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Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping, and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire-- Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do

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A lively and provocative look at how evolution shapes our behavior and our lives. Contrary to conventional wisdom, our brains and bodies are hardwired to carry out an evolutionary mission that determines much of what we do, from life plans to everyday decisions. With an accessible tone and a healthy disregard for political correctness, this lively and eminently readable bo A lively and provocative look at how evolution shapes our behavior and our lives. Contrary to conventional wisdom, our brains and bodies are hardwired to carry out an evolutionary mission that determines much of what we do, from life plans to everyday decisions. With an accessible tone and a healthy disregard for political correctness, this lively and eminently readable book popularizes the latest research in a cutting- edge field of study-one that turns much of what we thought we knew about human nature upside-down. Every time we fall in love, fight with our spouse, enjoy watching a favorite TV show, or feel scared--walking alone at night, we are in part behaving as a human animal with its own unique nature-a nature that essentially stopped evolving 10,000 years ago. Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa re-examine some of the most popular and controversial topics of modern life-and shed a whole new light on why we do the things we do. Reader beware: You may never look at human nature the same way again.


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A lively and provocative look at how evolution shapes our behavior and our lives. Contrary to conventional wisdom, our brains and bodies are hardwired to carry out an evolutionary mission that determines much of what we do, from life plans to everyday decisions. With an accessible tone and a healthy disregard for political correctness, this lively and eminently readable bo A lively and provocative look at how evolution shapes our behavior and our lives. Contrary to conventional wisdom, our brains and bodies are hardwired to carry out an evolutionary mission that determines much of what we do, from life plans to everyday decisions. With an accessible tone and a healthy disregard for political correctness, this lively and eminently readable book popularizes the latest research in a cutting- edge field of study-one that turns much of what we thought we knew about human nature upside-down. Every time we fall in love, fight with our spouse, enjoy watching a favorite TV show, or feel scared--walking alone at night, we are in part behaving as a human animal with its own unique nature-a nature that essentially stopped evolving 10,000 years ago. Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa re-examine some of the most popular and controversial topics of modern life-and shed a whole new light on why we do the things we do. Reader beware: You may never look at human nature the same way again.

30 review for Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping, and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire-- Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trevor (I sometimes get notified of comments)

    It is with good reason that I ought to agree with the conclusions of this book – I have two daughters and no sons. I have never really thought of myself as beautiful and so it would have been nice to have objective proof of my beauty. Unfortunately, and despite my unequivocal reward in accepting this hypothesis, I can’t bring myself to accept Evolutionary Psychology and its wonderful claims. I do tend to believe in serendipity though – and the fact Manny and I were talking about this recently on m It is with good reason that I ought to agree with the conclusions of this book – I have two daughters and no sons. I have never really thought of myself as beautiful and so it would have been nice to have objective proof of my beauty. Unfortunately, and despite my unequivocal reward in accepting this hypothesis, I can’t bring myself to accept Evolutionary Psychology and its wonderful claims. I do tend to believe in serendipity though – and the fact Manny and I were talking about this recently on my review of Outliers and now the very next book I read is about Evolutionary Psychology is one of those odd little coincidences that adds a bit of spice to life. In the end I just found this book annoying. It is presented as a series of questions. The answers are based on what is described as the best possible research and the reader is encouraged not to bother worrying about such unscientific notions as ‘political correctness’ (how did ‘being nice to people’ ever become a pejorative?) No, this is hard-nosed and fearless science at its best. There is an easy way to tell this is the case – women are basically to blame for everything, including it seems male mid-life crisis. I nearly stopped reading this book when it gave the reason why most suicide bombers are Muslim. The reason? Well, Islam tolerates Polygyny and that means lots of men end up with no access to women. Monogamy favours men and Polygyny favours women (as they get access to the best men and have their children looked after). But it does leave lots of men living a rather lonely existence. So, with the mere promise of 72 Virgins off they run to strap on the bomb belts. If it wasn’t so serious it would almost be funny. You know, one of the authors of this book is Japanese. Did they have polygyny in pre-war Japan? If not, how does his theory account for the suicide missions of Japanese pilots? Actually, don’t tell me – anyone can play the ‘let’s just make something up’ game. Who would have thought Rudyard Kipling would have such a powerful role in modern science. This is a book of evolutionary just-so stories. Some of the stories are more or less accepted today – like how the penis got its shape. But others are very iffy, like why beautiful people have more daughters idea – if you know someone who is butt-ugly with a squad of daughters (and I would prefer if you could think of someone other than me as your example if you don’t mind) the other ‘solution’ to this problem is that people of low status also tend to have daughters – so if you have more daughters it is either because you are hot or a no hoper. That just about covers it, I guess. But some of the stories are plain obnoxious. The idea that sexual harassment is a growing problem in the world (I would have actually thought it was becoming less of a problem) is because men treat women as equals, rather than because men treat women differently, has to be one of the more repulsive ideas in the book. What annoyed me most was the spurious conclusions contained in this book are invariably presented as the uncontroversial results of a purely objective application of the scientific method. This is precisely my problem with Social Darwinism. Natural selection has its place – and that place is called Biology. When it is used to ‘explain’ human behaviours the whole thing has a rather pungent smell about it. And to be frank, the smell that fills my nose is of death. Not everything that is said in this book is nonsense, although it would be easier to criticise if it was. For example, like any other male I think about sex rather frequently (perhaps even too frequently) – but to say that ‘getting laid’ is virtually the sole motivator for every action I do is not just more Freudian than Freud – but also too silly to waste time on seriously rebutting. I know people really do love having simple answers to complex behaviours, but really, this is just being silly.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    You know how when you read a really good nonfiction book, you come away with a sense of exhilaration, a feeling that the world is a little clearer, a little richer than it was before? Now imagine starting to read a book on evolutionary psychology, getting a bit of that feeling, then reaching the middle of the book and realizing that the authors have been cheating you the entire time. That's WHY BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE HAVE MORE DAUGHTERS in a nutshell. The authors sound great for a while, but then they'l You know how when you read a really good nonfiction book, you come away with a sense of exhilaration, a feeling that the world is a little clearer, a little richer than it was before? Now imagine starting to read a book on evolutionary psychology, getting a bit of that feeling, then reaching the middle of the book and realizing that the authors have been cheating you the entire time. That's WHY BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE HAVE MORE DAUGHTERS in a nutshell. The authors sound great for a while, but then they'll make an assertion that makes you go, "Wait..." and you'll discover, upon investigation, that they're stating things as fact without citing any support, and ignoring any evidence that conflicts with their conclusions. Take, for example, their assertion that "Islam [is:] the only religion that motivates its followers to commit suicide missions," and "while suicide missions are not always religiously motivated, when religion is involved, it is always Islam." Except it's not. Christians and Hindus have been known to commit religiously-motivated suicide attacks. The authors assert that the explanation for Muslim suicide bombing is that Islam allows polygyny, meaning that many young men will have no access to wives, and promises the suicide bombers 72 virgins in heaven. By the standards of evolutionary psychology, then, suicide bombing makes perfect sense for Muslim men with poor marital prospects: it is logical to leave this life in which they have no access to women for one in which they will have access to a large number of women. What's missing is any sort of information on how strongly that belief is held by bombers. Belief in that particular passage would have to be extremely strong to override the evolutionary urge to survive and pass on your genes in this world. Or take women's income versus men's. The authors conclude that "the sex gap in earnings and the so-called glass ceiling are caused not by employer discrimination or any other external factors, but by the sex differences in internal preferences..." and proceed to assert that women in liberal capitalist societies can achieve whatever they want. Any difference in achievement is because women don't care as much as men about status. Any woman who's worked her way up in a male-dominated industry (myself included) can tell you that our lack of desire for success and promotion is not the sole factor - or even the primary factor - in holding us back. The authors ignore mountains of evidence that opposes their conclusion. For example, women asking for raises or promotions are perceived more negatively than men asking for the same. Ambition in men is perceived more positively than in women. Identical resumes will be perceived as representing less competence and value if a female name is attached to them. And so on. The authors claim that men harass each other, so in the case of hostile work environments, "men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women." This ignores different types of teasing, such as those used to strengthen ties between members of an in-group versus those used to exclude non-members. It ignores differences in attitudes toward and perceptions of women between men who promote a hostile work environment and men who don't. Basically, it ignores anything that doesn't fit with the authors' hypotheses. Which is the exact opposite of appropriate use of the scientific method. You don't get to ignore what doesn't fit. The most egregious abuse of the reader's trust is probably in the section entitled "Why are single women more likely to travel abroad - and why are young single men more likely to be xenophobic?" It starts out by asserting that if you ask a group of unmarried friends what their hobbies are, women will list traveling, men won't. This is because indicators of status are culturally-determined, so single men abroad won't have their status markers recognized by foreign women, and therefore won't get a chance to mate with them (this explains their xenophobia). They cite studies that show that unmarried women are far less likely to express xenophobic attitudes than unmarried men. They then claim that the differences disappear when people marry - married women are no less likely to express xenophobic attitudes than married men. Wait, what? Otherwise open-minded young women suddenly become xenophobic when they marry? Seem a little hard to believe? Well, guess what: the authors don't have any citation for that piece of "evidence." I could go on and on (language isn't apparently a system because men are better than women at systems, but women are better at language, ergo language is not logical and systematic) but I think this sampling is representative enough. There are more enlightening ways to spend your time.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

