What Science Says About Human Sexuality

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Are We Really Monogamous?

Most of what I've written so far about human sexuality has been rather erudite, and certainly doesn't answer many questions of what makes us go on dates and cheat on our spouse, or why we want so badly to get married when we're twenty-five. I promise things will be looking up very soon. In this very essay, we'll even talk about orgasms and the size of men's testicles. There's still a bit of science we need to deal with, but we're done with all the biology terminology. From here on out, it's all about when we have sex, why we have sex, and with whom.

I'm going to tackle human sexuality from both sides, male and female. This may seem the obvious choice, but just to be sure, let's remember that sex is competition. Males and females have their own interests, evolutionarily speaking, and we have hopefully dispelled the myth that human intelligence puts us above other animals. Like chimps and dolphins and killer whales, we are very intelligent social animals, and examining our behavior is the same as examining that of any other creature. If we see a pattern of behavior, there is a reason for it. Anything that exists is a product of evolution, including our intelligence and our incredibly complex society. If we look well into our past, we will understand the mechanisms behind our behaviors. If we are lucky, we will be able to take the lesson of sugar consumption to heart, and we will be able to make some educated statements about what we should do if we want to achieve a particular result. (If you didn't read about sugar, you must go back now and read What Does Sugar Have To Do With Murder?!)

So, on to the question of monogamy. Before answering decisively, I must make a distinction about the word itself. There are two very different ways of asking the question – that of a social scientist and that of a sociobiologist. An anthropologist who speaks of monogamy is talking about marriage, or whatever cultural equivalent there might be. A species is monogamous if males and females have one official partner. This does not take adultery into account, nor does it account for serial monogamy, which is the practice of having one partner for a relatively short period, and then moving on to another partner. On the other hand, a sociobiologist who speaks of monogamy is speaking of the actual practice of mating. A species is only monogamous if it really has only one sexual partner. Any mating is considered part of the equation, and social institutions are not considered.

For the time being, I will be using the sociobiological application of the word. When I speak of polygamy, I am speaking of the practice of having multiple sexual partners, regardless of institutionalized or cultural norms. Similarly, monogamy will only apply when a species really does mate with only one partner. Just as in our mental exercise with sugar cravings, we must first understand how we behave, and then we must understand why. Only then can we begin to look at ourselves as individuals and begin to think about goals and how we should act if we wish to achieve them.

Finally, then, the answer to the question. Are humans monogamous? The short answer is no. We are mildly polygamous. The long answer requires addressing the question from various points of view. Culturally, we have always focused on a single marriage between a man and a woman, but there are two unavoidable facts that we must not overlook, even if they are incriminating or cause us personal discomfort. First, though marriage has virtually always been between one man and one woman, mating has not. Since the agricultural revolution, powerful men have virtually always kept harems. In fact, this practice has only fallen out of favor since industrialization. Contrary to the notion of the faithful middle class man, polygamy was not restricted to the very powerful. It was only institutionalized for them. Men have been cheating as long as they have been marrying, and not just a little bit. Cheating is almost as common as marriage, historically.

If we compare anatomy and biology, we find this conclusion to be valid. There is a clear and virtually indisputable link between the size of the testicles and the fidelity of the species. Ours are not large enough for a thoroughly promiscuous lifestyle, like the chimpanzee's, nor are they as small as the most monogamous apes. Human males are not large enough, compared to females, to command harems in the same way as a gorilla. We are not antisocial enough to be as monogamous as gibbons. In all biological areas, we fall above the threshold of monogamy, and below that of outright polygamy.

If this conclusion leaves you feeling uncomfortable, try to keep that feeling at bay for a while. I promise this will make a lot more sense once we've examined the evolutionary developments that led us to this perilous double standard of demanding monogamy and practicing polygamy. If it helps you to understand the point, think about yourself for a minute, and your partner, if you are attached. If you are over the age of thirty, you've probably had between three and ten sexual partners, and most of them have been monogamous partners, though there's somewhere around a thirty or forty percent chance that you've cheated at least once in your life. Now, your partner has probably had around the same experience, and if you think about it, most of your friends have, too. Humans do not have sex monogamously today, and as we will see, they never have.

Game Theory and Mating Standards

Why would a species evolve into a particular mating pattern? Why aren't all species either polygamous or monogamous? In order to understand the answer to this question, we can think of evolution as game of strategy, with each side using whatever advantage it has, and trying to minimize its weaknesses. This is where game theory comes in.

Imagine a species that is polygamous. This means that the most powerful males have many females in a harem. If you are a male, you have two choices. You can either be one of the most powerful males in the group, or risk celibacy. No matter how dominance is chosen, the losing males find themselves without mates. This is not just conjecture. It has been thoroughly documented in nature. The more polygamous a species, the more the average male suffers. Only the most powerful get to pass on their genes. The rest literally die for eternity.

While this brutal male selection is going on, the females pretty much have everything they could ask, right? All of them get to mate, and they all get one of the crème de la crème as a husband. Well, in a sense, this is true, but there are disadvantages. For one thing, as the degree of polygamy increases, the amount of attention the male can devote to each female decreases. Though the offspring will be the children of royalty, they will have been raised essentially by a single parent. Furthermore, as the old adage goes, if everyone is special, nobody is. In other words, being the child of the king isn't particularly advantageous if everybody is a child of the king! In the next generation, each male will be on equal footing when competing for females. Since all the genetic material comes from the king, it's basically a matter of luck and the female's genes.

Eventually, this kind of system will reach a point of diminishing returns, where the females do not receive a significant benefit from mating with the most desirable male. When this happens, the most clever of the celibate males might figure out that he has an advantage. (Again, I am speaking very liberally about conscious decisions. This is for ease of understanding, and does not imply that evolution is intentionally doing anything.) If he devotes himself entirely to one female, and dotes constantly over the children, the female is actually gaining something by marrying down on the social ladder. As more and more females realize this advantage, monogamy creeps up on polygamy. It may eventually surpass it as the primary mating arrangement.

This works in reverse, of course. In a completely monogamous population, females are stuck with who they get. If only twenty out of one hundred males are attractive and strong, that means that eighty females are forced to mate with a dud. If strength correlates to resources, as it often does, clever females will eventually figure out that a half of a rich male is better than all of a poor male. Even with half of the parental attention, the benefit in resources is more than enough to make up the difference. If there is a mechanism by which males can accumulate vast resources, such as a large territory, or a particularly rich food source, polygamy will overtake monogamy.

 

As we might expect, complete monogamy is pretty rare in nature. Most animals fall somewhere in between strict monogamy and rampant polygamy, which is consistent with the theory that ecology and internal competition create a fluid and self-correcting system. Either system creates an inherent advantage for one gender or another, based on resources, population density, and many other factors.

So What About Humans?

Homo erectus was the most carnivorous monkey or ape ever. He represented a sharp divergence from the now extinct Australopithecus robustus, who lived almost exclusively on leaves, seeds, and fruits. Though it may pain some vegans to hear this, our entire society is very likely the result of our ancestors' love of raw meat. You see, in order to hunt meat, humans had to roam far from home. Unlike plants, prey animals do their best to get away – and stay away – from their predators. Not only that, but our pre-human ancestors were not nearly as fast as most of their prey. We gained much by standing on two legs, but we also lost much. For Homo erectus, the hunt required allies. Groups of men had to form social bonds, and then set out on the hunt, perhaps for days or even weeks at a time, until they were able to secure a large enough prize to bring home. Not only did man need social bonds, but he needed spears, for he lacked the claws and teeth of the other top predators. Both of these things require a big brain. As it turns out, this is the major difference between our extinct ancestors and ourselves. We were the only ones who figured out how to make tools, form groups, and kill big animals.

For over a million years, humans didn't evolve much. Our environment was stable, and we had achieved a stalemate with natural selection. We lived in small groups, formed pair bonds, experienced jealousy, lust, and emotional hurt. We were busy just trying to stay alive, and we hadn't discovered how to farm, so there was no way to build up enough resources to become highly polygamous. By all estimates, only the most elite males could be openly polygamous, and then, only with a small number of females. As for cheating, the jury is still out to some degree, but there is very strong circumstantial evidence suggesting that it was at least relatively common for all of our history.

Within the animal kingdom, there is a remarkably consistent tendency. The smarter the animal, the more flexible are its mating habits. We can see this very clearly in chimps and coyotes, two species that are very similar to humans in many societal ways. The degree of polygamy in both of these species changes slightly based on the availability of resources. With humans, we would expect that this tendency would apply, and as we progress in history, we will see that not only is this true, it is spectacularly true.

In a hunter-gatherer society, there is very little skill involved in staying alive. Either the food is there to pick, or it isn't. Either the herd is nearby, or it isn't. For this reason, there was no way for males to build up reserves, or to guarantee food in the future. The conclusion is clear. With no particularly powerful males, polygamy would never become the dominant mating model. However, things changed with the agricultural revolution. Once we figured out how to grow our own crops, our big brains kicked in at an astonishing rate.

