[ExI] Status as human motivator
hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Tue Apr 26 20:47:27 UTC 2011
On Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 11:50 AM, Jones Murphy
<morphy at alumni.caltech.edu> wrote:
> You're killin' me here, Keith. A foolish consistency remains the
> hobgoblin of your mind(and of so many other like-minded), that's for
I am confused by what you are trying to say here.
> You've advanced an evolutionary gender-based explanation for something
> which varies massively across genetically similar societies, and is
> evolving rapidly decade by decade. Do you believe human evolution is
> that random and rapid?
Can you point out where I have made such a case? My words, not
something I quoted.
I have made a case (Google sex drugs cults) for the psychological
traits behind Stockholm syndrome (capture-bonding) being selected in
the female line during the million years or more that humans lived as
hunter gatherers. (Captured males were normally killed.) But the
traits (and side effects) show up in both sexes.
Up until recent times seeking high status was more important for males
in reproductive terms, but such seeking is hardly an exclusive trait
and as I have pointed out, the children of high status females
survived better, especially in bad times.
Re reading, are you trying to say that status seeking is not a
universal human trait?
> On Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 8:26 PM, Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com> wrote:
>> You missed the point of the post.
>> It was about the meme of status seeking as a motivator, no intention
>> of bringing up politically sensitive topics like women in science.
>> If you feel guilty about working on Wall street, that's your problem.
>> On Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 10:55 AM, Jones Murphy
>> <morphy at alumni.caltech.edu> wrote:
>>> Keith, we've been over this many times before(I'm Jonesey from
>>> #extropy chat), and so I'm surprised to see you regurgitating this
>>> kind of stuff once again. The enormous spread in the degree to which
>>> women are involved in science across societies in the world today,
>>> plus the incredible velocity with which those degrees have changed
>>> just in the past century alone, lays waste to any sort of attempts at
>>> evolutionary explanations. Give it up.
>>> That list of possible jobs for scientists is hopelessly incomplete.
>>> LOTS of scientists go onto Wall St(as I have), do MBA's and go into
>>> business(not necessarily "industry") in general, etc etc.
>>> On Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 7:34 PM, Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> Years ago, back in the nineties, I got a lot of abuse and even was
>>>> lambasted from the bench by a federal judge over recognizing the
>>>> importance of status seeking as a human motivator. I noticed a
>>>> slashdot article that pointed to something on the topic by Philip
>>>> Greenspun. It's a good read.
>>>> Why do American men (boys, actually) do it?
>>>> Pursuing science as a career seems so irrational that one wonders why
>>>> any young American would do it. Yet we do find some young Americans
>>>> starting out in the sciences and they are mostly men. When the Larry
>>>> Summers story first broke, I wrote in my Weblog:
>>>> A lot more men than women choose to do seemingly irrational things
>>>> such as become petty criminals, fly homebuilt helicopters, play video
>>>> games, and keep tropical fish as pets (98 percent of the attendees at
>>>> the American Cichlid Association convention that I last attended were
>>>> male). Should we be surprised that it is mostly men who spend 10 years
>>>> banging their heads against an equation-filled blackboard in hopes of
>>>> landing a $35,000/year post-doc job?
>>>> Having been both a student and teacher at MIT, my personal explanation
>>>> for men going into science is the following:
>>>> 1. young men strive to achieve high status among their peer group
>>>> 2. men tend to lack perspective and are unable to step back and ask
>>>> the question "is this peer group worth impressing?"
>>>> Consider Albert Q. Mathnerd, a math undergrad at MIT ("Course 18" we
>>>> call it). He works hard and beats his chest to demonstrate that he is
>>>> the best math nerd at MIT. This is important to Albert because most of
>>>> his friends are math majors and the rest of his friends are in wimpier
>>>> departments, impressed that Albert has even taken on such demanding
>>>> classes. Albert never reflects on the fact that the guy who was the
>>>> best math undergrad at MIT 20 years ago is now an entry-level public
>>>> school teacher in Nebraska, having failed to get tenure at a 2nd tier
>>>> university. When Albert goes to graduate school to get his PhD, his
>>>> choice will have the same logical foundation as John Hinckley's
>>>> attempt to impress Jodie Foster by shooting Ronald Reagan.
>>>> Greenspun is smart enough not to make the obvious self-referential
>>>> observation that *he* is motivated by high status, something I was
>>>> foolish enough to have written about. (Even though I noted that at
>>>> the time I was not consciously aware of it.) I included the next
>>>> paragraph just because it is such a vivid example, especially the last
>>>> He also misses the *why* young men strive to achieve high status. The
>>>> obvious reason from evolutionary psychology is that high status men
>>>> got the most nooky (and wives) for millions of years, so of course we
>>>> are selected to seek status. It's one of the things that really are
>>>> in our genes.
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