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October 19, 2007 11:48 PM   Subscribe

Chasing women will take years off of your life. But hey, things always even out somehow. You'll just return the favor to your poor, innocent mother.
posted by miss lynnster (56 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
OK. Men are an evolutionary cul-de-sac. If you could lick half a chromosome's worth of DNA off a rock, you wouldn't need us at all. Women would be better off without us. We get it. Now can we please have sex before I die?
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:06 AM on October 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


Actually, men are lovely creatures* so I must completely disagree about the "better of without us" self-pity thing. Plus, they can easily lift heavy stuff that hurts my delicate girly back.

*Give or take a few unfortunate representatives.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:37 AM on October 20, 2007


"Plus, they can easily lift heavy stuff that hurts my delicate girly back."

Don't forget reaching things on high shelves.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:39 AM on October 20, 2007


That does it. I'm convinced. I'm taking the Dworkin position and declaring myself gay on principle, enjoying the fruits of specialization exclusively in the company of men. You breeders can all go suck it. I'm getting rich and staying rich as part of a gay power couple, and you parasitic women and children can just leech off of someone else.
posted by litfit at 12:41 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


WTF? Chasing women? Huh? People chase 'em? I don't chase 'em; wherever I go, there they are. I haven't got the energy to chase anything, and my lower back aint 'alf sore. Man, them schnitzengrubens will wipe you out.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 12:49 AM on October 20, 2007


Plus they like to throw their jackets on top of puddles so that I may feel comfortable walking wherever I please after a heavy rain storm. Although then of course I must cease to give them the time of day because their clothing is disgusting and covered in mud. And my my, what lady wants to put up with that!? But whatever. They're still delightful creatures.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:55 AM on October 20, 2007


What I hate most about men is how we self-moderate threads.
posted by DaShiv at 1:00 AM on October 20, 2007


Yeah yeah. Point noted. Got insomnia. My bad.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:05 AM on October 20, 2007


Eponysterical.

I like men. As a general rule, they've been socialized not to be snippy, bitchy whinebeasts. More direct, less circumspect, less catty. And they can open jars I can't.

Who cares if they killed their mother? They open my olives! And I like olives just as much as I like men.
posted by Jilder at 1:07 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


*throws miss lynnster into puddle*
posted by vronsky at 1:08 AM on October 20, 2007


Good post, miss lynnster. I read the article in the first link earlier today and I thought it was very interesting.

But, yeah, we do need men around, as annoying as they may be, because who else would do the "gross" stuff like changing our oil, raking the dog poop in the backyard, crawling through jungles of spiderwebs to light the furnace, etc.?
posted by amyms at 1:09 AM on October 20, 2007


A grandmother and granddaughter walking along, grandma why do men live longer than women?after a few steps grand mother says, nobody knows dear......... but we like it that way.
posted by hortense at 1:20 AM on October 20, 2007


Now you tell me...
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:34 AM on October 20, 2007


Hah. I'm amused.

And I dunno, despite all the grief and drama, men are quite fun to have around sometimes.

But only sometimes.
posted by Phire at 1:44 AM on October 20, 2007


A grandmother and granddaughter walking along, grandma why do men live longer than women?after a few steps grand mother says, nobody knows dear......... but we like it that way.

Yo' grandmama is so old she gets her folk wisdom from the Johnny Carson show.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:35 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


casey stengel said "spending the night before a game with a woman never did a ballplayer any harm. it's running around looking for one what does him in."
posted by bruce at 3:08 AM on October 20, 2007


Chasing women isn't the problem, its catching them.
posted by sfts2 at 4:12 AM on October 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Casey got it right.

Of course, it helps to choose wisely, so the woman you catch doesn't drive you crazy or make you homicidal. (This works both ways, folks. A man may not shorten your lifespan, but the wrong man will make you want to check out sooner!)

I like men. They are a perfect compliment to me. I found a good one (finally) and I'm completely content to spend the rest of my life entertaining and being entertained by this fascinating person.
posted by Corky at 4:19 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Uh, why is lifespan such a big deal? The longer you live, the more of your life you spend being elderly.

