January 2, 2009 | 2 Comments
To suggest I’m out on a limb here would be to understate the situation. This website and its three sister websites (see lower left) outline the details of an alternative theory of evolution based upon all three of Darwin’s theories of evolution integrated with an understanding of the relevance of recent discoveries in neuropsychology. This theory began when I hypothesized that we evolved within matrifocal societies driven by runaway sexual selection choosing cooperative, dancing males, following a neotenous trajectory. In my readings I had discovered that brains have been growing smaller for many thousands of years as we’ve turned patrifocal. I looked for evidence that there are males alive today, males that would be examples of an ancient matrifocal larger brain type with difficulty speaking, having been wired for gesture. I discovered that many autistic males have larger brains.
I immersed myself in the neuropsychological literature surrounding these issues. This was ten years ago. Geschwind and Galaburda’s Cerebral Lateralization opened the door. Reading Geschwind and several hundred additional books and papers, I discovered details revolving around that fact that at six weeks before birth, the mother’s testosterone level sets the testosterone levels of her children, establishing their maturation rate for life.
It became clear that at this seminal moment in existence, ontogeny, society and biology converge. I matched up nineteenth-century theories of heterochrony or the studies of the rate and timing of maturation and development of individuals and their effects upon evolution with a 21st century understanding of the effects of hormones upon ontogeny. Integral to making this connection between 19th and 21st centuries is noting the central position of sexual selection and social structure mediating the effects that hormones have upon evolution.
Evolutionary biology (heterochronic theory + all three of Darwin’s theories), anthropology (with an emphasis on social structure) and neuropsychology (brain and hormone studies) are all integral to an understanding of evolution.
It’s next to impossible to prove an evolutionary theory. Yet, this theory advances itself as a fairly seamless whole (there are anomalies) with some predictive power. This theory provides a number of opportunities to conduct experiments (click here). Setting up studies to retrieve clean data is a challenge. Environment is very difficult to control. Nevertheless, ten years ago I predicted that equatorial populations transplanted to Northern climes will evidence far higher percentages of autism. With the recent news about Minnesotan Somalis, that seems to be the case. This theory of evolution hypothesizes that autism manifests maturational delay in males and maturational acceleration in females that directly reflect a high testosterone uterine environment that is an example of ancient matrifocal societies. This theory of evolution, what I’ve been calling the Theory of Waves, describes the causes of genetic-based autism and predicts the conditions that will result in extreme maturational delay for males, extreme maturational acceleration for females.
I say that I’m out on a limb because this is not orthodoxy. It’s not even unorthodox in the sense that this is a theory that has not even been established as beyond the pale. Though available on the web for over 10 years, posted first on 11/7/98, one paper outlining this theory has appeared in a New Zealand psychohistory academic newsletter, but no papers have mentioned this theory, no academic websites have discussed details. There is no evidence that there has been a single conversation between academics concerning this theory.
My training is as an artist and illustrator. I am a web developer by profession, a specialist in search engine optimization. My four sites detailing this theory have received, no exaggeration, over one million visits in 10 years.
So, there is interest. Yet, clearly there is hesitation to investigate.
Out on a limb in the sense that I’m plucking fruits from branches others are not yet exploring, I’d like to wiggle a little further out on this evolutionary tree that has kept me nourished with so many interesting ideas.
In the last two entries, I’ve outlined the anomaly of Asian patrifocal societies revealing neoteny in both males and females. Please click over to Estrogen Riddle and Estrogen Conundrum and review. If testosterone is integral to evolution in all the ways outlined in earlier entries, then what might the influence of estrogen be if by some chance estrogen influences evolution in ways similar to the ways that the testosterone dynamic unfolds? Might estrogen explain the anomaly of Asian patrifocal neoteny? If so, what other answers to mysteries might emerge?
Established so far, high testosterone males mate with low testosterone females in patrifocal societies while low testosterone males pair off with high testosterone females in matrifocal societies. This is our foundation for sexually selected social structures informing evolution, moderated by changes in mother’s uterine testosterone levels influenced by the environment.
Consider that humans also evolve according to the edicts of estrogen, with a mother’s uterine estrogen levels influenced by the environment, with high-estrogen mothers birthing high-estrogen daughters and low-estrogen sons, and low-estrogen mothers having low-estrogen daughters and high-estrogen sons.
There is absolutely no reason this should be true. Going out on a limb is relatively easy if there is little at stake. I’m not an academic with a following or allies to alienate. As an artist, I feel rewarded if an idea shows promise, even if it does not pan out.
We begin with a single conjecture. Let’s make believe that Asian women have low estrogen to support the societal compulsion to engage in female infanticide. With high estrogen, deep, immediate bonds with infants would form a barrier when seeking to make this societal sacrifice. In addition, let’s assume Asian males have relatively high estrogen. We’ll assume this both because it fits the testosterone paradigm of complementary opposites and because we have the perhaps related evidence that Asian spiritual practices revolve around aesthetics, community and compassion.
That would set up the following sixteen tentative testosterone (T) and estrogen (E) matrix of relationships.
Patri Female low T, low e Male high T, high e Asian
Patri Female low T, low e Male high T, low e
Hybrid Female low T, low e Male low T, high e Scandinavian?
Hybrid Female low T, low e Male low T, low e Scandinavian?
Patri Female low T, high e Male high T, high e
Patri Female low T, high e Male high T, low e
Hybrid Female low T, high e Male low T, high e Scandinavian?
Hybrid Female low T, high e Male low T, low e Scandinavian?
Hybrid Female high T, low e Male high T, high e
Hybrid Female high T, low e Male high T, low e
Matri Female high T, low e Male low T, high e
Matri Female high T, low e Male low T, low e
Hybrid Female high T, high e Male high T, high e
Hybrid Female high T, high e Male high T, low e
Matri Female high T, high e Male low T, high e
Matri Female high T, high e Male low T, low e African/ Polynesian
Though societies will cluster in more than one of the sixteen categories I am suggesting, societies will emphasize one or two. I find myself forming gross generalizations about a society by trying to fit that culture into one category. Assigning cultures to these categories can be an interesting game providing an opportunity to notice where one’s personal prejudices still linger. Yet, if it can be determined if there are direct physiological/neurological/psychological correlations with these sixteen options, and that evolutionary trajectories can be established (following the example of how testosterone drives neoteny and acceleration drives human evolution), then estrogen can join testosterone as integral to understanding human evolution.
This is a very big “as if” frame or interlocking series of conjectures. A quick exploration of PubMed and Google reveals some interesting supporting and not exactly supporting results of studies. What we would be looking for, if you’re interested in barking up this tree with me, is evidence of physiological, neurological and psychological patterns congregating around these sixteen categories.
There are studies supporting weight gain for people with elevated estrogen, for example. Yet, we also know that weight gain raises testosterone levels in women. So, we might estimate that elevated estrogen allies with elevated testosterone in women, which would be expected because both support a matrifocal context. (High estrogen women would be inhibited from engaging in female infanticide, a hallmark of patrifocal cultures. High testosterone women are the foundation of matrifocal society.)
So, what societies evidence particularly high or low estrogen levels? How do high or low estrogen levels manifest physiologically? With answers to these questions, maybe patterns of how societies are influenced by estrogen will emerge.
And, if we’re lucky, more anomalies will appear.