That Which Makes Humans Unique

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That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby OlegTheBatty » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:24 pm

So far, all the characteristics which philosophers etc have claimed are uniquely human, none have stood the test of time. Humans are not the only tool users, language users, or war makers.

But, until now, no one has considered hair. Yes, hair!

Humans are the only species whose head hair continues growing through out their lifetimes.* All genders.

Which raises the question - Why?




*I can't think of any others, not even closest relatives.
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby scrmbldggs » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:28 pm

Maybe it's trying to make up for the general loss elsewhere?
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby JO 753 » Sat Nov 25, 2017 5:44 pm

We are the only speciez that requirez vitamin C in our diet.
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby TJrandom » Sat Nov 25, 2017 6:49 pm

OlegTheBatty wrote: ... Humans are the only species whose head hair continues growing through out their lifetimes.


So I`m not human? Bummer... :oops:

Actually it is still growing, but not as fast as I would like...

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:51 pm

JO 753 wrote:We are the only speciez that requirez vitamin C in our diet.


Actually, a lot other primates do.

My view is that what makes humans unique is quantitative, not qualitative. It is two things.
1. We are the only species that makes sophisticated tools. Defined as knapping stone tools, using fire, and even better tools than knapped stone.
2. We are the species with the most sophisticated social cooperation systems.

There are many other species that make and use tools, but not to the degree humans do. There are many other species that cooperate socially, but not to the degree humans do.

Those two qualities are what makes our species successful. Growing hair is kind of irrelevant.

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby scrmbldggs » Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:54 pm

Tell that to all the hair stylists. :roll:
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby JO 753 » Sun Nov 26, 2017 1:49 am

& tell it to Cosmo magazine! ALL womenz magazinez and all men'z magazinez also!

Lance Kennedy wrote:Actually, a lot other primates do.


I see that I wuz embarrassingly misinformed.

wiki wrote:Most animals make their own vitamin C. Some mammals cannot. Those that cannot include the main suborder of primates, the Haplorrhini: tarsiers, monkeys and apes, including humans. Others are bats, capybaras and guinea pigs.


even better tools than knapped stone.


Another sacrilijus claim! Nothing iz better than knapped stone.
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Gord » Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:20 am

The thing that makes humans unique is their ability to breed with other humans. And maybe Twitter.
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:33 am

No. Trump uses twitter. Definitely inhuman.

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Nov 26, 2017 8:11 am

Lance, on subject but you confused/swapped quantity with quality.....and then failed to include the species that are ENTIRELY cooperative, the social insects/hive organization.

So..........other than being wrong on every point you raised: good job.
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby scrmbldggs » Sun Nov 26, 2017 3:19 pm

Tactical stupidity is uniquely human.
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Gord » Sun Nov 26, 2017 3:40 pm

I'm pretty sure dogs can be wilfully ignorant. They're similar to toddlers in that way.
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby scrmbldggs » Sun Nov 26, 2017 3:58 pm

And they learned that from the overlords - cats!
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:58 pm

Bobbo

You are correct in that I failed to look at social insects. Mea Culpa. I need to modify my description to add something like intelligence to get around that one.

This is an issue that has been much debated. What makes humans unique? I do not want some silly answer like hair, but an answer that explains why humans have developed such a unque way of life.

Incidentally, there is another unique physical attribute that comes to mind. Humans are the best throwers in the world. Our shoulder joint seems to have evolved in such a way as to permit accurate and effective throwing. Even Neanderthals had a shoulder joint that was less effective for that.

So my answer as to what makes humans unique is the high level of tool making sophistication and the high level of social cooperation. Excluding social insects.

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Nov 26, 2017 7:21 pm

So.....nothing unique except the degree to which we have mastered certain tasks?

Many animals, and maybe some plants too, communicate by scent and hormones. Humans are the only species that communicate symbollically.....the only other way to transmit information from one generation to the next besides dna.

Almost makes one want to actually use a dictionary?


Edit........well, animals can "teach" the next generation. So.....modify for the obvious intent. Another thing only humans can do.........
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby JO 753 » Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:49 pm

I beleev evolutionary chanje alwayz starts with an idea. The simple random mutation theory duznt work without sum help.

An idea leadz to altered behaviour and more ideaz wich get passed on to otherz and the next jeneration. That eventually leadz to fizikl differensez and more ideaz.
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby TJrandom » Sun Nov 26, 2017 11:03 pm

I would suggest that social insects are not social at all – at least not in the sense that they individually have any say, or desire in the matter. Instead they are more subjects in a queen-dom – slaves in a dictatorship, controlled by chains that bind them – those pheromones.

So for humans – social cooperation among peoples for which cooperation is elective, may indeed be a unique attribute.

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:04 am

TJ---isn't the Queen Bee as much a slave to their "system" as any other category? Chained to her role as everyone else is?? And if you want to remove/redefine social insects from non-social insects, why would the same recognition not apply to humans? Are humans "social" or just piled up on one another in small areas?
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Lance Kennedy » Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:54 am

I think TJ and Bobbo are both right in this. Ant society enslaves every individual. Perhaps what I should specify in the human socialisation to avoid the comparison with insect societies is flexibility. Social insects have none.

