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(Science World Report)   Scientists discover that men are from Mars, women are from planet Oh God Why Are You Still Talking, Sweet Jesus Do You Ever Get to the Point   (scienceworldreport.com) divider line 553
    More: Interesting, get to the point, The Journal of Neuroscience, scientists  
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13461 clicks; posted to Main » on 20 Feb 2013 at 3:12 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-02-21 10:01:26 AM

fredklein: Ed Grubermann: fredklein: ciberido: She didn't ask you for advice. She told you she had a problem, because she wanted a shoulder to cry on.

Crying on a shoulder doesn't solve the problem. (unless the problem is a dry shoulder). Solving the problem solves the problem.

She doesn't want the problem solved.

Then why is she talking about it?


Because (apparently) just talking about it makes her feel better.  Yeah, I don't really understand it either, but I accept it.  If you can't help yourself, and decide you MUST provide a solution, it may help to preface it with "If you're looking for a solution..." rather than just saying "You should do X".  That way it doesn't seem to her like you are telling her what to do.
 
2013-02-21 10:07:25 AM

andyfromfl: KiltedBastich: gmpathfinder: Controlled studies of word use between women and men have consistently found no significant difference between words per day.
The article links another article as 'evidence' for the 7k word per day difference, yet the linked article absolutely does not support that claim.

Other than anecdote, there's really no evidence that men speak less (or women speak more). Rather, there's a wide range of speech use in both men and women, and we tend to remember individuals who violate the norm (for example, women who talk a lot). A lot of this is confirmation bias.

There are gender differences in what people talk about, but not how much across the day.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11762186

Disagree? Show me a well documented, peer reviewed, adequately controlled experiment that shows a significant difference between gender that's not explained by other factors.

Here's the best one I could find. Note that they only deal with word count in passing.

That was directed at me, thanks for the backup.


You probably should've read his link before you thank him. It has nothing to do with word count, except that they happened to select a particular sample (54 short letters to Ladies Home Journal) that had more female text than male text. Word count is mentioned in passing merely to show that their statistical analysis of  other features was not based on a small sample size. That study, however, says nothing about a difference between amount of speech by either gender.
 
2013-02-21 10:10:41 AM

KiltedBastich: The thing is that the social sciences have a lingering aspect of human exceptionalism to them. We retain this notion that we are somehow distinctly different from animals in our cognition and behaviour and it's bullshiat. Everything we do, cognitively speaking, can be detected in other animals. The difference is in degree, not kind. In fact the rarest traits, the ones that are closest to unique, are not things like cultural transmission of information, but rather obscure things like beat induction, the ability to bob along to a beat. Last I checked, the only other animals that do that are parrots, of all things.


No, and your long-winded, argumentative post demonstrates that.
 
2013-02-21 10:16:12 AM

PsiChick: ciberido: PsiChick: More like: "We have never once even  heard of linguistic anthropology, because social sciences are for LOOZERS!". Seriously, hard sciences have  got to STFU about soft sciences, because  social sciences occasionally find out shiat that makes you look like a retard, such as the current theory that's so secure it's taught to 101 students: Women and men have differing speech patterns because of cultural hardwiring. Unless you find a pattern that occurs in  multiple different cultures before globalization, you are  not looking at biology, you're looking at culture.

I love hard sciences, but occasionally I wonder if they're trying to parody themselves. Just because you can't measure social influence with decimal points doesn't mean social influence doesn't exist. It just means you need to figure out a different measurement.

People who are big into hard science are very often spooked by softer science.  I think many of them find the idea that human behavior can be studied and understood intimidating.

I think it's partly because, in America at least, we have this idea that a true scientist is unemotional, hyperliteral, and incapable of relating to other humans floating around our grab bag of cultural stereotypes. Drives me farking nuts. If you're scared of emotions because you can't play with decimals, that's called social anxiety, not rational behavior.


I knew there was a reason I had you favourited.
 
2013-02-21 10:36:05 AM

Gawdzila: PsiChick: I love hard sciences, but occasionally I wonder if they're trying to parody themselves. Just because you can't measure social influence with decimal points doesn't mean social influence doesn't exist. It just means you need to figure out a different measurement.

It sounds more like you're the one making a parody of what people actually think.
I'm a physicist, and nobody I know actually alleges that the phenomena described by social sciences don't exist.  They don't even say that they aren't useful.  What they do point out is that they are not deterministic.  In other words, even if you do "figure out a different measurement", when you actually take those measurements it references only a definition that YOU created instead of something that exists objectively.  Or, if it does exist objectively, it is something which cannot be quantified in any reliable way.  When people involved in the "hard sciences" complain about this they aren't saying that the phenomena don't exist, even if that's what it sounds like to you.  What they're doing is pointing out that the observations being made can't be used to objectively or unambiguously support or falsify any particular theory.  In the hard sciences, this is functionally the same as not having any data at all.

No reasonable person denies the results of operant conditioning experiments, or the existence of emotions (whether we can measure them or not), or the ability of therapists to help people with counseling.  But neither is it reasonable to suggest that social science theories meet the same rigorous criteria for reproducibility, predictive power, or even falsifiability that the "hard sciences" do.


*sigh* Okay, first: Noting a stereotype. As I pointed out, not everyone behaves this way--it's just very noticeable sometimes. Second, yes, social sciences do not use the same measurements, but that does  not mean theories cannot be supported or falsified. Theories  can be supported or falsified using social science measurements, they just can't be measured in  numbers. For example, an anthropologist might say that, I don't know, horticultural societies tend to be matriarchial because of green aliens.  That is a theory that can be proven or disproven. It's still farking science.

KiltedBastich: Why? This is exactly the kind of academic presumption I am talking about. You apparently have a background in the social sciences, and so you accept the dogma of the social sciences that say the biological differences are not important and can be safely ignored when studying human behaviour, despite the vast amount of available evidence coming out of psychology that this is not the case and has never been the case.


...I think you're misunderstanding my fundamental point. Biological differences exist and have effects on humans, yes. As you noted, brain damage can in fact impair language functions, the human mind is hardwired to pick up language, all those things. But  word count is probably  not a factor that's biologically influenced to any real degree, because word count would depend on a whole host of non-biological factors, like your language (Spanish speakers probably have a much higher word count than English speakers on average), your time period (I doubt women had a higher word count in, say, the Victorian Era, when silence was not only golden but could be a good chunk of whether or not you got a husband), and what is or is not socially acceptable to say at that time. I babble sometimes. Does that mean I've got a higher count of this protein then? Nope, it means I'm in a situation where my specific reaction, taught by society, is to babble.

