Before we get into this, ask yourself this: if you're not an expert in a given field, or even of roughly average-level understanding of it, and someone uses a word from that field you think is dubious should you a.) wikipedia it real fast, b.) ask someone who knows the field to explain it to you, c.) do neither and just starting calling the person a retard?
That's right, 'c.' is the correct answer.
Enter username donkane, who has a question as to why there are more women in churches than in atheism. Aside from the patriarchy (which is the answer to all not answered by 42 - itself still being investigated as an agent of the patriarchy), Don goes back and forth with some of the usual cast: sallystrange, caine, John Morales (hi, John!), jadehawk, Salty Cu[rre]nt and dear Claire. Be easy on Claire; she's a bit touched.
So, round and round they go with all of the porcupine up in the ass invitations, and cupcake offers, and well, standard fare at the boring shake shoppe. Don writes at comment 413,
Hmm. I like part of it. It does explain the usual phenotypes of many of the atheist women, strong and outspoken and notlikelytotakeshit.I'm not a biologist, but like most science students I've taken the introductory classes. So, I'm vaguely familiar with the term to the extent that I can remember having to calculate ratios bearing that name. Punnet squares were fun. At any rate, not being an expert if I wanted to call Don here on his use of it, I'd have done the due diligence and looked it up. I'll use wikipedia because it's listed later on as being not good enough:
A phenotype is an organism's observable characteristics or traits: such as its morphology, development, biochemical or physiological properties, behavior, and products of behavior (such as a bird's nest). Phenotypes result from the expression of an organism's genes as well as the influence of environmental factors and the interactions between the two.This is consistent with what I remember from high school and college: phenotype deals with things one can see about an organism. So, yeah. But I'm not the scholar PZ's readers all are (just ask them!), so let's see how I stack up against their combined intellectual weight.
Sally @ 416:
This word, “phenotype”… I do not think it means what you think it means.Don @ 424:
sorry. I’m a geneticist. just part of my vocab.Now the fun starts, after he notes he has some grants to reject and "Consider, for example, that women are more socially adept creatures and religion might play into that talent somehow? Just something to chew on"
Donkane is a cowardly liar. Feel free to come back and prove me wrong, Donkane. Yes of course, all those research grants. Busy busy now! And those BIG BIG words! “Phenotype,” golly, what a smart cookie you are!Jade @ 438:
also, the suggestion to chew on a dead, beaten horse is kind of gross.Caine @ 449:
No, Cupcake. The problem is your utterly abysmal comprehension abilities. Have a porcupine, Sugarbrain. Be sure to pound it hard and please don’t leave assprints on our door. Ta.John Morales @ 574:
Cultural influence is not meant to be part of definition, as your quotation (“… and products of behavior (such as a bird’s nest)”) apparently (but misleadingly) implies.
Bernard 'the retard' Bumner responds to John @ 576:
Phenotype is usually applied to behaviour with a primarily genetic basis, but certainly with an inherent organismal basis. Not only is it probably innappropriate to describe the majority of typical human behaviour as phenotypic, since human behaviour is probably primarily culturally derived, the mooted explanation for the behaviour in question was clearly cultural . . .As someone with a Ph.D. in geneticis, I find this abuse of the terminology by a geneticist like donkane somewhat puzzling.Carlie offers emphatic intellectual support @578:
NO PHENOTYPE DOES NOT REFER TO BEHAVIOR OR CULTURE.ChasCPeterson spikes the serve back to Carlie @583:
One can’t get away with using a Wikipedia definition for a science term on a science blog.
That’s almost as bad as “it’s just a theory”.
OH YES IT MOST CERTAINLY DOESBernard @588 notices something's awry:
It’s all very well to sniff at Wikipedia, but you’re unfamiliar with the entire field of ethology/behavioral ecology? Tinbergen’s questions, etc.?