    This book is utter dribble. In fact the more I think about it, the more it infuriates me because it disguises Western-centric racism as "science". Granted, I think I've questioned the validity of evolutionary psychology since reading Buss in FP, but this book simply served to confrim all my suspicions. It tackles such burning questions as: Why does everyone like blondes best? (it's because blond hair indicates youth, and men seek youth so that they can be sure of finding the most fertile women t This book is utter dribble. In fact the more I think about it, the more it infuriates me because it disguises Western-centric racism as "science". Granted, I think I've questioned the validity of evolutionary psychology since reading Buss in FP, but this book simply served to confrim all my suspicions. It tackles such burning questions as: Why does everyone like blondes best? (it's because blond hair indicates youth, and men seek youth so that they can be sure of finding the most fertile women to make the most babies on.) The book makes a similar argument about blue eyes. You might wonder, as I did, about basis for making such sweeping generaliziations. ALL people EVERYWHERE in the world only want blond, blue-eyed women? What about, I don't know....ENTIRE PORTIONS OF THE WORLD in which people primarily have dark hair, dark eyes, and dark skin? Their evidence is so weak, it's infuriating. I had been grading lots of student papers before reading this and, I kid you not, I kept finding myself making comments in the margins like "how can you prove this?" "where is your evidence for this?" "avoid such broad generalizations." Their writing, and especially their analytical skills are worse than my average freshman rhet student, and that's saying something. Only read this book if you like mythological-type stories about the origin of things.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eric Walkingshaw

    Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters is essentially a pop introduction to evolutionary psychology. The first chapter provides an overview of the field. Subsequent chapters tackle various domains of human nature by posing seemingly controversial statements, then supporting them with evolutionary psychology. This book could have been huge fun--the topic is fascinating and the format works well for what it is--but it ends up failing, in my eyes, for the following reasons: The writing is simple, b Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters is essentially a pop introduction to evolutionary psychology. The first chapter provides an overview of the field. Subsequent chapters tackle various domains of human nature by posing seemingly controversial statements, then supporting them with evolutionary psychology. This book could have been huge fun--the topic is fascinating and the format works well for what it is--but it ends up failing, in my eyes, for the following reasons: The writing is simple, bland and repetitive. I read far more academic papers than books, and generally subscribe to a content-over-style philosophy, so I would have been more than willing to overlook this if it was its only fault. But of course, it wasn't. The authors are extremely confrontational towards what they call the "standard social model". The constant jabs seem petty and repetitive and really detract from the fun of the subject matter. It also seems rather flippant in light of the third and final big problem with this book: God created humans. Just kidding. But, as one who doesn't understand the value of evolutionary psychology would undoubtedly be even quicker to point out, the science is pretty spotty at times. The sensationalism is what makes this book fun (or rather, could have made it fun), but many ideas here are presented as fact when the evidence is sometimes embarrassingly thin (e.g. one experiment that hasn't been able to be repeated despite numerous attempts). Evolutionary psychology provides an interesting and logically- and scientifically-sound way of analyzing human nature. What could have been an eye-opening and fun romp through the field ends up making it feel cheap.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Troy Blackford

    This is a great book on evolutionary psychology. Maybe not the greatest book on the topic I've ever read, but there are all too few books on the topic and this one is very welcome. Posed in a 'question and answer' format, you'll get through this one all too quickly as the brisk prose and fascinating subject matter make it seem shorter than it actually is. This is a great book on evolutionary psychology. Maybe not the greatest book on the topic I've ever read, but there are all too few books on the topic and this one is very welcome. Posed in a 'question and answer' format, you'll get through this one all too quickly as the brisk prose and fascinating subject matter make it seem shorter than it actually is.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mya

