In “The evolutionary mysteries of religion and orgasms” (New Scientist, 12 July 2012), Kate Douglas reviews evolutionary psychologist David Barash’s Homo Mysterious, which is full of dismissibles like
… his favoured explanation for concealed ovulation – the fact that women’s increased fertility is not broadcast. Barash suggests that once females became intelligent enough to link sex with babies – and babies with hard work – they could have tried to limit their birth rates. Those whose cycle was least discernible to themselves would have been least successful at avoiding pregnancy, so women with concealed ovulation gradually became more common.
And of course, avoiding pregnancy is the way to achieve success in the Darwinian world of the selfish gene, right? Oh wait, let’s check our notes.
Other evo psychs, of course, offer claims about how fertility can be guessed: Fast backward to the Big Bazooms theory of human evolution. No wonder everyone from Jerry Coyne to Jerry Fodor think evo psych is, er, ridiculous.
Which wouldn’t matter except that too many people think this is some kind of science. But then, they said that about Freud too.
See also: Why middle-aged men have shiny scalps.