Re: Gould, Science, Mistakes and .... [expletive deleted]

Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax (
Fri, 16 Aug 1996 17:49:24 -0800

Bryant wrote:
> Joel said:
> >Two things to note: First, Gould has enough integrity to admit when he
> >is wrong.
> Fair enough.
> >Second, if not fraud, then there is some sloppiness in the paragraph above.
> >Gould does not link the male nipple to the female orgasm. His point, in fact,
> >at least in the version I read is that the reason why females have a
> >clitoris is that males have a penis. Males have nipples, he argues, because
> >females do.
> The latter is obvious. The former is the point of his essay: female
> orgasms [and the clitori which he sees as solely responsible for them] are
> like male nipples (present due to developmental constraint).
> You can drop the "if not fraud" crap, by the way. That's not going to
> help our interactions procede smoothly. I'm not going to lie to make a
> point.

OK, then don't use the term "fraud" when you titled this article. It is
reasonable for me to /raise the question/ whether you are playing
fraudulently when you have demonstrated no evidence for your assertion. Be
leary of damning with your titles. The first person to introduce the word
into this discussion was you with your title. You have a chance now to
retreat from it, quietly or publically. This is the last I am going to
say unless you go on to blame Gould of fraud. Then I will state that based
on the evidence you have given that Gould is not guilty and that your
persistance is, itself, a form of fraud. Don't base an accusation of
fraud on your difference with Gould over an explanation and I won't
call you on it.

> >The main point of Gould's article is to challenge functionalist interpretations
> >of every feature on the body. Female orgasm may have a function (or, at least,
> >a pleasureable side effect -- why does it have to be described as a function? --
> >that's the point here).
> You are right that he challenged a straw man adaptationism that "sees
> function in all".

Well, I am not sure that male orgasm (meaning the pleasureable sensations
you and I get in certain moments) is functional, either. I'd be curious,
of course, to find out if female orgasm is anything like male orgasm, but
that's presently beyond our technology. (Experiencial data would, in this
case, be interesting).

> >As for evidence, while Gould does not do any scientific work himself, there is
> >enough of a documentary basis for embryology to make some of the conclusions
> >he has made above.
> Gould does plenty of scientific work. I didn't mean to convey
> otherwise. Only that in his attacks on adaptationism, he often simply
> presents "the real answer" without testable predictions or evidence.
> He derides adaptationists for supposedly doing that, in the very essay
> we're discussing. It's hypocritical.

Gould deals with people in the intellectual sphere and shows how by the
modes of logic, there are other possible ways to look at the presence
of these organs. In other words, not everything an organ does is necessarilly
functional, though some of it is a great deal of fun and makes its actual
function more pleasureable.

> Bryant

Since we're on the topic of sex, let me draw a parallel. French kissing is
a lot of fun and sure makes the act of reproducing more pleasureable. But
I don't think the tongue evolved for that purpose. Likewise, orgasm could
be a pleasureable side effect which serves to prolong the time of intercourse.
Intercourse between cats is quite painful it seems (at least for the female)
but they get it over with and reproduce just fine.

I just think we may be lucky!


___ ___
/\ _|_ /\ Joel and Lynn GAzis-SAx
/ /\_|_/\ \
/ / /\|/\ \ \
\ \ \/|\/ / / "If we try to flee from our human condition into
\ \/_|_\/ / the computer, we only meet ourselves there."
\/__|__\/ William Barrett