In the game of life, your age, income, height, number of sexual partners, fashion sense, and social status are not your score. How much time you spend being happy is.
posted by mullingitover at 4:52 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Corky, that reminds me of a "joke" my dad used to tell me, his beloved eldest daughter:
"Why do men die sooner than their wives do?"
"Because they want to."
posted by GrammarMoses at 5:50 AM on October 20, 2007


Men competing with other men is what shortens lives not chasing women. Women, on the hand, have longer lives but that difference and more is spent doing hair, makeup and deciphering pseudo-scientific cosmetic product babble. So ultimately it's a wash.
posted by srboisvert at 5:57 AM on October 20, 2007


They are a perfect compliment to me.

Uh, hey did I tell you you look good in blue?
posted by dreamsign at 6:10 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


In the game of life, your age, income, height, number of sexual partners, fashion sense, and social status are not your score. How much time you spend being happy is.

thanks, dad!
posted by dflemingdotorg at 6:11 AM on October 20, 2007


Dr Clutton-Brock reckons that the sex difference in both human rates of ageing and in the usual age of death is an indicator that polygyny was the rule in humanity's evolutionary past—as it still is, in some places. That may not please some feminists, but it could be the price women have paid for outliving their menfolk.

You know that if the research found exactly the opposite and polgyny made men live longer, the Economist would be saying that it "may not please some feminists," but polygyny is obviously the best system for ensuring stable societies and long lives. It's amazing how many findings can be stated in a way that may not please some feminists!
posted by transona5 at 6:16 AM on October 20, 2007


Trasona5, that's primarily because even a whiff of the idea that all human beings aren't tabula rasa and might actually have some innate, statistically valid average biases in regards to behavior (or performance, or anything) when it comes to gender is very non-PC, as it means that there could be some shift away from the demon of "culture did it!" Scientists who have done research on the difference between men and women's brains have been told that their work is "politically dangerous" by some and threatened with physical violence by others. So, yeah, pretty much anything in the area "may not please some feminists."
posted by adipocere at 6:38 AM on October 20, 2007


Trasona5, that's primarily because even a whiff of the idea that all human beings aren't tabula rasa and might actually have some innate, statistically valid average biases in regards to behavior (or performance, or anything) when it comes to gender is very non-PC,

I disagree. this idea of the "feminist" is a strawperson the economist uses to make its opinion "edgy." I can't believe the backlash to "PC" is still going on. What feminist has ever threatened violence over a scientific result? An obscure, withering, academic critique, maybe.

i'd like to see a link, more evidence, honestly. and i'm not taking about the lesbian gangs with pistols scare, either. who are these "some" and "others?"
posted by eustatic at 6:53 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have no opinions, much less data, on what The Economist is thinking as a collective.

Do a library search if it pleases you. I have no link. Even though I'm someone who does web stuff for a living, I know not everything is "online." I happened to read a handful of articles and a few books on the topic of brain structure (and possibly function) with regards to gender well over a decade back during a physiological psychology course. That would be just about prior to PC, much less any backlash. Unsurprisingly, I did not commit references to memory in a convenient MLA form.

However, if you don't believe in the idea of a politically dangerous question, just write Larry Summers and ask him how his time at Harvard turned out.
posted by adipocere at 7:08 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Damn, why do those humorless, hard-to-please feminists have to take everything so seriously?
posted by GrammarMoses at 7:15 AM on October 20, 2007


I heard once that married men live longer than single men.


This makes sense to me - I'm sure married men live longer because they want to be right at least once before they die.
posted by mmrtnt at 7:18 AM on October 20, 2007


However, if you don't believe in the idea of a politically dangerous question, just write Larry Summers and ask him how his time at Harvard turned out.

