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, Michael H Goldhaber <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> From: Michael H Goldhaber <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Why Do We Rape, Kill and Sleep Around?
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Date: Tuesday, June 23, 2009, 6:54 PM
> An article worthy to be
> called science for the people
> http://www.newsweek.com/id/202789/page/1
>  
>  Best, Michael 
> Why
> Do We Rape, Kill and Sleep Around?The
> fault, dear Darwin, lies not in our ancestors, but in
> ourselves.Sharon BegleyNEWSWEEKFrom
> the magazine issue dated Jun 29, 2009Among
> scientists at the university of New Mexico that spring, rape
> was in the air. One of the professors, biologist Randy
> Thornhill, had just coauthored A Natural History of
> Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion, which
> argued that rape is (in the vernacular of evolutionary
> biology) an adaptation, a trait encoded by genes that
> confers an advantage on anyone who possesses them. Back in
> the late Pleistocene epoch 100,000 years ago, the 2000 book
> contended, men who carried rape genes had a reproductive and
> evolutionary edge over men who did not: they sired children
> not only with willing mates, but also with unwilling ones,
> allowing them to leave more offspring (also carrying rape
> genes) who were similarly more likely to survive and
> reproduce, unto the nth generation. That would be us. And
> that is why we carry rape genes today. The family trees of
> prehistoric men lacking rape genes petered out.The argument was well
> within the bounds of evolutionary psychology. Founded in the
> late 1980s in the ashes of sociobiology, this field asserts
> that behaviors that conferred a fitness advantage during the
> era when modern humans were evolving are the result of
> hundreds of genetically based cognitive "modules"
> preprogrammed in the brain. Since they are genetic, these
> modules and the behaviors they encode are heritable—passed
> down to future generations—and, together, constitute a
> universal human nature that describes how people think, feel
> and act, from the nightclubs of Manhattan to the farms of
> the Amish, from the huts of New Guinea aborigines to the
> madrassas of Karachi. Evolutionary psychologists do not have
> a time machine, of course. So to figure out which traits
> were adaptive during the Stone Age, and therefore bequeathed
> to us like a questionable family heirloom, they make logical
> guesses. Men who were promiscuous back then were more
> evolutionarily fit, the researchers reasoned, since men who
> spread their seed widely left more descendants. By similar
> logic, evolutionary psychologists argued, women who were
> monogamous were fitter; by being choosy about their mates
> and picking only those with good genes, they could have
> healthier children. Men attracted to young, curvaceous babes
> were fitter because such women were the most fertile; mating
> with dumpy, barren hags is not a good way to grow a big
> family tree. Women attracted to high-status, wealthy males
> were fitter; such men could best provide for the kids, who,
> spared starvation, would grow up to have many children of
> their own. Men who neglected or even murdered their
> stepchildren (and killed their unfaithful wives) were fitter
> because they did not waste their resources on nonrelatives.
