24 episodes

An ongoing discussion of the writings and musings of Charles Darwin.

Discovering Darwin noreply@blogger.com (Sarah Bray)

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An ongoing discussion of the writings and musings of Charles Darwin.

    Season 3 Episode 6: Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

    Season 3 Episode 6: Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

      In this episode of Discovering Darwin we tackle Chapter VIII - Joy, High Spirits, Love, Tender Feelings, Devotion in Darwin's book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. In this chapter Charles explores how we express ourselves when we are happy, in particular he discussed the two expressions associated with a happy mental state - smiling and laughing. Mark, Sarah and I explore what a "real" smile looks like, why we fake it sometimes, and why women more often fake it. Clearly a Duchenne "D" smile The Duchenne smile is defined by the contraction of the obicular muscles that surround the eyes and the raising of the lips to expose the upper teeth. Darwin describes it as:Dr. Duchenne repeatedly insists that, under the emotion of joy, the mouth is acted on exclusively by the great zygomatic muscles, which serve to draw the corners backwards and upwards; but judging from the manner in which the upper teeth are always exposed during laughter and broad smiling, as well as from my own sensations, I cannot doubt that some of the muscles running to the upper lip are likewise brought into moderate action. The upper and lower orbicular muscles of the eyes are at the same time more or less contracted...Image from: https://www.earthslab.com/anatomy/orbicularis-oculi/ Perfect for an audio podcast, we spent a long time discussing the value and accuracy of Plate III which was meant to illustrate various people in a state of happiness. Sarah thought the girl (bottom left, image 3) looked to be up to no good, she called her a minx!. We discussed how happy the man pictured on the right side of the page actually appeared to be.   We also discussed laughter and how it may have evolved as a false alarm call. Laughter is found to be exhibited in other apes. Interestingly, the variation in the sounds apes like gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos, and humans make when being tickled follows the same pattern of relatedness seen in the phylogenetic tree based upon genetic relatedness. From Ross, Owren, and Zimmermann (2009) Papers we discussed:Ramachandran, Vilayanur S. "The neurology and evolution of humor, laughter, and smiling: the false alarm theory." Medical hypotheses 51.4 (1998): 351-354. Ross, Marina Davila, Michael J. Owren, and Elke Zimmermann. "The evolution of laughter in great apes and humans." Communicative & Integrative Biology 3.2 (2010): 191-194. The opening and closing theme to Discovering Darwin is "May" by Jared C. Balogh.Interlude music was Laugh from Lotusland: A musical comedy by Ian Whitcomb

    Season 3 Episode 5 - Sweet Spot of Grief

    Season 3 Episode 5 - Sweet Spot of Grief

      Persons suffering from excessive grief often seek relief by violent and almost frantic movements, as described in a former chapter; but when their suffering is somewhat mitigated, yet prolonged, they no longer wish for action, but remain motionless and passive, or may occasionally rock themselves to and fro. The circulation becomes languid; the face pale; the muscles flaccid; the eyelids droop; the head hangs on the contracted chest; the lips, cheeks, and lower jaw all sink downwards from their own weight. Hence all the features are lengthened; and the face of a person who hears bad news is said to fall. [Charles Darwin. opening of Chapter VII, EEMA]  In this episode we discussed Chapter VII - Low Spirits, Anxiety, Grief, Dejection, Despair. Although the title of the chapter covers a variety of emotions, we, following Darwin's lead, focused solely on grief. Darwin identified a group of muscles that are involved in creating the grief-stricken visage we are familiar in others. The inner ends of the eyebrows are raised, the outer ends depressed while the corners of the mouth are drawn downward. Overall the face takes on an elongated expression and the furrows in the brow take on an distinctive horse-shoe shape.  In the podcast we discussed how the chapters we have read from Darwin's text Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals so far reads more like a field guide, with textbook description of the facial muscles involved in exhibiting the expressions, than a intellectual analysis of the adaptive value of the emotions. Sarah, so far, has not been impressed. We hope that will come later in the text.  We all agreed that Grief is an emotion associated with loss and we explored in the podcast how universal is that view of grief and are there other emotions associated with grief that are universal? Sarah introduced us to a paper that examined how universal emotional concepts were in terms of linguistics and if there is similarity in emotional meaning across cultures. In seems that cultures in close geographical location share a greater similarity in meaning for identified emotions than cultures that are separated by distance. It seems that there are universal emotions but what feelings that are associated with those emotional states are varied and often culturally defined. James questioned the adaptive value of adults exhibiting grief for the loss of non-related individuals. Sarah mentioned Neese's argument that we are expressing the loss of a known commodity - someone we have a strong relationship with that does not require accounting for altruistic behaviors - so their death is a loss felt as a loss of investment.    The paper discussed was:Jackson, Joshua Conrad, et al. "Emotion semantics show both cultural variation and universal structure." Science 366.6472 (2019): 1517-1522. The opening and closing theme to Discovering Darwin is "May" by Jared C. Balogh.The interlude music was from Hee Haw