As soon as one male accumulated more food than he and his mate and children could eat, he discovered the power of money. Obviously, he had no concept of the abstract currency we use today, but it was clear that he could use his excess food to buy the loyalty of his fellows. As labor goes, farming two fields is not significantly more difficult than farming one, especially with a little help. Soon, what was a slight excess of food became a large excess, which allowed the purchase of more loyalty. Man had discovered how to become rich. With this discovery, he changed the dynamic of mating by allowing females the option of choosing a portion of a very rich man over all of a very poor man. Polygamy was here, and it was not going anywhere for a long time.

In all of human history, pastoral societies have been polygamous, almost without exception. At the dawn of human 'civilization,' when we learned to build cities, kings and emperors and local rulers generally had thousands of women in harems. Kings had ultimate authority, and ultimate access to mates. In some South American nations, it was rare to find a child who was not royalty. Until as late as the 20th century, many parts of the world were still operating within this model. Though it's not always pleasant for us to think about, the reality is that for virtually all of our history as agriculturalists, women have been monopolized by powerful men, leaving large swaths of the male population celibate.

Perhaps now is a good time to take a step back and try to look objectively at what we've learned. Please bear in mind that I am not suggesting how people ought to act, or how many wives a man should have. Also, please remember that, just like our taste for sugar, our drive to compete and our tendency to stratify our society is completely natural. Men are evolutionarily programmed to behave the way they do. It is incorrect to say that man became polygamous because of deficiency of morality, or because of a fault in his character. Simply put, the strategy that man discovered has been extraordinarily efficient. A population of a few million has become a population of six billion. This is no small feat, and as far as evolution is concerned, for a species as big as humans, it's nothing short of a roaring success. We're going to leave this topic for a while, but I promise you that later on, we will return to polygamy and discuss exactly what's wrong with it. In the meantime, we need to look at males and females separately.

 

Why Men are Lying Cheaters

In any species, sex is a competition. The females, with so much at stake, must choose their mates with great care, selecting the best male for genes, post-natal protection and childrearing duties. The males, on the other hand, have very little at stake genetically, and virtually nothing in time expended. (Women, feel free to make your 'minute-man' jokes at this point.) They literally have no compelling reason, in and of themselves, not to try to impregnate as many females as possible. With this notion as a starting point, let's examine human males, and see if we can discover just what it means to be a man.

The first thing we must know about males is that they tend to produce more children than females. This seems counterintuitive at first, but it's true. Men who marry twice are more likely to have children by both wives, and women are less likely to have children with their second husband. Add to this the fact that one particularly promiscuous male could have perhaps four or five wives in the course of a lifetime, all the while availing himself of the services of prostitutes and mistresses, and you will see the truth in it. Men produce more children than women.

If there's something twitching the back of your head about this, it's probably the question of how to work out the math if men produce more children than women. Obviously, there's a real number of children in the world, and it takes one man and one woman to make a child, so that can't be the way it is, can it? Yet, the numbers are astonishingly clear. Across all cultures, men who are fathers have more children than women who are mothers. It is undeniable. The only question is how we can interpret this information. What is the answer to this apparent paradox?

The answer is obvious, if painful. The only way for this to be possible is if virtually all females produce children, and many men do not. This is, as it turns out, completely true historically. There has always been a significant number of celibate men, usually the least powerful, or the poorest, or the ugliest. Furthermore, the ratio of men to women has always been essentially one to one. If for no other reason than this, we can say with certainty that humans are polygamous. (As we will see later, cuckoldry also plays a part in this odd equation, but not enough to explain the discrepancy completely.)

The next thing to know about men is that they must seduce women. Despite libraries full of feminist literature extolling the virtues of confident women asking men out, it remains the very rare exception to the rule. For all of human history, men have seduced women. This, too, lines up very neatly with other creatures who share similar mating patterns. In nature, the gender which spends the least amount of time in reproduction does the seducing. In the few species where males tend the young, or even more rare, carry them in their bodies, females do the courting, and males do the selecting.

Men are not entirely ignorant in their pursuit of sex. Overwhelmingly, we see a historical trend that is at least somewhat promising. Most men, having achieved a monogamous marriage, try very hard not to lose it. This doesn't mean that they don't cheat. It does mean that they usually go to great lengths to hide their indiscretions if they don't have the power to enforce polygamy. Most men, it seems, have a vested interest in maintaining something close to a monogamous relationship.

One of the most obvious traits males exhibit is their tendency to compete. Sport is ubiquitous, and until quite recently in our history, was virtually monopolized by men. Testosterone is clearly linked to aggression. Men compete for jobs, for money, for land, for possessions, for women, and pretty much anything else of value. This drive to compete is a direct result of female selection. That is to say, because females choose the best males (whatever the criteria might be), the males must compete so that the female can choose properly. It's a cruel twist of fate that the 'right to choose' inherent in females is what led to the complete domination of females by men after the agricultural revolution. Once men learned how to become rich, they learned how to become kings. It was only a short jump in logic to realize that kings (the winners) could have as many mates as they wanted. In all six of the early civilizations – Babylon, Egypt, India, China, Aztec, and Inca, one man ruled with complete authority, and had rights to virtually any females he wanted. There are records of some rulers complaining of their regimens, as many kings were literally obliged to perform sexually at least two times a day every day with different concubines. In all of these civilizations, there were elaborate records noting exactly when each concubine would be the most fertile. Clearly, to males, sex is something to be fought for and won.

What is more notable than the behavior of kings is the observation that kings were not special in kind – only degree. Across all of these cultures, men with power had harems of proportionate size. As wealth diminished, so too did the quality and exclusivity of the harem, but the desires and goals of men are clear. Even among the lowest level of landowners, there was rampant polygamy. The Roman Empire is a perfect example of this. Though marriage was between one man and one woman, we can learn a lot from the slave trade. Most of the actual labor was done by male slaves, for obvious reasons, yet young female slaves brought the highest price on the open market. Not only that, relatively small houses were often filled with an inordinately high number of female domestic servants, who were, by and large, all young. More convincingly, Roman nobles freed many of their slaves at remarkably young ages, leaving them large inheritances. The common thread? All of them appear to have been children of slaves. Why else would they be freed, except that they were illegitimate offspring?

Though we think of Christian Europe as a monogamous place, it's just not true. Polygamous mating was kept more secret, but it was no less prevalent. The countryside was male dominated, leaving many men celibate, primarily because castles and monasteries employed huge numbers of serving maids. In some cases, contemporary historians explicitly mention “gynoeciums,” where the secret harems of castle owners lived. Add to this the fact that among men with one wife and no servants, there is no indication whatsoever that cheating was any less common when there was an opportunity for it.

The last thing that we must realize about men is that they are violent, and that their violence has a lot to do with sex. It has been convincingly demonstrated that war among humans did not originate over resources, but mates. All studies of preliterate societies reveal very high levels of violence between men, with the inevitable result being the capture and sexual conquest of the females. In earlier historical periods, rape was one of the most attractive incentives used to recruit soldiers. Even today, rape is not uncommon in war, and shore leave is at best a thinly veiled excuse for soldiers to buy the services of prostitutes.

To quote Matt Ridley, to whom this essay is unquestionably indebted, “The nature of the human male, then, is to take opportunities, if they are granted him, for polygamous mating and to use wealth, power, and violence as means to sexual ends in the competition with other men – though usually not at the expense of sacrificing a secure monogamous relationship.” (The Red Queen, 206) As we will see in a moment, human sexual competition is not one sided. Females have their own games to play, and their own motivations. Clearly, the domination of rampant polygamy is at an end, for when we look around the world today, we see that even the most powerful men must now at least make a good show of discretion with their mistresses. Although cheating is still very common, and multiple marriages are the norm, there has obviously been some dynamic that has caused a shift in the balance of power. Men don't get everything they want, no matter how powerful. We must explore the nature of females to discover what has caused this.

It appears that rampant polygamy is not the norm for humans. The last four thousand years or so, it has been rampant, but it gives every indication of being a blip on the radar, in between hunting and gathering, and democracy. With democracy, we have seen the redistribution of power. Though there are precious few despots left in the world, there are still vast gaps in between classes. Even so, it appears that the gaps are not wide enough to make open polygamy the norm. As before, humans appear to be settling into a slightly uncomfortable stalemate of almost monogamy. Indeed, when we examine the habits of our closest animal analogs, we discover that the most likely norm for human behavior is monogamous marriage with rampant and very secret cheating by both males and females.

In some ways, it's a good thing. The one constant among polygamous societies is that they are drastically more violent than monogamous societies. Because of the intense competition among men to be one of the lucky few who gets to mate, instability and violent infighting are the inevitable result. Ironically, as we will discover momentarily, women's tendency to cheat has had a tempering effect on men, forcing them into monogamous societies, while allowing them to engage in extramarital affairs. In a very odd way, both men and women get to have their cake and eat it, too.

 

Why Don't Women Bear Their Husband's Children?

We've pretty firmly established that men are scum, right? All they want to do is have sex with as many women as they can, and the only thing stopping them is their own level of power, right? Well, not exactly. This picture is entirely one-sided, and doesn't account for the fact that through most of human history, women have been able to enforce near-monogamy on men. How did they do that, exactly? Moreover, is it fair to say that women have been nothing but the pawns of men for all of history? Are they little more than incubators for male genes to be passed through?