> And so on, to the fitness-enhancing value of rape. We in the
> 21st century, asserts evo psych, are operating with Stone
> Age minds.Over the years these arguments have
> attracted legions of critics who thought the science was
> weak and the message (what philosopher David Buller of
> Northern Illinois University called "a
> get-out-of-jail-free card" for heinous behavior)
> pernicious. But the reaction to the rape book was of a whole
> different order. Biologist Joan Roughgarden of Stanford
> University called it "the latest 'evolution made me
> do it' excuse for criminal behavior from evolutionary
> psychologists." Feminists, sex-crime prosecutors and
> social scientists denounced it at rallies, on television and
> in the press.Among those sucked into the rape debate
> that spring was anthropologist Kim Hill, then
> Thornhill's colleague at UNM and now at Arizona State
> University. For decades Hill has studied the Ache,
> hunter-gatherer tribesmen in Paraguay. "I saw Thornhill
> all the time," Hill told me at a barbecue at an ASU
> conference in April. "He kept saying that he thought
> rape was a special cognitive adaptation, but the arguments
> for that just seemed like more sloppy thinking by
> evolutionary psychology." But how to test the claim
> that rape increased a man's fitness? From its inception,
> evolutionary psychology had warned that behaviors that were
> evolutionarily advantageous 100,000 years ago (a sweet
> tooth, say) might be bad for survival today (causing obesity
> and thence infertility), so there was no point in measuring
> whether that trait makes people more evolutionarily fit
> today. Even if it doesn't, evolutionary psychologists
> argue, the trait might have been adaptive long ago and
> therefore still be our genetic legacy. An unfortunate one,
> perhaps, but still our legacy. Short of a time machine, the
> hypothesis was impossible to disprove. Game, set and match
> to evo psych.Or so it seemed. But Hill had something
> almost as good as a time machine. He had the Ache, who live
> much as humans did 100,000 years ago. He and two colleagues
> therefore calculated how rape would affect the evolutionary
> prospects of a 25-year-old Ache. (They didn't observe
> any rapes, but did a what-if calculation based on
> measurements of, for instance, the odds that a woman is able
> to conceive on any given day.) The scientists were generous
> to the rape-as-adaptation claim, assuming that rapists
> target only women of reproductive age, for instance, even
> though in reality girls younger than 10 and women over 60
> are often victims. Then they calculated rape's fitness
> costs and benefits. Rape costs a man fitness points if the
> victim's husband or other relatives kill him, for
> instance. He loses fitness points, too, if the mother
> refuses to raise a child of rape, and if being a known
> rapist (in a small hunter-gatherer tribe, rape and rapists
> are public knowledge) makes others less likely to help him
> find food. Rape increases a man's evolutionary fitness
> based on the chance that a rape victim is fertile (15
> percent), that she will conceive (a 7 percent chance), that
> she will not miscarry (90 percent) and that she will not let
> the baby die even though it is the child of rape (90
> percent). Hill then ran the numbers on the reproductive
> costs and benefits of rape. It wasn't even close: the
> cost exceeds the benefit by a factor of 10. "That makes
> the likelihood that rape is an evolved adaptation extremely
> low," says Hill. "It just wouldn't have made
> sense for men in the Pleistocene to use rape as a
> reproductive strategy, so the argument that it's
> preprogrammed into us doesn't hold up."These
> have not been easy days for evolutionary psychology. For
> years the loudest critics have been social scientists,
> feminists and liberals offended by the argument that humans
> are preprogrammed to rape, to kill unfaithful girlfriends
> and the like. (This was a reprise of the bitter sociobiology
> debates of the 1970s and 1980s. When Harvard biologist
> Edward O. Wilson proposed that there exists a biologically
> based human nature, and that it included such traits as
> militarism and male domination of women, left-wing
> activists—including eminent biologists in his own
> department—assailed it as an attempt "to provide a
> genetic justification of the status quo and of existing
> privileges for certain groups according to class, race, or
> sex" analogous to the scientific justification for Nazi
> eugenics.) When Thornhill appeared on the Today show to talk
> about his rape book, for instance, he was paired with a
> sex-crimes prosecutor, leaving the impression that
> do-gooders might not like his thesis but offering no hint of
> how scientifically unsound it is.That is changing.
> Evo psych took its first big hit in 2005, when NIU's
> Buller exposed flaw after fatal flaw in key studies
> underlying its claims, as he laid out in his
> book Adapting Minds.Anthropological studies
> such as Hill's on the Ache, shooting down the
> programmed-to-rape idea, have been accumulating. And brain
> scientists have pointed out that there is no evidence our
> gray matter is organized the way evo psych claims, with
> hundreds of specialized, preprogrammed modules.
> Neuroscientist Roger Bingham of the University of
> California, San Diego, who describes himself as a once
> devout "member of the Church of Evolutionary
> Psychology" (in 1996 he created and hosted a
> multimillion-dollar PBS series praising the field), has come
> out foursquare against it, accusing some of its adherents of
> an "evangelical" fervor. Says evolutionary
> biologist Massimo Pigliucci of Stony Brook University,
> "Evolutionary stories of human behavior make for a good
> narrative, but not good science."Like other
> critics, he has no doubt that evolution shaped the human
> brain. How could it be otherwise, when evolution has shaped
> every other human organ? But evo psych's claims that
> human behavior is constrained by mental modules that
> calcified in the Stone Age make sense "only if the
> environmental challenges remain static enough to sculpt an
> instinct over evolutionary time," Pigliucci points out.
