Joe Quirk may be the world's first evolutionary psychology (or sociobiology) comic. That's not a big audience share yet, but his entertaining book, Sperm Are from Men, Eggs Are from Women: The Real Reason Men And Women Are Different, has been well received. By focusing on sex and relationships, Quirk is broadening the audience for the study of the genetic roots of human behaviors.
Quirk recently spoke at the Future Salon about the relationship between "The Singularity" and "sociobiology."
A few days before his talk, he joined me on my NeoFiles podcast to talk about this very same subject. Jeff Diehl joined me in asking Mr. Quirk some questions.
To listen the full interview in MP3, click here.
RU SIRIUS: How did you get interested in The Singularity?
JOE QUIRK: One of my friends, Steve Potter, a neuro-engineer used to tell me about this one guy, John Smart — about how he was a visionary, and he organized "Accelerated Change" conferences.
So about five years after hearing about him, I'm at Burning Man, and I'm riding my bike around. And at Burning Man, there are so many things competing for your attention — wonderful visual art and explosions and so forth — but it's sort of a non-verbal place. There isn't much intellectual stuff going on. And as I'm riding my bike around, and all these things are competing for my attention, over my left shoulder I hear the word "gene;" I hear the word "memes," and I stop. And there's this very unassuming white tent with a bunch of people sitting around on chairs as if they were at a lecture hall. And there's this good-looking guy in a woman's nightie. And I'm thinking, "How full of crap is this guy going to be? I know about this kind of stuff." So I stopped my bike to listen.
RU: How were his legs?
JQ: Very sexy. Maybe I'm revealing too much here. People do things at Burning Man that are not supposed to get out!
So I listened to this guy, and I knew just enough about what he was talking about to realize that he wasn't completely insane. And he was the one, at that time, drawing exponential curves [ed: see Ray Kurzweil's explanation of The Singularity] and describing the exponential nature of change. It was the first time I'd heard about that. So I listened to the lecture and thought, "That's a fascinating guy!" It turned out he was doing a lecture every day, so I kept coming back. The third time I came back, I was on a hallucinogen. I think that did influence me.
RU: He became more impressive? Kind of like the Grateful Dead?
JQ: Yeah, he became even more impressive and he had three heads. Anyway, I came back to talk to him, and we started talking about the different books we'd both read and eventually I found out he was the guy Steve Potter had told me about.
RU: So you just recently gave a lecture yourself at the "Future Forum" in Palo Alto titled "Why The Singularity Won't Work Without Sociobiology." So, why not?
JQ: All these ideas are founded on some assumptions about human nature. And I think some of the assumptions about human nature that we make in the futurist community are wrong. For instance, I've noticed chicks don't dig the singularity. For instance, I went to a recent Accelerated Change conference, and I actually counted up the people, and I found that less than a fifth of the presenters were women, and less than a sixth of the attendees were women.
RU:That sounds like a high count of women compared to some geek stuff that I've been to!
JQ:Yeah, when there's actual machinery, it's like 1% women. But I knew a lot of the women who were there, and they were there because it was their guy's primary interest. So Ray Kurzweil got up there and Moira Gunn was interviewing him, and everybody got to submit a question. And Moira would pick her three favorite questions. So there were all these technical questions about how will the singularity do this, how will the singularity do that. And my question was, "How will the Singularity get laid... err help me get laid?" So she picked my question as an extra one as a way of dismissing it. She said, "Somebody put a joke question in here, and can you believe that there are people here who would write something like this? It's 'how will the Singularity help me get laid?'" And then she throws it aside and tries to move on to another question. But Kurzweil says, "Hang on. Hang on. I want to answer that." And then he goes into this long technical description...
JEFF DIEHL: ...and then he got out his slide rule, and straightened out his bow tie. [Laughter]
JQ: Exactly! It was stuff like, "You can wear body suits." He was talking about tactile things and about how people can caress each other from far away. And it was so funny. It's too bad this wasn't filmed, because Moira Gunn's face was getting more and more skeptical, the more he kept talking. She kept saying things like, "Well, what about intimacy? You know, what about actual interacting with a real human being?" And Kurzweil wasn't picking up on what she was talking about. You could tell he enjoys the subject, but he gave a long-winded technical explanation for how to get off. And she was talking about sex as a medium for connecting to another person's soul. So right there, you're seeing this divergence between men's priorities and women's priorities. My wife doesn't care about the Singularity. When I talk about it, it doesn't resonate for her. It doesn't sound exciting to be able to put a machine inside your brain or something like that.
JD: What about the real prospect of an indefinite life span? I think that appeals to women!
JQ: I think it does, but I don't know anyone outside the futurist community...
