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Posts Tagged ‘ambivalence’

Emotion research is now routinely referenced as a part of an evolutionary substrate. However, explicit experimental evolutionary analyses of emotions remain rare.

The implications of natural selection for several classic questions about emotions and emotional disorders should be the focus of research programs that are stagnant with 19th and early 20th Century hypotheses that cannot be proven but are failed to be dismissed by those doing research in the area marring if not diluting the term ‘social scientist’.

Emotions are NOT special modes of operation or unique states shaped by natural selection. They ARE conditioned artifacts of centuries of classical conditioning between flight or fight related contingencies that then are conditioned using conditioned products of those states to set up additional pairings that come to elicit response once related to fear, threat, escape from danger, avoidance of peril, and other euphemisms of exhaust [with all the physiological and nervous system components apparent as if a real threat or escape from isolation were present] from contingencies involving wide swings in homeostasis. They are conditioned most assuredly and supported by the environments (including people) that have notions [history in context] of similar states.

Collectively they are, or they make up, a large scale of response parameters [behavior sets] that may have or potentially do increase fitness by learned adaptations to challenging situations that occurred over the course of the individual’s history and were taught to generations over the course of that tree’s evolution. Some societies are almost devoid of emotional content while others are mired in emotional waves as a ‘tradition’ or a cultural response to the vagaries of life’s changes.

In all cases emotions are valenced.

Valence, as used here means the property along a continuum (positive – negative) of an event, object, or state. Ambivalence here would refer to no particular valance based on the context or history of the organism. No, valences are not just for humans but are represented differentially by any organism that displays changes in affectations based on behavior.

Valence is not an absolute property of any identified emotion but is relative based on context and history. Selection shapes each case where contingencies that have influenced fitness in the past shape expression. In situations that decrease fitness, negative emotions are useful and positive emotions are harmful.

Selection has partially differentiated subtypes of emotions from generic precursor states to deal with specialized situations: our communication of internal states that are not available to view by the outside world. This communication of subjective states – emotions – has resulted in untidy associations that blur across dimensions rendering the quest for simple or objectivity futile. For some social scientists this state of affairs doubles their efforts. For others, the recognition of emotions as exhaust is good enough for both communication and but also the redirection of research time and effort on things, events and states that lead to a better understanding of what’s going on in the world. Non-scientists use the same approach to make their course corrections only those sets of changes lack a unique vocabulary to allow communication and efforts to be reinforced effectively by the environment.

Selection has shaped mechanisms that control the expression of emotions on the basis of an individual’s appraised value of a state based on the past and the current context. This is the conversion of data to meaning. This meaning of events, etc. is the synthesis for the individual to use in evaluation of subsequent conditions – some of which may be related to avoidance and some of which may be related to acquisition of reinforcers whether they are goals, etc. or states of existence.

The prevalence of emotional disorders can be attributed to several conflicting values [also conditioned in us all] and valences that go with them as factors that contribute to something being a ‘disorder’ [negative] or a ‘passion’ [positive].

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In the 6th edition of “On the Origin of Species” Charles Darwin lamented over the power of “steady misrepresentation” of the facts and observations of his work 150 years ago. Those were days when God’s grace meant you could be hanged for opposing what everyone knows was the “WORD”.

While there has been a steady diet of multidisciplinary science that continues to support, extend and find nuances of his findings on natural selection, genetic drift, mutation and speciation, there is, and will always be groups that obfuscate the information in favor of their own approach to origins of life and man in particular.

As authors Glenn Branch and Eugenie C. Scott have laid out in their review in the recent Scientific American, these various miscreants of misinformation; these groups or people that have no science, no peer review, no database of exceptions, no body of anecdotal evidence to support their views also have no conflicting data points they can point to in support of their views. In fact, their approach is not about science, evidence, methodology or technology. It is about “faith in dogma” and it is shared by millions of people around the globe.

The real pariah in the whole mess is the body of people that take a “live and let live” approach. You know who they are… “Hey, as long as they don’t make me kiss a ring, they can do what they want in Rome.” These are the people who traffic in ambivalence. They too will always be with us. They sit on a fence, not necessarily supporting dogma and yet the view that man is a kin of other primates, that our hiccup reflex is a remnant of our fish history, or that we have to deal with the almost two dozen versions of extinct humans (Viktor Deak) is just upsetting enough, if not unconventionally disturbing for them to ignore. (As if prayer for soldiers being shot at isn’t or holy wars where millions have died are somehow, in comparison, OK.)

Remember Galileo who was convicted of suspicion of heresy for following the position of Copernicus which went contrary to that laid down by the Roman Catholic Church authority of Holy Scripture.  All of this today is still about the dogma of faith vs. data of science. Same stuff, different year.

There have been crusades, ethnic cleansing and the other stuff that made up the Dark Ages. And here we are in the Spring of 2009 reviewing our civilization and thwarted by those who don’t want people to figure out what the heck is going on out there.

Enter Governor Bobby Jindal who is a potential presidential hopeful of those currently out of favor in US politics. In 2008 he literally signed the Louisiana Science Education Act into law.

Marketed as supporting critical thinking in classrooms, the law threatens to open the door for the teaching of creationism and for scientifically unwarranted critiques of evolution in public school science classes [in Louisiana].

(Branch and Scott, 2009)

Does it sometimes seem to you that, while we may have evolved, there are some that didn’t get the memo? Next FOX News will be telling me that Mike Huckabee, former Presidential hopeful (who believes in the literal and biblical interpretation of Genesis) will administer the plan.

Chezz!

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