If you think word count is biologically influenced, that's fine, but a study from a culture that expects to find exactly this result sounds a bit suspicious to me.
 
2013-02-21 10:45:48 AM

ChaoticLimbs: big pig peaches: bunner: "You should do ~n before it gets cold"

"I will."

"No, you wont.  You say you will but you never finish anything."

"Didn't I do A,. B, B and all that other crap you asked about last  month?"

"Only because I nagged you."

"Are you sure?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, cause and effect.  Have you tried NOT nagging me and seeing what happens?"

"You're not the only person who makes decisions in this family!"

"What's that got to do with anything?"

"Why are you so pigheaded?"

"Why do you have to try and convince me that without your foot up my ass, I couldn't tie my own shoes?"

"Whut UVER, you are so immature."

"Yes, that must be it."

"So are you going to do ~n?"

"*sigh*"

Please stop dating my wife.

Guys, since we're clearly all married to the same chick, you might consider what I've done, which is to passive-aggressively "remind" her to do her mundane chores right at the second she was about to do it anyway. When she inevitably loses her shiat, I remind her that this is how nagging feels, and she does this every day. I tell her to imagine how a person could deal with this kind of abuse day after day while only reacting in kind with silly reminders to illustrate why the behavior is objectionable instead of thumping his chest like a gorilla and screaming obscenities.


I tried that once for a month, along with keeping a daily journal of the chores I did, things I fixed and family activities I participated in (yes, I probably did more than usual since I was keeping track). It was like a really long game of Texas Hold'em held in the back room of a mafia-controlled pizzeria.

But it was worth it - I walked away with my chips and my balls... and the frightening realization that what took me an immense amount of focus and energy to sustain, she keeps in her head every second of every day. Three words - bigger corpus callosum.
 
2013-02-21 10:53:25 AM

andyfromfl: That was directed at me, thanks for the backup.

This is the danger with science worshipers- just as a program is only as good as its programmer, a study is only as good as the scientist. The fact that a study promotes an opinion doesn't mean it's the end all and be all- they have flaws.

Women talk more than men in America. Studies that find otherwise are flawed.


No, it was directed at me. I replied to the Weeners to me in the thread. And you are quite wrong. The notion of "science worship" is a ridiculous distortion promoted by those who already have a religious mindset. Here's a big clue for you: one of the surest ways for a scientist (or other academic more generally) to make their reputation is to disprove an existing theory held as true by the scientific community. Scientists do not "worship" science. They challenge it and test it, constantly. That you do not already knows this demonstrates how little you know about science.

Furthermore, what "everybody knows" is very often completely incorrect. You don't get to dismiss science because it disagrees with your preexisting biases any more than you get to accept it just because it agrees with it. All claims must be judged on their merits based on the evidence. That is all. Your opinion is not an argument. Opinions are like shadows. Everyone has one, and they carry no weight.

My point is not that men or women do or do not speak more words. It is that it is fallacious to dismiss out of hand as a cause either explanations based in the natural sciences or explanations based on the social sciences.

Carousel Beast: No, and your long-winded, argumentative post demonstrates that.


You fail at reading comprehension. Just after the point that you bolded, I mentioned that the difference is in degree, not kind. In case you don't understand those terms, I will try to make it simpler. We do lots of complicated things with our minds. Animals have been shown to do all of them, in simpler forms. Any guess what? We've seen animals use language - in simpler but similar ways to us. We've seen them argue - in simpler but similar ways to us. We've seen them use tools to make tools, to demonstrate a rudimentary theory of mind, to engage in the social transmission of knowledge, to exhibit cultural variations between groups - all in ways that are simpler but similar to how we do things.

We are not unique in terms of our innate cognitive faculties. We've just got more developed faculties for certain cognitive abilities, and even then many of the things we treat as important are done better by other animals. Chimpanzees have recently been tested and shown to have better memories than we do, and even chickadees with brains the size of a pea can perform feats of long term recall of staggering difficulty by human standards as a matter of course.
 
2013-02-21 10:54:05 AM

andyfromfl: Women talk more than men in America. Studies that find otherwise are flawed.


So basically, "If science doesn't agree with me, science is wrong."  Got it.
 
2013-02-21 10:58:12 AM

PsiChick: ...I think you're misunderstanding my fundamental point. Biological differences exist and have effects on humans, yes. As you noted, brain damage can in fact impair language functions, the human mind is hardwired to pick up language, all those things. But word count is probably not a factor that's biologically influenced to any real degree, because word count would depend on a whole host of non-biological factors, like your language (Spanish speakers probably have a much higher word count than English speakers on average), your time period (I doubt women had a higher word count in, say, the Victorian Era, when silence was not only golden but could be a good chunk of whether or not you got a husband), and what is or is not socially acceptable to say at that time. I babble sometimes. Does that mean I've got a higher count of this protein then? Nope, it means I'm in a situation where my specific reaction, taught by society, is to babble.

If you think word count is biologically influenced, that's fine, but a study from a culture that expects to find exactly this result sounds a bit suspicious to me.


All of the problems you mention are actually relatively easy to account for with cross-cultural statistical correction methods. And I repeat again: the point is not whether or not there is an actual difference in word count, per se, so much as it is the point that it is not valid to dismiss out of hand evidence that would support the idea coming from the natural sciences just because you presume that there can be no biological influences on that function. The universe does not care about what we think about it. Our opinions in the end are meaningless unless supported by evidence.
 
2013-02-21 11:03:41 AM

Gawdzila: Perhaps in time we will develop the biotechnology to analyze those complex neural networks in our heads in a more deterministic and precise way, but until then things like psychology will have to serve as crude exploratory tools.


The time has already come.  fMRI, to name one example.  Though I don't necessarily agree with everything they say, V.S.  Ramachandran and Steven Pinker (just to name two offhand) have written a number of books between them that illustrate how in recent years technology has gone very far towards making "soft science" a lot less "soft."

One that I'm particularly interested in, and which admittedly has been a bit exaggerated and oversimplified when presented to the general public, uses measurements of activity in the amygdala to cast light on how fear and hate work.
 
2013-02-21 11:06:01 AM

Darke: Seriously though, my brother's wife is the nagging type and I just want to take her into a room and let her know she's doing our gender a disservice by acting like a whiny, needy two-year-old that craves attention at all times.

imgs.xkcd.com

How It Works.
 
2013-02-21 11:06:41 AM

LanceDearnis: Think I figured this one out.