RU: You look young for a much longer period of time. Women are early adopters of youth technology in terms of looks.
JQ: My wife is actually in the business of making women young and beautiful. She's what's called an aesthetician. She makes people beautiful. So if I could convince her that people can live forever and be young as long as they want, she might be into it. But my explanation ends up being sort of technical and attenuated. There are so many other things you need to know that it tends to become like religion — the rapture for geeks.
JD: There's not a big female fan base for science fiction, right?
JQ: Right. So guy geeks are always talking about how you can connect to more people and form more networks with people you never met. And my research tells me women's brains are just more interested in face reading and voice reading and reading all the messages you get beneath the words. Guys tend to concentrate more on the abstract ideas behind the words. So email is unfulfilling for most women. They want to get together at lunch with their friends and make eye contact and stand way too close to each other.
RU: I like to see that, too.
But I'm still not quite getting the Sociobiology/Singularity hook-up here. You had an interesting Freudian slip earlier. You said, "How will The Singularity get laid?" It could be like that, couldn't it? Couldn't it be more like sex with the singularity as opposed to sex within the singularity? Couldn't the singularity be this great, singular mechanistic Borg-like entity, and it's going to need something to have sex with?
JQ: Right! And I think that's sort of Kurzweil's vision — that we'll be able to make our fantasies real. Why would you actually need another human being?
JD: From my reading of Kurzweil's book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, I suspect, on some level, he's OK with the prospect of evolving beyond sexuality altogether in order to achieve immortality. And I imagine those two probably go hand in hand. If you remove the mortal aspect of existence, you're kind of eliminating the evolutionary reason for having sex. You know as a living being you're going to die, and that drives you to reproduce — and that's where all that sex stuff happens. Right?
JQ: Yeah, but I'm convinced that we inherit this suite of desires, and whether we die or not, we're going to keep them, unless we find some hormonal way to change it.
JD: But that's part of it, right? Kurzweil is changing himself hormonally with all of his nutritional stuff. He already claims to have reprogrammed his own biochemistry.
JQ: Right. He keeps saying his biological age hasn't changed. You know, I saw a picture of him from twenty years ago, and he did look younger.
RU: I'm still trying to get at the connection between the Singularity and sociobiology.
JQ: I think male geeks in the futurist community assume that human nature is the same as the nature of male geeks in the futurist community. And it's kind of become a little religion; we have our own Rapture and our own eschatology and all that sort of stuff. But I think the idea of merging with machine intelligence is not appealing to lots of different kinds of people. And so when we talk about it, we talk as if this tiny sector of human experience — and the kinds of enhancements male geeks want — is all that there is. But when you describe these kinds of things to most people, they're not necessarily enthused. They're more often afraid. So I think we need a clearer idea of what is universal in human needs to be able to explain The Singularity.
Reader Martine comments: The Singularity is the best thing to happen to sex since some final stages of primate-homonid pelvic evolution enabled face-to-face intercourse among hominids (without losing the ability for rear access).
RU: I always wonder — can an artificial intelligence understand what it feels like to dance to James Brown? You know? Maybe it can, eventually. I don't know.
JD: There's also this question of individuality versus networked intelligence. It seems like we're heading towards a networked intelligence that might not have a need for — or a concept of individuality. And individuality certainly encapsulates most current impulses and needs and desires that we think make us human. But once we're post-human, all that goes out the window. So how do you even talk about discreet entities and individuals and desires and stuff like that? Certainly Kurzweil wants us to think that we can carry that humanness with us, but it might all just go away! And something else will be there, and it won't be what we are now. So there's kind of a good reason to be afraid of it, because you don't know what the hell that means.
JQ: Yeah. It's hard to distinguish some descriptions of The Singularity from Armageddon. And I think the pretense; the assumption of the hardcore pro-Kurzweil futurists is that all these things — dancing to James Brown — are reducible to computation.
RU: It's the "good" aspect of it that I wonder about. Is "feel good" reducible?
JQ: Singularitarians are assuming that it is, but it's a deep mystery — sentience! I can understand why there would be all the complexity of animal life interacting, competing, and behaving exactly the way it behaves. But I don't think anything in science so far has answered the question, "Why is it like something to be alive?" When I poke myself with a pin, I don't just react like a robot; I have an external experience that I also experience inside. This causes us to be natural dualists. It doesn't seem to be a real dualism — I'm a materialist — but I feel like, once a machine passes the Turing test, we don't really know whether it has sentience or not. Of course, I don't know if you have sentience. I assume you have sentience because you act like I act.
