Posted 20 June 2014 - 01:41 AM
There is much talk about the behaviour of humans regarding nature vs nurture. How much of our personalities come through our life experience, and how much is genetic?
I'm not the only person who has noticed that humans find it difficult to be happy. This is a topic that has engaged many people, from Gautama Siddhartha to Mitch Albom ("Tuesdays With Morrie").
The third strand of thought has to do with a vid I watched of an Amazonian tribe with very limited contact to other tribes.
The remarkable thing about that tribe is how non-accumulative they are. We here accumulate so much. They don't. Also, they do not cling to life -- most commit suicide while relatively young, believing death to merely be the passage to another existence in another realm. These are a gentle, well-adjusted people.
Think of the difference between a German Shepherd and a Golden Retriever. They look very different. They have very different temperaments. Much of my Goldie's characteristics come from his breed, his genetics, and has nothing to do with training/nurturing.
So here is the thought:
When the human population was small, there were many tribes with very limited contact with other tribes. It has to be so when population density was thin. There was more variety in disposition and temperaments from tribe to tribe. Some tribes are like perfect Buddhists. Some are savage.
As these tribes grew in size, and population density increased upon the face of the planet, these tribes come into more frequent contact with each other.
What happens then?
Then, the more savage, more aggressive, the more destructive tribe will displace the gentler one.
Eventually, most of the Far East came to be dominated by the Han Chinese, a particularly accumulative, self-preserving and -propagating, aggressive, with a hard baked animosity to other tribes, warring.
All around the world as populations grew, it was always the most war-loving, destructive tribes who dominated, eventually decimating the gentler ones.
The reason humans are so unhappy is because we are descended from these tribes. We are the warring breed of humans. Our predecessors have crushed and vanquished so many other tribes.
Posted 20 June 2014 - 06:03 AM
But that suggests the tribes have different 'nature' characteristics which didn't change as the tribes themselves propagated through time and space. Do they? Your theory also ignores the fact that most modern dog breeds are the result of thousands or perhaps hundreds of thousands of generations of selective breeding by humans. So the 'nature' we see in dog breeds today is really the result of nurture.
Posted 24 June 2014 - 10:17 AM
How many Labradors and GRs today come from a rigorous selective breeding for athleticism, retrieving instinct, and a mild temperament? They are bred today more for looks than anything else yet the result is still very much a retrieving dog. It's the same with German Shepherds. They basically mate two purebred GSDs and call it a day. Yet the result is very much a war dog (GSDs were created for war use from shepherd stock by a captain of the Prussian army). GSDs do not breed to become like GR.
Traits acquired through selective breeding over many generations result in nature. What the puppy was trained to do or not to do is nurture. This much is unambiguous.
Posted 24 June 2014 - 06:43 PM
Your goldie is very brown. Or is that just his colour when wet?
what constitutes nature or nurture is far from unambiguous. in your human example, since humans share the same DNA with miniscule variations in its composition, how do you explain as 'nature' the variations in human behaviour? additionally we find that variations in human behaviour can be classified across multiple variables, among them geography, attitudes to authority, attitudes to monotheism, predilection for shiny objects, propensity to travel by sea, and on and on. do we classify this entire multi-variate system as simply nature or nurture?
and back to dogs. of course your goldie was selectively bred in malaysia. this is what puppy mills and dog breeders do. but you say selective breeding is nature, even though it is a wholly artificial endeavour. even if that were so, you now rip a hole in the separation between nature and nurture. if artificial activity can turn what was nurture into nature, as in selective breeding, then the distinction between the two is practically meaningless. you might as well say 'i wonder what dogs/humans can learn in their lifetimes'. in other words, your detailed explanation of the concepts reveal that they have little to no bearing on the larger question you posed.
Posted 25 June 2014 - 12:48 AM
Could it be that the behaviour of a certain dog breed be a function of their physical traits, rather than pure behaviour alone? A GR could be good at retrieving stuff because of better eyesight, longer limbs, etc. etc., rather than an innate interest at playing catch.
Having said that, I sometimes find that my sons do stuff...weird, kid-stuff...that only I would have known about.
Posted 25 June 2014 - 01:25 AM
^ yes, it is... but the relationship is recursive. the physical traits are a function of selective breeding, which is a function of the breeder's desire for certain traits and behaviours. so traits do not cause behaviours. in fact, it is behaviours which caused the traits, via breeding.
Posted 26 June 2014 - 01:25 AM
Some Goldens have the skull of a Labrador, i.e. wide and squat. Mine has the skull of a spaniel, narrow and with a bulging skull like the Golden on the right above.
As to whether
Behaviour = f(Physical traits)
it's difficult to say. I like to think they are integrated. I don't think physical traits even begin to suggest the differences in behaviour. Compare the temperaments of the GR against the GSD.