    Season 3 Episode 4: Sarah Bares All

    Season 3 Episode 4: Sarah Bares All

      "The fact of tears not being shed at a very early age from pain or any mental emotion is remarkable, as, later in life, no expression is more general or more strongly marked than weeping."  pg 154 EEMA Charles Darwin.   In this episode we explore Chapter VI: Suffering and Weeping where Darwin describes in excruciating detail the muscles involved in the crying face of infants and how tears are formed in the lacrimal glands. This chapter is the first one in the book to use photographic images to represent the expression of the emotions Darwin is describing. We discussed Plate 1 in detail and it can be seen here: Sarah discussed Duchenne's original photograph that Darwin showed people to see if they could recognize the emotion based upon the stimulation of specific facial muscles.  In the 3rd Edition of the book, Ekman includes the original photograph that was not actually in the earlier editions of the book. James discussed his amazement on where in his body tears are made, and where they go ultimately. The lacrimal glands reside above the eye and the tear duct, where James erroneously thought tears came from, is the location where tears drain into the back of your throat.  We relied on a number of original research papers to help us understand the topic. Some of the papers we cited can be found here: Becht, Marleen C., and Ad JJM Vingerhoets. "Crying and mood change: A cross-cultural study." Cognition & Emotion 16.1 (2002): 87-101. Gračanin, Asmir, Lauren M. Bylsma, and Ad JJM Vingerhoets. "Why only humans shed emotional tears." Human Nature 29.2 (2018): 104-133.Oriá, Arianne P., et al. "Comparison of Electrolyte Composition and Crystallization Patterns in Bird and Reptile Tears." Frontiers in Veterinary Science 7 (2020): 574.  Yong, Min Hooi, and Ted Ruffman. "Emotional contagion: Dogs and humans show a similar physiological response to human infant crying." Behavioural processes 108 (2014): 155-165. The opening and closing theme to Discovering Darwin is "May" by Jared C. Balogh. Intermission music "Cryin" by Chris Isaak

    Season 3 Episode 3: Erected Neck-hackles

    Season 3 Episode 3: Erected Neck-hackles

    In this episode we discuss Chapters 4 & 5 of Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions of Man and Animals, 3rd Definitive edition. Chapter 4 documented how animals use specific sounds and body postures to communicate their current emotional state. We explored how familiar we are to the sounds of domestic dogs and cats and the information they encode in their vocalizations. James was intrigued with the idea that early human language may have been more musical than expected. Mark spoke about the work of Dr. Diana Deutsch and her discovery we can extract music from spoken words. Here is the link to the wonderful Radiolab story that covers this phenomenon. At the end of our discussion Mark read a quote from Darwin concerning the behavior of fighting cocks to erect their neck feathers - something "Every one must have seen two cocks...preparing to fight with erected neck-hackles. Photo from https://www.behance.net/gallery/4810345/Cockfighting-in-ThailandWe discussed if it was legitimate for Darwin to identify the behaviors he was describing in dogs, cats, horses, monkeys and apes as being fear, affection, joy, anger and astonishment. Mark brought up the idea of Morgan's Canon, which argued against using complex anthropomorphic interpretations of a behavior when a simpler, basal behavioral state can explain the behavior. For example, Tony, Morgan's terrier opened the gate through trial and error and not because of some insight about the gate mechanism.Tony opening the gate so he can go out and sniff some buttsSarah noted that Darwin seemed to ignore the evolutionary history of dogs and cats to help explain their behaviors. Domestic dogs evolved from wolves, a social pack animal, which can explain the complex set of stereotypical dominant and submissive behaviors they exhibit whereas domestic cats evolved from wild cats that were solitary. James declared that Jackals, a group of canines that Darwin incorrectly proposed to be the progenitor of some smaller breeds of dogs, were solitary. Turns out, Jackals are typically found as monogamous pairs, but the social group can increase with young. So they are not solitary like big cats, but they are not as social as wolves. The opening and closing theme to Discovering Darwin is "May" by Jared C. Balogh.

