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Re: [xmca] Re: Dogs

This yesterday on fostering attunement, ontogenetically...


Dogs Decoded was a PBS Nova documentary and is available on their website, but sometimes these links work only for computers in the US. 



On Nov 11, 2010, at 3:49 AM, Rod Parker-Rees wrote:

> The Milan Kundera observation is very powerful - Martin's observation about the evolution of neoteny chimed with what I was thinking last night as I pondered how association with dogs might have changed us. All pure speculation for me but if early hominids who liked the affection shown by 'pre-domesticated' wolf-dogs had even a marginally better chance of survival (through cooperative hunting) than others we may have been selected for 'dog-friendliness' and, stretching the speculation further, humans who had come to enjoy playing with puppies may have been ever so slightly more willing to play with their children too. This, I believe, is all that would be needed to accelerate the development of intersubjectivity, attunement and, ultimately, culture. My own belief is that we shouldn't look for 'what makes us human' in babies but rather in how adults behave with babies (growing up with/around humans seems to have significant effects on the 'psychology' of other species, including chimps, dogs, parrots and crows as well as on human babies).
> Where was 'Dogs Decoded' shown? Any chance I would be able to find it here in the UK?
> All the best,
> Rod
> P.S. Clive Bromhall's 2003 book 'The eternal child' provides an interesting overview of the theory that we are evolving with an ever extending childhood and a selective preference for 'child-like' traits although, as this review (http://www.human-nature.com/nibbs/03/moxon.html) argues, he goes a bit over the top on elaborating possible implications.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of mike cole
> Sent: 11 November 2010 03:34
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Re: Dogs
> Steve-- Consider this way of thinking about the dumb things we do throughout
> our lives:
> "We leave childhood without knowing what youth is, we marry without knowing
> what it is to be
> married, and even when we enter old age, we don't know what it is we're
> heading for; the old
> are innocent children of their old age. In that sense a man's world is a
> planet of inexperience."
> Milan Kundera in *The art of the novel.
> *mike
> Ps- (Fits my experience, death and taxes notwithstanding)
> On Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 6:48 PM, Steve Gabosch <stevegabosch@me.com> wrote:
>> Well put, Martin, and an interesting question to pose.  When one steps back
>> and thinks of the quantity and scope of plants and animals that humans have
>> domesticated - and many more that humans have influenced, such as crows, who
>> I understand are not known to live further than 5 km from human habitation
>> anywhere in the world - on every continent and in every possible environment
>> - not to mention the massive forest, mountainside, plains, steppe, jungle
>> etc. management humans engaged in long before industrial economies - it is
>> easier to grasp the idea that humans have been biologically domesticating
>> themselves just as they have been mastering this planet's flora and fauna.
>> Selecting for immaturity (neoteny) is a very interesting aspect to
>> emphasize.  It also puts a nicer spin on some of the dumb things I have done
>> as an adult!  LOL
>> - Steve
>> On Nov 10, 2010, at 1:28 PM, Martin Packer wrote:
>> Larry,
>>> I too saw the Dogs Decoded documentary last night, and found it
>>> fascinating. As you described, the evidence suggests that domestication of
>>> wolves has changed their DNA only a fraction (98.6% the same as wolves, if I
>>> recall correctly), but nevertheless has transformed their inherited
>>> behavior. Dogs, but not wolves, can follow human pointing gestures and even
>>> eye direction. They spontaneously pay attention to human activity, and
>>> quickly learn to respond to spoken commands and even identify objects by
>>> name.
>>> The suggestion in the documentary was that this has occurred through
>>> selective breeding of the least aggressive animals in each generation, and
>>> that this amounts to selecting for characteristics of immature animals. The
>>> youngest wolves are the least aggressive, so that selective breeding of
>>> wolves for less aggression will actually over time slow their developmental
>>> process.
>>> We have domesticated wolves as dogs; haven't we also domesticated
>>> ourselves? If 50 generations of selective breeding can transform a wolf or a
>>> fox, what has tens of thousands of years of our own selective breeding done
>>> to and for humans? Darwin noted the phenomenon of sexual selection -  mates
>>> are selected, and bred with, for their desirable characteristics.
>>> Aggression, I suppose, in some societies, but presumably playfulness in
>>> others. We have 99% of our genome in common with chimpanzees, but that small
>>> difference has been the product not only of random variation but also of
>>> cultural selection. The finding that childhood in homo sapiens lasts much
>>> longer than it did for homo habitus, for example, suggests that we too have
>>> selected ourselves for characteristics of immaturity. Are we slowing down
>>> our own ontogenesis, and as a consequence giving ourselves more time to
>>> learn to master the complexities of modern life?
>>> Martin
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