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An open letter to the evo-devos - Tactical Ninja

Jan. 12th, 2010

09:05 am - An open letter to the evo-devos

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Things I have been told in the last few weeks (in three different contexts by three different people):

1. Women have a greater need to be attractive than men. It's EVOLUTION!
2. Men are naturally polygamous, women are naturally hypergamous. It's EVOLUTION!
3. Mate-poaching happens because men are stable providers for women and their children. It's EVOLUTION!


BOLLOCKSBOLLOCKSOMGBOLLOCKS! And also this:



OK, now we have the intellectual argument out of the way, let's get down to business.

1. Women have a greater need to be attractive than men. It's EVOLUTION!
This argument seems to be based in the idea that in Ancient TimesTM, and I quote: "A woman needed to not only attract a mate to impregnate her, but also to keep him around to protect her and her young until the young became independent. Being attractive increased the likelihood of this happening, so being attractive was an evolutionary advantage."

*cough*

Which might be true if humans were not a social animal, or if in Ancient TimesTM the construct of the nuclear family actually existed. It's much more likely that the protection and support involved in rearing young came from within a tribe rather than any individual, and that the hunter/provider role of males was shared, with the product of their efforts also being shared. My understanding of tribal society is that offspring were looked after regardless of the mated or unmated status of their mother, because it was in the best interests of the tribe for this to happen. In which case the attractiveness of the mother would not be a factor in survival of the offspring.

I think it's much more likely that male-as-provider for one female-as-recipient-of-provision (which renders females helpless and thus makes the retention of a mate more important and gives attractiveness some value) is a societal construct that came about in far more recent times and thus cannot be linked to evolution - of course we're still evolving, but the construct of the nuclear family has been around for at least 2,000 years, and yet, not to put too fine a point on it, attractiveness does not seem to have been selected for - most people have no difficulty finding a mate and the majority of children survive to breeding age, again regardless of the attractiveness of the mother.

2. Men are naturally polygamous, women are naturally hypergamous. It's EVOLUTION!
This argument, on face value, seems to make a lot more sense. If one were to observe mammals, one would see that the males will spread their seed wherever they can and that the females select the male that demonstrates (by whatever means that species uses) that he's the fittest set of genes to reproduce with her. And in terms of selection of who to have sex with and thus reproduce, a woman exercising free will, will generally choose the one she likes best - be it because he's hot, because he's charming, or because she's horny and he's there.

However, it seems that the meaning of the word has changed over the years. It doesn't mean 'the selection of the most appropriate set of genes' any more. It means 'the selection of the best provider as a mate' - or, colloquially, 'marrying up'. The construct of man-as-provider bites again! And it seems that hypergamy is more common and more obvious in societies that also exhibit the greatest gender inequalities - so I would argue that hypergamy in the context it's used today (often to denigrate women) is not 'natural' but again, a product of the nuclear family in which man is constructed as provider and woman as helpless and in need of provision. Polygamy is probably more 'natural' for women as well as men, since reproducing with a wide variety of partners would be more beneficial to the gene pool than always with the same partner, and that what constitutes the 'fittest set of genes' will vary widely for a woman within her lifetime depending on her own situation and taste. And since women are capable of making conscious decisions about sex, and of having sex for fun, there is not that genetic drive to select only the man who has demonstrated his superior genes through some pre-determined ritual.

3. Mate-poaching happens because men are stable providers for women and their children. It's EVOLUTION!
Loop back to my response to statement 1. I believe mate-poaching exists, and probably existed in Ancient TimesTM as well, in that both males and females would reproduce with multiple partners even if they lived within a defined group. However, there is a difference between reproduction and mating, in that reproduction requires one instance of sex (or maybe a few), whereas mating is a social construct in which people partner off more-or-less exclusively. So when we talk about mate-poaching, are we talking about having sex with people who are in a partnership or are we talking about breaking up that partnership and taking the chosen partner for oneself as a mate? Because I can see evolutionary value in the first, but not in the second, because men as providers for individual women (exclusive mating) is a societal construct that came long after homo sapiens came into existence, and it's one that has no evolutionary value.

I am kind of wondering why the evo-devos are popping out of the woodwork at the moment. What am I doing to attract them? Is there a repellent on the market anywhere?


I believe that evolutionary biology/psychology has a place. Determination of gender roles is not that place.

Thank you and goodnight.

Comments:

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From:tatjna
Date:January 11th, 2010 08:51 pm (UTC)
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I'm aware of this. I actually believe that nature and nurture work together quitenicelythanksverymuch.

