“Men do everything they do in order to get…” (Or, they did it for the nookie)

February 23, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 5:35 pm   Category: Evolutionary psychology

The claim by evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa is that “men do everything they do in order to get laid”. Although Kanazawa is clearly going for some shock value with his claim, I must admit that I find his arguments compelling.

Kanazawa’s most recent in the series of blog posts supporting his claim is this post discussing the Tiger Woods sex scandal. Here are a few quotes that summarize the theory:

In the very short time since I have been a “blogger” at Psychology Today, since February 2008, there have been numerous sex scandals of politicians, athletes, and other celebrities: Eliot Spitzer; Silvio Berlusconi; David Paterson; John Edwards; Mark Sanford; David Letterman, and now Tiger Woods. This is nothing new. The only puzzle is that some of them had to pay for the sex. …

To recap everything I have said in the last two years on this blog, men do everything they do in order to get laid (Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI). This is mostly unconscious on the part of the men; they don’t necessarily know that they do everything they do in order to get laid. They consciously think that they want to attain the highest political office in the state or in the country; they want to become a successful businessman and make more money than anyone else; they want to practice and play hard so that they can become the best in their sport; they want to make America laugh so that they become the most successful entertainer. Men want to do these things because they are evolutionarily designed to compete and achieve, and, when they do, women seek them out as sexual partners.

Highly successful men have sexual affairs, not because they want to (if what men want mattered, all men would have a maximum number of affairs), but because women choose them. As I have said again and again, sex and mating among humans and other mammals is an entirely female choice, not a male choice; it happens whenever and with whomever women want, not whenever and with whomever men want. What men want doesn’t matter, because it’s a constant. What matters is what women want. …

Bill Clinton became the President of the United States, unconsciously, indirectly, and ultimately, so that he could get laid. David Letterman became America’s favorite entertainer, unconsciously, indirectly, and ultimately, so that he could get laid. Tiger Woods became the most successful golfer in history, unconsciously, indirectly, and ultimately, so that he could get laid. It would be a tremendous evolutionary puzzle if these men, after spending their entire lives attaining the status and resources they attained, then didn’t have affairs. And their wives married them because they were the kind of men who could cheat on them.

Now obviously I object to any claim that humans lack the free will to choose their own behavior. But in many way I think this basic idea, that males of our species are evolutionarily designed to socially succeed in order to convince females of the species to mate with them, actually is quite compatible with Mormonism. What I mean is that if we assume a spirit/body dualism in an evolutionary context then the idea that our bodies (aka “the natural man“) are evolutionarily designed to naturally behave in ways that aren’t compatible with the instructions of God regarding chastity fits quite nicely into a Mormon worldview.

And as I have mentioned in previous posts related to evolutionary psychology, there are other connections between EP theories and Mormonism. Most interesting of which is the EP claim that polygyny (one man marrying multiple women) is quite natural and to be expected based on our evolutionary past. Here are some interesting quotes related to that from another Kanazawa post:

All women have a vested reproductive interest to marry a man who is as desirable and attractive (physically and otherwise) as possible, but the more desirable and attractive the husband is, the greater the chances that other women would want him as well and thus the greater the chances that he would be unfaithful. There is a surefire way to guarantee that their husband will never cheat on them, and that is to marry the biggest loser that they can find so that nobody else would want him. But obviously no woman would want to do that.

There is an additional complication in the matter. Humans are naturally polygynous; humans have been mildly polygynous throughout evolutionary history. So it is natural for resourceful men of high status to mate with multiple women simultaneously. (But recall the dangers of naturalistic fallacy. Natural means neither good nor desirable. It just means is; it does not mean ought.) So polygyny ­– marriage of one man to more than one woman – is a deeply embedded part of male and female human nature. Men have always had multiple wives, and women have always been married to men who have had other wives.

It is true that, even under polygyny, many men still only have one wife while other men remain completely mateless. But we are disproportionately descended from polygynous men, because polygynous men invariably have more children than monogamous men. So most of us are descended from polygynous men (and, disproportionately, from highly successful polygynous men with a large number of wives), only a few of us are descended from monogamous men, and none of us are descended from mateless men. So polygyny remains a significant part of human nature.

Such is the dilemma faced by women, especially highly desirable women who are more likely to marry highly desirable men. The more desirable the woman is, the more desirable her husband is likely to be, and the more likely he is to cheat on her. The more likely her husband is to remain sexually faithful to her, the less desirable he is (and the greater the probability that perhaps she could have done much better than him).

Discuss.

66 Comments »

  1. Been reading Kanazawa for a while now. His titles are always provocative, but he seems to have the content to back it up.

    Comment by Darrell — February 23, 2010 @ 6:18 pm

  2. I should note that this recent post on femininity over at FMH reminded me that I have been meaning to put this post up. It seems to me that femininity and masculinity are defined more by evolution than by any cultural structures.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 23, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

  3. I saw a study that may explain a way for “highly desirable” women to get out of that dilemma. It found that women were happier in their marriages if they married guys a step or two beneath them in looks. The guy was so happy to be married to a woman that was distinctly better looking than him, he would really dote on his pretty wife. Consequently the wife was really satisfied in the relationship. But what do you do if you’re not a pretty woman and can’t find a lot of guys worse looking than you? Yeah, the natural man thing is ultimately a bad deal.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — February 23, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

  4. Interesting Steve. That would help explain the “King of Queens” syndrome on TV (where relative schlubby guys have relatively hot wives)

    Comment by Geoff J — February 23, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

  5. Does it seem at all odd or troubling that these kinds of explanations always locate women’s entire value in their physical attractiveness (i.e. something that they have essentially no agency in), while men are able to make themselves valuable by many sorts of achievement?