It's easy to understand why women often describe history as an entirely male dominated story. It's also easy to understand that women are often frustrated by the apparent paradox. If women have so much power as the selectors, why do they always end up on the short end of the bargain? When the men leave, women are the ones left holding the baby and all the responsibility, and the men get to go out and make more babies, with little or no consequence to themselves. For all the power women are supposed to have, they still can't seem to get paid as much as men, and they've had to fight tooth and nail for everything they've ever gotten. You never hear about men being left at the altar, do you? Women just want a man who will be faithful, and then they'll be happy, right? If only men would be faithful, everything would be perfect.

As it turns out, there really is a paradox that explains how women impose monogamy on men, and it fits perfectly with the ever-growing body of evidence that suggests that nearly everything we think of as being “above nature” about humans is actually evidence that we are unavoidably tied to our animal roots. Here, then, is the answer to why men marry, and why they prefer long term relationships with one woman. Women cheat. Often.

One of the most dramatic advantages, genetically, of being female is that there is never any doubt of parentage. In other words, a mother knows with 100% certainty that her child is her own. (This, of course, doesn't take into account modern medical procedures, but you get the point.) Since evolution is not concerned with ethics, only successful reproduction, it stands to reason that females would have learned to take advantage of this fact. They clearly have. Though the numbers vary slightly depending on the particular culture, one thing has been proven rather conclusively. In cultures that are primarily or strictly monogamous, cuckoldry is common. In the landmark study, conducted in Liverpool in the 1980s, it was discovered that less than 80% of children were actually related to the man who believed himself to be the father.

If it is true that human nature is the cause of this phenomenon, we ought to see biological evidence. It so happens that the evidence is striking. Recent investigations of the female orgasm have given us a rather shocking dose of reality. It has long been known that there are some female orgasms that cause more sperm to be retained after sex. These are called high-retention orgasms. Obviously, high retention orgasms have a higher probability of inducing pregnancy. What was shocking to researchers was when they examined orgasms alongside fidelity. In faithful wives, approximately 55 percent of their orgasms were high-retention. However, among unfaithful wives, only 40 percent of their orgasms with their husbands were. Even more shocking, though, was the fact that over 70 percent of the orgasms with their adulterous lovers were high-retention. There is more. Without consciously being aware of their most fertile period, women tend to have sex with their lovers on their most fertile days.

The combination of these numbers is shocking. Though women tended to have sex with their husbands twice as much as their lovers, they were slightly more likely to conceive with their lover than with their husband. It appears that women have a biological drive to keep their husband while bearing the child of another man. Again, if this is true, we should be able to make predictions based on other animals who behave similarly. Again, we can.

In a previous essay, I noted that human females are rare in comparison to the rest of the animal kingdom. Rather than having a small window of sexual availability and interest, they are sexually active essentially all the time, but only fertile a small percentage of that time. Another aspect of this system is that fertility is concealed. Except in very recent years, there has never been an accurate measure of peak fertility. One immediately apparent advantage to the female is that this system allows her to choose her mates much more selectively. If, like other animals, human females displayed fertility with a clear physical sign, and were only receptive to sex during this period, men would only be interested during these few days, and culture would be much, much different. As it is, women have as many days as they want to choose between as many potential suitors as they desire.

There is an odd side effect of concealed ovulation. Since ovulation is concealed, adultery becomes easier, for on any given day, the woman can leave in secret to have sex with her lover, and her husband, ignorant of her fertility, is none the wiser. As we have seen, whether they know it or not, women are instinctively aware of this fact, and use it to their advantage when they do have affairs.

Why would female cheating have such a profound effect on men? After all, men are supposed to be interested in having sex with as many women as possible. Why would female cheating be such a threat? Like other polygamous animals, humans produce 'smart sperm.' Some sperm avoids trying to get to the egg, instead forming a kind of blockage that prevents other sperm from getting in. Other sperm are literally attack sperm, actively trying to destroy sperm from competing males. All of this is a testament to the fact that even on a cellular level, men really don't want other men having sex with their women. The math is clear. If many men have sex with a woman, the chance of any one man being the father is dependent on how many men there were. On the other hand, if a man can keep his woman faithful only to him, there is a 100 percent chance that he is the father. It almost goes without saying that virtually all the laws in history regarding adultery have been geared towards punishing women for having more than one man. Our biology predicts this.

There is a clear pattern in nature. In species that have rampant adultery, particularly birds, interest in frequent sex is almost always observed. Birds turn out to be the closest analog to humans, sexually. Like many species of birds, humans live in colonies. Swallows, in fact, are very close to humans in their sexual practice. Consider this. In swallows, 'married' females often have affairs with dominant older males, but they do it in secret. When a male has been cosmetically altered by researchers to be more attractive, his chances of having an adulterous affair doubles. The more attractive the male is, the more chance he has of being a deadbeat dad. Husbands are very jealous of their wives and often follow them around anytime they leave the nest. Anytime the female leaves for an extended period, the male becomes adamant about having numerous sexual encounters with her. One of the most disturbing things that we've seen in swallows has only been discovered recently. Until genetic tests verified that cheating is rampant, scientists thought swallows were pretty much completely monogamous. The reason they thought this? Swallows are very good at keeping their adultery secret!

Is any of that making you twitch a little? There's more. The research on swallows, unhindered by the objections of the church or feminists, has proven rather conclusively what the female's reproductive strategy is. Marry the male who will remain faithful, and reproduce with the one who will produce the best children. Does this sound like a cynical view of human marriage? If the facts line up, why would we use the word 'cynical'? It turns out that when we examine human society, across cultures, women have a propensity for carrying on secret affairs with one man who is usually an 'upgrade' from her husband. Depressing? Perhaps, but it is true.

Males have adapted to combat this tendency. Men whose wives have been gone all day produce much more sperm than those who have been with their wives all day. Consider the adage, 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder.' As it turns out, it also makes the testicles more fecund. The same thing happens in rats, incidentally. Once again, human behavior lines up with animal behavior. What we think of as intellectual, or cultural constructs, are actually deep rooted instinctual behaviors. We cannot control them on a biological level. They simply exist. It would be foolish of us to deny this fact.

Jealousy is one of those mythologized concepts that we seem to have a very hard time understanding. Despite voluminous research indicating that lack of jealousy is a near-perfect indicator of impending divorce, we insist that jealousy is something to be suppressed or avoided. It is seen as an aberrant behavior. In reality, it is one of the mechanisms that keep both men and women relatively monogamous. Without jealousy, we can imagine that both men and women, with their innate tendency to cheat, would eventually throw off the yoke of monogamy and live in openly polygamous communes. They do not, and every attempt at creating such a commune has utterly failed.

Once we take the labels “good” and “bad” off of human behavior, we can begin to see a cause and effect chain. Once we recognize why we are the way we are, we can begin to evaluate our own feelings based on our own goals. If we try to do it the other way around, we are dooming ourselves to failure. Human nature is neither good nor bad. It just is. Individual goals, on the other hand, can be good or bad, based on what outcome is desired. For a man who has had a vasectomy, the reproductive goal is clearly gone, but the motivations and desires still exist. Only by a clear understanding of why he feels the way he does can a man begin to decide with rationality what his behavior ought to be.

In short, here's how it works. Men would like to have as many women as possible, but in egalitarian systems, this is rarely possible. Women would like one man because of his contribution to childrearing. Women are also restricted by outside realities. They seldom get to marry the best man available, not to mention the fact that the most reproductively viable man is seldom the best potential husband. To this end, women often engage in extramarital affairs with one man, usually an older, richer man, and more often than not, married. Men, aware of this propensity in women, become jealous of their women and guard them relentlessly. They also attempt to reduce the chance of being cuckolded by having sex with their wives as often as possible after being separated. Married men are also, ironically, pursued as potential lovers by women with lesser husbands.

The bare truth is perhaps not as rosy as we'd like, but it's also extremely parsimonious in explaining why we act the way we do. Men and women both cheat, and always have. Marriage in humans is a tenuous balance between drives. Women instinctively want to keep their men for financial and childrearing advantages, but they have a natural drive to trade up in secret if they get the chance. Men, likewise, have a natural drive to be the one selected for an upgrade, which conveniently allows them to engage in their biological drive to be polygamous. It is not a pretty system if you believe in Christian morality, but if you think about the reality of the marriages you've seen, or your own experience, it is a very elegant explanation for what seems to be contradictory desires in our own nature.

To avoid excessive length, I'm going to mention some other real, scientifically verifiable aspects of human sexuality, without going into the research or the comparisons with other similar animals. There are plenty of books available on any of these subjects, and a trip to the local university library would give a reader years worth of material, if he truly desired to delve that deeply into the subject.

Beauty matters. Men all over the world are most attracted to women who are post-pubescent but who have not had children. Beauty is most accurately described as incredibly average. That is to say, we don't like abnormally large or small features. Interestingly, across the world, the photos that are universally perceived as most attractive are actually composites of many faces. It's not about weight as much as waist to hip ratio. Small waists compared to the hips are attractive.

Humans instinctively know what their mating potential is. They tend to try to find the best among their available pool. In other words, ugly women tend to marry men who cannot attract beautiful women. It's not politically correct, but it's universally true. Men are much more interested in beauty than women. Women are much more interested in wealth and power in a mate. Sexy men do make poor husbands, on average. Men lie to their wives about having mistresses, but they are generally honest with their mistresses about their wives.

