The forum topics are fascinating, but I was surprised to find the one topic that led me to Evolutionary Psychology and Sociobiology: failed human relationships. I practice family law (divorce). Like many of you, my days are consumed with failed relationships, domestic violence, and emotional terrorism. Half of the families in California have collapsed in divorce. If family and descent are the basic survival structure of our species, we need to get serious about this before our culture drives us to entropy.
Stopping divorce is not the issue. Families consumed by violence and terrorism should be dissolved. The issue is how to reverse this avalanche of failed relationships. We need to change how we educate our children. They must be empowered to identify, acquire, and maintain sound relationships.
I have been working with domestic violence shelters over the past ten years, and was asked to research where the violence was coming from. The common refrain is "It is taught," but we were confronted with too many examples of it not being "taught." Something more complex was going on. Evolutionary Psychology and Sociobiology brought light to the darkness by showing that dominance and aggression are natural behaviors. Ethology demonstrated that we are not slaves of instinct. The observations and oral histories Heroditus enabled us to trace our difficulty in human relationships to the dawn of human civilization.
It is a natural behavior for men to engage in aggression in response to pain: the pain of inadequacy. Women, on the other hand, seem to experience their greatest pain when they feel insecure in relationships. Emotional terrorism is often the first weapon of choice for women. These styles of fighting feed each other until everything unravels. Our gender roles emerge from the hunter-gatherer phase and were nothing more than specialized tasks that promoted survival. Upon the emergence of civilization, these roles were cemented in stone by law and religion (nature leads to nurture). Unfortunately, these roles do not travel well to this time and place. They lead to miscommunication, false expectations, and to the certainty that men and women will continue to hurt each other without knowing why or how. Since we have done little or nothing to advance our gender roles beyond the early biped phase, our culture is simply fostering dysfunction. No amount of counseling or shelters will make this go away. We stop the cycle by educating our children differently.
This can work. In my law practice, I have been able to stop about 10% of the divorces that come in. This usually works in cases where they did not understand how they are causing each other pain. In my work with young people (youth theater), I found them hungry for knowledge about the natural influences on the behavior of men and women. They began to feel less awkward and stupid in relationships when they had a means of understanding what each other was saying. They also experienced fewer conflicts when they began focusing their expectations correctly. For example, when a girl asks the football hero that most dangerous of questions, "How do you feel?", she does not expect him to descend to the third chakra and reveal his inner most feelings with great insight. Instead, she understands when he merely checks himself for gas and a headache before responding, "Fine."
I wish to challenge and plead with you all to start focusing on how to educate our children to do sound relationships, and save the species. Arguments on nature vs. nurture are great fun, but there are serious problems out here that could benefit by your scholarship.
We are having difficulty understanding how to influence girls. Boys seem to be greatly influenced by older men other than their fathers. We suspect that this emerges from the ancient human tradition of the village elders bringing boys to manhood. Women do not have a similar structure since nature brought them to adulthood. They first tune out their mothers because mother is on the front line of keeping them from getting pregnant (keeping them in childhood). Other women don't do much better. They are viewed as unfair competitors in the mating game, or old crones who don't get it. Consequently, girls turn to each other for guidance, which is little more than the clueless leading those without a clue. We are left with the spectacle of girls jumping into the same abyss as all the generations of women before them. How can we break this cycle?