Talking to Hot Women Makes Men Lose Brain Function?

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | September 4, 2009 8:56 pm

080213133337-large.jpgOkay…

Melissa’s got the details:

Breaking news! Men become less intelligent when they’re trying to impress women they’d like to sleep with! A new study in the Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology found that “men who spend even a few minutes in the company of an attractive woman perform less well in tests designed to measure brain function” than men who talked to women they didn’t want to, er, mate with.

According to The Telegraph:

Researchers who carried out the study…think the reason may be that men use up so much of their brain function or “cognitive resources” trying to impress beautiful women, they have little left for other tasks.

The findings have implications for the performance of men who flirt with women in the workplace, or even exam results in mixed-sex schools.

Women, however, were not affected by chatting to a handsome man.

Sure, it sounds intriguing HOWEVERWell I’m not going to weigh in with my thoughts before reading the study–except to say there are so many potentially influential factors involved, I can’t help but once again, wonder about these kind of stories. What do readers think?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Media and Science

Comments (155)

  1. I think that if it’s covered by the Telegraph and it involves some sort of gender difference and an evo psych explanation, there’s a fairly good chance that it’s rubbish.

  2. @1 Ed Yong,

    But wait a second, I linked to The Telegraph in yesterday’ post

  3. Barry

    It’s not rubbish. It’s just another case of the slow, “uncommonly sensed” scientists at long last catching up with what ordinary people with common sense have known all along. Only they don’t need to coin a fancy scientific term for it. The old term, “He’s thinking with his little head” says it all. I hope a big grant wasn’t wasted on this kind of silly research.

  4. ARJ

    I’m with Barry. It’s always dicey to paint with a broad brush, but nonetheless, in general, there’s enough truth here that in the old days Sen. William Proxmire would’ve nominated this study for a “Golden Fleece Award” (something so obvious why did they spend money studying it).

  5. Marion Delgado

    Sheril, baby this just is not true!

    I mean it’s totally wrong! I mean … uh .. I mean .. uh .. you know what I mean?

    It’s just wrong! I don’t .. uh .. I don’t … it’s just a bum rap.

    We’re in control and on the job!

  6. In a related story, scientists find that men are less likely to perform well on exams while distracted by reruns of the A-team, loud noises, pretty colors, bad music, and silly hats.

  7. Gary Higgs

    I saw this story on Fox news. There can’t be any truth to it.

  8. Albert Bakker

    I think Argo’s comment in Discoblog was right on the mark. The conclusion of the study should perhaps read that men remain bad at multi-tasking even if given a stimulus to perform better, while women cannot help but focus on one thing at a time. Or even more correct, but rather unnewsworthy: you will be less likely to remember trivial stuff with a distracted mind.

    Personally however I am inclined to believe the sexed up version, because I lose the ability to think and speak coherently altogether. I’ll suffer from temporary hearing impairment and sudden losses of hand-eye coordination. Also I there will be a dried up tomato somewhere on my shirt.

  9. Well, without reading the article in the journal, we’ll have to rely on the Telegraph, not something I’d generally choose to do, and respond to what it says.

    Let’s start with the people who are taking this “study” seriously and are now using it as a reason to characterize just under half of the human population.

    The “study” consists of “40 male heterosexual students”, “recruited” students”. So, we begin with their being students, I’d assume university students, and that they were “recruited”, whatever that means. So a tiny, nonrandom sample, from an already filtered population, Radboud University in The Netherlands, are supposed to stand for all the men in the population. Leaving out that the meaning of ” male heterosexual” is hardly definite. Were they screened by anything other than their self-definition of their sexuality? And I’d really want to know how they could do that if it was attempted.

    Then you get the methodology:

    — Each one performed a standard memory test where they had to observe a stream of letters and say, as fast as possible, if each one was the same as the one before last.

    A test assumed to be valid enough so that any anomalous factors which might be present in the tiny population of test subjects wouldn’t skew the results of that, likely unrepresentative, subject population as opposed to the effect much larger universe for which the test is alleged to say something.

    — The volunteers then spent seven minutes chatting to male or female members of the research team before repeating the test.

    Chatting. Were these spontaneous or scripted, on the part of the researchers? If they were scripted how did they know the subjects would be interested in on or another script? How did they control for topics of conversation, the various contents of different conversations…. In short, with the small number of subjects, any individual result could have had more to do with the subject of the conversation than the gender of the person on the other side of it.

    And the article definitely says that the results are about the attractiveness of the women the subjects chatted with to the subjects. How was that measured? How could it be? Attraction to someone is hardly a defined and fixed vector, it varies in the population. Even within a very small population. And the difference in how someone comes across in a conversation can have a great effect on how someone is perceived. You’d have to assume that the content and course of the conversation would be entirely uniform or of no possible effect. And were the men they chatted with plug ugly or equally as interesting conversationalists?

    I’d go on but I think you might get the idea. Other questions I’d wonder about is what schools within the university the students were studying in and if any of the students might have either been clued in to the general topic of the study or if some of them might have intuited what it was about and what effect that could have had on the outcome. With such a tiny population.

    I think we might be able to figure something about the attitude of the author, Pat Hagan, by this passage.

    —- But when the task was repeated with a group of female volunteers, they did not get the same results. Memory scores stayed the same, whether they had chatted to a man or a woman.

    How many women? 40? Chosen how? etc. Of course, all the same problems as with the male sample would come up, size, representation in the universal set they allegedly represent, actual content of conversations, perhaps with the interesting question of the attitude of the men and women the women conversed with to them…..

    And from such as this Dr George Fieldman, a member of the British Psychological Society, no less, invents an evolutionary scenario about behavior of men in order to pass on their genes. Or is it that those smart genes are making those men act stupid in order to replicate themselves, or isn’t that the way its said nowadays. And if that’s why the men act the way they do, how about the women? Don’t they care about the perpetuation of their genes? Or is it the genes themselves that are blase? I’m expecting some further explanation from an evo-psy fan based, firmly, in the idea of contemporary gender roles, with no evidence other than the conventions of these kinds of creation myths to back them up will follow.

  10. Oh, I left it out. The article seems to assume that women would be uninterested in the attractiveness of men with whom they are, it seems to be assumed, considering as mates. Or is it that men struck stupid by sex are supposed to be maximizing their chances of being selected by women? Maybe men are genetically programmed to act stupid because there’s some reproductive advantage to women to mate with stupid men.

    See how much fun it is to invent stories from scanty materials such as this?

  11. Christina Viering

    So that’s why I seem so smart!

  12. Catie

    i think that it dpeneds on every human how he behave in the relations with other human being. According to telegraph i dont agree with it that man who flirt with woman is less inteligent then man who didnt perform the action. I think that they are inteligent in their on way.

  13. Anna K.

    Who decided the handsome men in the study would necessarily be attractive to the women in the study? I think women have similar reactions to people they’re personally attracted to; but it might take more than generic good looks to shut down the brains.

    Setting aside all the reasons listed by posters above to dismiss the whole thing, I admit that I’ve been tongue-tied around guys I personally was interested in, and certainly some of my girlfriends have experienced the same.

    And that is why we all went out later to bemoan how the presence of So-&-So seemed to act like a stupid pill, as we sat around pitchers of margaritas analyzing one another’s love lives. Plus as the tequila kicked in, we sounded smarter to one another . . .

  14. Erasmussimo

    To improve the study, they should repeat it with women of differing levels of attractiveness. See how men perform after conversing with 1) a drop-dead gorgeous, seductively dressed woman; 2) an attractive and nicely dressed woman; 3) an average woman; 4) an unattractive woman. If there really is something here, they should see some sort of correlation between the attractiveness of the woman and the impairment of performance.

    However, I do not understand why this phenomenon should be asymmetric. I do not believe that women make no cognitive exertions in the presence of men they find attractive. The implication — that women are utterly passive in mate selection and simply wait for the best man to take the initiative — seems highly implausible to me. Certainly my experience is that women report lots of stress in encounters with desirable men.

  15. Davo

    That’s right; conduct such careful “studies” to state the bleedingly obvious. One can always be sure there’s a lot of such “science” always floating around. Yet another notch in the belt of evolutionary psych, where correlation and random observations on non-representative samples eminently substitute for rigor and causation. Pretty typical though of the studies people do on romantic behavior in the human species.

  16. However, I do not understand why this phenomenon should be asymmetric.

    That assumes that the reported phenomenon is what they are purporting it is when that’s not at all obvious. When you look at what they are proposing that they have demonstrated, that “heterosexual males” other than comprised the very small sample of participants, have some deficit in performing the memory test after talking to “attractive women” as opposed to other men, and that a, presumably, small number of similarly chosen, on is left to guess, “heterosexual women” demonstrate that women don’t show that deficit when talking with, again, presumably “attractive men”. That is unless the study, as The Telegraph seems to, just assumes that women find any man attractive.

    That’s a mighty complex assertion to base on the report of this “study” in which any number of mitigating and distorting factors could completely throw, especially with those numbers of test subjects. Just how big was the published difference in the men’s performance as compared to the women’s. Was there a mention of them establishing a baseline with the test subjects? The smaller that difference the larger the potential for those many possible mitigating factors rendering the study useless.

    I’d like to know if, in ten years, all of the test subjects would still identify themselves as “heterosexual” or if any of them have had sexual attractions to or sexual encounters with members of their own gender in the past. They’re basing an awful lot on the far from set in all times concept of sexual preference. Especially in a student population. I’ve known many people whose sexual preference isn’t exclusive to one sex and who didn’t arrive at a final decision about what they were going to call their identity until well after college age. How many people who either have had or will have that kind of experience would it take to skew the percentage of difference.

    When the phenomenon you are purporting to demonstrate has such wildly variable factors such as sexual preference contained in it, you’re not talking about a simple thing. I’d think that the sample would have to be very large to come to any kind of conclusion, to start with. At any rate, the sample described in the article was in no sense of the word a representative cross section of the population of all “heterosexual females or males”, it was a tiny (I assume to some extent self-selected) number of students at a university, which in itself is hardly a representative sample of even the general population of the country.

    And we haven’t even gotten to the damage to the percentage of difference that some kind of “information leakage” could do. How certain are they that the test subjects didn’t know what was “supposed” to happen in some way? Were any of the students familiar with that kind of research or the attitude of the researchers? Were the “attractive women and, one assumes, attractive men with whom they were “chatting” completely ignorant of the desired result, how could they control the possible distortions of these “chats”?

    Or is this too high a level of rigor for a reasonable person to expect of “science” which, as seen in The Telegraph and other media, can have enormous social and political consequence?

  17. Monorina

    The first red flag is that it’s impossible to predict what the entire male population will think/do, based on the reaction of just 40 of those people. I mean, even if we assume the world is 50% male, that’s more than 3.3 billion people(which isn’t actually true, there are more men than women in the world), so just basing the study on 40 people is simply invalid. I mean, I know it’s not exactly possible to survey a million people, but there’s got to be some diversity in the body of men, based on age, nationality and other such attributes. For eg, how many men among the sample body were above 55? Above 65? You can’t just take some testosterone-driven 20-25 year olds and say that their behavior is typical of men of all ages.I’m NOT assuming that they used only 20 year olds, or that they used people of only one nation, but I’m just trying to prove my point: that studies based on 40 men, no matter how randomly chosen, cannot be accepted – or published in major newspapers- as true of the entire human male population.

  18. Anna K.

    Davo writes: “Yet another notch in the belt of evolutionary psych, where correlation and random observations on non-representative samples eminently substitute for rigor and causation. Pretty typical though of the studies people do on romantic behavior in the human species.”

    Or maybe the researchers are all attracted to one another . . . :-D

  19. Erasmussimo

    Davo, I think you should learn more about evolutionary psychology than what you read in the newspapers. It is not a hard science like physics or chemistry, but it is no less rigorous than other fields of evolutionary science.

  20. – but it is no less rigorous than other fields of evolutionary science

    I’d argue with the idea that evo-psy is evolutionary science. It doesn’t tell us anything about behavior in the past, it makes it up. It is far less rigorous than much of paleontology which has actual evidence to work with.

  21. Erasmussimo

    Anthony, perhaps you too should read some evolutionary psych rather than newspaper accounts. The problem evo psych struggles with was illustrated in the cartoon presented last week with the reporter and the scientist. The scientist notes that they have managed to kill 10% of the cancer cells in a rat’s tail and the resulting headline reads “Cure for cancer found!”.

    Are you familiar with the work of Cosmides and Toomey? Have you scientific criticisms of their research? How about Sarah Blaffer Hrdy? Have you read her book, “Mother Nature”, summarizing a lifetime spend studying maternal behavior in primates?

    I have yet to find a dismissive critic of evolutionary psychology who has actually read much in the field. Perhaps you’re the first.

  22. Erasmussimo, I have read some things by Cosmides and Toomey, here’s something from Evolutionary Psychology: A Primer, that encompasses one of the biggest stretches of evo-psy.

    http://www.psych.ucsb.edu/research/cep/primer.html

    ” A necessary (though not sufficient) component of any explanation of behavior — modern or otherwise — is a description of the design of the computational machinery that generates it. Behavior in the present is generated by information-processing mechanisms that exist because they solved adaptive problems in the past — in the ancestral environments in which the human line evolved.

    For this reason, evolutionary psychology is relentlessly past-oriented. Cognitive mechanisms that exist because they solved problems efficiently in the past will not necessarily generate adaptive behavior in the present. Indeed, EPs reject the notion that one has “explained” a behavior pattern by showing that it promotes fitness under modern conditions (for papers on both sides of this controversy, see responses in the same journal issue to Symons (1990) and Tooby and Cosmides (1990a)). ”

    While there are plenty of other problems I’ve got with what they’ve said, the problem is that, unlike the physical remains that are mentioned by them right before this, not a single incident of behavior in the past which they are talking about has been observed, casually or rigorously. Not a single one, never mind those which would have been repeated often enough, in the same manner to be judged as to whether or not they conferred an adaptive advantage to our ancestors, in order for them to have persisted as a genetic heritage.

    A behavior had to have happened for it to have existed as anything but a story. Considering how complex some of those stories are, considering that they not only invent a “behavior” but a scenario in an environment and invented social milieu, the assertion that any contemporary physical evidence unambiguously points to that description being accurate, and of known advantage, I’d think anyone who was skeptical of it would have good reason to be. How many of the stories of these behaviors that evo-psys come up with aren’t just too neat a fit with their ideology?

    I’m certainly not a criminologist but I wonder how often very detailed crime scenes lead to more than one theory of what happened, how often scenarios which fit the details are overturned with further evidence. We do know that

    I’m, quite honestly, appalled at some of the stuff that people have published under the umbrella of evo-psy. Kevin MacDonald was certainly not a fringe figure in evo-psy while he was publishing what is some very disturbing stuff. He’s held a university professorship and was an editor at professional journals. I don’t think he’s been drummed out of the science, subsequently. While he’s the most extreme example that I know about, there are others who have also produced stuff I think is dangerous as well as dodgy.

  23. Sorry, this sentence got cut off:

    which fit the details are overturned with further evidence. We do know that what seems clear with far more detailed physical evidence in contemporary life isn’t what it seemed originally. Even to a judge, a prosecutor and 12 jurors who had a chance to judge the detailed evidence presented with a refutation by the defense.

  24. Marion Delgado

    Erasmussimo my personal problem with evolutionary psychology was that many of the public practitioners and advocates – the linguist Steven Pinker comes to mind – are completely dismissive of any number of things they give every evidence of not knowing the first thing about. Given that, your use of the term dismissive as if it’s welded to any critic of evolutionary psychology is very telling. What about non-dismissive critics?

  25. Erasmussimo

    Steven Pinker is a linguist, not an evolutionary psychologist. The leaders in the field are Cosmides and Tooby (I got his name wrong earlier). There are a number of other important contributors to the field, but Mr. Pinker is a commentator, not an active investigator in the field. Again, I implore you to avoid all the secondhand stuff and go straight to the source. You’ll be impressed.

    As to non-dismissive critics, the ones I have seen are mostly other evolutionary psychologists. I know of no serious informed scientist who dismisses the field out of hand. However, there are plenty of controversies within the field, and like any rich field, the controversies are intense. None of these controversies concern the foundations of the discipline. I have read a few carefully prepared criticisms of the field as a whole, and I find them uninformed.

    All in all, I see some parallels between the “evolutionary psychology deniers” and the “climate change deniers”. The former aren’t whacko like the latter, but they’re still making the same basic mistake of drawing conclusions based on hearsay and newspaper stories. And there does seem to be a whiff of ideology at work in the former case.

  26. And there does seem to be a whiff of ideology at work in the former case.

    And there isn’t an adaptationist ideology that drives evo-psy?

    I think there’s a vast difference between people with an economic-political agenda of denial of clear and abundant evidence of human caused climate change and people who point out that the assertions about ancient behavior are based in no evidence or in “evidence” that consists of fitting the skimpiest of physical artifacts with some of the shoddy practices that have become common place in the social sciences.

    I’m sorry that you don’t like the criticisms of evo-psy but those lapses are real.

  27. Erasmussimo

    And there isn’t an adaptationist ideology that drives evo-psy?
    I never thought of that as an ideology. My own prejudice here is to follow the truth where-ever it takes us. If it leads to unpleasant conclusions, so be it. I suspect that some — SOME — critics of evo psych are motivated by a desire to preserve their self-image of humans having a special place in the universe.

    “First those damned scientists took away our central place in the universe. Then they showed that we’re descended from apes! Then they said that we sometimes behave like animals! And NOW the damn evo psych people are claiming that we behave like hunter-gatherer savages! Is there NO room left for us to be special?”

