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Author Topic: Teacher's Pest question
Jenos
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In Teacher's Pest(A short story found in First Meetings), OSC puts out some interesting ideas regarding the social evolution of humans in regards to the structure of society. My question is if there is any research that goes into those concepts in greater detail - I found them very interesting, but I'm not sure if they're just something OSC thought up or if he based it off of actual sociological(anthropological?) research.
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scifibum
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Can you elaborate? I remember that there was some theory put forth by Theresa, but I can't remember what it was.
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kassyopeia
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She pretty much sums it up as
quote:
[...] the most vital resource of the community is the women, and any community that is going to survive has to bend all its efforts to one primary task to promote the ability of women to reproduce and bring their offspring to adulthood.

Card does a good job of adding scientific flavour, but the basic idea is rather trite, it seems to me.
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Jenos
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My question is if the scientific flavor is grounded in actual research, or something created by him.
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Synesthesia
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http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/projects/human/evpsychfaq.html

He spouts out a lot of stuff like that in his stories, for example, in one of the Ender Stories you have Ender talking about how, I don't remember, I don't have the book in front of me, but it kind of annoys me.
There are people who do these studies, there's folks like John Gray and others who go on and on about stuff like that, but I kind of think they are full of it because people are not that simple...Men and women are not that simple. Neither is society!

But that is my opinion. He writes stuff like that all the time. It's heavily in a lot of his later books.

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Jenos
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Personally, I find it fascinating. The problem is that if I'm trying to use it in some sort of paper or class, its not exactly viable to quote something like Speaker for the Dead - sadly, my professor does not consider Orson Scott Card as a valid academic source, which is why I ask. OSC has turned me onto a lot of evolutionary psychology, but again, I haven't been able to locate any people doing studies in the concepts mentioned in Teacher's Pest, which is why I ask.
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Synesthesia
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Random articles.
http://dml.cmnh.org/1995Aug/msg00025.html
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg17723761.900-farewell-man-the-hunter.html
I got to admit, i totally believe in attachment psychology, but not so much evolutionary psychology, or the sort of male/female roles OSC writes about in most of his books because I hate that whole man the hunter woman the gather thing...
It sounds way too simple... Which is why it gets under my skin.

But I'll keep looking around. There's probably a lot of folks doing those sort of studies and disagreeing with them, like that Kimmell fellow.

I need to put that book back on hold.

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neo-dragon
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quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:

There are people who do these studies, there's folks like John Gray and others who go on and on about stuff like that, but I kind of think they are full of it because people are not that simple...Men and women are not that simple. Neither is society!

Oh, I don't know... I think on the most basic level we sort of are. If there's one fundamental truth about life it's that it's that in order for a species to continue it must produce and raise one succeeding generation after another. It's not something that most humans consciously think about. Who ever decides to have a child solely because they feel that it's their duty to continue to species? But it's something that's hardwired into us. Continuing along those lines it's not hard to accept (for me at least) that a lot of our behaviour can be connected to evolution. The truth is that it may be a simple concept, but it doesn't imply simple explanations for individual human behaviour.
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Synesthesia
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It's just these things don't take into consideration, well, wild cards, people who are different, folks who are gay. Asexual folks. Men who want to have babies when the woman who is with them doesn't want to have kids...
I just hate it deeply because most of the articles talk about man the hunter, women like shopping because they were the gatherer. But were things really that simple?
It doesn't take into consideration shaman, skinny males who didn't hunt, and there's all of these folks who think it was, I don't know, gathering and cooperation that made people evolve.

Mostly reading that stuff in an OSC book makes me grind my teeth in irritation.

Plus the concept of having babies to continue the species bothers me... Shouldn't we evolve in such a way where folks aren't just having babies and passing down the same old stuff that hurt and abuse them, but, I don't know, striving to be better? I want to have kids, but I never really wanted kids until I was about 26 or 27 and I realized if I was going to become a parent in the future, I'd have to be a better parent than my parents were. As I don't think I'd want my kids to just turn out OK, but perhaps that's a subject for another day.

Those things just don't fit people like me!

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kassyopeia
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quote:
He spouts out a lot of stuff like that in his stories, for example, in one of the Ender Stories you have Ender talking about how, I don't remember, I don't have the book in front of me, but it kind of annoys me.
Do you mean this, by any chance? [Smile]
quote:
Valentine, in "Xenocide"

[...] Take the differences between males and females. Males naturally tend toward a broadcast strategy of reproduction. Since males make an almost infinite supply of sperm and it costs them nothing to deploy it [..., t]heir most sensible reproductive strategy is to deposit it in every available female - and to make special efforts to deposit it in the healthiest females, the ones most likely to bring their offspring to adulthood. A male does best, reproductively, if he wanders and copulates as widely as possible. [...] The female strategy is just the opposite, Planter. Instead of millions and millions of sperm, they only have one egg a month, and each child represents an enormous investment of effort. So females need stability. They need to be sure there'll always be plenty of food. We also spend large amounts of time relatively helpless, unable to find or gather food. Far from being wanderers, we females need to establish and stay. If we can't get that, then our next best strategy is to mate with the strongest and healthiest possible males. But best of all is to get a strong healthy male who'll stay and provide, instead of wandering and copulating at will [...]


