10 thoughts on “A new science of mating. eHistology.com?”

  1. I would suspect I would be a lot like Michael Bussee – just no response at all to female images.
    But lets say I did go for a scan and it showed some response to female images – and yet I know that I have no sexual arousal at all towards females – who gets the final word. I assume there must as well be a threshold – where over some response point there is enough attraction there to work with. Afterall, taken as a whole these scans would seem to indicate that all males are bisexual (which is something which I don’t believe).
    As far as being attracted to ‘manly men’ – yes a lot of gay men are – but lots of guys are attracted to softer and more effeminate men. Lots of gay men don’t really even seem to have a type (other than being male) or very broad types which attract them. My partner is a lot like that – in he can find many different types of guys attractive. Myself my attractions are a lot narrower – the bearish man will almost always turn my head first. But presumably the same can all be said about hetrosexual men.
    Finally, as to the idea that we cannot assume gay men are as strongly attracted to men, as straight men are to women seems to be contested by the societal evidence. Even in the face of harsh societal taboos – there are many gay men who only partner with other men. Surely if the attraction was weaker here as opposed to hetrosexuals this would rarely happen.

  2. Patrick,
    I think I said something to the same effect in the first post — genes are highly unlikely to determine attractions, maybe to influence them to some extent. On the scientism point, even biologists admit that we are going through a period when biological determinism is the fashion in understanding human behaviour. You can imagine the commercial potential these discoveries can have particularly in high-functioning and high-stress societies. People want to take the easy way out to disconnect, to find a match, etc.

  3. Evan said: “Neither homosexual men’s brains did show any pattern of aversion on seeing pornographic images of women.”
    They obviously didn’t scan my brain. I feel either nothing or definite aversion — depending on the image. A nude female figure? Nothing. A pornographic female image? Definite turn off. Male images, nude or graphic? All the lights go on.

  4. What I was talking about was this reductionist idea that genes can determine who are attracted to. Yes in some biology-centric view humans are probably coded to respond to a particular ‘type’ of person. And from purely the biological point of view that person might be well suited to procreate with. But sex for humans (not for homo sapiens) is about more than procreation. In fact we (as in society we) often do everything they can to have sex without procreation. Now unless someone wants to provide an argument that who we are best suited to procreating with on a purely genetic viewpoint – is also who is *best* suited to be with as a a life partner in a romantic/physically intimate relationship than I really cannot see these ‘DNA’ matching services will be anymore useful than just dating a variety of persons based on mutual factors (which would of couse include physical features). Someone infected with scientism will of course not be able to see this – because for them everything in life – including love – reduces to some scientific problem to be solved. The old adage – when you only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail seems appropriate here.

  5. Patrick,
    Wiki quote: “Humans, or human beings, are bipedal primates belonging to the mammalian species Homo sapiens (Latin: “wise human” or “knowing human”[1]) in the family Hominidae (the great apes).”
    Humans share a wide range of feelings and behaviours with all mammalians. It is true, though, that behaviours are a lot more culturally modulated, even repressed, in humans.
    Our emotional reactions may have some input from the parts of the brain that are responsible with judgment, reason, cultural affiliations. In fact, I think there is one theory of emotion I can remember of that says emotion must have some initial cognition to know how to react to something. But what you are talking about is closer to affinity-based relationship, which may be typical for more cognitive-oriented people or people who place more emphasis in their relationships on shared values (at least more than the average). However, I think these people are also moved by attractions they do not respond to behaviourally. That is what you described with your example: heterosexual men may display an expression of aversion on seeing two kissing men, however the empirically established fact until now is that their brains do not show aversive reactions, like the ones produced by disgust. Neither homosexual men’s brains did show any pattern of aversion on seeing pornographic images of women. Nature is a bit more surprising than we are ready to admit. If I remember right, wasn’t Plato who talked about love as an unruly horse?

  6. And here I thought these e-harmony sites were silly. Nothing will replace actually meeting someone, dating and seeing if you truly are compatible. There seems to be this idea that science can tell us who we are compatible with which strikes me as absurd.
    Consider the two words :
    Homo Sapien.
    Science can talk about the later group but not the former (to be sure there is some overlap). But science cannot tell what it means to be human. The idea of personhood/humanness is a concept that is larger than merely that our biology. Humanness involves society and culture and connections with other persons. Science might tell us what a good ‘mating’ pair for a homo sapien might be. But it certainly cannot tell us who we should or shouldn’t spend our lives with. Afterall intimate realtionships are about much more than mere ‘breeding’ (hint: this is why referring to straight perons as breeders is a put-down). Those infected by scientism seem to only want to view the world through this one lens.
    As Bjork sang ‘there is so much more to life than this’.
    As to these brainscans that reveal men are repullsed by male-male pornography – I would have to say the brain scans are simply too crude a measurement – unless we are to believe that most men are simply very good actors when they respond to male-male action (lets leave the porn part out – all you had to do is watch the reaction of straight men to male-male kissing to see my point).

