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Evolutionary psychologists discover that it paid for an early human to get it wrong about whether a girl was interested

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Still cleaning the confetti out of the lampshades here, and catching up with stories we missed:

From “All It Takes Is a Smile (for Some Guys)” (ScienceDaily, Dec. 13, 2011), we learn

Does she or doesn’t she . . .? Sexual cues are ambiguous, and confounding. We — especially men — often read them wrong. A new study hypothesizes that the men who get it wrong might be the ones that evolution has favored. “There are tons of studies showing that men think women are interested when they’re not,” says Williams College psychologist Carin Perilloux, who conducted the research with Judith A. Easton and David M. Buss of University of Texas at Austin. “Ours is the first to systematically examine individual differences.”

A hopeless mess? Evolutionarily speaking, maybe not, say the psychologists. Over millennia, these errors may in fact have enhanced men’s reproductive success.

Yes, if they survived. The Biblical story of Dinah gives a millennial-old picture of what was likely to happen if the guy got it wrong, and those people lived much closer to dawn of humanity conditions than we do.

It actually didn’t matter that much in antiquity if the woman even was interested. Bread and butter issues usually prevailed, to say nothing of prestige or honour.*

Predictably, like most evolutionary psychology, this research was done of American university students ( = the hookup culture). Very few societies, historically, have been composed of child-free hookups, so why these decline-stage hooker-uppers are supposed to represent the dawn of humanity is baffling. Anyway, rejoice that your taxes pay for this and that you are compelled to honour its perpetrators as learned scholars.


Gen 34: 24 All the men who went out of the city gate agreed with Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male in the city was circumcised. [to placate the girl’s brothers]

25 Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male. 26They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left. 27The sons of Jacob came upon the dead bodies and looted the city whered their sister had been defiled. 28They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys and everything else of theirs in the city and out in the fields. 29They carried off all their wealth and all their women and children, taking as plunder everything in the houses.

30Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me a stench to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.”

31But they replied, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?”

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