Intelligent Design

Evolutionary psychology: Evolutionary psychologists get stressed and start to cry over the evolution of crying

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If you want to hear some silly explanations of crying (weeping), go here.

One theory is that crying may have evolved as a kind of signal — a signal that was valuable because it could only be picked up by those closest to us who could actually see our tears. Tears let our intimates in — people within a couple of feet of us, who would be more likely to help.

“You can imagine there’d be a selection pressure to develop a signaling system that wouldn’t let predators in on the fact that you’re vulnerable,” says Randy Cornelius, a psychologist at Vassar College.

College is often a waste of money. Any human can see when another is crying, close or otherwise, and whether they decide to help is a separate issue. I am not sure whether most animals notice, though domestic animals readily pick up on anxiety.

It strikes me that the most likely cause/reason for the evolution of crying is that humans have complex emotions. Crying is an outlet for us.

By contrast: If you bug a bear in his den and he tears you to pieces, he is not trying to get saved afterward at the local tabernacle, because he done murder.

Nor is the stallion who would like to add a filly foal to his herd plagued by issues around morality.

Nor is the dumpster rat bothered by the possibility that he is disliked because he is, basically, dislikable.

Emotions, yes. Complex, no. Crying would serve no purpose for them.

Darwinism requires that stupid, materialist explanations based on survival be preferred to obvious ones that start with the reality of the human mind and human cognition, so far as I can see.

5 Replies to “Evolutionary psychology: Evolutionary psychologists get stressed and start to cry over the evolution of crying

  1. 1
    zeroseven says:

    Why do you take pot-shots at people studying unusual things all the time? I don’t believe college is a waste of money at all. In fact it is the development of the contemplative skills that in my view constitutes the greatest cultural/evolutionary step forward for our species. Something we couldn’t do when we were preoccupied with eating/mating/hunting/staying alive.

    And how does your explanation for crying explain anything? We cry because we have complex emotions? Why? What is the connection between complex emotions and salty water leaking out of an animal’s eyes? All you are doing is saying when we feel emotional we cry. That’s just an observation not an explanation.

  2. 2
    Muramasa says:

    Hmmm. So when an infant cries, what complex emotions is it expressing?

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    Crying also comes when heavy laughing is taking place.
    Of coarse there are tears of joy.
    Yes it is a over abundance of emotion. Women cry greatly more often then men because of a more sensitive or less strong character.
    Yet I still see crying as from simple sensitivity of the face.
    For example peeling onions will bring the tears yet its not emotion. likewise sun issues or getting something in ones eye.
    Therefore in order to cleanse the eye God simply made the eyes very sensitive to this cleaning trigger.
    Emotion simply reveals this.
    There is no gain to crying.
    Our eyes are simply so made to shed tears quickly to expel that this trigger is activated by nerves or muscles connected to the face which is already in motion when emotion happens.
    Find the trigger for tears expeling a particle of dirt or onion odors and it is the same trigger for emotion tears.
    Yet the tears are irrelevant to aid in emotions. Just a aftereffect.

  4. 4
    O'Leary says:

    Muramasa at 2, thanks for raising that point. When a young infant is wailing, generally speaking, it is best not to wonder what the exact state of his emotions might be.

    I speak from much experience in this matter.

    Chances are, he needs to be fed, burped, or changed, or could have a diaper pin come loose and sticking into him. Maybe he has a skin rash or umbilicus infection …

    But in no case will you get any information out of him, absent wailing.

    Sometimes, infants wail for hours, for no particular reason. It is best to just let them wail, and walk the floor, as we say here.

    Later on, as they begin to approach reason, they may wail for things that are good for them or things that are not. That is where the second stage of parenting comes in.

  5. 5
    avocationist says:

    People need to read Elaine Morgan. She’s the only sensible evolutionist. She has quite a bit to say about our salty tears, shared actually by quite a few aquatic animals, although not necessarily done in distress.

    Also, animals do cry. But they do it without tears.

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