November 29, 2005

SO MUCH FOR INTELLIGENT DESIGN (via Brit):

Romantic love 'lasts just a year' (BBC, 11/28/05)

Some couples may disagree, but romantic love lasts little more than a year, Italian scientists believe.

The University of Pavia found a brain chemical was likely to be responsible for the first flush of love.

Researchers said raised levels of a protein was linked to feelings of euphoria and dependence experienced at the start of a relationship.

But after studying people in long and short relationships and single people, they found the levels receded in time.


So their proposition is that ten billion years of evolution produces a species where the male is likely to abandon the female at exactly the moment she'd have a child and both would be most dependent?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 29, 2005 11:43 AM
Comments

I wondered what angle you'd take on this - I thought it was more a Peter story - love reduced to neurons etc.

They've anticipated your point, look:

Report co-author Piergluigi Politi said the findings did not mean people were no longer in love, just that it was not such an "acute love".

"The love became more stable. Romantic love seemed to have ended."

So from an evolutionary perspective its perfect for the bloke. He's got a nice "stable love" with a child going along, and meanwhile he's free to pop off in his spare time and start a bit more "romantic love" with the next lady.

Posted by: Brit at November 29, 2005 12:05 PM

Just so...

His new romantic love is, beccause you need to make it fit your ideology, insufficient to darw him away....

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2005 12:09 PM

Heh heh.

Or possibly, it doesn't last more than a year because once the lady has child, the last thing she wants is her fella still trying to jump on her every five minutes.

Posted by: Brit at November 29, 2005 12:11 PM

But her romantic affection will have shifted to a new guy, so the jumping will start all over, no?

See why we think you materialists are so absurd?

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2005 12:18 PM

Ahem. What I see here is a story about some scientists who've found that the first flush of love fades after a year or so (which we all knew anyway) and the brain does stuff accordingly.

You're the one who's turned it into a story supposedly casting doubt on evolution.

Take first the Just So Story out of thine own eye, sir.

Posted by: Brit at November 29, 2005 12:56 PM

the real howler is that anyone would take an italian "scientist" seriously.

Posted by: anon at November 29, 2005 1:33 PM

Brit:

You married?

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2005 2:05 PM

my own view/experience is that there are cycles to human emotion, and that would explain why perceptions of feelings can vary over time. it sounds like what some are calling "love" others might label "lust". socialist scientists probably don't want to accept that there is a mating instinct, and that some couples do stay in love.

Posted by: sigfried freud at November 29, 2005 2:42 PM

Orrin,

If you want to pursue this line of reasoning, have fun with it - but as it stands you're misrepresenting the article:

"So their proposition is that ten billion years of evolution produces a species where the male is likely to abandon the female at exactly the moment she'd have a child and both would be most dependent?"

Not quite:

"The love became more stable. Romantic love seemed to have ended."

Report co-author Piergluigi Politi said the findings did not mean people were no longer in love, just that it was not such an "acute love".

That doesn't sound a whole lot like "the male being likely to abandon the female" right at that moment, does it?

Surely it can't be that hard for you to find articles to back up your positions, Orrin. Why do you rely on distortion so much of the time?


So, going back to your question - "So their proposition is that ten billion years of evolution produces a species where the male is likely to abandon the female at exactly the moment she'd have a child and both would be most dependent?", the answer is simply:

No. That is not their proposition.

Posted by: creeper at November 29, 2005 2:45 PM

creeper: oj does it because he adheres to what historians of Mormonism call "theocratic ethics". Misrepresenting a scientist's opinion is okay, see, if it's for Jesus. oj's been doing this for years on this blog.

oj may become more concerned when he realises that many visitors conclude that oj's ethics are a result of his Christianity, and thereby that Christianity leads good men into bad ethics. By their fruits shall ye know them etc etc.

Personally, I'm not sure if Christianity at its core really is this awful, or if oj is a secret agent of Saudi Arabian muftis trying to make it look that way.

Posted by: David Ross at November 29, 2005 4:29 PM

David,

I've asked Orrin on occasion about how he sees his unethical behavior fitting in with his faith, but sadly he has not been very responsive. I think there may be forgiveness in it for him if he only faces up to his sins and proceeds on the straight and narrow.

I don't think Christianity is "awful" in the slightest, quite the opposite, but Orrin is not a good ambassador. It's an interesting point though... perhaps Orrin is working undercover for some nefarious organization.

If that were the case, I would surely expect this comment, as well as yours, to be altered or deleted.