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neo-dragon
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I'd actually say that the idea of wanting to make things better for your offspring fits into evolutionary psychology very well.

The thing is, you're right. Human beings are very complex. It's almost a contradiction. Looking at things through the lens of evolutionary psychology one would say that we evolved higher order thinking, the very thing that makes our behaviour so complex, because it does indeed increase our chances or surviving and reproducing. If societies weren't so complex odds are they also wouldn't be as safe and secure. What other animal besides us complicated humans have such a high success rate when it comes to surviving to reproductive age?

This higher order thinking of ours means that we can consciously decide to ignore biological/evolutionary imperatives without even recognizing them as such. I can choose not to conceive children, but every time since puberty that I've felt sexual arousal it's an evolutionary imperative to reproduce that may have driven me to go out and get some female pregnant if not for that higher order thinking that protects myself and potential offspring in the long run.

Some people are gay or have no apparent sex drive whatsoever, but evolution is never 100%. Some people are also born with 11 toes or a congenital heart defect. That doesn't mean that human beings in general haven't evolved to have 10 toes and and hearts strong enough to last several decades. There's always some statistical probability involved. I don't think that it's unfair to say that people in general are hardwired to want babies, and women in general are hardwired to nurture them, and men are hardwired to protect and provide for them. That's not to say that we don't have a choice about how we go about meeting these imperatives, or that our conscious desires can't drown them out or allow us to express them in radically indirect ways (like shopping [Wink] )

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Steve_G
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I recognize a lot of stuff Card writes about from a book called Guns Germs and Steel by Jared diamond which is an excellent resource of information on why some groups develop faster than others because of location or other causes. Its been a long time since I read the books though so I can't remember if the male/female roles are in it. I kind of doubt it, since the book takes on more macro issues of society. Still its an excellent book to read.
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kassyopeia
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"Guns, Germs & Steel", and its sort-of-sequel, "Collapse", focus quite strongly on interactions between humans on the one hand and all manner of resources (natural, biological, technological) on the other. Card is all about interactions between humans and other humans. So, not all that similar, I'd say. [Smile]
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oscfan
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I don't know enough about the evolution of mankind to fully join this discussion, but I just have to say that reading Orson Scott Card books and some other short stories from Intergalactic Medicine Show reminds me that humans are really animals, and that their main goal in life is to produce offspring. Like, teenagers were actually considered adults in the "old days" and not treated like children because they could already reproduce.

Sorry this had nothing to do with the topic but I just felt like saying that.

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kassyopeia
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quote:
Like, teenagers were actually considered adults in the "old days" and not treated like children because they could already reproduce.
I'm not sure there is much real causality to it, though. Traditionally, one was considered an adult as soon as one had the ability, physically and mentally, to take on an adult's responsibilities. Card sort of makes this a point in "Ender in Exile", in the character of Abra: In as far as he fills an adult role, he's treated as an adult.
The approximate simultaneity of physical, mental and sexual maturity is more of a product of biological than of social evolution. In a potentially hostile environment, it makes sense to raise children during one's time of peak fitness. As far as the concepts of child- and adulthood can be applied to other species, this simultaneity should be present in virtually all species that do not abandon their young.

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Sean Monahan
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FYI, OSC puts "Guns, Germs, and Steel" in his top 4 books everyone must read.
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Synesthesia
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That's well and good, but there's more to life than JUST reproducing. That doesn't take into consideration people who have no interest in reproducing at all because of a variety of complicated reasons...

It's kind of too simple to say that. I'd like to have kids, but still...
urg
quote:
Originally posted by oscfan:
I don't know enough about the evolution of mankind to fully join this discussion, but I just have to say that reading Orson Scott Card books and some other short stories from Intergalactic Medicine Show reminds me that humans are really animals, and that their main goal in life is to produce offspring. Like, teenagers were actually considered adults in the "old days" and not treated like children because they could already reproduce.

Sorry this had nothing to do with the topic but I just felt like saying that.


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neo-dragon
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quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:
That's well and good, but there's more to life than JUST reproducing. That doesn't take into consideration people who have no interest in reproducing at all because of a variety of complicated reasons...

I thought I'd addressed that.
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Synesthesia
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You did, but I can't stress how much that sort of thing gets on my nerves.
It's like those Men are from Mars books and Glamour articles.
Where's the stuff for, well, MUTANTS! People who don't fit the norms because the norm doesn't exist in the first place...

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neo-dragon
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Mutation is the driving force behind evolution, if that makes you feel any better. [Wink]
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oscfan
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Okay, sorry if what I said was completely weird and/or offensive, but try to remember that I'm a sixteen-year-old and not a very science-loving one at that, so this kind of stuff goes straight over my head.

I just meant that in some societies, people used to marry in their late teens/early twenties and women were expected to have several babies. Obviously times are different now, but we followed our survival instincts more in those days, I think.

Feel free to correct me but this is just an opinion. [Smile]

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