September 2004 Notebook Entries

Notebook entry, September 28, 2004

There's a great piece by Glenn Collins in the online edition of The New York Times, September 28, 2004 entitled, "Scientists Try to Find Out What's So Funny About Humor." A scientific study of humor is underway at the University of Michigan with a three year interdisciplinary including psychological, medical, anthropological, cultural, historical, primary focusing on the 68,647 cartoons found in the magazine, The New Yorker since 1925. The experimental project call Humor At Michigan. The project organizer is Charles R. Descendant, director of the Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the university. Basic questions such as: How do people perceive that specific things are funny? What happens when they laugh? How does humor evolve? And just why are people born with a gift for laughter and a sense that the world is er, mad?

"The investigators' working hypothesis "is that humor is evolutionary, an adaptive response," said Dr. Richard Gonzalez, chairman of the university's psychology department. "But it could have developed as a function of our brain size, or something else; we don't really know."

I for one am intrigued. If can understand the universal basis of humor, then perhaps we can bomb the terrorists with humor. The theory of course, is that if you are laughing, you can't hate at the same time. Hmm think I will purchase the disc that is now available from The New Yorker.

Notebook entry, September 22, 2004

I received a nice email from an Aaron Vederman on the 14th, and I am just now catching up with my mail: here's the letter and my response:

From: Aaron Vederman []
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2004 7:20 PM
Subject: greetings, and a word on your web site

Greetings Mr. Spriggs,

My name is Aaron Vederman, a graduate student earning a PhD at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. While I am earning a degree in Clinical Psychology and plan on doing neurological testing for a living, like you I have a non-professional, but much larger passion for evolutionary psychology. I really found your site to be a pleasure to navigate through, and I think that for someone who wants a place to orient themselves to the subject, your site is great. Your suggested reading page was great, and I really thought the ideas expressed (both yours and those quoted) were balanced, reasoned and logical.

More significantly though, I really enjoyed reading your biographical sketch. Although I am biased in this regard because I am a psychologist, I feel that the most noble and beautiful thing a Homo sapien can do is to become ever more aware of his or her own mind. I mean this on all levels; transpersonally, dynamically, cognitively and behaviorally as well as neurologically. I really am fascinated by people who emerge into a meta-cognition of themselves and would be fascinated to know what common traits these sorts of people have that allow them to develop in this way. Anyway, your awareness of your own neurological and cognitive architecture is really cool. That sort of thing is my bread and butter!

Anyway, I just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how much I enjoyed your site. At some point when my research nears completion perhaps I will send you the manuscript. The research involves some EP concepts and so forth. Perhaps you will find it at least mildly interesting.

Be well,


Thanks for writing Aaron.

Internal cognitive thought is what most likely got us humans out of the jungle. One of my theories is that “loser” males and females who could not compete physically with other primates in their clan or tribe were pushed aside to the outer edges of their hierarchies. There they met and mated with other “losers” who had to rely on mind power over muscle power. Obviously, the internal musings must have been naturally selected to be advantageous for the species. Hence, the answer to the question: If man evolved from the monkeys, why are their still monkeys in the jungle?

I think one common trait amongst your subjects in your study is deep inner reflection and their part in the “big picture” called life. But that is my humble opinion. I’m already mildly interested in your research. Send the manuscript when ready.

Enjoy the Voyage

Bill Spriggs @ Evolution’s Voyage

Notebook entry, September 18, 2004

Well, despite the roadblocks placed in my path with the SONY DVD201, I have managed to put together my first one minute film of my granddaughter dancing and twirling to some music that I have imported from my files from the crappy software. The whole process is mind-boggelling in its complexity in putting together all the parts --video, title, sound, sound effects, narration, etc. -- its the equivalent of learning how to tie your shoe laces when you were three years old! I spend three solid hours putting the one-minute film together and it was a real learning experience. I think I hurt my brain ---NOT -- just joking. I spent the rest of the day being proud as a peacock at my accomplishment. Ideas are already popping into my head about various plots and scenes. Stay tuned for future developments.

Notebook entry, September 15, 2004

September 11, 2004

I received a nice email from a reader a few days ago and want to share it with you folks:

Dear William Spriggs,
I really appreciated your article on pediophilia and evolutionary psychology.
I think there are Huge problems with magazines, pop culture and the media taking tidbits of evolutionary theory and evolutionary psychology to support preposterous (sometimes antiquated) assumptions. (I studied evolutionary psychology at UCSB but I am still not completed convinced of the solidity of the theory and the uniformity of evolutionary theory, I think it has a long way to develop if the gaps are ever filled in)

Anyway, another thing is when 45 or older men did have sexual relations with very young females, (I guess I'm going to have to say After agriculture) they were married (from what I understand). I think, as disturbing and Physically unhealthy (it does have detrimental physical effects on young females to have sexual intercourse, at least from studies of mostly caucasian females) it must have been for young females to be married off to older men, I think it is much more harmful as you stated in your article, when the young children are being used as empty sexual objects. What kind of world is that? And what kind of world are we teaching our children we live in when this happens?
And I think it has none if any basis in evolutionary psychology. (only sexual relations with minors) I think it has more to do with our oversexualized culture and possibly a backlash from the womens movement in the 70s period

If a young female were to get pregnant and then abandoned by these pediophilic males in hunter gatherer times, I don't know how it would be a sound sexual strategy. How would child fend for herself and another child completely alone? it is so disturbing when i read of 12 year olds attempting suicide after abortions and other similar stories. Men seem to be on a path of complete disregard for females (and sometimes young males) as humans, and more on the path of viewing them in terms of sexual gratification objects.

