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Sickness behaviour – useful concept or psycho-humbug?

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS News' started by Woolie, Nov 22, 2017.

  1. Mij

    Mij Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Some male species present 'nuptial gifts' to females.
     
  2. Inara

    Inara Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I didn't mean it in a romantical manner. I think there is a reason why two human beings are attracted sexually, and I think the reason is good match of genes. (Not implicating a good match on a personal/materialistic level.) I'd say this "sexual attraction, gene matching" happens unconsciously. It's different from making a match with one's mind, like taking into account materialistic aspects.

    And I think the reason may be that

    I am definitely not of the opinion "evolution above all". It cannot explain everything. (Just my personal view.)

    I think this may apply to other aspects of humans/animals, too, e.g. "sickness behavior", as discussed above.

    Maybe for some people it's hard to accept that there are aspects of human nature that cannot be controled (e.g. consciously)? And then comes some model, badly cosen words with ill definitions and "treatments".
     
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  3. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I think evolution tends towards optimal compromise, lowest cost/benefit ratio. No advertising of health may mean least energy expenditure, but no use at all if all the females ignore you; absurdly energy-expensive mating show may have them flocking, but if you drop dead from exhaustion before the vinegar stroke it's not much use for the species ... let alone the individual. The very fact these behaviours are here for us to witness today, is proof of their successful track record over the millennia. So evolution has likely homed in on a good approximation to the best cost/benefit ratio.

    And yes, bower birds are fantastic aren't they.
     
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  4. Hip

    Hip Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    There is some evidence (not very strong) that we are attracted to mates which have a compatible immune system (specifically, a dissimilar major histocompatibility complex), and that this attraction might be mediated by smell.
     
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  5. Scarecrow

    Scarecrow Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    There are other ways to assess condition (call loudness, quality of territory held) but if males didn't use their trains, they wouldn't be peacocks.

    My point is only that sexual selection is not an intelligent process.
     
  6. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    At times it is profoundly unintelligent! :rolleyes::p:). And yes, I agree with you.
     
  7. Hip

    Hip Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    If there were no intelligence involved, why would animals have complex courtship rituals, which determine who gets to reproduce, and who does not? If there were no intelligence and no choice behind who gets to reproduce, why wouldn't animals just randomly choose the nearest member of the opposite sex, and fornicate with them without any further ado, without any testing rituals?

    The purpose of courtship rituals is for the male animals to display their abilities, their strength, their health, etc, and the watching female will then decide to whether to accept or reject the male, based on how he performed in the ritual. When there is this sort of observation on the part of the female which leads to a final yes or no choice, obviously intelligence is involved. It may not necessarily be a rational or logical type of intelligence; it may be more of an intuitive assessment; but that is intelligence none the less.
     
  8. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Why would there be any need for intelligence? They don't think it through cognitively; it is far more likely instinctive behaviour, pre-programmed at a very low level.
     
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  9. Hip

    Hip Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    I think that is underestimating animal intelligence. Have you ever seen how crows solve problems with astounding cognitive and preplanning-type thought and intelligence, as demonstrated in this video of a crow dropping stones into water in a glass tube to raise the water level in order to be able to grasp an out of reach piece of food?

    If animals can think cognitively about food, then there is no reason to suppose they don't think equally cognitively when choosing a sexual partner.
     
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  10. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    That is fair comment. But my point was there doesn't necessarily have to be intelligence involved, which is distinct from whether it might - or might not - also be a contributing factor.

    Crows are pretty savvy for sure. For one thing, it is very rare to see any of the crow family splatted on the roads, they seem to have brinkmanship off to a fine art. Much of that will be innate behaviour, but I can also accept there may be some cognitive processing in there as well.
     
  11. Hip

    Hip Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    Yes, I agree, and I mentioned earlier that the female attraction to a male peacock plumage may be more a hardwired intelligence or hardwired instinctual response than the sort of adaptive, cognitive intelligence seen in humans (and crows). But even though these hardwired responses may exist, there is no reason why animals might not also employ their cognitive intelligence in their choice of mate.



    Here is another example of animal intelligence during the courtship ritual, which coincidently brings us back to sickness behavior:
    I can imagine psychiatrists devising a new treatment for ME/CFS, involving surrounding ME/CFS patients with lustful nymphomaniacs, in the hope that the stimulating possibilities of sex will make us hide our sickness behaviors, and cure our illness!
     