    There’s plenty of room for differences of opinion on aspects of evo psych. But I sense that some of the opposition comes from the same kind of people who were miffed at the idea that the earth isn’t the center of the universe.

    I agree that there’s a big difference between climate change deniers and evo psych deniers. The former are wackos while the latter are much more reasonable people. My comparison was primarily with the idea that ideology rather than science provides some of the motivation.

    As for the purported lack of evidence, I agree that the nonsense you read in the Sunday newspaper does not present evidence for the overhyped claims it makes, but I challenge you to address any of the actual hypotheses that are part of serious evolutionary psychology. Don’t quote Parade Magazine or National Geographic or even Steven Pinker. Bring up something from an actual evolutionary psychologist. Start with Cosmides and Tooby, or Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. Can you cite any claims they have made that are unsupported by evidence?

  28. —- motivated by a desire to preserve their self-image of humans having a special place in the universe Erasmussimo

    First, I think that the charge of some of the most well known critics of EP would start out with that bias are unfounded, several of the ones I know are atheists. Even Gould said that eventually some “evolutionary psychology” would be desireable, though he was certainly not convinced that this was the model to buy.

    I don’t hold people in any exalted regard, we are engaged in destroying ourselves and our planet, after all. But experience leads me, first and most frustratingly, to the conclusion that even contemporary, observable, even well documented behavior, is exceedingly complex. The Dharamapada said that even an individual’s understanding of their own behavior is among the most difficult and subtle things to attempt. I don’t think that insight becomes any less true when talking about people in aggregate. The necessity of an explanation of behavior, the desirability of that explanation doesn’t negate the difficulty of it. To move that attempt to the remote past where there is no instance of behavior to observe, certainly not in any detail, multiplies those difficulties enormously. I’m not all that impressed by the attempts to understand the behavior of animals. I suspect there is an enormous amount we will never know about that.

    You haven’t addressed any of my casual criticisms of the “study” in the post, which deal entirely with the observed behavior of living human beings whose behavior can be watched carefully. I think those, and a number of other problems I haven’t mentioned, make the scientific study of “human nature” next to impossible for any such complex “behavior”. Applying these kinds of studies of unrepresentative study populations to the human population in general isn’t science. Pretending that what was studied in a scenario as artificial as that in any “reality program” on TV can tell us anything reliable about the behavior of people in the wild is also monumentally speculative. And that doesn’t get to the huge chunk of speculation you have to get to before swallowing the assertions of the psychologist mentioned in the story that it has something to do with our genetic heritage.

    Second, in the desire to prove that humans don’t have a special place in the universe it would seem that there is a permission taken to ignore the complexity of contemporary human behaviors and, what I find most startling of all, the denial that humans ability to reason and make recourse to very complex cultural and other socially based modifications of behavior. That would be science seems to ignore the efficacious of learning and, at times, the negative distortions that can come from learning, all of which have a profound effect on behavior is inexplicable in positive terms. I’ve always wondered why we should take the product of science, or, indeed, any academic effort, seriously if reason and thinking was of such little import in life.

    Another thing that is hardly ever taken into account is that people’s behavior and the way they think changes throughout life, at times very abruptly and in ways that will probably always defy scientific analysis. The behavior of a nineteen year old will often be different than it would have been when they were six or when they are forty. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone coming to a conclusion about my thinking or behavior on the basis of a study of forty boys in late adolescence in a population which I probably have little in common with.

    I think the regular junking of huge amounts of behavioral science, after it had wide acceptance as “science” within and outside of science, is a symptom of a basic problem in the effort. The theories that are the regular product of these “sciences” are too ambitious for the amount that is known in face of the difficulties and the obvious complexity inherent in their chosen topics. I think, given the size and difficulty of the subject that, as with evolutionary science, while we might find out some or a lot of interesting and important things about behavior we’ll never know more than a small part of it. The idea that at any point in the foreseeable future, we will have anything approaching a comprehensive understanding of it is most likely an illusion. That doesn’t negate the importance of what reliable information we might get, it is to face the reality of the problem.

    I think that starting out with the humbling realization of how much we don’t and won’t know about human behavior, now and certainly in the lost past, might keep the attempt at making a genuine science of behavior more secure and less prone to ideological bubbles that burst. But attempting to stay, rigorously, within reasonable limits of secure observation, quantification and analysis, won’t get you notice by The Telegraph and other news media, which regularly take this kind of “science” and come up with either implicit or explicit conclusions which have a social and political impact. The “scientists” such as Pinker do that too and become famous doing it. You can hardly fault the critics for noticing that the “science” has a real political presence in life.

    When talking about gender related “science” of this kind, you’re often talking about very, very small differences in the numbers, the size of numbers in which relatively small differences in the subjects and their behavior might make a huge difference. For example, if the “attractive” women or men who “chatted” with the students being studied had some notion of what the researchers were looking for, it could have had an effect on the “chats”. If that happened four times in a way that might have an effect on the results, it could entirely skew the results. I don’t think the experimental model could prevent something like that happening. I think the whole thing is a mess.

    Parade Magazine, National Graphic…. well, if “scientists” will allow themselves to be used in popular publications such as The Telegraph, people are within their rights to cite what they say in them, no matter the reputation of the venue. While you, rightly, I’d say, disdain Pinker, he’s taken very seriously by a wide swath of the media and is taken seriously enough to work as a scientist in a very elite university. He regularly makes pronouncements that feed off of evo-psy, he might be one of the premier popularizes of its doctrines and regularly impinges on the political thinking of some influential people in the media.

    Not strictly related to this topic, but didn’t Carl Sagan have a column in The Parade magazine? Do you know that the scientists you have recommended have a policy of never talking to them or wouldn’t welcome writing an article for them?

  29. Erasmussimo

    I shall attempt to sketch out our points of agreement and disagreement. First, some minor points:

    You seem to argue that whatever appears in the popular media constitutes fair game for criticism of the scientist. I suggest that this constitutes fair game for criticism of the reporter, not the scientist. After all, if somebody wrote up their own version of what you write here, would you think it fair to be criticised for what somebody else said about your writings, rather than what you yourself actually wrote?

    Another minor item: I actually rather admire Mr. Pinker’s books — but I admire them for their material on linguistics, in which he is an acknowledged expert. On evo psych, his expertise is secondary, so for evaluation of evo psych, I prefer to go to the primary experts.

    Another small point: I do not in any fashion support the experiment presented here; it’s full of holes. And it’s not evolutionary psychology.

    But the main issue here that needs refinement (and on which I think we can ultimately reach an agreement) concerns the potential of psychology to understand human behavior. You initially present a rather extreme position that the human mind if unknowably complex; later you soften that position with an acknowledgement of the theoretical possibility of establishing some knowledge. I argue that we already know a great deal about human behavior, both through common sense and through psychology. For example, it is a commonplace that young men are horny and young women are less willing. Psychologists have made some progress in refining our common sense knowledge. And evolutionary psychologists have established a theoretical explanation for this commonplace knowledge.

    I acknowledge that the human mind is the most complex phenomenon in the universe, and that understanding it is the most difficult intellectual task we face. But understanding the human mind is ALSO the most important intellectual task we face. Artists contribute to humanity’s understanding of human nature, but in their own special way. Shakespeare wrote, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.” That’s a statement about human nature — would you dismiss it because it is not scientific? I think it makes a contribution to our overall understanding of the human condition.

    I believe that evolutionary psychology makes an even greater contribution to our understanding of human nature. I suspect that you will agree with this claim of mine, differing only on the point that evolutionary psychology does not make a *scientific* contribution to our understanding of human nature. Here we run into a problem defining what we mean by “scientific”. You will of course cite all the usual requirements of disprovability, evidence collection, and so forth. And I accept these basic points. However, I argue in turn that historical sciences such as evolutionary science should not be dismissed merely because their mechanisms cannot be reproduced inside a lab. Indeed, it was only in the latter half of the twentieth century that Darwinian evolution obtained that kind of support; prior to that, the evidence in favor of Darwinian evolution was anecdotal (although there were a LOT of anecdotes!) and not quantitative. Would you have rejected Darwinian evolution as it stood in, say, 1880?

    I believe that evolutionary psychology offers us a great many valuable insights into human nature. It doesn’t reduce the human condition to a mathematical formula, nor does it offer ironclad conclusions. It provides valuable insights, that’s all. As such, I think it deserves our respect for what it truly offers — not for what the newspapers claim about it. I stand beside you in condemning the overhyped nonsense presented in the popular media. But I strongly urge you to familiarize yourself with what is actually going on in evolutionary psychology — I think you’ll be impressed and you’ll learn some interesting things about human nature.

  30. This is going to have to be done quickly and somewhat randomly.

    — You seem to argue that whatever appears in the popular media constitutes fair game for criticism of the scientist. I suggest that this constitutes fair game for criticism of the reporter, not the scientist. Erasmussisimo

    I would agree that the reporting is generally dreadful, but there are times when it reflects some pretty dreadful assertions by scientists. Look at what the psychologist in this story is quoted as saying, look what is often asserted by the big names in the behavioral sciences. When you look at what gets published in reviewed journals and cited by their peers, it’s not as if some pretty huge leaps of imagination aren’t involved. On this count, there’s plenty of blame to go round.

    — After all, if somebody wrote up their own version of what you write here, would you think it fair to be criticised for what somebody else said about your writings, rather than what you yourself actually wrote? E.

    When someone misrepresents what I’ve said I try to correct it. I have no problem with EP or other behavioral scientists doing the same. I don’t think I’ve misrepresented anyone’s research or statements, I’ve raised points of doubt about what was being asserted and the methods used to support those.

    I’ll skip several points, but I would have criticized the study in the post as a psychology study, except for the evo-psy riddled assertion by the quoted psychologist. Those kinds of quasi-pop ep assertions are endemic in contemporary culture, for which I think the blame must go to Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and a host of other ultra-adapationist propagandists, some of whom are figures in EP. A friend of mine who calls herself a “recovering economist” says that it’s increasingly common for economists to pretend they’re biologists of the EP kind.

    — You initially present a rather extreme position that the human mind if unknowably complex; later you soften that position with an acknowledgement of the theoretical possibility of establishing some knowledge. E.

    I think there are things that are fairly well studied, generally, fairly simple issues which don’t necessarily apply to the entire population of human beings. As with any science, a lot depends on what can be clearly observed, accurately described, accurately quantified and dispassionately analyzed. I doubt that most of human behavior, or animal behavior, for that matter, falls within those basic requirements of science. When you begin to accept “studies” with a badly chosen test population, with clear methodological flaws you could drive an army through, etc. it calls the entire field into question. I don’t see any evidence that things are getting any better in the behavioral sciences, it seems to be getting worse to me.

    I have to say, I try to think of criticisms of experiments that have been made by Ray Hyman, I often wonder why those requirements aren’t valid for the behavioral sciences when they are trying to make assertions far more complex than card guessing. Why shouldn’t his own field have to abide by the standards he and other “skeptics” regularly require of scientists they criticize? A point which I don’t really expect will be treated with any kind of fairness by others, though I do respect you on that count.

    — However, I argue in turn that historical sciences such as evolutionary science should not be dismissed merely because their mechanisms cannot be reproduced inside a lab. E.

    Evolutionary science is based in physical evidence of a large range of separate disciplines which simply isn’t there when the question is behavior. Behavior has to have been seen to have known what it was even when it leaves some kind of physical evidence. As in the example I gave of a law trial, where even a large amount of physical evidence, gone over exhaustively, can lead to radically different theories of what behavior actually took place, when you’re dealing with the coldest of cold trails of evidence, often mere fragments, that becomes anything but a precise effort. To look back and try to create behavior on the basis of nothing but the desire to support a behavior that renders an adaptive advantage in some unspecified, theoretical population and how they lived in their environment (within a completely speculative social structure) would be up against enormous odds of even achieving remote accuracy.

    — Indeed, it was only in the latter half of the twentieth century that Darwinian evolution obtained that kind of support; prior to that, the evidence in favor of Darwinian evolution was anecdotal (although there were a LOT of anecdotes!) and not quantitative. Would you have rejected Darwinian evolution as it stood in, say, 1880? E.

    You’re asking me to imagine what I’d have thought about Darwin’s evolution more than sixty yeas before I was born, the answer would be speculative in the extreme, though not of the same order of speculation that EP indulges in as a matter of course.

    Darwin’s evolution c. 1880. Including The Descent of Man? Considering what he wrote about the Irish (thirty years after my great-great grandparents and their families went through the brutal cull of the potato famine, and a host of other ethnicities, in that book I probably would have opposed much of what he said. I reject much of that book today. There were scientists in his day who were very skeptical of a lot of what he said. I’ve read that even his greatest champion, Thomas Huxley was skeptical that natural selection was as important as Darwin asserted it is.

    As it is today, I think Lewontin said it best, that Charles Darwin started the factory that all biologists work in, but I’d point out he hasn’t owned the company for a hundred-twenty years.

    I very, very strongly suspect that mechanisms of evolution other than natural selection- and now genetic drift – will be found and which could likely be even more important. Evolution is a largely unknown phenomenon, lots of it due to huge amounts of unrecoverable information, lost to time, decay and a myriad of other time related reasons. We know that evolution happened, we have some interesting information about it, we don’t have an ability to recreate the lost information anymore than we can entirely lost species which we would desperately like to have existed.

  31. Erasmussimo

    I note with dismay that you continue to base your comments about evolutionary psychology on secondary sources. For example, you mention the evo-psych comment made in the Telegraph article. The author of that comment is not an evolutionary psychologist. It seems that everybody — the source of the comment, the reporter, you, and other critics are all happy to make declarations about the field without actually having examined it!

    You believe that evolutionary psychology faces an impossible problem in that it cannot observe or reproduce behavior. At this point, I can only shrug my shoulders and observe that you really have no basis for coming to any conclusions regarding a field you refuse to examine. I believe that if you actually read some genuine evolutionary psychology works you would not be so critical of the field.

  32. Eramussimo, point me to a study which has reliably documents a repeated behavior in the remote past which has survived as a contemporary behavior, reliably represented in the genome, such as those habitually claimed by either Evolutionary Psychologists or others in science.

    Failing that, point me to the, no doubt, many refutations by Evolutionary Psychologists to the habitual mouthing of what they take to be wrong headed evo-psy jargon and slogans by others in the social sciences, not to mention the media. If EP so decisively rejects that practice, they have an ethical responsibility to at least point out what you claim as errors of the type that abound today.

  33. Erasmussimo

    Sure, I’ll cite the simplest and most blindingly obvious: male promiscuity. Promiscuity is a behavior, not a physical organ. Its ubiquity in the population is patent. And it arose for easily understandable evolutionary reasons. There are a great many more examples, of course, but this is the simplest and clearest — and most irrefutable.

    Evolutionary psychologists don’t have much of a media budget, so their efforts at clarifying the confusion are rather ineffective. They do, of course, publish the truth as best they can, but they don’t spend much money on bumper stickers or yard signs. You might want to at least read the EP primer by Cosmides and Tooby:

    http://www.psych.ucsb.edu/research/cep/primer.html

  34. Fahad

    I think this research is good, since our Scholars of Islamic world have been backing this concept for years, and recomended their desciples to, not to stay in contact with women (those only which are allowed to be in contact with, and those which aren’t allowed, are not allowed at all, so there is no question about that) for long and spend as little time with them as its ok for both and is satisfying for both and of course a lil contact in a day and staying away most of time is alot much more enjoyable for lovers thn staying to gather all the time, I have experience of this. they said that this will keep their Emaan or Fath high and their consciousness will work better. ….This research is good, but Islamic world has already done this and given many theories which are coming up now…..

  35. Male as opposed to female promiscuity? I assume you mean the idea that on average men have sex with more women and that women have fewer sex partners. And I’m going to assume you are talking about exclusively heterosexual men as opposed to heterosexual women, in behavior, at least. The assumption is that, on average, men have more sexual partners while, on average, women have fewer? I don’t think that has ever been demonstrated and I don’t think it is a rational idea.

    1. Where is the evidence that ancient men were promiscuous or that ancient women weren’t? And I’ll point out that the dependence on “primitive” cultures now doesn’t provide that evidence because they are as modern as anyone else living today. What is the nature of that evidence that demonstrates that difference in sexual encounters or demonstrates a difference in reproduction between presumably promiscuous men as opposed to presumably men put at a reproductive disadvantage due to their fidelity. Of course, men who were chaste or exclusively had sex with other men wouldn’t leave any genetic descendants. I seem to recall reading some far-fetched assertion about their female relations having more children, though, so perhaps any genetic information would render that a washout as evidence for the promiscuity assertions.

    2. Assume that there are exactly six men and six women in the world, all of them exclusively heterosexual in their behavior. How is it possible for the six men to have an average of more sexual partners than the average number for the six women?

    3. How big a difference do you think existed and are you assuming it was a constant percentage during the entire period of time over which EP generally makes its assertions? What evidence is there of that?

    I cited and linked to the primer in my answer to you, Erasmussimo. If I didn’t start a full week of teaching today, I’d go into other problems but this one will have to do.

  36. Now that I’ve found my glasses and have read through the appallingly edited comments I made here since losing them, how many of you could intuit that I’ve got a very bad habit of leaving them all over the place and am too cheap to buy a second pair with my current prescription? And here the evidence has been staring you in the face.

    In order to show you that even male geezers can learn and change their behavior, I’m going to order a second pair as soon as I’m done here.

  37. Erasmussimo

    Anthony, I find it ironic that one person here earlier derided the study described in this article because it merely confirmed (rather weakly) what everybody already knows, whereas you refuse to accept something even more widely acknowledged (greater male promiscuity). Perhaps it would be more precise for me to talk about “inclination to promiscuous behavior” instead of promiscuity, but the basic point remains the same: males are more inclined to have sex than females. If you choose to deny so obvious a point, I doubt that I could convince you of anything.

