Evolutionary psychology: The grandmother thesis, yet again

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Darwinists have long had a problem with the fact of human longevity, compared to that of chimps. Presumably, that is because they need equivalence between humans and chimps. The article referenced here, from Nature, takes, for once, a skeptical view of Darwinist claims.

I don’t see why an explanation is required at all. If you live like a chimp, you will die like one. Nowadays, if you live like a responsible human being with a mind, you can reach eighty years old quite easily in a technologically advanced democracy. (You know, Rabbi ben Ezra, and “Grow old along with me/The best is yet to be …) The rabbi’s  thoughts are only meaningful for creatures with a mind.

So this  skepticism re the “news from Darwinism”, rightly casting doubt on how grandmothers help natural selection, points to  the ridiculous disgrace that Darwinism has become, while dominating the academy for so long:

These researchers found that among Tanzanian hunter-gatherers, the Hadza, mothers faced a trade-off between foraging for food for themselves and any weaned offspring, and caring for new infants. But if grandmothers helped with foraging, they were rewarded with healthier, heavier grandchildren who weaned at a younger age. Over evolutionary time, this fitness boost could have selected for women who survived long past menopause, an anomaly among humans’ evolutionary kin.

“Chimps almost never live into their forties in the wild, but most humans, if they’re lucky enough to make it to adulthood, live beyond the childbearing years,” says Hawkes.

Further support for the grandmother hypothesis came from studies of other subsistence cultures, as well as from historical records, although not all studies back up the hypothesis. (Ewen Callaway, 24 August 2010 Nature )

Contrary to such claims, aged seniors can be a considerable burden on their families, and are normally cared for due to reasons of affection, morality, religion, etc. In other words, reasons that begin with the assumption that we are thinking beings in real time, making decisions.

Some true key causes of increased human longevity (all of which require an active mind) are

1. reductions in local clan warfare, due to central government. As I sometimes point out to people, – say what you want about the government – the United States has 50 states, no one of which has any right to go to war against the others. You could say the same for Canada or the British Isles and, of course, many other nations across the world. Needless to say, the local street capo and his perps are regarded as probable felony offenders not as an honoured clan chieftain and his retainers.

Many countries are not so lucky, and their mortality statistics show it.

2. clean water. Modern medicine can save lives in specific emergencies, to be sure, but emergencies are much less likely when clean water is easily available.

3. better nutrition – no comment needed

4. access to competent medical care in emergencies, urgencies, childbirth. Also dentistry – which becomes important late in life, when the ability to chew is important to continued health maintenance

5. access to old age care (as opposed to “Throw grandma under the train”)

None of this owes anything to Darwinian evolution, nor is any theory of grandmotherhood really required. Most causes of longevity can easily be traced to events that occurred in the last few centuries, when longevity spiked in more developed regions.

Note: Non-coffee laff of the day: At the Old Folks I regularly visit, the old folks who have no natural teeth left, and have dentures that can no longer be fitted, are fed mush. Yum. A great incentive to live longer.

3 Replies to “Evolutionary psychology: The grandmother thesis, yet again

  1. 1
    above says:

    Ah, the pseudo-science of evo psych.

    One cab get a better insight into human behavior simply by reading Aesop’s fables than reading the nonsense propounded by the believers of evo psych.

  2. 2
    avocationist says:

    However, it does make sense for humans that because grandmothers make a significant difference to survival in almost every culture, that female longevity is either maintained or is well within range of microevolution.

  3. 3
    mahuna says:

    Prior to the twentieth century, the lifespan of women was considerably shorter than men because of complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth.

    The lifespan of humans “in the wild” is on the order of 30 years for males and 25 years for females. But then in the wild, humans pair off and begin producing children in their early teens. From a standard demographic point of view, each pack of 25 or so closely related humans would have something like 1 grandfather (pushing 35) and 1 grandmother (also 30-ish). Very rarely, an individual might survive into their 50s or 60s.

    The modern style of having enough food to allow many individuals to live beyond 50 dates only from the invention of agriculture.

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