  7. Michael Bussee,
    OK, let’s consider the theory you presented.
    Some facts: brainscans revealed that hetero males are not repelled by the sight of man-on-man pornographic material. They had low emotional reactions, but no aversion. More interesting is that gay males had higher peaks of emotional reaction to males and to a lesser extent, to females, but still their brain reactions to females were warmer than that of hetero males to naked males. That points to a different reality, which may not be as symetrical as we usually think starting from the premise that some men like men just as much as some men like women.
    Here is my layman explanation of this, after becoming a bit familiar with a few facts in neuroscience: feminine brains have a tend-and-befriend reaction to stress stimuli, while masculine brains are more fight-or-flight oriented. Maybe that is also true of arousal in general. Seeing or meeting a conspecific leads to social recognition (‘this is a human’), which can be followed by a range of possible emotional and behavioural responses: social anxiety, aggression, friendship, sex, affiliation, pair bonds, parental, social learning. It is currently assumed that gender recognition is seated in the amygdala (which showed greater activation in gay brains to both type of visual sexual stimuli). This is where facts end — and each can devise his own speculation based on that. In my opinion, gender perception is a domination game: the heterosexual (masculine) man is drawn to the woman he can perceive to be both attractive and submissive/shy/accepting/inviting, while the homosexual man appears to be overwhelmed by both sexes, but sexual attraction being a binary instinct, I think, they are more drawn to the sex that looks more physically impressive, the male sex. Logically, this indicates that they might be biased against feminine-looking guys (who might not produce enough thrill, or might look similar to females).
    Now, since attraction is this visual-emotional game of domination (provided the perceived individuals are deemed to be attractive too), I think it’s safe to assume that in males there is an overlap with an inner sense of goal-oriented aggressiveness (or assertiveness?), which is either directed outwards (active) or inwards (passive, shy, given to introspection). So gender attraction could be understood as a tame form of visual sexual aggression, in my opinion. This is where there appears to be more connections with the way typical response to stress is modulated in each gender: either self-protective or confrontational. Gay men probably have some brain areas that are low-masculinised and tend to have a too low threshold of assertiveness which factors into the emotional understanding of visual stimuli. If my memory does not fail me, there is one documented case of adventitious change in sexual orientation from homosexuality to heterosexuality in which a man was treated for anxiety (that must have reduced his awareness to stimuli that could produce stress) and encouraged to develop assertive skills. Apparently, the man started having heterosexual fantasies and crushes, while homosexual feelings subsided. That kind of falls into line with many facts we know and some connections that I keep finding scattered in the literature. But it was a one-time, as far as I know. I’ll stop here before shooting too many blanks.

  8. Here’s my theory; Heterosexual males are “hard-wired” to be automatically attracted to the sensory cues of female sex characterisics: the curve of the body shape, the presence of breasts, the contours of face, mouth, lips, the scent of a woman, etc.
    At the same time, they are also “hard-wired” to be repelled by the secondary sex characteistics of other males: the angularity of the body, facial hair, scent, etc. Females are “sensed” as attractive — as potential mates. Something automatically “lights up” in the brain.
    Other males are not preceived in this way. In fact, other males unconsciously are “sensed” as NON candidates for mating — more as potential competitors for receptive females. In straight men, the magnetic needle of attrraction automatically points “north” (towards female cues) and away from other males. “south”.
    In gay men, the magnetic needle (the automatic, sensory, visceral attractions) are reversed. Males are preceived as potential mates, not women. WHY this is so is a question that is still unanswered. Learning surely plays a part, but I suspect most of it is unlearned.

  9. There are so many factors at play in human mating games! Some people may be attracted to a person for psychological reasons that have little to do with their genetics (Are so many people attracted to movie or music stars because those are widely genetically compatible with them? Or because their facial features match such great diversity of admirers’ faces? I don’t think so.). I’d say most are attracted to people who remind them of people they were attracted to during childhood or puberty. Possibly some of those attractions are not the best outcomes in evolutionary terms. People becoming attracted to each other because they are genetically compatible and they become aware of that, based on algorithmic calculations, seems rather implausible. But I see some potential, when the time is ripe, to avoid some genetic mismatches between people that are attracted to each other and want to have children.
    On another point, scientists agree we don’t know yet what exactly creates gender attractions but now we see some mating researchers claiming to know what creates individual attractions. It looks like flies and mice get better services! 🙂

Comments are closed.