Or James Watson. Talk about a man who's not afraid to ask those dangerous, politically incorrect questions!
posted by transona5 at 7:50 AM on October 20, 2007


Is this an anti-boyzone FPP?
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:54 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are plenty non-tabula-rasa theories of human behavior that correspond to feminist ideas. You could characterize the results of this study as saying that the (usually patriarchal) societies that practice polygyny are bad for men as well as women, or you could argue that they point to polgyny being the human norm for most of history. Really, it seems to imply both. It's always interesting to see which points the media stress the most when they report these kinds of studies.
posted by transona5 at 7:58 AM on October 20, 2007


Chasing women not only takes years off your life, it puts leers on your wife.
It's a twofer.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:09 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Chasing women isn't the problem, its catching them.

Catching women isn't the problem, it's sewing their skin together to make a she-suit that actually fits for once.
What...?
posted by the other side at 8:27 AM on October 20, 2007


... well over a decade back during a physiological psychology course. That would be just about prior to PC ...

No, that would have been well after the peak, and well into the decline of PC. I bet that's online somewhere ...
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:33 AM on October 20, 2007


I LIKE CHEESE
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 8:39 AM on October 20, 2007


Man, them schnitzengrubens will wipe you out.

Henry C. Mabuse? They said you was hung!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:44 AM on October 20, 2007


Pretty much all of these threads regarding some kind of difference caused by the accidents of birth devolve into the "we would prefer that this didn't exist and let's tear it down by any means possible" argument. If you want to derail to Watson, that's fine. I'd like to take one of his statements that, so far, all I hear is "Watson is a pompus old windbag/wingnut/dickhead/Klan member" about, but no actual refutation.
"A priori, there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual abilities of people geographically separated during their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of mankind will not be enough to make it so."
It pisses us off, right in that place where we were raised with a sense of innate fairness. It's pretty much the same problem. Given that we know that humans whose ancestors, prior to whatever diaspora they may have undergone, came from a given region do have slight variations in their abilities to flourish under conditions of reduced oxygen, can or cannot digest lactose, are more resistant to malaria, may flush when exposed to alcohol, could be predisposed to Seasonal Affective Disorder, may be prone to Tay-Sachs because of an evolutionary bottleneck during a lipid-starved time, seem to win a few more track competitions on average, given all of these things, the idea that the vaguely-defined, emphemeral, genetically multifactoral and certainly environmentally delicate thing we handwavingly call intelligence, this one thing, would somehow magically be absolutely frikkin' identical down to the sixth decimal place, should we all agree on some standard of measurement, that it has to be that way, and anyone who would question such a thing should rot in whatever we have replaced Hell with ... is just a little too much for me to buy into.

Some part of me would love it if we were all born different-yet-somehow-identical-in-all-the-ways-that-matter. So much conflict would vanish. Yeah, the world would be more boring, but we'd have less of the ghastly stuff that goes on right now. Wishing doesn't make it so. Who will come out on top in any given metric? We don't know yet. We might find out that white males are just a smidge dumber than everyone else (or more predisposed to run-on sentences). We don't know yet. Bursting into flames whenever someone asks the question, however, won't stop humanity from eventually finding out. What will you do then? Getting angry won't help when you may have to face the unpalatable possibility that all people are not equivalent, even if it goes against everything we'd like to be true in a land where, theoretically we believe that all people are created equal, and we've all got a fair shot. It's horrible. It makes me sick to think about it. I will not, however, turn my face away from it just because I would like it to be different.
posted by adipocere at 8:50 AM on October 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Thanks to Hai Karate, the women chase me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:07 AM on October 20, 2007


Getting angry won't help when you may have to face the unpalatable possibility that all people are not equivalent, even if it goes against everything we'd like to be true in a land where, theoretically we believe that all people are created equal, and we've all got a fair shot.

But this research isn't about differences between men and women, or ethnic groups. It's about differences between people in societies where polygyny is practiced and people in societies where monogamy is practiced. And it's about differences in health lifespan, not any kind of ability. So it has absolutely nothing to do with the kinds of "dangerous questions" about human equality that sometimes make people (understandably) uncomfortable. The Economist's mention of "some feminists" just serves as a non-sequitur attempt to shoehorn this topic into the "politically incorrect science" category.
posted by transona5 at 9:20 AM on October 20, 2007


I take off my cape and wizards hat, and trade them for a pair of goggles and a large furry pimp hat.

