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Thread: Why following fashion really is a matter of life and death.

  1. #1 Why following fashion really is a matter of life and death. 
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    Why do women find it important to be in on the latest fashion trends? It couldn't be just to look nice for the opposite sex, because most men hardly notice it. I believe the reason lies in our evolutionary background.

    We evolved as hunter-gatherers. Hunting requires plenty of skill, that is obvious. Compared to hunting, gathering seems a pretty simple task. What I want to show is that the occupation of gathering wild fruits and vegetables is far from simple. It is a highly information intensive occupation.

    A tree full of fruits is a temporary store of valuables you encounter by chance. The female that finds it comes home with enough fruits for her family, and one important bit of information. Where others can find was she has.

    Who should she share that information with? She should share it with someone who will return the favour another day, so she can get fruits and vegetables another time. The best person to share that with is the one that always seems to be in on the latest finds. She is the most likely to be able to let you in on the next bargain to be had.

    This is why it is important as a woman to always show you are in on the latest finds. It will get others to share the information on their finds with you, which in the end is what gets you that regular stream of fruits and vegetables you and your children need.

    Fashion is a present-day signal between women intended to sort the ones in the know, from the ones out of it. Women still dedicate a lot of effort to keeping up with the latest finds, because once it really was a matter of life and death.

    For a more complete explanation:
    http://adriaanb.blogspot.com/


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    In that light - wow - women do talk as gatherers and seem to overstate the "finding" and "sourcing" aspect.

    A related observation, maybe useful and probably wrong: men are keener shoppers. So keen in fact, they know where everything is and needn't wander to locate a particular item. Thus women appear to be avid shoppers because when they intend to make a purchase they must learn the options just then. They don't know beforehand what's available or where to find it.

    Personally, when I stride to the rear of a supermarket for dairy, I'm scanning the shelves and even noting prices. I take unfamiliar aisles.


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    After four or more years on this and other science forums I have grown tired of posters who declare 'I have a theory'. None of them ever has: rather they have ill conceived speculation, poorly formulated analogies and notions that fly in the face of established fact.

    Thank you for avoiding all of these pitfalls and offering a hypothesis that is plausible, well reasoned and should be falsifiable. It is a true delight to read. You may well be wrong, but your proposal has all the ingredients of 'a good idea'.

    I can't immediately see any way of testing the hypothesis, but it has a 'feel' about it that rings true.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I can't immediately see any way of testing the hypothesis, but it has a 'feel' about it that rings true.
    Do women really behave that way in hunting-gathering bands that have been studied by antropologists? I picture them as being more cooperative than competetive within the band, like women at a quilting bee or something of that nature.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    I picture them as being more cooperative than competetive within the band, like women at a quilting bee or something of that nature.
    I imagine there would be a level of duality here. On one hand, theres a need to cooperate in order to maintain the integrity of the social group, but at the same time, competition in gathering could have had an effect on the reproductive success of the female: the women (and their families) who were more efficient at gathering ate more and perhaps had healthier offspring than the families of those women who were less successful, which was adriaanbos' point.

    This could have depended on whether food was shared amongst an entire tribe or kept within family units. If food was owned by an entire tribe and dolled out accordingly, then the need for competition would diminish, though competition could still exist as a form of harmless I-gathered-more-food-than-she-did.
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  7. #6  
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    We should bear in mind that modern people may take notions of traditional gathering as inspiration. In other words, the subjects themselves seek to embody what they believe are proven roles. We try metaphors and extend them as far as they fit.


    I happen to have very good opportunity to investigate informally. My family is part of a berry-picking network. We harvest wild berries especially those introduced to the region which grow like weeds. Each season's reports spread by word of mouth, by exclusive channels of mothers, who control the information and plan the outings. There are early scouts, common pickers, and processors, specialized in the network. Many comrades meet just once a year - of course we look forward to the next. My immediate network's main site is a vast long-abandoned blueberry farm hidden from knowledge by thickets and subdevelopments. There is real consensus among those in the know that the location of that site should by kept semi-secret.
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    It is far more important for a woman to survive than a man and pass on the very important mitochondria.