    1. You inquire as to the evidence of ancient sexual behavior. In this you miss the reasoning of evolutionary psychology. To show, for example, that primates developed color vision in order to better recognize tree fruits, we do not need to show that ancient primates had color vision; we need to show that MODERN primates have color vision. The color vision is the result, not the cause. Same thing goes with sexual attitudes.

    2. You’re absolutely right that every sexual coupling requires one man and one woman, and so the total number of couplings for males and females is identical. However, see my comments above on the difference between inclination to promiscuity and promiscuity itself.

    3. I don’t think it crucial to quantify the phenomenon; the goal of EP is to understand the human mind. Yes, quantification always improves our understanding, but at this early stage of development we are still grappling with the basics. In any event, the lack of quantification does not falsify the conclusions.

    Fahad, it is my opinion that segregation of the sexes impedes their psychological development. While it is true that sexually charged situations impede cognition, it is even more true that men and women have much to learn from each other. I am a much better man for what I have learned from my wife; and I think that my wife is a better woman for what she has learned from me.

  38. Anthony McCarthy

    – to accept something even more widely acknowledged (greater male promiscuity)

    Widely accepted isn’t a standard of proof, I’ve referred to this before, here:

    ” It’s about time for mathematicians to set the record straight, said Dr. David Gale, an emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley.

    “Surveys and studies to the contrary notwithstanding, the conclusion that men have substantially more sex partners than women is not and cannot be true, for purely logical reasons,” Gale said.

    He even provided a proof, writing in an e-mail message:

    “By way of dramatization, we change the context slightly and will prove what will be called the High School Prom Theorem. We suppose that on the day after the prom, each girl is asked to give the number of boys she danced with. These numbers are then added up, giving a number G. The same information is then obtained from the boys, giving a number B.

    “Theorem: G(EQUAL)B

    “Proof: Both G and B are equal to C, the number of couples who danced together at the prom. QED.”

    Sex survey researchers say they know that Gale is correct. Men and women in a population must have roughly equal numbers of partners. So, when men report many more than women, what is going on and what is to be believed?

    “I have heard this question before,” said Cheryl D. Fryar, a health statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics and a lead author of the new federal report “Drug Use and Sexual Behaviors Reported by Adults: United States, 1999-2002,” which found that men had a median of seven partners and women four.
    But when it comes to an explanation, she added, “I have no idea.”

    “This is what is reported,” Fryar said. “The reason why they report it I do not know.”

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/08/12/statistics_on_sexual_partners_cant_be_right_specialists_say/

    I would like to know how you would measure promiscuity by any other factor than actual sexual activity with more than one partner. And if it’s all in their heads, “inclination to promiscuity”, how would that render a competitive advantage in reproduction which would be necessary for any genetic substrate for the behavior to become more represented in the population?

    And none of that gets to evidence that our female and male ancestors had different numbers of sexual partners. There isn’t any evidence that their pattern were the same except for the mathematical hurdle that the average number for the two genders would have to be the same, when considering heterosexual intercourse which could lead to offspring.

    I think the most probable reason for the differences in reporting of numbers of sexual partners is social. There is still, and has been, disapproval of women having a sex with more than one man. There is and has been, approval for men to have sex with more than one woman. Not official, religious approval, but in the extra-official permission given to those with privilege. Officially it’s all supposed to be equally wrong, but that’s not how it works out in real life. I suspect that what is “widely accepted” as common knowledge is probably a reflection of attitudes instead of accurate knowledge.

    I’ve speculated that there might be a heritage of men bragging and exaggerating the numbers of their sex partners, though I’d doubt it would be a genetic heritage. I know I’ve heard many a tall tail from the most unlikely of men, much of which I don’t begin to believe.

    Furthermore, there is no evidence that Paleolithic swingers would have more offspring than males who didn’t spend lots of time looking for opportunities to be promiscuous. I recall a while back a survey – the validity of which I’m not necessarily more confident of than those others – which concluded that married couples had more sex, within their marriage, than unmarried ones. For all we know marriage was developed as a means of maximizing the opportunity to have sex, among other reasons.

    The assertion is that EP is science. I’ve had many arguments with the proponents of EP which have made that assertion. You are far more reasonable in comparing it to historical evolutionary topics than many. I don’t agree that it is as rigorous as any evolutionary topic which deals in physical evidence, provided they don’t go overboard with asserting theories based more in their ideological position than what the evidence solidly supports.

  39. Anthony McCarthy

    Fahad, given the stultifying effects of money, sports, nationalism and a host of other excuses to not think, I don’t think the difference in this one area are that extraordinary. I’d just doubt that there is a gender difference based on what I’ve seen of this “study”. Though it’s not impossible for a really, really badly done study to stumble across an accurate conclusion, by chance.

  40. Sorbet

    -If you choose to deny so obvious a point, I doubt that I could convince you of anything.

    That’s the McCarthy for you. He would deny the obvious since he has never read a science book. The entire world knows that copious male sperm from different males compete for precious few eggs and that long-term parental investment on the part of females must be balanced against casual copulation by males. It’s a basic premise of sexual selection that males are promiscuous because they and their much larger pool of gametes has to compete with other males and their gamete pool for few and rare female eggs. That’s why males have a bigger inclination toward frequent sex.

    But again, McCarthy would not know this because he is not interested in science. I would recommend the well-written chapter on sexual selection in Coyne’s book but of course McCarthy would dismiss Coyne because he is the Big Bad Atheist. As you said, it’s not possible to convince him of anything since he will choose to remain ignorant of even the most basic facts of science.

  41. Anthony McCarthy

    So, Sorbet, demonstrate the simple math problem that I posed at #35, 2. Let’s see you back it up.

  42. Sorbet

    The facts of sexual selection demonstrate that males will seek, on average, more sexual partners than women. It’s an observation rationalized on the basis of natural selection. It is an observation validated in countless studies in diverse species. What does your theoretical math problem have to do with it? As Erasmussimo indicated, mathematically of course the number of couplings have to be identical. The observation however is that they are not and males are inclined to break this symmetry. There’s not much to not understand here. That’s why Erasmussimo made it clear that you are talking about promiscuity itself while we are talking about inclination toward promiscuity.

  43. Where do these more women come from?

    It’s not the frequency of intercourse that is the issue in promiscuity, it’s the number of sex partners. You do know what the word promiscuous means, don’t you?

    How does an “inclination” which isn’t acted on leave a greater frequency of genetic heritage? Or do those “more genes” come from the same ether that the “more women” come from?

    How do you know that men who are strictly monogamous don’t have a reproductive advantage over swingers? Do you rely on self-reporting for that as well?

    There’s a relevant comment in moderation that I think might help clear up your problem, the mathematical one, at least.

  44. Sorbet

    More frequent in this case means both higher frequency of sex and seeking out more partners. And where do these women come from? Uhh…they are already there? And who said males don’t act on the inclination? Also, your statement that monogamous men won’t have a reproductive advantage is inherently illogical. It’s you who has always given eminent importance to self-reporting so please continue. You are not interested in actually reading anything about sexual selection, just like you did not read the link on evo psych that Erasmussimo provided. And by all means, waste your words trying to clear up my non-existent mathematical problem. There is none; I completely agree with the math, but the math’s irrelevant here since it is trumped by observation, you great great mathematician.

  45. Erasmussimo

    Anthony McCarthy asks:
    How does an “inclination” which isn’t acted on leave a greater frequency of genetic heritage?

    You’re comparing apples (men) with oranges (women). Comparing apples with apples, we immediately see that males who engage in more copulation end up with more progeny. However, females who engage in more copulation do NOT necessarily end up with more progeny: their ability to have children is limited primarily by factors other than frequency of copulation.

    The data and logic here truly are ridiculously simple and obvious. I cannot understand why you are holding to such a perverse position.

  46. Erasmussimo

    Anthony McCarthy asks:

    How do you know that men who are strictly monogamous don’t have a reproductive advantage over swingers?

    The upper limits are clear: a monogamous male can have a maximum of perhaps one child per year, and in historical experience ends up with perhaps one child every other year. A non-monogamous man could, with much luck, father one child every night for years on end. In practice, non-monogamous males have far fewer children. But the basics are quite clear: for males, more copulations with more partners means more children. Why do you reject such simple and obvious truths?

  47. Erasmussimo, here is what you said when I asked you to “point me to a study which has reliably documents a repeated behavior in the remote past which has survived as a contemporary behavior, reliably represented in the genome, such as those habitually claimed by either Evolutionary Psychologists or others in science. (#33).

    — male promiscuity. Promiscuity is a behavior, not a physical organ. Its ubiquity in the population is patent. And it arose for easily understandable evolutionary reasons. There are a great many more examples, of course, but this is the simplest and clearest — and most irrefutable. Erasussimo

    Promiscuity is defined as sexual relations with multiple partners. I would assume, since you gave that as the example of the kind of study I asked you for, that you would contend that this proposed male promiscuity as opposed to a lesser amount of female promiscuity, would have resulted in a genetic predisposition in men to have sex with more women and women with fewer men, again, assuming we’re talking about exclusively heterosexual men and women. Non-reproductive sex would have no effect on subsequent generations and would be irrelevant to the issue at hand.

    I am left to assume you mean the often repeated idea that men are genetically predisposed to be promiscuous because they can “maximize” their reproductive potential and women are predisposed to not be promiscuous because their reproductive advantage is in not being promiscuous. If being promiscuous was also a reproductive advantage for women, then you would assume that they would be as promiscuous as men due to the same kind of genetic predisposition being an adaptive advantage. Women haven’t gone extinct, after all.

    I’m not arguing for or against a predisposition to promiscuity, I’m arguing about the idea that men would be more inclined to actually be promiscuous than women. In fact, they would appear to have to be equally inclined to have the same number of sex partners.

    Clearly, in order to come to any kind of conclusion about the general populations of males in general, and of females in general, you would have to rely on an average number of sexual partners of all men and of all women to make that kind of claim. Some men will have no or one partner, some men will have many, as, I’ll point out, some women also report having multiple sex partners, so clearly many women would be promiscuous as well.

    But the problem is, when you average the number of sexual partners men have during their lifetimes it would have to equal the average number of sexual partners that women have. It would be impossible for the men to be having sex with more women than the women with whom they are having sex. Which is the point of my mathematical problem of a human species of twelve with equal numbers of women and men. The averages would have to be the same.

    Clearly, women would have to be, on average, just as promiscuous as men. If you want to discuss men who have sex with other men as well, that couldn’t have an effect on genetic heritage, it wouldn’t leave a genetic trait in favor of promiscuity. And women also have sex with other women.

    Your argument about the relative possibility of reproduction, in theory, in men as opposed to women are beside the point. If women are having sex with more than one man, each would have a chance of fathering children with her, on average. I am too tired to try to work out the range of those chances, you’d need to take frequencies of intercourse with the different men and other factors into consideration.

    You can come up with some theoretical explanation of why it seems as if men should have a genetic predisposition towards promiscuity based on the possibility of having children by more than one woman, but if the women are having sex with more than one man, then his chances of being the father of a child she bears are also diminished. In order to work, you have to presume that women have sex with fewer men and men with more women, and that isn’t possible. And, I’ll point out, the women would, presumably, also be leaving a predisposition towards promiscuity, if you accept that there is an unidentified genetic trait that is the origin for that predisposition.

    None of this has anything to do with the behavior of Paleolithic human beings or our recent, non-human ancestors. We have no idea what their sex lives were like, we have no idea if they were universally promiscuous or universally monogamous or if they were like us, a mix. We can make up all kinds of rationales for different explanations, though they would, actually, have to abide by mathematics and logic to have any credibility.

    Your resort to upper limits are only theoretical, they tell us nothing about what actually happened. I’m rather confused with how you could square your subsequent assertions with your statement “In practice, non-monogamous males have far fewer children.” If it isn’t a typo, isn’t it practice that is the entire point, of what happens in practice as opposed to theory?

  48. Erasmussimo

    Anthony, I’ll respond now to your message #38, posted at 12:49 and appearing just now, which presents your mathematical argument in detail. There’s some degree of repetitiveness here, but I want to make certain that you understand my point. Yes, I agree that the number of male copulations is equal to the number of female copulations. That does not support, however, your apparent conclusion that males and females are equally inclined to copulate. Most copulations are initiated by the male, not the female. In many cases, the female is merely being acquiescent to the male’s desire. In some cases, the copulation is not desired by the female. Perhaps the best hard data we have on male and female interest in copulation is economic. Prostitutes as a group make far more money than gigolos make as a group.

    The economics of prostitution annihilate any assertion of symmetry between the genders on matters of sexual desire.

    And none of that gets to evidence that our female and male ancestors had different numbers of sexual partners. There isn’t any evidence that their pattern were the same except for the mathematical hurdle that the average number for the two genders would have to be the same, when considering heterosexual intercourse which could lead to offspring.

    I am disappointed that you repeat a point that I had already dismissed. I shall simply repeat my earlier statement on the question:

    1. You inquire as to the evidence of ancient sexual behavior. In this you miss the reasoning of evolutionary psychology. To show, for example, that primates developed color vision in order to better recognize tree fruits, we do not need to show that ancient primates had color vision; we need to show that MODERN primates have color vision. The color vision is the result, not the cause. Same thing goes with sexual attitudes.

    Do you need me to expand on this?

    Furthermore, there is no evidence that Paleolithic swingers would have more offspring than males who didn’t spend lots of time looking for opportunities to be promiscuous. I recall a while back a survey – the validity of which I’m not necessarily more confident of than those others – which concluded that married couples had more sex, within their marriage, than unmarried ones. For all we know marriage was developed as a means of maximizing the opportunity to have sex, among other reasons.

    Are you utterly rejecting the mechanism of sexual selection? This concept has been a fundamental component of evolutionary theory for a long time. The logic here is almost pedestrian. For males, there is a small probability that any single act of copulation will yield descendants. Therefore, more copulations will yield more descendants. (This reasoning does not apply to females.)

    BTW, I have to chide you for your speculation regarding the development of the institution of marriage. The basics of the marriage institution across cultures are well understood and most certainly have nothing to do with maximizing the opportunity to have sex. But that’s another discussion.

  49. Erasmussimo

    Oh, dear. We seem to be cross-posting with long intervals, which only confuses things.

    First off, you misunderstood these sentences of mine:

    A non-monogamous man could, with much luck, father one child every night for years on end. In practice, non-monogamous males have far fewer children.

    By taking the second sentence out of context, you misunderstood its point. The problem is solved by my appending two words to the latter sentence:

    A non-monogamous man could, with much luck, father one child every night for years on end. In practice, non-monogamous males have far fewer children THAN THAT.

    OK?

    You seem quite stuck on this notion that the number of male copulations is necessarily equal to the number of female copulations. What matters here is not the means (copulation) but the end: progeny. One woman copulating once with one man can have one child. One woman copulating a hundred times with one man in 100 days can still have only one child. One woman copulating a hundred times with a hundred different men in 100 days can still have only one child. The constraint on female progeny comes from the limitations of her body, not the number of copulations.

    By contrast, one man copulating with 100 women in 100 nights can have up to 100 children.

    Let me repeat this so it’s absolutely clear to you:

    One woman copulating with 100 different men over a 100 night period can have a maximum of 1 child.

    One man copulating with 100 different women over a 1oo night period can have a maximum of 100 children.

    Can you see the difference now?

    Now let me take this to the next step. Suppose we have a population of 100 fertile males and 100 fertile females. This population can produce a maximum of 100 babies every nine months. If we examine this situation from the point of view of one woman in the population, she can conceive after a single copulation (assuming her timing is right). Therefore, there is no reproductive benefit for her to have more than a single well-timed copulation. Now let’s look at the situation from the point of view of one man. If he copulates with 1 woman, the maximum number of babies he can father is 1. If he copulates with 2 women, the maximum number of babies he can father is 2. If he copulates with all woman, the maximum number of babies he can father is 100. Ergo, the more women he copulates with, the greater the number of babies he could potentially father.

    If we assume that all 100 women desire to become pregnant, then there are a huge range of scenarios for accomplishing this, involving as few as 100 total copulations and as many as 10,000 total copulations. But there will still be only 100 babies. From each and every male’s point of view, more copulations means more likely babies. From each and every female’s point of view, more copulations do NOT mean more babies. Is that clear now?

    Do not overlook two other biological factors: concealed receptivity and closed receptivity. The former arises from the fact that women can conceal from men when they can be impregnated, offering some men the opportunity to copulate when they cannot conceive, and offering preferred men the opportunity to copulate when they CAN conceive. This is a powerful factor whose implications are only appreciated in the context of more advanced evolutionary psychology. The latter factor arises from the fact that, once pregnancy has begun, copulation has no reproductive significance. Again, only the female in question has the requisite information to utilize this fact effectively in her sexual strategy.

    None of this has anything to do with the behavior of Paleolithic human beings or our recent, non-human ancestors. We have no idea what their sex lives were like, we have no idea if they were universally promiscuous or universally monogamous or if they were like us, a mix.

    Whaddya mean, WE, Kemosabe? YOU have no idea of this information, but in fact there has been a great deal of research on primate sexual behavior, and WE have learned a great deal that YOU have not read. Again, I plead with you to read something on the subject; it is obvious that you are carrying out a great deal of cognition on a tiny base of knowledge.

    In any event, none of this affects the fundamental and well-established fact that males place more value on copulation than females, as demonstrated by the economics of prostitution.

  50. Erasmussimo, the argument I cited at 38 isn’t about frequency of intercourse, it’s about the number of sexual partners, the promiscuity of the two genders in relation to each other. That is the topic you brought up.