RU: Well, I'm a solipsist, so I don't even think you're here. [Laughter]
JQ: So even if my enjoyment of James Brown is reducible to some kind of binary computation, it's not clear to me that that's going to give rise to the epi-phenomenon or the emergent property of self-aware consciousness sentience.
RU: Assuming we are headed towards the Singularity, or at least towards some kind of post-human future, it sounds like you're trying to keep some of the human relation alive within it, and some of the sexuality alive within it. That's a project — making sure that this future does contain these things that we value. Is that part of what you're trying to do?
JQ: When we talk about the Singularity, it should be grounded on universal things about human nature. Everyone should look at Donald Brown's list of human universals. And I think when we talk about it now; we talk about it as California computer nerds — which represents a narrow range of human experience.
RU: So as California computer nerds, we don't have all of the qualities on Mr. Brown's list of natural human universals?
JQ: It's the qualities that all tribes in every culture everywhere share. And one of them is a belief in spiritual beings that care very much about how we behave.
RU: Of course there were attempts to eliminate that in China and other places, but it continued.
JQ: I don't think you can eliminate something like spiritual belief, in a top-down way. But certainly most people in the Scandinavian countries are atheists. There's a lot of atheism in the world now. But still, there are no cultures that don't have some people who believe that there are invisible beings who care passionately about how they behave.
RU: You're using the word sociobiology, and currently the trendy term is "evolutionary psychology." And actually, some people make a distinction between the two of them and say sociobiology was more completely enthralled by genes, whereas evolutionary psychology sort of combines genes with environment and other factors. Talk a little about your interest in sociobiology, which is the older term that came from Edward O. Wilson's amazing book.
JQ: I'm trying to steal back the word sociobiology, because sociobiology, strictly defined, is the biology of behavior of all animals. It got in trouble, back in the early 70s, because human beings were included among the animals. E. O. Wilson's one of my heroes. The last 1/30th of his book, Sociobiology, deals with human nature.
RU: And then he put out On Human Nature. And a leftist feminist threw a pie at him, even though he was a liberal environmentalist, basically for looking at human behavior as having certain predispositions, just like all other animals do.
JQ: Someone dumped a bucket of water over his head while he was coming for a lecture. And so the word sociobiology got demonized. I know a lot of academics at Berkeley, and they're so pre-inoculated against any biological illumination of human behavior that they can't even talk about it. It's so emotional.
RU: Oddly, just as sort of a weird side note, Huey Newton from the Black Panther Party was into sociobiology in the 1970s and studied it. For whatever odd reason, he found it interesting.
JQ: That is an interesting side note! And that term became so demonized that the people who continued to research it sort of quietly started calling it evolutionary psychology. Interestingly, evolutionary psychology is specifically about the biology of human behavior. Sociobiology is a more general term about the biological roots of all animal behavior. You know, it's like when the creationist movement switched to "Intelligent Design" — they were being defensive. And when we switched from sociobiology to evolutionary psychology, we were being defensive.
RU: But a lot of the same people still hate it, basically for the same reasons.
JQ:Yeah. And I strongly recommend Steve Pinker's book, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. He pretty much devastates all the good-hearted but misguided arguments against sociobiology. To put it in simple terms, if I'm speaking to a social academic about my biological beliefs that I think illuminate human nature and answer a lot of deep questions about human nature, they invariably bring up Hitler or the eugenics movement.
RU: And certainly all this stuff can be exploited by people.
JQ: But then again, on the other side — among the people who say that the human mind is ultimately malleable by culture and has no genetically controlled tendencies at all — you have Mao and the Khmer Rogue. Both sides have their holocausts. Pol Pot... all those guys believed that you take the baby, you take it away from its mother, and...
RU: It's a blank slate.
JQ: Right. You can create humans that only care about serving the state.
RU: If you acknowledge that every other living animal group has certain inherent forms of social organization, it's fundamentally absurd to say, "Well no, human beings don't." And certain people on the left remind me of fundamentalist Christians. It's kind of a denial of evolution. They're not denying Darwin, but they're denying something that is a logical extension of Darwin.
JQ: Right. And the sort-of social science academics on the left are the only ones who have a problem with this stuff. When I speak in front of most women, they're trying to understand their husband and they're all over it. They want to understand why does he do the things he does; why does he communicate the way he does? People on the street assume that there's something fundamentally different about men and women.
RU: What happens with people in the process of a sex change — like a guy who's taking a lot of estrogen and that sort of thing? Have you looked into that?
JQ: Sure, I'm fascinated with that stuff. If a woman gets a sex change operation, and she starts taking injections of testosterone, different genes that are suppressed are turned on in her, and she finds herself feeling more aggressive; she finds it harder to cry; she finds it easier to get angry; and she can't get sex out of her mind. I talked to one woman who was in the midst of this process, and she said, "God, I suddenly understand how guys feel."
