sets about using his knowledge to create a companion for himself. It's understandable that an honest company would try to prevent things like that from happening, because in the hands of someone who knows not what they are doing, this could be dangerous, possibly creating harmful pathogens in the process. But, it seems to me that the corporations in this movie are not benevolent. They are corrupt in their misuse, and self serving misappropriation of the living genome. They can literally control everyone on earth, because, in this setting, it's likely that no-one on earth has the right to grow their own food, or own their own animals for food, if there are, even, any of these things left. It's like claiming ownership of all water sources, even rain, for the purpose of control, and pure profit, and punishing anyone who drinks water of any kind that has not been purchased by them from the corporate entity that claims ownership of it. It's sick, and people throughout history have demonstrated that they are, indeed, sick enough to do just that. Also, this man did not create this woman so that he can control her. He created her so that he can love her. You can see it in his eyes, and in his heart. This is contrary to the agenda of the corporations in this movie. They wish to control. He wishes to love. However, I do not subscribe to violence, or killing, especially, in the light of love. I have to say that I feel his wish to love has been corrupted by his violent actions. It is my, personal, observation that no-ones life is worth less than my own, no matter what crimes they may have committed. For me, there can be no violence, or killing in love, because Love loves everyone, equally, and values everyone equally no matter their current state.
scifi  evolution  gentech  film 
april 2015 by kme
The Evolution of Bitchiness - Olga Khazan - The Atlantic
Psychologists Roy Baumeister and Jean Twenge have also theorized that women, not men, are largely the ones who suppress each others’ sexualities, in part through this sort of indirect aggression.

“The evidence favors the view that women have worked to stifle each other’s sexuality because sex is a limited resource that women use to negotiate with men, and scarcity gives women an advantage,” they wrote. 

Slut-shaming is a love-story cornerstone. Hester Prynne had her scarlett A. Anna Karenina tumbled from her perch in society after an affair with a cavalry officer. In an equally important cultural work, 1999’s She’s All That, popular girl Taylor humiliates former ugly duckling Laney at a party after the latter undergoes a miraculous beautification through the removal of her glasses and ponytail. (This is, one will note, perhaps the most apt artistic representation of Vaillancourt’s experiment possible.)
evolution  psychology  culture  gender  ws  indirectaggression 
may 2014 by kme

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