Re: how many bastards are there, anyway?

sgf (
30 Aug 1996 22:10:30 GMT

In article <502n7b$>,
Matt Beckwith <> wrote:
> (sgf) wrote:
>>>...reproductive success is simply
>>>reproducing. The genes of those men who impregnate survive, the genes >>of
>>>those men who don't, don't. The genes of those women who are >>impregnated
>>>survive, the genes of those women who aren't, don't.
>>Nonono! The genes of those who impregnate/are impregnated, *and* who
>>successfully raise those children to reproductive age (or have the kids
>>raised for them) are the ones who survive.
>Nonono backatcha. I started out by saying that we no longer have to
>worry about survival of our offspring. The state makes sure everyone
>survives, these days. Sure, a few don't make it, but they are quite
>rare. In the U.S., single-parent children are nearly as likely to
>survive as double-parent children, and poor children are nearly as likely
>to survive as rich ones. These liberal methods indirectly promote
>promiscuity--that's one of the points I was making.

I'm not sure at which point you started discussing the U.S.A.
specifically. I am (and have been since I got into this thread waaaaay
back) discussing the human race and its adaptations and strategies for

Humans have been promiscuous since before we can even call them "human".
Promiscuity you see today is the same as it's always been
(EVOLUTIONARILY, that is, I'm not confining myself to just a few
generations), it's just that nowadays, Western culture condemns the choice
to control population, unlike many many past cultures, which consciously
used birth control, abortion and infanticide to control human populations
(see Taylor, _The Prehistory of Sex_, 1996). Promiscuity is not
"encouraged", it just has more consequences that it did before that
evolution has not had time to adapt to.

Anyway, to get back to your complaint:
please, tell me, at which point in the below quoted paragraphs
you explained you had switched the topic under discussion from human
evolution and sexual adaptation to the United States in particular.
Don't complain that someone misunderstood what you said when you didn't
actually say it.

>But all things are not equal. And reproductive success is simply
>reproducing. The genes of those men who impregnate survive, the genes of
>those men who don't, don't. The genes of those women who are impregnated
>survive, the genes of those women who aren't, don't.
>One interesting thing about this thread (aside from the fact that it's
>gotten off-topic) is that, in spite of the fact that with modern medicine
>we have somewhat usurped the process of natural selection, where sexual
>activity is concerned natural selection is alive and well. After all,
>the genes of anyone who does not reproduce are being de-selected.

>>Child care is a very important human strategy...
>Not so much any more.

Still is. The state has simply taken the place of the extended family
and resources gathered. Any child not taken care of tends not to live.
We are not in some totally different sytem than has ever been seen before
-- the *same* strategies, the *same* adaptations still work, it's just
that the resource base is no longer confined to what one person or family
can produce with their own labor, since we *all* support each other.

>>>One interesting thing about this thread (aside from the fact that it's
>>>gotten off-topic) is that, in spite of the fact that with modern >>medicine
>>>we have somewhat usurped the process of natural selection, where sexual
>>>activity is concerned natural selection is alive and well. After all,
>>>the genes of anyone who does not reproduce are being de-selected.
>>Honestly, how many people do you think use those methods?
>What methods? To do what? What are you talking about?

Again, please be specific when you refer to "modern medicine". I assumed
that you were talking about fertility treatments and other expensive
procedures that allowed children who would otherwise not be carried to
term due to maldevelopments be born and grow up and reproduce.

Silly me. I thought we were still discussing human evolution and
adaptations instead of culturally-based moral systems. Mind blowing an
air-horn or something when you're about to change lanes from human
strategies of adaptation to a discussion of a moral system that is
entirely culture-centric?

>>sticking around makes sure the woman doesn't
>>abandond the kid somewhere or "forget" to feed it (women do a *lot* of
>>active selection in this sort of thing. We don't all raise whatever kid
>>happens to pop out, you know.
>Really? I disagree. Women despicable enough to kill their children are
>pretty rare in the U.S.

Are they? Just this past weekend here in Colorado, two unrelated babies
were found dead, drowned in rivers. And how many mothers use neglect to
kill their children or effectively kill their children by not taking them
away from abusive partners, or by not getting them vaccinated or taking
them to the doctor? Infanticide is not always recognized as such, and a
lot of children survive their mothers just because they are taken away.

And how many give the kids to their husband, their mothers, or their
friends to raise? There are a *lot* of women who choose not to raise
their children, who in other cultural systems would either give it away
or kill it. And what do you term abortion? I call it conscious control
of how many children the woman chooses to raise -- infanticide before the
fact, as it were. [Note to anyone: I will *not* discuss the moral issues
in this in these newsgroups. Take it elsewhere.]

What the state has done now is to take the place of extended family. In
previous generations, if a woman was unable or unwilling to take care of
her child, someone from the rest of her family would step in and take
care of it *provided* there were enough resources to do so. In these
enlightened days, the USA tends not to have extended families, and the
state takes the place of them.

However, I don't think the selective pressures you think have that much
of an impact on the US as a whole -- *especially* since the US would have
negative population growth if it weren't for immigration. The
"Generation X" generation and the "Nintendo generation" after it are
*smaller* than the Boomers, which would indicate to me that behavior in
the Boomers' *parents* was more adaptive than behavior in the Boomers and
their offspring, since they are leaving behind fewer and fewer.