RU: So let's distribute some of this.
JQ: Yeah. [Laughs.] Slip it into drinks?
JD: Except that all of a sudden, she's got facial hair.
RU: You can get over that.
JQ: I remember she was describing her experience to me. She was like: "I'm on the BART, and I'm looking at shapely women, and I just wanted to get into their bodies. I mean, it's like it's all about that body." To her that was a foreign experience. She's like, "Wow. So this is how men see the world." Especially young men.
RU: I wonder when people start to alter people at the genetic level — germ line engineering.
JQ: Yeah. That's a thorny issue.
RU: I wonder how that will affect all these kinds of relations. I wonder if that might change some of this.
JQ: It's hard to pull off, because it's very rare that you get a gene corresponding to one particular trait. Genes all interact with each other, so if you choose a certain gene to give your kid a mathematical ability, that gene cascades through all the different traits in the person and has other unpredictable effects.
RU: But some people think that, in not too much time, even with all the complexity, we'll be able to do this kind of manipulation.
JQ: I think we will be able to do this kind of manipulation, but we'll start having the kinds of problems we have with our domesticated dogs. We can take a dog and we can breed it for a particular quality — like, I want my dog to be a pug, so I'm just going to concentrate on breeding it for a big face and big strong shoulders. By the time I've created my perfect dog, it has cataracts; it has heart problems; it has breathing problems. Out in nature, all these genes are interacting with the environment at once.
RU: The theory is that we wouldn't start doing it until we could be pretty sure of the effects. Although I don't necessarily believe that.
JQ: It's so hard to control because genes only turn on in an environment that triggers them to turn on. So if you're an identical twin, and you're gay, there's only a 50% chance that you're identical twin is going to be gay.
RU: But if he is, you can have an awful lot of fun together!
JQ: I'm sure — they even shared a womb together. So if you can't even predict something like your sexuality based on what genes you have, and you also have to sort of control an environment that's going to trigger certain things to turn on...
RU: [Frivolously] Yeah, but Kurzweil's super-intelligent machines will figure out how to perfect this technology for us in 2035, right?
JQ: Well, that's the prediction, but, uh...
RU: So what do you really think? Are you fundamentally a believer in "The Singularity" or are you a skeptic?
JQ: I'm a scared skeptic and a hopeful skeptic. Most people who hear about it think it's whacko, so I find myself defending it more often than criticizing it. And I think Kurzweil's actual arguments in his two most important books are more compelling than the counter-argument from Incredulity, which is just a knee-jerk reaction — "C'mon, this is Rapture for the geeks." Every group makes up some kind of mythos, and this is a mythos for the geeks. I keep thinking of other examples of Singularities. I've never heard anyone talk about the Singularity that's already happened. Let's see if you guys can point it out.
JQ: That's one, but I've never heard anyone talk about the Singularity of techneme — the singularity of tools. Imagine a Homo habilis playing with his stone axe, and his buddy says to him, "Grok! These stone axes are not going to change for millions of years, because we're on the flat part of an exponential curve. But this has an abstract design within it, which means it contains information that can be passed down through the generations. And in another 3 million years, we're going to have a feedback loop of information, and pretty soon our tools are going to cover the world; they're going to be on our bodies; and we're going to go from a few thousand of us to a few billion of us. Everything we touch will be a tool. Our tool designs are going to inhabit matter and build our dreams around us. Everything we look at is going to be a manifestation, an embodiment of an idea."
RU: Right, and all that would be unrecognizable to that person. So in that sense we've been through at least one Singularity. It's kind of like the Arthur C. Clarke idea that advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
JQ: And if you think about this, there's almost nothing I touch in my day that isn't created by humans. Even the food is bred by humans.
Steve Potter says, "Maybe The Singularity already happened." Why would we know about it? Does bacteria know that they're on a giant naked ape?
RU: Kurzweil is a believer in the soft singularity — a process where we might not even recognize that we've slipped into a different kind of reality when it happens. All I know is that friends of mine are still dying at this point from diseases related to aging. That would be one change that would be interesting.
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72 thoughts to “Why Chicks Don’t Dig The Singularity”
JOE PLEASE READ THIS: Before you write an entire book whose very title could be fairly interpreted in a sexist light…
These female chimps are the ones who excel in tool use. Not the males.
Some of the female responders seem to be taking you out of context, Joe. As a young woman who has loved science fiction since she learned to read, I did cringe at aspects of this interview, however I understand the basis of what you are trying to say.