 

What Does It All Mean?

Finally, we must put all of this in perspective. This is perhaps the most crucial element of this essay. All of these facts about human nature are trends and averages. They do not speak to any one person's desires or tendencies. You may want to object that you have had a vastly different experience, but this cannot be an objection, since none of these trends can be used to accurately predict an individual's behavior. As I have said many times before, humans are incredibly diverse, and deviance is something that is part of our nature.

However, it is also impossible to deny these trends as inherent, innate, instinctual realities. Though our own lives may have been shaped by our experiences, and we may not fall under these broad generalizations, they are nonetheless valid. Regardless of what you have become as an adult, you were shaped by your inherent sexual nature.

Now, we must recall the lesson of sugar cravings from a previous essay. We learned why we crave sugar, and we learned that immoderate consumption of raw sugar can lead to dire consequences – not least of which the lessening of our own sexual attractiveness, which does matter. We learned that it is quite possible to begin to put together a system of ethics about sugar consumption, based on the scientific evidence of what consequences follow from different consumption patterns. If we wish to be sexually attractive, healthy, and long-lived, we can certainly eat sugar, but we must be careful of processed sugar, and we must engage in enough exercise to burn off any excess calories we might consume.

Can we apply the same mentality to sexuality? I hope you're beginning to see that we can. We're not quite ready to make any broad statements, because there are aspects of sexuality that we have not covered, such as sexually transmitted diseases, emotional consequences of various sexual activities, and the physical consequences of various types, or levels of sexual activity. Nevertheless, we ought to be able to form some rather firm objective statements about ourselves and our culture. For instance, marriage is something that reflects human nature, but it does not reflect all of it. Both men and women desire and engage in extramarital affairs. Many couples successfully practice 'open marriages.' Pockets of polygamy persist. Very rich men move to South America and buy the services of young housemaids. The tendency to get tired of a mate after childbearing is natural. The male desire for young women is natural.

In short, what we have learned so far is that much of what we consider immoral or unnatural in humans is not only natural, but essential in building the mating system that we have now.  Humans desire long term relationships with one person, but there is no particular indication that humans are supposed to mate for life, especially since life has been extended to over seventy years. If divorce is available, and a relationship has failed, there is no natural reason to continue in it, for humans are built to move on to another mate. In fact, we're designed to desire just that! If there are other reasons to stay together, such as financial or legal reasons, we can judge them as they come, and decide what's best. Like sugar consumption, we can look at marriage and mating as the results of natural instincts, which will, with any luck, allow us to judge cause and effect more objectively, without the baggage from religion and myth which tell us that our sexuality is evil or depraved or out of control.

 

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit's picture

BumpThis essay was hidden as

Bump

This essay was hidden as a child page for a while, so I've put moved it into its own space.  With all the talk of morality across the board recently, I thought this would be a good read for everyone.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
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Thomathy's picture

Thanks, Hambydammit.  That

Thanks, Hambydammit.  That was a good read, though I did come away disappointed.  I always do from the subject of human sexuality.  I always feel as though something is missing and indeed, something is missing.  This topic is typically linked only to the essentially reproductive drive in humans to mate (what you describe perfectly here in all its glory) and I thoroughly agree with your essay in all its points as I find it agrees absolutely with all the other literature I've read on the subject over the years.  The thing that's always missing for me is the sexual drive of homosexuals in coupling.  Clearly, the reproductive aspect is missing, or it would seem to be.  I've never been able to find any literature on that subject at all and I feel certain that none of it is adequate if it does exist.  Do you have any thoughts on the nature of human homosexual sexuality?

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."

Hambydammit's picture

Quote:The thing that's

Quote:
The thing that's always missing for me is the sexual drive of homosexuals in coupling.

Yeah.  There are a couple of reasons for that.  First, in a strictly evolutionary sense, homosexuals are not often considered, since, theoretically, they never reproduce.  In each generation, they are a genetic dead end.  For that reason, when we start modeling reproductive strategies, homosexual individuals just get lumped into the "unsuccessful" category, without much need for further explanation.

This isn't philosophically comforting, but from a strictly reproductive point of view, it's been held to be adequate.  In reality, it probably isn't, because it appears that Kinsey was at least partially right.  Sexual preference is not an on/off switch.  It's a continuum, meaning that many people with mild to moderate attraction to the same sex will mate heterosexually at some point

The second reason is more to the real point.  Scientists are only just now becoming aware of what homosexuality represents genetically, and why we continue to have it if despite the fact that it ought to disappear from the gene pool.  Scientists have been both embarrassed by their ignorance and unwilling to get blasted for suggesting a theory that wasn't strong enough to pass muster.

I'm not prepared to discuss the genetics behind homosexuality, although Deludedgod has addressed it a couple of times.  I spend a lot more time on the effects of genetics, not the mechanics of it.  The bottom line is that the mathematics work out based on the way that certain genes turn on or off, and the potential viable recombinations or mutations within those genes.  It is not paradoxical that there are gays in every generation.  (In fact, as you probably know, the percentage is remarkably stable!)

Quote:
Do you have any thoughts on the nature of human homosexual sexuality?

Sure.  First, I need to reiterate what I said before.  Sexual preference is not an on/off switch.  It's a continuum.  The second thing to remember is that (did you read the essay where I talk about how menstruation led to our complex system of sex as social mechanism?) humans, more than any other creature, use sex for social ends.  Sex is a dual purpose practice at the minimum.  Consider that many gay men desire children but find sex with women distasteful.  We've been evolving sexual social instincts for a long time.  It should be no surprise that we've developed some clear separations between our emotional responses to sex and the goal of reproducing.

Also, bear in mind that we're here for our genes.  Our genes don't care if we are happy.  They care if they get to make more genes.  If you're familiar with the concept of a superorganism, you realize that many individual behaviors seem counterintuitive, but when viewed as part of a larger organism, make sense.  War is the easiest example.  It doesn't make any sense for a man to go off to war when there are perfectly good females at home, but men join the army in droves, and always have.  Many of these men will die without reproducing.  Yet, the superorganism -- the society in which they live -- will prosper, since a rival superorganism's power has diminished.  So, counterintuitive behaviors often fit into a larger scheme. 

I know that's not saying a lot that you haven't heard before, but it's an interesting scientific quandary.  Is it possible that homosexuality is nothing more than a genetic anomaly that keeps popping up because of genetic patterns?  Yeah, but so many times when we've dismissed something as a genetic anomaly, we've learned later that we were wrong, and that there was function to it.  Personally, I waffle between positions.  On the one hand, it seems reasonable to explain homosexual coupling as a social function since 95% of the sex we have is for social reasons anyway.  On the other, I remember that the genes are our masters, and reproduction is their goal.

I intend to address homosexuality at some point, but like you said, the literature is somewhat lacking.  I'm afraid that the problem is twofold.  Many people who could be doing good objective work are busy trying to promote a pro-homosexual attitude, but then again, that sort of thing is pretty necessary at present.  It's very hard to separate the agenda from the science, and very few scientists receiving government grants are willing to brave the shitstorm they'll catch from both sides if they find out something controversial.  Bottom line is we need more research.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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EXC's picture

For the most part, I agree

For the most part, I agree with what you wrote. Well done. But here's what I think you need to say more about.

Post-feminist modern North America is probably the first society in our total evolutionary history where women have been empowered to be the selectors. With birth control, an ample food supply, education and employment opportunities for women, the rules have really changed. So, it seems that there could be a cultural bias in your opinions.

I think for the most part the selection process has been more of a survival decision. I think the selection process has often involved just strait out trading sex for food with a hungry woman. The man with the goods would select with which women he would share his goods. The parents of a young girl would often select a man of means for her daughter soon after puberty. The tribe would sometime pair up young teenagers without their consent. Rape has often been part of mix more than we'd like to believe.

So, it seems as if some of the conclusions are based on the notion that financially independent women have long been empowered and free enough to decide with which men to have sex and children(a cultural bias). This has only been true in the modern west in the last few decades. Women of breeding age have usually been treated as nothing more than a commodity, so they were unable to be the "selectors." Prostitution for survival, arranged marriage and rape have the rule rather than free women making a choice.

 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca

Hambydammit's picture

Quote:Post-feminist modern

Quote:
Post-feminist modern North America is probably the first society in our total evolutionary history where women have been empowered to be the selectors.

Perhaps in our post-agricultural history, although I don't think you could even say that.  You're going to have to be more specific about what you mean by "empowered to be the selectors."  There are plenty of examples of cultures, ranging from primitive to advanced, where women have had the right or option to choose their husband. 

Quote:
With birth control, an ample food supply, education and employment opportunities for women, the rules have really changed. So, it seems that there could be a cultural bias in your opinions.

What cultural bias?  I'm not talking about the way things should be.  I've simply related the empirical observations of scientists -- worldwide -- about the nature of human sexuality.

Quote:
I think for the most part the selection process has been more of a survival decision. I think the selection process has often involved just strait out trading sex for food with a hungry woman. The man with the goods would select with which women he would share his goods. The parents of a young girl would often select a man of means for her daughter soon after puberty. The tribe would sometime pair up young teenagers without their consent. Rape has often been part of mix more than we'd like to believe.

