“That scientific gentleman with the bald, egg-like head and the bare, bird-like neck had no real right to the airs of science that he assumed. He had not discovered anything new in biology; but what biological creature could he have discovered more singular than himself? Thus, and thus only, the whole place had properly to be regarded; it had to be considered not so much as a workshop for artists, but as a frail but finished work of art. A man who stepped into its social atmosphere felt as if he had stepped into a written comedy.”
~G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who was Thursday
I am endlessly intrigued by Evolutionary Psychology. I found this evolutionary psychology journal, and it’s just too good not to share. Here are a few articles, and a quote from their respective abstract:
1. Parent-Offspring Conflict over Mating: The Case of Mating Age
Parents and offspring have asymmetrical preferences with respect to mate choice. So far, several areas of disagreement have been identified, including beauty, family background, and sexual strategies. This article proposes that mating age constitutes another area of conflict, as parents desire their children to initiate mating at a different age than the offspring desire it for themselves. More specifically, the hypothesis is tested that individuals prefer for their offspring to start having sexual relationships at a later age than they prefer for themselves to do so.
Or, this phenomenon could be called “Learning from Your Mistakes and Wanting Better for Your Children.”
Or maybe it should be called “Kids Don’t Know Any Better, and Parents have a Real Job in Teaching Them What is Right and Wrong. They are, after all, the Parents.”
Or “Do as I say, Not as I Have Done.“—which implies that the parents learned from their mistakes. We do not have to evolve these characteristics. It’s really just generic parenting presupposing a real and objective morality that the parents know, and are trying to teach. The teaching is, of course, contrary to “passing genes” as the singularly most important mantra of evolution. To evolutionary psychologists, it doesn’t much matter whether passing genes or not passing genes is occurring, they both come from the same taproot of evolution. Nothing would falsify it.
2. Distinguishing Between Perceiver and Wearer Effects in Clothing Color – Associated Attributions
Recent studies have noted positive effects of red clothing on success in competitive sports, perhaps arising from an evolutionary predisposition to associate thecolor red with dominance status. Red may also enhance judgments of women’s attractiveness by men, perhaps through a similar association with fertility. Here we extend these studies by investigating attractiveness judgments of both sexes and by contrasting attributions based on six different colors….Both red and black were associated with higher attractiveness judgments and had approximately equivalent effects. Importantly, we also detected significant clothing color-attractiveness associations even when clothing color was obscured from raters and when color was held constant by digital manipulation. These results suggest that clothing color has a psychological influence on wearers at least as much as on raters, and that this ultimately influences attractiveness judgments by others. Our results lend support for the idea that evolutionarily-derived color associations can bias interpersonal judgments, although these are limited neither to effects on raters nor to the color red.
“de gustibus, non disputandum est”—“There is no disputing about tastes” said Cicero. Why would red and black have an association of fertility that would assist in mating, or dominance that would help in sports? So red means dominance in sports and submission in mating? Red jerseys help teams win games? And wearing red helps men and women get game?
3. Correlated Male Preferences for Femininity in Female Faces and Voices
Sexually dimorphic physical traits are important for mate choice and mate preference in many species, including humans. Several previous studies have observed that women’s preferences for physical cues of male masculinity in different domains (e.g., visual and vocal) are correlated. These correlations demonstrate systematic, rather than arbitrary, variation in women’s preferences for masculine men and are consistent with the proposal that sexually dimorphic cues in different domains reflect a common underlying aspect of male quality. Here we present evidence for a similar correlation between men’s preferences for different cues of femininity in women; although men generally preferred feminized to masculinized versions of both women’s faces and voices, the strength of men’s preferences for feminized versions of female faces was positively and significantly correlated with the strength of their preferences for feminized versions of women’s voices.
So, the takeaway, is that men like women who actually look and sound like women……And those that like female voices, actually like female faces…….
4. Religious Belief: An Evolved Behavior, Book Review
Jay R. Feierman’s collection of essays, 15 in number, is a splendid effort to show how religion evolved and how it creates the identity of religious communities. It also explores the psychological mechanisms of religious belief. Four essays attend to the description of religious behavior, and four more to its adaptiveness. Three essays investigate the causes of religious behavior, and two describe the development of religious behavior in the individual. One essay, “The Evolutionary History of Behavior,” authored by Feierman, is his effort at a comprehensive perspective on religion. His evolution mechanism is (of course) natural selection. The key religious attribute is submission in the sense of Make-Thyself-Small, well illustrated by the Muslim prayer posture (pp. 76, 81). Prayer, he proposes, is the origin of religion (p. 81). Dominance and submission, Feierman notes, are a behavior expressed by widely across vertebrate and invertebrate species; hence they would have been well established in Homo sapiens prior to its specialization as prayer.
I go back and forth, quite honestly. Sometimes I find it humorous, and sometimes, I find it very sad that the human condition is being so distorted and clinicalized and emptied of humanity, and sometimes it just makes me angry, that the humans doing the experimenting act as if they are not themselves just as subject in every way to these “hidden evolutionary influences” in every aspect as they conclude everyone else is (which would include everything they think, even about there being hidden evolutionary influences). That’s what these studies are trying to uncover, aren’t they? The hidden influence which manifests itself in certain ways, such as jersey color and feminine voices and prayer posture resulting from dominance and submission and being a relative of invertebrates. In every instance above, and indeed in the whole endeavor of evolutionary psychology, what is studied is human behavior, and the results are then retro-fitted to a preconception of having a basis in evolution, followed by a story that attempts to link the results to some philosophy of what should occur in their bizarre philosophical evolutionary narrative.
Notice there is no such article like “Why Evolutionary Psychologists Always Except Their Own Beliefs and Thoughts From The Methodology They Subject Everyone Else To.”
That, my friends, would be interesting reading.