    Congratulations, it's been a while since I gave a book only one star. Honestly if I could I would give this book a zero, not only are its contents absurdly bad, but I see all this info spewed to and fro everywhere like it is an ACTUAL FACT and damn, that is harmful. This book though. This fucking book. I actually fail to believe it was written by tenured professors of well-known universities. Working for the department of Psychology, what's more! When people say "evolutionary psychology", I usuall Congratulations, it's been a while since I gave a book only one star. Honestly if I could I would give this book a zero, not only are its contents absurdly bad, but I see all this info spewed to and fro everywhere like it is an ACTUAL FACT and damn, that is harmful. This book though. This fucking book. I actually fail to believe it was written by tenured professors of well-known universities. Working for the department of Psychology, what's more! When people say "evolutionary psychology", I usually narrow my eyes and feel wary, readying myself for the incoming bullshit. I wanted to read more about it tho, maybe to dispel these prejudices I have of the field. Well I certainly didn't find that, but I found a book that is a perfect example of every bad and bullshitty thing that comes to my mind when people mention evolpsych. Yaaaaay! So next time someone asks me why this shit reeks of pseudoscience, I'll just recommend them to skim through this book. Where to start, even? The fact that it is offensive to both men and women, reducing women's value to their reproductive ability and making men seem like machines whose only purpose and goal in life is to shoot sperm into the nearest vaginas? The blatant eurocentrism of this whole book? (I don't use this term lightly) Dubious referencing and "research"? Insisting that polygyny is the natural way and common among the whole human species, but that men are right to be sexually protective and jealous of females. *my eyes hurt from rolling* Not that I'm a feminist, but the gloating about making feminists angry and being "politically incorrect" (life isn't fair and it isn't politically correct, they say). Holy shit, it is like this book was written by a teenage boy, or a man talking shit in a pub with his mates. How about the fact that it basically blames women for domestic abuse, between the theories that husbands abuse their wives when they lose respect for them (because of their disappearing reproductive value ofc aka "you're ugly now so fuck you"), or on the other hand stating that older husbands abuse and murder their younger wives due to jealousy, even blaming the women for this. Let me quote the author: "Because young women are reproductively more valuable than older women, men are more motivated to protect and guard their younger wives than their older wives. This is why it is the wife's age, not the husband's, that predicts spousal abuse and murder. Even though a 50-year-old man is typically much less violent and criminal than a 25-year-old man, a 50-year-old man married to a 25-year-old woman is much more likely to abuse and murder his wife than a 25-year-old man married to a 50-year old woman (although there are very few such couples) or even a 25-year-old man married to a 25-year-old woman." So I guess the authors here conclude that the woman's age and the husband's jealousy are at fault, even while saying that a 25-year-old to a 25-year-old do not have this level of abuse. So it couldn't possibly be that the demographic of old-ass men who marry much younger women is a demographic with certain features such as insecurity, controlling behaviour, immaturity, not being well adapted socially. Certainly the only reason why one would choose a younger woman would be the looks and reproductive value, and not the fact that they are less experienced, have less income and are thus more easily manipulated and controlled? Another tragically/hilariously insane statement: women are the reason why men have middle-age crises. Another quote: "Many middle-aged men do go through midlife crisis, but it's not because they are middle-aged but because their wives are. Just as it is the wife's age, not the husband's that determines the risk of spousal abuse and murder, it is the wife's age, not the husband's, that prompts the constellation of behavior commonly known as "midlife crisis." From the evolutionary psychological perspective, a man's midlife crisis is precipitated by his wife's imminent menopause and the end of her reproductive career, and thus his renewed need to attract younger, reproductive women. Accordingly, a 50-year-old man married to a 25-year-old woman would not go through a midlife crisis, while a 25-year-old man married to a 50-year-old woman would. It is not his midlife that matters;it is hers. So when he buys a shiny red sportscar, he's not trying to regain his youth;he is trying to attract young women to replace his menopausal wife by trumpeting his flash and cash." Jeebus, I guess older women are just toxic trash that must be replaced asap, since their value only lies in their reproductive ability and looks! Off with you woman, I've no need for you anymore. The thing I hate most about this shit is - evolpsych of this kind is basically fables and children's tales, and so, so often used by pieces of shit people in real life to defend their shitty behaviour and intolerant, sexist, hurtful, primitive ideas. SURE I'll grant that a lot of these things would ring true to a certain kind of people, but those are not the kind of people who one would call "evolved, educated, cultured, intelligent" and such. I mean psychology by itself has a really hard time establishing its position among natural and/or social sciences without this bullshit field of evolutionary psychology coming along, acting like we basically have not changed at all from the time we became hunter-gatherers as a species. And bastardizing human innovation, culture and achievements to "men did it to get laid" reduces men and the whole of humanity to nothing more, and I mean this seriously, than animals. People have an inner life and a fear of mortality that pushes them to strive for greatness and achievements, not just "hm what can I do to bang the most women."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cissa

    This was a very silly book. Lots of footnotes, but the author (only one of the co-authors actually wrote it) would have done well to study a bit of formal logic to avoid some really basic errors in the cause-and-effect relationship. For one thing, just because 2 things are statistically related does not imply causality at all, let along a particular one. "A" might cause "B"; "B" might cause "A"; both might be caused by "C", etc. Jumping from relationship to a specific causality was done consisten This was a very silly book. Lots of footnotes, but the author (only one of the co-authors actually wrote it) would have done well to study a bit of formal logic to avoid some really basic errors in the cause-and-effect relationship. For one thing, just because 2 things are statistically related does not imply causality at all, let along a particular one. "A" might cause "B"; "B" might cause "A"; both might be caused by "C", etc. Jumping from relationship to a specific causality was done consistently throughout the book. And that's ignoring the circular arguments. The best one here was why women earn less money than men, even when doing the same work. Our author says that there is no such thing as sexual discrimination in this- rather, women and men are paid fairly because women lack the motivation men do in pursuing their careers, and thus deserve less pay. And how do we know this? Why, because women earn less! That proves it! Also, just because one very specific example of evolutionary psychology turned out to be actually falsifiable, He then concludes triumphantly that this proves that EP itself is falsifiable! That was, though, the only such example in the book; I cannot see any way to prove most of the conclusions one way or another- although I suspect that picking and choosing the data one uses is not a good way to start. Not recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    So those who know me know that I like to redux things to mammoth hunting. AKA: boys can't multi-task because in the time of the mammoth all they needed to do was kill the mammoth.... whereas women had to skin the mammoth, turn its meat over the spit, watch the children to make sure they didn't walk into fiery pit over which said mammoth was roasting, and I don't know, erect a tent or something. Well lo and behold, here's a book that does it with scientific backing. Taking the basic premise of evo So those who know me know that I like to redux things to mammoth hunting. AKA: boys can't multi-task because in the time of the mammoth all they needed to do was kill the mammoth.... whereas women had to skin the mammoth, turn its meat over the spit, watch the children to make sure they didn't walk into fiery pit over which said mammoth was roasting, and I don't know, erect a tent or something. Well lo and behold, here's a book that does it with scientific backing. Taking the basic premise of evolutionary psychology (we have 10,000 year old brains and all we want to do is have babies), it looks at modern day patterns and investigates questions under that lens... for example: Why gentleman prefer blondes Why religion is a universal human constant? Why violent criminals are men Why Larry Summer's statement was... evolutionarily, correct. Anyways, though it's a little off on certain things and applies the theory too broadly at times, it was still a delightful read. Nothing totally surprising, but neat anyways 9especially the experimental side of things. Go forth, read, argue.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Vinit Nayak

    To understand and accept what the authors are trying to say, you have to be in a vacuum of evolutionary psychology principles and not let any other factors get in your thought process. A few valid human behaviors around finding mates/striving for reproductive success are explained and then they are used over and over again to extrapolate other unrelated behaviors. Women look for men who will provide adequate care and invest their time and resources in their children. Men love sex. Also, men love To understand and accept what the authors are trying to say, you have to be in a vacuum of evolutionary psychology principles and not let any other factors get in your thought process. A few valid human behaviors around finding mates/striving for reproductive success are explained and then they are used over and over again to extrapolate other unrelated behaviors. Women look for men who will provide adequate care and invest their time and resources in their children. Men love sex. Also, men love sex. My favorite takeaway: If men were the ones who got to choose when to have sex instead of women, there would be "no Beatles, no Microsoft", no civilization. I'm glad they don't. At one point, Miller brings up an interesting study regarding babies looking similar to fathers at certain ages as a evolutionary adaptation to spot cuckoldry. Then at the end of the section he says many other people have tried to replicate this very easy experiment and none of them got the same results......... Though one interesting part which Miller brought up in the first section when setting up the bounds for the rest of the book was the naturalistic fallacy, the misconception that what is, ought to be. It's the first time I had read about that, though that kind of gives someone a free pass when bringing up controversial data. I would still recommend the first 2 chapters, maybe 3 if someone has never read anything about evolutionary psychology. After that the same points keep getting repeated.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    I literally read this book in a day. It has tons of interesting tid-bits of information.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alan Wang