    As to the desirability of the sex, these people were reporting the number of sexual partners they have had. It’s not clear to me that people reporting the numbers of their sexual partners would include rapists in that number.

    As to who initiates sex. I’d think that was way too obscure to be the subject of science, not even in self-reporting. Who made the first move? Who gave the first sign? All you’re doing is demonstrating my assertion about the complexity of human behavior and the difficulty of studying it.

    — Prostitutes as a group make far more money than gigolos make as a group. E.

    This has actually been studied scientifically? I’m surprised that they could come up with a statistically significant number of men who would answer to the name “gigolo”, though I’ve frequently noted that overestimating the dignity of men is easy to do. I’m wondering how you come up with a valid cross sample of the set of all x, such that x is a gigolo.

    I wonder, assuming such numbers actually exist, if they have compared them to the income disparity between men and women, a fairly well-established number. Or maybe women are just better price shoppers.

    —- You inquire as to the evidence of ancient sexual behavior. In this you miss the reasoning of evolutionary psychology. To show, for example, that primates developed color vision in order to better recognize tree fruits, we do not need to show that ancient primates had color vision; we need to show that MODERN primates have color vision. The color vision is the result, not the cause. Same thing goes with sexual attitudes.

    I’m not read on that topic, when did primates first gain the ability to see color and is the development of that ability in evolution a reliably established body of knowledge. How gradual is that development known to have happened? Was it a long development or an abrupt one? That’s a nice story, but, how do you know that color vision developed in order to recognize tree fruit and that it didn’t develop for some other reason which led to increased use of tree fruit? Primates aren’t the only animals that eat tree fruits. Or colorful foods, for that matter. I’m not read up on the knowledge of diets in different orders of animals so I’d have to get back to you on that. But in what you’ve said, I don’t see any evidence, I see a story. It might be right or it might be wrong, but it’s not evidence. I’d wonder what other stories might be told about it. Can you point me to evidence that color blindness in primates leads to those with it having fewer offspring? That other sensory information doesn’t compensate for the lack of that ability in real life? Are there different extents to which color blindness carries a reproductive disadvantage for different species?

    I don’t think you can assume that sexual attitudes in human beings follows the same trail of reasoning. Well, you can assume it, but I don’t think there is any reason to believe that assertion. Sexual activity isn’t unique to primates and its hardly uniform within primates, not even within species of primates.

    —- Are you utterly rejecting the mechanism of sexual selection? This concept has been a fundamental component of evolutionary theory for a long time. The logic here is almost pedestrian. For males, there is a small probability that any single act of copulation will yield descendants. Therefore, more copulations will yield more descendants. (This reasoning does not apply to females.)

    As I’ve said, what I’m talking about is only what you gave as an example in 33, the assertion of male promiscuity, though I am still assuming you mean as opposed to the assertion that women are less promiscuous. And as I’ve shown, and provided supporting evidence, it’s not possible for men, in aggregate to have more sex partners than women, in aggregate. I’m talking about the way in which an alleged genetic trait would come to dominate in a population. If males who are promiscuous because they have a genetic predisposition to be promiscuous, end up producing more male children who share the trait and the behavior, who increase the prevalence of that trait through promiscuity, then the population of women who they have children by would be equally promiscuous, for reasons already given. I’m wondering how you could discount the possibility that the women’s genetic heritage wouldn’t also favor that level of promiscuity? Maybe having more mates is a sort of insurance that not all of her offspring will be fathered by a male with a genetic defect that could kill them before they produce grandchildren.

    Though, I really doubt that peoples’ sexual behavior is the result of their genetic heritage. I think it’s entirely too varied and too unpredictable in real life. You might call me an agnostic on a lot of it, I don’t buy any of it whole hog.

    I’m going to have to call it quits for the night.

  51. Oh, I will say that my off hand remark about marriage being invented to increase the frequency of intercourse. I firmly believe that’s why most people marry. Or used to before living together, informal marriage, became so common. I suspect it’s one of the reasons that people want to marry people they find sexually attractive. I’m surprised you think that’s an outlandish idea.

  52. Erasmussimo

    Oh, I will say that my off hand remark about marriage being invented to increase the frequency of intercourse. I firmly believe that’s why most people marry.

    Anthony, I’m having real trouble restraining my phrasing here. Your belief is, er, “uninformed to the max”. The institution of marriage has been extensively studied across many cultures and a great deal is known about this institution — and your speculation is, er, “unsupported by the data”. There’s an enormous amount of variation across cultures, but one near-universal is the wedding ceremony witnessed by a large body of the community. Broadly speaking, the purpose of the wedding ceremony is thought to be a form of social coercion on the groom to insure that he doesn’t leave the wife after she has a child. This is a big subject and I can go into it into more detail, but the notion that marriage was created to encourage copulation is blatherskite. Males need no help getting it on — the institution of marriage, generally speaking, is intended to channel and control their urges in a socially acceptable direction.

    I again implore you to study anthropology before making claims based on your personal experiences. There’s a great deal of knowledge available. You dismiss evolutionary psychology as nonscientific yet you seem unwilling to familiarize yourself with the science that has already been figured out.

  53. Erasmussimo

    Anthony, once again there seems to be some oddity in the timing with which your posts appear, so I’m a bit out of synch with your posts. I shall here attempt to respond to your post #50.

    On color vision in primates, you argue that I have presented no evidence. Indeed, I have not. I am summarizing the results of research, not writing a custom academic research paper for your personal benefit. If you want to learn about primate evolution, there’s a mountain of information out there. I see no reason to dig through my library to find references for you when you refuse to read even the basic primers. Besides, most of the information on primate evolution is highly technical; the more accessible works that organize that work into coherent form for non-specialists are themselves somewhat obscure. But you can find plenty of stuff on the web. In any event, the significance of the point is that the logic of evolutionary psychology does not require us to identify behaviors in ancient contexts, but rather to explain modern behaviors based on what we do know about the past.

    I’m wondering how you could discount the possibility that the women’s genetic heritage wouldn’t also favor that level of promiscuity?

    As I have explained in excruciating detail, female reproductive capacity is limited to one child per nine months at most. Male reproductive capacity is limited by the number of different women with which a male can copulate. I hammered this point home with a sledge hammer; if you fail to grasp this point, that failure can certainly not be attributed to any lack of effort on my part.

    I really doubt that peoples’ sexual behavior is the result of their genetic heritage.

    Do you have ancestors who did not engage in sexual behavior?

    On the matter of prostitutes and gigolos: you are now demanding scientific studies of the volume of transactions for prostitutes and gigolos. At this point, I am unwilling to dig out the references to make my case. I am quite certain that, were I to produce such references, you would argue that they were carried out improperly and do not constitute proof because they cannot possibly identify every single prostitute and gigolo on the planet. In other words, you are arguing in bad faith, not discussing. I won’t try to convince you of something that you have already decided. If you do wish to discuss the matter in good faith, I’ll be happy to cooperate, but your arguments now are reduced to pedantic obfuscation, not fair-minded discussion.

  54. I really don’t think I’ve been guilty of obfuscation in the argument about “male promiscuity”. Reading down the argument, I seem to be the one who keeps reminding you and Sorbet what promiscuity means and stressing the logical necessity of the average rates of heterosexual promiscuity for each of the genders being equal. I will accept blame for going into three issues in ways that might seem diversionary. Two of which, you brought into the discussion. Color vision in primates, I think, is entirely off topic.

    The comment about the desire to maximize frequency of sex as the origin of marriage was partly a joke. If I’m skeptical of any assertions made about the behavior of people in the lost past, I’m especially skeptical about assertions made about their unstated intentions when inventing a social convention in the lost past. Even when I’m the one who makes them. Your claim that the issue has been studied across many cultures would mean many cultures in modern cultures and within recorded history. That doesn’t tell us much about the invention of marriage. I don’t think your description about social coercion to ensure the support of men after a child is born tells us much about origin of weddings (what you are actually talking about) today in the United States or many other countries, it sound like the end of a bad divorce. Just on the side, there are some Christian theologians who have said the the clear ban on remarriage after divorce taught by Jesus was a means of preventing men from abandoning their first wife and children, though they don’t claim to be practicing science when they say that.

    The point about the incomes of prostitutes as opposed to gigolos, which I’ll have to point out was something you brought up, was also not really to the point I made either. To put it in crudest terms, the two jobs aren’t similar. A gigolo. a “kept man” is more the male equivalent of a mistress in that each has a single sexual partner with whom they are supposed to be emotionally engaged, while prostitutes of both genders have multiple clients without that implication. You wouldn’t expect that the money they got from people they were having sex with would be the same because of the difference in the numbers of people with whom they get paid to have sex with. Just in passing, it’s quite possible for a gigolo or a mistress to be quite monogamous and for their partners to be faithful to them, in which case the relationships wouldn’t really count as instances of promiscuity. I’d imagine that in either, the sexual fidelity of either would be inherent to their partner’s and, perhaps, their own understanding of their relationship.

    The request that you cite, that you identify the formal study of the income of gigolos was more due to my being astounded that they’d been able to get enough men to accept that they were gigolos in order to then ask them how much money they were paid. I’m not even sure they’d uniformly see the money they were given as “pay”, as opposed to “gifts”.

    I doubt there is a significant group of “gigolos” who would see themselves as being “gigolos” and so the group whose income you want to talk about might not really exist as a coherent entity. I’d bet that there would be instances where one of us might consider someone a gigolo while the other wouldn’t and the man, himself, wouldn’t. Who would be right about his identity? I’d imagine there would be men who got money from a woman who didn’t have sex with him who would be considered a gigolo by other people, and I’d guess the best paid ones might be the least willing to accept the term in either case. I’d guess there would be a lot of “kept women” who wouldn’t accept the term “mistress” either.

    But I’ll use the issue to make a point about statistics. As with many of these issues, it’s not a question of “identifying every single prostitute of gigolo on the planet”, it’s a question of obtaining accurate information from a truly representative cross section of the population in order to come to some accurate conclusion about an abstract “typical” member of that group. I don’t understand how your claims about the respective income of prostitutes and gigolos could be anything but total guesses, without any informative value unless they were the result of that kind of statistical analysis. That’s not obfuscation, that’s basic to this kind of endeavor. Without a realistic attempt at the collection of data from a valid sample of a population and the forthright analysis of that data, assertions made about issues like that are worthless and might be quite inaccurate. Any inferential conclusions you make from that kind of assertion are about as far from science as it is possible to get.

    But, really, it, as the origins of color vision in primates, doesn’t really negate my point, that men in aggregate and women in aggregate have the same number of heterosexual, sexual partners to begin with and so the genders have equal rates of promiscuity.

  55. Erasmussimo

    I seem to be the one who keeps reminding you and Sorbet what promiscuity means and stressing the logical necessity of the average rates of heterosexual promiscuity for each of the genders being equal.

    Indeed you have — which is frustrating because in #37 I corrected my terminology to “inclination to promiscuity”, but you’re still hammering away about promiscuity even though I have several times pointed out the difference. Could we please get on the same track here? I have long since conceded the point that promiscuity (defined as frequency of copulation) must have equal numbers of males and females. But my claim here is that males pursue copulation more avidly than females.

    This is demonstrated by the fact that men spend a lot more money for sexual services than women spend. If you refuse to acknowledge this, well, I won’t try to convince you. I could cite crime statistics but you would argue that crime statistics are biased. I could cite economic studies of prostitution but you would argue that the economists have failed to identify gigolos. You can fold your arms and refuse to accept anything you don’t want to accept. Only mathematical theorems can be proven; scientific “truth” is ultimately just a matter of what scientists choose to accept. You can choose to reject any hypothesis you care to, and insist that, without proof, you’re unconvinced. And since no scientific hypothesis can be proven, you can consider your skepticism justified.

    Ultimately, however, intellectual integrity is a matter of accepting what is reasonable, not what is proven. You are absolutely correct to point out that there is no proof that men pay more money for sexual services than women pay. You are also quite unreasonable to deny that claim.

    So tell me, why should I expend effort on an unreasonable interlocutor?

  56. Sorbet

    McCarthy rejects the simple biological fact that females can bear only a limited number of offpsring even with frequent copulation while males can bear many more with the same amount of copulation, and that this leads to a higher incentive for males to be promiscuous. Under ordinary circumstances I would have been quite exasperated with what is either wilful denial or the inability to understand an embarrassingly simple concept. With McCarthy however, I yawn and realize it’s perfectly keeping in line with his past record.

    As an aside, notice how McCarthy constantly whines and accuses New Atheists of being perpetually unsatisfied with ‘evidence’ when in this case he himself is wilfully denying and/or not understanding much more concrete evidence. Again, not surprising given his history. Just watch how rarely if at all McCarthy has upheld this standard of evidence when talking about…I don’t know, the Virgin Birth (jazzhands!)

  57. There isn’t any hypothesis necessary to refute the assertion. It’s a mathematical impossibility.

    If the issue is persistence and predominance of a theorized genetic trait, promiscuity in males as opposed to females, the “inclination” would have be become the manifest behavior of sexual intercourse in order to perpetuate that theorized genetic trait. The inclination would have to be expressed. Sexual promiscuity is made manifest in having sex with multiple partners, in this case of the opposite gender. There being exactly two genders, and every act of intercourse would have to be one of each, that renders that particular trait, indivisibly, one that would produce a exact averages of sexual partners for each of the two genders. The nature of heterosexual sexual promiscuity means that one, in aggregate, can’t have sex with more of the other gender than there are members of that gender to have sex with.

    The amount that men might spend on sex can overcome the logic and mathematics that govern the numbers on this. It just simply isn’t possible.

    The assertion you make about this particular theorized genetic trait carries that limit within it as an intrinsic feature. I’m quite shocked that it has been repeated without considering that most basic test of possibility. It should be a scandal of massive proportion in the behavioral and social sciences and anywhere else it has been repeated.

  58. Sorbet

    McCarthy, the very important point about who initiates copulation basically answers the conundrum posed by your cute little mathematical “impossibility”. Let’s say we have a pride of lions in which males initiate sex and basically force themselves on all the females. In the end the number of male and female couplings would of course be equal, but the males, as the initators of sex, would have clearly shown the greater inclination towards promiscuity. And the reason as stated several times before is that this way they will father many more offspring than the females. It’s actually not that difficult to understand.

  59. Erasmussimo

    Anthony, I’m surprised that you continue to advance the argument involving copulation frequencies. Please read my #49, which dismissed that argument.

    Inasmuch as we are reduced to repetitive statements, I’ll wait until there’s something new to answer.

  60. —- McCarthy, the very important point about who initiates copulation basically answers the conundrum posed by your cute little mathematical “impossibility”. Let’s say we have a pride of lions in which males initiate sex and basically force themselves on all the females. Sorbet

    Sorbet, the very important point of human beings not being all that closely related to lions basically shows that you are stretching it way past reason. What other aspects of human life do you want to make analogous to species that distantly related to us? I thought Sociobiology was passe.

    Your argument, which I don’t accept, still cannot supersede the requirements of logic and math. I’m going to have to assume I’m gaining an insight into your grasp of science by your assertions to the contrary.

    Erasmussimo, I have rather frequently pointed out that I’m not now and have not talked about the number of times men have sex but to the NUMBER OF WOMEN WITH WHOM THEY HAVE SEX. I said it at

    #35 in my first response to your raising the issue of “male promiscuity” – Male as opposed to female promiscuity? I assume you mean the idea that on average men have sex with more women and that women have fewer sex partners.
    #38 In which I cite Dr. Gale’s point that the average number of sex partners between men and women would have to be equal – I would like to know how you would measure promiscuity by any other factor than actual sexual activity with more than one partner.
    #43 It’s not the frequency of intercourse that is the issue in promiscuity, it’s the number of sex partners. You do know what the word promiscuous means, don’t you?
    #47 Promiscuity is defined as sexual relations with multiple partners.
    #50 Erasmussimo, the argument I cited at 38 isn’t about frequency of intercourse, it’s about the number of sexual partners, the promiscuity of the two genders in relation to each other. That is the topic you brought up.

    And onward.

    I assume you are talking about what I said at #57 in a frustrated attempt to make clear what I thought was pretty clear from Dr. Gale’s example and my little math problem somewhere in the middle of this thread.

    I really do think I’ve demonstrated that men on average can’t be more heterosexually promiscuous than their partners in that promiscuity. It’s mathematically impossible for the reasons that were given in the article by Gina Kolata and the arguments I’ve made here. Any assertion alleging to be science that says that men in aggregate are more promiscuous than women in aggregate, are promoting an illogical and literally irrational bit of pseudo-science. Anyone who asserts that an ‘inclination’ could pass on a reproductive advantage without it being practiced just isn’t thinking it through all the way. A behavior has to happen for it to impart a competitive advantage, the mere inclination without the behavior would have no evolutionary effect at all.

  61. Erasmussimo

    Anthony, you seem blind to the the point I have been making over and over, so I’m going make it even more times. Perhaps if I make the same point ten different ways you’ll understand.

    I initially spoke about promiscuity, which really does refer to sexual attitudes rather than behavior, but you insisted on using only the narrow meaning of promiscuity as “frequency of copulation”, so I, rather than argue about the meanings of words, simply refined my terminology to precisely express my meaning, by talking about “inclination to promiscuity”.

    (It is likely that you will respond with a long statement on the “true meaning” of the term “promiscuity”. This is irrelevant to my point. I have been talking from the outset about the mental attitudes behind sexual behavior. That’s why I have been using the phrase “inclination to promiscuity”. If you wish to defined “promiscuity” as “eating cucumbers”, you are welcome to do so. But please, let’s stay on track here.)