Anyway, it was great to read your article and I hope one day people such as the man you quoted, will stop using evolutionary psychology to support their fantasies and beliefs and start treating it as it is, a working theory.


Notebook entry, September 14, 2004

I received a reply from SONY support about the compatibility question and the answer is that the expensive SONY Screenblast Movie Studio will not upload the DVD201 video. That is because it the sound is embedded with AC-3 (Dolby Digital) and the software cannot recognize it. So, the reply from SONY basically said I have to use the crappy software that comes with the DVD201 and then transfer it to the SONY Screenblast Movie Studio -- less the sound that was recorded originally. That's no great loss because the sound is usually crappy anyway. I have retained the services of a professional to teach me editing with one-on-one classes starting in early November. I am bound and determined that I will place "video essays" on my site by June of 2005 -- in time for the Human Behavior and Evolution Society's conference in Austin, Texas next year.

Notebook entry, September 12, 2004

In the past two weeks I have grown more frustrated over my learning curve with the SONY DVD201 mini-cam and its software. It seems the software that came with the camera that uploads to your computer is just terrible. It is called Imagemixer 1.5 and is very confusing and has poor tutorials. So I go out and purchase a very expensive software called SONY Screenblast Movie Studio 3.0 and it loads beautifully and looks great with its tutorials, but so far it appears to be incompatible with my PC and camera as it will not capture the video from the camera to the PC.. It is an older SONY PC (FRV-37) model and has a iLink port. I have spent over four hours this morning on trying to educate myself on the system and sent several emails to SONY support to ask the compatibility question, but so far no response (It is a Sunday). Had a chat with a "live" tech who told me I was out of luck, but I dismiss his knowledge as the poor guy who got stuck with Saturday night, Sunday morning duty shift and does not quite know what he is talking about.

On a another note. This comes from the Newspaper edit magazine called The Week, September 17, 2004, p. 21: WHY REVENGE IS SO SATISFYING: "Human beings are hard-wired to enjoy revenge, a new study shows. Of all species, humans have the strongest sense of fairness; when people cross us, Swiss scientists have found, the need to get back at them is very powerful. The scientists monitored the brains of 14 men as they played a game in which players could either help or double-cross each other. A victim of double cross was given the option to retaliate -- but he had to pay a steep price for the privilege. Rather than just accept their losses, 12 of the 14 men always took the option to punish the double-crosser. Their brain scans showed a burst of intense pleasure from punishing the perpetrator; even thinking about revenge was pleasurable. Players who showed the strongest pleasure responses sought to inflict the greatest punishment for a double-cross. Researchers said evolution probably shaped human beings to value cooperation and fairness, and to enjoy punishing renegades and criminals. "Instead of cold, calculated reason," Stanford University psychologist Brian Knutson tell Reuters, "it is passion that may plant the seeds of revenge."

I don't quite buy the whole premise as the sample is so small, but it could go a long way in explaining why conservative fundamentalist (in all countries) hate so much -- it gives them the greatest pleasure to see the other side suffer. I guess we are entering a period in our global politics where the de-evolved males still living in the past of physical violence have temporarily won the upper hand. But, as always, it is always a matter of time when greed and selfishness makes the system collapse leaving things in worst conditions. Then the system corrects itself again with generosity and compassion ruling again.

Notebook entry, September 2, 2004

I've been having a relatively good visit with the California family. Along with the usual film clips that I have been doing with the granddaughter, I also have been doing some filming at my son-in-laws business. I made a commitment to him to have a promo film and a personal "family" film of the business ready by my return in November of this year. I made the statement that if I really wanted to get into films, now was the time to start practicing, and I might as well practice on making a film about the family business.

. Even though I am having problems with the editing software that came with the camera, I have more expensive software on order and plan to get very serious with the learning curve. If the software continues to give me trouble, I'll get professional help in the form of my instructor of my one-day-intensive film class that I took in January.

The next stage after that would be to being making short films focusing on evolutionary feminism.

I am currently reading Nature via Nurture and The Rules. I am finding The Rules particularly interesting as it is simply a set of rules "passed down" from generation to generation to woman on how to "catch" a male. My head is just swimming with commentary about the future book review from an evolutionary perspective.