> If the environment, including the social environment, is
> instead dynamic rather than static—which all evidence
> suggests—then the only kind of mind that makes humans
> evolutionarily fit is one that is flexible and responsive,
> able to figure out a way to make trade-offs, survive, thrive
> and reproduce in whatever social and physical environment it
> finds itself in. In some environments it might indeed be
> adaptive for women to seek sugar daddies. In some, it might
> be adaptive for stepfathers to kill their stepchildren. In
> some, it might be adaptive for men to be promiscuous. But
> not in all. And if that's the case, then there is no
> universal human nature as evo psych defines it.That
> is what a new wave of studies has been discovering, slaying
> assertions about universals right and left. One evo-psych
> claim that captured the public's imagination—and a
> 1996 cover story in NEWSWEEK—is that men have a mental
> module that causes them to prefer women with a waist-to-hip
> ratio of 0.7 (a 36-25-36 figure, for instance). Reprising
> the rape debate, social scientists and policymakers who
> worried that this would send impressionable young women
> scurrying for a measuring tape and a how-to book on bulimia
> could only sputter about how pernicious this message was,
> but not that it was scientifically wrong. To the contrary,
> proponents of this idea had gobs of data in their favor.
> Using their favorite guinea pigs—American college
> students—they found that men, shown pictures of different
> female body types, picked Ms. 36-25-36 as their sexual
> ideal. The studies, however, failed to rule out the
> possibility that the preference was not innate—human
> nature—but, rather, the product of exposure to mass
> culture and the messages it sends about what's
> beautiful. Such basic flaws, notes Bingham, "led to
> complaints that many of these experiments seemed a little
> less than rigorous to be underpinning an entire new
> field."Later studies, which got almost no
> attention, indeed found that in isolated populations in Peru
> and Tanzania, men consider hourglass women sickly looking.
> They prefer 0.9s—heavier women. And last December,
> anthropologist Elizabeth Cashdan of the University of Utah
> reported in the journal Current
> Anthropology that men now prefer this
> non-hourglass shape in countries where women tend to be
> economically independent (Britain and Denmark) and in some
> non-Western societies where women bear the responsibility
> for finding food. Only in countries where women are
> economically dependent on men (such as Japan, Greece and
> Portugal) do men have a strong preference for Barbie. (The
> United States is in the middle.) Cashdan puts it this way:
> which body type men prefer "should depend on [italics
> added] the degree to which they want their mates to be
> strong, tough, economically successful and politically
> competitive."Depend on? The very phrase is
> anathema to the dogma of a universal human nature. But it is
> the essence of an emerging, competing field. Called
> behavioral ecology, it starts from the premise that social
> and environmental forces select for various behaviors that
> optimize people's fitness in a given environment.
> Different environment, different behaviors—and different
> human "natures." That's why men prefer Ms.
> 36-25-36 in some cultures (where women are, to exaggerate
> only a bit, decorative objects) but not others (where women
> bring home salaries or food they've gathered in the
> jungle).And it's why the evo psych tenet that men
> have an inherited mental module that causes them to prefer
> young, beautiful women while women have one that causes them
> to prefer older, wealthy men also falls apart. As
> 21st-century Western women achieve professional success and
> gain financial independence, their mate preference changes,
> scientists led by Fhionna Moore at Scotland's University
> of St Andrews reported in 2006 in the
> journal Evolutionand Human Behaviour.
> The more financially independent a woman is, the more likely
> she is to choose a partner based on looks than bank
> balance—kind of like (some) men. (Yes, growing sexual
> equality in the economic realm means that women, too, are
> free to choose partners based on how hot they are, as the
> cougar phenomenon suggests.) Although that finding undercuts
> evo psych, it supports the "it depends" school of
> behavioral ecology, which holds that natural selection chose
> general intelligence and flexibility, not mental modules
> preprogrammed with preferences and behaviors.