Hi, ladieeez? I can only stay for a few moments, because I've got to get back to my friends, but did any of you see those two girls fighting outside?

Ouch.

Please don't do that. Ouch. Ouch. Please stop hitting me. Ouch.

Abandon set. Abandon set immediately.

Ouch.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:39 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like men. As a general rule, they've been socialized not to be snippy, bitchy whinebeasts. More direct, less circumspect, less catty. And they can open jars I can't.

There's a really simple trick to this that makes it easy without a lot of strength to open jars. Take a fork, knife, pregnancy test kit, or any type of narrow stiff object and hit it around the edge. These dents will break the seal if previously unopen and also loosen up sticky stuff that may be making it hard to turn. It should take no effort after that to open the jar.
posted by kigpig at 9:54 AM on October 20, 2007


It pisses us off, right in that place where we were raised with a sense of innate fairness.

I'm not much interested in the different levels of measured intelligence between different ethnic and racial groups. I'm much more interested in the different, and much more inequitable, levels of hotness.

Why is it that, when the gene pool was divided up, that black men got a disproportionate quantity of the male hotness gene -- something that we'll term for the purposes of our study. the fuckability factor? Initially, my thesis was that this is a God-given attempt to level the playing field by distributing the various strengths in an equitable manner -- hence Ashkenazi jews might top the intelligence league tables, but when it comes to cuteness, they're definitely somewhere around the bottom end.

But then how do we account for asian women? Asian women not only do the best in terms of IQ, but they also tend to rate most highly when we measure their fuckability factor as well. This is clearly a study that warrants further investigation, but yet again, political correctness is getting in the way, stopping this valuable work from progressing.

Women, you need to stop your false consciousness from getting in the way of this research. White women, wouldn't you want to have the ass of a J-lo without the need for expensive cosmetic surgery? Black women, wouldn't you want to be complemented for having the anorexic look of a Kate Moss instead of hearing the usual hurf-durf butter-eater comments? Science can solve all of these problems and more! If we can split the atom, surely it can't be beyond our abilities to learn how to maximize hotness regardless of race. Think of it as a kind of Equal Rights initiative, after which every race will finally being able to compete for the attentions of those Masters of the Universe who take home a salary bigger than Skeletor's.

Join our struggle now!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:06 AM on October 20, 2007


“Why is it that, when the gene pool was divided up, that black men got a disproportionate quantity of the male hotness gene...”

You already know this—but it always needs to be said anyway—that you can't talk about “the gene pool was divided up” and “black men” because “black” doesn't exist genetically that way. Yes, skin tone is genetically determined; but it's determined in the same sense as hair color. In other words, “black” isn't a type, it's a characteristic. It doesn't correlate to relatedness, different populations can be black for different reasons and not always, or even usually, because they share a common ancestor. So you can't make generalizations about black people other than that they are black. Being black doesn't indicate that there are a bunch of other traits shared.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:25 AM on October 20, 2007


“But this research isn't about differences between men and women, or ethnic groups. It's about differences between people in societies where polygyny is practiced and people in societies where monogamy is practiced.”

I think you're misunderstanding the research. The difference in life-span is the result of aging, and aging is biological. The difference isn't environmental. The biological difference is tentatively explained as differential evolutionary pressure on the two sexes.

Many or most feminists will probably react negatively to this research. With the rise of evolutionary psychology, and partly because there's been some egregiously bad EP research, feminists right now have a knee-jerk tendency to bash anything that even remotely smells like EP. I'm not sure that if you really look at this closely that there's anything which threatens the still-dominant and cherished feminist paradigm of the tabula rasa human mind, but there might be. I say this as an ardent feminist who nevertheless disagrees with its general hostility to EP.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:35 AM on October 20, 2007


Ha, you'll live longer as long as you don't stray for new pussy and stay with the same woman... year.. after year... after year...
posted by wfc123 at 12:05 PM on October 20, 2007


there's been some egregiously bad EP research

Frankly, there can be no other kind of EP research mainly because it isn't research unless you are so very loose in your terminology that wanking is the same as a rock star sleeping with 10 groupies.