The problem is that it didn’t come out exactly right. This ties in perfectly with your point that men and women have different predisposed skills. When men are trying to explain something, it often comes out “wrong”. If I had a nickel for every time my boyfriend said something which initially offended or hurt me, and then he said “I didn’t mean it like that, it came out wrong”, I’d be rich. This is a trend I’ve noticed with every man I have ever been close with, in relationships, or even just friends. Usually I am able to decipher his original intent, put it into better words, ask if that is what he meant, and he says with relief “yes, exactly”. Women are better with language and communication than men are. Do men get their boxers in a knot over me saying that? No. In fact, most of them agree with it. These women who are so disturbed over your statements should realize that it goes the other way too. It isn’t AGAINST women. One of the reasons women are so defensive is that we have a very long history of being severely discriminated against. In a time when there is still debate about our right to choose, a backlash is probably healthy. We need to keep the flame of justice alive if we are to keep progressing to being treated as full citizens.
The part about “chicks” not liking science fiction does make me cringe because I think of myself as a smart, analytical “chick”. I see other girls who are all about partying and reality tv and high heels, and they just bore the hell out of me. But I am still a girl! I am still a chick. I am cool, have a sense of humor, and try not to take things too personally. I wear sneakers, and jeans, but like to think that I am still sexy. We shouldn’t have to be one or the other (a nerd, or a “chick”). Something about the way this was spoken made me feel like women who like science fiction are less of women. Once again, I know that was not the intent, but just to make you aware. It often seems to me that men are less interested in women who are intellectual.
JOE PLEASE READ THIS: Before you write an entire book whose very title could be fairly interpreted in a sexist light…
These female chimps are the ones who excel in tool use. Not the males.
One more thing… I just discovered Joe Quirk on Youtube today while searching for video of sperm. I immediately bought his book on amazon. Can’t wait for it to arrive.
Hey, Breukellen, I just got back from some traveling research and randomly stumbled on this last reply. Iâ€™m glad I read it, because itâ€™s the most clear-headed critique me or anyone else has offered.
I was aware that female chimps not only do more fishing termites out of hives with sticks, but they do more teaching the technique to little ones.
Among humans, girls and women are superior at fine hand-eye coordination. In tests, girls are better at picking up tiny objects with their fingertips and excel at handwriting.
Boys and men are superior at grand hand-eye coordination. Unborn boys have larger arm bones in relation to body size. At age two, 90% of boys can throw farther than the average girl.
I consider these cognitive fossils of our earliest technologies: the spear and the needle, throwing and sewing. Iâ€™m convinced gatherers weaved baskets, papooses, and clothes.
I remember the interview with RU and Jeff as being silly and full of giggles. Maybe converting audio into text makes it read like me joking that Moira Gun â€œwas talking about sex as a medium for connecting to another personâ€™s soulâ€ is a serious assertion rather than a joke. I will be more considerate when I phrase things in the future. Thanks for making me aware.
And speaking for all men I know, intelligent women in jeans are very sexy. They are just more intimidating.
Thereâ€™s a study I talk about in my presentation that shows that when men are looking for a Quick Boink, they rate promiscuity very highly. For Long-Term Love, the 3 qualities men rate most highly are: Kindness, loyalty, intelligence.
The talk is here:
Thank you thank you thank you!
After publishing the comment I’d posted here, with a few more ideas thrown in on my blog, I received some very angry hate mail. I was feeling like shit, and wondering if I really was wrong. I was told that your statements were completely benign and that I was a man-hater. Your reply has made me so happy. Sometimes men DO know just what to say. :)
PS I thought the joke about sex after the singularity was pretty funny.
Um, actually, “how does the singularity get me laid” seems like a pretty damn valid question. i’m a testicle-bearer but I also want to “make eye contact and… stuff [with the girls]”.
“The Singularity is the best thing to happen to sex since some final stages of primate-homonid pelvic evolution enabled face-to-face intercourse among hominids (without losing the ability for rear access).” Forget whacked-out body suits, will ecstacy be legal by then, and will they sell it in a special Viagra-MDMA stack?
late as ever! and thank goodness bruekellen explained the secret language of girls so i don’t have to try. it was hard not to get angry about what you wrote, even though i know what you were trying to get across:
“two, that most readers of â€œhardâ€ science fiction are men.
(â€Hardâ€ sci fi defined by me: Futuristic fiction more preoccupied with physics than psychology.)”
i will agree with that. but i don’t know why it matters for the singularity. i’m interested in the singularity because it represents a confluence of sociobiology and technology. i went to the summit at stanford last year and your anecdote about kurzweil doesn’t surprise me. and i think there were relatively few chicks. in reading science fiction, i prefer allegorical fiction that extrapolates social memes and events to the technical fiction that tends to read more like a patent brief. made up technology isn’t as interesting to me as made up wars and superentities. however, i’m still not certain i can distinguish the two as clearly as you do… where does vernor vinge fit in, for example? i consider him “high” sci-fi, but is he a high hard one? neal stephenson?