However, I see evolutionary psychology used by laypeople as justification of constructed gender roles that are generally disadvantageous to women (read: ME!) quite regularly, often with little to no basis in fact.

And if those people want to claim evolutionary psychology as the science that backs their argument, perhaps real evolutionary psychologists might want to step up and start busting some of the myths that are perpetuating in their names.

I read an article this morning here that made a start. Unfortunately it was pulling apart someone who was actually trying to address the myths (albeit badly).
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From:tcpip
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:32 pm (UTC)
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I actually believe that nature and nurture work together quitenicelythanksverymuch.

Ayup. Take something like introversion/extroversion subject to significant controversy about the cause. Lo and behold! It turns out to be both nature and nurture... IIRC from paired-twin studies it's about 40% biological/60% environmental.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
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Schizophrenia used to be viewed that way too! Fun and games for the whole family!

(genetically speaking, like)
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From:anna_en_route
Date:January 11th, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC)
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Not to mention the fact that everyone seems to ignore who tended to play the part of "gatherer" in the whole hunter/gatherer system.

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From:wildilocks
Date:January 13th, 2010 11:39 am (UTC)
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This. I think proportion of diet-wise, gathering actually accounted for a far *greater* proportion on average, than the protein from hunting (approx 70% according to this article for !Kung, as a random Googling without going too deep, - thus women are actually not only birthers but ALSO primary providers.

What do we keep those males around for anyways? </tongue in cheek>

Edited at 2010-01-13 11:39 am (UTC)
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From:lifeofreilly
Date:January 11th, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC)

*cough*

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As I remember it (spotty at worst, spot on at best), a nubile, youthful female mate was the preference in biology as there was less of a chance that the female animal had mated with another male and was already pregnant or raising the young from another male. Youth (but sexually mature) was a desirable characteristic. Youth equated with beauty (in the eyes of a male human for a female human).

Females of the various species look for powerful older males who have proven their genetic ability to survive (and procreate). This means that the offspring will also be more likely to survive and procreate. Age and power are the attractors here (in the eyes of female humans for male humans).



"It doesn't mean 'the selection of the most appropriate set of genes' any more. It means 'the selection of the best provider as a mate' - or, colloquially, 'marrying up'"

This could be nature *or* nurture. Genes dictate total potential for an individual (how smart *can* you be?) and upbringing teaches one to utilize it. I'm going to have to disagree with your statement here.


That being said, applying Darwinism as Social Darwinism is an awful business. I avoid it. It helps me understand certain basic drives (why do more men find Jessica Alba or Emma Watson attractive than the present day Meg Ryan or Judy Dench? Why was Sean Connery one of the worlds sexiest men (as voted by women) well in to his 60's? The population of men that are found as attractive and desirable by women tends to be MUCH MUCH older than the population of women that are found desirable and attractive by men). Genetics. Reproductive biology and sexual selection strategy.

It helps me understand the why. But I try to be more than a walking, talking embodiment of my lizard brain instincts and desires.
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From:lifeofreilly
Date:January 11th, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)

Re: *cough*

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Please note I said "Try".

;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_selection
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From:anna_en_route
Date:January 11th, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC)

Re: *cough*

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Females of various species tend to look for the males with the brightest display or best or loudest song which explains why human males wear so much makeup and invest in exspensive stockings, jewelery and ribbons...


/sarcasm
All of the statements of fact above have been true in the past and in other cultures but are not currently true in this part of world in this part of the culture. Using the first fact as an explanation for the second is stretching the utility of "just-so stories" to the breaking point and beyond.
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From:lifeofreilly
Date:January 11th, 2010 10:05 pm (UTC)

two form of sexual competition

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It's the difference and competition between intersexual and intra-sexual competition.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_selection
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From:anna_en_route
Date:January 11th, 2010 10:42 pm (UTC)

Re: two form of sexual competition

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Hang on what?

I'm saying that trying to provide any kind of a wide-ranging explanation for human behaviours in mating based on evolutionary psychology is pointless unless all cultures over all known historical times are being considered and exhibit the behaviour you're explaining (for a frivolous example the "whole men want "youth"/women want experience" thing breaks down when faced with the so-called "cougar" and twighlight momscultural phenomenons).