Absurdly reductionist.

Quote:
So, it seems as if some of the conclusions are based on the notion that financially independent women have long been empowered and free enough to decide with which men to have sex and children(a cultural bias). This has only been true in the modern west in the last few decades. Women of breeding age have usually been treated as nothing more than a commodity, so they were unable to be the "selectors." Prostitution for survival, arranged marriage and rape have the rule rather than free women making a choice.

Wow.  I could go through this point by point, but I can't think of a reason to.  Show me the anthropological and sociological data to back up your view.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
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ProzacDeathWish's picture

Just wondering how do these

Just wondering how does science account for the more repugnant sexual practices such as:

1.)  pedophilia  ( sex with children )

2.)  necrophilia  ( sex with corpses )

3.)  corprophilia ( "poo poo" sex )

 

I'm a right wing atheist because I enjoy being hated by everyone.

"When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction." Mark Twain.

Hambydammit's picture

Quote:Just wondering how do

Quote:

Just wondering how do these naturally adaptive processes account for the more repugnant sexual practices such as:

1.)  pedophilia  ( sex with children )

2.)  necrophilia  ( sex with corpses )

3.)  corprophilia ( "poo poo" sex )

Did you read my essay, What Does Sugar Have To Do With Murder?! ?

In it, I explain how adaptive mechanisms can "misfire" and create detrimental behavior patterns.  Sex drive is clearly necessary to our survival, and can be called "good."  However, each of these deviant behaviors falls under a slightly different category, and must be examined independently.

1) Worldwide, across cultures, men prefer young women who have not had children to older women who have.  Evolution, as you know, is an arms race.  The male who can impregnate the females first wins.  That means getting them as soon as they hit puberty, all things being equal.  Of course, things are not equal.  Various societies have different views of when a woman is "ready" to have sex (reproduce.)  If you ever have the time to scope out some porn bulletin boards, notice how often the term "pedophile" is tossed around.  The funny thing is, it's usually not talking about people who like sex with pre-pubescent children.  It's talking about people who like girls past puberty but before "adulthood."  Adulthood is a cultural construct, not a biological one.  Once a girl has her first period, she can reproduce.  The sex drive of men is geared to like young girls.  The cultural standards discourage us from acting on them.  Many cultural standards are so ingrained as to change our perceptions of reality.  Ask any Christian who has convinced himself beyond any doubt that masturbation is a horrible sin.

Pre-pubescent pedophilia falls under a different category.  It's been over a decade since I had abnormal psyche, so I can't comment on what the current theories are.  Traditionally, we have asserted that for most sexual predators, the issue is not sex, but power.  Children are powerless, and adults who feel powerless sometimes take out their feelings of inadequacy on the powerless.  Sex is, in many ways, the ultimate power.

2) First, you should note that necrophilia has not always been considered universally deviant.  There are examples of ancient cultures that apparently practiced necrophilia to try to communicate with the dead.

As far as what you're thinking of, the common explanation is similar to that of pre-pubescent pedophilia.  Almost universally, necrophiliacs suffer from low self esteem, rejection issues, and here's the kicker... fear of death.  Sex, the ultimate "life process" is a natural foil to the fear of death.  In general, necrophiliacs tend to suffer from other mental problems, so it's safe to say that this is not a matter of a misfiring sexual instinct so much as a neurological problem related to other areas.

3) I'm not very well read in this area.  My best guess is that it has something to do with the notion of sex being dirty.  Poo fetishes tend to be linked to self esteem issues, just like virtually every sexual dysfunction.

 

The bottom line, if you read carefully, is that most sexual dysfunction is a problem with the social aspects of sexual interaction, not the reproductive ones.  Remember, sex is a dual purpose mechanism in humans.  The social functions are much more complex, so there are a lot more ways for things to go wrong.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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EXC's picture

Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
Post-feminist modern North America is probably the first society in our total evolutionary history where women have been empowered to be the selectors.

Perhaps in our post-agricultural history, although I don't think you could even say that.  You're going to have to be more specific about what you mean by "empowered to be the selectors."  There are plenty of examples of cultures, ranging from primitive to advanced, where women have had the right or option to choose their husband. 

In the past, hasn't the norm been for women to have their first child in their teens? So has there ever been a society where young teenage women have had their own money, there own means of support? Haven't young women always been dependent on the parents and the tribe for survival? So wouldn't the parents and tribe always have a large say in with whom they should breed?

If you look at societies today that have not yet been affected greatly by industrialization and woman's rights, don't we see the parents or the tribe being the selectors too? The male selects a young women, then he must get the blessing of the parents and tribe. The tribe often blesses the marriage with a tribal ceremony. A 14 or 15 year old girl is not going to understand the world well enough to pick the best male for survival of her offspring.

So hasn't monogamy/marriage largely been something pushed by the parents and tribe rather than by individual men or women? So when you talk about the conflict between monogamy vs. polygamy, isn't it also a conflict between individual desires and the needs/desires of the family and tribe? Marriage came about because of the need for strong families and societies? Not just to ensure parentage of the offspring.

Quote:
With birth control, an ample food supply, education and employment opportunities for women, the rules have really changed. So, it seems that there could be a cultural bias in your opinions.

Hambydammit wrote:

What cultural bias?  I'm not talking about the way things should be.  I've simply related the empirical observations of scientists -- worldwide -- about the nature of human sexuality.

Aren't these scientists largely modern western educated men? So isn't there a possibility of cultural bias in there opinions.

I'm not saying your wrong in what you wrote. There have been probably cultures where this is true women are largely the selectors. But I think there has been a wide range of situations under which the deed has been done and babies made. I think you just need to add parent/tribal selection, older men with wealth and power picking pretty young girls to have sex, survival prostitution where the man picks the pretty woman and rape(you did mention war rape). So I think it's possible that men(fathers and tribal leaders included) have been the selectors as much as women.

The other factor too is that men have been the explorers and travelers. Young women have been made to stay close to home, so she is limited to only men that come into her small world for selection. Men have been able to leave their village for war, hunting, adventure, etc... So if a man doesn't like or find a women near his parents home, he could often look elsewhere. This has given men greater possiblities for selection.

 

 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca

skywolf's picture

bringeth the shitstorm

my thoughts on homosexuality are this sex is a relaxant relaxed people are calm and happy orgasams make you calm and happy homosexuality is a way of calming a hypertence superorganisam when no viable genetic mates are compliant or available {hence jail homosexual behavior} while jails are a really bad example the navy would be a good exaple men seek men sometimes for solice just like they would femails and the nature of humanity dictates that people will develop a prefrence for homosexual contact on a regular basis although i personally don't seek other men in this way perhaps an expert on the subject of being homosexual will step forward with their thoughts btw gay is fine by me but u won't get any sex from me unless you are femail sorry

 

edit >

btw i like to use a george W bush before corprophilia to keep things nice and kleen

mohammed is mr poopy pants allah is a cootie queen and islam is a lint licker
http://seekerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/_blogger_5932_1957_1600_religion_of_peace_1-1.jpg

Hambydammit's picture

Quote:In the past, hasn't

Quote:
In the past, hasn't the norm been for women to have their first child in their teens?

Not always.  It's depended more on the availability of resources than anything else.

Quote:
So has there ever been a society where young teenage women have had their own money, there own means of support?

There have only been a couple hundred years where this question is even relevant in the West.  Before industrialization, most men didn't have their own money, either.  In medieval Europe, dowry style marriage was limited to the landed nobility.

In general, you're oversimplifying, and (forgive me) westernizing everything.  You're equating monetary freedom and egalitarian marriage conventions.  Though one can be correlated to the other, it need not be so.  The ultimate question I think you're asking is whether or not women have ever been more than property before Western industrialization, and the answer is a resounding yes.  Have they had the right to choose their own partners?  Yes.  Have there always been limitations on this freedom?  Of course, as there are now. 

I've said it several times, and you seem to miss it.  Females are biologically the primary selectors in humans.  I'm not sure if you understand the significance of this statement.  Across the animal kingdom, there are iron clad biological constants.  One of these is that among sexually reproducing species, the parent that invests the most in childrearing is the selector.  In seahorses, where the male raises the offspring, the females pursue reluctant males.  My brain is locking up at the moment, but there's a species of sea bird that does the same thing.  You can see a single male being hounded by dozens of females from time to time.

Quote:
Haven't young women always been dependent on the parents and the tribe for survival? So wouldn't the parents and tribe always have a large say in with whom they should breed?

Clearly.  Don't confuse yourself by assuming that I mean that every female chooses her mate separate from any cultural factors.  To say that females are the selectors is to say that our biology is programmed for the female to select.  Or, put another way, without interference, females will select their mates.  We have to look at our natures to understand our culture if we are to understand our cultural behavior in the correct context.

Quote:
If you look at societies today that have not yet been affected greatly by industrialization and woman's rights, don't we see the parents or the tribe being the selectors too? The male selects a young women, then he must get the blessing of the parents and tribe. The tribe often blesses the marriage with a tribal ceremony. A 14 or 15 year old girl is not going to understand the world well enough to pick the best male for survival of her offspring.

Sometimes you see that.  Not nearly often enough to declare it an overriding principle.