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby JO 753 » Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:20 am

Our prezent level uv co-operation iz made possible by money. It iz an artificial co-operation invention.
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Lance Kennedy » Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:24 am

Exactly right, Jo.
It is the artificial nature of everything humans do that makes us successful. We can always find an unnatural way to achieve our goals.

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Poodle » Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:19 am

Having read this thread, I'm left with a strong impression that human tool use developed in response to the need for haircuts. OK - I'll go with that.

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Abdul Alhazred » Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:25 pm

What exactly is unique "enough"?

As far as we know, only humans agonize over what makes then unique.
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:42 pm

Poodle wrote:Having read this thread, I'm left with a strong impression that human tool use developed in response to the need for haircuts. OK - I'll go with that.

I second and support your recognition that our so far ONLY unique characteristic of continuous hair growth cannot be swept into the trash bin of Mine First Specieism. And we all know you can't cut hair without reference to the owners manual the first few times.
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby scrmbldggs » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:52 pm

Human continuous hair growth developed when other animals forcefully complained about being stripped of their hides solely for the protection of the now nekkid weaklings. Read your Bibble, folks!
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Phoenix76 » Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:48 am

Human continuous hair growth


Well I have a real problem with this statement. Try telling that to my brother-in-law, and many other bald people. That statement may apply to some, but not all.

My understanding is that our fingernails and toenails do keep growing all our life. Also, our proboscis, the nose that is, continues to grow throughout life. But I've never heard of these claims about our hair.

Certainly our head hair, in certain individuals, appears to stop growing, I.E. Baldness. Then maybe chest hair continues to grow. No I don't think so. I have one or two little growths, but if over 71 years you want to call that "continuing to grow", well I think you delude yourself.

But, Ahh, Pubic hair! That must be it. Now I don't run around checking up on peoples pubes, but having seen photos of older people, it would suggest a clear thinning of such hair.

So, Gentlemen, and Ladies, I believe we need more substantiation for this claim of continuous hair growth.

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby OlegTheBatty » Thu Nov 30, 2017 3:04 pm

Phoenix76 wrote:
Human continuous hair growth


Well I have a real problem with this statement. Try telling that to my brother-in-law, and many other bald people. That statement may apply to some, but not all.

My understanding is that our fingernails and toenails do keep growing all our life. Also, our proboscis, the nose that is, continues to grow throughout life. But I've never heard of these claims about our hair.

Certainly our head hair, in certain individuals, appears to stop growing, I.E. Baldness. Then maybe chest hair continues to grow. No I don't think so. I have one or two little growths, but if over 71 years you want to call that "continuing to grow", well I think you delude yourself.

But, Ahh, Pubic hair! That must be it. Now I don't run around checking up on peoples pubes, but having seen photos of older people, it would suggest a clear thinning of such hair.

So, Gentlemen, and Ladies, I believe we need more substantiation for this claim of continuous hair growth.


I specified head hair in the op 8-)

Baldness does not refute - whatever wisps of hair there may be continue growing.

I reckon it has something to do with sexual signalling - unhealthy looking hair is not attractive (unkempt is ok - hairstyle appears irrelevant except in limited cultural contexts).
Most such signallers in the animal kingdom are limited to one gender - antlers, fancy tail feathers, but in humans, it's all genders.

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Gord » Fri Dec 01, 2017 6:30 am

My eyebrows are on my head. They constitute head hair, right?
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Monster » Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:23 am

Abdul Alhazred wrote:What exactly is unique "enough"?

As far as we know, only humans agonize over what makes then unique.

I was going to write that. You beat me to it. :(
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Gord » Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:24 am

What, you've never seen an emo dolphin?

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Ken Fabos » Sat Jan 13, 2018 1:26 am

Humans are the only species whose head hair continues growing through out their lifetimes.


I don't think that is true. Sheep (some domesticated varieties) keep growing wool (mammalian hair) as long as they live, including over their heads - although their lives can be shortened by not getting shorn and being incapacitated by the huge mass of wool -

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Sat Jan 13, 2018 1:30 am

Ken Fabos wrote:
Humans are the only species whose head hair continues growing through out their lifetimes.


I don't think that is true. Sheep (some domesticated varieties) keep growing wool (mammalian hair) as long as they live, including over their heads - although their lives can be shortened by not getting shorn and being incapacitated by the huge mass of wool -

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Ken Fabos » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:32 am

Gawdzilla Sama, I don't often get involved in discussions here. As far as things that make homo sapiens unique go, long growing head hair doesn't seem likely to be that important - why this particular post drew me in when the site is so full of errors to correct and facts to dispute I'm not sure. Except that the peculiarities of the human patterns of hair growth and how they evolved have been a long running interest. That no one really knowing the hows and whys of that evolutionary pathway opens the field to wide ranging speculations - I even have some of my own - but it works best within the bounds of what is known.

