Limb Theorizing

April 21, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

As an amateur theorist without recourse to experimentation, surveys or studies to prove a hypothesis, I find myself relying upon several paths of exploration.  First, without an ability to prove step by step the various conjectures I come up with, I keep running “as if” frames, seeking the implications of a hypothesis if true.  A rather hefty disadvantage to this way of thinking is that I’m usually several assumptions or presuppositions away from conventional theory, several steps away from orthodoxy down a logic chain to a particular conclusion.  Though I may feel I have arrived at a particularly elegant or powerful solution to the various anomalies that have emerged during the journey, others may not have even gotten to the point where an anomaly was even noted.

For example, confused for years by the anomaly of Asian male neoteny in a patrifocal society, I came to a resolution of the anomaly by integrating estrogen into an evolutionary equation that formerly only noted the effects of testosterone.  My paying close attention to testosterone itself was based upon the resolution of an anomaly that emerged in Norman Geschwind’s work that explained a gap in Stephen Gould’s hypothesis of how neoteny unfolds in humans.  Gould’s work, noting the influence of heterochrony in human evolution, is not considered relevant to sexual selection advocates like Geoffrey Miller, whose work is more or less where that logic pathway started.

In other words, for human sexual selection to work, it required heterochronic theory, which required endocrine system insights revolving around testosterone, which created social structure anomalies, resolved by integrating estrogen into the equation.

Why someone with a year of biology and a year of chemistry in high school, no science or math taken in college, would walk this particular pathway mostly, I think, has to do with training in art, psychology, hypnotherapy, meditation and practical mysticism.  The exact same internal experience of feeling led, characteristic of participation in a work of art, compels me to theorize.  Whereas in art I use features of my experience to draw a conclusion in the form of pictures and/or words, in science I use features of the existing science literature and my experience to draw conclusions in the form of theories.  In both cases, I mostly work at getting out of the way of my unconscious.  My unconscious tosses me integrations of experiences, experiences I have had because my unconscious suggested it would be fun or interesting to read or do those things.  How do I know my unconscious wants me to have a certain experience?  I feel attracted.  If I feel attracted to something, I figure my unconscious wants me to have that experience.

Second, unable to perform experiments, I constantly look for opportunities in my life that support or don’t support my conjectures.  For example, I use my own body as a laboratory to explore the effects or symptoms of the various foods that I ingest.  I hypothesize diet is very influential on our hormonal levels.  I observe those effects where I can.  Observing closely the relationships of couples around me, I draw conclusions based upon what I observe are their body types, personalities, physical health and symptoms, handedness and the features of their relatives.  As an amateur, I gather information where I can.

Complicating the whole process, I have not been trained in science conventions.  It’s not like my observations can be codified in a form that can be statistically parsed out for more or less robust conclusions.  There are no percentages when one is informing by experiences.  If I’m ignoring data in my life that do not conform with my conclusions, there is no peer-reviewed vehicle to keep me honest.

I’m extremely lucky that I feel loved.  Earlier in my life this tendency to feel led was complicated by an introverted, narcissistic personality with self-aggrandizing tendencies, difficulties communicating and a vivid imagination.  I often felt alone and not understood.

I still often don’t feel understood.  Yet, at 56 I feel part of a community.  Being out on a limb doesn’t mean you have to be there by yourself.


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