Re: Gould, Science, Mistakes and .... {

Bryant (
18 Aug 1996 10:42:44 -0600

In article <>,
Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax <> wrote:
>As for whether this is sin or bad form, I don't think it is either. As
>I said, Gould merely asked some interesting questions about what the data
>really means.

If that's all he had done, he wouldn't have so annoyed his peers with
that essay. Actually, he dismissed adaptationist hypotheses (complete
with testable --and now tested and supported-- predictions) as
"speculative" and sexist, and then presented "the real answer" without
any testable predictions. At the least, hypocritical.

>The fact that we experience pleasure through orgasm is
>certainly documentable -- at very least for ourselves. But whether this
>connotes /function/ because people are more willing to do sex because
>it is fun, that question can be opened to challenge. I won't deny that
>great sex makes reproduction a lot more fun, but you can also have orgasm
>without reproduction.

Evolutionarily, I think it's doubtful you could reproduce without a male
orgasm occuring. But the fact that female orgasm is patterned in such a
way as to retain sperm from healthier males, rendering it a fitness

>If great-feeling sex yields more children, then I will concede to you
>that there are going to be evolutionary and population repercussions.

Quality is as important as quantity. Producing healthy children that are
likely to survive is as (or more) vital as maximizing the number of
embryos produced.

>But to say that it developed so that humans would have a better
>evolutionary advantage, that sounds to me like you are giving the gene
>a consciousness that I can't buy it has.

There's no such implication. I fail to see how the selective retention
of genes in a population which favor reproductive success of individuals
through evolutionary time indicates genetic "consciousness."