> "Evolutionary psychology ridicules the notion that the
> brain could have evolved to be an all-purpose
> fitness-maximizing mechanism," says Hill. "But
> that's exactly what we keep finding."One of
> the uglier claims of evo psych is that men have a mental
> module to neglect and even kill their stepchildren. Such
> behavior was adaptive back when humans were evolving, goes
> the popular version of this argument, because men who
> invested in stepchildren wasted resources they could expend
> on their biological children. Such kindly stepfathers would,
> over time, leave fewer of their own descendants, causing
> "support your stepchildren" genes to die out. Men
> with genes that sculpted the "abandon
> stepchildren" mental module were evolutionarily fitter,
> so their descendants—us—also have that preprogrammed
> module. The key evidence for this claim comes from studies
> showing that stepchildren under the age of 5 are 40 times
> more likely to be abused than biological
> children.Those studies have come under fire, however,
> for a long list of reasons. For instance, many child-welfare
> records do not indicate who the abuser was; at least some
> abused stepchildren are victims of their mother, not the
> stepfather, the National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and
> Neglect reported in 2005. That suggests that records inflate
> the number of instances of abuse by stepfathers. Also,
> authorities are suspicious of stepfathers; if a child living
> in a stepfamily dies of maltreatment, they are nine times
> more likely to record it as such than if the death occurs in
> a home with only biological parents, found a 2002 study led
> by Buller examining the records of every child who died in
> Colorado from 1990 to 1998. That suggests that child-abuse
> data undercount instances of abuse by biological fathers.
> Finally, a 2008 study in Sweden found that many men who kill
> stepchildren are (surprise) mentally ill. It's safe to
> assume that single mothers do not exactly get their pick of
> the field when it comes to remarrying. If the men they wed
> are therefore more likely to be junkies, drunks and
> psychotic, then any additional risk to stepchildren reflects
> that fact, and not a universal mental module that tells men
> to abuse their new mate's existing kids. Martin Daly and
> Margo Wilson of Canada's McMaster University, whose work
> led to the idea that men have a mental module for neglecting
> stepchildren, now disavow the claim that such abuse was ever
> adaptive. But, says Daly, "attempts to deny that [being
> a stepfather] is a risk factor for maltreatment are simply
> preposterous and occasionally, as in the writings of David
> Buller, dishonest."If the data on child abuse by
> stepfathers seem inconsistent, that's exactly the point.
> In some circumstances, it may indeed be adaptive to get rid
> of the other guy's children. In other circumstances, it
> is more adaptive to love and support them. Again, it
> depends. New research in places as different as American
> cities and the villages of African hunter-gatherers shows
> that it's common for men to care and provide for their
> stepchildren. What seems to characterize these situations,
> says Hill, is marital instability: men and women pair off,
> have children, then break up. In such a setting, the
> flexible human mind finds ways "to attract or maintain
> mating access to the mother," Hill explains. Or, more
> crudely, be nice to a woman's kids and she'll sleep
> with you, which maximizes a man's fitness. Kill her kids
> and she's likely to take it badly, cutting you off and
> leaving your sperm unable to fulfill their Darwinian
> mission. And in societies that rely on relatives to help
> raise kids, "it doesn't make sense to destroy a
> 10-year-old stepkid since he could be a helper," Hill
> points out. "The fitness cost of raising a stepchild
> until he is old enough to help is much, much less than
> evolutionary biologists have claimed. Biology is more
> complicated than these simplistic scenarios saying that
> killing stepchildren is an adaptation that enhances a
> man's fitness."Even the notion that being a
> brave warrior helps a man get the girls and leave many
> offspring has been toppled. Until missionaries moved in in
> 1958, the Waorani tribe of the Ecuadoran Amazon had the
> highest rates of homicide known to science: 39 percent of
> women and 54 percent of men were killed by other Waorani,
> often in blood feuds that lasted generations. "The
> conventional wisdom had been that the more raids a man
> participated in, the more wives he would have and the more
> descendants he would leave," says anthropologist
> Stephen Beckerman of Pennsylvania State University. But
> after painstakingly constructing family histories and the
> raiding and killing records of 95 warriors, he and his
> colleagues reported last month inProceedings of the
> National Academy of Sciences, they turned that belief
> on its head. "The badass guys make terrible husband
> material," says Beckerman. "Women don't prefer
> them as husbands and they become the targets of
> counterraids, which tend to kill their wives and children,
> too." As a result, the über-warriors leave fewer
> descendants—the currency of evolutionary fitness—than
> less aggressive men. Tough-guy behavior may have conferred
> fitness in some environments, but not in others. It depends.
