Re: how many bastards are there, anyway?

Stephanie G. Folse (
Mon, 2 Sep 1996 13:31:01 -0600

(My mail program isn't too good at letting me know whther or not a message
was posted as well as e-mailed; I *think* the original one was both, but
if not, I apologize.)

On Mon, 2 Sep 1996 wrote:

> In article <507osn$> you write:
> You're arguing against yourself here. If they are using a pure
> scattering approach they should just sleep with everyone irrespective
> of looks. That isn't the strategy.

I'm going to have to pull out the big guns here: cite, please? I
already provided four books that summarize the research in many many
papers dealing with exactly this subject.

And to continue on with your challenge: the scattershot approach is what
it has been termed, perhaps not very well, by biologists and
anthropologists. It does not mean to have sex with everyone irrespective of
anything else, it means maximizing sexual partners while minimizing
investment. There is almost always investment -- humans rarely see a
total stranger across the room, *immediately* leave with him/her and then
have sex and never see him/her again. (even less so during four million
years of evolution, when you knew everyone in your band and in all the
surrounding bands. Never seeing your partner again was an impossibility

Let's create a thought experiment. Man A and Man B are equal in status,
attractiveness, wealth, whatever (I'm not throwing female preference into
this), and have the choices of whatever sexual partners they wish. They
each have sex with and impregnate ten women over the course of a month.
The only difference is that Man A chooses sexual partners
indiscriminately (the first ten women who smile at him) while Man B
is a little more careful, choosing who he sees as attractive -- wide
hips, energy, clearer skin, no obvious coughing or tumors, etc...

Kid Man A Man B
1 dies-lack of resources dies-lack of resources
i.e., no dad to help feed it i.e., no dad to help feed it

2 same same

3 same same

4 mother has parasitical mother healthier - fights off
infection - does not parasite - carries to term
carry to term

5 flood -- all in tribe die flood -- all in tribe die

6 mother has too-narrow hips, mother has too-narrow hips,
mother & child die in birth mother & child die in birth

7 mother has too-narrow hips, mother has wide hips,
mother & child die in birth mother & child survive

8 mother dies in birth, mother dies in birth,
child raised by tribe child raised by tribe

9 mother & child fine mother & child fine

10 mother and child fine mother and child fine

Total: 3 kids survive 5 kids survive

They both employ what the bio/anthros call the scattershot approach, but
Man B leaves behind slightly more children. Multiply this over the
generations, and hey presto, Man B's kids out-compete Man A's, thus
passing on his preferences.

I never said the scattershot approach was a "true" one -- I *did* say
that attractiveness preferences evolved to allow a person the opportunity
to make a snap judgement whether or not his/her possible temporary
partner would be a good investment of reproductive resources. Obviously,
this is not conscious -- it doesn't have to be; that's what the
attractiveness preferences are for.

> The aim for both sexes is to sleep
> with the prettiest, youngest mates you can find.

The aim for women is *not* to sleep with the youngest mates they can
find, because the youngest mates are more likely *not* to have the
resources available to take care of resulting offspring.

> Young people of either sex (status, money, looks being equal) are
> usually rated as being more attractive than older people.

If you are *looking* for attractiveness. Attractiveness seems to be a
major factor when looking for *temporary* partners, but not long-term,
and for men more than women.

> So there's no point in an older man chasing hot babes, if they always
> go for the young blades, and leave him in the dust. That's wasted time
> and effort on his part. To compensate for this, and increase his
> likely reproductive success, mens genes become less selective as they
> get older.

No. Older men change their reproducive strategy. They invest their
energy in producing a few children with a higher chance of survival
instead of many children with a lower chance of survival. (They switch
to a K-selective strategy rather than an R-selective strategy.)

You assume that all women go for younger men. This is just plain not
true. Marrige stats across cultures show that women (even when given
free choice, and not just arranged marriages) consistently choose men
older than themselves to marry. In many cultures, men are not allowed to
marry and have kids until they are much older than their intended wives
(i.e., 26 to her 16, or 35 to her 20, and so forth). No. When women
look for men to raise babies with, they look for men who can support
them. This is, almost all the time, a man who is older than themselves.

Look at all the sociological studies that rate what people find
attractive in partners (cites in the bibliographies of the books I cited
-- I'm not gonna write it all down here). Across the board, women do not
rate physical attractiveness as highly as men do. I have never seen a
study in which physical attractiveness came in at number one in women's

> But its more complex than that. To a fair degree attractiveness is
> learnt. Most young people have their first experiences with their age
> group, and older people have had experiences with all the age groups
> upto their age. They tend to find attractive types that they have been
> succesful with lately.

I'm not arguing that certain types of attractiveness aren't learnt (although
it's at a *much* earlier age than you seem to assume -- your preferences
are mostly innate by the time you hit five or so; although change and
refinement is always possible). However, humans *do* seem to be
hard-wired to prefer certain things, which signify health and fertility.

(Buss, D., et al. 1990 "International preferences in selecting mates."
_Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology_ 21: 5-47.)

And as for your assertion that people prefer the type they have been
successful with lately, may I suggest reading the chapter on sexual
selection in Jared Diamond's _The Third Chimpanzee_? It summarizes and
explains the research that shows that marriage partners tend to resemble
each other physically in many instances including height, earlobe width,
and middle-finger length. (this is a correlation coefficient -- if you
lined up 100 couples accordig to height, the wife of the husband third
tallest from the end will also tend to be standing really close to the
third tallest from the end position in her line.) People tend to go for
the same type over and over and over again, and their preferences tend
not to change at all, although things like ethnic group, religion and
political affiliation have a much higher correlation than do physical
features (but then again, that's marriage, not temporary partnership).

--Stephanie <*>
"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)