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Proximate vs. Ultimate Causes

jonfwilkins on 13. Feb, 2011 — Lang: English

Proximate vs. Ultimate Causes
  • Transcript


    Proximate vs. Ultimate Causes

    Well, actually, it is important here to differentiate between proximate and ultimate causes.

    I think it's just so cool how social media like Twitter and Facebook were able to organize a revolution in Egypt . . .

    . . . causing the downfall of a deeply entrenched, corrupt and cruel autocrat like Mubarak. People from all different walks of life were able to leverage technology to work together to actually make their lives better. Now, social media are being used to organize hopeful demonstrations throughout the Arab world and beyond.

    Social media may have been the proximate cause for the revolution in Egypt, but the ultimate cause was the fact that Mubarak was the head of a corrupt regime that enriched itself at the expense of the welfare of the Egyptian people, along with the security-state apparatus that routinely engaged in extortion and torture on behalf of Mubarak as well as his allies, including the United States.

    We make this distinction in evolutionary biology, where the proximate cause of a behavior, for example, might be a set of neural or endocrine factors that reward the behavior with a sense of pleasure or satisfaction. The ultimate casue of the same behavior, on the other hand, might be the effect of that behavior on the survival and reproduction of the organism.

    For example, viewing the hour-glass shape of a woman's figure can trigger a neural response similar to the response elicited by cocaine use. This would be the proximate cause for the pleasure that men derive from staring at the female form.

    But the ultimate cause is the fact that a narrow waist and broad hips indicates that a woman is fertile, but that she has not already given birth. Being sexually attracted to women with this shape increases the male's reproductive success, and guarantees that his children will not have to compete for maternal resources with children of a different father.

    So, let me see if I understand this. It's like how the proximate cause of your broken nose is my fist, but the ultimate cause of your broken nose is your pedantic regurgitation of evolutionary psychology arguments that are as much about justifying existing social norms as they are about explaining evolved behaviors.

    I'm just going to use my proximate feet to move me over here, where I hope to avoid an ultimate ass-whooping.

    Your survival instincts appear to be highly evolved.

    science, evolution, biology, Egypt
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  • cirkuz 16.2.2011
    natural selection natures way of weeding out the stupid! and horny goats!

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