If examples can be found of societies acting against the explanations you're suggesting then your explanations have to account for those societies (or at least include caveats).
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From:lifeofreilly
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)

Re: two form of sexual competition

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"(for a frivolous example the "whole men want "youth"/women want experience" thing breaks down when faced with the so-called "cougar" and twighlight momscultural phenomenons)."

A frivolous example deserves a frivolous answer! :) (I'm just being cheeky here, I'm not in W's journal to troll, I'm not that guy).

The twilight moms / cougar example is not one based around reproduction. The act of reproduction, certainly. What do testosterone levels in women do when they go through menopause? They go up (unless they are on HRT). Can sexual tastes and behavior be tied to hormone levels? Testosterone is a key hormone in human libido. When reproduction isn't on the table and libido's run high (oh this is such a stretch, but, you know, frivolous) could it be that "cougars" are looking for young, strong, shiny, attractive males who will fuck their proverbial brains out as opposed to cougars stalking George Clooney or Harrison Ford? I dunno.

And I don't think that you need absolutely representative samples from every single human culture to make a series of vague hypotheses that seem to fit observed behavior. Some cultures are under different selection pressures and social constraints that could, should, and would dramatically effect the implementation of any kind sexual selection.

Of course there are caveats. Science is caveats.

And it's not my explanation. I'm a just a biochemist who happened to LOVE evolution as an undergrad. Kin selection theory, sexual selection theory, history of evolution, evolutionary biology, molecular evolution- I loved these topics. Some were their own classes and some just sections in a more broad course outline.

I'm also not saying that using evolutionary biology is a good reason to be a bastard about things or force people in to the little boxes you think they should be forced in to.

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From:anna_en_route
Date:January 12th, 2010 12:20 am (UTC)

Re: two form of sexual competition

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"And I don't think that you need absolutely representative samples from every single human culture to make a series of vague hypotheses that seem to fit observed behavior. Some cultures are under different selection pressures and social constraints that could, should, and would dramatically effect the implementation of any kind sexual selection."

Vagues hypotheses when applied to human behaviour frequently result in people (media especially) being bastards about things (see i.q tests when applied to just about any population).

Those making the vague hypotheses that have the potential to influence the opinions of society in general should be held to a damn high standard of evidence as the results from incorrect hypotheses can be devastating.
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From:lifeofreilly
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:21 pm (UTC)

Re: *cough*

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Females of various species tend to look for the males with the brightest display

Ferrari? Ripped Abs? Cosmetic surgery for men?

or best or loudest song

Pick a rock star or musician.

which explains why human males wear so much makeup

Guyliner, Tanning beds, "product"

and invest in exspensive stockings, jewelery and ribbons...

Armani, Dolce Gabana, Rolex,

It's all there. Just take a look around. ;)
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From:anna_en_route
Date:January 12th, 2010 12:29 am (UTC)

Re: *cough*

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Exactly but it's not generally something that people try to explain with ev psych (although they're perfectly happy to use it to explain makeup and jewelery in women).

People behave in all sorts of different ways in different societies, and even a society's opinion about how its members behave can be utterly false and misleading (the youth of a lot of generations since Aristophanes have been held to be degenerate and dissolute and obviously heading for ruin).


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From:tatjna
Date:January 11th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)

Re: *cough*

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Your argument makes much more sense than the ones I've been given. As I said in a previous comment, it's not evolutionary psychology I have an issue with, it's the way people who don't understand it then use it to justify an allocation of gender roles.

For example, your comments about beauty equating to youth and health and being desirable for men is sensible, as is beauty equating to proven success as a producer of healthy young and being desirable for women also makes sense.* However, when someone takes that argument and then tries to say that this means attractiveness is more important for women than for men, I stop listening - because that's trying to frame attractiveness in a way that discounts the idea that women choose mates based on what is attractive to them, and stretching the argument beyond the capacity of evolutionary psychology to explain.

* Although I do wonder why proven ability to produce healthy young is not seen as genetically advantageous in women and therefore attractive to men, and likewise youth and health in men as genetically attractive to women.

I'm not sure exactly how what you're saying with this statement: "Genes dictate total potential for an individual (how smart *can* you be?) and upbringing teaches one to utilize it." causes you to disagree with my statement that the meaning of hypergamy has changed. Can you explain please?

Edited at 2010-01-11 09:55 pm (UTC)
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From:lifeofreilly
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC)

ah- not hypergamy

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I wasn't disagreeing with the Hypergamy concept (I hadn't even heard that until you mentioned that word) but rather that it wasn't about selection of the best genes.