[imgs.xkcd.com image 410x211]


*shakes tiny fist of rage*
 
2013-02-21 11:13:07 AM

KiltedBastich: PsiChick: ...I think you're misunderstanding my fundamental point. Biological differences exist and have effects on humans, yes. As you noted, brain damage can in fact impair language functions, the human mind is hardwired to pick up language, all those things. But word count is probably not a factor that's biologically influenced to any real degree, because word count would depend on a whole host of non-biological factors, like your language (Spanish speakers probably have a much higher word count than English speakers on average), your time period (I doubt women had a higher word count in, say, the Victorian Era, when silence was not only golden but could be a good chunk of whether or not you got a husband), and what is or is not socially acceptable to say at that time. I babble sometimes. Does that mean I've got a higher count of this protein then? Nope, it means I'm in a situation where my specific reaction, taught by society, is to babble.

If you think word count is biologically influenced, that's fine, but a study from a culture that expects to find exactly this result sounds a bit suspicious to me.

All of the problems you mention are actually relatively easy to account for with cross-cultural statistical correction methods. And I repeat again: the point is not whether or not there is an actual difference in word count, per se, so much as it is the point that it is not valid to dismiss out of hand evidence that would support the idea coming from the natural sciences just because you presume that there can be no biological influences on that function. The universe does not care about what we think about it. Our opinions in the end are meaningless unless supported by evidence.


Like the evidence anthropologists have already uncovered?
 
2013-02-21 11:43:38 AM

PsiChick: Like the evidence anthropologists have already uncovered?


Which is limited to social situations only, and deliberately does not consider biological variation, and so has no bearing at all on the validity of a test of biological effects on social actions? You mean that information? That would be a non sequitor fallacy. Assuming there is no biological variation because you can't test for it, and ascribing all variation found to culture as a result, does not actually mean that there is no biological variation. It means you have a huge farking hole in your assumed premises.

Let me say it again. I have a degree in sociology. I have taken a large number of anthropology classes. The two disciplines are extremely closely linked, and many universities combine the departments. I know social science methodology. I know the kind of assumptions they make because of the limits of the methodology. So when I tell you that I am not happy with the way social scientists routinely dismiss the possibility of significant variation in social effects due to biological variation a priori as part of the assumptions of the discipline, I am speaking as someone who is actually trained as a social scientist, not as an outsider with only a lay understanding of the topic.
 
2013-02-21 12:05:23 PM

big pig peaches: Me (standing by the kitchen sink, sponge in hand, dishwasher open: As soon as I finish washing my balls, I'll get to it.


Great... Now I have to explain why I'm laughing my butt off and spewing Mountain Dew over all 4 monitors in front of me.  I really need to say that next time my wife does that...
 
2013-02-21 12:58:15 PM

KiltedBastich: You fail at reading comprehension.


Ok, link me to some valid studies that other species attempt to rationally debate.

/I'd love you to smack me down on this
//But I don't expect you will
 
2013-02-21 01:04:51 PM

KiltedBastich: PsiChick: Like the evidence anthropologists have already uncovered?

Which is limited to social situations only, and deliberately does not consider biological variation, and so has no bearing at all on the validity of a test of biological effects on social actions? You mean that information? That would be a non sequitor fallacy. Assuming there is no biological variation because you can't test for it, and ascribing all variation found to culture as a result, does not actually mean that there is no biological variation. It means you have a huge farking hole in your assumed premises.

Let me say it again. I have a degree in sociology. I have taken a large number of anthropology classes. The two disciplines are extremely closely linked, and many universities combine the departments. I know social science methodology. I know the kind of assumptions they make because of the limits of the methodology. So when I tell you that I am not happy with the way social scientists routinely dismiss the possibility of significant variation in social effects due to biological variation a priori as part of the assumptions of the discipline, I am speaking as someone who is actually trained as a social scientist, not as an outsider with only a lay understanding of the topic.


Didn't I just LMGTFY someone to the huge amounts of evidence showing poverty, which is  not genetic, is often a factor in word count for children? That's the kind of stuff I'm talking about. So yes, there are times when anthropology and other social sciences have issues, but TFA isn't actually one of those times.
 
2013-02-21 01:19:51 PM

Carousel Beast: Ok, link me to some valid studies that other species attempt to rationally debate.

/I'd love you to smack me down on this
//But I don't expect you will


Rational debate is a complex expression of language use and conflict resolution. Both of those behaviours have been demonstrated extensively in other species. It is not a discrete psychological function unto itself.

Tell me, are you still unclear on what a difference in degree is, vs. a difference in kind? Or maybe you are unclear on why current psychological theory holds that rational debate is not a base cognitive function, but rather is an constructed expression that involves the use of several different underlying cognitive processes? Or perhaps you are unaware that humans are nowhere near as rational as we tend to think we are, and that we are subject to many biases in our cognition that derive from evolved adaptive mechanisms that promote survival rather than truth-seeking, biases we share with other animals?

Your question tells me you really don't understand what "rational debate" actually consists of, from a psychological perspective, so I am trying to figure out the source of your confusion.
 
2013-02-21 01:31:59 PM

PsiChick: Didn't I just LMGTFY someone to the huge amounts of evidence showing poverty, which is not genetic, is often a factor in word count for children? That's the kind of stuff I'm talking about. So yes, there are times when anthropology and other social sciences have issues, but TFA isn't actually one of those times.


/facepalm

How many times do I have to say this? Nature and nurture are not an either-or choice. BOTH are in play in every single human being. Demonstrating that there are cultural influences on word count says NOTHING AT ALL about whether or not there are biological influences on word count. All it tells you is that there are cultural influences. Unless you can show that statistically absolutely all of the variation in word count is completely explained by poverty and other social forces, with no other intervening variables whatsoever, then you cannot claim there is no biological influence. You cannot claim anything at all about the biological influences because your social science methodology is not designed to investigate them.

And yet here you are again implying that because there is a cultural explanation, there is no validity to biological explanations. This is why what you are doing is making a non sequitor argument. Whether or not you demonstrate that social and cultural influences affect a pattern of behaviour, it does not follow that there cannot be variation due to biological influences, because social and biological influences are not mutually exclusive and in fact interact constantly.

Wrangling over whether there is or is not social or biological influences is a red herring argument that misses the entire point. Both nature and nurture are in play essentially at all times and the social scientists and natural scientists should be trying to work together to explore and map their interaction, not getting into farktarded turf wars that waste time, money and manpower that could be better spent actually doing science.
 
