Nick -

Nice idiom there... the 747s bashing around in your head like blocks of
text... (vice-versa)... in my own case, I am often most prolific here
when I'm avoiding another project/deadline, but I understand your challenge.

I feel mildly a failure to not be able to articulate (even recognize)
what the fundamental abstraction is around the difference between
selecting for behaviour vs something more material or more (presumably)
quantifiable such as Testosterone levels.   I am not sure if that is
precisely the distinction Glen is making here, but the former seems "oh
so more relevant" in spite of the latter being "possibly somewhat more

I only invoked your name in the thread because you indicated you didn't
want to be left behind (or run over) as we all scurried about on this
thread as we are wont to do!  

- Steve

On 2/21/18 11:41 PM, Nick Thompson wrote:
> Glen and Steve, 
> The reason that I am not answering is not that good points aren't being made, 
> but that I am in the midst of a writing project and it's not going well, 
> which means that I am carrying blocks of ill organized text around in my head 
> like so many 747's just after the  air traffic control system went down.  If 
> I stop to think about anything else, I am afraid they will all crash.  
> I am inclined to share Steve's view that behavior is where the rubber meets 
> the road, and so to agree that talk of the evolution of behavior makes sense. 
>  Let me risk one thought.  Let's imagine that (as I believe) that 
> testosterone is an aggression hormone.  It's effect on the nervous system is, 
> other things being equal, to make a person a tad more assertive in all 
> domains of action.  Let it be the case that a little more assertiveness in 
> all domains leads to reproductive success.  The nature will be selecting not 
> for the individual behaviors but for the "style" of behaving.  Now, I call a 
> style of behaving, a behavior, or a behavior pattern, or a meta-behavior, or 
> a behavioral design.  What have you.  So talk of selecting for behavior 
> doesn't bother me.  I am not quite sure what "selecting for testosterone" 
> would mean.  When it comes to evolution, behavior functions, physiology 
> mediates.  
> Nick 
> Nicholas S. Thompson
> Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Biology
> Clark University
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Friam [] On Behalf Of Steven A Smith
> Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 2:40 PM
> To: The Friday Morning Applied Complexity Coffee Group <>
> Subject: Re: [FRIAM] the pseudoscience of evolutionary psychology?
> Glen -
>> OK.  But I believe I merely asked the question: Why talk about these vague 
>> behaviors like "dress for sex", when we can talk about reasonably 
>> well-defined things like hormones and neurotransmitters?  What explanatory 
>> power does evopsych have that, say, evolutionary neuroscience would not have?
> A question, yes, but "mere" I don't think so?
>> One possible answer is that evopsych allows us to tap into folktales like 
>> Jungian archetypes, even if only so we can trick people into believing our 
>> rhetoric. 
> while "rhetoric" is defined to be "persuasive", the goal might be to persuade 
> others to consider a hypothesis long enough to investigate it further.   On 
> one end of the spectrum, your speculation is probably accurate, sometimes 
> some people simply want to be "right" or "believed"
> (or may not care or know the difference?) but on the other, they may simply 
> want to engage other's in a little broader speculation as part of expanding a 
> search space?
>>  That trickery is power of a kind, explanatory or not.  Science popularizers 
>> walk that thin line all the time.  But is there something *more*?
> Science Popularizers are a good (positive I think) example, but again, on the 
> opposite end of the spectrum I think "guided speculation" has a value when 
> combined/juxtaposed with more rigorous/formal methods for
> *validating* insights found during the wider ranging speculations? Where does 
> intuition come from?  It would seem to find a good launching pad on the 
> foundation of good formalized, quantifiable work, but it also would seem to 
> be fed well by more qualitative and perhaps even verging on "whimsical" 
> considerations?
>> Re: thread pollution --
>> I don't think it's a big deal.  The forum is asynchronous.  Anyone can read 
>> or not read, reply or not reply, to any post at any time.  It was easier, 
>> I'll admit, when the archives worked.
> I wasn't necessarily thinking of this as pollution (or any kind of 
> problem)... but rather speciation...  more on the exploration theme? It was a 
> conjunction with my nod to Nick's original (early) appeal to those of us with 
> higher bandwidths to somehow keep him in the loop as (even if?) we might 
> explore (more) widely than he was seeking.
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