Re: homo species

J. Moore (
Sat, 22 Jul 95 19:46:00 -0500

Vi> `of several classes of USA male pysch undergrads, who apparently stood
Vi> `in for every male on the planet. I mean, I wouldn't say the
Vi> `statement couldn't be true, but that was *not* support for it.

Vi> It occurs to me that what might be instructive to do (maybe this has
Vi> already been done to death - I know very little of the state of research
Vi> in psychology) would be to do studies on the cues which elicit the
Vi> strongest responses in very young children. This might not necessarily
Vi> reveal a hardwired base set, but at least might show how the response
Vi> evolves under the influence of cultural conditioning, as the subjects,
Vi> if not free of conditioning, at least would be relatively
Vi> unsophisticated, compared to older subjects. This information might give
Vi> some indication of the degree of variance, and perhaps hint at the
Vi> extent of the hardwired set.

It might, but you'd have to be aware that people start picking up
cues from an amazingly early age, and kids learn quick. By the
time they're able to respond, they've gotten exposure. My own
idea tends to be that, rather than trying to get relatively
unconditioned people (ie. people who don't exist), one should just
accept that when you're dealing with humans you just ain't gonna
find such an animal, and therefore devise your test with that in
mind. You see, the trouble here is, that takes thinking on the
part of the researcher (ie. "what form could such a test take to
be useful?") rather than just using standard sorts of tests.

Vi> One of the things that really fascinates me, and
Vi> this is admittedly extreme speculation, is the possibility
Vi> that there exists a sufficiently articulated set of hardwired cues to
Vi> assemble a sort of encoded body image of the ideal mate, one which would
Vi> give us a glimpse back across time to the actual generalized appearance
Vi> of our ancestors. Not very detailed, but at least a sort of outline.

Forms of this sort of speculation go in and out of popularity,
such as saying that people's love of lawns or swimming pools show
a past that is either savannah or aquatic. Either one of those is
pretty simplistic. I think if people want to search for
hard-wired stuff in humans (or probably just about anything) they
should stick with *really* basic forms or shapes, or with really
simple emotions...things like that. All too often they go after
complex stuff, and the variables are too numerous that way.

I don't hold out much hope for "race memory" ideas to be shown
correct. While they *could* be, the types of tests done that I've
heard about seem unlikely to tell us anything much.

Jim Moore (

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