Darwinian Tales

They’re kind of like fairy tales for scientists, except they are usually less coherent than the Brothers Grimm variety:

Although many scholars have tried to identify a useful function for human hairlessness, they have failed. Indeed Alfred Wallace, the biologist who jointly described evolution with Darwin, concluded that our hairlessness proved the existence of God. Only a supernatural being, unconcerned with natural selection, could have designed it.

But Darwin showed that hairlessness was proof of a different type of evolution, not by natural selection but by sexual selection. Under natural selection, individuals survive if they are adapted to their environments: a brown bear, being conspicuous, would not last long in the Arctic, so it evolves into a polar bear. Sexual selection is not concerned with the environment but with sex: individuals breed only if they find a mate, so animals have to attract one. Consider the peacock.

OK so already we’re in trouble. The guy is going to use the example of a peacock’s plumage to prove why we lost our hair. (!!) If that were the end of the story, I might say some wise aleck remark like, “If the guy were trying to explain why women had such lush manes, compared to the meager covering of the males, then it might make sense to bring up the peacock.” But I can’t go that route, because the “scientific Darwinian” story gets even more convoluted.

Of course, this is an amateur Darwinian Tale. We Scientific Selectionists prefer to explain Evolutionary Stable Strategies, such as why passive men pursue ill-tempered women, also known as the STD-PW Dilemma:

Heritable psychological variation is the “raw material” of human evolution by natural selection, and understanding the mechanisms that generate such variation has become a fundamental challenge for contemporary evolutionary biology. A male human faces an inescapable reproductive dilemma, in that he seeks to spread his genes as widely as possible, an evolutionary pressure which is countered by the fact that an overly aggressive man risks a higher probability of being injured or diseased, thus resulting in a hindered ability to mate. However, a wholly passive man faces the high probability of falling under the influence of his mate and being prevented from going out to find other potential mates, thereby limiting his gene-spreading.

The STD-PW dilemma has, through Natural Selection, resulted in the evolutionary stable strategy of passive men selecting for bitchy women, with whom they mate and spread their genes before prolonged exposure to the bitch results in the application of one of two variant strategies. Either the male cannot stand the female’s bitching anymore and flees of his own volition, (the proto-passive strategy) or the female becomes so disgusted with the excess passivity of the male that she either kicks him out of the house or initiates a relationship-ending affair (the passive strategy).

Either strategy results in freeing the passive man to pursue subsequent mates and further spread his genes without any need for the aggression that would force him to risk reproductive-hindering injury and/or disease.

It is science!