    I have many times conceded that, for X copulations, there must be X males and X females. That point is not in dispute. Let me say that some other ways for you:

    1. I agree that the number of male partners in any set of copulations is equal to the number of female partners.
    2. The mathematical argument you make regarding the number of male and females copulators being equal is correct.
    3. I do not dispute your claim that there are just as many male acts of copulation as female acts of copulation.
    4. We are in complete agreement that, if there are X acts of copulation, then must beX male acts of copulation and X female acts of copulation.

    Have I made myself clear?

    What you are refusing to acknowledge is the point I made in #49. You have never answered or addressed this point. For your benefit, I will repeat the core point here:

    One woman copulating with 100 different men over a 100 night period can have a maximum of 1 child.
    One man copulating with 100 different women over a 1oo night period can have a maximum of 100 children.

    Would you please agree with or argue against this point?

  62. Sorbet

    McCarthy, if you hate lions, consider any other mammal species closer to us, including chimps and bonobos where the same behavior has been observed (For instance see Frans De Waals’s books). Consider the fact that human males do exhibit more interest in sex and more promiscuity. As me and Erasmussimo have repeatedly said, your mathematical argument is one hundred percent accurate and yet has no bearing on what we are talking about. You are challenging one of the most widely acknowledged premises of sexual selection by playing some bizarre mathematical game. In any case, as Erasmussimo indicated, there’s no point in arguing further with you if you are going to keep on peddling your irrelevant mathematical calculations. Are you one of those militant mathematicians for whom theorizing trumps rationalizations based on actual observations?

  63. Sorbet

    Answer Erasmussimo’s two very simple points above and please let me know why the fact that men can father more offspring through multiple copulations while women cannot and that this encourages men to seek out more sexual partners has not yet entered your consciousness. Or have you now decided to go the entire way and rejected the basic principles of natural selection? I would not be surprised.

  64. — I initially spoke about promiscuity, which really does refer to sexual attitudes rather than behavior, but you insisted on using only the narrow meaning of promiscuity as “frequency of copulation”, so I, rather than argue about the meanings of words, simply refined my terminology to precisely express my meaning, by talking about “inclination to promiscuity”.
    Erasmussimo

    If you are using this “inclination to promiscuity” as an example of a finding of EP which fulfills my request to you at # 32,

    Eramussimo, point me to a study which has reliably documents a repeated behavior in the remote past which has survived as a contemporary behavior, reliably represented in the genome, such as those habitually claimed by either Evolutionary Psychologists or others in science.

    You answered at #33 male promiscuity. Promiscuity is a behavior, not a physical organ. Its ubiquity in the population is patent. And it arose for easily understandable evolutionary reasons.

    that “inclination” would be held to have persisted and become common in the human genome because it constituted an adaptive advantage, leading to increased representation in the offspring of those having this genetic variation.

    That “inclination” couldn’t be passed on without the person having it having offspring through heterosexual sexual intercourse which would lead to them parenting children who would share that alleged genetic inclination, and passing it on to children. You, yourself stated that in your answer given at #33 “Promiscuity is a behavior, not a physical organ”.

    In your example, the alleged genetically induced inclination is intrinsically tied with heterosexual intercourse, it is the predisposition for, specifically males, to have sex with multiple partners. You identified your example as “male promiscuity”, specifically excluding females. You further said that “it arose for easily understandable evolutionary reasons” and that “Its ubiquity in the population is patent.”

    However, the mechanism of a specific incident of heterosexual intercourse, part of the “unit” of measure of “male promiscuity” involves one man and one woman. Heterosexual sexual intercourse of the kind which would lead to the propagation of a genetic trait, through the act, itself, requires a woman as well as a male. We don’t have mixing inheritance of genetic material which would allow that to be altered.

    Heterosexual promiscuity requires that a single woman or man have sex with more than one member of the other gender during their life time. Now I’ll go to your specific example. For the male you propose as typically predisposed towards promiscuity, the possibilities are that

    – He has no heterosexual sex, and leaves no offspring. I’ll also include men who leave no offspring due to sterility in this category because they would also not directly impact the presence of their genes in future generations.
    – He has heterosexual sex with one woman and has offspring with her.
    – He has heterosexual sex, with more than one woman and has offspring with more than one of them.

    So, looking at only an individual male, you might come to the idea that male would have a reproductive advantage over other males, who you assume producing fewer children, though I’m still wondering if there is any actual evidence that they actually do have more offspring and that those offspring are reproduce in more numbers than men who are not promiscuous. Hilariously, Sorbet has discovered the practice of actual observation instead of theory at #62. I’d like to see the quality of that evidence from real life and not just in evo-psy theory.

    So, we go to considering the entire universe of men who practice heterosexual sex and women who practice heterosexual sex. If this favorable adaptation for “male promiscuity” coexists with an alleged adaptation against women being equally promiscuous, your assertion runs into a big problem, there has to be a woman participating in any act of heterosexual intercourse of that kind in order for a child to be the result. When talking about the average number of sexual partners in that relationship, there is no “outside population” from which to pad the figures for the men. The average number of sexual partners those all women were having would have to include all the men with whom they are having sex.

    This is getting ridiculous as seen in Sorbet’s ranting accusastion, “Are you one of those militant mathematicians for whom theorizing trumps rationalizations based on actual observations?” I’m not going to go on with it. I think the retreat into “inclinations” is a rather desperate act.

    Apparently EP is “science” that thinks its theories can avoid the hard realities of logical possibility and mathematics. Science, one utterly reliant on the use of statistics in its basic methodology, that can pick and choose when to ignore those. Talk about the conveniences of modern life. And here I seem to recall when Wilson’s critics began to look hard at his “new synthesis” that the defense was that he had the equations. I’d always been told that science was utterly dependent on logic and math. I guess that synthesis is more synthetic than I’d thought.

  65. Oh, this got cut for some reason.

    E. You assume that each of the hundred women that man is having sex with on those hundred nights are all having sex with only him. That isn’t true for the entire population of women. His chances of fathering a child with a woman having sex with other men would be decreased, they might be the ones who father the child you’re talking about. And, as the mathematics show, women have to average the same number of sex partners as men. Also a man having sex with a woman on one night in a hundred would have a reduced chance of having children with her as well. Your theoretical model has problems, not the least of which is that it almost certainly doesn’t exist in that “actual observation” that Sorbet has so belatedly, and, he seems to think, conveniently rediscovered.

    I wonder if the passing of venereal diseases constitutes a reproductive disadvantage of significant real life impact.

  66. — You are challenging one of the most widely acknowledged premises of sexual selection by playing some bizarre mathematical game. In any case, as Erasmussimo indicated, there’s no point in arguing further with you if you are going to keep on peddling your irrelevant mathematical calculations. Are you one of those militant mathematicians for whom theorizing trumps rationalizations based on actual observations?

    I had a cancellation so I used the time to look for some of that “actual observation” that Sorbet has so belatedly decided might be convenient. I hadn’t realized that the history of the scientific assertion of male promiscuity originated in a species even farther removed from humans and Sorbet’s examples, very, very far removed:

    ” A new study by St Andrews academics challenges the long-standing expectations that men are promiscuous and women more particular when it comes to choosing a mate.

    The research suggests that human mating strategies are not likely to conform to a single universal pattern and provides important insights that may impact future investigations of human mating behaviour.

    Dr Gillian Brown, from the School of Psychology, and Professor Kevin Laland, from the School of Biology, examined the evolution of human sex roles, assessing the universal applicability of the now famous research in 1948 by Angus J Bateman on fruit flies.

    Bateman showed that male fruit flies have greater variance in mating success (the number of sexual partners) and in reproductive success (the number of offspring) compared to female fruit flies. In addition, Bateman demonstrated that there is a stronger relationship between mating success and reproductive success in males than females.

    Dr Brown explained, “The conventional view of promiscuous, undiscriminating males and coy, choosy females has also been applied to our own species.

    “We sought to make a comprehensive review of sexual selection theory and examine data on mating behaviour and reproductive success in current and historic human populations in order to further our understanding of human sex roles.”

    Bateman concluded that, because a single egg is more costly to produce than a single sperm, the number of offspring produced by female animals is limited by the number of eggs that she can produce, while the number of offspring produced by male animals is limited by the number of mating partners. This study supported the conventional assumption that male animals are competitive and promiscuous while female animals are non-competitive and choosy.”

    http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/news/Title,32947,en.html

    And what does that theory, and those apparently built on it like so many toothpicks, or straws, stack up against some real life observation of people?

    ” Dr Brown said, “While male reproductive success varied more than female reproductive success overall, huge variability was found between populations; for instance, in monogamous societies, variances in male and female reproductive success were very similar.”

    The researchers argue that evolutionary theory can help us to understand this variability between populations.

    “Recent advances in evolutionary theory suggest that factors such as sex-biased mortality, sex-ratio, population density and variation in mate quality, are likely to impact mating behaviour in humans,” said Dr Brown.

    Dr Brown and colleagues concluded that the diversity in human mating strategies suggests that a single universal principle is unlikely to fully describe human behaviour.

    She commented, “We should not expect human mating strategies to be explained by the simple rules derived from Bateman’s experiments.

    “Taking a new perspective on what evolutionary theory predicts about mating strategies will have important implications for how we think about male and female sex roles. We’re entering an exciting new era in which evolutionary theory can help us to understand the diversity of human mating strategies.”

    I’m not sure if any of my family or friends take Cell so I’ll have to find another way to read the study, itself. Given this, the admitted mathematical and logical necessity for equal average numbers of sex partners for the two sexes, the whole rest of it, I’d say you need another example of a well-founded study to back up evo-psy.

    I’m not sure how Brown stands on that but I’m going to be ordering her book,
    Sense and Nonsense: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behaviour
    Kevin N. Laland & Gillian R. Brown, if I can afford a copy.

  67. Erasmussimo

    Anthony, I had previously accused you of arguing in bad faith and asked bluntly why I should continue a discussion with an unreasonable person. I presented you with a simple, direct question and you have responded with a long meandering set of ideas that dance all around the issue but never directly engage it. I have no desire to waste my time with pedantic circumlocutions. You refuse to discuss this matter with intellectual honesty. I therefore refuse to continue discussing it with you.

  68. Sorbet

    -Sorbet has discovered the practice of actual observation instead of theory at #62

    Yes, that’s what people actually interested in the truth do. They usually rely on real observations and not on mathematical hypothesizing.

    – I hadn’t realized that the history of the scientific assertion of male promiscuity originated in a species even farther removed from humans and Sorbet’s examples, very, very far removed

    It’s you who is citing the fruit fly example, not me! LOL, this is the classic McCarthy straw man, cite a study which I did not cite, and then knock it down, somehow implying that you have knocked down the studies I cited. The concept of male promiscuity has not originated from fruit fly studies; it has originated from scores of studies on species of every type, including mammals and primates.

    -I think the retreat into “inclinations” is a rather desperate act

    Sure, if you want to call citing real world examples as desperate acts. In the majority of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and primates studied until now, male promiscuity is a ubiquotous phenomenon. Citing all these studies surely constitute the “desperate acts” of biologists!

    -That “inclination” couldn’t be passed on without the person having it having offspring through heterosexual sexual intercourse which would lead to them parenting children who would share that alleged genetic inclination, and passing it on to children

    So now you are answering your own question? That is precisely what happens; the inclination is passed on through males having much more frequent children through multiple copulations. In case of females the inclination if it existed would not be magnified because of their limited reproductive capacity.

    -I’d say you need another example of a well-founded study to back up evo-psy.

    Another typical McCarthy strategy and straw man. He assumes that by supporting some concepts from evo psych we are supporting the entire edifice. Then he knocks down this admirable bale of straw.

    Again, your laughable lack of understanding of the scientific method rears its colorful head again. One study that challenges a long standing assumption gained from several studies does not constitute reasonable doubt, let alone proof. It is simply an interesting proposition. Dr. Brown’s study is provocative but one study by itself is no reason for overturning a rather well-established hypothesis. In science you usually need more than that. And Dr. Brown never claimed that her study turns fundamental assumptions about male promiscuity on its head; she simply says it may be more complex.

    And none of your family or friends “take” cell? You know that Cell, unlike Aspirin or Viagra, is a journal and not a medication, right? You don’t usuall take it. You read it.

  69. Sorbet

    -You refuse to discuss this matter with intellectual honesty

    Welcome to McCarthy’s world Erasmussimo. His particular set of problems has almost turned into a pathological diagnosis which a physician (or more accurately a shrink) can predict. In recurring discussions on exobiology, epigenetics, history of science and now evo psych, he has demonstrated these rather rabid symptoms. You asked him for a simple “Agree” or “Disagree” answer to two simple one line statements. However his English comprehension skills are almost as primitive as his logic skills, so don’t expect him to answer.

  70. Sorbet

    And you can rest assured; McCarthy is a five year old with a roundworm’s understanding of real science who wants to have the last word in any comment thread so that he can thump his chest and howl “I win!”. What else can we come to expect from a scientifically challenged retired and frustrated piano teacher?

  71. Sorbet

    Oh, yes and at one point Erasmussimo said:
    -You dismiss evolutionary psychology as nonscientific yet you seem unwilling to familiarize yourself with the science that has already been figured out

    Just replace “evolutionary psychology” in that statement with XYZ where XYZ can be almost any scientific discipline, and you get an idea of who McCarthy is. Always willing to rant on and on without substance, never willing to actually look up something or read a book. Anti-intellectualism at its worst. Reminds me of both extreme right-wingers and creationists.

  72. – I presented you with a simple, direct question and you have responded with a long meandering set of ideas that dance all around the issue but never directly engage it.

    If that wasn’t intellectual engagement, I’m at a loss to understand what you mean by it. Which of the issues you went through is the one I haven’t directly engaged? I wasn’t the one who went from “promiscuity is a behavior” to the switch to an “inclination” when the mathematical impossibility of the assertion was pressed. I didn’t go to the recourse of color vision in primates and the wage scales of gigolos vs. prostitutes. I’ve already apologized for my casual joke about the origins of marriage. And you are accusing me of “dancing around the issue”.

    If you’re giving up on me, guess I’ll just have to live with it.

    — It’s you who is citing the fruit fly example, not me! Sorbet

    Good Lord, Sorbet, can you read? The article about Dr. Brown’s research I linked to REFUTED the theories of sexual selection in humans derived from that classic research in fruit flies, the very same and clearly in trouble theories of sexual selection that you have been touting here.

    You know, Sorbet, it is so interesting to read you on this thread, I’ve come to understand a lot more about you and why you are so logic resistant.

    For anyone who might like to read through this, particularly Sorbet’s part in it, it could be a good example of the dependence of the behavioral and social sciences on doctrine such as are derived from Bateman’s old conclusions about mating in fruit flies. Doctrine that can lead to logically impossible assertions that are then promulgated without reflection and become considered as dogma to be protected from any question or point of inconsistency. As seen in that totally incoherent charge you can see that they don’t even have to understand the dogma or its origin and use to defend it against heretics.

    For anyone in hard science, do you really want to go that way?

    As to the discussion I had about epigenetics and the other issues he mentions, I’ve corrected Sorbet about what he has said about that before so he’s essentially shouting just like Congressman Joe Wilson, R SC shouted at President Obama last night, and with about as much integrity as that guy.

  73. Sorbet

    -You know, Sorbet, it is so interesting to read you on this thread, I’ve come to understand a lot more about you and why you are so logic resistant.

    Thank you McCarthy! You are the first person who has truly gauged my psyche and for this I am eternally grateful! There is however nobody who can reform your logic-free mind.

    -I’ve corrected Sorbet about what he has said about that before so he’s essentially shouting just like Congressman Joe Wilson, R SC shouted at President Obama last night, and with about as much integrity as that guy.

    By “corrected” you mean responded with more gobbledygook similar to that here? I admit you are an expert in that. Anybody can see the evidence that basically locates you at the focal point of scientific cluelessness. And Joe McCarthy should probably think twice before calling anyone Joe Wilson.

  74. Sorbet

    And we are still waiting for you to give a simple answer (“Agree/Disagree”- ever heard of these words?) to Erasmussimo’s two simple one-line statements. The fact that you continue to evade them is evidence of your chicanery and ignorance that is visible to anyone here.

  75. chicanery and ignorance

    I can see how presenting arguments based in logic and backed up with citations might seem kind of tricky to the Sorbot.
    Ignorance, that must mean not parroting dogmas but questioning them. That is if it’s not a question of refusing to oversimplify in order to arrive at false elucidation.

  76. Sorbet

    -I can see how presenting arguments based in logic and backed up with citations might seem kind of tricky to the Sorbot

    Oooh, I am scared! The great mathematician Carl Friedrich McCarthy has overturned countless real observations and facts through eminent armchair speculation alone. What a man!

    Go ahead Jenny McCarthy, further distort the facts when I already said that the mathematical argument is one hundred percent accurate and completely irrelevant. Keep hiding behind the mathematical argument when we have long since accepted it and showed that it is irrelevant to this discussion. Not surprising though since you have no answer for everything that follows.

    Oh, by the way, I almost forgot; any intention of answering Erasmussimo’s two simple one-line statements above? Let me guess…the answer (hold your breath!)..is NO! *Real* mindless machines don’t answer lame questions like these, questions which actually might test their- horror of horrors- LOGIC!

  77. Trouble with chatterbox programs, unless you’re really gullible, they get boring really fast.

  78. Sorbet

    Trouble with random word generators, they start off boring to begin with.

  79. Ah, you seem to think you understood what I was doing later in the argument. I wasn’t trying to convert people from their faith in evo-psy, I was interested in seeing what arguments they would come up with when pressed. It was like introducing the idea that PZ faked his desecration, questioning an unlikely story.