True enough, but I think it is very difficult to describe typical complex human behaviour as a phenotype. Not because there is no phenotypic effect on human behaviour, but because it seems unlikely that any phenotype could be clearly defined for typical complex behaviour . . .What is certain is that phenotype cannot legitimately be used to describe culturally-derived behaviour.Carlie breaks out the pom-poms @589:
Everything Bernard just said. I assumed it was clear that I was talking about complex behavior of the type I was directly referencing re: the “women, who can understand ‘em?” comment, but I guess it wasn’t.ChasCPeterson again tries talking sense to Bernard, et al, regards Bernard's last quoted sentence @593:
Arguing semantics is a waste of time, but even this statement is problematic. Anything observable about an organism is part of its phenotype. Every phenotypic trait–morphological, physiological, biochemical, yes, behavioral–is expressed as the product of some combination of genes and environmental influence. Sometimes it’s all one or all the other, but very often an interesting question is how much nature and how much nurture? (This is the whole subject of phenotypic plasticity, reaction norms, etc.). Even a putatively purely cultural complex behavior (e.g. fishing for termites with a grass stem) is most certainly part of the phenotype, by any coherent definition.Don returns @597:
Unless you have been trained to presuppose all ‘complex’ behavior to be purely cultural in origin, there is no way to draw a bright line dividing ‘culturally derived’ behaviors from ‘phenotypic’ ones a priori. There is also no complexity cutoff.
So, sorry, holding the line on this one.
“What is certain is that phenotype cannot legitimately be used to describe culturally-derived behaviour.”Bernard learns a heart-warming lesson @599:
Thought I would chime in here.
I used phenotype correctly, to mean any morphological or behavioral manifestation of the genotype, and it was based on the fact that women in freethought groups tend to be “strong and outspoken and notlikelytotakeshit”. (data not shown) These are traits and they would be expected to have a genetic basis even if their penetrance and expressivity are modulated by culture and other personal experience.
You know, it’s why you dont buy puppies sired by a dog that bites…?
And the idea was to ask about that the idea that something more than cultural bias might explain the simple observation that women are in church more than men. What something in the female phenotype is, on average, different from the male phenotype?
You know, genetic differences between the sexes, like most other animals on the planet.
and the data not shown, that was a multi level joke.
My failure to distinguish personality trait a subset (as I see it) of culturally-derived behaviour, as the thing I was describing does mean that my general case argument was weakened. (It is perfectly plausible, even likely, to suggest that some culturally-derived behaviours can interact with inherent traits to the point that phenotype is the best description.)Pteryxx comes late to the party and immediately shows his stupidity @601:
How the FRICK do you get off calling yourself a “geneticist” while expounding a fallacy covered in introductory genetics? Citation FRICKIN’ needed, creature . . .I want donkane out of the genetics boat, NOW.Don does response to Bernard (quoted by him) @606:
Sally shows off her pedigree, and acumen @608:
“Unless you’re arguing that essentially any trait of a an organism can be described as a phenotype simply by virtue of the genetic basis of life, then I think you cannot make that statement.”
Sorry. Any trait. We sort of gloss it over and call it “wild type” or “normal”, but that is just all the traits together.
Take someones face for example. Various “traits” were inherited from her mom and dad, like the shape of her nose, her eye brows, the way her forehead wrinkles, the dimple in her chin. but they all are phenotypes that are expressed from semi-dominant genes she inherited from her parents.
And behaviors are traits too. You can argue that the genetic basis for “temper” is complex, but it is still a trait, just like fruit fly sex-specific mating behaviors.
But I return to my first question, which has been only criticized on this thread not answered: are there sex specific traits that cause females to like organized religions?
are there sex specific traits that cause females to like organized religions?Well, I don’t know, champ.
As my 11th grade chemistry professor, Mr. Rorschach, would say: “What do you think?”
So, this is the tune they were singing on the 28th of this month.
Fast forward to today when @342 Caine decides to insult Don some more, taking a note from Echidna who was insulting an unrelated person:
Therefore I call BS on the idea that you have science to do.Hee. Oh, pardon my amusement, Echidna. You must have missed donkane in this thread. Him is a geneticist, oh yes!
What are they squawking when PZ finally decided to be honest for a moment when he said @348?
Actually, I know donkane in real life. He is a geneticist, a good one, and he was using “phenotype” perfectly appropriately.
Caine showing she still doesn't understand don's question (and lying about not impugning his scientific acumen which was only in question because of the use of phenotype) @349:
Okay. I wasn’t referring to the phenotype business though, but his obtuseness when it came to grasping simple points about women entrenched in patriarchal religions.Echidna not at all late to the party @351:
Caine,And Echidna @353:
I checked out your link to DonKane wielding “phenotype” so sloppily. Faking expertise as a geneticist on a biologist’s blog is hilarious.
My sincere apologies.The rest of them? Not a peep. Call him a liar and get told by PZ (who apparently had little choice but to be honest given that Don knows him IRL and has control over grant proposals?) and what do you do? You apologize profoundly, right?
Nope. Ignore it and get back to handing out those pocupines.