More on Neurohamsterscience

Monday’s Scientific Evidence for the Rationalization Hamster incited a flurry of activity in the comments and quality pingbacks from Paige and Captain Capitalism. Musing responses follow, in no particular order. (I am not a neuroscientist so unless someone does some journal searches this discussion is all speculation.)

Congratulations to jack, who noticed and commented on the phallic subtext of the hamster photo (couldn’t believe I found that photograph). Lozl.

Samson told the story of a friend who has a big ol’ hamster running wild:

I have a friend similar to the guy in the bottom example. He asks for woman advice 24/7 and when I try to hit him with some good game, he always vetoes it and opts for some lame attempt. As a matter of fact, a text he sent me today said he e-mailed this girl he’s been going through some turbulent situations with (they aren’t officially “together” though) asking if she loved him. He didn’t get a response so he e-mailed back chewing her out for not responding. Come on guy… Sometimes I wonder if he ever listens to me, ha.

Oh, facepalm. The manosphere usually references women but men have hamsters too – the Paradigm Shift post quoted in my original post alluded to the female hamster, but focused on a male one. Rationalization is a human property, and you won’t find a stronger hamster than that of a pedestalizing beta for whom the very idea of abandoning his failed belief in the supplication system is too much to bear. ‘Tis a shame that people who really need the red pill are the most resistant to taking it.

Pre-Roissy coinage? Jana Bouc of JanasJournal.com published two posts in early 2008 discussing “hamster brain,” including a hilarious cartoon of “hamster carnivals open 24 hours in my head.”

Workshy Joe, CSPB and Paige all riffed on sex differences in the corpus callosum which connects the left and right brain, and its impact on the rationalization hamster. Check out wikipedia’s article on the corpus callosum for more background and discussion with regard to gender differences, gender identity disorder and musical ability. Over to you CSPB:

That was my thought too. Let me expand on this theory. Since women have a larger corpus callosum, their left and right sides of the brain are better integrated. Thus the left interpreter has a greater influence over factual beliefs in women and the “sense of self” is therefore more closely policed. In a male brain, the left interpreter has less influence so a man may be able to consider contrary things more readily without threatening his “sense of self.” This should reduce the tendency to discard or reform discordant information in males.

I understand where he’s going with the hypothesis, but I don’t particularly buy it. The idea is something like “with stronger cross-hemisphere communication, the hamster is forced to rationalize faster to avoid puncturing the sense of self in the face of a rapid input stream.” Recall the original experiment I quoted – a man with a split brain was given a command to walk in his right brain (presumably by flashing the word to his left eye, since I believe the senses cross over when entering the brain). Because of the separation, his left brain had literally no idea why he was walking down the hall. When asked, the left brain made up a reason out of thin air – “I wanted to get a Coke.”

It’s clear that the left interpreter (our putative hamster) makes stuff up whether it gets it across the corpus callosum or not. In fact, the experiment suggests that the less data the left interpreter is getting from the brain at large, the more it will tend to substitute its home-rolled synthetic reality. The hamster can always choose to simply ignore the data on hand, including the fact that it has no data at all regarding why the body it commands is walking down the hall.

My best guess is that female hamsterism is culturally driven – women are beamed messages that contradict each other from family, friends, school and the media, and are given messages that contradict their visceral desires. Rationalization is a key tool to bridge those contradictions while avoiding social ostracism.

Amateur anthropology: I understand that on the whole women have better proximal senses – the volume on their sensory hardware “goes to 11″ – and endurance to material privation, while men have, among other things, superior long-range vision and spatial cognition abilities. One simple explanation is that women’s brains are tuned to the demands of managing gatherer social groups, surviving pregnancy and tending to small children, while men are optimized for hunting, building and dominating the natural environment (One could also ask if the larger female corpus callosum is a neural booster for the sensory hardware.)

These are not destinies, just tendencies, the result of hundreds of generations of evolution that by definition have passed on the traits more likely to allow human organisms survive. (Let me say that again: these are biological tendencies, not social destinies. I am not interested in neuropsych explanations as to why men or women should or shouldn’t do this or that in modern society based on the statistical distributions of neural wiring.)

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “More on Neurohamsterscience

  1. namae nanka

    “I understand where he’s going with the hypothesis, but I don’t particularly buy it. ”

    I don’t buy it because supposedly the sense of self resides in the left hemisphere, and hence it should be opposite of his conclusion. Unless men are less of a left-hemisphere user than women, which is possible, but I don’t think that holds for language tasks.

    “Recall the original experiment I quoted – a man with a split brain was given a command to walk in his right brain (presumably by flashing the word to his left eye, since I believe the senses cross over when entering the brain).”

    Actually it depends on whether the optic chiasm is cut or not, if cut, the same hemisphere to the same eye. Here is a good answer:
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100829135530AALhGtE

    “Let me say that again: these are biological tendencies, not social destinies.”

    and what if our sense of happiness is directly related to how easily our biological tendenices are fulfilled? :)

  2. CSPB

    Maybe it is more about the transfer of the information from the left to the right than it is about the existence of the process on the left side. In other words, the information is not acted upon unless transferred, so with less transfer the right continues to operate with more rational non-interpreted information.

    The rationalization process does exist in males a well and you have outlined it well.

  3. Paige

    I wonder what neuro process accounts for womens tendency to excessively personalize information.

    [Fragile ego. Information that threatens your weak sense of self must be violently opposed because it could disprove your entire being. Why the women you know have fragile egos is a debate for another day.]

  4. Confidunce

    It never occurred to me that the phallic imagery wasn’t deliberate.

    [You know me too well.]

  5. Paige

    Nice banner.

    [Glad you like the change.]

  6. CSPB wrote:

    “Maybe it is more about the transfer of the information from the left to the right than it is about the existence of the process on the left side. In other words, the information is not acted upon unless transferred, so with less transfer the right continues to operate with more rational non-interpreted information.”

    ^^ This.

  7. Great discussion here.

    On the hamster pic, what I want to know is why when you show a picture of a cute hamster, people see a cute hamster (albeit with a phallic interpretation). When I show a picture of cute hamsters, people instead see pictures of me juggling kittens while clubbing a baby seal. Perhaps this is another mystery neuroscience can solve.

  8. Ah, the joys of clubbing baby seals. Hey, I’m kidding here! You sick fucks… jeebus.

    On a more interesting note, the phrase and meme “rationalization hamster” is getting some good traction here in cyber-America.

    Let’s get this one out there, too:

    “End Chivalry – Take Back the Knight”

  9. Mafwoj

    @Dalrock
    It could be that placing an image of some Bass Pro Shops merchandise in one of your early posts
    And the occasional pro 2A comment
    Has some folks placing you in the
    VRWC category.
    It follows (logically of course) that you would enjoy clubbing baby seals, eat kittens for breakfast, and use puppies for your cruel amusements. ;)

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