I think it still is. Upbringing (Nurture) is still critically important to *how* someone has learned to put their good genes to work these days, you have to have something to work with to begin with. :)

I was not terribly clear in the beginning. Stupid metal body!
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From:tatjna
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC)

Re: ah- not hypergamy

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I'm still confused - I said that the definition of hypergamy has come to be based around selection of mates in order to improve the socio-economic status of one's offspring (marrying up), rather than the literal definition which is about selection of mates in order to improve the genetic potential of one's offspring.

This isn't an opinion of mine, this is what I found when researching the term.

As far as I'm concerned, selection of a mate according to socio-economic status has no evolutionary value (in terms of genetic success based in survival of one's offspring to maturity), and therefore it can't be argued that women are 'naturally hypergamous' using today's meaning.

Approaching it using the literal meaning makes more sense, however I maintain that since women make conscious choices about who they have sex with, and also are capable of having sex purely for enjoyment, then choice of mate isn't (and probably wasn't back in cave man days) purely based on the best possible genetics in a man as displayed by some ritual. Much more likely that women had multiple partners (not necessarily all at the same time, more likely longitudinally) and that her offspring each had different fathers. To call this hypergamy assumes that each child would have a 'better' father than the last, and I doubt this was the case. Hence, polygamous.
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From:lifeofreilly
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)

everyone loves the sex

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Everyone loves the sex. Clearly. We can and do have it for fun and enjoyment in addition to the making of the babies.

This is a luxury for our culture. Before birth control- sex each and every time could very well result in pregnancy and babies (or, you know, death in childbirth).

I don't know how much pre-language humans knew about the connection between sex and children. Maybe a lot, maybe almost nothing. There were and still are teenagers today who don't understand where / how babies come from.

Maybe I'm thinking that being successful a socio-economically successful mate (the goal / target of hypergamy?) is a combination of genes (for, say, intelligence or ambition or what have you) and upbringing (using one's intelligence in an effective way, being taught useful habits and *how* to put one's brans to good work) so that hypergamy would still result in selection based at least partially on more suitable / successful genes.

This balances out, however as you wind up with Old Money partners who weren't born to greatness but rather got it as a graduation present. I suspect that this is rarer as there is more new money than old money.

Hypergamy. What a word to coin...

Edited at 2010-01-11 11:37 pm (UTC)
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From:tatjna
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)

Re: everyone loves the sex

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A woman is capable of having (roughly) one baby a year, although it's usually less since breastfeeding releases hormones that can prevent cycling (this happened for me for one year after my son was born). She's capable of having sex a LOT more than once a year, and perfectly capable of happyfunsex while pregnant or breastfeeding.

A woman who is not pregnant is fertile for roughly 25% of the time.

So I'm picking sex-for-fun isn't such a new thing.

Also, I'm inclined to think that socio-economic status is less about having brainy genes and more about good luck being born into a level of society that has certain advantages. And in terms of natural selection, the birthrate of lower socio-economic status populations would imply that genetic success is completely separate from socio-economic success. Just thoughts, not fully formed, but an interesting topic nonetheless.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC)

Re: *cough*

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I think the problem is that attractiveness is a ill-defined concept that means nothing on it's own.

For one thing attractiveness in men and women are different because many women don't lust after men with breasts. So even physical attractiveness is an ill-defined concept.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC)

Re: *cough*

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I think in this context, attractiveness can be defined as 'the things that make folks want to boink each other.' Since we're talking about evolution, boinking is about all that's relevant.

The current Western standard of beauty is very different from the one 100 years ago, etc - but folks have been attracted to each other and wanted to boink for as long as they've had bits.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 11th, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)

Re: Ooh, I can apply game theory here, for good AND evil...

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My blog has already had your PhD's babies and is therefore now looking for a young hot NCEA to shag.

oh wait..
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From:tatjna
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC)

Re: He's a memetic stallion!

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I just googled your name and discovered that your memetic fecundity seems to mostly consist of How To Email Me At Work babies. At least on the first few pages of google.

(they have been orgiastically promiscuous though)
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From:lifeofreilly
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:36 pm (UTC)

Don't hate

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Don't hate the player, hate the game (theory).

That was too easy. I had to...

Depending upon the "game" one is looking to succeed in, there are different traits emphasized as positive. I don't think I would be impressed by a women who was impressed when someone pulled out a huge wad of cash. But then again, I'm not about playing in every game.
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From:lifeofreilly
Date:January 12th, 2010 02:18 am (UTC)

Re: *cough*

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"Evolutionary pressures are really fucking complex."