All evolutionary psychology is, pretty much by definition, a salad of wild-ass guessing with a dressing of stolen biology terminology and if you're really lucky a touch of descriptive statistics. Ever hear of an evolutionary psychologist who has disproved their own pet theory? Notice these researchers don't explain the species that fail to fit their model.

Also I am so tired of the brave defenders of the "heretical thought" not because they are philosophically wrong, they aren't, but because inevitably the heretics they choose to champion are shit. Shit at logic. Shit at statistics. Shit at theory. Shit at the knowledge of their own disciplines and even more shit when they step outside their own discipline. The liberal believer in science in me says "defend the right to express these ideas" but the scientifically conservative data-requiring empiricist in me says "defend the right to express these ideas and then point out they are unsupported speculative shit"
posted by srboisvert at 1:06 PM on October 20, 2007


“Frankly, there can be no other kind of EP research mainly because it isn't research unless you are so very loose in your terminology that wanking is the same as a rock star sleeping with 10 groupies.”

Yeah, that's a standard criticism of EP, but it's wrong. It's no more the case that science can't discover how evolution shaped the human mind than it is that science can't discover what the early universe was like. Whether or not, in practice, a lot of EP researchers make unfalsifiable claims, it's not the case that, in principle, EP is different than any other scientific discipline.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:43 PM on October 20, 2007


I frequently disagree with Ethereal Bligh pretty strongly when it comes to threads involving feminism, but everything he's said in this thread up to this point is pretty dead-on.

you can't talk about “the gene pool was divided up” and “black men” because “black” doesn't exist genetically that way. Yes, skin tone is genetically determined; but it's determined in the same sense as hair color. In other words, “black” isn't a type, it's a characteristic. It doesn't correlate to relatedness, different populations can be black for different reasons and not always, or even usually, because they share a common ancestor.

I would like to add to this that you could attempt to correlate specific DNA sequences with intelligence, athleticism, etc., and then data mine the results to establish correlation between ethnicity and those sequences. Using this you could draw some reasonably correct conclusions about ethnicity and corresponding traits.

However, by the time anyone gets around to doing this right, our easy global travel and the resultant mixing of ethnicities will have rendered the entire exercise moot.

Which is probably just as well for all of us.
posted by Ryvar at 2:06 PM on October 20, 2007



In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is. ~ Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut/Yogi Berra

Evolutionary Psychology is unlike most other scientific disciplines. It is not unlike a lot evolutionary theory, which at this point is wildly speculative in nature. That isn't a big problem generally because most evolutionary theory is of little consequence when talking about larger creatures. It makes no difference really whether certain early dinosaurs had feathers or were social or not to anyone other than paleontologists and kids drawing dinosaurs. No public policy is affected by this. No distribution of power is justified by pointing at a T-Rex skeleton and going Rawr (outside of paleontology departments at least).

Evolutionary Psychology on the hand has a long long history of being used to justify just about everything wrong in society. No doubt the defenders of heretics will leap up and say "Just because an idea is unpalatable doesn't mean it should be denied". I agree wholeheartedly. So here in mine: Evolutionary psychology is almost always wrong in ways the rest of experimental science isn't quite as often.It is wrong in design, in statistics, in method and in conclusion yet its proponents repeatedly advance its claims as being worthy of policy adjustments and social justification. I think this happens because, as a largely speculative non-empirical unfalsifiable endeavor it attracts both the non-rigorous and the agenda-driven who then make careers out of subtly re-engineering the naturalistic fallacy in order to tell people that what they already believe is true. As such, any claims made by evolutionary psychologist require greater than usual scrutiny and greater than usual evidence which it pretty much by definition can't provide.

