Re: Joel and Bryant /talk/ about Antlers and Culture

Bryant (
22 Aug 1996 14:04:46 -0600

In article <>,
Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax <> wrote:
>Bryant wrote:
>> >To the individual, the well-being is very important. [...]
>> Yep, but not to evolution. If I get myself shot up trying to mate with
>> another fellow's gal, I've just committed genetic as well as literal
>> suicide.
>> But taking that risk, if my mating instincts are genetically
>> rooted, may have paid off *on average* during human evolution, such that

>The two examples are contradictory, incidentally. If it is genetic suicide
>for me to do it, then reproduction is impossible.

Of course. I said that *if* I got myself killed, I've committed genetic
suicide. But risk-taking doesn't always entail failure, which is why it
could stick around in a population despite potentially lethal outcomes.

>> Nobody's published a paper on male nipples. The female orgasm, on the
>> other hand, does something. And that something affects the chances that
>> her offspring will survive, so it's a fair target for adaptationist
>> explanation.

>I am not going to around with you on this. But such studies have been

I'm not sure what this means. There were a number of papers written on
the evolutionary significance of female orgasm, if that's what you mean.

>> I was thinking specifically of Gould & Lewontin's 1979 paper, in which
>> they assert that adaptationists see "function in all." That's simply not
>> the position of any adaptationist I've ever read or heard of or heard
>> speak, and counts, I think, as a straw-man created by Gould & Lewontin.

>This is 1996. The situation in 1979 was maddeningly different. What I see
>in many of your comments is that Gould's observations have been taken to
>heart in the further development of the theory.

No, I didn't mean that. Evolutionary biology has progressed without
paying much attention to Gould. But what he has done is present the
public with an inaccurate view of the field of evolutionary biology.