2013-02-21 01:34:56 PM

PsiChick: Second, this paragraph does  not differentiate between a case of genetic inheritance versus what I'm talking about, learned inheritance, which research  does support. If your parents have a huge vocabulary, you are most likely to have a huge vocabulary, even if you're not genetically related to them, which can be shown even through this example; poverty isn't genetic, but it has a hell of an influence.


For someone who's denoucing scientific literalism you're giving us all a serious case of irony poisoning. Someone who wants evidence to support the one paragraph might look ___?

In the rest of the paragraphs on that page. Like "Results for IQ Scores/Parameter estimates"
 
2013-02-21 01:41:46 PM

LanceDearnis: Think I figured this one out.

[imgs.xkcd.com image 410x211]


The point that comic is trying to make is sound, but I don't get why of all subjects they picked one where women typically don't perform as well as men.
 
2013-02-21 01:51:59 PM

CheekyMonkey: dmax: Used to have a lot of arguments that seemed like skew lines. I had one point, she had another. I noticed she would talk in one direction and I wanted another.

But I like the science, not the touchy feely self-help books.

So, since we like to read out loud to each other on road trips, while the other drives, we read Deborah Tannen's "You Just Don't Understand." Saved our marriage. Gave out dozens of copies to friends.

She is a linguist that studies how the different genders talk. TL;DR of her book: women talk in terms of association, horizontally, ("she's my best friend." "Let's do this together." That clique stuff.) but men talk in terms of power and control, vertically ("I'm the king." "Who's in charge here?" The totem pole of power).

So, when my wife asks, "Are you up for a movie tonight?" she's thinking "Let's do something together." but I'm hearing "I'm telling you that I've made plans for us."

If you interpret "Are you up for a movie tonight?" as "I've made plans for us" then either you aren't actually listening to what your wife is saying, or you don't have a very good grasp on the English language.  Words have specific meanings for a reason, and if everyone (men and women) were more precise in their use of language, I think many arguments could be avoided.


If you think "are you up for a movie tonight" is necessarily different from "I've made plans for us" you are not understanding the communication differences a lot of couples face.

Language can imprecise, context driven, malleable, limited or changed by both speaker and listener's experiences, and can convey a multitude of meanings to differing audiences. And that's ignoring the fact that overly precise speech in everyday usage can be grating, annoying, impractical, or impossible.

For instance - depending on context, when my wife says 'are you up for a movie tonight?' she often means "I have an expectation that we will do something together tonight that requires a significant amount of time investment. It likely requires an activity with limited physical demands - like sitting. I may have a specific film in mind which I may or may not be open to changing." Context may suggest other interpretations and meanings. But most importantly, the "I have a desire and expectation that we will do something together for a substantial portion of time" is implied in almost all of them. And THAT is tantamount to "I've made plans for us" - with a "I'll be upset if you do not go along with them without a good reason" further implied.
 
2013-02-21 03:13:47 PM
Men should be able to do one thing, just one simply farking thing, without having their female going apeshiat:

Twirl their finger in the universal "hurry the fark up" hand movement.  That would solve all of this.
 
2013-02-21 03:47:20 PM
I come home and put my headphones on the desk. Hours later, I go to get my headphones, but they are not where I put them. My wife has picked them up and put them somewhere else.

Me: Where are my headphones? I put them on the desk and now they're not there!
Wife: They're not there because that's not where they GO! They GO in the entryway!
Me: Shouldn't they GO where I put them?
---> Argument.

I go to get the kid's snack from the pantry. That type of snack has been stored on the second shelf for 6 months. It's suddenly not there.

Me: Are we out of Wil's crackers?
Wife: No there are plenty of them!
Me: well they are not here.
Wife: I put them in a different cupboard the other day.
Me: But I thought they go in THIS cupboard.
Wife: No. Now they go here.
Me: *anything*
-->Argument.
 
2013-02-21 04:05:06 PM

dgalvan123: I come home and put my headphones on the desk. Hours later, I go to get my headphones, but they are not where I put them. My wife has picked them up and put them somewhere else.

Me: Where are my headphones? I put them on the desk and now they're not there!
Wife: They're not there because that's not where they GO! They GO in the entryway!
Me: Shouldn't they GO where I put them?
---> Argument.

I go to get the kid's snack from the pantry. That type of snack has been stored on the second shelf for 6 months. It's suddenly not there.

Me: Are we out of Wil's crackers?
Wife: No there are plenty of them!
Me: well they are not here.
Wife: I put them in a different cupboard the other day.
Me: But I thought they go in THIS cupboard.
Wife: No. Now they go here.
Me: *anything*
-->Argument.


The other day she cleaned the place. I appreciate that. However, everytime she does, she 'hides' things by putting them 'away'. Like the remote. The remote LIVES on the coffee table, that is where it sleeps and eats. It does not go into the small cabinet we use as an end table. I'm still looking for my earplug case. She gets zoned and doesn't stop to think about if what she is moving might be needed by 'not her' sometime in the future.

Living with someone else can be rough stuff. I bet I'm not peach either (I keep odd hours and I hate planned meals), but at least I clean the litter box 1-2 times a day because I know if I ask her to do it, it won't get done no matter the ill-health effects on the cats.
 
2013-02-21 04:17:52 PM

PsiChick: Second, yes, social sciences do not use the same measurements, but that does not mean theories cannot be supported or falsified. Theories can be supported or falsified using social science measurements, they just can't be measured in numbers.


No, you're not understanding what I'm saying.  I didn't say that they couldn't be supported or falsified, and I didn't say it wasn't science.  What I said is that they don't have the same standards for being falsifiable, and single data points do not unambiguously support (or not) any particular theory.  What this means is that they are incapable of being highly predictive.

In physics, if your theory predicts f(x,y,z) = 41.7 and people can reliably and repeatedly show that the actual outcome of f(x,y,z) = 42.4 when measured, your theory is WRONG.  But it isn't just about numbers, either.  The important thing is that any physical theory must be capable of making unambiguous predictions, and the real problem is that in anthropology, or psychology, you simply can't.

Lets take your example for instance.  If you DO find a horticultural society that is patriarchal, does that disprove your theory?  No.  If someone else finds yet another one that is patriarchal, does that disprove your theory?  No.  Even if this theory is "proven", can you reliably predict that any given society will be matriarchal based on the fact that it is horticultural?  No.  If this were a theory in natural science, answering "no" to those questions would already disqualify it as a useful theory, or even being considered a scientific theory at all.

So sure, you can prove or disprove the idea that horticultural societies TEND to be matriarchal based on statistical data.  But the fact that your theory contains the word "tends" already means that your theory as well as any given piece of data used to support it already does not meet the same standards for being falsifiable and predictive.  It is still knowledge, and it may even be useful, but calling it science in the same way that chemistry is science is just not correct.
 