    She needs to look 'on the ball' so to speak and successful and sexy to attract a mate and at least try to keep him until the brood needs less support.

    Particular modes of dress or fashion denote a womans social standing and to which group or tribe she belonged to. It shows what type of person she is. For example you can gauge a lot about a persons lifestyle, ideals and attitude to life by the way they dress. Compare for example a hippy chick in tie-dye to a woman in expensive designer. What sort of opinion would you form about either based on their dress?

    Oh and yes of course women are competitive, that's not just a prerogative of men!

    Women love to have the best outfit on, and what a faux-pas to turn up at an event with the same outfit as someone else!

    I get all my designer wear from charity shops and i just love it when my mates turn green with envy when i turn up for a night out in some classy little number that cost me peanuts!

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    What I mean with fashion is the constantly changing style in clothing and accessories, change for the sake of changing.

    Of course clothes serve many other purposes like protect you, keep you warm, make you look better, signal group affiliations, show wealth etc. But changing styles give you the opportunity to show you are quick to catch on.

    Much like gossip. There can be real value in knowing someone is betraying someone else. But there is a seperate female interest in being the first to spread that news. It makes you look 'good' in terms of your information network.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adriaanbos
    What I mean with fashion is the constantly changing style in clothing and accessories, change for the sake of changing.

    Of course clothes serve many other purposes like protect you, keep you warm, make you look better, signal group affiliations, show wealth etc. But changing styles give you the opportunity to show you are quick to catch on.

    Much like gossip. There can be real value in knowing someone is betraying someone else. But there is a seperate female interest in being the first to spread that news. It makes you look 'good' in terms of your information network.
    I think this applies to men as much as women.

    Both sexes seem to clamor for status. How else can a person demonstrate their status but by the expensive or fashionable clothes they wear, what type of house they live in or what car they drive.

    Look at the adverts for cars, directed at men! You're not sexy and successful unless you've got something Jeremy Clarkson would have orgasms about wrapped around your hips.

    It's a sad state of affairs that people feel worthless without spending heaps to adorn themselves with to desperately prove their value in society.

    Rather worrying considering the current credit problems many people are faced with.

    Bring back self confidence, self esteem and the bare naked truth!
    Strip off the layers and we're all, in reality, piggy maggots devouring the Planet!
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    I guess the status game in women and men are different, but both tied directly to the food strategy of either hunting or gathering.

    - For women it is about showing you are an information insider, you have the latest. That gets you the regular supply of fruits and vegetables in gathering.
    - For men it is about showing you are the leader, you get the most. They always get their share of the kill in hunting, so they have a regular supply of meat.

    Cars have taken on the role of a status symbol for men, that obviously wouldn't have been the case before 1900. Similar with clothes and accessories, only after mass production has fashion been able to become the dominant signal between women. But what is important is showing you have the best information network, how you do it isn't fixed. Other women are clever enough to recognize it.
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    I can't make out whether you're all being serious or having a merry joke.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoonWolf
    I can't make out whether you're all being serious or having a merry joke.
    We're being quite serious. What adriaan is putting forward is very plausible. It requires research and support before it can be assumed to be completely true, of course, but it is an eminently researchable topic.

    to adriaan - though you've only shared two of your ideas with us thus far, I notice the common thread of the power of information, and how sharing it may have effected human evolution. I do hope that you intend to pursue these topics and research them yourself one day.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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    Women and MEN keep up with fashion, those that do as they are people that enjoy clothing and change and also like to be 'with it'.

    I like clothes but don't follow the trends if I think they are crap which is often, but I am still very groovy!!

    To reply to the theory posted:

    My being 'groovy' is VERY important to my social status and position within the group.

    Being up to the minute regards clothes does signal to others you are up to the minute generally regards news,politics, health etc. It is a visible clue to where you are at mentally.

    So you are almost there with your theory in that it does serve an important social function.

