Re: Joel and Bryant /talk/ about Sociobiology and other stuff

Bryant (
16 Aug 1996 20:25:23 -0600

In article <4v36em$>, Bryant <> wrote:

>Anthropologist might look at Wai Wai foraging and see if the calories
>expended per search hour are balanced optimally with the calories

This was really poorly worded on my part.

I was (trying to) use optimal foraging theory as an example. My point
was that some darwinians focus on current adaptiveness ("optimality")
rather than looking at the design of the suspected adaptation.

Personally, I'm more interested in studying mechanisms than baby counting;
current adaptiveness doesn't tell us a thing, necessarily, about the
evolutionary history of a trait. After all, if evolutionary
psychologists approached the issue of sexual jealousy in this
current-adaptiveness frame of mind, they'd have concluded that jealousy
leads to beating one's mate, and hence to being jailed, rendering the
emotion an *impact* to fitness, since you cannot reproduce in prison.

But we can see that evolutionarily, before jails and liberal democracies
that consider women human, male sexual jealousy may have contributed
importantly to male reproductive fitness. We test that hypothesis not
with current-adaptiveness tests, but by looking at what cues trigger the
emotion. (Somebody pointed out that much of ev. psych. is pretty obvious
stuff. Cues for jealousy are fairly described as obvious.)