    In this case, during the course of the discussion, I became interested in looking at how evo-psy is dependent on doctrine as well as simplified storytelling based in a bare bones, abstracted scenario instead of real life. I got interested in seeing if it might share some of the bad habits with the researchers in the psychology “study” that began this. It wasn’t my intention at first but once that came to me it was what I wanted to press. Also, I’d read about Gillian Brown and her colleagues’ work a few months back but hadn’t looked into it until now.

    Notice this quote:

    “We should not expect human mating strategies to be explained by the simple rules derived from Bateman’s experiments.

    “Taking a new perspective on what evolutionary theory predicts about mating strategies will have important implications for how we think about male and female sex roles. We’re entering an exciting new era in which evolutionary theory can help us to understand the diversity of human mating strategies.”

    ” We should not expect human mating stratiges to be explained by the simple rules derived from Bateman’s experiments.” But my experience leads me to fully expect that someone full of the doctrines, dogmas and practices of evo-psy will take the simple rules in any given situation and declare that they have found a favorable adaptation, declare it a behavior in the lost past, make their words flesh by inventing an unfound but plausible sounding gene or gene complex, and entirely ignore any problems as they take garbage like self-reporting on the number of sex partners – which go from the unlikely to the unbelievable and on – as absolute confirmation, to, even worse, attempts at influencing social attitudes and political decisions.

    And they’ll claim that being able to get other evo-psys to publish their bilge as confirming the credibility of their conclusions.

    I’m wondering how the faith in self-reporting of sexual activity, when there is reason to believe that something as straight forward as accurately remembering how many people you’ve slept with is subject to the respondents giving you an inaccurate number, has led to some of the ineffectiveness of dealing with sexually related health and social problems. But I wouldn’t think the answer to that question would be very simple and easy to figure out in reality. You might try to look at how stuff like that was used in making policies to start with. That’s the practical side of it for seeing how it’s used.

    I suspect the widespread use of that kind of survey material is a more interesting question for science. This kind of survey is based in the quicksand of the wildly variable reliability of individual human’s reporting of something like number of sexual partners – unable to discriminate between a spot on-accurate number to some wild exaggeration either high or low, to an outright lie. I’ve never looked into the respective confidence levels that are put on to these kinds of surveys of unverifiable behavior as opposed to something like height that can be measured, but I don’t have any confidence that reliability is anything like that for something that can be easily seen and measured. I think it’s a big mistake to put that much faith in surveys of self-reported behavior, which is too bad because if it was possible to have accurate information on those questions it might be very useful. Though I don’t think even accurate numbers would warrant the wholesale creation of genes and creation myths about how they grew in numbers.

    I certainly don’t expect the talking head on TV to be able to grasp something of that moderate complexity, and nowadays print is following their lead off the cliff.

    But real life is so much more complex than the simplified world of abstraction that’s likely to be used by a superficial columnist to attack affirmative action, equal rights, Title Nine, and to back up the privileges of gender, ethnicity and class.

  80. And my morning news reading has provided a real life example in this week’s political sex scandal.

    A statement on Duvall’s Web site (a site titled “Duvall For Assembly 2010,” amusingly enough) clarifies thusly:

    I want to make it clear that my decision to resign is in no way an admission that I had an affair or affairs. My offense was engaging in inappropriate story-telling and I regret my language and choice of words. The resulting media coverage was proving to be an unneeded distraction to my colleagues and I resigned in the hope that my decision would allow them to return to the business of the state.

    Riiiight. Just telling stories. Would that be like the story of marital fidelity you tell your family? Or is it more like the family values story you tell your constituents? Save it, Duvall: We’ve heard this one before.

    http://blog.buzzflash.com/honors/219

  81. Sorbet

    “One woman copulating with 100 different men over a 100 night period can have a maximum of 1 child.

    One man copulating with 100 different women over a 1oo night period can have a maximum of 100 children.

    Would you please agree with or argue against this point?”

    By the way don’t forget to mop up the excesses of that verbal diarrhea which was totally unrelated to what was being discussed. According to you, one data point (Brown) refutes established data and makes a theory.

  82. Sorbet

    Oh yes, and Joseph Banks’s voyage to Tahiti was in 1769 and and not in 1770 as I had indicated before. In our initial discussion, as you may remember, it was important to get the chronology right to then talk about Banks’s rather complicated relationshio with William Herschel. Dr. Andrew Monmouth who was on the voyage carefully documented the details, including Banks’s intriguing relationships with the natives which he described as “atypical but familiar in a strange way that shewed considerable empathy for foreign cultures”. Adding to your discussion above, it may also interest you that the Queen actually provided Banks with Tahitian clothing after an embarrassing incident in which Banks’ rather regal attire was pilfered. Do you remember this?

  83. Would you please agree with or argue against this point?”

    It’s such a badly drawn cartoon I really didn’t think it was worth going into any farther than I did.

    It begins by being an unrealistic scenario, the actual probability of a man having sex with a hundred women in a hundred nights is almost certainly much lower than one in many thousands, if not millions or more, and I’d be very surprised if there have been a statistically significant number of men who have been such irresponsible jerks unless they were the very rare heterosexual hustlers, and I’d imagine they do like a night off once in a while. I wonder what the effect on the aggregate genetic heritage of the human species such men have, in reality.

    Erasmussimo’s scenario doesn’t include a lot of factors that would, of course, enter into real life, the likelihood of any woman in that hundred being unable to conceive at all, how many would conceive having sex 3.65 times in a year, how many would miscarry if they became pregnant (considering the enhanced chances of venereal or other diseases being spread in that scenario, that becomes of enhanced import in the calculations), what is the possibility that the man started out sterile or became sterile for some reason. I’m not certain but I’d expect that the would be Lothario would have some difficulties with potency and, perhaps, in sperm production on that schedule, though, as with the fertility of the women unfortunate enough to be involved with the creep, that’s probably of unknowable probability. Then you have the almost certain, real life probability that many if not most of the women would get tired of waiting around and have sex with other men, who might be less irresponsible and have an enhanced chance of fathering a child with her. What chance would there be for Slimeball #1, your hero, being the father of a child if the hundred women had sex with a hundred other men in that same period? Or another man even half of those days? Or even twenty five times in those days?

    And, as seen in the article from St. Andrews University, the evidence is that the theoretical basis of the “male promiscuity” dogma is flawed, and as seen in real life evidence, it’s not true. Women are not monogamous, even in the figures often cited, with a mean of 4 male partners in the United States and more than 6 in the unexpectedly randy British scene (men there report more than five more partners than in the U.S. as well). And I’ve read somewhere that the current figures from Britain claim that women are having more sex partners than men these days. Of course, since the mathematics don’t work out in the long run, it’s probably the range of false numbers at play instead of accurate reporting. As you can see, I don’t necessarily think it’s adequate research technique to just believe everything people tell you, or pretend to as in the article from Gina Kolata shows.

    In the messy reality of real life, away from far-fetched Just So stories, I’d say it’s almost certain that even the mean numbers of sex partners are probably far, far closer than you would like and, I’m pretty certain that there isn’t any clear and consistent pattern that would allow your equally theoretical genetic basis that would lead to “male promiscuity” to become predominant. I don’t think it really exists, I think like “ptosis of the organs” it’s a scientific illusion based on unclear thinking. By the way, since those numbers that you guys like so much show that women are also promiscuous, with mean numbers far exceeding the number 1, how come they don’t get to have a genetic basis for that as well?

    I’m looking for any numbers what the actual, known rate of reproduction is for monogamous couples as opposed to swingers. But I’m not looking very hard. I’ve seen some stuff that asserts that men married once actually have more children with their wife than those married more times. Though I’m not especially confident in their methodology either.

    It’s all totally inadequate as science. You can’t rely on your, apparently rapidly superannuating, dogma matter how desperately you want to cling to it like a rhesus monkey to a chicken wire surrogate. It just isn’t of any knowable reliability. But, hey, a few exaggerations about sexual conquests here, a little fudging on the confidence interval there, it’s just “science”.

  84. Sorbet

    - evidence is that the theoretical basis of the “male promiscuity” dogma is flawed, and as seen in real life evidence, it’s not true

    That’s the point; it’s not as Erasmussimo’s statement. Even considering the complications that can result from multiple copulations for men and women, why do you have trouble understanding the fact theoretically men can father multiple children with multiple copulations compared to women. Are you aware that the average gestation period for a human female is 9 months and that she cannot bear children during this period? Also note that because of the complex factors, Erasmussimo used the word ‘maximum’. By the way the word maximum refers to the highest number of occurrences for a particular event. It is the antonym of the word ‘minimum’.

    -Women are not monogamous, even in the figures often cited, with a mean of 4 male partners in the United States and more than 6
    The point which obviously has slid over your remarkably impervious skull is that it does not matter. Women being promiscuous will not gain them any genetic advantage because they cannot reproduce as much as men can through frequent copulation.

    -I’m not certain but I’d expect that the would be Lothario would have some difficulties with potency and, perhaps, in sperm production on that schedule
    I doubt that would happen. Sperm production is quite abundant for men who masturbate several times a day. What’s your experience regarding this?

    -, I’m pretty certain that there isn’t any clear and consistent pattern that would allow your equally theoretical genetic basis that would lead to “male promiscuity” to become predominant
    You have been pretty certain about many things including exobiology and epigenetics about which you have not read a thing. Your certainty regarding male promiscuity results from random googling and referring to one study that is opposed to many others that do demonstrate promiscuity in several species. You are are of course as certain about the lack of male promiscuity as you are certain that you are familiar with all the recent research on exobiology.

    -the evidence is that the theoretical basis of the “male promiscuity” dogma is flawed
    Rational human beings usually think that one data point does not qualify as evidence. You on the other hand would be entirely consistent in assuming this, since you you have proven yourself to not qualify as rational and have barely but not quite proven yourself to not qualify as a human being.

  85. Sorbet

    -By the way, since those numbers that you guys like so much show that women are also promiscuous
    Which numbers? Most numbers seem to point towards male promiscuity in several species, so you will have to fill us up on this. We still have to learn the art of making up non-existent numbers from you.

    -You can’t rely on your, apparently rapidly superannuating, dogma matter how desperately you want to cling to it like a rhesus monkey to a chicken wire surrogate
    The correct analogy would be that of a pus-oozing ringworm clinging to an infected wound, and that would certainly describe your love affair with irrational dogma.

    -But, hey, a few exaggerations about sexual conquests here, a little fudging on the confidence interval there, it’s just “science”
    Are you talking about your own conquests here? To be honest we are not really interested in hearing about your adequacies and inadequacies in the playing field. Constant vomiting induced by stories of your personal adventures would weaken our constitution, so you should spare us that.

  86. Sorbet

    Oh, before I forget…I was wondering whether you would agree or disagree with the following two statements.

    “One woman copulating with 100 different men over a 100 night period can have a maximum of 1 child.
    One man copulating with 100 different women over a 1oo night period can have a maximum of 100 children.
    Would you please agree with or argue against this point?”
    (the other comment that begs you to please not make us barf with details of your personal escapades is in moderation)

  87. Sorbet

    Oh, and by the way, I hope you know that the basic concept of natural selection is now questioned by several people. To be really honest I think any skeptical scholar (and you set a good standard for such a soul) should be really skeptical of Darwinism. As you very rightly say, we should really think more before believing everything that people say. Serious doubts are being raised about natural selection by the same intellectuals like you who have raised doubts about evo psych. For instance take a look at this gentleman. I am sure you will agree with a lot that he says.
    http://www.uvm.edu/~jdavison/davison-manifesto.html

  88. Sorbet

    And Anthony, I would also like you to remember that you have still not replied to comments posted on August 22, July 19th, August 18th and August 4th. I was actually quite surprised by this since I know how you always like to have the last word in comment threads. Just thought I would remind you.

  89. -By the way, since those numbers that you guys like so much show that women are also promiscuous
    Which numbers? Most numbers seem to point towards male promiscuity in several species, so you will have to fill us up on this. We still have to learn the art of making up non-existent numbers from you.

    Notice this from the guy who just a little up thread was touting “actual observation”. If you won’t read up on the literature of the subject it’s not my fault. Not to mention in the quotes and links I used to back up my argument. Did you miss this section of the Kolata article I quote and link to above?

    “I have heard this question before,” said Cheryl D. Fryar, a health statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics and a lead author of the new federal report “Drug Use and Sexual Behaviors Reported by Adults: United States, 1999-2002,” which found that men had a median of seven partners and women four.
    But when it comes to an explanation, she added, “I have no idea.”
    “This is what is reported,” Fryar said. “The reason why they report it I do not know.”

    And as to “actual observation” and the lady killer who has obviously taken your fancy. I’d like to know if you can identify such a man in actual observation (and I’m wondering how many self-reporting men would be foolish enough to make such an exaggeration in most bars in the world). Since the mean result from that self-reporting in the United States is a lifetime of 7 for men that would put your playboy well past outlier status. Though most hearing his tale would probably put him into outright liar status. Maybe he’d become legendary as “Super Drosophila”.

    I dealt with the cartoon by showing that the convenient simplification of dealing with the theoretical one in who knows how many billions of chances he would impregnate a hundred women he had sex with on a hundred nights is just the beginning of folly, the kind that evo-psy regularly makes recourse to. I wonder how many of those billions of chances exceed the entire population of human males during the existence of our species and likely that of the male population of our geologically recent ancestors. Without going through the work of figuring in even those various factors I’ve listed, I’d say almost certainly most of them.

    And a lot of those factors don’t have clear numbers attached to them. For example, the number of women who actually were fertile on their night out of a hundred can’t be known with specificity but it’s far less than a hundred. I’m wondering if it’s even 1. It would have to be a variable of unknown value. Looking up in your favorite wiki complex I find this statement:
    “What are the chances of becoming pregnant when you have intercourse on an ovulation day? While it is true that on average one only has a 25% chance of being pregnant, this means in any given cycle. ”

    So Mr. Lucky, going for this theoretical triple crown of Lounge Lizards, would have to hit some pretty big odds just taking that one variable into consideration. Start multiplying, Sorbet, that is if you’re not entirely disdainful of something as vulgar as math. Don’t simplify too much, the more you simplify the father it takes you from the chances of finding a number that approaches real life.

    I extended the observation that it is even more doubtful that the women he conquered would be uniformly faithful to their long distant lover and would probably have found a more reliable partner who would stand a far higher likelihood of fathering children by her. And I’ve pointed out a number of other hurdles that your hero would have to leap over, if he had the strength after those nights of exertion. You might want to figure in the likelihood of male erectile dysfunction, a number that increases as you get older, and someone who carries on like that is probably a good candidate for dying earlier than average. From natural causes if not gunshot.

    If you think I’ve got time to go chasing after your nonsense in dead threads you are silly. I’ve just been answering these last questions for the amusement of who reads them out of moderation and myself.

  90. — Serious doubts are being raised about natural selection by the same intellectuals like you who have raised doubts about evo psych. Sorbit

    I’d better deal with this veiled charge of being a creationist style nutcase. Unfortunately, it’s a matter that isn’t reducible to two lines so the likes of Sorbet won’t be able to fit it in to their elementary level rearrangement of rote-learned tropes.

    I am pretty confident that there is natural selection, I think that’s the best available description for a number of things that happen in real life. If a habitat cannot support a species, it dies off in that habitat. If it can survive in its surroundings, it has a chance of surviving. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only mechanism of evolution, there is evidence that genetic drift is at least a rival and, some believe, a stronger force in evolution than the various schemes of natural selection which have been put forward. Natural selection deals, mostly, with the conditions that cut off species so it’s fortunate that it’s not the end of the story.

    “Natural selection” is a blanket term that covers a lot of different, actual conditions, events and facts, it’s an intellectual synthesis of them, it’s comprised of them. To an extent what people have tried to slip into serious thinking as “natural selection” has allowed some pretty silly ideas to get in, I think that’s what the adaptation mania we’re living through actually consists of, people can get PhDed and published by inventing junk science which is then used by others to support their evidence free creations.

    The Descent of Man and many of the ideas that Darwin put forth in that awful book contain some of that junk science. One of those was the alleged dysgenic effect of mass vaccination of the population with no actual data to support the idea. I wonder if I should start making veiled accusations that the ultra-Darwinists are anti-vaccinationists. A charge Dan S. tried to get away with implying against me here a while bac, when he has read and commented on my postings condemning the unfounded idea. Or maybe I should attribute any of a number of Know-Nothing style ethnic stereotypes endorsed by the great man in that book, to them. Is that why Sorbet keeps harping on about my Irish name?

    Darwin was hardly right all of the time. That is Darwin as he comes down to us in his writings and in what those closest to him have said about him and his work. Contrary to the make-believe hero of the Darwin industry, or the devil promoted by its opposite in the anti-evolution industry, he was only human.

  91. Sorbet

    -If you won’t read up on the literature of the subject it’s not my fault
    The irony meter sputtered and almost exploded. Good thing it’s made up of high-quality boron nitride.

    -Did you miss this section of the Kolata article I quote and link to above?
    I don’t see the link you any Gina Kolata article. Does it exist only in your mind?

    -This is what is reported,” Fryar said. “The reason why they report it I do not know.
    Does Fryar have any evidence that what is reported is incorrect? No. Fryar also does not seem to realize that male promiscuity is a well-documented phenomenon, so I am not sure why she is groping in the dark so much for an explanation.

    -Since the mean result from that self-reporting in the United States is a lifetime of 7 for men that would put your playboy well past outlier status
    That’s precisely the point. The 7 for men is less than the 4 for women as you yourself indicated. And of course I know more men who are promiscuous than women. But you think I am going to reveal their names to you?

