Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Why Sex is Fun - Jared Diamond

"Becoming a male is a prolonged, uneasy, and risky venture; it is a kind of struggle against inherent trends toward femaleness." A. Jost quoted p46 WSIF

Chauvinists might go further and hail becoming a man as heroic and becoming a woman as the easy fallback position. Conversely, one might regard womanhood as the natural state of humanity, with men just a pathological aberration that regrettably must be tolerated as the price for making more women. I prefer merely to acknowledge that a Y chromosome switches gonad development from the ovarian path to the testicular path, and to draw no metaphysical conclusions. ibid p46

from evolution of mating systems amongst the primates he concludes;
"We thus conclude that promiscuity or harems, not monogamy, is the mating system that leads to concealed ovulation. This is the conclusion predicted by the many fathers theory. It doesn’t agree with the daddy-at-home theory." p89

What about mixed strategies aren’t these even better? Many fathers and daddy-at-home. Convince many that they may be the father and yet give one the strong belief that he can maintain monogamy by remaining at home in close proximity. The necessary falsehood of monogamy is the most useful strategy as both both parties have their cake and eat it. They both pretend monogamy is good while cheating like mad. The problem is the difference between perceived strategy as sensed amongst a populace or at least assumed and the real strategy which need not be the same.

Last year I received a remarkable letter from a professor at a university in a distant city, inviting me to an academic conference. I did not know the writer, and I couldn’t even figure out from the name whether the writer was a man or a woman. The conference would involve long plane flights and a week from home. However, the letter of invitation was beautifully written. If the conference was going to be as beautifully organized, it might be exceptionally interesting. With some ambivalence because of the time commitment, I accepted.
My ambivalence vanished when I arrived at the conference, which turned out to be every bit as interesting as I had anticipated. In addition, much effort had been made to arrange outside activities for me, including shopping, bird watching, banquets, and tours of arcaelogical sites. The professor behind this masterpiece of organization and the original virtuoso letter proved to be a woman. In addition to giving a brilliant lecture at the conference and being a very pleasant person, she was among the most stunningly beautiful women I ever met.

On one of the shopping trips that my hostess arranged, I bought several presents for my wife. The student who had been sent along as my guide evidently reported these purchases to my hostess, because she commented on them when I sat next to her at the conference banquet. To my astonishment, she told me, "My husband never buys me any presents!" She had formerly bought presents for him but eventually stopped when he never reciprocated.
Someone across the table then asked me about my fieldwork on birds of paradise in New Guinea. I explained that male birds of paradise provide no help in rearing the nestlings but instead devote their time to trying to seduce as many females as possible. Surprising me again, my hostess burst out, "Just like men!" She explained that her own husband was much better than most men, because he encouraged her career aspirations. However, he spent most evenings with other men from his office, watched television while at home on the weekend, and avoided helping with the household and their two children. She had repeatedly asked him to help: she finally gave up and hired a housekeeper. There is, of course, nothing unusual about this story. It stands out in my mind only because this woman was so beautiful, nice, and talented that one might naively have expected the man who chose to marry her to have remained interested in spending time with her. ibid p95-96

This is so sad she should ditch the fool - it is annoying when brilliant women are wasted on neanderthal man.

Now compare the reproductive outputs of men pursuing the two different hunting strategies that Hawkes terms the 'provider' strategy and the 'show-off' startegy. The provider hunts for foods yielding moderately high returns with high predictability, such as palm starch and rats. The show-off hunts for big animals; by scoring only occasional bonanzas amod many more days of empty bags, his mean return is lower. The provider brings home on the average the most food for his wife and kids, although he never acquires anough of a surplus to feed anyone else. The sho-off on the average brings less food to his wife and kids but does occasionally have lots of meat to share with others.

Obviously, if a woman gauges her genetic interests by the number of children whom she can rear to maturity , that’s a function of how much food she can provide them, so she is best off marrying a provider. But she is further well served by having show-offs as neighbours, with whom she can trade occasional adulterous sex for extra meat supplies for herself and her kids. The whole tribe also likes a show-off because of the occasional bonanzas that he brings home for sharing. p105

Physiology and molecular biology can do no more than identify proximate mechanisms; only evolutionary biology can provide ultimate causal explanations. As one simple example, the proximate reason why so called poison-dart frogs are poisonous is that they secrete a lethal chemical named batrachotoxin. But the molecular biological mechanism for the frog’s poisonousness could be considered an unimportant detail because many other poisonous chemicals could have worked equally well. The ultimate causal explanation is that poison-dart frogs evolved poisonous chemicals because they are small, otherwise defenceless animals that would be easy prey for predators if they were not protected by poison p116-117.

Consider SJ Gould and nipples the clitoris etc. and also Plato on levels of cause mol. biol. = material and evo. biol. gives another level of cause but probably not the level of final cause.

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