Quote:
So hasn't monogamy/marriage largely been something pushed by the parents and tribe rather than by individual men or women?

Who are the parents and tribe?  They're men and women.

It would do you some good to dig into the idea of the selfish gene more.  You seem to want to make everything into an us/them kind of situation, when what's really happening is that everyone is playing a part in superorganism behaviors that are more for the benefit of the genes than any of the individuals involved.

Quote:
So when you talk about the conflict between monogamy vs. polygamy, isn't it also a conflict between individual desires and the needs/desires of the family and tribe? Marriage came about because of the need for strong families and societies? Not just to ensure parentage of the offspring.

Not exactly.  First, the relationship between monogamy and polygamy isn't exactly conflict.  It's more of a self-regulating system.  When monogamy is more beneficial to an environment, we have been monogamous.  When polygamy, we have been polygamous.  Individuals within the system play out personal battles between monogamy and polygamy, but the system as a whole has shifted rather naturally when necessary.

Second, society came about because we were forming small family groups, and it became advantageous to form groups of groups.  Marriage, or rather, long term mating, existed before society, at least in a more primitive form.  In other words, society doesn't protect strong families.  Strong families formed society.

Quote:
Aren't these scientists largely modern western educated men?

Not anymore.  Our education system's failings are catching up to us.  Even if it were true, the whole point of doing things scientifically is to remove bias.  Regardless of the country of origin, if a study has the proper protocols and controls, the data will be good.  Consider that anthopological studies, by definition, have to be cross cultural.  Same with sociobiology.

Quote:
I'm not saying your wrong in what you wrote. There have been probably cultures where this is true women are largely the selectors. But I think there has been a wide range of situations under which the deed has been done and babies made. I think you just need to add parent/tribal selection, older men with wealth and power picking pretty young girls to have sex, survival prostitution where the man picks the pretty woman and rape(you did mention war rape). So I think it's possible that men(fathers and tribal leaders included) have been the selectors as much as women.

The topic is the nature of humans, not the cultural variations of humans.  You keep getting confused about this.  Our biology doesn't lie.  We've been around for at least a couple hundred thousand years, and our biology reports accurately on what those years have been like.  Humans are primarily female selectors.  Modern society is an eyeblink in our history, and I'm not talking about a historical survey of women's rights.  I'm talking about what our bodies have been programmed for.

Quote:
The other factor too is that men have been the explorers and travelers. Young women have been made to stay close to home, so she is limited to only men that come into her small world for selection. Men have been able to leave their village for war, hunting, adventure, etc... So if a man doesn't like or find a women near his parents home, he could often look elsewhere. This has given men greater possiblities for selection.

You're confusing two things.  I've mentioned this before.  Humans are female exogamous.  Did you read the part in "Sex, Culture, and Myths" where I talked about how many more daughters the U.S. presidents have had?  We're programmed so that poor people have more sons and rich people have more daughters. 

In other words, the woman leaves her home to live with the man's family.  Men have almost always been the hunters.  This accounts for men joining the army, fighting wars, capturing rival females, etc, etc.   In fact, one of the most popular theories right now is that most of our sexual culture began with men trading meat for sex.  Notice carefully what I just said.  Men would go out on a hunt, get meat, and give it to a woman in exchange for mating.  They would not have done this if they were the selectors. 

As men learned agriculture and better organizational skills, they learned to accumulate wealth, which led to a lot of what you're observing.  Yes, men have learned to get past women's selection "rights."  However, think carefully about this.  When you go out to a bar, and you see a hottie across the way, what do you do next?  Look disinterested and wait for her to approach you, or go over and think of some way to impress her enough that she'll have sex with you?

Females are the natural selectors.  Men have been smart enough to figure out ways around it.

Also, think very carefully about this.  In situations where men overpower or coerce women into having sex, what do we call the men?  Immoral.  If men were the selectors, this would not be so.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
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EXC's picture

All good points in your

All good points in your replies. I will concede it is in the DNA of women to be the selectors. But, I think cultural and economic factors balance things out, so that there is a balance between the sexes. If women were the primary selectors, I think we'd see a world where men were totally subservient to the woman. Look at the human and dog relationship. Humans are the selectors of who lives and who breeds because of power and economic factors(we control the food supply and the weapons). So dogs are basically subservient to their human masters. If a dog gets out of line and doesn't obey it's human masters, it is destroyed and not bred.

But what do we see in the real man vs. woman world? It seems to be more of a man's world. Perhaps it's a man's world to balance this female power of selectivity. So by men obtaining power and wealth and by being able to look around a lot, they can become the selectors too. So overall, it seems to be more of an overall balance of power in the battle of the sexes.

Now if all sex was a one night stand, women are basically the selectors. Men are more willing to spread their seed around, women are more selective. But woman and society want men to be more than just sperm donors. So women set their price very high often meaning marriage and domestication of the man. Humans are a bit like the seahorse in that men are expected to provide for and help raise children. By setting their price so high, many men are going to pass on women's offer for sex. So in the marriage market you see more of a balance between men and women being the selectors. Same thing is true in the prostitution market, money is the great equalizer.

 

Hambydammit wrote:

As men learned agriculture and better organizational skills, they learned to accumulate wealth, which led to a lot of what you're observing.  Yes, men have learned to get past women's selection "rights."  However, think carefully about this.  When you go out to a bar, and you see a hottie across the way, what do you do next?  Look disinterested and wait for her to approach you, or go over and think of some way to impress her enough that she'll have sex with you?

Yes, but she has to be hot enough to be a selector. If there are only fuglies in the bar, I move on. So I'm being a selector too.

 

Hambydammit wrote:

Females are the natural selectors.  Men have been smart enough to figure out ways around it.

Also, think very carefully about this.  In situations where men overpower or coerce women into having sex, what do we call the men?  Immoral.  If men were the selectors, this would not be so.

Immoral only to sexually repressed Christian women. Most men think "way to go dude". The Christian woman's moral indignation(aka jealousy with a halo) is really just anger that the man got some nuggie without paying a high price(like Christian marriage) for it. The woman is also immoral for giving it away without extracting a very high price from the man. Christian women don't like having their prices undercut. Why do you think they made prostitution illegal? Same reason other retailers what to get rid of WalMart.

 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca

Hambydammit's picture

Quote:I will concede it is

Quote:
I will concede it is in the DNA of women to be the selectors.

A wise concession.

Quote:
But, I think cultural and economic factors balance things out, so that there is a balance between the sexes. If women were the primary selectors, I think we'd see a world where men were totally subservient to the woman.

I'm not being flippant, here.  Have you never watched a comedian?  Every other comedian has a ten minute routine on how women are in charge.  It's either about how they're in charge and don't know it, or about how they do know it and use it to make men's lives difficult.

Beyond that, I need to caution you very strongly against all or nothing thinking.  In our highly complex culture, sex is one out of thousands of dynamics at work, and reproduction is only a small part of sex.  To say that IF women were the selectors THEN men would be subservient is to say that sex alone determines social hierarchy, and it clearly doesn't.  Sex, to be sure, has broad implications.  However, it is not the sole determining factor in social positioning.

Quote:
Look at the human and dog relationship. Humans are the selectors of who lives and who breeds because of power and economic factors(we control the food supply and the weapons). So dogs are basically subservient to their human masters. If a dog gets out of line and doesn't obey it's human masters, it is destroyed and not bred.

Sometimes I wonder if you say things with the intention of pissing women off.  You have an alarmingly bad sense of metaphor.

Women, if you haven't noticed, are generally the intellectual equivalent of men (notwithstanding slight differences) and so cannot be compared either to dogs or their masters in this (very poorly conceived) analogy.

Quote:
But what do we see in the real man vs. woman world? It seems to be more of a man's world. Perhaps it's a man's world to balance this female power of selectivity. So by men obtaining power and wealth and by being able to look around a lot, they can become the selectors too. So overall, it seems to be more of an overall balance of power in the battle of the sexes.

Again...

Sex is only one factor in a very complex set of human societal dynamics.  Yes, it has implications for most of the others, but that is not the same as saying it blindly controls the others.  As it turns out, being the selector doesn't mean control of society.  It means, generally, control of parentage.  That sounds great until you realize that men are inherently more aggressive and physically strong, which means they can (and often do) take control of a woman in other areas.

Try to keep that connection straight, ok?  Women are the biological selectors.  Men are biological aggressors.  When the two interact, the results are far less than simple and straight forward.

Quote:
Now if all sex was a one night stand, women are basically the selectors. Men are more willing to spread their seed around, women are more selective. But woman and society want men to be more than just sperm donors. So women set their price very high often meaning marriage and domestication of the man. Humans are a bit like the seahorse in that men are expected to provide for and help raise children. By setting their price so high, many men are going to pass on women's offer for sex. So in the marriage market you see more of a balance between men and women being the selectors. Same thing is true in the prostitution market, money is the great equalizer.

Go back and reread my posts.  I've said repeatedly that women are the primary selectors.  I wouldn't have bothered using that qualifier if there wasn't a reason for it.