If evolutionary psychology were about discovering how evolution shaped the human mind that would be wonderful. If its proponents advanced their claims with the same certitude as evolutionary biologists I would be thrilled. Instead it seems to work the other way around with evolutionary psychologists claiming that their current conception of the mind is backed up by their idea of how evolution would work. I can't think of any real advances in our understanding of human psychology or neuroscience that have ever been achieved as a result of an evolutionary perspective. I'd love to hear some but I am not holding my breath. Mostly because breath holding until death is a strategy that wouldn't have evolved.
posted by srboisvert at 2:35 PM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I see that you've practiced and polished your rhetoric in this argument. Unfortunately, that doesn't make it any less bogus. Yes, there is a minority of EP researchers that are or seem to be agenda-driven and they shoddy arguments with shaky data and shoddy analysis. And they get a lot of press.

But this isn't true for the majority of EP researchers and your claims that it is are wildly unrestrained. That you say “it is not unlike a lot evolutionary theory, which at this point is wildly speculative in nature” shows that you know much less of what you're talking about than you think you do. Evolutionary theory is quite mature at this point, it's not “wildly speculative”. That you also repeat your claim that EP “pretty much by definition can't provide” evidence is also simply false. While I believe that Tooby and Cosmides's Wason Selection experiment has shown to be flawed, it's still a good example of how EP can formulate falsifiable hypothesis that can be tested experimentally. And then there's the whole array of forensic-type evidence which can be brought to bear on EP questions.

You say that you can't think of any real advances in neuroscience that have been achieved as a result of evolutionary analysis—hell, our understanding of the coarse morphological structure of the brain and its related functional localization is entirely dependent upon an evolutionary perspective of the matter.

There's a lot of good non-provocative work being done in EP that doesn't make it into the newspapers.

There's a subtext to your comment relating to those who defend EP that is objectionable. I don't deny that there's a much too large number of people, both evolutionary psychologists and commentators, who jump to the defense of EP for exactly the same reasons you attack it. And I don't deny that there's another group of defenders, overlapping somewhat with the first, that just like to be contrarians. But that's neither here nor there with regard to the correctness of EP. I don't belong to either of those groups and I resent the implication that I do.

For a long time now, the majority of the context within which scientists study animal behavior has been evolutionary. It is simply absurd that we have mostly refused to examine human behavior from the same perspective. What I deeply dislike about the conventional notion of human behavior and the human mind is its exceptionalism and its anthropocentricism. Those two impulses are both irrational and deeply unscientific. Biological anthropocenticism is the exact equivalent of geocentricism.

But I tire of arguing about this. As the discipline of EP grows, it will attract fewer and fewer ideologues and the portion of it which is quack science will diminish. I think that the views of those very critical of EP like yourself are dominated by the presentation of the most provocative research in the popular media. While some of the research is inherently flawed and ideological, it often is the case that journalists present particular EP research and related conclusion in an extremely sloppy or even egregiously misrepresentational manner. This is a general problem of science reporting in the popular media and the dearth of science journalists and the inadequacy of the few of them there are. A lot of the backlash against EP and the problem of the ideologues who misuse it would be solved by competent science journalism.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:02 PM on October 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


I admit I was over the top EB but the reason is that in my experience Evolutionary arguments in psychology usually serve more as short circuits than as empirical support. Just like "feminists may not like this" somehow serves as validation for a certain crowd.

Take a look at how ridiculous the EP claims of Clutton-Brock are:

Dr Clutton-Brock reckons that the sex difference in both human rates of aging and in the usual age of death is an indicator that polygyny was the rule in humanity's evolutionary past—as it still is, in some places. That may not please some feminists, but it could be the price women have paid for outliving their menfolk.

So he is extrapolating from polygamous animals with shortened male lifespans to humans.

Most (but not all) Polygamous Animals have shortened Male Lifespans
Human Beings have shortened Male Lifespans

therefore

Human Beings must have been polygamous at one point (though they mostly are not now).

See the logic problem(s)? That kind of thing is endemic. That doesn't even include the unexplained 3 species that defy the polygamy = shortened lifespan pattern and undermines the deductive logical force that largely depends on the evolutionary inevitability of male costs.

