#675: Empiricist League

20 Aug

My first meeting of the group that describes its mission as “bimonthly events that unite writers, filmmakers, and oddballs in the name of science, exploration, and beer” was on the topic of love.

There are probably many people who think love can’t be explained scientifically.  In the words of the first speaker last night (a research scientist with a PhD), “The fact that love can last…it’s…yeah, you know, right?”

So maybe it can’t entirely be.  But it’s still interesting to hear about the neurological things going on in connection to these crazy feelings we sometimes have the privilege of experiencing.  I certainly don’t believe there’s any specific scientific recipe for “finding” love (mostly because I don’t think it’s something that can be “found”), but I do find it fascinating to learn about the different experiments that have been done in the name of trying to put something into words that maybe was never supposed to be completely understood.

For what it’s worth, all of the speakers were entertaining, but only one was actually a good public speaker.  (The third person was Christian Rudder from OkCupid, and if you read the interview with him a few weeks ago about the blind testing hoopla, you’ll assume correctly that he’s not at his best when being asked to talk to other human beings.)  He’s the director of evolutionary studies at SUNY New Paltz, and he had some tough improvising to do when an audience member asked whether publicizing research from evolutionary psychology would make feminism irrelevant.

I won’t go into the answer (which was essentially, “I can’t answer that”).  I will say that my favorite part of the evening was when a 57 year old man told everyone he had just met his partner a few years ago–this, in response to the almost palpable panic coursing through the bar when the OkCupid guy showed a chart that said all men, regardless of age, find 20 year old women the most attractive.

There are some things we’d probably rather not have the scientific data on.

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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Science


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