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Monogamy files: Why the researchers didn’t want to discuss humans


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Readers may recall our recent story, “Two simulations reach opposing conclusions about why monogamy evolved in primates,” in which the researchers made clear:

“We’re very cautious about extending our conclusions to humans,” says Clutton-Brock. “Humans are so very unusual because they have culture — and that changes things.”

But that didn’t stop Carl Zimmer at the New York Times, who burbles,

Even with the scientific problem far from resolved, research like this inevitably turns us into narcissists. It’s all well and good to understand why the gray-handed night monkey became monogamous. But we want to know: What does this say about men and women?

It says the researchers are right. Culture “changes everything.” There is a big difference between animals who do what their nature requires and humans who ask, how shall we then live?


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