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Unread December 18th, 2005, 04:19 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Philadelphia area
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Thumbs down Mate Selection: Bummy Guys & Great Broads

They parade in the mall: girls dressed and coiffed but on the arm of guys who wear baggy jeans, scraggly beards, backward caps, and a wired plug in one ear. The pattern repeats in the Cafe at Barnes and Noble in some couples who appear closer to 40 years old than to 16.

An artifact of contemporary culture?

But culture often follows genes, particularly when imposed environments falter, and I must wonder...

Mothers sometimes hide traits that sons express and sometimes express minor versions of major developmental scars. Given the Maes et al (1998) study that showed partners to have a genetic loading for psychopathology, could the tramps reveal the hidden half of their lady?
The dismal possibility: mate preferences on the basis of psychopathology might predict quirkier kids with each generation. And the possibility exists that genes not only make cultures but cultures, eventually, promote the expression of a subset of genes that match the culture.* The partnership becomes a coevolutionary process that lets males get more and more weird and females as both more attracted to weirdness and ever better at compensating for it. The things that mothers do for sons become the mission of girlfriends and wives...

* The Flynn Effect describes an increase in tested IQ every 10 years; there is no clear explanation for it. Geof Miller thinks that smart brains are an outcome of sexual selection. But smart brains are not necessarily conforming brains. Dennett was partly correct: weirdness evolves...

References:

Maes, H. H., Neale, M. C., Kendler, K. S., Hewitt, J. K., Silberg, J. L. Foley, D. L., Meyer, J. M., Rutter, M., Simonoff, E., Pickles A., & Eaves, L. (1998) Assortative mating for major psychiatric diagnoses in two population-based samples. Psychological Medicine, 28(6), 1389-1401.

Miller, G. (1998) How mate choice shaped human nature: A review of sexual selection and human evolution. In Crawford, C. & Krebs, D. (Eds.) Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 87-130.
--------- (1999) "Human Language and Intelligence as Sexually Selected Fitness Indicators" Given at the Hunter School of Social Work, 4/14/99.
---------- (2000) The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature. NY: Doubleday.

Richerson, Peter, & Boyd, Robert (2005) Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

James Brody, Copyright 2005, all rights reserved
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