“Compared to sexual ornamentation that grows on the body, courtship behavior is even more flexible and condition-dependent. If you are a human feeling really ill, you do not have to go to the Ministry of Sound nightclub with your significant other and dance all night after taking lots of drugs. If you are in poor aerobic condition you do not have to run the Olympic marathon and die of heatstroke. If you are not very bright you do not have to go to Stanford Business School and fail. Condition-dependence lets us choose our battles.” (127)
“Contact between bands may have been tense and brief, with the threat of violent confrontation balanced against the possible benefits of trade, gossip, and the exchange of sexual partners. Selection would have favored a capacity for very fast decisions about which individuals were attractive enough to pursue. These snap judgments could have been based on information like physical appearance, bodily ornamentation, apparent social status, and public display behavior (such as sports, music, and story-telling). Our ability to judge the physical attractiveness of a human face in a seventh of a second is a legacy of selection for such fast decision-making. Since males would usually have been more motivated to pursue sexual prospects, they would have been more active in this initial phase of searching through bands, looking for attractive potential mates, and trying to switch bands to court good possibilities.” (203)
“It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: all of the significant evolution in our species occurred in populations with brown and black skins living in Africa. At the beginning of hominid evolution five million years ago, our ape-like ancestors had dark skin just like chimpanzees and gorillas. When modern Homo sapiens evolved a hundred thousand years ago, we still had dark skins. When brain size tripled, they tripled in Africans. When sexual choice shaped human nature, it shaped Africans. When language, music, and art evolved, they evolved in Africans. Lighter skins evolved in some European and Asian populations long after the human mind evolved its present capacities.
The skin color of our ancestors does not have much scientific importance. But it does have a political importance given the persistence of anti-black racism. I think that a powerful antidote to such racism is the realization that the human mind is a product of black African females favoring intelligence, kindness, creativity, and articulate language in black African males, and vice versa. Afrocentrism is an appropriate attitude to take when we are thinking about human evolution.” (222)
“Although it is larger than any other primate’s, the human penis has plenty of rivals in more distantly related animals. Blue whales and humpback whales have penises eight feet long and one foot in diameter. Bull elephants have penises around five feet long. Boars have 18-inch penises that ejaculate a pint of semen. Hermaphroditic snails have penises about as long as their entire bodies. Stallions, like men, use blood rather than muscular contraction to fill their much larger penises. Dolphins have voluntary control over the tips of their man-sized penises, which can swivel independently of the shaft. Male genitals are even stranger among the invertebrates, sporting a dizzying variety of sizes, flagella, lobes, bifurcations, and other ornaments, apparently designed to stimulate invertebrate female genitalia in as many different ways as there are species.” (231)
“Male humans show many adaptations for sperm competition, both physical and mental. For example, some studies have shown that when a woman returns home from a long trip, her partner tends to produce a much larger ejaculate than normal, as if to overwhelm any competitor’s sperm that may have found its way into his unwatched partner’s vagina.” (231)
“For the last 2 million years, our ancestors have been larger than any insect or amphibian, and larger and stronger than about 90 percent of birds, reptiles, and mammals (to a first approximation, most mammals are rodents and rabbits). Among more than 300 species of modern primates, only male gorillas (averaging around 350 pounds) are significantly larger than humans (around 150 pounds); female gorillas and male orangutans are slightly heavier than male humans, while male chimpanzees weigh up to 130 pounds, and bonobos up to 90 pounds, for both sexes. Our ancestors were the most powerful omnivores in Africa. There were some larger hoofed herbivores, a handful of larger carnivores, and the odd elephant, mastodon, hippopotamus, or rhinoceros. But once our ancestors evolved the ability to throw stones, to wave torches around, to attack in groups, and to run for long distances under the midday sun, they were probably the most terrifying animals in Africa. It is a wonder they bothered to evolve more intelligence at all.” (251)
“[Immanuel Kant] pretended to have a philosophical proof that ideal, disinterested beauty exists. But it is hard to tell Kant’s “proofs” from idealistic assertions about human psychology. If we can find an evolutionary function for an aesthetic taste, then it is “interested”, and if we can find functions for all tastes, then ideal beauty was a figment of Kant’s celibate imagination. If you want a philosopher who understood the biological functions of beauty, read Nietzsche instead.” (283)
“Psychologists sometimes fail to understand how circular it is to ‘explain’ moral behavior in terms of moral preferences. Of course, one can always say that we are kind because we choose to be kind, or it feels good to be kind, or we have brain circuits that reward us with endorphins when we are kind. Such responses beg the question of why those moral preferences, moral emotions, and moral brain circuits evolved to be standard parts of human nature. A costly behavior cannot evolve just because it happens to feel good. Feeling good must have evolved to motivate the behavior, which must have some hidden [evolutionary] benefit.” (296)
Teen pregnancy is more acceptable than being gay and that’s really sad.
But Mom, how am I supposed to buy drugs with a gift card?
This paper identifies several ways in which personality informs philosophical belief. In the present study, individuals holding doctorates in philosophy were given a personality inventory and asked to respond to nine philosophical questions…