Yes. Very much so.

I should have said "Sexual Selection as a justification for gender roles" but I got sloppy and I was in a hurry.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:39 pm (UTC)

Clarifactions (from East German Guy)

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"1. Women have a greater need to be attractive than men. It's EVOLUTION!"

Misconception. Both sexes select for good looks, most importantly symmetry. Body symmetry serves as a proxy for good genes (genes that are robust against bodily deforming diseases and defects). Men prefer (in all cultures) women with waist-hip ratio around .7 (though weight preference may vary) and youthfulness because those are good predictors of fertility. Women like muscles and height, because those make good hunters. Nevertheless, women place a relatively lower value on looks because they care for provider qualities.
(men as well: see madonna/whore complex, but to a lesser degree, since sperm-shooters have the upper hand against egg bearers here).

You see, most species don't care for their offspring. Among those who do care is usually left to the mother. In humans both sexes are involved in parental care (this is probably due to humans large brains which take time to fully develop and cannot do so inside the womb since hips who give birth to large brained babies are hard to build in a bipedal species). By the way: yes there is some altruism in raising other peoples kids. But only to some degree. It's easy to see why genes who are unconditionally altruistic towards their (non-related) fellow tribesmen (and women) would soon die out. It is also easy to see why men's preferred strategy would develop into the direction "impregnate as many women as possible and leave soon after" had not women developed a counter strategy.
Bottom line: human pair bonds are real and have been for several million years. But they usually lasted only for the time it needed to raise the offspring, not until it had finished college, and certainly not necessarily "as long as both shall be alive". But for those few years women were looking for men with resources (and status, and good looks) who were willing to stay and raise the kids with them.

And men were looking to score "on the side" since it has less consequences for them. And women were looking (during their fertile days) for the males that carried those good genes they could pass off to their children. Since these "cads" usually are not so much of the provider type the strategy was to cuckold the "dad" types. Since raising another men's child is not very fitness enhancing jealousy developed.

These extra-pair mating strategies in the previous paragraph are not the norm. But we carry them in our genes. This can be shown empirically. For example: women during their fertile days prefer more dominant male traits, personality as well as look wise. Men are relatively (to women) more prone to be jealous of a "physically" cheating mate (cuckolding defense mechanism) while a woman is relatively more jeaulous if her man gets psychologically involved with other women (resource-sharing avoidance mechanism). (I can dig out some references if you are interested.). And of course all the above statements are statistically in nature. For a random male and a random female they relative comparisons can point in the other direction (random-select-female could place more importance on men's looks, random-select-male on "provider" qualities in a woman), but it would be (much) less likely.

By the way II: all the theories above are pretty mainstream Ev. Psych.

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From:tatjna
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)

Re: Clarifactions (from East German Guy)

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"Nevertheless, women place a relatively lower value on looks
because they care for provider qualities."


I stopped reading here. Mostly because it was obvious that you had ignored what I wrote in my post, and also what I wrote in the post that you found your way here from. So I'll repeat it for you:

One male as provider and protector for one female and her children is a societal construct that makes no evolutionary sense, given that we are and always have been a social animal that lives in packs.

Please.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 11th, 2010 11:54 pm (UTC)

Re: Clarifactions (from East German Guy)

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It is sad that you stopped there because I address your idea of the societal construct of pair bonding afterwards.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 12th, 2010 12:01 am (UTC)

Re: Clarifactions (from East German Guy)

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Yeah, I read that too. I don't deny that pair-bonding exists or existed then - however to extrapolate that women seek provider-men for evolutionary reasons based on this is not logical given the nature of human groupings in which resources are shared. The style of family that only shares resources between the father-mother-children group is a much more recent development, and one that seems to have societal control mechanisms as its origin rather than evolution.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 12th, 2010 12:30 am (UTC)

Re: Clarifactions (from East German Guy)

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That's what I was addressing whith my snippy "it is eays to see why" comment. Genes that produce people who help raise non-related people's kids unconditionally (lets call them naive-altruistic) would soon die out. Simply because they would be outnumbered by egoistic genes who would produce kids withouth caring for others in return. (It is different with nieces and nephews but genetically relatedness decreases exponentially with degrees of seperation. So not all people in a tribe are closely enough related.) Genes that reproduce as much as possible would soon proliferate if being helped by the naive-altrustic ones. So we are back to square one: Parents care primarily for their own offspring. There is of course non-kin altruism. But given that resources are not infinite survival-machines care first and foremost for their own kin. Everthing else would be evolutionary unstable.

