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Like those childishly intransigent visions of an entire universe spinning around an all-important Earth, the standard narrative of prehistory offers an immediate, primitive sort of comfort. Just as pope after pope dismissed any cosmology that would remove humankind from the exalted center of the endless expanse of space, just as Darwin was (and in some crowds, still is) ridiculed for recognizing that human beings are the creation of natural laws, many scientists are blinded by their emotional resistance to any account of human sexual evolution that doesn’t revolve around the monogamous nuclear family unit.
More than a fifth of the victims were under ten years old. Dare we even imagine the suffering such crimes have caused in the seventeen centuries since a sexual life was perversely forbidden to priests in the earliest known papal decree: the of Pope Siricius (c. What is the moral debt owed to the forgotten victims of this misguided rejection of basic human sexuality? Nor does Pinker include Africa, with its never-ending conflicts, child soldiers, and casual genocides. Although we’re led to believe we live in times of sexual liberation, contemporary human sexuality throbs with obvious, painful truths that must not be spoken aloud. Ever feel like the victim of a well-intentioned Inquisition? The conflict between what we’re may be the richest source of confusion, dissatisfaction, and unnecessary suffering of our time. Well, then, let the experts figure out what ails you, your partner, your relationship. This split-personality relationship with our true sexual nature is anything but news to entertainment corporations, who have long reflected the same fractured sensibility between public pronouncement and private desire. Who wants to spend her life apologizing for being just one woman? The American Medical Association reports that some 42 percent of American women suffer from sexual dysfunction, while Viagra breaks sales records year after year. They also traditionally domesticate llamas and guinea pigs and later the introduced dog, chicken, and pig.—The grow sweet potatoes, taro, bananas, sugarcane, Pandanus nuts, beans, and various leaf greens, as well as potatoes, maize, and peanuts. Worldwide, pornography is reported to rake in anywhere from fifty-seven to a hundred-“Americans spend more money at strip clubs than at Broadway, off-Broadway, regional and nonprofit theaters, the opera, the ballet and jazz and classical music performances—combined.”There’s no denying that we’re a species with a sweet tooth for sex. See de Waal (2009) for much more on the biological origins of empathy and instinctive justice. They raise pigs, used not only for meat but for important ritualistic celebrations.—About 90 percent of the diet is sweet potatoes. Domestic pigs are important both for currency used in barter and for the celebration of important events. To make matters even worse, Pinker juxtaposes these bogus “hunter-gatherer” mortality rates with a tiny bar showing the relatively few war-related deaths of males in twentieth-century United States and Europe. Perhaps most important, the twentieth century gave birth to “total war” between nations, in which civilians (not just male combatants) were targeted for psycho- logical advantage (Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki . .), so counting only male mortalities is meaningless. Serial monogamy stretches before (and behind) many of us like an archipelago of failure: isolated islands of transitory happiness in a cold, dark sea of disappointment. Their gardens, settled villages, and so on make territorial defense necessary and fleeing conflict much more problematic than it was for our ancestors.
