All this morning and into the noon hour I’ve been thinking, TGIF! But it’s Thors-day.
And why is Friday so good? The feeling of being close to Saturn’s Day?
Speaking of, the above is a NASA pic of Saturn’s moon, Titan.
Maybe I’m in a Titan state of mind. At least in terms of the “titanic disappointment” I’m feeling.
[Warning: When wearing my scientist cap, I don't judge one reproductive strategy as better than another -- whether the species be of amphibian or human.]
A common moral couplet might be expressed this way:
Men who only look at a woman’s body, not at her face and into her eyes — they are slimeballs.
The gentlemen who keep their gaze above the neck of a woman, and — bonus! — express their feelings, these are good guys. The marrying kind.
While I wouldn’t necessarily agree with the “slimeball” decree of the first part, my guess is the conclusion to the second has some merit. Some type of men, as manifest by their behavior, are more the “marrying kind.” And a new science finding lends some indirect support -
Men who are looking for short-term companionship are more interested in a woman’s body than those looking for a long-term relationship, who focused on a woman’s face, according to new research from psychologists at The University of Texas at Austin. [emphases added]
Short-term “companionship” — if that’s not a euphemism, I don’t know what is. A better way of expressing the matter than using that term, and “long-term relationship” as well, is provided by the title. Short-term vs. long-term mates. That’s more scientific. And what do mates do? They mate. Digging even deeper beneath any culturally-dependent moral overlay, it is reasonable to argue that the true issue is mating strategy.
Roughly speaking, there are two primary mating strategies found in nature: high quantity offspring with little or no care by one or both parents and low quantity offspring with high quality care. With the first strategy, relatively more time and energy is spent generating offspring. In the second, much time and energy goes into caring for them to insure their survival.
Is one strategy better than the other? Ultimately, no. For humans? Well, in today’s stable, affluent, high-population world, probably the second. But at all times under all circumstances? I imagine some degree of plasticity in sexual and parenting behavior has proved adaptive for our kind.
Might we then say that the slimeball dude, the guy who objectifies women, is operating under the influence of “quantity offspring” impulses, while the marrying type under the “quality offspring”? I wonder.
Upon reading the above finding about men focusing on faces vs. bodies, I thought, Well, that make some sense. While bodies provide signs of sexual maturity from afar, in faces one finds general clues as to overall health (better mom genes, better child genes), as well as other more psychologically relevant information (concerning pair-bonding and parenting).
The hips don’t lie. For the guy looking for a short-term mate, they are a more reliable guide than the face. Consider those especially ridiculous pre-teen beauty pageants (Oops, got a little moralistic there). If a “slimeball” wants to avoid sleeping with a minor (today, in part for legal reasons, ancestrally, to increase his odds at hitting it big in the progeny lottery) he better check her secondary-sexual-characteristics-ID. Is she sexually mature; does she have the physical resources to “grow” and deliver a child?
Also — here venturing further into likely speculation-land — it seems to me that the guy seeking a short-term mate (again – possibly operating in quantity-offspring mode) would be better off avoiding prolonged eye-contact. Why? The more eye-contact, the more emotionally intimate a couple becomes. The more eye-contact, the more trust can build and bonds can form. Bonds. Being a successful slimeball and emotionally bonding with women are likely mutually exclusive. Which is part of the “logic” of objectifying females. Don’t get attached. If you do, quantity goes wayyyy down.
Of course, females aren’t passive participants in the mating game. I’m sure there are many who likewise tend to “objectify” males and seek shorter-term . . . companionship. But they aren’t slimeballs. They are sluts. Or so continues to assert our superficial moral code.
On a personal note, what was I doing at the moment I realized my wife of 20+ years was “the one for me” (second strategy)? We were gazing at length into each other’s eyes. And what a feeling it was — as powerful as drugs! Those drugs have apparently yet to wear off.
Years ago, in his chart-topping opus, A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking notoriously wrote,
“But if the universe is completely self-contained . . . that has profound implications for the role of God as Creator. . . . Is the unified theory so compelling that it brings about its own existence? Or does it need a creator, and, if so, does he have any other effect on the universe? And who created him? . . . If we do discover a complete theory . . . . it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason–for then we would know the mind of God.” [emphasis added]
For our generation, Hawking is considered the quintessential genius: a soaring intellect carried by a cruel joke of a crippled body. He seems other-worldly. But alas, he is mortal, and he can be wrong, as he himself has acknowledged.