    Season 3 Episode 2: Everyone has a Tell

    Season 3 Episode 2: Everyone has a Tell

    In this episode we discuss the first three chapters of Darwin's On the Expression and Emotion of Man and Animals, and James fails to convince the team to refer to the book as EEMA for short. The first chapters of EEMA lays out Darwin's 3 principle foundations and each of us focused on one of the principles. The three principles are: I. The principle of serviceable associated Habits.—or "I wear my emotions on my sleeve" II. The principle of Antithesis.— or "Turn that frown upside down" III. The principle of actions due to the constitution of the Nervous System, - or "Everyone has a tell"One of the issues we discussed is what Darwin meant by "serviceable" when referring to the physical manifestation of the emotions. It seemed that Darwin felt that the clinched fist when angry or the closing of your eyes when you are startled by a loud noise are adaptive reflexes to prepare or protect you from the perceived threat that would accompany that emotion. We discussed the oddity of Principle 2 in that Darwin seemed to not give adaptive value to the associated behaviors but saw them more as an opposite signal of the emotion associated with Principle 1. One of the clear examples Darwin discussed was the behaviors we see in our dogs and cats when they are expressing anger compared to when they are expressing happiness. Fig. 5. Dog approaching another dog with hostile intentions. By Mr. Riviere. image from http://darwin-online.org.uk/ Fig. 6. The Same in a humble and affectionate frame of mind. By Mr. Riviere. image from http://darwin-online.org.uk/ James was enamored by the block print of the dog that seemed to be quite friendly with a person's leg. Here is the image. At the end of the podcast we discussed a paper written by Gregory Radick entitled Darwin's Puzzling Expression. Wonderfully the article  is available for free as well as the entire issue of Comptes Rendus BiologiesVolume 333, Issue 2, February 2010, Pages 181-187  which can be found here. The opening and closing theme to Discovering Darwin is "May" by Jared C. Balogh. Interlude music is Lobo Loco - Spencer Bluegrass 

    Season 3 Episode 1 - Darwin's Hobby-Horse

    Season 3 Episode 1 - Darwin's Hobby-Horse

    This is the first episode of the long awaited Season 3 of Discovering Darwin. In this season we will be exploring Charles Darwin's 14th original published book entitled The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. We are reading the 3rd Edition of the book that has been edited by Paul Ekman. Dr. Mark Jackson, Psychology professor at Transylvania University is joining us this season as we tackle this unusual book by Charles Darwin. One of things that makes this book so unusual is that it is considered the first scientific book to utilize photographs. The French neurologist Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne had found a man who seemed to lack the ability to feel pain so Duchenne was able to apply electrical probes to stimulate muscle contractions. By carefully stimulating certain muscle groups, Duchenne was able to get his "Old Man" to hold an expression long enough to be captured in a photograph using the early camera system of the times that required long exposure times.  We discussed how Charles began taking notes for this book 33 years earlier when his first child , William Erasmus Darwin, was born. Here is the sweet photograph of a proud father, Charles Darwin, sits with his son William. We discussed the functionality of dressing all young children, regardless of their gender, in dresses.    One of the people that Darwin was reacting to as he wrote his Expression and Emotions of Man and Animals was Charles Bell, a talented artist and anatomist. One of Bell's hypothesis was that emotions are a uniquely human trait that were given to us by our creator and he would show muscle sets that were "unique" to humans for expressing emotions. Darwin, opposed that creation view, and worked to adopt his idea of evolution by descent with modification to explain how emotions, like other traits, in humans when compared to other animals "...do not differ in kind, although immensely in degree." [Descent of Man 1871]. James described how beautiful the drawings of Bell were and mentioned the hand on the book illustration as represented below. So what expression do you think this image represents? The opening and closing theme to Discovering Darwin is "May" by Jared C. Balogh.

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