And how many of the couples who manage to stay together for the long haul have done so by resigning themselves to sacrificing their eroticism on the altar of three of life’s irreplaceable joys: family stability, companionship, and emotional, if not sexual, intimacy? They—unlike true immediate-return foragers—have a lot to lose by simply fleeing aggression. If you live a settled life in a stable village, have a labor-expensive shelter, cultivated fields, domesticated animals, and too many possessions to carry easily, you’re not a hunter-gatherer. Conventional notions of monogamous, till-death-do-us-part marriage strain under the dead weight of a false narrative that insists we’re something else. We suggest, in particular, that this becomes an optimal solution for individual decision makers when the number of group members required for collective action exceeds the maximum group size at which leaderless cooperation is viable. Here’s an article about a paper demonstrating hormonal differences in how male chimps and male bonobos respond to stress, with chimps gearing up for battle and bonobos chilling out. If you prefer to read Pinker’s remarks, an essay based upon the talk can be found at org/3rd_culture/pinker07/pinker07_7. For a review, see Sussman and Garber’s chapter in Chapman and Sussman (2004). What is the essence of human sexuality and how did it get to be that way? Quite interesting, in light of the never-ending debate about the relevance of these two primates to human nature: Note that Pinker’s chart represents part of a chart in Keeley’s book (1996), and that Keeley refers to these societies as “primitive,” “prestate,” and “prehistoric” in his charts (pp. Indeed, Keeley distinguishes what he calls “sedentary hunter-gatherers” from true “nomadic hunter-gatherers,” writing, “Low-density, nomadic hunter-gatherers, with their few (and portable) possessions, large territories, and few fixed resources or constructed facilities, had the option of fleeing conflict and raiding parties. After we contacted him to ask how he could possibly justify the omission, Smith at first cited Wrangham and Peterson’s dismissal of bonobos as being less representative than chimps of our last common ancestor. If Bill and Hillary had gone on – What Is Evolutionary Psychology and Why Should You Care? A Closer Look at the Standard Narrative of Human Sexual Evolution– How Darwin Insults Your Mother (The Dismal Science of Sexual Economics)– The Famously Flaccid Female Libido– Male Parental Investment (MPI)– “Mixed Strategies” in the War Between the Sexes– Extended Sexual Receptivity and Concealed Ovulation4. Those of us raised in the West have been assured that we humans are special, unique among living things, above and beyond the world around us, exempt from the humilities and humiliations that pervade and define animal life. Here’s a paper that supports our contention that egalitarian social organization is more functional for small scale social groups like those of the EEA (see references to Dunbar’s number) and that more hierarchical power structures emerge when the group gets too big for consensus rule. Conflict models suggest that the formation of social hierarchies is synonymous with the establishment of relationships of coercive social dominance and exploitation. Strangely,even though he agrees with this central point made by Power, de Waal barely mentions her work—and only to dismiss her, at that. For more of Ferguson’s views on the origins of war, the following two papers can be downloaded from his departmental web page ( Tribal, “Ethnic,” and Global Wars, and Ten Points on War, which includes a broad discussion of biology, archaeology, and the Yanomami controversy. Washington Post review of Darkness in El Dorado: Jungle Fever, by Marshall Sahlins, Sunday, December 10, 2000, p. The Ape in the Mirror– Primates and Human Nature– Doubting the Chimpanzee Model– In Search of Primate Continuity5. The natural world lies below and beneath us, a cause for shame, disgust, or alarm; something smelly and messy to be hidden behind closed doors, drawn curtains, and minty freshness. A theory of leadership in human cooperative groups Journal of Theoretical Biology Available online 2 June 2010. Voluntary or 'integrative' models, on the other hand, suggest that rank differentiation—the differentiation of leader from follower, ruler from ruled, or state from subject—may sometimes be preferred over more egalitarian social arrangements as a solution to the challenges of life in social groups, such as conflict over resources, coordination failures, and free-riding in cooperative relationships. In an endnote in his 1996 book, , he writes, “On the basis of her reading of the literature, Power (1991) has argued that provisioning at some field sites (such as Gombe’s banana camp) turned the chimpanzees more violent and less egalitarian, and thus changed the ‘tone’ of relationships both within and between communities. Borofsky (2005) offers a balanced account of the controversy and the context in which it occurred. This is why Cacilda and I encourage people (even couples who write books about sex) to insist on our right to discretion. Jealousy: A Beginner’s Guide to Coveting Thy Neighbor’s Spouse– Zero-Sum Sex– How to Tell When a Man Loves a Woman 11. )– Poor, Pitiful Me– The Despair of Millionaires– Finding Contentment “at the Bottom of the Scale of Human Beings”12. )– Homo Economicus– The Tragedy of the Commons– Dreams of Perpetual Progress– Ancient Poverty or Assumed Affluence? The Never-Ending Battle over Prehistoric War (Brutish? If we’re “above” nature, it’s only in the sense that a shaky-legged surfer is “above” the ocean. Tierney (2000) outlines the case against Chagnon, though going far beyond the critiques we’ve outlined here.