2013-02-21 04:20:57 PM
Shryke: Men should be able to do one thing, just one simply farking thing, without having their female going apeshiat:

Twirl their finger in the universal "hurry the fark up" hand movement.  That would solve all of this.


gifninja.com
 
2013-02-21 04:26:38 PM

ciberido: Gawdzila: Perhaps in time we will develop the biotechnology to analyze those complex neural networks in our heads in a more deterministic and precise way, but until then things like psychology will have to serve as crude exploratory tools.

The time has already come. fMRI, to name one example.


Yeah, fMRI is pretty cool.  But as detailed a measurements as those machines are capable of taking, they are not, in general, capable of making single-neuron measurements, which I think we will have to get at least close to for things to get really precise.  It's gonna take a lot of mathematical modeling, too, not just pure measurement data.
 
2013-02-21 04:44:24 PM

Gawdzila: PsiChick: Second, yes, social sciences do not use the same measurements, but that does not mean theories cannot be supported or falsified. Theories can be supported or falsified using social science measurements, they just can't be measured in numbers.

No, you're not understanding what I'm saying.  I didn't say that they couldn't be supported or falsified, and I didn't say it wasn't science.  What I said is that they don't have the same standards for being falsifiable, and single data points do not unambiguously support (or not) any particular theory.  What this means is that they are incapable of being highly predictive.

In physics, if your theory predicts f(x,y,z) = 41.7 and people can reliably and repeatedly show that the actual outcome of f(x,y,z) = 42.4 when measured, your theory is WRONG.  But it isn't just about numbers, either.  The important thing is that any physical theory must be capable of making unambiguous predictions, and the real problem is that in anthropology, or psychology, you simply can't.

Lets take your example for instance.  If you DO find a horticultural society that is patriarchal, does that disprove your theory?  No.  If someone else finds yet another one that is patriarchal, does that disprove your theory?  No.  Even if this theory is "proven", can you reliably predict that any given society will be matriarchal based on the fact that it is horticultural?  No.  If this were a theory in natural science, answering "no" to those questions would already disqualify it as a useful theory, or even being considered a scientific theory at all.

So sure, you can prove or disprove the idea that horticultural societies TEND to be matriarchal based on statistical data.  But the fact that your theory contains the word "tends" already means that your theory as well as any given piece of data used to support it already does not meet the same standards for being falsifiable and predictive.  It is still knowledge, and it may even be useful, but calling i ...


Just so you know, you're arguing with someone who thinks she's psychic. Just so you know.
 
2013-02-21 04:46:54 PM
CheekyMonkey:
You STILL haven't grasped that SHE'S NOT LOOKING FOR A SOLUTION.  Doesn't matter how infuriating it is for you

I do grasp it. She doesn't want a solution to her problem. Instead, she wants to alleviate things by putting the load on me. She wants me to suffer with and for her without having me actually do something to help the both of us. That's exactly what I object to.

I don't see how its impact on me "doesn't matter" since I'm the one who has to listen to this shiat. It should and does matter and I have my own ways of cutting it off but thanks for your sucky tip. "More often than not" five minutes is enough? What's the ratio on that, exactly? Just how often do you find yourself cleaning out dead bugs WHILE listening to pointless BS. No thanks.

/my wife is fantastic, wouldn't trade her for anyone else
//she only does about half the things this thread is complaining about
///she doesn't get angry and will apologize when I call her out on not making any sense (ok this ones more often than not as well)
 
2013-02-21 04:48:38 PM
I swear.. Today we're going to shop to pick up my truck and she's driving.
Her: You want to stop for lunch on the way there or on the way back?
Me: On the way back. You can stop and grab us something and we can meet @ home and while you're getting it I'll take care of letting the dog out and feeding the fish.
Her: I think I'll go on the interstate to get there, it'll be faster.
Me: You're driving.
Her: I really want to stop at Arby's and it's on the way there and harder to get to on the way back.
Me: Fine. Just a regular roast beef for me.
Her: Or there's Wendy's or McDonalds.
Me: *eyes roll into the back of my head* Doesn't matter to me.
Her: I think it would give more time to eat if we stop at arby's and eat in the car on the way.
Me: Just a regular roast beef.
Her: I switched lanes too soon, Now I'm going slow behind all of these people turning.
Me: It's only a half block away. Be patient.
Her: *at the window ordering* 2 regular roast beef and a small unsweet tea *turns to me* you want fries?
Me: no. just the sandwich.
Her: something to drink?
Me: no.
Her: you sure?
Me: well, do they have...
Her: cuts me off by telling the speaker at drive through "That's all"
Me: *shuts up and eats my sandwich*
Her: yadda yadda yadda about 30 different things relating to nothing when she should have just said "I should have gotten arbys' sauce, the sandwich is dry"
Get there and ...
Her: ok, now you're going to come back by the interstate right?
Me: no, It takes too long.
Her: you know we have to be back at work.
Me: yeah. I'll see you at the house and will take care of the dog and fish.
Her: ok *drives off toward the interstate*
//argh
 
2013-02-21 04:49:14 PM

Gawdzila: calling it science in the same way that chemistry is science is just not correct.


This is incorrect. The social sciences use the same basic philosophical assumptions about rationalism and empiricism that underlie all the sciences, which is what sets them apart from the humanities. The methodological distinctions you address happen well above the basic criteria for being a science as defined by nearly every person who has ever worked in the philosophy of science - assuming they even bother with a definition at all. Feyarabend argued with significant merit that actual science is always going to be messier than the theories we come up with about science, because we have to adapt to how the universe works, not the other way around, and therefore any definition of science you come up with will be inadequate to the task of encompassing the actual science humans do.

Furthermore, the fact that currently the best we can do is probabilistic trends in the social sciences is not any kind of disqualification. You know what other branch of science uses almost exclusively probabilistic trends to predict behaviour? Quantum mechanics. It is not necessary for science to be deterministic, and it hasn't been so for a very long time. Positivism is dead even in the natural sciences now. The awareness that we are flawed and fallible, and that our information is only as good as our tools and methods, is widespread in the natural sciences. There's a reason every professionally written paper is supposed to have a section on the limitations of the work described.