    Out of date people are not taken seriously until they prove they can be, fashionable people (as long as they are not following emo fashion) can be taken seriously quicker.
    'Time is the space between birth and death' by me.
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    Before we prove a forager connection to fashion, we need to confirm foraging really works as presented. Otherwise, we're just painting history to match our current picture.

    We want to know if foragers, especially female foragers, strategically divulge knowledge to a) trade information with successful foragers, and b) protect sources.

    Protecting sources is a bit broad, because that could mean the source is easily depleted, or offers a monopoly, or it might even take coordinated group effort to maintain.

    One needn't peer into prehistory or trek through remote jungles, to investigate real human foraging. Better study foraging that goes on naturally under the pop radar of modern culture. News flash: Foraging is alive and well, right under our noses.

    I suggest a few examples:

    Family outings. We're looking for scenarios where families network to exploit resources. A lot of family outings involve children of various parents and are organised by mothers, the resource is a destination such as a beach or playground or a shoe sale. I think the "secret berry patch" is a perfect example. This one really can get wasted if you blab it to the world. However any resource can be spoiled by too many people. Even a birthday party has it's limits - often the question is not who to invite but rather how to keep a horde of people from coming.

    Urban scavengers. Like the folks dragging bags of pop bottles through alleyways, gathering bottles for the return value. Yes they network. They trade turf. They want to secure efficient routes, by selling valuable intel to fellow foragers. There are also burglars and even subcultures/economies specialised in ripping off salable metal like copper electric cable. I feel these groups might offer the clearest picture of foraging economy because they're totally unconcerned with mores of mainstream society. Their activity is natural and uncivilized.

    Panhandlers and squeegee-kids. Same deal with networking to keep up with hotspots. The squeegee kids (wash windows of cars stopped at intersections) in my city function as a gang with very exclusive membership and fashion code so tight you can recognize them anywhere.

    Sport fishers. Obviously need to keep current, while they highly value the privacy of their sources, especially the fly-fishers. Yet sport fishers do advertise their hobby, and famously inflate their information.


    OK that's enough. My points being that we need to first establish how network-assisted foraging really works before concluding female fashion grew from it, and we have concrete examples better than misty speculation about primitive hunter/gatherers.
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  16. #15  
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    You make a good point, Pong, but unfortunately we do still need that "misty speculation about primitive hunter/gatherers." Our ancestors spent millions more years in that state than in this blink of an evolutionary eye that is modern human life. Those instances you listed may resemble the system of foraging and information sharing that existed during our evolution, but without making a direct comparison to our actual evolutionary conditions, we cannot know how accurate they are. In most cases it is likely that you are observing behaviors that follow the rules of an environment that no longer exists, in which case any conclusions you make will not be very clear.

    Long story short, we need both the old and new in order to develop a solid understanding of modern human behavior.

    As a few side notes, it's important to remember that for females, resources are the main restricting factor when it comes to reproductive success. Thus the nature of a species' primary food source has a very strong influence on the nature of the female-female interactions within that species.

    In chimpanzees, for instance, their primary food consists of fruits that are highly unpredictable in their location and timing of availability, and are usually spread across the forest. In this case, females are much better off being largely solitary - if they travel with a group, any food source found would quickly be consumed and travel time and costs would go up far too high. So they prefer to keep any food source largely to themselves.

    If we consider the behavior that adriaan proposes, we might imagine a food source for human ancestors that may be difficult to find, as with the fruit, but once found, provides enough food that a female can afford to share it with others. Group foraging also becomes more advantageous as predation risk goes up, so that might be another contributing factor.

    Unfortunately I still have a lot to learn on the environments and behaviors of early human ancestors, so I can't offer any solid help on this point - but rest assured it's not all hazy speculation, much of our existing knowledge on the topic is based on physical evidence from archeological sites.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Here is an example of how and why fashion works as it does, and it follows on from what I said before re social standing.