Anyway, my GR is definitely a "scent" dog, not a sight dog. He has sharp enough vision, but he never believes what he sees without a confirming scent. This applies even to me, his owner. He would see me from say 20 meters, but keeps sniffing and sniffing. He only shows recognition (tail wags, starts running towards me) when he picks up my scent. Also when chasing tennis balls, he uses his vision to get within a radius of 4 meters to the ball. He relies on motion -- the bouncing of the ball -- to perceive the ball. I think they have poor colour perception, almost colour blind, so cannot see the contrast between ball and grass. Once the ball stops bouncing, he relies on scent to locate it. This ties in well with their being employed to retrieve shot birds in thick cover -- the fallen birds are obscured by tall grasses, the only way to locate them is by scent.
Posted 29 June 2014 - 09:41 PM
I have been receiving unsolicited advice from pet shop owners about the stuff to feed my dog. I would enter the shop with my dog (one pet shop owner told me, "Dogs are not allowed in here! What happens when a Malay customer comes in?" to which I thought "Who makes you more money, the owner of a large-breed juvenile Golden Retriever, or the owner of a cat?"). There is also a lot of discussion on the dog forums about the best kibble to feed your dog. It boggles my little limited brain what appears to be the widespread practice of feeding a dog exclusively one brand of kibble for an extended period of time. Years on end. One brand of kibble. And how you have to make the transition, if necessary, from one brand of kibble to the next, gradually.
I thought there must be some sort of special intelligent formula to the damned kibbles. The pet shop owner mentioned above says, "Buy Eukanuba! Don't feed him the cheap stuff. Don't feed him random stuff. There is a difference."
Today, I took the trouble to read the ingredients lists of some of these "premium" kibbles, including Eukanuba. The first three ingredients are poultry by-products, including poultry bone meal. Can somebody tell me what is so special about feeding a dog parts of the chicken that even McD would not use in its nuggets? Feeding a dog wastes from the meat processing industry, and chicken at that?
Chicken is the lowest grade of meat you could buy. I do not eat regular supermarket chicken myself. I had bought some last week to feed my dog but the flesh was so foul I threw it away.
I read a 1918 manual on dog rearing recently. This was an era when many of the "purebred" dogs were established. It was a period of great activity in breed formation. It was a time when the aristocrats still went hunting with their dogs. The German Shepherd was created then. The American Kennel Club was only 34 years old then. It advised to feed dogs with table leftovers. Any clean food.
So today, I did so. Leftover red rice, leftover steamed pumpkin, and raw chunks of beef.
There is also a common wisdom floating around that raw pork has bacteria that will fucking kill you if ingested. Including your dog. Tell that to the Germans. I have eaten bread rolls spread with raw minced pork more times than I can tell. The Germans love it. I love it. Every day, tons of raw minced pork is consumed in Germany.
I have settled on a kibble that has lamb as its first ingredient. But no way will I feed my dog exclusively kibble. In fact, I fed him a whole mango recently, chunk by chunk.
Posted 30 June 2014 - 02:35 AM
A buddy of mine has several (about 4-6) 'kampung' breed of dogs (a.k.a mongrels). He feeds them cooked rice (overcooked, almost porridge-like) with some whole grains and meat thrown in. Obviously, his household of 4 doesn't have enough leftovers to feed 6 dogs. But its the discipline during feeding time that amazes me. Each dog is brought to her (all are females, for some reason) special corner, and given a bowl of food, which they all finish in less than 5 minutes.
My cats, on the other hand, have no sense of meal time. They eat (or don't eat) when they want to. Only reason I'm keeping them is because my kids love 'em and they keep mice away.
Posted 30 June 2014 - 03:35 AM
Unlike the above description, which says the dogs were used for vermin control, dogs have always been used through the ages as hunting partners, where their keen sense of hearing and smell helped compensate our lack in those areas. I even have evidence. Here a page off a book about the natives of Malaysia from the Times bookshop in Pavilion clearly showing a group of hunters, each with their dog, and a bounty of wild boars.
Some of the kampong/"landrace" dogs here are direct descendants of the basenji, an ancient breed, and very similar to the dingo of Australia. Here's one very dingo-like dog next to my dog.
I shot a vid earlier today of a fetch. He shows more enthusiasm the first couple of fetches, then it dwindles to about the level in the vid, and by the 8th throw he no longer wants to fetch. That's when I know he will sleep soundly that night. Otherwise, he will rouse me in the middle of the night at 3 am to play with me.
Posted 03 July 2014 - 11:53 PM
And what a wonderful camera, the EOS M, here with the old EF 35/2. I keep wanting to sell this lens, designed in the mid 80's, and get myself a modern higher performing one, but the pics I get are so good I keep delaying.
Posted 07 July 2014 - 08:18 PM
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