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Thread: Clever, but how can you test it?

  1. #1
    igKnight Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Clever, but how can you test it?

    Recently, some various bits of data came together in my head and formed an interesting hypothesis. There's this product. It's a compression wrap for cats or dogs to help relieve anxiety.

    It reminded me of articles and documentaries I consumed nearly two decades ago about an autistic woman who helped ranchers better deal with their cattle. She both gave and took from the experience--she gave in that she helped develop better facilities that made it easier to keep the cattle calm when being processed for dipping or dehorning etc. She took in that when she saw a device used to hold cattle still, a sort of body clamp, and observed how the animal actually calmed down under that restraint, she hypothesized it might help with her own anxiety, and made a device for herself. And apparently it worked.

    We now have compression garments for anxiety in people with ASD.

    Then, there's the behavior of cats and their love of squeezing into cardboard boxes a few sizes small. Apparently it's a self-soothing behavior (I think @gator might have linked something along those lines, or I might just be a victim of my hippocampus and cucumbers--the hippocampus has nothing to do with educating water horses and everything to do with memory retrieval, but it's not quite as good as Google, probably because there are no marketing agents doing hippocampus search optimization to our memories). The soothing comes from compression.

    Apparently, there are a lot of mammals that are soothed by light compression on their torso.

    This leads me to the following tragic hypotheses:

    1. The bleeding hearts are right and world needs more hugs.

    2. There are a lot of animals that tragically lack the ability to hug each other.

    3. There's gotta be something about hugs and evolution that will make sense, and somebody needs to produce a well researched scholarly monograph on the evolution of hugs, it should be called The Evolution of Hugs, it should have a great simple graphic on the front, and it should be surprisingly difficult to read but marketed to the masses. Furthermore, there should be a point somewhere in the book at a point research indicates anxiety would be about to peak in NF readers (because of course they will be the ones most likely to buy it) and at that point, there should be a sudden shift in tone to a more personal tone asking:

    "Wouldn't a hug feel great right now? I'd give you one if I were there, cause you deserve it! In fact, right now, as I'm writing this, I'm thinking about giving you a hug. Now go make the world a better place and hug someone else!"

    I ashamed that I find these ideas adorable, and that I can think of no way to properly test them.


    What clever ideas have you had that just made sense but lacked a clear experimental protocol to verify?
    --Mention of these things is so taboo, they aren't even allowed a name for the prohibition. It is just not done.

  2. #2
    non-canonical Light Leak's Avatar
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    ^

    I don't currently have any other ideas to add. Just wanted to say that the compression thing makes sense. Sometimes I like to sit with a pillow against my stomach when I'm stressed or whatever and it is comforting. I like using a foam pillow because it's a little heavier than a feather one.

    But about animals not being able to hug each other... maybe that's why dogs and other animals like to sleep all clustered together.

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    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    Well, I'm not an evolutionary biologist, but in theory wouldn't any test of a hypothesis about (actual, historical) evolution consist of a search for evidence in the fossil record?

    (I mean, either that or somehow finding the genes that code the desire for hugging and then doing whatever they do to determine the ancestry of specific genetic sequences, although I'm now well out of my depth and am going to just stop typing.)
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No history, no exposition, no anecdote or argument changes the invariant: we are all human beings, and some humans are idiots.

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    igKnight Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Mexico View Post
    Well, I'm not an evolutionary biologist, but in theory wouldn't any test of a hypothesis about (actual, historical) evolution consist of a search for evidence in the fossil record?

    (I mean, either that or somehow finding the genes that code the desire for hugging and then doing whatever they do to determine the ancestry of specific genetic sequences, although I'm now well out of my depth and am going to just stop typing.)
    Exactly. I mean, it would be one thing if the relaxation response to torso compression were just in primates--that would be pretty interesting actually, and could lead to some more satisfying speculation about evolving to exploit peculiarities of physiology--which would be super interesting since we generally think of evolution the other way round. But instead we see the response across many mammals. It's still almost certainly a social grooming/bonding thing.

    Or... it might be a novel way to deal with birth.

    We often talk about the pain a woman goes through in giving birth, but I haven't heard much time given to the infant's side of the story. It seems like such a thing would be extremely traumatic--but if the compression triggered a soothing response...

    Edit: side question... how could the fossil record be used to study emotional state changes from stimuli?
    --Mention of these things is so taboo, they aren't even allowed a name for the prohibition. It is just not done.

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    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Exactly. I mean, it would be one thing if the relaxation response to torso compression were just in primates--that would be pretty interesting actually, and could lead to some more satisfying speculation about evolving to exploit peculiarities of physiology--which would be super interesting since we generally think of evolution the other way round. But instead we see the response across many mammals. It's still almost certainly a social grooming/bonding thing.

    Or... it might be a novel way to deal with birth.

    We often talk about the pain a woman goes through in giving birth, but I haven't heard much time given to the infant's side of the story. It seems like such a thing would be extremely traumatic--but if the compression triggered a soothing response...
    Well, it doesn't really help to develop an experimental procedure, but your OP immediately brought to mind Jung's pronounced interest in "womb-regression" symbolism. (E.g. why do the monsters that have to be defeated by archetypically masculine fantasy heroes have such a predilection for hiding out in caves? Obviously there's a certain complex mixture of sentiments about the act of poking around in mysterious holes there, but the popularity of the archetype does sort of imply a widespread latent fascination or curiosity about the experience of venturing into confined spaces.)

    Oh, and there was a 19th-century Methodist minister in England who once wrote an entire hymn about how great it would feel if he could somehow crawl inside the spear wound in Jesus' chest.


    EDIT: And then, if you've ever gotten out of an outdoor hot tub in the winter, imagine the experience of being wet and naked and suddenly in air that is probably a good deal lower in temperature than the consistent 98.6 degrees you've spent your entire existence in up to that point.


    Edit: side question... how could the fossil record be used to study emotional state changes from stimuli?
    That's a tough one, but I wonder if you couldn't approach it from another angle. Physical anthropology research often relies on the ability to associate behaviors with physical markers.

    (E.g. the hominid line of primates has seen a distinctive reduction of sexual dimorphism, such as the disappearance of "fighting teeth"--oversized canines used primarily or even exclusively for intraspecial dominance displays in modern mammals that still have them--as a secondary sex trait in males. As I understand it, there's a general view that this shift would have to have been produced by changing sexual preferences among females, and/or that it represents a physical indicator of our shift from polygyny to monogamy.)
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No history, no exposition, no anecdote or argument changes the invariant: we are all human beings, and some humans are idiots.

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