> "The message for the evolutionary-psychology
> guys," says Beckerman, "is that there was no
> single environment in which humans evolved" and
> therefore no single human nature.I can't end the
> list of evo-psych claims that fall apart under scientific
> scrutiny without mentioning jealousy. Evo psych argues that
> jealousy, too, is an adaptation with a mental module all its
> own, designed to detect and thwart threats to reproductive
> success. But men's and women's jealousy modules
> supposedly differ. A man's is designed to detect sexual
> infidelity: a woman who allows another man to impregnate her
> takes her womb out of service for at least nine months,
> depriving her mate of reproductive opportunities. A
> woman's jealousy module is tuned to emotional
> infidelity, but she doesn't much care if her mate is
> unfaithful; a man, being a promiscuous cad, will probably
> stick with wife No. 1 and their kids even if he is sexually
> unfaithful, but may well abandon them if he actually falls
> in love with another woman.Let's not speculate on
> the motives that (mostly male) evolutionary psychologists
> might have in asserting that their wives are programmed to
> not really care if they sleep around, and turn instead to
> the evidence. In questionnaires, more men than women say
> they'd be upset more by sexual infidelity than emotional
> infidelity, by a margin of more than 2-to-1, David Buss of
> the University of Texas found in an early study of American
> college students. But men are evenly split on which kind of
> infidelity upsets them more: half find it more upsetting to
> think of their mate falling in love with someone else; half
> find it more upsetting to think of her sleeping with someone
> else. Not very strong evidence for the claim that men, as a
> species, care more about sexual infidelity. And in some
> countries, notably Germany and the Netherlands, the
> percentage of men who say they find sexual infidelity more
> upsetting than the emotional kind is only 28 percent and 23
> percent. Which suggests that, once again, it depends: in
> cultures with a relaxed view of female sexuality, men do not
> get all that upset if a woman has a brief, meaningless
> fling. It does not portend that she will leave him. It is
> much more likely that both men and women are wired to detect
> behavior that threatens their bond, but what that behavior
> is depends on culture. In a society where an illicit affair
> portends the end of a relationship, men should indeed be
> wired to care about that. In a society where that's no
> big deal, they shouldn't—and, it seems, don't. New
> data on what triggers jealousy in women also undercut the
> simplistic evo-psych story. Asked which upsets them
> more—imagining their partner having acrobatic sex with
> another woman or falling in love with her—only 13 percent
> of U.S. women, 12 percent of Dutch women and 8 percent of
> German women chose door No. 2. So much for the handy
> "she's wired to not really care if I sleep
> around" excuse.Critics of evo psych do not doubt
> that men and women are wired to become jealous. A radar for
> infidelity would indeed be adaptive. But the evidence points
> toward something gender-neutral. Men and women have both
> evolved the ability to distinguish between behavior that
> portends abandonment and behavior that does not, and to get
> upset only at the former. Which behavior is which depends on
> the society.Evolutionary psychology is not going
> quietly. It has had the field to itself, especially in the
> media, for almost two decades. In large part that was
> because early critics, led by the late evolutionary
> biologist Stephen Jay Gould, attacked it with arguments that
> went over the heads of everyone but about 19 experts in
> evolutionary theory. It isn't about to give up that
> hegemony. Thornhill is adamant that rape is an adaptation,
> despite Hill's results from his Ache study. "If a
> particular trait or behavior is organized to do
> something," as he believes rape is, "then it is an
> adaptation and so was selected for by evolution," he
> told me. And in the new
> book Spent, evolutionary psychologist
> Geoffrey Miller of the University of New Mexico reasserts
> the party line, arguing that "males have much more to
