Tongue-rolling Myth?


“Tongue-rolling is genetic.”


Ruling:
Mostly false. Not enough data, and probably a generalisation of the term ‘genetic’.

Analysis:
A famous 1940 paper claimed tongue rolling was at least partially genetic. Another famous 1975 paper refuted this. Currently, there is not enough data to come to a solid conclusion, but most of the evidence points out that this trait arises from specific environmental influences that affect the individual.

See other: Mythconceptions?

Genetic Linguistics


Osiatynski: What, then, in the field of linguistics, are the greatest achievements?

Chomsky: I think the most important work that is going on has to do with the search for very general and abstract features of what is sometimes called universal grammar: general properties of language that reflect a kind of biological necessity rather than logical necessity; that is, properties of language that are not logically necessary for such a system but which are essential invariant properties of human language and are known without learning. We know these properties but we don’t learn them. We simply use our knowledge of these properties as the basis for learning.

Osiatynski: Do we genetically inherit this knowledge?

Chomsky: Yes, we must. In fact, by universal grammar I mean just that system of principles and structures that are the prerequisites for acquisition of language, and to which every language necessarily conforms.

Osiatynski: Does it mean that this genetic basis of language is universal?

Chomsky: Yes, that’s right. But we are only one species. You can imagine a different world in which a number of species developed with different genetically determined linguistic systems. It hasn’t happened in evolution. What has happened is that one species has developed, and the genetic structure of this species happens to involve a variety of intricate abstract principles of linguistic organization that, therefore, necessarily constrain every language, and, in fact, create the basis for learning language as a way of organizing experience rather than constituting something learned from experience.

Osiatynski: Would such knowledge also be helpful in understanding human nature?

Chomsky: It would, in two respects. For one thing, it is by itself a part of a study of human intelligence that is, perhaps, the central aspect of human nature. And second, I think, it is a good model for studying other human properties, which ought to be studied by psychologists in the same way.

– Wiktor Osiatynski (ed.), Contrasts: Soviet and American Thinkers Discuss the Future (MacMillan, 1984), pp. 95-101

Trivialities of Gay Marriage


Why would people oppose something as trivial as gay marriage? The amount of time that is spent discussing this topic is staggering. The amount of energy that is spent opposing this civil right is equally astounding.

In the face of the actual problems that mankind faces at this moment: poverty, hunger, disease, pollution, ignorance, illiteracy, sexism, tyranny, warfare, et cetera, civilised society stands even more dumbstruck by the intolerance that is displayed in opposing this issue.

In order to get a better understanding of the objections that are made by the people who are opposed to two consenting adults expressing their love in front of their family, friends and society at large, let us consider the following questions:[1]

Why do people oppose gay marriage? –

Appeal To Tradition (“Sanctity of Marriage”)

Is it because of the assumption that only men and women can marry each other?
In 1967, less than fifty years ago, sixteen U.S. States still forbade interracial marriage on the grounds that the “sanctity of marriage” should not be violated. Nowadays, similar arguments are used to prevent gay people from getting married. This appeal to tradition has been recognised for the rhetorical fallacy it is for some time now.[2]

Is it because of the assumption that only one man and one woman can produce offspring by having sex?
Because of our advanced understanding of human procreation, it is possible for people to use a surrogate mother who carries an embryo created by in vitro fertilisation; it is also possible for people to use a sperm, egg or embryo donor. For some time now, procreation has not been necessarily about just one a man and one woman.

Is it because of the assumption that, regardless of sexual intercourse, only one man and one woman combined can produce offspring?
Thanks to our accomplishments in the field of genetics it is possible nowadays to create a human being out of the genetic material of one human as well as out of the combined genetic material of three humans.

Is it because of the assumption that only a marriage can produce offspring?
Currently, over 40% of the children born in the USA are born “out of wedlock”. And again, thanks to our extensive knowledge of biology, we know that a marriage certificate is not a prerequisite for the fertilisation of the ovum.

Is it because of the assumption that a marriage should produce offspring?
In that case, should the government not grant marriage licences to all people who are physically incapable of having children? And should this also apply to people who do not want children?

“I’m modern. I say ‘black’ instead of ‘coloured’. I think women are a good thing. I’ve got no problem with gays; most of them are very well turned out… especially the men.” – Peter Mannion The Thick Of It

Is it because of the assumption that gay marriage (and everything related to it) is unnatural?
At the time of writing, 642 species of animal have been observed having homosexual activity.[3] As for the narrower view that gay love would be “unnatural to human beings”, thanks to genetics, we know this is not true.