Posted by: creeper at November 29, 2005 5:12 PM

Guys, guys: OJ just likes to troll his own blog by tossing flippant zingers at ideological opponents. E.g., the recent witch-burning kerfuffle: I doubt he's in favor of having all pagans literally burned at the stake.

Posted by: PapayaSF at November 29, 2005 5:40 PM

Just so. Best to take the advice of one Snapper Carr from a couple of months ago:

He's trolling his own blog again. Just ignore him and he'll go away.

Posted by: joe shropshire at November 29, 2005 6:12 PM

Thank you, Papaya and joe, for restoring my faith in humanity.

Posted by: creeper at November 29, 2005 6:14 PM

"I doubt he's in favor of having all pagans literally burned at the stake."

I don't

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 29, 2005 6:20 PM

Too much particulate matter.

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2005 7:11 PM

creeper:

Which protein is the stable love protein?

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2005 7:12 PM

David:

We don't have to misrepresent scientists, they're "science" is inane on its own:

The University of Pavia found a brain chemical was likely to be responsible for the first flush of love.


You think you loved your wife because of brain chemicals?

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2005 7:18 PM

Orrin,

"Which protein is the stable love protein?"

Maybe the researchers in Pavia have an answer for that. I just stopped by to point out your misrepresentations of the article.

Posted by: creeper at November 29, 2005 7:30 PM

"You think you loved your wife because of brain chemicals?"

Argument from ignorance and incredulity, standard operating procedure.

Posted by: creeper at November 29, 2005 7:32 PM

creeper:

If you agree it's not about proteins then I don't even get what you're arguing about. No, wait...I know...other proteins make you argue that position.

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2005 7:34 PM

Speaking of trolling your own blog, who is this "toe" guy, and who is sigfried freud? Sounds like the same person to me. Don't necessarily dis agree with the comments. Just wondering.

Posted by: jdkelly at November 29, 2005 7:37 PM

i find a humorous nick helps make a point. not trying to deceive anyone.

Posted by: toe is sigfried at November 29, 2005 7:43 PM

"If you agree it's not about proteins then I don't even get what you're arguing about."

Always eager to put words in my mouth. I made it pretty clear what I was and wasn't arguing about.

Posted by: creeper at November 29, 2005 7:47 PM

No, I really don't get it: So do you or don't you agree with the scientists that protein is responsible for the first blush of love and then wears off after a year?

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2005 8:05 PM

I'd love to see the Valentine's cards creeper's proteins tell him to buy.

Posted by: Peter B at November 29, 2005 8:22 PM

My question is how can we hold anyone responsible for their actions if the protein is in charge?

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2005 8:27 PM

"toe" So are you siegfried? Enjoy your comments.

Posted by: jdkelly at November 29, 2005 9:08 PM

"how can we hold anyone responsible for their actions if the protein is in charge?"

Because we all possess the "punish the h*ll out of them" amino acid.

Posted by: h-man at November 29, 2005 9:21 PM

OJ,
We only punish the proteins, not the person. You don't mind if we lock your proteins in this cell for a year, do you?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 29, 2005 10:03 PM

jd:

yes, i am sigfried. pretty much any comments that lack upper case (due to sore finger tips) and have a mocking tone, are mine. glad to hear you enjoy the effort to contribute; every court needs a jester :)

Posted by: toe at November 29, 2005 10:11 PM

OJ:

I once read an interview with Steven Pinker in which he disavowed belief in God or a soul but said he believed in free will. He gave no indication that he was referring to a convenient intellectual metaphor along the lines of: "free will doesn't exist but to make society work we should all act like it does." No, he said it like he meant it.

Don't ask me how he squares that circle.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at November 29, 2005 10:12 PM

Orrin,

"No, I really don't get it: So do you or don't you agree with the scientists that protein is responsible for the first blush of love and then wears off after a year?"

I agree that a team of scientists found that out of the 58 subjects they studied over time, levels of a protein called nerve growth factors were significantly higher over the first year of a romantic relationship, then leveled off. This particular protein causes tell-tale signs such as sweaty palms and the butterflies, and has been linked to feelings of euphoria and dependence.

Perhaps more study is required to confirm the findings or to figure out the causalities of this, but nothing here is contradicted by either my personal experience or my observations in life up to now.

If you have a sound argument as to why you think there is no connection between our brain chemistry and our emotions, I'd love to hear it.

Posted by: creeper at November 30, 2005 2:49 AM

OJ:

Thank you, Mrs Brit and I are firmly in the 'more stable' stage.

