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Thread: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

  1. #1
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    Default you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    it's kind of an odd thing when you think about it, that an intelligent species could be entirely divided into two groups who look and generally think very differently

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    First Lieutenant The Urban Spaceman's Avatar
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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    Quote Originally Posted by slimjim View Post
    it's kind of an odd thing when you think about it, that an intelligent species could be entirely divided into two groups who look and generally think very differently
    Most species on Earth reproduce by sexual reproduction, and sexual dimorphism as well as gender-differentiated behaviour has come about by millions of years of evolution. Besides, women and men do not necessarily think differently. Not as differently as, say, Mods and Rockers, or Atheists and Fundamentalists. Whenever you get 2 groups of anything, people are always going to compare them.
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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Urban Spaceman View Post
    Besides, women and men do not necessarily think differently
    I believe I did say "generally"
    Quote Originally Posted by The Urban Spaceman View Post
    Not as differently as, say, Mods and Rockers, or Atheists and Fundamentalists
    don't groups with opposing viewpoints think differently by definition?

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    First Lieutenant The Urban Spaceman's Avatar
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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    You seem to be implying though that men and women think differently (generally, of course) because they are of different gender. In truth, it's a combination of genetics, physiology and sociology which cause differences in thinking patterns between the genders. And you also appear to imply that the fact that men and women look different is odd, when in fact it's quite logical.

    This sentence in particular:


    it's kind of an odd thing when you think about it, that an intelligent species could be entirely divided into two groups who look and generally think very differently
    For one, a creature's physical and biochemical attributes have nothing to do with its intelligence, which is generally measured as an ability to learn and solve complex problems.

    Secondly, we didn't start out as an intelligent species. We started out with an ancestor common to all apes, and gradually, over time, we developed greater intelligence.

    Sexual dimorphism is prevalent in many, many species. In many bird species, for example, it is the males which are colourful and the females are dull, for two reasons; many female birds show preferential mate-selection (eg, tail length, plumage colour) and this becomes a trade-off. A brightly coloured male will be more attractive to females, giving him a greater chance of passing his genes to his offspring, but at the same time, it will make him more visible to predators. Many female birds, however, need to sit on nests for long periods, so their plumage is dull or mottled to aid in camouflage.

    In lions, the mane-growth in males is controlled hormonally, as it is similarly controlled in humans, by testosterone and FSH. If a young male lion is castrated before puberty, it doesn't grow a proper mane and it will often continue to grow to larger than average sizes -- similar to the changes seen in eunochs, back when it was kosher to castrate boys. But again, it's part of mate-selection, just as is a male silverback gorilla's size and silver-colouration; a physical show of genetic and physical fitness which tells females that the individual is a good specimen to copulate with.

    In humans, the differences between men and women have become more subtle as we have become more civilised. In days of yore, the men did the hunting because the women had to nurse young children, and you can't take a young child out hunting aurochs or megaceross because one out-of-place wail and the whole thing will be ruined. Because women had to nurse, they were more suited to a gatherer role, and as a result, even to this day, many men display a greater spacial awareness than women (how far do I have to throw this spear to hit that mammoth?) whilst many women show a greater awareness of aesthetics and colour-tone than men (the last person who ate that shade of berry died, but the shade that is slightly lighter is safe to eat).

    These gender-differentiated rolls have to some extent persisted throughout the millennia, partially as vestigial sociological traits, partially controlled by our physiology. So no, I don't really think that it's odd that an intelligent species displays sexual dimorphism. I'd find it more odd if an intelligent species didn't show any sexual dimorphism at all.
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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Urban Spaceman View Post
    whilst many women show a greater awareness of aesthetics and colour-tone than men
    if that's the case we are most great artists men?

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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    Quote Originally Posted by slimjim View Post
    if that's the case we are most great artists men?
    Do you mean most great classical artists? If so, it's for the same reason that most great composers or classical writers were men; because up until quite recently, it was men who were given an education and men who were expected to make their way in the world. Women were not educated to the same standard as men, and often when they were educated, there was less of the arts and sciences, and more of the genteel things; sewing, darning, knitting, how to smile sweetly and politely inquire of your guest if they would like more tea before ordering your servant to pour from the pot. It's the same reason why most ladies were only allowed to ride side-saddle; in the past, many things were seen as unfit for women, such as getting an education and having ideas above their station.

    I think you'll find that these days, there are many great artists who are women. Just as there are many great musicians. In times past, a women may have been taught to play an instrument, perhaps the flute or violin or piano, but rarely would she have been encouraged to leave home and make a name for herself somewhere. At most, she would have performed for friends and family, and everybody would have told her how pleasant it was, but if she'd have said she wanted to become a composer, she would have been laughed at and promptly married off to the wealthiest man available in the hopes that raising a few children would curb her aspirations.
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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    i think that most would have two different sex's (male, female) since majority of earth species are. and all the high functioning animals are.

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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    I can honestly say the thought never crossed my mind...

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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Urban Spaceman View Post
    Do you mean most great classical artists?
    no, I was thinking about a documentary about 20th and 21st century Sculptures I once saw in which most of the artists where men, and the fact that I compulsively try and find out the name of the director of any film or TV show I watch and usually their men

    "whilst many women show a greater awareness of aesthetics and colour-tone than men"
    does this mean you think in an equal world most artists would be women

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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    Sculpturing requires more spatial awareness than most forms of art.