“When I discovered evolutionary psychology, I learned that was not true. Hang a mobile and a face over a three-day-old babies. The boys look more at the mobile, and the girls look more at the face. Release toddlers in a playground. Boys play more with trucks, girls play more with dolls. Before they can talk, before they can walk, girls and boys show different interests.”
i was pleased to see you folks note that people can feel offended by such generalizations, but you’re not forgiven yet. here you are making them again. as useful as evolutionary psychology may be, it still shortchanges the fact that i am not a unicorn. i am a chick, and i dig the singularity. to distill my being and thirty years of choices down to biology isn’t fair, though it may be scientific. i imagine this is where the eugenics comments come in. i heart science, but it also scares me a little because it works. why shouldn’t someone point this out in legislation as a reason not to fund programs to push women into science?
“Acknowledging innate differences is not the same as imposing them. I use humor in my book, because we really need to develop a sense of humor about gender differences… Most scholars in the social sciences emphasize the diversity of human behavior. I am interested in what is universal about human behavior.”
that all is probably true, but starting there is a mistake. where are the human beings immune to social constructs you’re using for a control? i somehow manage to be a socialist texan too. the only thing universal about human behavior is our capacity to surprise each other like this. what are you relying on those stereotypes for anyway? stop bending over the box and talk to us again. thanks for the cites, but i don’t trust meta-analysis much. why should i be like someone from 30 years ago? this imposition of gender differences comes out of traditions too. if we acknowledge imposed gender differences as if there is no societal component, we may never get a chance to see the truly innate ones.
The whole AI /Borg tangent abandons the initial premis of a singularity.
It is inherantly and in totality the point where change in all areas of human endeavor as a whole transform from a growth curve to an event horizon.
The distance in time between bubbles of change events compresses to zero while the number of events in the clusters increase exponentially.
Bang you go from a change curve to a horizontal explosion of constant and constantly accelerating major change events.
Prediction of the change past the initial event horizion is impossible.
And yet you are all hung up on transcending humanity and creating god machines. You are hung up on predicting the unpredicatable.
Your premis is that YOU DON”T KNOW! YOU CANNOT KNOW!
A path this takes could just as easily be that we genetically modify ourselves into dragons that fly through space sucking up solar radiation while trading dragon porn through quantum communications.
The fact is that it is an explosion in all directions. Everything will happen.
You will wake up in the morning and have to adapt to a new world with a new set of rules. Each and every day.
We must, because we can.
Perhaps females dont like the singularity because they are too biological-with every month they bleed as a sign that they must reproduce to survive and they are one month closer to death. They see this as the natural state, and enjoy such things as food, sleep and sex (many humans do).
As males are more detached, logical, androgenous and seem to have invented just about everything-it seems that males are bringing about the singularity.
Will there be a female opposition to the singularity?
Will the point that the singularity negates the fact that you want or need to get laid strike fear into the hearts of women as it stops them being wanted or needed.
In fact, more religious people might want to bring about the singularity than women (as it could bring them closer to god, or be a god or something).
I would be interested in a religious females view on the singularity, yet not from the p.o.v. that she want to love god selflessly by merging with him or something because that just seems that she might want sex with the singularity.
I realize its a bit late, but I wanted to clarify something here because I’m an obsessive freak.
I’m the guy breukellen is referring to in her last comment, and what she says is very misleading.
For one, the “few more ideas” she posted in her blog were hardly “ideas”, but rather sexist nonsense which she used valid scientific studies to support. For isntance, she thinks that women, because of allegedly superior innate communication skills, should be involved (as if they’re not already) in big business deals and negotiations INSTEAD of men. Yes, instead of men.
I did not send her “hate mail”. I expressed offense, particularly the blatantly degrading stereotypes she felt she had some scientific authority to propogate, like telling one of her commentors that “Men think with their d*cks.” He was not, offended, and she asked me why I was offended if he wasn’t. Apparently, because I’m male, I’m supposed to think as if I’m part of a single entity. However, she doesn’t believe that SHE should have to, as made clear by her disagreement with some of the female commentors above.
I never said the comment about women was completely benign, I said that COMPARED to some her statements the comment was benign. I also never called her a man-hater, I alluded to her mysogynistic tendencies, and that was more related to behavior I witnessed during years of knowing her personally.