    -I dealt with the cartoon by showing that the convenient simplification of dealing with the theoretical one in who knows how many billions of chances he would impregnate a hundred women he had sex with on a hundred nights is just the beginning of folly, the kind that evo-psy regularly makes recourse to
    Sorry, but this is a good specimen of more of the confused gobbledygook that you have become famous for and you need to explain it in a way that actually makes it coherent. The theoretical number is what matters here since that is what produces the inclination which then gets passed on by natural selection, an inclination that has been documented in scores of studies in countless species which of course you would be unaware of. Denying the theoretical fact would mean that you are denying that water is made out of two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms. How many other basic laws of nature do you want to deny? You might just come out of the closet regarding that.

  92. -So Mr. Lucky, going for this theoretical triple crown of Lounge Lizards, would have to hit some pretty big odds just taking that one variable into consideration
    Haha! I always like it when you answer your own question McCarthy! The fact that it’s hard to tell when women are fertile is precisely the reason why men are promiscuous since they would have to try more frequently. Lacking some basic arithmetic here are we?

    -Start multiplying, Sorbet, that is if you’re not entirely disdainful of something as vulgar as math. Don’t simplify too much
    Unlike you, who started with a laughable simplification that bears no relation to reality?

    -And I’ve pointed out a number of other hurdles that your hero would have to leap over, if he had the strength after those nights of exertion
    That’s why we used the word ‘theoretical’. The actual hurdles don’t impede the theoretical maximum. The inclination depends on the theoretical maximum. For instance predator-prey relationships have evolved in many species even if in actual life the constraints for their successful manifestation may not be satisfied. Maybe you should read a book on evolution?

    -If you think I’ve got time to go chasing after your nonsense in dead threads you are silly. I’ve just been answering these last questions for the amusement of who reads them out of moderation and myself.
    The verbal diarrhea which you are demonstrated on this blog clearly suggests otherwise. And as for the nonsense, I think we have all heard about the story of the fox and the sour grapes…

  93. Oh, and McCarthy, if you really and actually wanted to learn you would read up the chapters on sexual selection and male promiscuity in any number of good books, including the chapter in Coyne’s book. But of course you would refuse to do this since Coyne is the Big Bad Atheist.

  94. Sorbet

    Two comments in moderation.

  95. Thinking about this while I did the breakfast dishes just now. Maybe the classsical “male promiscuity” dogma is too generalized. If the relatively modest levels of reported female promiscuity fail to impress the evo-psy mind, why should those levels of male promiscuity be considered the same phenomenon as their super-alpha-stallion fantasies?

    Is having sex with 100 women the same kind of phenomenon as someone who has sex with two? The scenarios in real life and the results would likely be radically different. Why isn’t there a “genetic trait” for two-fers and another complex of genes that “explains” the real Don Juan types? Do these heroes of the perpetually 13-year-old male mind really have anything in common with the relatively drab little man who has a single affair? Just think of the possibilities for inventing new vistas of behavioral adaptation in the Pleistocene to explain that. Why, it could lead to even more PhD EPs and so perpetuate that species well past its sell by date.

    I should do this more often, it’s fun.

    And I see the Bot has generated what will have to be called a response, though given an out-put is probably more accurate.

    I’ll read Coyne’s book when I don’t add to the bigot’s income by reading it. My library hasn’t bought a copy yet.

    You think I’m afraid of reading atheists when I’ve made reference to Gould, Lewontin, and a host of other atheists?

    — The verbal diarrhea which you are demonstrated on this blog Sorbet

    Yep, just more confirmation that anything that can’t fit into two lines is too much for the new atheist mind. Is it any wonder that there are so many of them in the so-called sciences?

  96. I should add that I’ve read parts of it in the bookstore. I’ve already said that Coyne was a better writer than Dawkins.

  97. Sorbet

    -Thinking about this while I did the breakfast dishes just now
    Save the details of your personal life for Twitter and your friends. Nobody here is interested in hearing those.
    -reported female promiscuity
    Who reported this? Has it been observed in other species. No.
    -Do these heroes of the perpetually 13-year-old male mind really have anything in common with the relatively drab little man who has a single affair? Just think of the possibilities for inventing new vistas of behavioral adaptation in the Pleistocene to explain that. Why, it could lead to even more PhD EPs and so perpetuate that species well past its sell by date.
    Seems you descended again into machine language gobbledygook
    -And I see the Bot has generated what will have to be called a response, though given an out-put is probably more accurate
    You seem to be improving and actually recognizing grammatically coherent responses. Now would be a good idea to apply this sentence structure to your ravings.
    -I’ll read Coyne’s book when I don’t add to the bigot’s income by reading it. My library hasn’t bought a copy yet.
    The hypocrisy is indeed admirable. Not the first time it has been demonstrated of course.
    -You think I’m afraid of reading atheists when I’ve made reference to Gould, Lewontin, and a host of other atheists?
    You could make references to Pol Pot and still not be afraid of him. Your logic is self-defeating.
    -Yep, just more confirmation that anything that can’t fit into two lines is too much for the new atheist mind.
    I agree! The New Atheists do have a word time understanding 100 line garbled nothings. Most people actually would. Have you gotten checked for Tourette’s syndrome? (comments seem to be out of moderation)

  98. Sorbet

    -still not be afraid of him. That should be “still be afraid of him”
    -Yep, just more confirmation that anything that can’t fit into two lines is too much for the new atheist mind.
    I agree! The New Atheists do have a hard time understanding 100 line garbled nothings. Most people actually would. Have you gotten checked for Tourette’s syndrome? (comments seem to be out of moderation)

  99. Sorbet

    -Why, it could lead to even more PhD EPs and so perpetuate that species well past its sell by date.
    Well, at least we know the McCarthy species and its lack of logic are not going to perpetuate. You should research that too.

  100. Sorbet

    Comment in moderation

  101. – Comment in moderation Sorbot

    Naw, I’m bored with this. You can answer it yourself.

  102. Sorbet

    I already know what the answer is. Ok, so at least you now know what boring means…

  103. —- I don’t see the link you any Gina Kolata article. Does it exist only in your mind?

    First Erasmussimo recommending I read something I quote and link to in an answer to him, now this from you. Try comment # 38.

    —- Does Fryar have any evidence that what is reported is incorrect? No. Fryar also does not seem to realize that male promiscuity is a well-documented phenomenon, so I am not sure why she is groping in the dark so much for an explanation.

    I’d imagine only the logical impossibility of the numbers being realized in the general population, since she says she can’t tell you why the reports are so obviously not credible.

    She’s only a “health statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics and a lead author of the new federal report “Drug Use and Sexual Behaviors Reported by Adults: United States, 1999-2002″. Why don’t you do some of your boy reporter stuff and quiz her about it. That is unless you can resist the temptation lecturing her about how your simplistic adaptationist dogma can surpass mathematics. Maybe you should go ask Dr. Gale about it too. Or do people have to have won a Nobel before you consider them worth interviewing.

    —- The theoretical number is what matters here since that is what produces the inclination which then gets passed on by natural selection, an inclination that has been documented in scores of studies in countless species which of course you would be unaware of. Denying the theoretical fact would mean that you are denying that water is made out of two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms. Sorbet

    This one I’m going to have to frame as among the silliest things a new atheist, evo-psy addled sci-ranger has ever said in my notice. Oxygen and hydrogen atoms in molecular combination as analogues for human heterosexual pairing. I can’t begin to tell you what’s wrong with that. You do realize that about 90% of the atoms in the universe are hydrogen, don’t you? I don’t know what the exact estimate for oxygen is but it’s definitely less the a percent, considering how much of the rest of the atoms are helium. Are the Nobel gasses the coyest of the females in the periodic table? Is carbon the super stud of elements? Oh, wait. How do you sex elements? You’d have to know that in order to know if your brilliant analogy confirms or refutes “male promiscuity”. For all you know, oxygen might be the female.

  104. Sorbet

    -’d imagine only the logical impossibility of the numbers being realized in the general population, since she says she can’t tell you why the reports are so obviously not credible.
    I read the article and I am familiar with Graham’s work. The logical impossibility is totally accurate but has nothing to do with the inclination. I am not going to repeat the point since even kindergarten simplification is not going to explain it to you.
    -That is unless you can resist the temptation lecturing her about how your simplistic adaptationist dogma can surpass mathematics
    Again, it’s not a question of mathematics. The mathematical argument is completely different from the propensity to copulate. Does your muddled brain get this?
    -This one I’m going to have to frame as among the silliest things a new atheist, evo-psy addled sci-ranger has ever said in my notice
    That’s right; connect a mathematical discussion with neo-atheism and evo psych when it has nothing to do with these topics. Quite typical of what a far-left anti-intellectual scientifically challenged piano teacher would attempt. You obviously did not understand the analogy of Erasmussimo’s two statements being as rock-solid as the mathematical argument itself. That was what the chemistry analogy was. And as usual your word-generator has gone off on tangents. I love this! I poke a tiny finger down your throat and you respond with unmitigated verbal diarrhea!

  105. Sorbet

    Comment is in moderation

  106. Sorbet

    Ah, actually, now after thinking about it, I see the flaw in that mathematical argument! The confusion seems to be between *median* and *mean*. If you look at means, then of course males are as promiscuous as females. But the data refers to the *median* and considering the median then, male promiscuity would be validated.

    For instance consider 5 men and 5 women plus one extra woman. All five men have sex with the 5 women and also with the extra woman. Now in the end, if you consider the *mean* number of sexual partners they would be the same averaged over all men and women. But it’s pretty clear that in this case, 5 of the women have had 1 partner, the 6th woman has had 5 partners, but *all* 5 men have had 2 partners which is twice more than the 5 women. So the men here in general have been more promiscuous than women in terms of numbers (although one woman has been much more promiscuous in terms of magnitude)

    McCarthy, that should resolve your wonderful mathematical conundrum. Thank you.

  107. First Sorbet demands “actual observation” then he relies on abstractions. Though since he began with abstractions the retreat into real life might be seen as a temporary aberration.

    You don’t think I knew the difference among those various kinds of statistical numbers when my citation depended on them? Just how much do I have to spell out in these things? I did think that was something I could expect that such a sciencey guy would have realized from the beginning. Though if you’re just catching up……

    These are blog comments, not a freshman paper.

    Neither median nor mean is a description of the entire population, nor is the average. And when you’re depending on self-reporting to generate any of the numbers, the whole thing is completely unreliable anyway.

    Anyone who might read this might want to consider that from the start I was emphasizing that the situation was entirely too complex to use the simple abstractions derived from fruit fly research to come to some dispositive statement about human behavior in general, never mind pretending you could use your assertions to identify genes. There are men who have offspring with many women, there are also women who have offspring with many men. The actual numbers children thus produced by either gender are not known. In any generation the number of one or the other might exceed the other in the population. Nor is the number of children produced by a strictly monogamous couple. It’s possible that in the human line those vastly outnumber those produced by the promiscuous. I wonder what the predominance of any “swinger genes” would suffer under the institution of monogamy in a culture, the suppression of promiscuity. You can’t just assume those things wouldn’t have an effect, you’d have to think it out and actually find out what the results of “actual observation” could tell you. You have any idea if that’s ever been done? Thus the request that Erasmussimo produce any research that might point at least somewhere on that question.

    You will also notice that I quoted Dr. Gillian Brown as saying that the simple scenario which the “male promiscuity” dogma is based on is unable to explain what happens in real life. The pretense is that the essential, and I’d guess nearly impossible, work of verification of the dogma has already been done when it hasn’t.

    I’m wondering why someone would expect that a species which typically produces single births with a relatively long time scale between births would have anything to do with a species which produces many offspring by an entirely different mechanism. I am also wondering how much was known about the prevalence of females of many species mating with more than one male during a reproductive cycle back in the 1940s. I don’t know, do female fruit flies in the wild mate with a single or multiple males? How uniform is any particular scenario even in other animals? But I don’t have the time to chase down that kind of thing. I do, strongly, suspect that patriarchal presumptions might play a big part in the development of the idea of “male promiscuity”, but I’d have to look into that too before suggesting it as a possibility.

    The Just So stories of evo-psy depend on unrealistic, over-simplified dogmas. They swallow them unquestioningly, even as they might try to overturn others, depending on their specific utility to the story line.

    You giving up on your molecular proof? I was hoping to ask if valence was your analogue to genitals.

  108. Oh, and, I forgot I thought of another complication based on a family I used to know, a very strict and religious Catholic and another I only have heard about.

    How about a man who had twenty-one children with two wives, marrying the second after the first had died. How about if he was faithful to both of them, supported and reared them all to adulthood and had a myriad grandchildren etc. ? What if that guy had the “monogamy gene”? Wouldn’t he be an example of greater “reproductive success”l than a man who had four children with four different women, at least one of whom died young? How many swingers are verified as having fathered five children as opposed to men who have had more children with one wife?

    I also wonder, if a man has two wives at the same time and is faithful to them, is he promiscuous? Maybe a man who has sex with only one woman is a suppressed example of “male promiscuity”. People can suppress their urges, afterall. Even Dawkins has scandalized some of his fans by endorsing that idea. How do you distinguish between a man who has very frequent sex with one partner as opposed to someone who has less frequent sex with more than one partner? How about a man who would like to be married but who is repulsive after you get to know him? Which one is promiscuous one?

    Maybe any man who has more than one child should be counted as your “promiscuous male”. Or maybe the concept of “male promiscuity” isn’t really of any real or at least knowable possible influence in human society.

    But, wait, if that’s how you’re going to look at men, maybe women who have children with only one man have successfully suppressed the siren call of the yet to be published “female promiscuity” gene complex that produces the mean of 4 – 6.7 male partners per woman in those surveys.

    I did say that this was fun.

  109. Sorbet

    -Neither median nor mean is a description of the entire population, nor is the average

    You are quite correct. The right parameter in this case would be see the average number of sexual partners for each data point in the top 10% or so. That would pretty clearly point to male promiscuity. If you can’t see this you obviously don’t understand simple arithmetic.

  110. Sorbet

    Also, hasn’t the thought crossed your mind that the number of men and women on the planet might be unequal. Also, do you realise that men visit female prostitutes much more than females visit male prostitutes? This is the scenario stated above is quite real. If you understand simple arithmetic you would understand.

  111. Sorbet

    -I did say that this was fun
    Yes, most woo-flingers do have fun when peddling their stools.
    -How about if he was faithful to both of them, supported and reared them all to adulthood and had a myriad grandchildren etc. ?
    Umm…he is still promiscuous compared to both of them. This is actually pretty simple to understand. he had 2 partners while each of them had 1.
    -I did think that was something I could expect that such a sciencey guy would have realized from the beginning
    As opposed to the steaming piles of pseudoscientific “data” that you gather?

  112. Sorbet

    -Anyone who might read this might want to consider that from the start I was emphasizing that the situation was entirely too complex to use the simple abstractions derived from fruit fly research to come to some dispositive statement about human behavior in general
    You set up the fruit fly straw man and then had a grand time knocking it down. So…*shrug*.
    -There are men who have offspring with many women, there are also women who have offspring with many men
    Yes but the ability of women to have offspring with many men is fundamentally limited by their biology. Or is the woo-flinger forgetting that the gestation period in humans is 9 months?

  113. Sorbet

    -Neither median nor mean is a description of the entire population, nor is the average
    Mean is usually what is referred to when we cite the average. Or has the woo-flinger forgotten convention
    -You will also notice that I quoted Dr. Gillian Brown as saying that the simple scenario which the “male promiscuity” dogma is based on is unable to explain what happens in real life
    So now you think one data point makes a theory? Would this be consistent in keeping with the woo generation so far? I think so!
    -You giving up on your molecular proof? I was hoping to ask if valence was your analogue to genitals
    Don’t know about that but quit getting fixated on genitals for a moment. Woo is the analog to your thinking processes for sure. Maybe the woo-flinging poo should look up “analogy” in a dictionary.

  114. Sorbet

    In the end it seems that the one thing you are really bad at is mathematics? That’s why you find it impossible to answer arguments that might have a quantitative flavor to them. I can no longer believe you majored in mathematics. Seems more likely you got your degree from liberty university. See the 6000 year old dinosaur bones there woo-generating machine?
    -I also wonder, if a man has two wives at the same time and is faithful to them, is he promiscuous?
    By the definition of promiscuity accepted by normal people (not woo-flingers), it is.
    -These are blog comments, not a freshman paper
    Oh yes, and McCarthy’s woo-laden spew has so eminently proven the level of discourse of blog comments around here!

  115. Sorbet

    -Maybe any man who has more than one child should be counted as your “promiscuous male”.
    That could be your woo-laden definition. The accepted definition of promiscuity is related to an inclination to have multiple sexual partners.

    Go ahead WooCarthy, answer these comments. I so know how you like to have the last word in a comments section. Although as noted above, you have also not conveniently had the last word on comment threads on August 22, July 19th, August 18th and August 4th.
    -maybe women who have children with only one man have successfully suppressed the siren call of the yet to be published “female promiscuity” gene complex
    That’s the point which we have been trying to make for the past thousand comments. Women don’t have the promiscuity “gene” because there’s no advantage for natural selection to choose it. Unfortunately this point is having a hard time penetrating the dense wall of woo.

  116. Sorbet

    Oh by the way, do you know arithmetic? I was just wondering because I didn’t see an answer to the simply reply to the mathematical argument above. Sorry, maybe it’s somewhere there between the steaming piles of woo and I just missed it. I profusely apologize then!