    Evolutionary biology is certainly an interesting science and for me it’s interesting because it studies fundamental human nature. Overall I found the findings and hypotheses in this book intriguing even though they may not be highly substantiated from a scientific point of view: Two Errors to Avoid Naturalistic fallacy – leap from is to ought , the tendency to believe what is natural is good and what is, ought to be. For example, people are genetically different so they ought to be treated di Evolutionary biology is certainly an interesting science and for me it’s interesting because it studies fundamental human nature. Overall I found the findings and hypotheses in this book intriguing even though they may not be highly substantiated from a scientific point of view: Two Errors to Avoid Naturalistic fallacy – leap from is to ought , the tendency to believe what is natural is good and what is, ought to be. For example, people are genetically different so they ought to be treated differently Moralistic fallacy – leap from ought to is , claim that the way things should be is the way they are. For example, “because everyone ought to be treated equally, there are no innate genetic differences between people” Stereotypes are empirical generalizations with a statistical bias and thus on average tend to be true. “Men are taller than women” is a stereotype that no one complains about because for the most part men like being taller than women and women like being shorter than men. However, “women are fatter than men” is not appropriate to say but in all societies women on average have higher percent body fat than men (needed to give birth) What is Evolutionary Psychology? Standard Social Science Model • Humans are exempt from biology • Evolution stops at the neck • Human nature is tabula rasa • Human behavior is a product almost entirely of environment and socialization Evolutionary Psychology Model • Human nature is made of evolved psychological mechanisms and adaptations (preference for fats and sweets, male sexual jealousy) • People are animals • There is nothing special about the human brain(it is just another body part shaped through and can be explained by evolution) • Human nature is innate • Human nature is product of both innate human nature and the environment The Savanna Principle – Human brains have not changed since the Stone Age. The agriculture revolution only started ~10,000 years ago and since there the environment has been changing too rapidly (agriculture into industrialization into modern day society) for further evolution to take place. Natural selection must occur in a stable, unchanging environment over many generations which has not been the case the last 10,000 years. So we currently have the same evolved evolutionary psychology as our ancestors did 10,000 years ago. This is why our brains cannot comprehend that images on the TV as fake (we rationally know they are fake because we have learned so growing up in our environment, but innately our brains have trouble understanding it. This is why we can become so attached to TV characters and become addicted to TV, because instinctually we believe they are real Our ancestral adaptations can become maladaptive in today’s society. For example, our predilection for sweets and high calorie foods now lead to obesity. And male jealousy and mate guarding can lead a man to go to jail where he can no longer achieve reproductive success. Why Are Men and Women so Different? • Not because of gender socialization (girls and boys are raised differently after birth), but because of innate sex differences present from day 1. Gender socialization is the consequence of inherent difference between the sexes, not the cause • There is a higher fitness ceiling for men because men theoretically can have much more children than women can have in one lifetime. So skew of reproductive success is much greater among men (small percentage of men has absurd number of offspring, majority of men have none) which explains why males are more competitive. They have much to gain and if they don’t compete, they will likely end up with no offspring (speaking in terms of caveman times) • There is only one human culture (all have deep structure of grammar in language, all consume animal proteins and worship animate objects). We pass on our culture in order to give knowledge to the next generation and help them survive. Why do Men like Blonde Bombshells? Since thousands of years ago, there have been evidence of women dying their hair blonde in an effort to be more attractive. This is because men innately find the curvaceous “blonde bombshell” attractive. Why? 1) Youth – self-explanatory, men want to mate with young women who have higher health and reproductive value than older women. Chances of healthy offspring will be higher 2) Long hair - ancestral men accessed women’s health by length of her hair. Since hair grows very slow per year, a woman with long, healthy-looking hair likely had healthy status for several years. Long hair on a sickly woman would not look as healthy so it is good indicator for men to gauge women. This is also why older women tend to have shorter hair. 3) Small waist - healthy women tend to have lower waist-to-hip ratios, it also signifies fertility 4) Large breasts - breast size has no relationship with milk lactation, so why does size matter? One theory is that men use breasts as gauge for woman’s age. Larger breasts will be firm when woman is young and noticeably sag when she is older, so women with large breasts can more easily be age-gauged by men. Conversely, small breasts do not change so much in appearance as a woman ages, so more difficult for men to gauge. 5) Blonde hair - just like breast size, blonde hair is an accurate indicator of a woman’s age and thus reproductive value. Blonde hair changes dramatically with age so young girls with light blonde hair often grow up to have brown hair. Therefore, blonde hair signifies youth. The reason the “blonde hair” trait evolved first in Scandinavia as opposed to Africa is because ancestral Scandinavia women had to wear clothing to defend against cold. This covered up their breasts so men could not tell their age with breast size, so women evolved blonde hair. In Africa, men only needed to rely on breast size indication so blonde hair was not needed. 6) Blue eyes - human pupils dilate when they see something they like. Blue is the lightest color of human iris so size of pupil is easiest to determine in blue eyes. Therefore, it is easier to determine whether someone with blue eyes likes us or not than someone with darker eyes. This is why blue eyes is an attractive trait for men and women (note: then why didn’t Africans and Asians evolve this trait?) Evolutionary psychology explains why 1) Standards of beauty are universal 2) Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession 3) Pornography is a billion dollar industry (and vast majority of consumers are men) Men tend to overestimate a woman’s attraction to him and women tend to underestimate a man’s attraction to her. For the man, it is better to assume attraction and go for it as it doesn’t cost him much to invest in new offspring (sperm can be made in minutes). But for the woman, having a child takes at least 9 months out of her fertility state so they have more to lose if they mate with the wrong man. Cognitive Bias to explain rise in religion – When something good or bad happens to you it might be an intentional act by someone/something or it might be a random event. The consequence of a false positive (thinking it was an intentional act but actually is just random) is far less severe than a false negative (thinking it was random but actually someone is plotting against you). Therefore, evolutionarily speaking it’s more rational for humans to err on side of paranoia and to explain things that happen to them in terms of purposeful intent rather than randomness. This gives rise to belief in God. Other Interesting Notes as explained by Evolutionary Psychology • Monogamy is better for men (because theoretically all men can get a mate) and polygyny is better for women (theoretically most if not all women can mate with select few high quality men) • Having son decreases likelihood of divorce (because parents want to keep family resources intact to pass down to the son as resources are more important to a male’s mating strategy than a female’s) • Diamonds and flowers are popular gifts for women precisely because they are “useless” or have no functional utility. It shows that the man is willing to invest money to buy a “useless” thing and give to the woman, making it seem more likely he is willing to invest in her and her offspring. Also it shows that the man has the resources to spend on such functionally useless items • Study shows that handsome men make “bad” husbands • Wealthier parents tend to have more sons, poorer parents tend to have more daughters • Physical attractiveness is more useful for women than for men (physically attractive women tend to do well in long-term and short-term mating whereas physically attractive men might only do well in short-term mating). So this is why physically attractive parents tend to have more daughters. This is also why the average woman is more attractive than the average man ( note: not so sure about this claim seems very subjective ) • Newborns tend to look more like their father. This is so that the father does not think he has been cuckolded and then kill the child. This is an adaptive trait displayed by newborns to maximize their own survival chances (Mommy’s baby, daddy’s maybe) • Girls of divorced parents tend to enter puberty earlier and become more sexually promiscuous because they have inherited genes that will predispose them to do so. • Competition for sexual reproductive success between men explains why the vast majority of criminals are men (they have less to lose more to gain from a evolutionary perspective) • This is why creativity is most prevalent in young men around prime breeding age (in order to outcompete and win reproduction opportunity with women) • A man’s mid-life crisis occurs because his wife has lost her fertility (reached middle age) and he subconsciously wants to mate with younger women. His crisis has nothing to do with his own age • Younger women are at greater risk of domestic abuse since they are more valuable and men will exert more effort to mate-guard them • Why do so many powerful men risk everything to have an affair (Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton)? Because they are supposed to…evolutionarily speaking • Men on the whole achieve higher status and earn higher income than women because those things are innately more important to them than they are to women (generally speaking) • Male brain is systemizing and female brain is empathizing. Ancestral men needed “S” brain to invent tools and weapons and needed lower “E” brain to tolerate solitude during long hunting trips. Ancestral women needed “E” brain for mothering and making friends and allies in new environments which these women often found themselves in after marriage • Autism is extreme “S” brain skew • Sexual harassment in the workplace stems from men’s competitive and hostile nature in general. They were hostile to other men before so now that women have entered the workplace they will be hostile to women, and naturally it comes out in sexual way because men are biologically more inclined toward short-term casual sex ( this seems like one of the weaker arguments, kind of stretching the logic here I feel ) • Islam is the most violent religion with highest number of suicide bombers because it tolerates polygyny, so small number of men monopolizes all the women which give rise to a more competitive society (greater propensity toward male violence). Also suicide bombers are for the most part single men who have “lost” in the reproductive game so they exhibit higher willingness to kill themselves and get their “72 virgins” in heaven • Why do single men dislike traveling abroad while single women like to? Because a man’s competitive advantages do not necessarily translate across geographies and cultures (he cannot easily manifest or communicate that he is a high-paid lawyer back home while in a completely new country). However, a woman’s main competitive advantage (beauty) is transparent across all cultures and geographies. • Due to evolutionary psychology, women are more risk-averse than men and tend to be more religious as well