Then there is this claim "There is no reason why that logic should not work between the sexes as well as between species. " Which I am sure you would agree is laughable. There are many reasons why between species differences would be different from within species between sex differences.

How does this incredibly weak work get any recognition at all? I certainly hope the actual claims are better than what is in the economist article.

So I guess my main point is that given the tendency of evolutionary claims to get a pass from fellow researchers, reviewers and from the press whenever it tells us what we already believe, it deserves a far larger than normal seasoning of doubt. Perhaps it is wrong for me to start at the position that all EP is bullshit until proven otherwise but it where inference leads me.

Maybe there is good EP that isn't on my menu. In fact I am sure there probably is. However, what does cross my plate, with stunning regularity, is pretty much this junk food.
posted by srboisvert at 3:51 AM on October 21, 2007


“Which I am sure you would agree is laughable. There are many reasons why between species differences would be different from within species between sex differences.”

Well, it doesn't work the same way. But I think the claim was meant to be that there are evolutionary pressures operating between the sexes, which was aimed at laypeople because this is elementary evolutionary theory. Sexual selection is a well-known, powerful evolutionary force.

I read the “human were polygynous” as a reasonable hypothesis based upon this study and comparison with other animals, not the conclusion of this study or a rigorous claim on its own. But the press will seize on this, of course.

And it is a very reasonable hypothesis on this basis. Also, at some point the onus is on the human exceptionalists to explain why humans are the exception. If it were established (I don't know if it has been) that in other animals polygyny has an evolutionary causal relationship with shorter male lifespans, then the reasonable default assumption would be that this is true for humans, as well, and it would be the responsibility of human exceptionalists to come up with a reason why this wouldn't be the case.

I do think this last bit is commonly displayed by the critics of EP. There is a constant cry of “you haven't proven that this is so in humans, even if it's common in animals”. But if it's common enough in animals that it's reasonable to assume the relationship is the same with humans, you shouldn't need to prove it especially in the case of humans for it to be an accepted, tentative, unproven “truth”. Yes, many critics of EP really do believe that humans are self-evidently exceptional, that our large brains, language and culture all are themselves exceptional and in combination set up a completely different context for human behavior. Unfortunately for them, though, in my opinion, are the facts that scientific history is filled, almost characterized, by human exceptionalism/anthropocentric assumptions which have been knocked down, one by one and that these particular assumptions are each more and more questionable—our large brains aren't as relatively large as we have thought, our use of language isn't as exclusive as we have thought, that we have culture isn't as exclusive as we have thought.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:18 PM on October 21, 2007


There's a really simple trick to this that makes it easy without a lot of strength to open jars. Take a fork, knife, pregnancy test kit, or any type of narrow stiff object and hit it around the edge. These dents will break the seal if previously unopen and also loosen up sticky stuff that may be making it hard to turn. It should take no effort after that to open the jar.

Cool! Now I can ditch the mister.
posted by deborah at 12:18 AM on October 23, 2007


But if it's common enough in animals that it's reasonable to assume the relationship is the same with humans, you shouldn't need to prove it especially in the case of humans for it to be an accepted, tentative, unproven “truth”.

There is the rub. We differ in our requirements for calling something a "truth" when applied to people. You think it is okay for EP proponents to make tentative speculative claims. I think, given the social costs, the standards need to be higher. I don't really think humans are exceptional in the sense you are saying. I do, however, think that because of the social political implications of EP claims that the evidence needs to be exceptional when applied to people because humans are exceptional insofar as we pay attention to science while those other species don't.
posted by srboisvert at 3:56 AM on October 23, 2007


Well, that is a common difference of opinion. Some people, like yourself, believe that certain things should be talked about only very carefully or discretely, or not at all, because they are socio-politically dangerous. The reasoning is valid and the motivation laudable, but I'm definitely in the “dangerous ideas should be discussed, everything is acceptable for discussion, and people are either adults who can handle dangerous ideas or they need to learn to be” school.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:11 AM on October 23, 2007


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