I'm not sure that the claim of lifelong hair growth are more true of those sheep than of human. Humans mostly shed their head hairs and grow new ones - just not all at once. Length varies a lot but not many people get the individual hairs growing beyond a metre before they are shed in the telogen "resting" phase of the hair growth cycle. The anagen (growth), catagen (transitional), telogen (rest) growth cycle length seems highly variable - 2 to 6 years - usually. I don't know why a small number of people manage to grow hair without shedding but my understanding is the examples of extreme length can be considered the result of a hair growth abnormality.

As for it being a sexually selected characteristic to have that (still unusual) long head hair - I don't see it. A mane of sorts, but it is shared by all, children, adolescents and adult so it doesn't, by itself, demonstrate sexual maturity or difference. But did it come independently or together with the extraordinary (I think) transition to the modern human pattern, that of head, brow and eyelashes plus only vellus body hair in juveniles transitioning to the wide variability, with clear male/female differences, of adults?

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Nikki Nyx » Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:21 pm

Gord wrote:I'm pretty sure dogs can be wilfully ignorant. They're similar to toddlers in that way.
For dogs, it's not willful ignorance, but the master's failure to establish himself as the alpha dog. If the master fails to do so, the dog believes he is the alpha and can do what he wants.
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Nikki Nyx » Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:38 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:I need to modify my description to add something like intelligence to get around that one.
Perhaps not merely intelligence, but also the ability potential to think critically and overcome instinctive behavior. A few examples...

A dog will frequently try to bite someone who's hurting him, even if it's the vet who's helping him. Humans generally don't react that way, because we're able to reason that the pain we're experiencing is caused by medical treatment, and that lashing out at someone who's helping us is inappropriate.

When someone cuts you off in traffic, the instinct is to punish the jerk for his selfish, unthinking action which put you in danger. But we're (mostly) able to reason past our anger and conclude that aggressively starting a confrontation will not end well.

When your child does something that endangers him, your immediate reaction is usually anger. But your ability to reason stops you from acting out your anger, because you realize that your anger is actually fear for your child's safety. People who are truly introspective realize that the anger is not directed toward the child, but toward the self...for failure to teach the child about that particular danger.

Unfortunately, many people don't take the time to analyze their emotional reactions, and do behave instinctively, however unwise that instinctive behavior actually is. Like people who still get into fist fights as grown adults. Or people who act on their jealousy without analyzing the cause: their own insecurities. But the potential is there. However, it can only be realized through education and a willingness to be honestly introspective, two things many people lack.
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby OlegTheBatty » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:02 pm

Ken Fabos wrote:
Humans are the only species whose head hair continues growing through out their lifetimes.


I don't think that is true. Sheep (some domesticated varieties) keep growing wool (mammalian hair) as long as they live, including over their heads - although their lives can be shortened by not getting shorn and being incapacitated by the huge mass of wool -


OTOH, these sheep could not survive without humans. They are a living artifact.
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby Ken Fabos » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:23 pm

OlegTheBatty wrote:
Ken Fabos wrote:
Humans are the only species whose head hair continues growing through out their lifetimes.


I don't think that is true. Sheep (some domesticated varieties) keep growing wool (mammalian hair) as long as they live, including over their heads - although their lives can be shortened by not getting shorn and being incapacitated by the huge mass of wool -


OTOH, these sheep could not survive without humans. They are a living artifact.


That may be true, but the claim that human head hairs continue to grow our whole lives is (with some exceptions, usually considered hair growth abnormalities) not true. It is not a trait shared by all humans or even all that many. Much more commonly, the hairs shed, during the telogen resting phase of hair growth cycle - and that will be a determining factor for how long they can get. The length of that cycle does vary widely.
Last edited by Ken Fabos on Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:32 pm

I assume wild sheep have head wool?..........Saw a show about an old Orangutan........full head of hair....Don't all agpes and monkeys? Is this another example of Mosquito teeth?
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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby TJrandom » Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:33 pm

OlegTheBatty wrote:
Ken Fabos wrote:
Humans are the only species whose head hair continues growing through out their lifetimes.


I don't think that is true. Sheep (some domesticated varieties) keep growing wool (mammalian hair) as long as they live, including over their heads - although their lives can be shortened by not getting shorn and being incapacitated by the huge mass of wool -


OTOH, these sheep could not survive without humans. They are a living artifact.


Is that true? Without human involvement sheep would likely become extinct? Or did you mean something else...

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Re: That Which Makes Humans Unique

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:41 pm

I think he just meant the breed of sheep would die out...........really just revert back. Just a matter of how dominant/recessive too much wool would be. With that much wool, I could see the entire breed dying out before any genetics could correct for that condition.

It is interesting, especially with food plants, what control we exercise over the biosphere. My favorite from studying fat: pigs used to be bred for maximizing fat production to be sold for that product. Not the same pig we have today maximized for lean pork....given the onset of plant based fats.

Watching some old films yesterday, saw women wearing fur shawls....very attractive I thought. Do we use all animal furs/skin that are available to us? Over time, I would think everyone could have a nice warm fox fur, rabbit and so on. Shame to throw it all away????
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Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?


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