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Good primer. I knew most of the stuff. Really easy read. Recommend as a pre "Moral Animal" read. One thing that astonished me is that the Sperm Wars 10% illegitimate fact is the bottom of the spectrum. It could be as much as 30%. or it could be as low as 4%. the evolution of statistics does not imply evolution of underlying reality. could be an evolution of sampling & interpretation. Quotes: "There is no place for "ought" in science." "Men become jealous of their mates' sexual infidelity with other m Good primer. I knew most of the stuff. Really easy read. Recommend as a pre "Moral Animal" read. One thing that astonished me is that the Sperm Wars 10% illegitimate fact is the bottom of the spectrum. It could be as much as 30%. or it could be as low as 4%. the evolution of statistics does not imply evolution of underlying reality. could be an evolution of sampling & interpretation. Quotes: "There is no place for "ought" in science." "Men become jealous of their mates' sexual infidelity with other men...women become jealous of their mates' emotional involvement with other women." "Women should underestimate a man's romantic involvement with her, because of the cost of a false positive." "One tenth of a wealthy man is still better than a whole of a poor man when resource inequality is extreme." "Of course, diamond and flowers are beautiful, but they are beautiful precisely because they are expensive and lack intrinsic value, which is why it is mostly women who think flowers and diamonds are beautiful. Their beauty lies in their inherent uselessness." [Generalized Trivers-Willard hypothesis:] "If parents have any trait they can pass on to their children that is better for sons than for daughters, then they will have more boys. Conversely, if parents have any trait they can pass on to their children that is better for daughters than for sons, then they will have more girls." (Why women are more beautiful than men and why men are more intelligent than women.) "the degree of father absence might be a microlevel indicator (within the family) of a macrolevel degree of polygyny (within the society)." "The ultimate reason why men do what they do - whether they be criminals, musicians, painters, writers, or scientists - is to impress women so that they will sleep with them. Men do everything they do in order to get laid." "A comparison of the "age-genius curve" among scientists who were married at some point in their lives with the same curve among those who never married shows the strong desistance effect marriage on scientific productivity. Half as many (50 percent) unmarried scientists make their greatest contributions in their late 50s as they do in their late 20s. The corresponding percentage among the married scientists is 4.2 percent." "Many middle-aged men do go through midlife crisis, but it's not because they are middle-aged but because their wives are." "Men make more money because they want to; women make less money because they have better things to do than make money. The sex gap in earning and the so-called glass ceiling are caused not by employer discrimination or any other external factors, but by the sex difference in internal preferences, values, desires, dispositions, and temperaments." "Men on average desire nearly twenty sex partners in their lifetimes; women desire less than five." nearly 40% of undergraduate women admitted to saying no to sexual advances from a man even though they actually wanted to have sex with him. More than a third of these cases where the women initially said no eventually resulted in consensual sex. That females are selected to be coy will mean that sometimes saying 'no' really does mean 'try a little harder.'" "Courts in the united States often employ the standard of a a fictitious "reasonable person" to determine whether a given workplace constitutes a hostile environment, Browne points out that there is no such thing as a "reasonable person"; there is only a reasonable man and a reasonable woman." "ethnocentrism (the tendency to value one's own group and correspondingly to devalue other groups) is an evolved innate tendency that all humans have...contrary to what social scientists and hippies alike proclaim, we don't learn to be a racist through parental socialization; we learn not to be one...Humans are born racist and ethnocentric, and learn through socialization and education not to act on such innate tendencies. Humans are innately ethnocentric because ethnocentrism - helping others of one's group members at the cost of all others - was adaptive in the ancestral environment." "Behavior geneticists contend that the rough rule of thumb when it comes to the determinants of child development is 50-0-50 - that is, roughly 50 percent of the variance in personality, behavior, and other traits is heritable (determined by the genes); roughly 0 percent by shared environments) what happens within the family, shared by all siblings); and roughly 50 percent by the nonshared environment (what happens outside the family, often not commonly shared by siblings)."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    Fascinating topic, stilted lecture-hall writing. And the big reveal to the big question of the title? Why do we do what we do? Sex. The end. But one word would not a book make, so they authors listed lots of scenarios where they could reiterate the answer. Why the violence in the middle east? Why more women at church? Why so many girls enrolled in travel abroad, so many boys at white-supremacy rallies? All one answer. S-E-... Another nag: the authors' imagination seemed to fail their research que Fascinating topic, stilted lecture-hall writing. And the big reveal to the big question of the title? Why do we do what we do? Sex. The end. But one word would not a book make, so they authors listed lots of scenarios where they could reiterate the answer. Why the violence in the middle east? Why more women at church? Why so many girls enrolled in travel abroad, so many boys at white-supremacy rallies? All one answer. S-E-... Another nag: the authors' imagination seemed to fail their research questions. Big obvious problems with their hypothesis were ignored. An example of a frustrating premise: all men, regardless of race, prefer blond women with blue eyes above all others, and have for all of our evolutionary history. So Masai herdsmen? Samurai warriors? People who never encountered a blond in their life-- they would have automatically wanted to marry her? How could there be an innate but overwhelming preference for something that never existed for 98% of the world's population? The authors' seemed to be bent on defeating arch-rival tabula rasa proponents, but went too far, dismissing the effects of culture completely. Yes, human culture-- the existence of such a thing-- is an evolutionary psychological/behavioral adaptation-- but it's reflexive. Biology may require culture but does not control it. At least not completely.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    Many reviews on this site object to the conclusion of the book, namely, that certain psychological behaviours (e.g. why men are more aggressive and women are more amicable) are biologically determined. Indeed, it is a controversial topic. Some said the book was a bit shallow or not scientifically rigorous enough. Granted it isn't the most academically thorough book, but it makes a good introduction to the subject, and gives you some interesting things to think about (namely, how far evolution ca Many reviews on this site object to the conclusion of the book, namely, that certain psychological behaviours (e.g. why men are more aggressive and women are more amicable) are biologically determined. Indeed, it is a controversial topic. Some said the book was a bit shallow or not scientifically rigorous enough. Granted it isn't the most academically thorough book, but it makes a good introduction to the subject, and gives you some interesting things to think about (namely, how far evolution can go towards explaining even the remotest psychological tendencies), as long as you keep in mind that many of the explanations are conjecture and that the research is quickly evolving. But I often suspect that charges of "unscientific" are motivated by people trying to undermine conclusions they don't like. If you want something a little more "scientific", I'd recommend Matt Ridley's books Genome, The Agile Gene, The Red Queen, and The Origins of Virtue. There are also some by David Buss and Geoffrey Miller. And of course, there's Steven Pinker. Jonathan Haidt's books are also excellent. It's a big topic with much written about it, and this book is a little bit more on the beginner side than some of the others, but it's a fun read (it doesn't have to be written in order because the topics are spread out through the book) and a good place to start if you want something easy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kevin McAllister