    I am going on holiday shortly and when considering what to take, realised that going to one particular destination would require me to wear a completely diff set of clothes to that I had planned to take. There was no clothes restriction, I could just tell by the type of place it was I would not feel as comfortable in my planned selection. Thus I would elect to buy an entirely new wardrobe not to suit me but to suit the inhabitants of this other destination.

    Why do I feel this is necessary?

    • To ensure good service
      To ensure I am treated respectfully
      To ensure I am not frowned upon
      To fit in


    etc.

    However, it looks like I will be going to the more informal destination (relief) and can wear what I chose and feel comfortable in and will at the same time achieve those desirables as named above.
    'Time is the space between birth and death' by me.
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    Ha, that is fashion as a way to fit in. But then you are assuming fashion stays the same in the destination you are going to.

    The fashion trends I am talking about is of the kind fashion houses deal with. What colour for next season to use, what length of dress, what fabric. That serves no purpose but to set the trend. Women (ok, not all) feel a stronger need than men to be up to date because once it made the difference between food and no food..

    Fashion in clothes is the present day signal. The signal to use has to be known between the people using it so it isn't always fixed and can be learned. It helps of course when marketing can grab hold of it to make some money, that surely helps to establish it. As with shiny fast cars and men.

    Being up-to-date as an important signal between women is harder to understand because it has lost its function. You don't need it in gathering any more, the supermarket is around the corner and all the fruits are within reach all the time.

    But once it was important. And that is why it was selected for and why it is still with us today.
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    The mind can only focus on one thought at a time in any given second.

    There are only so many seconds in a day as well as any lifetime.

    The mind therefore must discriminate and focus on what is of sole or soul importance.

    And the range of thoughts humans can have extend from the shallow puddle of a single raindrop to the unfathomable depths of the deepest ocean.

    Such people who consume so many of their precious minutes on appearance, dress and apparel simply to give the impression to others that they are 'up to date' or on the ball, so to speak, seems like to me the arena of the puddle of a raindrop!

    This is evidential in the personas and appearance of people who devote hours to manicures, the gym, getting the lates hi-tech gadget, shopping for fashion, making appearances at the hottest nightspot etc etc.
    They always appear to be rather shallow people and somewhat thick.

    Such people i know who devote so many hours to the surface of their being appear to be shallow, insecure and self obsessed, almost as if they feel the compulsion to give an impression of trend, modernity, success and being 'up to the minute' in order to fool themselves as well as their friends.
    It is all but a merry facade and a sad illusion.

    There are many people who reject this notion and concentrate on working much deeper in the psyche and would rather be 'on the ball' with regards to knowledge and understanding about themselves and the world around them.

    Quite frankly i would much rather associate and fit in with these type of people and join them in the deeper oceans than flail around in a shallow pool with people that might look 'hot' on the outside but resemble cold flaccid limpets when you open them up.

    I guess it all depends on the values and meaning we give to things in our lives and what the underlying motivations are for focusing on particular areas.

    Personally I am glad that we have the capability of choosing.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adriaanbos
    Ha, that is fashion as a way to fit in. But then you are assuming fashion stays the same in the destination you are going to.

    .
    Assuming you are replying to me then no I am not assuming that, I clearly stated in my post diff places have different dress codes and ideas of acceptability re respectability.

    Quote Originally Posted by Theoryofrelativity

    I am going on holiday shortly and when considering what to take, realised that going to one particular destination would require me to wear a completely diff set of clothes to that I had planned to take.
    'Time is the space between birth and death' by me.
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  21. #20  
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    ToR

    You seem to jump to hasty conclusions and speculations as well as generalizations with many topics on this forum.

    I would say that all these demonstrate a lack of depth of thinking.

    Perhaps a reassessment of the time you give to outward impressions might be of benefit.
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Absum!
    ToR

    You seem to jump to hasty conclusions and speculations as well as generalizations with many topics on this forum.

    I would say that all these demonstrate a lack of depth of thinking.

    Perhaps a reassessment of the time you give to outward impressions might be of benefit.

    I don't have time for this now Selene, I am very busy.

    I have just applied some makeup and I am now styling my hair after which I will put on some VERY fashionable clothes to go to.......Tesco's.