The social sciences address complex issues at a very high level of analysis. It simply isn't feasible to engage in reductionist techniques with any validity, because you can't actually reduce down to objectively discrete units when you are dealing with social forces. Even the expression of behaviour in a particular individual is the result of a multiplicity of influences biological, environmental and sociocultural expressing themselves in a constantly shifting manner. That doesn't mean those influences aren't real, or that they aren't measurable, or that sufficiently powerful analytical tools could not model them. It just means we don't have the ability to do that now. Even in the natural sciences, highly complex systems like ocean currents or weather patterns remain extremely difficult to model and predict, requiring vast computational power to do so and very complex descriptive algorythms. Consider then that social systems are orders of magnitude more complex than even those systems, and you start to get at the scope of the problem.

The social sciences are hard to study effectively because we don't have the tools we need to really build a full comprehensive analysis. And that doesn't even touch on the practical or ethical constraints. How do you run an experiment on a society? Even if you somehow manage to meet the practical challenges, how do you deal with the indefensible ethical problem that you would be literally toying with people's lives?
 
2013-02-21 04:54:30 PM

Gawdzila: Yeah, fMRI is pretty cool. But as detailed a measurements as those machines are capable of taking, they are not, in general, capable of making single-neuron measurements, which I think we will have to get at least close to for things to get really precise. It's gonna take a lot of mathematical modeling, too, not just pure measurement data.


Actually, they can see that far down already. See for example this study. It requires work, and it's often not that useful, because there are billions of neurons and what the patterns of aggregate neuron behaviour are doing are often far more important than individual neuron activity.
 
2013-02-21 04:59:54 PM

beer4breakfast: Fark Rye For Many Whores: For another example, color blindness is (usually) on the X chromosome(s), which IS a sex chromosome.

/see how that doesn't make sense
//I think Y is more reliably filled with gender traits but I'm not even sure

Yes, the gene for red-green color blindness is on the X chromosome. But it's a recessive trait and that's why it almost always shows up in males but is passed on by the mother. The male only has one X chromosome so if it has the gene it's expressed. A female has two, so if she has one X chromosome with the gene but the other one doesn't have the gene then it's not expressed.


Color blindness is not caused by a recessive gene. It's caused by a lack of a gene on the X chromosome. Since men only have one X, the lack of that gene is expressed as color blindness. A woman would have to inherit the malformed X chromosome from both parents, otherwise the good X chromosome would provide the necessary information to build the proper retinal cells for full color vision.
 
2013-02-21 05:01:26 PM

Deneb81: CheekyMonkey: dmax: Used to have a lot of arguments that seemed like skew lines. I had one point, she had another. I noticed she would talk in one direction and I wanted another.

But I like the science, not the touchy feely self-help books.

So, since we like to read out loud to each other on road trips, while the other drives, we read Deborah Tannen's "You Just Don't Understand." Saved our marriage. Gave out dozens of copies to friends.

She is a linguist that studies how the different genders talk. TL;DR of her book: women talk in terms of association, horizontally, ("she's my best friend." "Let's do this together." That clique stuff.) but men talk in terms of power and control, vertically ("I'm the king." "Who's in charge here?" The totem pole of power).

So, when my wife asks, "Are you up for a movie tonight?" she's thinking "Let's do something together." but I'm hearing "I'm telling you that I've made plans for us."

If you interpret "Are you up for a movie tonight?" as "I've made plans for us" then either you aren't actually listening to what your wife is saying, or you don't have a very good grasp on the English language.  Words have specific meanings for a reason, and if everyone (men and women) were more precise in their use of language, I think many arguments could be avoided.

If you think "are you up for a movie tonight" is necessarily different from "I've made plans for us" you are not understanding the communication differences a lot of couples face.

Language can imprecise, context driven, malleable, limited or changed by both speaker and listener's experiences, and can convey a multitude of meanings to differing audiences. And that's ignoring the fact that overly precise speech in everyday usage can be grating, annoying, impractical, or impossible.

For instance - depending on context, when my wife says 'are you up for a movie tonight?' she often means "I have an expectation that we will do something together tonight that requires a significant amou ...


If "are you up for a movie" means anything other than "I'd like to see a movie"+"I'd like you to accompany me" then someone is being imprecise.  Imprecision is THE communication difficulty that humans face.
 
2013-02-21 05:12:04 PM

Taolie: Color blindness is not caused by a recessive gene. It's caused by a lack of a gene on the X chromosome. Since men only have one X, the lack of that gene is expressed as color blindness. A woman would have to inherit the malformed X chromosome from both parents, otherwise the good X chromosome would provide the necessary information to build the proper retinal cells for full color vision.


You are not quite correct. It actually is indeed a recessive gene. You see, the gene on the X chromosome isn't physically missing, it is just nonfunctional because of some damage that prevents it from expressing the protein that normally allows for the detection of color; usually that means a single base has been deleted or changed, not the whole gene. So when a woman has one copy of the gene that is damaged, and one copy of the gene that is not, the damaged copy is recessive and the functional copy is dominant. In a man, who only has one X chromosome, he only has one gene to express, but the recessive and dominant nomenclature still applies for describing the gene.
 
2013-02-21 05:19:18 PM

Lethargic_Apathy: I swear.. Today we're going to shop to pick up my truck and she's driving.
Her: You want to stop for lunch on the way there or on the way back?
Me: On the way back. You can stop and grab us something and we can meet @ home and while you're getting it I'll take care of letting the dog out and feeding the fish.
Her: I think I'll go on the interstate to get there, it'll be faster.
Me: you're driving. Whatever.
Her: I really want to stop at Arby's and it's on the way there and harder to get to on the way back.
Me: Fine. Just a regular roast beef for me.
Her: Or there's Wendy's or McDonalds.
Me: *eyes roll into the back of my head* Doesn't matter to me.
Her: I think it would give more time to eat if we stop at arby's and eat in the car on the way.
Me: Just a regular roast beef.  I don't care if you drive this prick to N. Dakota for blini as long as we get there on time
Her: I switched lanes too soon, Now I'm going slow behind all of these people turning.
Me: It's only a half block away. Be patient.
Her: *at the window ordering* 2 regular roast beef and a small unsweet tea *turns to me* you want fries?
Me: no. just the sandwich.
Her: something to drink?
Me:   no but make sure I get two packets of Arby's sauce
Her: you sure?
Me: Yeah.
Get there and ...
Her: ok, now you're going to come back by the interstate right?
Me: no.


FIFY
 
2013-02-21 05:21:06 PM

Gawdzila: PsiChick: Second, yes, social sciences do not use the same measurements, but that does not mean theories cannot be supported or falsified. Theories can be supported or falsified using social science measurements, they just can't be measured in numbers.