Posted by: Brit at November 30, 2005 3:56 AM

These debates always boil down to the same thing.

Dualists – those who believe in a separate spirit somehow operating within the body – don’t like the idea that emotions and ‘spiritual’ phenomena, such as love, have a correspondent physical or chemical activity in the brain.

They think it somehow cheapens that emotion or phenomenon, or makes it ‘less real’.

Non-dualists/materialists (ie. those of us who no longer believe the brain is merely an organ for cooling the blood) say to this: “Why would love not be real just because there is a correspondent activity in the brain? Surely it means it is real. Even if there were a spirit, you’ve got to have your emotions delivered somehow. What’s wrong with the brain as that delivery mechanism?”

Dualists accuse us of ‘not getting it’ and of being a poor sort of boring spoilsport who don’t appreciate cathedrals and art and music and so forth. We reply that we can jolly well appreciate cathedrals and art and music and so forth as much as the next man, but that we don’t need fairy tales to do so, and so it goes on ad nauseam.

Posted by: Brit at November 30, 2005 5:15 AM

Matt:

Even most of the guys who pretend to be materialists, like the ones who comment here, are decent enough not to follow where their ideology leads.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2005 7:25 AM

creeper:

God gave us Free Will. We aren't a mere function of chemicals.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2005 7:27 AM

Brit:

Well said.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 30, 2005 7:30 AM

Brit:

No, it doesn't. That's just a starting point. Those who pretend to materialism can never answer how they know that they themselves are material and simply won't answer why their beliefs aren't produced by chemicals.

http://www.brothersjudd.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/reviews.detail/book_id/1344/

The final proof though is that if you punch one in the face they insist that you're morally responsible, not some material driver.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2005 7:42 AM

brit:

Ever tell her you don't love her romantically any more?

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2005 8:13 AM

No, Brit, that is a distortion and false dichotomy beacuse those you call dualists do not and have never denied the rather obvious fact that our behaviours are influenced by genetic and environmental factors. You are the fanatics here. As usual, creeper is ducking the rather direct challenge Orrin is putting to him, which is that he is denying the existence of the subjective in any meaningful sense. It is very easy to look at someone else and say: "Oh yes, at a certain stage in his biological development so and so's brain released chemicals when he saw a woman his brain told him was a girl just like the girl who married dear old dad (margin of error--+/- 99%), but no one believes such nonsense about themselves. And if they do, is it all chemical?

Of course you can apreciate cathedrals just as much as the religious. Sure. No question about it. That's why you visit them so often.

Posted by: Peter B at November 30, 2005 8:14 AM

OJ:

Oh, every day. I would object to the scientist's use of the term 'romantic' in their definitions. But we all know there's a 'honeymoon' period in any relationship that doesn't last forever. Often defined as the time when you stop trying not to break wind in front of each other....

---

I'm quite happy to accept that my belief in the material has an equivalent chemical component.

I don't pretend to understand exactly how the brain produces and interacts with the consciousness - it's a weird, weird thing. But nonetheless it clearly does. When people have brain damage their consciousness changes.

The most entertaining book on the subject is The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

What do you think the brain is for?

Posted by: Brit at November 30, 2005 8:17 AM

Uh-huh, and then you believe that the stuff you want to be controlled by you and the stuff you don't isn't.

It would be funnier if such obviously inane theories weren't dangerous.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2005 8:23 AM

OJ:

But what is the brain for?

Peter:

You've objected to my dichotomy, but I can't see how you've done anything other than make the exact arguments I've described.

I do however, sympathise with the concerns both you and OJ have about the implications for the free will debate.

I think the mind exists because the brain exists - that seems clear enough, it's just bleedin' obvious. And I also think free will does exist. But I haven't the faintest idea how it all works - I'm quite happy to admit that.

Posted by: Brit at November 30, 2005 8:32 AM

Brit:

The question is not what the brain is for. That it is the physical vehicle through which the manifestations of love and everything else occur is clear (Well, maybe not just the brain). The issue is whether it is the initiating agent of all these things. Why are you and these Italian scientists who should get real jobs so eager to conclude it is?

Posted by: Peter B at November 30, 2005 8:41 AM

Brit:

It's like a computer processor--useful, so long as someone programs.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2005 9:01 AM

Peter:

But if the chemical process in the brain doesn't create the feeling, what is that chemical process for? The brain would not be a processor, as OJ suggests, more a monitor, just displaying what the soul is feeling.