Furthermore, she contradicted herself during our arguments multiple times, perhaps most obviously by saying in one instance that her writings weren’t meant to be taken seriously, and then trying to claim that her generalizations were fact. She likes soundbites, like “Women are the choosers.”, which empower her, but is blind to the vagueness of language and the fact that truth is context-dependent. So when I asked her what she would think if I said “Men are the choosers.” (again, context sensistive: men usually choose who to hit on, who to ask to marry them, often whether or not to cheat on a spouse or abandon a relationship) and her reply was that the statement wouldn’t mean anything to her because it isn’t true. That was the general theme in our arguments, and she used clever semantics consistently whenever anything threatened to take men out of a negative light.
Just wanted to clear things up. Also, the question about men generally preferring less intelligent women is a simple one. I shouldn’t even have to explain it, so I’ll just give a hint: What is our primary evolutionary function?
To pass on our genes.
Do the math.
It’s hard to resist defending ones self against such an attack. First of all, the word misogynist is misused. Secondly, I would never seriously assert that women should completely replace men in any field. That is just ridiculous. I wrote a posting that was intended to be educational, as well as humorous and a bit “what if”. Maybe I didn’t say what I meant as well as I should have, but some people got it, and some didn’t.
I happen to love men (which is one of the reasons I can get so angry at them! The people we love have the most power to rile us up). As far as marriage proposals, given your example, women would be the ones who either accept or reject the proposal, thereby choosing. The man proposing doesn’t usually have other women lined up. What the “choosing” thing comes down to really is sex, which is the only way we pass on genes. Even in married life, many women find sex outside of marriage, thereby passing on the genes of the man they have chosen for whatever characteristics they found desirable.
The commenter who was not offended at the “men think with their d*cks” statement obviously also saw the emoticon that went with it, indicating it was tongue in cheek.
I have an edge to my writing, but I defend myself against this character assassination put forth by Rich. In the adult years that he had known me, I was a VERY young woman who lived with a charming, intelligent, charismatic man, who called me names, threatened to strike me, through objects and liquids at me, and told me I was worthless and that no one else would ever love me. If he’d like to hold the bitterness and confusion I felt in those years against me, that is his prerogative.
During “years of knowing” Rich personally, being blood related even, I was surprised at his extreme response. Certain parts of my article were intended to be factual, with tongue in cheek comments thrown in. No contradiction there.
And really, that’s all there is to say.
“Character assassination”? Please. How dramatic.
Regardless of what she thinks I “didn’t get”, the fact remains that I HAD A RIGHT TO POINT OUT OFFENSIVE COMMENTS FOR WHAT THEY WERE. My punishment for doing so was being told to, basically, go away. I never once insulted her, unless not liking her writing counts, so her whole basis for ostracising me seemed to be centered around the fact that I kept pushing for a little concession, which she wouldn’t even give in the slightest. She couldn’t even say “I understand how that could be offensive.”
Apparently, it’s OK to write a comment like “Women are stupid c***s”… as long as there is a little emoticon following the comment. And apparently I would still be walking the moral highground if I wrote something like that and then belittled a woman’s right to take offense.
Of course, that isn’t true, not by my ethical code, which involves something called “fair play”. I also live by a little thing called “accountability”, meaning that I take responsibility for my actions. So if I were to write something offensive even as a “joke”, I would accept the fact that someone might be offended. What’s funny is that Breuk noted in her blog that she was expecting a backlash, and when she got one it was too much for her.
I like how she also, once again, went on to defend her “choosers” belief using examples that I don’t actually argue with. My entire point is that it’s an overly simplistic way of looking at the situation. Comments like that are from the realm of popular science, which, as we all know, is about as relevant as pop music. It was popular to believe that, because of a few studies, women were better at communication than men. However, for someone who obsessively searches for the truth, it can be found that there IS no clear answer. For one, other studies among other age groups showed men to be better, and the results also fluctuate based on regions of origin of participants. Also, “communication” is a vague word. Men tend to be better at communicating certain things, women others. So, saying “Women are better at communication” is scientifically irrelevant. Empowering? Maybe, for someone who prefers a simplistic, gender biased point of view. Me, I get my empowerment from my own actions and positive attributes (many of which are not typically masculine).
In retrospect, there was nothing actually educational or in-depth about the blog in question, so all I really saw was a sneaky, tongue-in-cheek way of saying “Women are better.”
Yes, that was the overall theme of the blog. If I had written a similar blog favoring men and using half-hearted “science” to, even jokingly, back up my claims, i would have expected to either be ridiculed or end up doing some apologizing.
And I certainly never would have ended a friendship simply because I couldn’t take the heat.