Is it because of the assumption that gay marriage is not a (civil) right?
In 1959, the philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote in her book Dissent “The right to marry whoever one wishes is an elementary human right compared to which ‘the right to attend an integrated school, the right to sit where one pleases on a bus, the right to go into any hotel or recreation area or place of amusement, regardless of one’s skin or color or race’ are minor indeed.”

Is it because of the assumption that if society allows this civil right, society should allow a lot of other rights later?
“The assumption that a relatively small first step will inevitably lead to a chain of related (negative) events” is called the slippery slope fallacy. In this case, apparently, it is the notion that legalising gay marriage will eventually lead to people having turtle sex.[4] Please note that the slippery slope argument is not to be confused with the warped causality of statements such as: gay marriage leads to floods, et cetera.[5]

Is it because of the assumption that marriage is meant for raising children and two parents of the same sex cannot adequately raise children?
According to a major 2014 study conducted by researchers from the University of Melbourne, children raised by same-sex couples actually do a bit better than the general population on measures of general health and family cohesion.

Is it because of the assumption that a man and a woman should be married?
Why should men and women be married?[6]

Is it the fact that some people are made uncomfortable by, for instance, two men making out?
If so, who cares?[7]

“Homosexuality is a form of love and it deserves our respect for that reason.” – Christopher Hitchens


[1] None of the objections mentioned in this article refer to metaphysical entities such as gods, angels, et cetera, nor does it refer to the Bible, Torah or similar mythological works mainly because of the Dennettian Lucille Argument. (With the Lucille Argument, the philosopher Daniel Dennett proved that any argument which is nonsensical, discredited, has a doubtful source, et cetera, can be countered by the equally weak argument “Well, my friend Lucille says otherwise.” Should the Lucille statement be questioned, Dennett was fond of replying “A friend of mine – Lucille. She’s always right.”)

[2] Words like “tradition”, “institution”, “sanctity” and “covenant” are the usual fuzzy nonsense indicators in such apologetic sentences.

[3] Even though homosexuality is common in nature, humanity is the only species that is capable of homophobia. Sure, we can spell “homophobia” but that does not tell the whole story.

[4] In 2003, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor expressed his concern that legalising gay marriage would eventually lead to bestial unions “But here you go, this is the slippery slope. You legalize gay marriage, gay sex and all of that, then anybody who wants to marry five people can do it, and commune people can do it. You can marry a turtle, …”

[5] In 2014, UKIP councillor David Silvester was suspended from the party when he said the serious floods in the UK were the direct result of the legalisation of gay marriage.

[6] Tedious and probably nonsensical though it would be, it would also be amazingly original to read an answer to this question that does not have the subtext “because my religion says so”.

[7] Please note the common ‘I-think-lesbian-sex-is-hot-though’ double standard.

Fisherian Runaway‏


The Fisher’s runaway process for species development consists of the two phases which he outlines in his genetical theory of natural selection:

Phase 1

Female preferences initially evolve because the preferred traitis favored by natural selection and hence the offspring are more likely to carry the beneficial trait.

Whenever appreciable differences exist in a species, which are in fact correlated with selective advantage, there will be a tendency to select also those individuals of the opposite sex which most clearly discriminate the difference to be observed, and which most decidedly prefer the more advantageous type.

Phase 2

Once female preferences exist, males with the trait are even more fit (both a natural and a sexual selection advantage). There will then be an ever increasing selective force favouring stronger preferences and more extreme traits (Fisher’s runaway process).

The further development of the character trait will still proceed, by reason of the advantage gained in sexual selection, even after it has passed the point in development at which its advantage in Natural Selection has ceased.

Summary

  1. Males and females have different constraints on reproduction:
    1. Females tend to be limited by fertility,
    2. Males limited by mating success;
  2. This disparity leads to:
    1. Males having a much larger variance in reproductive success;
    2. Female “choosiness” (the bases for which are not always clear);
  3. This choosiness leads to extreme male traits, often at odds withmale viability fitness.

Lobulus Auriculae Reveals


‘Human earlobes may be free or detached (hanging free from the head) or attached (joined to the head). Whether the earlobe is free or attached is a classic example of a simple genetic dominance relationship; freely hanging earlobes are the dominant allele and attached earlobes are recessive. Therefore, a person whose genes contain one allele for free earlobes and one for attached lobes will display the freely hanging lobe trait. It is a common misconception that this implies a precise 3-to-1 ratio between free and attached lobes in the human population. Such a ratio would require that the allele frequency for free lobes were precisely 50%, which there is no reason to assume.’

– Lai L.Y. 1946. Observations on Ear Lobe Types (Acta Genetica et Statistica Medica) Basel, Switzerland: Karger (1966) p. ?