Marriage -- childrearing -- is most often a two-way contract.  On a biological level, it is women who select their mates, and this determines a great many of our behaviors.  It's why men are aggressive and prone to risk taking.  It's why women feel more hesitation towards casual sex.  The list goes on for a long time.  However, all of these behaviors form a secondary construct -- society.  Within society, as you astutely point out, women are not always the primary selector.  In fact, the only thing that we can say about mating practice is that it's highly variable throughout the world, across cultures, and through history.

You may have noticed that I've mentioned this many times.  Simple biological principles produce very diverse cultural results precisely because we have evolved to be very adaptive in our mating and childrearing practices.

Quote:
Yes, but she has to be hot enough to be a selector. If there are only fuglies in the bar, I move on. So I'm being a selector too.

Wow, dude.

Look, let me explain how being the selector works in a stratified society.  Maybe that's what you're missing.  Suppose you have a hundred of each sex in a population.  For the sake of mental masturbation, suppose that each is graded on attractiveness, intellect, health, etc... from one to one hundred, so that for any one category, you can rank everybody in absolute order.  (Let's say there are 20 attributes in total.)

Notice first that you can't create an overall "master list" because there's no indication of how we ought to rank attributes.  While attractiveness is very important, you can't very well raise a kid if you're busy dying from a disease that everyone else is immune to.

Now, in a bar, there are three women, Hottie, Constance, and Goth.  Hottie is a 90 on the beauty meter, but a twenty on the humor meter and a 47 on the "enjoys sex" scale.  Constance is only a 50 beauty, but scores between 60 and 80 on seventy five of the hundred criteria.  Remember, that's way above average and way above the average number of "above averages."  Goth is a 48 beauty, only a 30 on self esteem, and a 25 on reliability.  However, she's a 75 on "adventurous" and a 94 on "gives head and swallows."

Now, three men come into the bar.  One of them only looks for beauty, and so, will only approach Hottie.  He might or might not succeed, but he will only try once, giving him (for argument) a 50% chance with one of three women.  Other men, who are sensitive to other nonverbal and verbal cues, will have long since learned that beauty does not account for all the fun in a one night stand.  They will approach all three women, giving them a 50% chance at 3 women (and statistically a much higher chance of getting a one night stand.)

Each of the three women will decide which, if any, of the approaching men are worthy of consideration.  If she is receptive to sexual advances, she will indicate by verbal and nonverbal cues which man she has chosen.  At that point, if any of the other men make advances, they are considered by most of the patrons to be asses.  "The woman said she's not interested, jerkoff!" might be something they'd expect to hear if they keep pestering one who has already chosen.

Now, in terms of mating, men are successful when they lay more women, right?  So, which of the three men in the bar is a more successful male?  The one who only lays hotties, or the one who takes all attributes into account and puts himself in front of every woman he finds at least moderately appealing?  Who's going to have a higher chance of knocking someone up tonight?  Whose genes are going to spread through the next generations' gene pool?

You got it.  The guy who doesn't date screw based on looks alone.  He puts himself in front of as many selectors as possible, giving him the highest chance of being selected.

Now, the reality is that if there are three girls at the bar, and it's a normal bar, at least a hundred men are going to at least say hi or something.  Every one of them is putting themselves out there for consideration.  In a matter of seconds, each of the three women will assess each man and give him an immediate indication of whether he should even bother trying.  Ask any observant woman.  On any given night, even a modestly attractive woman will turn away twenty men before they even get to hello.

Quote:
Immoral only to sexually repressed Christian women. Most men think "way to go dude".

Where do you live that men encourage rape?  Remind me never to go there.  I'm baffled that you think that every non-Christian culture in the world has sexually "liberated" women running all over the place.  Talk about  western bias!

Quote:
The Christian woman's moral indignation(aka jealousy with a halo) is really just anger that the man got some nuggie without paying a high price(like Christian marriage) for it. The woman is also immoral for giving it away without extracting a very high price from the man. Christian women don't like having their prices undercut. Why do you think they made prostitution illegal? Same reason other retailers what to get rid of WalMart.

Your pop psychology degree is past its warantee, dude.  Seriously.  I've already written so much.  It would take me another page and a half to set you straight on this.  Perhaps another time.

You know that I come down on Christianity as much as possible, but I try to keep it restricted to the things Christianity actually does.  There are some books you need to read:

 Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation  

The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation by Matt Ridley (Paperback - April 1, 1998)

 

 How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature  

The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature by Geoffrey Miller (Paperback - April 17, 2001)

 

 Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature  

The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley (Paperback - April 29, 2003)

 

 Sex, Relationships, and the Mind's Reproductive System  

Mating Intelligence: Sex, Relationships, and the Mind's Reproductive System by Glenn Geher and Geoffrey Miller (Paperback - Jul 20, 2007)

 

As you can see, this is not a subject that can be mastered dickering over the internet about whether hot women have it made.  You've got some huge gaps in your understanding of mating behaviors and how they translate into cultures.  You've also got some glaring misconceptions about some pretty basic things.  I'm not saying this to be mean.  I'm trying to help.  You're coming across as a rather misogynist xenophobe.  I think you truly want to know the answers to some of your questions, but you're having trouble even asking decent questions.  Rather than continue to assert things without any factual basis, it would be better for you to spend a couple of weeks reading.  Clearly, a few pages of summary are not enough for you to kick some of your misconceptions.

I'm always happy to answer questions, but my time would be better served doing more writing, and yours from more reading.

 

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism

EXC's picture

Hambydammit wrote:I'm not

Hambydammit wrote:

I'm not being flippant, here.  Have you never watched a comedian?  Every other comedian has a ten minute routine on how women are in charge.  It's either about how they're in charge and don't know it, or about how they do know it and use it to make men's lives difficult.

Yes, but every feminist you hear and many of their followers will tell you how this is a man's world. Men make make the rules, men decide how things are done, men use money and power to get whatever they want including women to sleep with them. These comics are always men too. The truth lies somewhere between the comic and the feminist.

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
Look at the human and dog relationship. Humans are the selectors of who lives and who breeds because of power and economic factors(we control the food supply and the weapons). So dogs are basically subservient to their human masters. If a dog gets out of line and doesn't obey it's human masters, it is destroyed and not bred.

Sometimes I wonder if you say things with the intention of pissing women off.  You have an alarmingly bad sense of metaphor.

Women, if you haven't noticed, are generally the intellectual equivalent of men (notwithstanding slight differences) and so cannot be compared either to dogs or their masters in this (very poorly conceived) analogy.

Exactly what I said, it is a poor analogy which is evidence that "women are the selectors" is not universally true. Please read what I'm say females and males is not analogous to humans and dogs. Males and females are both selectors, humans are the only selectors in our relationship with dogs, so we're the masters over dogs.

I don't get it. I compare MEN with dogs not women. So if anyone is pissed off shouldn't it be men? I agree with what feminist and women say: this is largely a man's world. I don't elevate men or women above the other. This should piss women off and make me misogynist? Explain this please.

Hambydammit wrote:

You got it.  The guy who doesn't date screw based on looks alone.  He puts himself in front of as many selectors as possible, giving him the highest chance of being selected.

But men want quality and not quantity too. There are reasons for men to want monogamy with a good woman too. So men become the selectors in marriage market too.

Hambydammit wrote:

Where do you live that men encourage rape?  Remind me never to go there.  I'm baffled that you think that every non-Christian culture in the world has sexually "liberated" women running all over the place.  Talk about  western bias!

You didn't say rape in your original quote. You said "overpower and coerce" still means legally consensual. Rape is a different ballgame. Why change the words and meaning?

I don't think I have a bias, but in America, people that are into sexual morality are pretty much all Christian. In other cultures it is their religion or some cult of sexual purity.

 

The funny thing is in the way you argue, you prove the comics point that women are in charge. Our goal should be to discover the facts though objective science. So you disagree with my opinions and arguments, fine. But what is your strategy to counter? Is it to explain the facts revealed through scientific experimentation and observation? Not much. Instead you tell me I'm "pissing women off" and I'm misogynist. So I should shut up for fear of pissing off any woman or feminist. So we'll end up with bad science that politically correct because it doesn't piss of any woman(our masters). Should Darwin have shut up for fear of pissing off any religious person or being called anti-religious bigot? Did Menken and Nitschke shut up for fear of being a called a misogynist? But that's what we have in a post feminist world, you can't do or say anything that would infringe on the sensitivities of women.

The fact that I can compare men to dogs and not piss men off, but I can compare women to a dog's master and piss women off. This can only be true if in fact women are men's masters. So the comics are right. Men better not come up with any science or discussion that may piss a woman off.

That's why I'm hesitant to read these books, there is always an agenda to come up with conclusions that are politically correct within the current zeitgeist. When you make personal attacks or try to label someone, you just show your motives are political rather than scientific.

 

Misogynist: A man who hates women as much as women hate one another.

 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca

Hambydammit's picture

Quote:That's why I'm

Quote:
That's why I'm hesitant to read these books, there is always an agenda to come up with conclusions that are politically correct within the current zeitgeist. When you make personal attacks or try to label someone, you just show your motives are political rather than scientific.

Sorry.  I didn't realize that only you are wise enough to know a book is politically motivated without reading it, AND you also know that I'm not smart enough to tell politically motivated propaganda from actual science.