  117. Sorbet

    Forget about mean, median etc. Consider 5 men and 5 women plus one extra woman. All five men have sex with the 5 women and also with the extra woman. Now in the end, if you consider the *mean* number of sexual partners they would be the same averaged over all men and women. But it’s pretty clear that in this case, 5 of the women have had 1 partner, the 6th woman has had 5 partners, but *all* 5 men have had 2 partners which is twice more than the 5 women. So the men here in general have been more promiscuous than women in terms of numbers (although one woman has been much more promiscuous in terms of magnitude). How do you answer this my man?

  118. Anthony McCarthy

    OK, folks, should I surrender in the face of the display of ninja logic in comments 109-117 by Mr. Science?

    You know, Sorbet, you could save yourself a lot of angst by learning something about what science is and what science isn’t.

  119. Anthony McCarthy

    Oh, by the way, you should read up on the definition of datum and data.

  120. Anthony McCarthy

    Look what I found:

    Female fruit flies mate with multiple males, storing the sperm in three specialized storage organs (the long, tubular seminal receptacle and two mushroom-shaped spermatheace) and using it as needed to fertilize eggs. However, the odds of becoming a father are not equal for all the males: the last fruit fly to mate with the female tends to sire the most offspring.

    http://chronicle.uchicago.edu/990812/flies.shtml

    Is there a “last male in the line promiscuity” gene complex?

  121. Anthony McCarthy

    And, uh, Sorbet, note who co-authored before you discount it.

  122. Sorbet

    -You know, Sorbet, you could save yourself a lot of angst by learning something about what science is and what science isn’t.
    Hahahahahahaha! Laugh of the day. Coming from a scientifically-challenged ignoramus who has left a visible trail of his ignorance on every scientific topic he has ranted about, this is hilarious! Go on McCoors, this is great entertainment.
    -OK, folks, should I surrender in the face of the display of ninja logic in comments 109-117 by Mr. Science?
    Or, folks, should I keep obfuscating the argument by dancing around issues, not answering simple questions and parading my ignorance? What is that you say, folks? You think I should do the latter?? Then I am safe ground…I am already an expert in doing this!

  123. Sorbet

    -Is there a “last male in the line promiscuity” gene complex?
    More humungous bales of straw! McCarthy seems to now take a tack opposite to the previous one and argues that fruit fly behavior can be directly extended to humans. And save me research you find novel. I know about such studies. Other species have even been known to inject a libido-killer that keeps other males from having sex. Yet others species have spiky receptacles that push sperm out. You can read about them in Carl Zimmer’s excellent book on evolution (who, wonder of wonders, is not a New Atheist!!)

  124. I’m done, I can be botted but I can’t be bored.

  125. Sorbet

    I agree; you cannot be bored, only boring.

  126. Sorb. You might want to look at the end of comment #89, where I said what I’ve been doing in the last part of this argument. Once gigolos came into it, I figured anything goes.

  127. Sorbet

    You have amply demonstrated the “anything goes” symptom many times before. So you would know.

  128. Anthony McCarthy

    You’ll notice who used citations of credible researchers in this argument and who didn’t come up with the citations for things like the relative pay scale of prostitutes and gigolos, and who noticed that the two occupations differed as a manifestation of that tiny little issue of a presumption of monogamy as opposed to inherent promiscuity (in the terms of my opponent, specifically promiscuity in females). Not to mention questions raised about color vision in primates and the asserted proof of the motive for the institution of weddings. While I actually have some respect for Erasmussimo, he was the one who failed to cite where his assertions were coming from. All I got were assertions that amounted to “everyone knows that”.

    After gigolos entered into it, I figured that throwing in everything that fit, though others could have been raised as well. It’s not my fault that people in the behavioral sciences are constantly fudging and over simplifying when they want to make grandiose claims about complex phenomena, when they’re not inventing those too.

  129. Sorbet

    McCarthy, you will find the requisite data in
    A Consumer’s Guide to Male Hustlers (Joseph Itiel, 1998)

    Here is the relevant data on pg. 124 among others:
    “As a group, studies have shown that male gigolos earn significantly less than their female counterparts. Weilstein (1993) for instance compared mean and median incomes for the two groups based on extensive data from surveys, law enforcement agencies and NGOs in seven European countries and found that, even adjusted for numbers, male gigolos earn 5.2 times less than their female counterparts”

    For more details I will refer you to the actual references. Don’t waste my time in asking me spell out everyting that you would not bother to look up.

  130. Sorbet

    Of course you, staying true to your essential nature, will immediately proclaim the data insufficient without even looking at it (you will probably raise some idiotic objection to the location of the study etc. but won’t actually look up anything). That’s a common thread among the creationist-like pseudoscientists for whom no amount of data is enough (consider the ludicrous “God of the gaps” argument).

  131. Sorbet

    -It’s not my fault that people in the behavioral sciences are constantly fudging and over simplifying when they want to make grandiose claims about complex phenomena, when they’re not inventing those too

    Of course, based on your extensive research and multiple scholarly peer-reviewed articles, Your Highness, one must conclude that you know much more than all others in the behavioral sciences and that all of them must be completely wrong. Especially since you (that esteemed individual who has descended from the Gods) have so admirably answered the simple mathematical argument above with impeccable woo-thought.

    Perhaps, if Your Highness deems it appropriate, he would like to issue a fiat that forbids the utterance of the word “science” in the same breath as “behavior”. Transgressors could be hanged, drawn and quartered naturally.

    LOL!

  132. Sorbet

    Of course you, staying true to your essential nature, will immediately proclaim the data insufficient without even looking at it (you will probably raise some inane objection to the location of the study etc. but won’t actually look up anything). That’s a common thread among the Discovery Institute pseudoscientists for whom no amount of data is enough (consider the ludicrous “God of the gaps” argument).

  133. Anthony McCarthy

    A Consumers Guide to Male Hustlers, was it peer reviewed?

  134. Sorbet

    Yes that’s right. More pointless meandering please. Bring it on…bring it on please! Oh I love obfuscation so much!

  135. — compared mean and median incomes for the two groups based on extensive data from surveys, law enforcement agencies and NGOs in seven European countries and found that, even adjusted for numbers, male gigolos earn 5.2 times less than their female counterparts
    Sorbet

    Sounds like a good candidate for winning the quintessence of junk science award. They should have a category in the Ignobel Awards for this kind of thing. What fun.

    For the love of Mike. You’re taking a whole bunch of different behaviors and making believe they’re the same thing when they have little to noting in common except vague terminology. If you can’t see the trouble with that you don’t know, literally, the first thing about science. Or math. Or logic. We’ve been through that before. Things that are not equal to each other are not equal, pretending they are leads you away from reality, not towards it.

    There is no such thing as a standard model gigolo, I doubt even the EU has come up with standards for one. The same goes for being a mistress, the real female counterpart to being a gigolo. There isn’t even a scientific definition of a prostitute, of either gender, engaged in an entirely different kind of behavior. There isn’t even a standard, legal, definition of the crime of prostitution, varying with jurisdiction.

    First, the “profession” of being a gigolo (or a mistress) is largely a matter of opinion, not fact. As I pointed out above, I’ll bet that many people who even both of us could agree was a “gigolo (and I am going out on a long limb in assuming you know what the definition of one is) would utterly reject the term. I have absolutely no doubt that some pudding headed researcher might have made the attempt to gather statistics and pass them off the the gullible as being valid if not definitive. That is, I have no doubt about the social and behavioral sciences to swallow that kind of garbage. That doesn’t mean it is real.

    And prostitution isn’t the same kind of behavior, not even generally. Prostitutes have multiple clients, many of them one timers, some return business. Many whose name they don’t even know. They or their boss often set their fees for service, I doubt most gigolos do, I’m sure many of them would think it was beneath them to do so, and I’m absolutely sure most of their lovers would. Gigolos tend to have fewer people with whom they’re having sex, I’d think that number would generally be one, officially. They might cheat on their benefactor but I would tend to doubt they’d usually get paid for that.

    — Any man involved in a large range of relationships might get called, at one time or another, by one person or another, could be called a “gigolo”. The term is not scientific, it’s not even behavior-“scientific”.. It’s a term which can’t be assigned definitively in the same way that the occurrence of a genetic defect can be. I suspect that men who don’t have sex with wealthy women, living off of them would generally be identified as a gigolo, in fact, the dictionary definition is capacious enough to include male taxi dancers in the definition. You going to include them in your Just So stories of genetically induced “male promiscuity”?

    — The attempt to come up with something purporting to be a representative sample of the general population of gigolos is absurd in itself. The idea that the response you get could tell you anything about the amount of money the imaginary “typical gigolo” is ridiculous. How would you decide what was pay for sex and what was a “gift” for some other reason? Like affection? You would have to have a record of a specific transaction to have anything like assurance that it was pay for sex, even a “preponderance of the evidence” wouldn’t do it.

    — You think that most self-respecting gigolos would apply that term to themselves? I’m certain that many wouldn’t risk it for professional reasons. I doubt that many women would welcome the idea that their lovers were a gigolo who were only interested in their money.

    —- As I pointed out, the classic gigolo who was having sex with a, generally , older wealthy woman is probably either in or representing themselves as being in an exclusive relationship with her. First, if that’s the case then it isn’t a case of promiscuity, it’s a case of fidelity. Second, how are you going to winnow out the gigolos with some kind of ethical integrity from the promiscuous ones? Third, I’d be really careful about asking one in the first place because a lot of gigolos are in good shape and they might punch you in your ignorant mush. No, on second thought, do, do go up to the next young, virile man you see on the arm of an older, wealthy woman and ask him about his gigolo gig. Please, ask him in her hearing so you can get both of their input. With any luck, she’ll be able to take you too.

    — Depending on police records is just weird. As despised as a man who lives off of a woman might traditionally be, I’m not aware of its ever having been a crime. That alone would almost certainly limit the profitability of it.

    Pointless meanderings. No. Refusal to let self-interested over simplifications of the type you guys practice rule the discussion. You want to take up complex phenomena, reducing it into a cartoon so you can make your “work” easier for yourself, don’t expect that anyone but the gullible will believe it’s legitimate science. I’ve said before, reification and conflation are the original sins of the behavioral sciences and we can see how bad it really gets in this discussion. I hope someone in the real sciences is watching this. Something should really be done about it. In the form of evo-psy, the infection is spreading rapidly.

  136. I think someone should study if majoring in behavior sci makes you lose brain function.

  137. Sorbet

    No, only majoring in McCarthy’s brand of woo does that to you (other equivalent majors would include astrology, intelligent design, homeopathy and faith healing). Unfortunately we have only data point, and it’s unlikely we will ever see another extreme specimen like this.

  138. Sorbet, if you want to establish your credibility making false attributions isn’t the way to go. I might have to defend myself in other venues.

  139. Sorbet

    -There is no such thing as a standard model gigolo, I doubt even the EU has come up with standards for one. The same goes for being a mistress, the real female counterpart to being a gigolo. There isn’t even a scientific definition of a prostitute, of either gender, engaged in an entirely different kind of behavior.
    So what? *Shrugs*, we are talking about average values here. There is also no standard model of a prostitute. Yet the habits and earning patterns of prostitutes have been extensively studies. Of course your anti-intellectual gray matter (if there is any) won’t accept such studied because, of course, Your Highness (bows gracefully), you are the acknowledged expert on all of science.

  140. Sorbet

    The fact that you criticize the study without even looking it up would be perfectly consistent in keeping with your demented brand of woo. Seems you are gradually losing the ability to get off the couch.
    -Sounds like a good candidate for winning the quintessence of junk science award. They should have a category in the Ignobel Awards for this kind of thing. What fun.
    Yes, but of course, your work would be too lowly even to merit an IgNobel. About the only award you can get is the “Biggest Stinking Piles of Woo”. And of course you would win this every single year. No contest McWooCarthy!

  141. Sorbet

    -There is no such thing as a standard model gigolo
    However there does seem to be a standard model moron. His name is McWooCarthy and his presence here is all-pervasive!
    -If you can’t see the trouble with that you don’t know, literally, the first thing about science. Or math. Or logic
    Sorry, o peer-reviewed-heavily-published-woo-flinging Maestro! You rein supreme when it comes to matters of science, logic, or stinking heaps of woodom!
    -There isn’t even a scientific definition of a prostitute, of either gender, engaged in an entirely different kind of behavior
    Just as there isn’t a standard definition of a human brain, since all brains are different. In fact the terms “brain” and “liver” are often used interchangeably in medical textbooks. Ever look one up Woothony?

  142. Sorbet

    -There isn’t even a scientific definition of a prostitute, of either gender, engaged in an entirely different kind of behavior
    Hmm… most people recognize a prostitute when they meet one. Maybe a trip to Amsterdam should be in the works for you!
    -And prostitution isn’t the same kind of behavior, not even generally…and proceeding woo.
    LOL! So now you deny there is no standard prostitute and then proceed to give a definition of such an entity. Surely your knowledge of woo-induced scholarship is unsurpassed!
    -Any man involved in a large range of relationships might get called, at one time or another, by one person or another, could be called a “gigolo”.
    That may be your woo-infused definition but in the study it simply referred to male prostitutes. Of course the study must be wrong since the Great WooCarthy says so!

  143. Sorbet

    -Depending on police records is just weird
    Funny, because depending on WooCarthy also seems to be weird. The police records are gained from cases of violence against male or female prostitutes. Wonder where the WooWisdom comes from. Again, the authors must be wrong since The Great McWoo says so!
    -I hope someone in the real sciences is watching this. Something should really be done about it. In the form of evo-psy, the infection is spreading rapidly
    But not as rapidly as the pronouncements of WooCarthy! The evo-psychs need to catch up.
    -Refusal to let self-interested over simplifications of the type you guys practice rule the discussion
    LOL! McWoo is not ruled by self-interest, only by a generous sense of imparting great wisdom to the great unwashed. And guess what?! He can do this without looking up a single reference! Like Joseph Smith the great God of Woo simply….SPEAKS to his disciple! Please, sire, please, teach me this uncanny art of divining wisdom through mindless armchair speculation!

  144. Sorbet

    What a man WooCarthy is! I suggest a reference to him and he can close his eyes, read it without ever going to the library, and then, based on divine knowledge alone, can bring up such killer criticism about it that nobody in the whole world could possibly find a single flaw with this magnificent edifice of wisdom!! We are truly speechless. One such as the great WooMc has surely not walked the earth for millennia! How honored mankind is.

  145. Sorbet

    -I might have to defend myself in other venues.
    Oh yes! Let me name a few….epigenetics, history of science, exobiology and basically everything else that faintly smells of “science”.

  146. For any normal person who might just be reading this, I’ve corrected Sorbet, gillt and other of the trolls on this blog. I’ve said from the beginning that epigenetics is not only real and useful science but that I was fascinated by for a number of reasons. Sorbet and gillt are not only lying about what I’ve said about it, they’ve been corrected so they’re knowing liars.

    What I said about exobiology was more complex, pointing out that verification of the science done under that umbrella purporting to reveal anything about “other life” was under the distinct distinct disadvantage of having their evidence beyond reach by matters of light years. But as seen in this discussion, that point is far more subtle than that a statistically significant percentage of gigolos likely don’t generally like to be called gigolos. So, of course, it sails past the Sorbet-gillt level of focus.

  147. Sorbet, you ever consider looking for a 12 step? Get help.

  148. Sorbet

    -For any normal person who might just be reading this, I’ve corrected Sorbet, gillt and other of the trolls on this blog
    In this case “corrected” means “vehemently opposed without knowledge or evidence”
    -What I said about exobiology was more complex
    Again, “said” means “yapped on without being aware of any current work”
    -statistically significant percentage of gigolos likely don’t generally like to be called gigolos
    Sez McCarthy’s countless gigolo friends. LOL!
    -So, of course, it sails past the Sorbet-gillt level of focus
    As opposed to the killer focus McCoors has brought to his erudite research
    -Sorbet, you ever consider looking for a 12 step? Get help
    Are you referring to the 24 step you are in dire need of? Let me know how that works for you

  149. Sorbet

    -trolls
    Crack me up for sure!!

  150. Sorbet, you’re so cracked already anything I could do would be supererogatory.

    countless gigolo friends

    Folks you’ll notice who is trying to define the species and who is saying it doesn’t really exist, I’m sure.

  151. Sorbet

    -Folks you’ll notice who is trying to define the species and who is saying it doesn’t really exist
    Another thing that does not exist is your knowledge of things. By the way there’s nobody here to hear or believe you anymore. Dan S, Wowbagger, gillt, me, Feynmaniac and others have amply demonstrated your mendacity and anti-intellectualism. However I cannot recall the last time anyone defended your arguments. Just saying… (of course you will interpret this to mean that all of us have joined hands and are part of the Big Bad Atheist Conspiracy! And of course you are the maverick lone underdog who’s got to be right!)

  152. Anthony McCarthy

    Dan S, Wowbagger, gillt, me, Feynmaniac

    There was a time I’d have thought my old adversary Dan S. didn’t belong in that set but if he wants to disassociate himself from them, it’s up to him.

    If you think I’m at all troubled by being at odds with people as habitually dishonest as you guys, let me assure you, I take it as evidence I must be doing something right.

  153. Sorbet

    You won’t be troubled because you have no shame. You can keep living in your woo-dreamworld convinced that you are right. Of course you still haven’t answered Dan S’s questions in the August 19 thread.

  154. If I didn’t answer one of Dan’s questions it’s probably because like so many of the others it wasn’t asked in good faith.

    If you think I’m going to waste time answering questions on a dead thread you are silly.

  155. Sorbet

    -If you think I’m going to waste time answering questions on a dead thread you are silly
    A little something called evidence indicates otherwise my esteemed friend. You are always scurrying around trying to get in the last word. And Dan’s question was pretty detailed and exhaustive.

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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.

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