March 15, 2002
3:19 PM   Subscribe

Doctor of love anthropologist Helen Fisher argues that romance, marriage and divorce follow predictable patterns as old as the species. The evidence is as near as your local bar. Objective observations about Love and what it means when her toes curl.
posted by stbalbach (8 comments total)

I suppose that a lot of "nuture vs. nature" proponents would find her arguments shocking and controversial, but I think that the vast majority of people will just view this as rediscovering the wheel. I did find the parallels between human and prairie chicken courtship to be pretty amusing tho'.
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:24 PM on March 15, 2002

Prairie chicken courtship? I wasn't going to read this, but now I've gotta.
posted by kindall at 6:31 PM on March 15, 2002

I'm always fascinated by this kind of stuff. I think this goes straight to a big issue that's culturally bound in american culture in particular -- belief in our individual liberty. Fisher argues that we're basically controlled by biology.

It's fairly easy to see on a 'marco' level, but when you get right down to it, what's your story when you're in a bar making the moves on MOTOS? Do you believe you're having prairie chicken thoughts? Probably not. Maybe you really are, maybe you ain't -- but your experience of it is that you're thinking your way through it with your prefrontal cortex, right? And I think America in particular is culturally tipped towards belief in the freedom of the individual to determine their own behaviour (Life and Liberty) to persue their own happiness.

The feminist movement that Fisher says hate her are founded on this principal I believe -- that women (like everybody else) are individuall free and capable of doing much more than society would want them too, but are constrained by culture, society and laws.

Ok, so enough soap box, my real question is which paradigm is the dominant one right in our culture now -- biology or individual liberty? Who's the underdog? It's not entirely clear to me...
posted by daver at 6:49 PM on March 15, 2002

which paradigm is the dominant one right in our culture now -- biology or individual liberty?

I vote for the liberty to express my individual biology.

posted by MrBaliHai at 7:05 PM on March 15, 2002

If her toes curl, it's because she left her tights on...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:39 PM on March 15, 2002

Eh? She gave a talk on this at my college (N.C. State) back about 1993. We started flirtaciously displaying our wrists to each other after that, but it didn't quite have the effect we hoped. Perhaps we weren't suave enough.

Still, the most fun part of her talk was her demonstration of bar behavior, with the hair flips, wrist-showing, and synchronization; there was a lot of nervous laughter at that.
posted by meep at 3:14 AM on March 16, 2002

We're all just cavemen with the thinnest veneer of civilization. Modern man is a recent innovation, and there's no way our evolutionary past has managed to catch up with the present.

At the core of our brains is a crocodile brain, the primary source of our emotions and reactions: food, fuck, flee, fight. Layered over it is a dog brain, providing the socialization drive: pack loyalty, raise children, hierarchy.

And over all that is the thinnest and yet most fascinating layer, the one that gives us our humanity, our consciousness, our knowledge of time and future and consequence.

When we're in control, we can override our croc and dog brains to some degree, perhaps even to a very large degree. And other times, it all breaks down, and we become that caveman once again. Some people lose it so bad that they commit road rage, rape, murder, abuse.

Or so goes my theory.

So when one's had a few drinks, it's no surprise to me when the old brain wiring overrides one's self-control, and turns ya into a big ol' chicken trying to get laid.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:52 AM on March 16, 2002

The most interesting part to me is that even when the croc brain is doing it's thing, the conscious part of the brain is making up stories as to why it (the conscious part of the brain) did this. "Well of course I had to cut that guy off, because he cut me off earlier and..."

It get much more subtle than this when you start to get perception out in the limelight a bit... your brain makes up much of what you see.

I'm just wondering outloud, even when we think we're overriding and in-control we may infact just be telling ourselves a story to make sense of why we're acting like a big ol' chicken...
posted by daver at 8:54 AM on March 16, 2002

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