    Since we have no other planets to compare with, it's impossible to say whether it would even be possible to develop intelligence without sexual reproduction. If life on Earth had been contented with asexual reproduction, the most advanced form of life might very well be the amoeba, which reproduces by splitting in two. All amoeabas of the same species are clones of one another with at most minor mutations arising occasionally. Sexual reproduction is the fastest way to speed up the evolutionary process.
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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    Quote Originally Posted by slimjim View Post
    "whilst many women show a greater awareness of aesthetics and colour-tone than men"
    does this mean you think in an equal world most artists would be women
    Not necessarily. There is more to art than just colour. There is form and depth and shape, and art is not restricted to oil or water on canvas, it can be, as maneth mentioned, sculpture or jewelry-work or pottery or mural or mosaic.

    Quote Originally Posted by maneth View Post

    Since we have no other planets to compare with, it's impossible to say whether it would even be possible to develop intelligence without sexual reproduction. If life on Earth had been contented with asexual reproduction, the most advanced form of life might very well be the amoeba, which reproduces by splitting in two. All amoeabas of the same species are clones of one another with at most minor mutations arising occasionally. Sexual reproduction is the fastest way to speed up the evolutionary process.
    I'd say that this statement is both true and untrue. It could be that if life on Earth had been content with asexual reproduction, it would never even have evolved beyond the simple (prokaryotic) stage into the complex (eukaryotic) stage.

    But to say that sexual reproduction is the fastest method of evolution is somewhat inaccurate. Eurkaryotic life-forms represent (by diversity) only a small percentage of all life on Earth. Prokaryotes are far more numerous and diverse and in terms of mass (if not size) they're equivalent to eurkaryotes. And because they have short life-spans, they reproduce at a much faster rate, giving greater chance for mutation (in a similar way that you can follow mutations in fast-reproducing species like mice or rabbits much more rapidly than in humans or elephants).

    As far as mutation is concerned, whether spontaneous (eg point mutation) or induced chemically or via radiation, it does make more sense to have eukaryotic life, because one wrong base-pair mutation or deleterious allele can have extreme effects, and the more complex the life-form, the greater the chance of survival by preventing the mutation being passed on if the mutated individual in question is unable to procreate.

    Of course, meiotic cell division brings its own complications with it, with potential problems arising during conception quite apart from the potential problems of replication and transcription.

    On the subject of genetics, take a look at the Turritopsis nutricula -- the immortal jellyfish: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turritopsis_nutricula

    It is the only species of jellyfish that is able to revert back to its immature (polyp) stage once it has reached its mature (medusa) stage -- and can do this more than once, in what must be one of the very few examples of biological immortality (Wraith notwithstanding of course).
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Urban Spaceman View Post
    Not necessarily. There is more to art than just colour. There is form and depth and shape, and art is not restricted to oil or water on canvas, it can be, as maneth mentioned, sculpture or jewelry-work or pottery or mural or mosaic.
    a little bit of received wisdom I've heard from a lot of people over the years is that you tend to get more male artists, scientists and philosophers is because men are usually more single minded and are more willing then women to put their entire being into writing great screen play or whatever.... do you think that's at all fair?

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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    The educational opportunities for women in certain cultures could easily contribute to the disparity.

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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    Quote Originally Posted by slimjim View Post
    a little bit of received wisdom I've heard from a lot of people over the years is that you tend to get more male artists, scientists and philosophers is because men are usually more single minded and are more willing then women to put their entire being into writing great screen play or whatever.... do you think that's at all fair?
    A little bit of received wisdom I've heard over the years, is that just because a lot of people claim something is true, doesn't make it so.

    Do you think that's a fairly accurate précis?
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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Urban Spaceman View Post
    Do you think that's a fairly accurate précis?
    yes but that's only based on what people have told me about their own subjective experiences

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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    Honestly, I do not think gender will be unique to life on Earth. Many high functioning species seem to reproduce sexually, with each gender having a role in ensuring the survival of the next generation. Mind, this is just little old non-scientific me adding my two cents. I wish I had the obvious scientific knowledge of Urban Spaceman. US, your answers were all insightful and intelligent!
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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    Gender will not be unique to earth. It's obvious, there is life out there in space, life needs to reproduce; life needs a fertilizer and a womb in order for them to produce life. How life starts is a mystery but how life produces isn't; the fertilizer and the person holding the womb may be different genders or they may be gender neutral; either way, there are two roles and those two roles carry obvious differences that could be considered genders.

    In argument as to whether man or woman is different; I think neither because the differences between them have become so small. How we think is dependent on the experiences we have rather then the genders we are. Sure, there will be some differences due to the way we look and the way we speak but if we make everybody gender neutral and remove their defining features then the only thing that would matter is how they speak.

    Still, there will always be the differences and the stigmatism that comes with genders. Men = reproducers while woman = wombs in production terms.

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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zombies Rise from the Sea View Post

    How life starts is a mystery
    Becoming less and less mysterious, however. One hypothesis that's gaining popularity is the comet-seeding theory (Panspermia). It suggests that bacteria lying dormant (or perhaps even something more basic; amino acids) are present throughout the structures of comets, meteors and asteroids in space, and that whenever they impact a planet, some of these bacteria (or amino acids, whatever) survive the impact and, if met with ideal conditions can become active (in the case of bacteria) or (in the case of amino acids) can over time react with the sunlight and atmospheric gases to form more complex structures, eventually taking the form of viruses, bacteria etc etc.

    Exogenesis is another theory but that would require directed seeding of life (such as was done by the Ancients) by non-native life-forms (ie, extra-terrestrials).
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    Default Re: you think gender will turn out to be unique to life on earth?

    Quote Originally Posted by slimjim View Post
    a little bit of received wisdom I've heard from a lot of people over the years is that you tend to get more male artists, scientists and philosophers is because men are usually more single minded and are more willing then women to put their entire being into writing great screen play or whatever.... do you think that's at all fair?
    Men and woman doing science degrees is about the same but a lot of women drop out of the jobs after that probably because they couldn't do the heavy work load and have a family at the same time.

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