    Oopsy, does your opinion not matter to me?.....oh well.
    'Time is the space between birth and death' by me.
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  23. #22  
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    Everything that has been put forward in this thread probably has its own degree of truth. Any given woman's behavior is under the influence of many different forces - very simply we have nature (the specific complement of her genes) and nurture (the environment in which she was raised), but even each of these can be divvied up into many different and sometimes conflicting motivators of different kinds of behavior. How it all adds up will very from individual to individual, sometimes drastically. Thus some women may be more highly influenced by the forces adriaan puts forth, and others more strongly by the forces that ToR suggests. I have little doubt that all are present, just to varying degrees.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theoryofrelativity
    I don't have time for this now Selene, I am very busy.
    Busy? What, is there a secret sale on windfall chestnuts you're not sharing with us?

    Get with the times ToR, deeply intellectual is the new beautiful. :P



    How's that, adriaanbos?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by Theoryofrelativity
    I don't have time for this now Selene, I am very busy.
    Busy? What, is there a secret sale on windfall chestnuts you're not sharing with us?

    Get with the times ToR, deeply intellectual is the new beautiful. :P



    How's that, adriaanbos?

    Why do you assume it has to be either or?
    'Time is the space between birth and death' by me.
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    You missed my meaning. My entire post was in reference to the topic... gathering foodstuffs... fashion trends.. read again!

    See, by adriaanbos' lens that bit of female biting was equivalent to "Your nut & berry sources are worthless to me."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    You missed my meaning. My entire post was in reference to the topic... gathering foodstuffs... fashion trends.. read again!

    See, by adriaanbos' lens that bit of female biting was equivalent to "Your nut & berry sources are worthless to me."
    I don't agree with the gathering nuts and berry's theory.

    May as well say women AND men like fashion because back in the day they had to rub dung on their clothes to cover the smell of their bodies from predators, so now they enjoy the freedom to NOT rub dung on themselves but the latent desire to disguise their scent and self from prey remains. Hence perfumes, makeup and fashion.

    In fact I think my theory is better.
    'Time is the space between birth and death' by me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Absum!
    Personally I am glad that we have the capability of choosing.
    What makes you think your selection of an option is a choice and not a genetically controlled preference?
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  29. #28  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theoryofrelativity
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    You missed my meaning. My entire post was in reference to the topic... gathering foodstuffs... fashion trends.. read again!

    See, by adriaanbos' lens that bit of female biting was equivalent to "Your nut & berry sources are worthless to me."
    I don't agree with the gathering nuts and berry's theory.

    May as well say women AND men like fashion because back in the day they had to rub dung on their clothes to cover the smell of their bodies from predators, so now they enjoy the freedom to NOT rub dung on themselves but the latent desire to disguise their scent and self from prey remains. Hence perfumes, makeup and fashion.

    In fact I think my theory is better.
    So how does flaunting beauty expertise (as in last few posts) fit?

    Adriaanbos offered one explanation.

    Personally I think selling oneself physically the primary end. If one commits young selling grows involuntary and inseparable from identity.
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    I myself really don't care what I buy, as long as I like it. If it's a brand or not, out of date or not; as long as I like it I don't care.
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    To get back to the original theory.


    Clothes have historically always been used as symbols of power, position and wealth. Even tribe people paint and pierce and adorn their bodies. It is about individuality and being uniform and creating a community identity at the same time.

    I suppose the high fashion followers are wishing to be 'in' with the community that lives a certain lifestyle, attends certain functions and works in certain circles.

    Animals are born with 'symbols' of superiority and dominance. These are very visual clues to other species as well as their own as to what they are about. Female peahens may prefer peacocks with the largest brightest plumage for example.

    Women who wish appear superior to others may thus adorn themselves with symbols they consider mark a superior female. Such as great big diamonds on their fingers. They may similarly drive great big expensive cars.