No, you're not understanding what I'm saying.  I didn't say that they couldn't be supported or falsified, and I didn't say it wasn't science.  What I said is that they don't have the same standards for being falsifiable, and single data points do not unambiguously support (or not) any particular theory.  What this means is that they are incapable of being highly predictive.

In physics, if your theory predicts f(x,y,z) = 41.7 and people can reliably and repeatedly show that the actual outcome of f(x,y,z) = 42.4 when measured, your theory is WRONG.  But it isn't just about numbers, either.  The important thing is that any physical theory must be capable of making unambiguous predictions, and the real problem is that in anthropology, or psychology, you simply can't.

Lets take your example for instance.  If you DO find a horticultural society that is patriarchal, does that disprove your theory?  No.  If someone else finds yet another one that is patriarchal, does that disprove your theory?  No.  Even if this theory is "proven", can you reliably predict that any given society will be matriarchal based on the fact that it is horticultural?  No.  If this were a theory in natural science, answering "no" to those questions would already disqualify it as a useful theory, or even being considered a scientific theory at all.

So sure, you can prove or disprove the idea that horticultural societies TEND to be matriarchal based on statistical data.  But the fact that your theory contains the word "tends" already means that your theory as well as any given piece of data used to support it already does not meet the same standards for being falsifiable and predictive.  It is still knowledge, and it may even be useful, but calling i ...


In your example, one data point in anthropology should falsify an entire theory. So if I can disprove your physics theory once, is that the end of it? If not, of course, then your theory just TENDS to be accurate based on statistical data, and isn't meeting the same standard for being falsifiable and predictive...
 
2013-02-21 05:29:18 PM

PsiChick: So if I can disprove your physics theory once, is that the end of it?


Yes, assuming the experiment that disproves a theory can be reproduced.  That's the difference between real science and pseudo-science.
 
2013-02-21 05:29:19 PM

KiltedBastich: Let me say it again. I have a degree in sociology. I have taken a large number of anthropology classes.


No offense, you seem pretty smart and all, but that argument doesn't really work on Fark.

Just say what you think and leave credentials out of it.  You're lucid and persuasive enough without resorting to claims of authority.
 
2013-02-21 05:35:04 PM

KiltedBastich: You know what other branch of science uses almost exclusively probabilistic trends to predict behaviour? Quantum mechanics.


In QM the probabilistic behaviors of the discrete parts of a system are fundamental, not due to an ignorance about what underlies them.  And those probabilities are mathematically guaranteed to produce very specific results which can be checked to extremely precise degrees.


KiltedBastich: The social sciences address complex issues at a very high level of analysis. It simply isn't feasible to engage in reductionist techniques with any validity, because you can't actually reduce down to objectively discrete units when you are dealing with social forces.


I'm aware of the reasons for it, I was simply pointing out that those limitations do exist, and that such standards for precision are much different compared to the natural sciences.


PsiChick: In your example, one data point in anthropology should falsify an entire theory. So if I can disprove your physics theory once, is that the end of it?


If your measurement directly contradicts my theory's prediction, and your measurement can be repeated by others and confirmed to not simply be a bad measurement by you... then yes.  Absolutely.  The theory is wrong.  That's the end of it.
 
2013-02-21 05:44:08 PM

KiltedBastich: patterns of aggregate neuron behaviour are doing are often far more important than individual neuron activity.


Yes I realize that, but if you want a truly predictive model that ties behavior to neuroplasticity, I still think you'll need to understand influences at a very small level.  Brain structure and in particular the brain's influence on behavior is a chaotic system, like the weather.  And, like the weather, while the large-scale patterns are most important to us on a practical level, the reason that good predictability escapes us is because we don't have enough of an idea (or are simply unable to have enough of an idea) of what the smallest parts of the system are doing.  The lower level at which we are able to monitor the workings of the system, the better we will get at predicting the large-scale results.
 
2013-02-21 06:37:28 PM

KiltedBastich: andy


I wasn't asking you- the comment to which you responded was directed at me.
 
2013-02-21 06:38:11 PM

ciberido: andy


Notice my opinion wasn't part of the statement. We're not discussing whether or not women talk more than men, nor what your opinion or mine is. Neither is welcome.
 
2013-02-21 06:38:53 PM

KiltedBastich: Taolie: Color blindness is not caused by a recessive gene. It's caused by a lack of a gene on the X chromosome. Since men only have one X, the lack of that gene is expressed as color blindness. A woman would have to inherit the malformed X chromosome from both parents, otherwise the good X chromosome would provide the necessary information to build the proper retinal cells for full color vision.

You are not quite correct. It actually is indeed a recessive gene. You see, the gene on the X chromosome isn't physically missing, it is just nonfunctional because of some damage that prevents it from expressing the protein that normally allows for the detection of color; usually that means a single base has been deleted or changed, not the whole gene. So when a woman has one copy of the gene that is damaged, and one copy of the gene that is not, the damaged copy is recessive and the functional copy is dominant. In a man, who only has one X chromosome, he only has one gene to express, but the recessive and dominant nomenclature still applies for describing the gene.


We all have a reason for being on the internet. It's apparent that yours is 'I have no other outlet for social interaction.'
 
2013-02-21 07:00:23 PM

Gawdzila: In QM the probabilistic behaviors of the discrete parts of a system are fundamental, not due to an ignorance about what underlies them. And those probabilities are mathematically guaranteed to produce very specific results which can be checked to extremely precise degrees.


That doesn't change the fact that QM systems are not deterministic. If determinism is the characteristic you're picking as the cutoff for science, QM doesn't make the cut. The point is to illustrate the problem with the kind of arbitrary definitions you were proposing. Furthermore, we aren't ignorant about the underlying reasons for social activity. We know a huge amount, much of it validated very carefully with quantitative statistical methods. It just isn't resolvable down to the level of an individual's behaviour.

Gawdzila: Yes I realize that, but if you want a truly predictive model that ties behavior to neuroplasticity, I still think you'll need to understand influences at a very small level. Brain structure and in particular the brain's influence on behavior is a chaotic system, like the weather. And, like the weather, while the large-scale patterns are most important to us on a practical level, the reason that good predictability escapes us is because we don't have enough of an idea (or are simply unable to have enough of an idea) of what the smallest parts of the system are doing. The lower level at which we are able to monitor the workings of the system, the better we will get at predicting the large-scale results.