    Why do beautiful people have more daughters ? Simply put, evolution helps pass on their genes in the most efficient way possible. According to evolutionary psychologists being attractive is the single most important factor determining a woman's reproductive success. Therefore this is the trait most apt to be passed on to females. The book poses lots of interesting questions, but the book's flaw is that the answer to all of them boils down to the same thing : Sex. Take for example this passage "A Why do beautiful people have more daughters ? Simply put, evolution helps pass on their genes in the most efficient way possible. According to evolutionary psychologists being attractive is the single most important factor determining a woman's reproductive success. Therefore this is the trait most apt to be passed on to females. The book poses lots of interesting questions, but the book's flaw is that the answer to all of them boils down to the same thing : Sex. Take for example this passage "All men (criminal or not) are more or less the same. The ultimate reason why men do what they do-- whether they be criminals, musicians, painters, writers, or scientists-- is to impress women so they will sleep with them. Men do everything they do in order to get laid." Now, being male I'll accept that sex is a powerful motivator. But the only one ? Sorry, but I just can't buy that. And I realize this is a book written for lay people and not for scientists. But what kind of self respecting scientist would write a paragraph of such utter drivel ?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Littrell

    “Women are the reason men do everything” (p. 133) Many years ago, before evo psych was even sociobiology, some people (usually social scientists) would ask themselves, how did things go down in the prehistory? They realized that our instinctive behaviors were honed on the savannahs of Africa long before we became civilized or even before we became human. The Darwinians among them further realized that the ten thousand or so years since the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry was not eno “Women are the reason men do everything” (p. 133) Many years ago, before evo psych was even sociobiology, some people (usually social scientists) would ask themselves, how did things go down in the prehistory? They realized that our instinctive behaviors were honed on the savannahs of Africa long before we became civilized or even before we became human. The Darwinians among them further realized that the ten thousand or so years since the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry was not enough time for human nature to have changed much. Ergo, we are savannah animals dining at the Burger King with our fingers on the nuclear trigger reading the Wall Street Journal, but with our biological imperatives virtually unchanged since the Stone Age. From that simple, but profound, realization has sprung evolutionary psychology, which is a fine tool for gazing more or less objectively into the labyrinth of human behavior leading to some understanding of why we behave the way we do. As wonderful as I think evolutionary psychology is—and it is indeed an eye opener that has taken the groves of academy by storm in the last couple of decades—I can readily see five problems: One, it upsets people much in the same way that Freud or Darwin upset people, namely by making us more like animals than like beings made in the image of God. Two, evolutionary psychology, like all psychologies, is limited. Three, sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between something obviously true (men want lots and lots of reproductive opportunities) and something that may be true (“the death penalty cannot deter young men” from violent crimes—see page 130). Four, the unwarranted leap that many people, even some very intelligent and educated people, make from the is of an evo psych discovery to the ought of a moral or societal truth; e.g., women want a man committed to helping them raise their children, but they also want the genetic input from the most alpha male they can find. This, to many people, makes it sound like cuckolding your hubby is the right thing to do since it is the “natural” thing to do. It is also the natural thing to take what you want when you want it, but that doesn’t make it right. Five, behavioral tendencies as gleaned from a study of humans in the so-called Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness are just that, general tendencies that most people at one time or another, for a myriad of reasons, do not always follow. Evolutionary psychology describes main tendencies; it does not prescribe anything. Of course some of these tendencies are powerful biological imperatives that most people find difficult to ignore. The strength of this book is that the authors go well beyond the familiar discoveries from evolutionary biology to lesser known but fascinating discoveries such as the evolutionary rationale behind beautiful people being more likely to have daughters than sons, to why rich people are more likely to have sons, or why having sons reduces the chance of a divorce, to even why gentlemen prefer blondes. Here are some observations on the few cases I think the authors didn’t get quite right: They ask: “What is the adaptive problem that religion is designed to solve? Do religious people live longer or have greater reproductive success? So far, no one has been able to point to an adaptive problem that religion is designed to solve.” (pp. 158-159) Not so. As Edward O. Wilson so eloquently put it in Human Nature (1978): "When the gods are served, the Darwinian fitness of the members of the tribe is the ultimate if unrecognized beneficiary." (p. 184) What he meant was that the adaptive reason for religion is to make the tribe more cohesive and better able to defeat other tribes in, for example, warfare. The authors write: “The reason most Western industrial societies are monogamous, despite the fact that humans are naturally polygynous, is that men in such societies tend to be more or less equal in their resources, compared to their ancestors in medieval times.” (p. 90) While I suppose this is true, a better reason is that large polygynous societies are politically unstable since large numbers of males without mates tend to revolution; and given suffrage, they would vote against polygyny, as in the US. The authors aver that there is no satisfactory (adaptive) explanation for why soldiers die for their country. (p. 186) The clear explanation is that young men put themselves in positions in which they are likely to die in battle because society sees that as being brave and manly, and females like to mate with brave and manly men. The fact that many of these men might die before reproducing is offset by the increased reproductive fitness of those who don’t die and the fact that they often (as the authors report) have sex before going off to war. Another bugaboo that authors don’t believe is answered is how homosexuality can be adaptive. (See page 180.) The simple answer is that homosexuality in many environments leads to effective male bonding which in turn can lead to a monopolizing of the available females. While homosexual men may not copulate with the females as much as their heterosexual buddies, they will nonetheless copulate a lot more often than loners who do not have access to the females. One more point: many sociologists might object to the authors’ use of the term “Standard Social Science Model.” Not being a sociologist myself, I find it hard to believe that the Standard Social Science Model, as characterized by the authors, virtually ignores evolutionary biology and sees everything in purely cultural terms, leaving us to believe, for example, that gender differences in male-female behaviors are largely the result of a patriarchal bias in society. Written in a popular style with some understandable simplicity, this book is an excellent introduction to evolutionary psychology, nee sociobiology, which, along with cognitive psychology and neuroscience, constitutes the essence of contemporary academic psychology. --Dennis Littrell, author of “The World Is Not as We Think It Is”