I think we're done.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism

Thomathy's picture

skywolf wrote:my thoughts on

skywolf wrote:

my thoughts on homosexuality are this sex is a relaxant relaxed people are calm and happy orgasams make you calm and happy homosexuality is a way of calming a hypertence superorganisam when no viable genetic mates are compliant or available {hence jail homosexual behavior} while jails are a really bad example the navy would be a good exaple men seek men sometimes for solice just like they would femails and the nature of humanity dictates that people will develop a prefrence for homosexual contact on a regular basis although i personally don't seek other men in this way perhaps an expert on the subject of being homosexual will step forward with their thoughts btw gay is fine by me but u won't get any sex from me unless you are femail sorry

 

edit >

btw i like to use a george W bush before corprophilia to keep things nice and kleen

What you're describing is only a type of homosexual behaviour and in the cases you describe it is temporary.  A lack of genetic mates has nothing to do with 'jail homosexual behaviour';  a lack of preferable sex partners does.  Homosexuals, those who prefer sex only with members of their gender and who prefer romantic relationships with only members of their gender do not fit into the category of sexual behaviour that you've described.  As Hambydammit pointed out, human sex serves a distinct dual purpose, one social and one reproductive.   It is most certain that homosexuality is not a social construct or a choice an individual can make.  Just as in heterosexual sexuality, homosexual sex performs a variety of social functions only it cannot lead to reproduction in and of itself like heterosexual sex.  It has yet to be seen whether there is any evidence that homosexuality is the result of an evolutionary process that aids the reproductive success of the species as a whole, though that would seem to be most likely and there are theories (Hambydammit has actually espoused one once) that support this.

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."

EXC's picture

Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
That's why I'm hesitant to read these books, there is always an agenda to come up with conclusions that are politically correct within the current zeitgeist. When you make personal attacks or try to label someone, you just show your motives are political rather than scientific.

Sorry.  I didn't realize that only you are wise enough to know a book is politically motivated without reading it, AND you also know that I'm not smart enough to tell politically motivated propaganda from actual science.

I think we're done.

 

Well, I know the rules for publishing. You can't get a book published if it is politically incorrect, you can't get a Phd. if your opinions are politically incorrect and differ from the university faculty. Again you are changing what I said to suit what you want to believe. I did not say I "know for a fact they are bad science",  I just know how difficult it is to have a book published that is truly objective science in our politically correct and religious world.

Don't publishers have an economic motivation that trumps everything else? Universities have an economic motive not to piss anyone off either. Haven't surveys of college professors proven that they have a liberal politically correct agenda? They bring their politics into science classes and books are written by these professors and their students.

You made two types of attacks on me that are illogical and irrational. One that my arguments may piss some woman off. Also that because my opinions are not shared by shared by scientists(with a PC bias) they are necessarily wrong. So my conclusions should be driven by what pleases women and politically correct peer pressure? Is that rational thinking and good objective science? Or is it just winning a popularity contest by not offending anyone? Science is not a popularity contest.

 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca

Hambydammit's picture

Quote:You made two types of

Quote:
You made two types of attacks on me that are illogical and irrational. One that my arguments may piss some woman off.

I made no such argument.  I made an aside.

An argument goes like this:

1. X

2. Therefore, Y.

I just noted how often you say things in a way that seems designed to piss women off.  I did not follow it with, "therefore, your argument is wrong."  Go back and reread it again.  Your insecurity is showing.

Quote:
Also that because my opinions are not shared by shared by scientists(with a PC bias) they are necessarily wrong.

Try again.

You admit you have not read science, and you disagree with me based on your layman's observations.  I, however, have made layman's observations, and have read the science.  A lot of it.  From different authors.  In different countries.  With different publishing rules.

If you want to go toe to toe with me and discuss the mechanics of sexual selection, let's go.  You asked a question, and I answered it for you.  If you don't want to believe me, that's your right.  However, if you disbelieve me based on your personal uninformed opinion, we don't have anything more to talk about. 

Quote:
So my conclusions should be driven by what pleases women and politically correct peer pressure?

Your conclusions should be based on what can be empirically proven... you know... science?  But you're not going to read it because it might force you to abandon what you believe.  Because what you believe is right...

Because it's true...

Because it sure looks that way to you...

Because anyone who disagrees is biased...

You'd have made a good Christian.

Quote:
Is that rational thinking and good objective science? Or is it just winning a popularity contest by not offending anyone? Science is not a popularity contest.

Maybe you should read some of it.   Until you do, I'm done trying to talk to you.  You're not interested in learning.  You're interested in being right and holding onto your own self-serving view of sex.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism

Hambydammit's picture

Bumping.There have been a

Bumping.

There have been a lot of new folks on the boards lately, and a lot of discussions involving sex, so I figured I might as well put this out there again.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism

lalib's picture

I know this is old, but I

I know this is old, but I had a question Hambydammit.

 

I'm trying to find a source for info on men having more children than women, but I've had no luck with google. Any tips on where I can find this info? 

 

butterbattle's picture

I don't know if Hamby is

I don't know if Hamby is still monitoring this.

I'm pretty sure men do not have more children than women, or males have more children than females of most if not essentially all species for that matter. If the statistics ever started to favor males, then there would be an abundance of males, in which case natural selection would start favoring females. The ratio is usually 1:1, as this is the "evolutionarily stable strategy." The sex ratio in humans seemed to be slightly off, so statistically, I would imagine that the average man actually has slightly less children than the average woman.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare

lalib's picture

I couldn't figure out how to

I couldn't figure out how to send Hamby a pm, are they enabled in this forum?

I think his claim was that men have more offspring than women, not the ratio of male to female births. But I can't seem to verify this. 

 

Answers in Gene Simmons's picture

 Messaging is only enabled

 

Messaging is only enabled for accounts with badges. So you are going to have to ask for one in that thread in order to send them.

 

Past that, I don't think that males could reasonably have more kids than females. Remember that each baby is the product of one man and one woman. In a large social group (say one million breeding pars) the numbers are going to average out.

 

Also, it would not be sufficient to observe such a phenomenon. It would also have to be explained.

 

In the middle east, I think that you would have little to no problem demonstrating that a few males are fathers the majority of the children to the detriment of the larger number of males in general. However, that is a sociological matter.

 

In rural China, you might also observe that since few girl children survive to become breeders, plural marriage is rather more common. For example, two brothers marrying one woman. Given the lack of education in that part of the world, both men might get counted as having fathered a single child but again, that is not a biological matter.

 

Out of curiosity, where are you going with this line of inquiry?

NoMoreCrazyPeople wrote:
Never ever did I say enything about free, I said "free."

=

BobSpence's picture

If one man had all the kids,

If one man had all the kids, but had more than one child-bearing wife, he would have more kids than any of the wives.

So it relates to the question, do men have more partners than women, or vice-versa, in any given society, or overall?

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology

butterbattle's picture

In species where the females

In species where the females contribute exponentially more resources to reproduction than males, and the males have easy access to many females, it is normal for a few of the males to have many mates and the rest of the males to have none, while all of the females have about the same number of mates, zero to a couple. So, males on average do not have more kids, but there might be some males that have a buttload of kids. 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare

lalib's picture

*bold for

*bold for emphasis*

Hambydammit wrote:

The first thing we must know about males is that they tend to produce more children than females. This seems counterintuitive at first, but it's true. Men who marry twice are more likely to have children by both wives, and women are less likely to have children with their second husband. Add to this the fact that one particularly promiscuous male could have perhaps four or five wives in the course of a lifetime, all the while availing himself of the services of prostitutes and mistresses, and you will see the truth in it. Men produce more children than women.

If there's something twitching the back of your head about this, it's probably the question of how to work out the math if men produce more children than women. Obviously, there's a real number of children in the world, and it takes one man and one woman to make a child, so that can't be the way it is, can it? Yet, the numbers are astonishingly clear. Across all cultures, men who are fathers have more children than women who are mothers. It is undeniable. The only question is how we can interpret this information. What is the answer to this apparent paradox?

The answer is obvious, if painful. The only way for this to be possible is if virtually all females produce children, and many men do not. This is, as it turns out, completely true historically. There has always been a significant number of celibate men, usually the least powerful, or the poorest, or the ugliest. Furthermore, the ratio of men to women has always been essentially one to one. If for no other reason than this, we can say with certainty that humans are polygamous. (As we will see later, cuckoldry also plays a part in this odd equation, but not enough to explain the discrepancy completely.)

 

 

I guess I wasn't clear in my first post. Here is the relevant part of Hamby's essay.

I'm looking for the source behind this or to get some sociological data. 

 

I'm not trying to get at anything in particular, I was just reading his essay, tried to verify a claim he made, but I couldn't, so I'm asking him to point me to where he got the data from. 

butterbattle's picture

Ah. I think he's saying the

Ah. I think he's saying the same thing I'm saying. What he means is IF the male produces children, he will produce more children than the average female. 

Hambydammit wrote:
The answer is obvious, if painful. The only way for this to be possible is if virtually all females produce children, and many men do not. This is, as it turns out, completely true historically.

Such polygyny is extremely common. If you want some actual data, this looks pretty good.

http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2008/09/effective_polygyny_in_humans_t.php

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare

lalib's picture

Cool. Thanks, butterbattle. 

Cool. Thanks, butterbattle.