That's actually exactly backwards. The important parts of the system are not the individual neurons, but their systemic behaviour and the emergent properties tof said systems. One of the big reasons that neuropsychology is actually getting somewhere currently is that it's now possible to avoid the kind of reductionism that you propose, and actually perform rigorous analysis of the whole system of behaviour. We've known the precise anatomy and biochemistry of all the various kinds of neurons for many decades, it's only in the last 20 years or so when we could start to study their systemic interactions precisely that we started being able to tie neuropsychology to behaviour.

andyfromfl: I wasn't asking you- the comment to which you responded was directed at me.


No, it wasn't. I responded to this response to me, not to your later opinionating. Read it carefully and note that your name does not appear in it anywhere. Do try to keep up, and next time you won't embarass yourself like this.

andyfromfl: We all have a reason for being on the internet. It's apparent that yours is 'I have no other outlet for social interaction.'


Aww, look at you trying to be the big bad internet badass by insulting me. Don't waste your time. You haven't got the chops to keep up.
 
2013-02-21 07:12:51 PM

LanceDearnis: Think I figured this one out.

[imgs.xkcd.com image 410x211]


NO DONT POST THAT.  THEN THEY'LL KNOW!!!!
 
2013-02-22 05:37:32 AM
www.filmbuffonline.com
 
2013-02-22 05:42:47 AM

KiltedBastich: That doesn't change the fact that QM systems are not deterministic.


Mmmm... I don't think I'd necessarily agree with that.  It really depends on how you choose to think of determinism.  Quantum mechanical phenomena adhere very precisely to the mathematical machinations that describe it, and every possible outcome is described by the equations involved.  The fact that some events have more than one possible outcome doesn't, it could be argued, break determinism.  Being able to say with absolute certainty that "you have a 32.758% chance of X, and a 67.242% chance of Y" is most definitely a precise prediction that makes absolute determinations about that particle's nature.  Giving precise possibilities for various outcomes is as much as nature allows us, and is still far more tightly confined than the predictions possible in social sciences.  Absolutely Deterministic vs. Not Absolutely Deterministic is much too coarse a description, and likening QM to Sociology on those grounds is foolish.


KiltedBastich: That's actually exactly backwards.


I don't agree.

KiltedBastich: The important parts of the system are not the individual neurons, but their systemic behaviour and the emergent properties tof said systems.


I don't think you can truly understand those emergent properties or systemic behaviors without understanding how those individual neurons produce that systemic behavior.

KiltedBastich: One of the big reasons that neuropsychology is actually getting somewhere currently is that it's now possible to avoid the kind of reductionism that you propose, and actually perform rigorous analysis of the whole system of behaviour.


I didn't say systemic behavior wasn't important, I know it's hugely important.  But it isn't an either/or prospect.
Brain activity patterns are tied more closely to specific behaviors, emotions, etc, and yes, we've known how individual neurons work for a long time.  But what we haven't done is tie the two together.  Knowing how a single neuron uptakes or emits neurotransmitters, or how sodium channels produce nerve impulses, is a different matter than understanding how an individual neuron or small group of neurons starts a cascade of neural activity, how those neurons are activated in specific situations to produce particular behaviors, or emotions, or what have you.  Studying the individual parts is different than studying how those parts contribute to the whole, which is in turn different than studying the overall picture.  All of those things are important, and I don't think any one of them can be fully understood without each of the others.
 
2013-02-22 08:31:13 AM

Gawdzila: Mmmm... I don't think I'd necessarily agree with that. It really depends on how you choose to think of determinism. Quantum mechanical phenomena adhere very precisely to the mathematical machinations that describe it, and every possible outcome is described by the equations involved. The fact that some events have more than one possible outcome doesn't, it could be argued, break determinism. Being able to say with absolute certainty that "you have a 32.758% chance of X, and a 67.242% chance of Y" is most definitely a precise prediction that makes absolute determinations about that particle's nature. Giving precise possibilities for various outcomes is as much as nature allows us, and is still far more tightly confined than the predictions possible in social sciences. Absolutely Deterministic vs. Not Absolutely Deterministic is much too coarse a description, and likening QM to Sociology on those grounds is foolish.


Determinism has very specific connotations as a philosophical assumption. There's no such thing as "absolutely deterministic" or "not absolutely deterministic"; those terms encompass the distinction between determinism and nondeterminism. Being able to describe the odds doesn't meet the requirements for determinism. Furthermore, not all outcomes in QM are calculable even as probabilities, unless you handwave random outcomes as calculated probabilities. The Conway-Kochen free will theorem deals with that specific problem. Saying that there is a 33.3% chance for each of 3 possible results is not a useful prediction.

At this point you are redefining the term "determinism" in order to reify your arbitrary boundaries of what is science and what isn't. Which is a human social behaviour, just by the way, but isn't a valid argument.

Gawdzila: I don't think you can truly understand those emergent properties or systemic behaviors without understanding how those individual neurons produce that systemic behavior.


Those individual neurons don't produce that systemic behaviour, anymore than any single note produces a symphony. And I don't think you were paying attention earlier when I mentioned we have known in precise details the functioning of neurons for many decades, down to the molecular level. We can describe the exact energy of neuron potentiation, all the proteins and fats that make up the cell and how they are arranged, the precise sequence of events in polarization and depolarization of neuron firing, even the quantity of ions passed through the neuron's cell membrane. How much more detail about the individual neuron do you want?

The details of a neuron firing don't matter so much as what other neurons it is connected to when it fires and how they are connected. It is the pattern of neurons that creates meaning, not the individual neurons.

Gawdzila: I didn't say systemic behavior wasn't important, I know it's hugely important. But it isn't an either/or prospect.
Brain activity patterns are tied more closely to specific behaviors, emotions, etc, and yes, we've known how individual neurons work for a long time. But what we haven't done is tie the two together. Knowing how a single neuron uptakes or emits neurotransmitters, or how sodium channels produce nerve impulses, is a different matter than understanding how an individual neuron or small group of neurons starts a cascade of neural activity, how those neurons are activated in specific situations to produce particular behaviors, or emotions, or what have you. Studying the individual parts is different than studying how those parts contribute to the whole, which is in turn different than studying the overall picture. All of those things are important, and I don't think any one of them can be fully understood without each of the others.


All of those things you mentioned are systemic behaviours! They ALL involve studying how the neurons act in concert to produce an emergent property that is not inherent to any of the component parts. You can't study emergent properties with reductionist techniques. It misses the entire point. You need analytical tools that are capable of analyzing the whole system at once. Really, you just argued against the premise you started from.

We know how a single neuron can start a cascade event. What we don't yet fully know is what the cascade means, and how it translates into cognition or other psychological functions. That is analyis of the system, not the individual neuron.
 
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