  17. 5 out of 5

    Madeline Wright

    I thought this was an interesting tome of thoughts about why humans are the way we are now, relative to our ancestral behavior. The data presented appear to be scientific in collection and analysis. However, in the leap from data to conclusions being drawn something appears to be missing or suffering from data sampling errors. Is it really true that in every culture most men naturally desire to mate with young blue-eyed blondes over all others? Or did they only choose to study Eurocentric popula I thought this was an interesting tome of thoughts about why humans are the way we are now, relative to our ancestral behavior. The data presented appear to be scientific in collection and analysis. However, in the leap from data to conclusions being drawn something appears to be missing or suffering from data sampling errors. Is it really true that in every culture most men naturally desire to mate with young blue-eyed blondes over all others? Or did they only choose to study Eurocentric populations where that appears to be the case? Examples of behavior and cultural tendencies of European or Euro-American populations were applied to the majority of the world population in here quite a few times and framed as being why 'men' were like this or 'women' were like that. At least the ethnographic studies that were presented from a Eurocentric/Western POV exposed how easily those researchers were susceptible to confirmation bias. Actual cultural differences were minimized. Take these evolutionary conclusions with a grain of seasoning of your choice.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    A good overview of evolutionary psychology but some issues are oversimplified/generalized.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chris Davies

    Fascinating claims, but keep your critical thinking cap on at all times. Some of the tantalizing stuff is heavily biased and lacks proper backing, while other points are more sound.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eve

    If you're simply dipping your toes in evolutionary psychology, Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters is the perfect cursory starter book to stoke your curiosity. To get the most out of this book, however, you have to check notions of political correctness before reading or else most of the theories will make your blood boil. Evolutionary psychology is "the study of human nature" as it pertains to "evolved psychological adaptations." Basically, how modern humans act and our motivations as a pro If you're simply dipping your toes in evolutionary psychology, Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters is the perfect cursory starter book to stoke your curiosity. To get the most out of this book, however, you have to check notions of political correctness before reading or else most of the theories will make your blood boil. Evolutionary psychology is "the study of human nature" as it pertains to "evolved psychological adaptations." Basically, how modern humans act and our motivations as a product of evolution. The way Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters is organized is unique and approachable. The authors dedicate the first two chapters with the fundamentals of evolutionary psychology and pointing out what fallacies to discard in approaching the field. One of the most startling things I learned was that our human brain has evolved very little since 10,000 years ago. We basically have Stone Age brains and Stone Age subconscious motivations. And despite what I hold idealogically, gender roles and stereotypes are not nurtured through socialization - men and women are just wired differently. Our brains show differences from the first day of life. From there, the book is organized in a question-answer format. The authors seemed to have taken the most common questions pertaining to gender differences and then some. In addition to the above, the authors ask then answer through the prism of evolutionary psychology concerns such as: "Why are there so many deadbeat dads but so few deadbeat moms?" "Why do men like blonde bombshells (and why do women want to look like them?" "Why do men so often earn more money and attain higher status than women?" This is what I mean about reading this book without certain biases. It can be tough to have an open mind, but the answers may surprise you. They certainly are thought-provoking, but leave room for more comprehensive explanation. Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters just brushes the surface of evolutionary psychology; it is more broad than deep. Although there is plenty of fodder for (heated) conversations, I would suggest reading other, more in depth books on this fascinating subject, such as The Mating Mind by Geoffrey Miller. And why do beautiful people have more daughters? This is shorthand but, here goes: Physical attractiveness is a heritable trait that ensures reproductive success, right? Beautiful people are desirable as mates so they have more opportunities to reproduce. However, although beauty benefits both men and women, it benefits women more, as men can rely upon other traits to make them attractive, such as wealth and status. Beautiful women, whether rich or poor, will have no shortage of potential mates. Therefore, beautiful people, according to the book's hypothesis, should have more daughters than sons.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Asenath

    I rate this book so highly not because I agree with all the ideas put forth in this book, but for the manner in which it was written. I won't lie--I have a hard time getting through most non-fiction books. I get bored about half way through and abandon them for more fast paced fantasy novels. But this book not only kept my interest, it made me think. The argument of the book is that humans, like all other lifeforms on Earth, have evolved throughout the ages. We are not "blank slates" but are subj I rate this book so highly not because I agree with all the ideas put forth in this book, but for the manner in which it was written. I won't lie--I have a hard time getting through most non-fiction books. I get bored about half way through and abandon them for more fast paced fantasy novels. But this book not only kept my interest, it made me think. The argument of the book is that humans, like all other lifeforms on Earth, have evolved throughout the ages. We are not "blank slates" but are subject to the natural impulses of our brain that come from our Stone Age ancestors. Evolutionary Psychology relates everything back to reproduction: the reason men do everything that they do (which is mostly driven by the unconscious mind) is to pass on their genes, and the reason women act the way they do is to find the best mate. One thing I found interesting was the claim that we still have our "Stone Age" brains; because society has changed so rapidly, we as a species have not had time to evolve to keep up with our surroundings. I'm not sure where I stand on Evolutionary Psychology--I need to research it more--but I had a difficult time believing everything is motivated by sex. A lot of the "answers" they give in this book make sense to me. Others seem a bit far fetched. I also liked that at the end of the book the authors listed questions that could not be explained by Evolutionary Psychology. They acknowledged that this theory could not explain away every human behavior. Overall, I thought this was a very interesting read that encourages critical thought. Don't read this if you are offended easily because some of the questions they answer are very charged. Read this with an open mind a willingness to pick out the truth.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Larry

    It has been a very long time since I read a book that made me think as much as this one. It is for that reason that I'm giving it 5 stars. I did not agree with much of the book and found it maddening at times to see just how much the authors had to stretch to make this theory (evolutionary psychology) explain certain things. However, the reader simply needs to remember that evolutionary psychology is just that - a theory. The purpose of the theory is to describe, explain, and predict behavior. T It has been a very long time since I read a book that made me think as much as this one. It is for that reason that I'm giving it 5 stars. I did not agree with much of the book and found it maddening at times to see just how much the authors had to stretch to make this theory (evolutionary psychology) explain certain things. However, the reader simply needs to remember that evolutionary psychology is just that - a theory. The purpose of the theory is to describe, explain, and predict behavior. Theory does not prove something to be true (the scientific method is used to test hypotheses that are made based on theory). Indeed, evolutionary psychology has much in common with Freud's psychoanalytic theory in that much of the suppositions are actually not testable and, therefore, any attempt to argue with an evolutionary psychologist is maddening. Having said all that, I cannot deny that the arguments and premises presented in the book (and broader theory) really made me think. It is also hard to argue how well the theory does indeed explain a lot of humans' most base behaviors and motivations but how it fails to explain the behavior of humans who recognize their most basic nature (some might call it the "natural man") and then purposely fight against it. Those complex contradictions were just some of the issues that left me pondering on this book even when I was doing other things. I really enjoyed it for that reason! It was really, really thought provoking for me!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Micah Smurthwaite

