Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Case for Animal Nature

Every so often, 91ZM comes up (or digs up) a list that take my interest.

Here is one that uses the "as it is in nature" logic to explain some human behaviour. Odd, how people like to be able to explain away so many sexual behaviours by blaming them on our genetic makeup, considering the number of other "natural" behaviours (aggressive dominance, the conquest of less powerful groups by the more powerful) that would (and probably be should) never be excused by citing precedent in the animal kingdom.

Mankind is meant to be the species in which reason triumphed over base, animal nature, but in some things it seems, we really don't want the head to rule...


10 Politically-incorrect truths about human nature

Even though we pretend it's not true, human beings are REALLY shallow. We DON'T appreciate inner beauty. Especially for women. And for men, if you're ugly, you'd better have at least seven figures in the bank.

Today, we've got a list of ten politically-incorrect truths about human nature from two evolutionary psychologists, Alan Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa:

It just makes sense through evolution. Youth, physical attractiveness and long, lustrous hair are all signs of health. So is blonde hair, since blonde hair gets darker as women get older.

Large breasts show strong reproductive hormones. And blue eyes show dilating pupils better than any other eye color. When someone's pupils dilate, it's an honest, unconscious sign of attraction. . . so a blue-eyed woman's eyes give you the most honest response.

Polygamy is good for unattractive women. A rich man can marry a ton of women, so he'll get some attractive ones and some unattractive ones, and provide for them.

But in monogamous societies, only attractive women benefit, because they get exclusive access to the richest men. Unattractive women end up with poorer, less genetically-fit men. Men also benefit from monogamy, because they spread around less of their wealth.

We know it's true because men are taller and larger than women. That only happens in species where men compete for as many mating opportunities as possible.

Islam is the only major religion that tolerates polygamy. That makes men more aggressive and violent in general, because there's so much competition with other men, even married ones, for women.

There's another reason, too: The belief that suicide bombers get 72 virgins in heaven. Even if it seems far-fetched to US. . . for guys who believe it, especially poor men who can't get women here on Earth, it's a huge incentive.

Geniuses. . . whether it's in art or science or business or music. . . peak young. PAUL MCCARTNEY, BILL GATES, ORSON WELLES and tons of others all did their best work when they were young.

The reason: Our brains allow us to take our biggest risks in our late-teens and early 20s. . . and when geniuses take those risks, they produce great things. As we get older, our risk taking levels off. . . and so does our creativity.

Biologically, a man's mating value is based on his wealth, status and power. . . and a woman's mating value is based on her youth and physical attractiveness.

So, parents have to make sure their son will inherit as much wealth, status and power as possible. . . and staying together and working together makes that happen.

For a daughter, there really isn't much they can do to keep her young or physically attractive. . . so, subconsciously, they realize that being together isn't as important.

Physical attractiveness is more important to a woman's reproductive success than a man's. Attractive parents have a much better chance at attractive kids. . . so their bodies know it's "ok" to have a girl.

A lot of men do something CRAZY when they hit middle age. . . but it's not BECAUSE they hit middle-age. It's because their WIVES hit middle age.

When menopause is coming for a man's wife, his biological instinct is to go out and attract younger women. So, when a 50-year-old man buys a Ferrari. . . it's because of his quest to attract a young woman.

Powerful men throughout history. . . Biblical history, European history, American history. . . have all risked everything to cheat on their wives.

There's a reason why a man is willing to throw away everything he's worked for to get a young woman: It's because the GOAL of all that work, subconsciously, was to attract those young women.

Men are more interested in casual sex than women. . . tons of studies have proven that.

So, when a man at work tells a woman she needs to have sex with him to get promoted. . . it's because he's using what he's got at his disposal to try to have casual sex. And what he's got is his power.

The other kind of sexual harassment is when there's an overly sexual work environment, sometimes one that's hostile. Women who experience that kind of sexual harassment are verbally abused, intimidated or degraded by their male coworkers.

But that actually happens because men AREN'T sexist. Abuse, intimidation and degradation are men's competitive tactics, ones that men use on each other to get ahead.

So, when men use those competitive tactics on women, it's because they're treating them just like they'd treat another man.

Verdict: You and me, baby, ain't nothin' but mammals


Andrew said...

If humans are a subset of animals, and humans use reason, then it follows that reason is part of our animal nature.

"Natural" as a category is used to pass off an awful lot of cultural and ideological behaviour. Most pop definitions of "human nature" wind up excluding large numbers of humans.

tangentially: if anyone still doesn't know this, John Grey PhD doesn't have a legitimate PhD.

Anonymous said...

I've seen this list and various discussion on it several times before - can't find the link, but some of the responses that I remember as follows:

#2) Monogamy advantages men who *lack* resources, not those who *have* them - those who have them can afford to support more women and thus have more children. In a polygamous society men without resources are more likely to end up with nobody. I'm not sure how they got 'Men benefit from monogamy because they spread around less of their wealth' - the part about politicians notes the point of all that wealth is to get laid.

#3) No - gorillas and walruses are 'naturally polygamous'. Most seabirds are 'naturally monogamous'. Human size ratios are somewhere inbetween, suggesting that neither or both of polygamy or monogamy are 'natural' if you measure such things on a size ratio basis.

#4) And most aren't the sort you'd expect to be 'aggressive and violent' through 'lack of access to women'. Most are relatively well-educated and wouldn't have too many problems finding a wife, apparently.

#6) yeah, in the 1960s - apparently this was true then, and statistics no longer bear it out. Perhaps there *is* something in the argument that 'having children able to access economic opportunities' keeps people together, but given this is no longer restricted to sons in the Western world…

#7) There is a minor effect - apparently the ratio is about 57% to 43% - so not much different to the general gender ratio of the population at birth. Apparently there is also a minor effect that poorer people are more likely to have daughters - daughters can marry up, whereas sons are stuck with what they get, and if they don't get anything, then they'd better hope they *live in a monogamous society, or they might have no option but to become a suicide bomber*

I can't remember the rest of the comments I read on the list. I find lists like this a bit frustrating, because I feel if you are going to come up with a list of 'politically incorrect truths' you should at least report them accurately, rather than as what looks like a justification for boys liking girls, girls liking cars and money, and women ending up barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

BTW - I don't mean *you* - I mean *one* i.e the researchers who came up with the list in the first place.

Off-Black said...

Men like young big breasted blondes.

Must be something wrong with me then, 'cause I don't.

Off-Black said...

Not in the way they are implying anyway.