So women need other people to help them raise their kids. Kin (in particular grandparents and siblings) play a role. But they could dead or busy with their own offspring (which they are even closer related to). Which leads us to the people who are as (probably) as related to the child as the mother (by the way: uncles on the maternal side can also be pretty sure to be related, much more so than the ones on the paternal side, which shows in empirical studies) - the fathers. Genes that produce fathers however would have much incentive to impregnate and run (cad behavior). Most (not all) of the products of these impregnations did not survive because they did not get sufficient care. Those who received enough care and thus survived probably had mothers who looked for fathers ... and so on and so forth, the evolutionary arms race continous.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 12th, 2010 12:40 am (UTC)

Re: Clarifactions (from East German Guy)

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The problem with this theory, as I have stated repeatedly, is that it assumes that one male provides for one female and her young - and even in this day and age of the nuclear family, that's not the case in most societies.

A far more likely scenario in terms of resource allocation is one where men as hunters went out as a group (chances of killing even a small antelope with a spear by yourself are much slimmer than working in a team with others). They then brought their kill back to the main living area, and it would be divided up among the group. Possibly the one who dealt the killing blow or whatever might get the choicest bits or a larger share, but it would be shared nonetheless*.

Meanwhile, the gatherers, who were most likely to be the elderly and the women with children, would forage and bring back what they had found, which was likely shared as well. Chances are foraging would be more reliable food-wise than hunting, because plants don't run away or fight back.

So you then get a sharing of food resources within a group of people who may or may not be related. Most of the help raising children that women might need would be provided by those she spent most of her time with - the elderly and the other women (again, whether they were related or not), and the food hunted/gathered by the group would be shared among the group.

So explain to me again why it would be so important for an individual woman to have an individual man providing for her? And exactly what he'd provide?

* Imagine here a group where each hunter went out individually and tried to kill things by themselves, and then didn't share. You'd end up with a lot of rotten meat when a kill was made, and a lot of lean times between kills - which is no kind of survival advantage for anyone in a tribal group, including the best hunters, and therefore unlikely to be a method used in times of scarcity. Individual selfishness is a product of plenty, not scarcity.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 12th, 2010 01:45 am (UTC)

Re: Clarifactions (from East German Guy)

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"So explain to me again why it would be so important for an individual woman to have an individual man providing for her?"

Okay. That I would have to look up. Two hunches: 1) Your premise is wrong to a degree. Reciprocal altruist do punish freeriders (hence reputation and gossiping). Moreover, sharing would decreases in times of scarcity. (does not sound very logical, but it is 3 a.m. here) 2) Sexy son hypothesis (which, albeit, has nothing to do with "providing").

By the way: "Good forager” is frequently cited by males and females as an important trait in a potential mate by meat-sharing Hadza hunter gatherers.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 12th, 2010 01:53 am (UTC)

Re: Clarifactions (from East German Guy)

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Yeah, I do believe you need to get some sleep, then when you get up in the morning, re-read what you've written and provide some relevant, peer-reviewed* academic support for what you've been saying.

A point I'd like to make (that you're not required to address right now - please, get some sleep) is that the freeriders you mention are unlikely to have existed in the type of society I describe. Pretty much everyone would have a 'job' of some description that was related to the wellbeing of the group, be that hunting, foraging, or looking after the tribe's spiritual life. The only 'freeriders' would be the very young, the very old, and the injured/ill/deformed - none of whom would be in the market for spreading their genes anyway, so their 'punishment' or not would be irrelevant to evolution.

* I say this because nobody here is likely to believe links to magazines/media articles or opinion blogs. They'll want to read the studies themselves or reputable summaries, and draw their own conclusions.
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From:lifeofreilly
Date:January 12th, 2010 02:26 am (UTC)

anonymice

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Anonymice droppings.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 12th, 2010 02:35 am (UTC)

Re: anonymice

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This one's not so anonymous - he comments occasionally in another blog I read, and usually identifies himself as The East German Guy.

I'm surprised and curious that he turned up here, though.
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From:anna_en_route
Date:January 12th, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)

Re: Clarifactions (from East German Guy)

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When you say all cultures, which ones do you mean? Which were studied and which were excluded, what was the methodology and what was done to cut out the cultural mores of the observers?

When you say something is "easy to see" I become really suspicious of your statements
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