    Evolutionary Psychology is a psuedoscience at best. While the ideas are challenging and interesting, the scholarship is so bogus that it's hard to take seriously. Conjectures without empirical support makes for arguments that are like the ones I have with my boys during halftime of a niners game. E.G. "The male penis has evolved into its current shape in order to shovel out other male sperm and assure the man of his paternity." Thesis by phDs backed by empirical data and isolated variables or co Evolutionary Psychology is a psuedoscience at best. While the ideas are challenging and interesting, the scholarship is so bogus that it's hard to take seriously. Conjectures without empirical support makes for arguments that are like the ones I have with my boys during halftime of a niners game. E.G. "The male penis has evolved into its current shape in order to shovel out other male sperm and assure the man of his paternity." Thesis by phDs backed by empirical data and isolated variables or convo with the boys over pizza and beer?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chrys

    I checked this out from the library b/c I was intrigued by the title. (Good job naming this book.) It is written by evolutionary psychologists so that gives you an idea of where it's going. It was somewhat thought-provoking and fascinating but also silly. The main idea is that we are driven by impulses in our genetic makeup and that b/c of the "Savanna Principal" we don't know what to do with situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment. I checked this out from the library b/c I was intrigued by the title. (Good job naming this book.) It is written by evolutionary psychologists so that gives you an idea of where it's going. It was somewhat thought-provoking and fascinating but also silly. The main idea is that we are driven by impulses in our genetic makeup and that b/c of the "Savanna Principal" we don't know what to do with situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ally Hunter

    this is such a brilliant book! it is very much like 'freakanomics' but with a biological slant. the explanations on human sexuality are absolutely fascinating. some stuff was laugh out loud funny--but maybe that is because i am a biologist. at any rate, i think the ladies will be laughing harder than the fellows who read this book. clearly, we are the better designed sex--and can be so tricky! this is such a brilliant book! it is very much like 'freakanomics' but with a biological slant. the explanations on human sexuality are absolutely fascinating. some stuff was laugh out loud funny--but maybe that is because i am a biologist. at any rate, i think the ladies will be laughing harder than the fellows who read this book. clearly, we are the better designed sex--and can be so tricky!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Todd

    I quickly read this book, as it is designed to be able to skip around. It is a very interesting sociological exploration of a variety of topics and how evolution has created preferences for men and women. Some great snippets to discuss especially around topics like why women desire a gift to cement a relationship. Men and how they make decisions. I would recommend this for someone who is interested in Sociocutural evolution and development.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book is FUN! I like "pop science" books where the PhD authors step away from their university lives to write about their research area for the public, and this is the best example I've seen lately. It made me want to read more evolutionary psychology books. I'm still unsure exactly how that title claim works out, though. This book is FUN! I like "pop science" books where the PhD authors step away from their university lives to write about their research area for the public, and this is the best example I've seen lately. It made me want to read more evolutionary psychology books. I'm still unsure exactly how that title claim works out, though.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    This book might be a bunch of hooey, but there are definitely some thought-provoking ideas here. I would not recommedn this book for people who actually believe everything that they read, but if you like to think, and entertain possibilities, you might enjoy this one.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ian Pollock

    A fun, well written book. Better for raising surprising claims than convincing one of them; the titular claim is backed up by a paper written by the author that, upon googling, I found not terribly convincing. Still, a decent introduction to evopsych-style thinking for laypeople.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joe B

    I don’t disagree with the author’s thesis that the majority of human behavior is rooted in biological imperatives, but the authors seem to overemphasize only one aspect of this biological imperative. The authors set up a paradigm whereby all human behavior is interpreted through the lens of “reproductive success.” Fair enough. Then they make reference to, but ultimately fail to fully explore how this metric is quantified. For example, they typify the behavior of Bill Clinton and men in general a I don’t disagree with the author’s thesis that the majority of human behavior is rooted in biological imperatives, but the authors seem to overemphasize only one aspect of this biological imperative. The authors set up a paradigm whereby all human behavior is interpreted through the lens of “reproductive success.” Fair enough. Then they make reference to, but ultimately fail to fully explore how this metric is quantified. For example, they typify the behavior of Bill Clinton and men in general as representative of the natural polygonous predilections of human males. Similarly, they argue that women are naturally less polyamorous because the means of assuring their reproductive success are best effectuated by attentive child rearing. They temper this view by stating that women could potentially find it in their best reproductive interests to engage in cuckolding behavior. This dichotomy of the reproductive imperatives between men and women implies that there are two means of assuring reproductive success: (1) increasing the odds of reproducing; (2) and increasing the odds of offsprings’ survival. Ultimately, however, these means have opposite implications such that any and all human behavior could potentially pass through this interpretative lens and be seen as representative of either biological imperative. Men are more violent and competitive because they want to increase their chances of mating? Well being more violent and competitive also means that, on the whole, we live in a society where everyone’s children are less likely to survive. Women focus more on child rearing because they want to assure their offsprings’ survival? Being competitive and hoarding resources could just as easily be explained by the biological imperative to assure offsprings’ survival. On net, did men or women’s predilection across cultures to engage in certain behavior come about as a result of biological imperative 1 or despite it due to biological imperative 2? Is there a 3rd confounding imperative we are not considering? There’s no way of really knowing. These metrics are so malleable, however, that one is able to attribute any behavior to one or the other. Therefore, the author’s thesis is a tautology of sorts. As another example, how would the author’s explain the evolutionary basis for the existence of exclusively homosexual men? Homosexual behavior cannot be explained as increasing the odds of an individual’s reproductive success. Homosexual men had virtually no chance of reproductive success throughout our species’ history. The authors would likely (indeed, other evolutionary psychologists do) contend that homosexuality evolved out of the biological imperative to help protect and assure the survival of the offspring of one’s kin (who share one’s genetic makeup). This also potentially explains the observed phenomenon of higher rates of homosexual men with older brothers. Where one is the fourth or fifth brother born to a single mother, there is likely going to be more competition for mates within one’s small tribe. If that competition is between one’s own brothers who share similar genetic material, there is less of an imperative for that individual specifically to reproduce and they may focus on being a protective uncle to their brothers’ children. It is entirely possible, however, that this is completely wrong. Made up entirely. The existence of exclusively homosexual men is potentially the result of completely different biological imperatives or genetic variations unrelated to an individual’s reproductive success. This hypothetical explanation of homosexual behavior, however, demonstrates the flexibility of the evolutionary psychology thesis. It can often be adapted to explain any observed phenomenon, ultimately making it rather useless. Again, I do agree with the basic contention that all human behavior is rooted in some biological imperative. I would argue, however, that these imperatives are likely numerous, highly nuanced, and often cut against one another. Making sweeping generalizations about human behavior and attributing that behavior to any one biological imperative cannot be done without a more thorough analysis of all contributing biological imperatives. This is an analysis we are simply unprepared to engage in given the current scientific limitations of neurology, genealogy, and anthropology. It is an analysis that is largely ignored in this book.

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