Molecular biology and social science theory
November 29, 2010 | jim
As I suspected might happen in the evolutionary psychology discussion group, a discussant incorporated molar level social science that I think skews the meaning and interpretation of what’s happening at the molecular level. The discussion about biological facts and social science theory leads nowhere when the facts change. For example, there are social scientists who are convinced that inbreeding is not detrimental to species survival. This means they need not examine further the data supporting reasons for the obvious and overwhelming genetic diversity among and across species. No need to learn about human endogenous retroviruses and speciation if inbreeding is not detrimental.
Also, what I have consistently seen in my social science readings is a representation of dichotomous sexual differentiation, when what I support with molecular biology is that sexual differentiation occurs across life’s continuum. The molar level representation of “sperm competition” is so far afield of the molecular biology that discussion of differences will take decades.
In this regard, I’ve not seen any evolutionary psychology group-discussion about signals from the ovum that elicit chemotaxis; olfactory receptors in sperm; or the odor hedonics of bourgeonal. The integration of these topics from molecular biology suggests that sexual competition at the gamete level is not one-sided as is frequently represented and incorporated into social science theory. The lack of discussion of the enchanting female side of gamete competition makes me wonder how much longer it will be before someone writes a book on egg competition that catches the eye of the masses that might want to learn how to win the battle of the sexes with their eggs (or who might think they would be learning about how to win a food fight).
For an indication of how quickly molecular biology can make social science theory seem outdated and sometimes silly (at least to me) I’ve linked to two articles below that may be somewhat enlightening with regard to the molecular biology of gamete competition.
http://chemse.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/bjq030v1 Note: first example of a sex -specific phenotypic difference in olfactory sensitivity that favors males.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00359-010-0580-y Note: sperm chemotaxis controlled by olfactory receptors might be a general phenomenon in mammals