You have to look at behavior and population over a number of generations,
not just one, to get an idea of the impact of evolution and adaptation.
There are always temporary blips which are just that, temporary. I
beleive it was Seneca (or a contemporary of his) that complained about
the violence and promiscuity in the younger generation as opposed to his,
apparently more moral, generation. Didn't seem to make a whole lot of
difference over the long run, did it? *Every* generation claims to
notice an increase in the permissiveness and immorality of the next
generation, which, if it were true, would result in the entire planet
being overrun with amoral sex-hungry idiots (Senator Packwood aside...).

>>[smiley deleted due to crosspost to a.f.u])
>You mean it's true, AFU has banned smileys from their posts? How
>pusillanimous. :) :) :) :)

No, they assume that if you need a smiley to get your point across, then
you cannot write well enough to indicate humor with context and wording.
They fight quite hard to keep the level of discourse on the newsgroup
higher than the average, something I find quite refreshing in the genral
morass of Usenet.

Please, I encourage you to post to a.f.u. asserting your right to use
smileys. They'll be *really* nice, I promise...

[snip more]
>You seem to be making the point that unfaithfulness is common. Okay, so
>what? Or that women are as unfaithful as men. So what again.

I quote your *exact* paragraph I was answering:

>>>Qualities in a woman include attractiveness, submissiveness (attractive
>>>to men's fragile egos), lack of discrimination in sexual partners,
>>>unfaithfulness, and sexual skill. (Unfaithfulness used to be de-selected
>>>because a woman's offspring were less likely to survive without a father;
>>>but these days the state takes responsibility for fatherless children.)

Are you switching back and forth between woman as the subject and men as
the subject? Without making it clear? And then getting mad because
someone else gets confused? Man, I'd hate to be someone who *doesn't*
speak/read English as a first language trying to figure out what the heck
you're talking about. Usenet is a written medium: either learn to write
well or stop whining when no one can figure out what you're saying.

>>Women play active roles in passing genes on to the next generation -- we
>>can give enough resources to the kids they choose to keep), and they
>>actively seek out partners they like.
>Did I say women were impotent?

You implied that if a woman was impregnated, then that was that. She
raised the kid. She had no say in whether or not that kid survived. I
was explaining why women are not passive carriers of seed into the next

>>The name of the game is *not* just to impregnate or be impregnated, and
>>there are a *lot* of factors that go into it. Human sexuality and
>>reproductive behavior is one of the most complicated systems existing in
>>animals, and is impossible to reduce very far.
>Well, you haven't convinced me.

May I suggest you read at least one of these?

Fisher, Helen. E.
Anatomy of love : the natural history of monogamy, adultery, and divorce
The sex contract : the evolution of human behavior
Buss, David M.
The evolution of desire : strategies of human mating
Taylor, Timothy
The prehistory of sex : four million years of human sexual culture

Everything I've said about human sexuality, reproduction, marriage
systems, and mating strategies has been backed up and re-backed up in
these books and the papers and research they utilize.

>As a matter of fact, I have noticed during my lifetime that there has
>been an increase in promiscuity, and an increase in the attractiveness of
>women (probably men too, just haven't noticed it). I haven't noticed

Or maybe *your* standards of attractiveness have lowered as you age and
don't become so picky anymore. As long as we're trading anecdotal
evidence instead of hard references, as I've aged, I've noticed that older
men start broadening their interpretations of "attractive." This is
thrown into hard relief daily, since I am a graduate student on
campus and am thrown into contact with men ranging from 18 to 60+ every
day. The trend is for younger men -- freshmen and sophomores, mostly,
although other undergrads do this too -- to be highly critical of women's
appearances while older men have an appreciation for a broader range of
physical features. Makes sense, too, if we consider that the younger men
are following the reproductive strategy of scattering their genes as
widely as possible -- they have to make an evaluation of reproductive
fitness in a very short time and so rely on physical appearance
extensively. As they age and change their strategy to one of investment
in one woman, they can afford to take the time to evaluate fitness at
length during the long courting process, and hence their appreciation of
physical features broadens to include ones they would not have thought of
as "attractive" in their younger days.

And, yes, this *is* mostly unconscious -- driven by selective pressures.
Teens and young men of today don't think "gee, I've got to sleep with
*her* instead of *her* tonight because she's more vivacious, with
brighter eyes and energy, that signify she's probably more free of
parasitic infestation and therefore her immune system is better than her
friend's." However, because men who had a preference for those features
tended to leave behind more offspring *because* the mother's immune
system was better, the tendency was passed down and
is now inherent in that oh-so-socially-desirable young man with underwear
hanging out of his pants who wants to go to bed with Sara instead of her
friend Lisa because she's prettier.

>people having lower standards of attractiveness (unless it's the teenage
>women of today, who find men with underwear hanging out of their pants
>attractive). I haven't noticed people having stronger sex drives
>(although I wouldn't necessarily notice this one).

Actually, that young man may be demonstrating his ability to get along in
the social group -- outcasts don't mate (as all good computer geeks
know...) as much as do men who show they know how to integrate themselves
with the social system. If everyone else has underwear hanging out of
their pants, then so will he. He's not worried about whether it's
attractive by your standards, because he's probably not trying to mate
with you. But that whole paragraph is just speculation on my part...


-- <*>
"Assiduous and frequent questioning is indeed the first key to wisdom ...for
by doubting we come to inquiry; through inquiring we perceive the truth..."
--Peter Abelard (..........I claim this .sig for Queen Elizabeth)