In the above passage from this great thinker, we get some reasonable questions and speculations about the universe and a god’s possible role in it. In fact, Hawking questions “God.” (As it it seems he does more directly and at length in his recent book, The Grand Design.) But then, like so many writers of fiction and even non-fiction, he resorts to the poetic use of the word. And quite effectively, for “then we would know the mind of God” has dramatic panache.
But I don’t like it. First, the hefty final phrase does not logically follow his previous lines. It is akin to a hotel clerk saying, “Well, I don’t know if the room comes with a microwave or not, but go out and buy some popcorn anyway, so then you can use the microwave.”
I additionally don’t like poetic god-talk in scientific literature because by borrowing the term to add sparkle to their prose, the writers give this very unscientific term legitimacy-by-association.
Most scientists at the top of their fields who believe in a god tend to believe in a god that resides or exists beyond our universe. Or maybe the god is indistinguishable from the laws of nature and/or nature itself. The word then becomes simply a sexy synonym for “the universe.” Indeed, the majority of educated thinkers understand that the universe works just fine without a god. Adding a god, or adding any other supernatural factor, would be like inserting a smiley face into E=MC2. It contributes nothing, hence there is no good reason for it.
Because scientists frequently have a much different conception of what “god” means than the average reader, if they use the term they ought to behave like a scientist through-and-through and first define what they do mean. Otherwise, they are misleading their audience. Furthermore, if a scientist simply means “the laws of the universe” when he or she uses the word “god,” there is no justification for opting to use a fully abstract term, however exciting it may sound.
Wildflowers in the high desert of New Mexico. Such sights seem like a gift. For me? How nice! But the flowers “aren’t about” me or you. Rather, they are about the plant’s genetic survival via enticing flying creatures to play a role in sexual reproduction.
Still kinda purty, if you ask me.
Some new science findings, briefly put:
1. Adolescents who have abortions experience no greater risk for common mental maladies.
This finding is both news and old news. How so? It’s old because the previously alleged link between abortion and poorer mental health was thrown into doubt many years ago. It’s new for two reasons. 1. The science was recently conducted and it confirms a previous conclusion. Which is an important finding. and 2. -
The study conducted by researchers from Oregon State University and University of California, San Francisco, is the first to use both depression and low self-esteem as outcomes with a nationally representative sample of adolescents.
The researchers found that young women in the study who had an abortion were no more likely to become depressed or have low self-esteem within the first year of pregnancy – or five years later – than their peers who were pregnant, but did not have an abortion. [source, emphases added]
Ah. The mental health variables were targeted, and an apples-to-apples comparison made. Looks like pretty good work.
2. A Curious Symptom of Autism
[A] new study has found that most children aren’t susceptible to contagious yawning until they’re about 4 years old—and that children with autism are less likely to yawn contagiously than others. [source]
Interesting. Yet another way that autistic people have different social . . . inclinations? instincts? habits? reflexes? (a good word escapes me).
3. Moral Myopia
Guess what — our minds are handicapped. Limited. Just like our bodies. While people readily accept the fact that we are unable to physically fly, for some reason many people seem to think our minds are capable of, in a sense, flying. They aren’t limited, thus we we are capable of clearly seeing whatever it is we put our . . . minds to.
But it ain’t true. Our mental capacities are likewise limited. Consider this finding on an innate mental handicap in the area of morality:
In a nutshell, the research confirmed that -
large-scale tragedies don’t connect with people emotionally in the same way smaller tragedies do.
Well that doesn’t make sense. What limits our ability to better weigh small and large-scale tragedies?
The researchers noted that this “victim identifiability effect” allows people to form more vivid mental representations of a smaller number of victims.
This means that the news of a little-known neighbor losing a lower leg in an accident will strike the average person as more significant than the news of hundreds of men losing lower legs to land mines in another part of the world. Our moral perspective seems quite near-sighted. Myopic. Where do we find corrective lenses.