And to clarify, my assertion that she had misogynistic traits had nothing to do with the problems with her aformentioned relationship, but certain things that happened after the end of the relationship. Granted, I understood she was hyper-sensitive as a result of her negative feelings, but some of outlashes becasue of these feelings resulted in direct insults towards me, which I weathered BECAUSE I understood where they were coming from. However, enough time had gone by between that time and the time of the dispute over her blog that it bordered on ridiculous that I was made out to be such a mean person simply for for being a little “extreme” in my argumentation. Honestly, though, she exaggerated, as I already pointed out, the things I said (that WAS the reason I originally posted here; never called her a man-hater or sent her “hate mail”) when she ran to Joe Quirk for reassurance. I was being a little more combatitive than she was used to, but I would hardly call my behavior “extreme”. I used a few expletives, but none that were directed AT her, more like when two friends are having a heated argument, like “Come on, are you f**king kidding me?!” It wasn’t like I suddenly became all Jekyll and Hyde.
So, the very fact that she found semi-heated argumentation a grounds for ostracizing me, and was obviously able to justify it for this length of time, only proves my assertion that she exaggerates her victimhood. She obvioulsy still thinks she was the victim, good thing for her she sent the mean monster away before he disagreed with anything else she wrote. What’s funny is that if this situation had been reversed and she had been offended by something I wrote and I ended up breaking off the friendship because of that, she’d be claiming victim status about that as well. The same way she can’t accept that I had a right to be offended by an offensive comment, she is incapable of seeing how I can also be a victim.
For any psychology students who would like to see how adhering a little too strongly to any generalized “factual” dogma like “Women are the choosers” can affect the way a person interprets conflicts, this is all a pretty good example. Notice it was “chosen” for me how I should interpret an offensive stereotype about my gender. Notice how it was “chosen” when I was supposed to differentiate between humor and fact; of course, you would have actually had to read blog in question: There was nothing “educational” about pointing out studies that show that women are “better” at communication than men without going into a little more detail about which forms of communication women are better at and what potential applications these skills might have, in a nutshell it was basically “Studies show that women are better at communication than men, imagine the implications! Women could be used in (such and such a job) instead of men”. Again, all I saw was a bunch of popular science sound bites being used to jokingly belittle men, and, as they say, every joke can have its truth, so since it was mostly “joke” (and nothing substantially educational), I saw that the “joke” was on me (i.e. my gender). If I go into a room full of women and start pointing out things that men are better at make derogatory jokes at the expense of the women, is it my place to choose how they should take it, to choose how they should feel.
No, it isn’t. The only way someone could use this type of reasoning is if they have somehow let their beloved dogma intrude on other aspects of their cognitive functions, hence why it is damaging to have the need to hold so hard onto simplistic self-empowering “facts”. Even in her reply to my comment on this blog she is arguing about the “choosers” thing, as if to “win”, becasue it is of the utmost importance to her that she be able to hold onto that “sacred truth”. Interestingly, she denies “chooser” status when it implies accountability: In our original argument, I pointed out that if women are the choosers, why do so many choose to stay in horrible relationships, to which she replied, in so many words, “Women can’t choose to break-up, the same goes for men.” I’m guessing she was alluding to some sort of biological slavery meant to ensure propogation of our species, which I actually would agree with in the sense that people don’t actually have freedom of choice, we’re just a system of chemical reactions. So, in that sense, nobody, women nor men, choose who to have sex with. The odds for how many potetnial partners a female can have are simply better, but there is no “choice” involved.
Contradiction? Yes, it is ridiculous to staunchly defend a statement that goes against one’s own scientific beliefs simply because they like the empowering ring of it. It’s even more ridiculous to end a friendship over an argument about it.
Okay. To conclude:
How many of you debaters ran out and bought my book? Show of hands?
Joe, I did buy your book…a few years ago. It was very enjoyable. My mom didn’t like it as much as I did, but she has no sense of humor. I was especially struck by the research on how testicle size in certain species relates to rates of monogamy.
Rich, even your response here reads to me as extremely embittered and angry, as did your comments on the blog I wrote years ago that started all of this. I don’t deny your “right” to be offended or angry about anything you choose to be. Only you can control your reactions. If someone offends you, there are many ways you can react. Just as you were offended by my original post, I was taken aback, personally hurt, and frustrated by your comments which seemed to be brewing with anger and hatred. I have a right to those feelings, as well. I think it’s sad that we have had this falling out, especially considering that my dad does not talk to any of his family, save your mom, on occasion. I was pleased to have a connection to family on the Cuban side.
interesting post! thanks for sharing with us :)
Lol RU, I enjoyed reading your comments more than the post itself. I see you said, “After the Singularity there will be no money, and everything will taste like Key Lime Pie.” Lol I find it funny.
Hehe, I love stumble. Also, this is super cute, and the conversation is hilarious xD