Yanamamo fitness

Wed, 2 Feb 1994 21:25:32 CST

Dwight Read is right, of course. I was giving a parody of the sociobiological
argument. Whenever one points out that a practice reduces offspring (e.g.,
various rodent males eating their own offspring), the answer to that is a
cost-benefit analysis on the order of the male using the protein from his
children to make more children later on. It is true that if the Yanamamo
rationalize infanticide in that way AND if the frequency and conditions under
which they do it match their explanation of it, then you may have a long term
argument for increasing fitness. But Chagnon didn't even give that kind of
data in his first edition. He tells us that he has it (in the 4th edition),
but he wants to hide it from the authorities, who already know about it if they
simply read his first edition. The Yanamamo, therefore, are a lousy example
for demonstrating inclusive fitness, not the least of which because it is
female babies being killed more often than male babies. The long term fitness
implications are different, no? Without the data, we are simply not in a
position to make any judgement at all about the validity of Chagnon's
argument for inclusive fitness. THAT makes me suspicious. What scientist
says to his colleagues "You'll have to trust me on this."? We have no