> gain from many acts of intercourse with multiple partners
> than do females," and there is a "universal sex
> difference in human mate choice criteria, with men favoring
> younger, fertile women, and women favoring older,
> higher-status, richer men."On that point, the
> evidence instead suggests that both sexes prefer mates
> around their own age, adjusted for the fact that men mature
> later than women. If the male mind were adapted to prefer
> the most fertile women, then AARP-eligible men should marry
> 23-year-olds, which—Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard
> Marshall notwithstanding—they do not, instead preferring
> women well past their peak fertility. And, interestingly,
> when Miller focuses on the science rather than tries to sell
> books, he allows that "human mate choice is much more
> than men just liking youth and beauty, and women liking
> status and wealth," as he told me by e-mail.Yet
> evo psych remains hugely popular in the media and on college
> campuses, for obvious reasons. It addresses "these very
> sexy topics," says Hill. "It's all about sex
> and violence," and has what he calls "an obsession
> with Pleistocene just-so stories." And few people—few
> scientists—know about the empirical data and theoretical
> arguments that undercut it. "Most scientists are too
> busy to read studies outside their own narrow field,"
> he says.Far from ceding anything, evolutionary
> psychologists have moved the battle from science, where they
> are on shaky ground, to ideology, where bluster and
> name-calling can be quite successful. UNM's Miller, for
> instance, complains that critics "have convinced a
> substantial portion of the educated public that evolutionary
> psychology is a pernicious right-wing conspiracy," and
> complains that believing in evolutionary psychology is seen
> "as an indicator of conservatism, disagreeableness and
> selfishness." That, sadly, is how much too much of the
> debate has gone. "Critics have been told that
> they're just Marxists motivated by a hatred of
> evolutionary psychology," says Buller. "That's
> one reason I'm not following the field anymore: the way
> science is being conducted is more like a political
> campaign."Where, then, does the fall of
> evolutionary psychology leave the idea of human nature?
> Behavioral ecology replaces it with "it
> depends"—that is, the core of human nature is
> variability and flexibility, the capacity to mold behavior
> to the social and physical demands of the environment. As
> Buller says, human variation is not noise in the system; it
> is the system. To be sure, traits such as symbolic language,
> culture, tool use, emotions and emotional expression do
> indeed seem to be human universals. It's the behaviors
> that capture the public imagination—promiscuous men and
> monogamous women, stepchild-killing men and the like—that
> turn out not to be. And for a final nail in the coffin,
> geneticists have discovered that human genes evolve much
> more quickly than anyone imagined when evolutionary
> psychology was invented, when everyone assumed that
> "modern" humans had DNA almost identical to that
> of people 50,000 years ago. Some genes seem to be only
> 10,000 years old, and some may be even younger.That
> has caught the attention of even the most ardent proponents
> of evo psych, because when the environment is changing
> rapidly—as when agriculture was invented or city-states
> arose—is also when natural selection produces the most
> dramatic changes in a gene pool. Yet most of the field's
> leaders, admits UNM's Miller, "have not kept up
> with the last decade's astounding progress in human
> evolutionary genetics." The discovery of genes as young
> as agriculture and city-states, rather than as old as
> cavemen, means "we have to rethink to foundational
> assumptions" of evo psych, says Miller, starting with
> the claim that there are human universals and that they are
> the result of a Stone Age brain. Evolution indeed sculpted
> the human brain. But it worked in malleable plastic, not
> stone, bequeathing us flexible minds that can take stock of
> the world and adapt to it.With Jeneen
> InterlandiURL:
> http://www.newsweek.com/id/202789©
> 2009