    But with regards to fashion, there is always the simple case that some people just like clothes for clothes sake and it has nothing to do with anything other than 'dressing up'.
    'Time is the space between birth and death' by me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theoryofrelativity
    Animals are born with 'symbols' of superiority and dominance. These are very visual clues to other species as well as their own as to what they are about. Female peahens may prefer peacocks with the largest brightest plumage for example.
    In a hunter/gatherer group mainly motivated by hunger, the gal with a peacock feather in her hair demands respect. She knows where the eggs are.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by Theoryofrelativity
    Animals are born with 'symbols' of superiority and dominance. These are very visual clues to other species as well as their own as to what they are about. Female peahens may prefer peacocks with the largest brightest plumage for example.
    In a hunter/gatherer group mainly motivated by hunger, the gal with a peacock feather in her hair demands respect. She knows where the eggs are.
    Actually she knows where the feathers are. Her bf gave it to her, thus of no use at all to the featherless gals.

    In fact they are jealous and will try to kill her.
    'Time is the space between birth and death' by me.
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  34. #33  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theoryofrelativity
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by Theoryofrelativity
    Animals are born with 'symbols' of superiority and dominance. These are very visual clues to other species as well as their own as to what they are about. Female peahens may prefer peacocks with the largest brightest plumage for example.
    In a hunter/gatherer group mainly motivated by hunger, the gal with a peacock feather in her hair demands respect. She knows where the eggs are.
    Actually she knows where the feathers are. Her bf gave it to her, thus of no use at all to the featherless gals.

    In fact they are jealous and will try to kill her.
    I understand why you said that.

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  35. #34  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong

    I understand why you said that.

    Why the grumpy face?
    'Time is the space between birth and death' by me.
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  36. #35  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theoryofrelativity
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong

    I understand why you said that.

    Why the grumpy face?
    It's a "sad" face and it's empathy. My life has made me an optimist, you could say naive.
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  37. #36  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by Theoryofrelativity
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong

    I understand why you said that.

    Why the grumpy face?
    It's a "sad" face and it's empathy. My life has made me an optimist, you could say naive.
    empathy for who? The peahen or the poor little featherless gals?

    Nothing wrong with being an Optimist, I am an eternal one.

    Not sure how the empathy or optimism fits into the peahen story though
    'Time is the space between birth and death' by me.
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  38. #37  
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    Nevermind. I'm not making sense.
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    People are staring blind at trying to put clothes in the context of the old environment. That doesn't neccessarily work.

    Gathering requires you to signal you are 'in the news'. That need has stayed with us and shows through in today's world.

    Gossip is a good signal, trendy clothing is an even more efficient signal. Of course trendy clothing has only recently become available after the introduction of mass production so that wouldn't have been around earlier.

    Look at new stands and see the information people are willing to pay for. The women's section is dominated by fashion and gossip.

    Also, clothes can carry more than one signal at the time. That you belong to a certain group, that you have a certain wealth status. And that you are up to date.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adriaanbos
    Gathering requires you to signal you are 'in the news'.
    OK how exactly does one signal that? Primitively I mean. Props?

    Picture us all naked and delving here and there for grubs & mangos. How do I signal "I'm in the news"?
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  41. #40  
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    I love follow trends, i keep my self up to date with mkt. trends.
    I love wearing fashionable clothes as this is the part of my personality.
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  42. #41  
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    Adriaanbos

    You’ve stuck it out for four years? Dude, this isn’t Nature or the New England Journal of Truth. It’s a chat site. People are gunna say that they think. That’s a good thing, in most cases. This person has thought of something, and wonders what you reckon.

    …I thought it was a very good thought. And I think that pretty much everything about “anthropology” has no chance of being “falsifiable” in the short term.
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  43. #42  
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    Sitting around with little to wear you can signal being in on the latest finds by first of all showing you have the latest finds. And then by letting others know you 'hear it through the grapevine' first. Whether that is about food finds or gossip, it is the same social network that gets you the information.

    That will let other gatherers know you are the one to let in on their finds because you are the most likely to be able to return the favour. And that is what feeds your children.
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