Yet we know that damage to the brain can damage the ability to have the emotion.

It's obvious enough from the effects of drugs on emotions, but even clearer evidence is abundant: people who have strokes or injuries to certain parts of the brain can lose all sorts of strange things that we'd traditionally associate with the 'soul' - the ability to feel love for family members, or compassion for any humans, to appreciate humour, to appreciate music, even the ability to distinguish animate and inanimate - confusing the wife with a hat.

The dualist has to answer the question: why do you need something else - some mysterious added extra dimension on top of, or behind, the physical and the conscious? What's wrong with the materialist's direct association of the brain and consciousness - what do you think is missing?

Posted by: Brit at November 30, 2005 9:07 AM

What is missing for the adamant materialist is a way for him to link the brain and consciousness in a way that doesn't lead him directly to a default reliance on the absolute determinism we all know from our own daily lives is a crock and which would negate the validity or reliability of belief in anything at all if it weren't.

Posted by: Peter B at November 30, 2005 9:15 AM

It's true that materialism leads some philosophers to a very pessimistic stance on the determinism vs free will debate.

But plenty of others have found ways of combining free will and materialism, with varying degrees of success.

And equally, the dualist can take a hard line on determinism: if God knows everything we're ever going to do, how do I have any real free will about it?

Posted by: Brit at November 30, 2005 9:26 AM

Brit:

Of course you can disavow where your oideology leads you--every decent materialist has to. The point is that you aren't a materialist any more at that point.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2005 9:32 AM

I think my position is far more honest than yours. You have to deny some things which science tells you while being happy to accept others that don't conflict with your existing ideology.

For me, the evidence seems to show that the brain and consciousness are directly linked without the need for any other non-corporeal soul to be involved, so I accept that on the face of it.

That's not an ideological position.

Now I do however have a separate position which you might justifiably call 'ideological': that is, I hope free will exists.

Therefore I hope that my materialism and free will are compatible. It might be that they're not and free will is an illusion, but I don't think that's the case and I sincerely hope it isn't the case. And I admit that even if it did turn out to be the case I wouldn't be joining the Society for Proving that Free Will is an Illusion any time soon. But I also honestly accept that if free will did turn out to be an illusion, that wouldn't affect the truth of materialism.

Posted by: Brit at November 30, 2005 9:45 AM

Yes, you insist on Free Will in direct opposityion to the theory of materialism, thus aren't actually a materialist. That does you moral credit at the mere expense of intellectual coherence.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2005 9:50 AM

It's a pity you take such an over-simple and antagonistic line after all while in these comments.

You're talking as if the free will debate were a closed issue. I can assure you it isn't - for either dualists or materialists.

Posted by: Brit at November 30, 2005 10:00 AM

Brit:

It is a closed issue, just one that secularists hope to weasel out from under because they don't wish to be help responsible for their behavior.

Just consider this--if you don't believe in free will but that everything is material then that belief is material and may be just as pathological as a tumor or whatever.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2005 10:08 AM

I believe in both materialism and free will.

Posted by: Brit at November 30, 2005 10:53 AM

So you don't believe in materialism, for which we applaud you.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2005 11:22 AM

It was almost threatening to turn into an interesting discussion there. Pity.

Posted by: Brit at November 30, 2005 11:33 AM

Brit:

Are you familiar with the Chinese room argument against a computational (and I would say by extension materialistic) explaination for consciousness?

Posted by: Mike Earl at November 30, 2005 11:49 AM

Brit:

I believe in ... free will.

Good for you, big guy! Gosh, I can just feel my brain chemicals and proteins telling me to give you a big, grateful bear-hug!

Posted by: Peter B at November 30, 2005 11:54 AM

Brit:

It was one of the few worthwhile ones, as even you had to renounce your pretended ideology. It's why we tolerate you guys--you're more decent than your poses.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2005 11:55 AM

Good heavens, I can promise you that I'm far less decent than my poses.

If you've never heard of arguments for free will and materialism being compatible, I invite you to view the link I provided above.

Personally, I think that the brain is capable of choices, and that 'free will' and moral responsibility exist in those choices. Exactly how the whole brain thing works I'm not too proud to admit that I haven't the faintest clue, but then I'm not a neuroscientist.

I'm prepared to be a 'dunnoist' on free will - it doesn't affect my reasons for rejecting dualism.

Mike:

Thanks for the link.

Posted by: Brit at November 30, 2005 12:05 PM

Brit:

We;'ve all heard them--they're just silly.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2005 12:11 PM
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