  12. Scarecrow

    Scarecrow Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Remember that this all began when you asserted that evolution had purpose and design?
    and
    You seem to be confusing the intelligence of animals with the intelligence of a process. Intelligence is no more integral to evolution by sexual selection than it is to evolution by natural selection. The intelligence of animals often helps them to avoid being eaten. That does not mean that intelligence drives evolution. Quite the opposite. Intelligence is just one of the characteristics on which natural selection acts.
     
  13. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Even though it would not cure the illness, it may provide a bit of distraction therapy :).
     
  14. Hip

    Hip Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    And somehow, I don't think "stimulating possibility of sex" therapy will get too many complaints from patients, at least not from the guys!
     
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  15. Hip

    Hip Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    Take the example of the evolution of human civilization. There was no master plan for human civilization that was laid out beforehand; things just evolved on a piecemeal basis. We moved from nomadic hunter-gatherers to farmers, then developed the first towns and cities, and over the centuries civilization made incremental evolutionary steps until we arrive at the complex high tech civilization of today.

    However, there is no way that the evolution of civilization could have taken place without human intelligence being involved. Human intelligence drove the evolution of civilization, even though human intelligence did not plan it all beforehand.

    And analogously, intelligent choice of reproductive partner (sexual selection) may play a role in driving the evolution of species, even though that intelligence did not plan out evolution beforehand.
     
  16. Woolie

    Woolie Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    We've all got it tough, but being in Germany, that's probably the toughest gig of all! All those neo-Freudians.

    Honestly, the sorts of things you've been told are really way out there, even worse that the UK BPS bridage. At least they're moved on from "inner unresolved conflict".

    Yes, it's all so incredibly arrogant, isn't it - the idea that you are messed up and the only path to wellness is via a therapist.
     
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  17. Woolie

    Woolie Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I can't speak for the whole of science, but evolutionary psychology is very problematic imo. Researchers trawl through various behaviours and identify ones they think they can make a nice evolutionary story out of.

    There's no genuine hypothesis testing - no-one ever tries to use an evolutionary framework to make an actual prediction about any behaviour and then test it. No. They work backwards - from the outcome (which is cherry picked for the purpose) to the evolutionary explanation. That way, you can never go wrong. There's always a nice evolutionary story you can tell about a behaviour, especially if you picked the behaviour that best suited your purpose. But then its just a story; it doesn't really tell us anything new or useful.

    A story for you: once upon a time, there was a study that found that girl children who did not have a father figure in their house (father dead or absent), tended to begin menstruating earlier than girls from fathered families. Evolutionary psychologists went nuts about this, and spun a whole tale around it. They said the fatherless girls had less stable future prospects and a greater risk of early death, so they were evolutionarily "primed" to reproduce early, before it was too late. The idea is similar to a tree that fruits more during a drought - sort of a last-ditch attempt to generate loads of seeds in case it dies from lack of water.

    I don't know whether the original menstruation/fatherlessness finding is solid or not (the whole thing is a bit on the nose). But even if it were, you don't have to think about this very long to realise its a bit fishy.

    For starters, we know for sure that girls who are well fed menstruate earlier than those who are on leaner rations. So, the body seems to actually hold off menstruation till food is in good supply - not the other way around. So much for the rush to menstruate if conditions are unstable. This observation would suggest it prefers to wait till things are looking better. And rightly so - we're not fruit trees. Historically, our chances of dying in childbirth were quite high, and even if we didn't die, our baby would soon enough if we didn't have the right environment to feed and protect it.

    Okay so the evolutionary psyc story is just a story, and doesn't seem a good fit to the wider evidence. But on top of that, there's also something hugely inhuman and patronising about it all. A lot of evolutionary psyc makes me feel this way. I don't think its a good thing to reduce people down to evolutionary tendencies. Especially not when its almost impossible to prove these stories wrong.
     
  18. lansbergen

    lansbergen Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    Once upon a time it happened by accident. It was noted and repeated. Others saw it and started doing it.

    Nothing special. Young animals learn from their parents. Why would an adult animal not learn from watching another animal?
     
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  19. lansbergen

    lansbergen Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    More likely their nose.
     
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  20. Scarecrow

    Scarecrow Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Is the evolution of civilisation analogous to biological evolution? It certainly isn't encoded in our genetic material but then neither is any learned behaviour. But the capacity to learn is and we already had the genetic capacity for modern civilisation 10,000 years ago.

    The only biological selection I can think of where intelligence, purpose and design drive it is artificial selection.
     

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