    (Or maybe I just really, really want them to be wrong because I’m only a step-and-a-half up from the Swamp Thing on the looks ladder)

    Comment by Kristine — February 23, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

  6. Thanks for posting this. Kanazawa’s argument puts into words my feelings and the lens through which I view Joseph Smith and the Mormon polygamy issue.

    Joseph Smith … [edited]

    I know, I know… that is a subject that has already been passionately discussed and it can create enldess threadjacks. I don’t believe polygamy was neither inspired nor revealed by God. So, let’s move on. I am not an apostate, nor an anti-Mormon, not a damu troll, etc etc etc so give it a rest. I just think this post provides a lens through which Mormons like me (who have come to the conclusion polygamy is not inspired) can use to understand Joseph Smith as the human being that he was.

    Kristine,

    Does it seem at all odd or troubling that these kinds of explanations always locate women’s entire value in their physical attractiveness (i.e. something that they have essentially no agency in), while men are able to make themselves valuable by many sorts of achievement?

    I agree with your question and the obvious and highly discussed observation of typical gender sociology and the resulting political/moral correctness of it all through history and the present. But I don’t think the post is trying to convey if something is or should be morally or politically correct, rather it analyzes things the way they are.

    I disagree though, that physical attractiveness (womens’s and everyone elses) is completely out of the scope of agency of individuals.

    But coming back to the post, I find it corresponds well with the phenomenon being discussed. Ultimately, yes, men are trying to find a mate (mates) and ultimately that is why we do things. I think the sooner we find this out and accept it, the sooner our life gets in “track” with both religious teachings and biological needs.

    Comment by Manuel — February 24, 2010 @ 1:33 am

  7. Seinfeld made fun of this, too, BTW. Something about an astronaut asking a girl in a bar, “so, did you see me up there?”

    Anyhow, this view simplifies social games a little too much. There really are tons of games people play — both men and women. Humans have this capacity of setting their hearts on more than just nookie (money, power, more ephemeral social stature).

    Comment by Velska — February 24, 2010 @ 6:35 am

  8. I’d say from evolution’s perspective, we could break this down a bit more. I think men and women do everything they do to either survive or procreate.

    However, I do believe there are things men and women do which go outside of the bounds of these two things. I have always liked to think of those things as where are eternal selves shine through.

    Comment by Matt W. — February 24, 2010 @ 8:00 am

  9. Two words: Naturalistic fallacy. This undoes the supposed “connections between EP theories and Mormonism.” At least post-Manifesto Mormonism.

    Comment by Dave — February 24, 2010 @ 8:22 am

  10. Although I agree that Kanazawa’s observations are more or less accurate, I think it isn’t safe to assume that the behavior in question is part of the everlasting gospel. Could we not just as easily assume that this sort of retrograde behavior belongs to this fallen world and will eventually go away?

    The ideas which begin and end with the assumption that women’s greatest purpose is child-bearing and than men’s greatest purpose is making money are a big load of crap, in my opinion. And I also realize that our Proclamation comes perilously close to saying that.

    Comment by Mark Brown — February 24, 2010 @ 8:42 am

  11. I don’t buy his argument, at least not where the sole motivation is to get laid. There’s no evolutionary basis for men to want to have sex as opposed to fulfill any other appetite.

    If his point is that men do everything they do in order to maximize the chance of reproduction, I’d say he has a better case. But if everything is about reproduction, what is the motivation for gay men to do anything? or the motivation to have a vasectomy?

    And that doesn’t even take into account Matt’s point that there have to be at least two motivations: we have to do things to survive, even where those things take away from the time we can devote to getting laid.

    Which is to say, I don’t buy it on any level. I do buy that there is a strong incentive toward reproduction, but I don’t buy it as the principal, much less the sole, motivation of men.

    Comment by Sam B. — February 24, 2010 @ 8:55 am

  12. Kristine,

    Good questions. No it doesn’t seem odd or troubling to me that Kanazawa describes the world the way he does. I think these EP theories are trying to explain why things are the way they are in the mortal world. They are not talking about “oughts” at all.

    Also, the “value” of women from a purely naturalistic evolutionary standpoint is much like the “value” of men isn’t it? That is, it is all about the continuation and strengthening of the species. So as I read Kanazawa, men instinctually want to be a desirable mate to women both in terms of genetic physical traits and in terms of ability to protect and provide for them and their offspring so that women will choose them; women instinctually want to be a sexually desirable mate to men so they can connect with the most highly desirable male possible.

    Thankfully we Mormons don’t buy the atheistic, naturalism model. We believe there are immortal children of God driving these bodies. The value of the drivers is a separate question from the instincts of the mortal bodies.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2010 @ 8:57 am

  13. Velska: There really are tons of games people play — both men and women. Humans have this capacity of setting their hearts on more than just nookie (money, power, more ephemeral social stature).

    The idea that Kanazawa is presenting is that beneath all of our rational reasons for doing what we do is pure instinct. (I imagine that if swallows could talk they probably would have lots of non-instinct explanations for going to San Juan Capistrano too…) The theory is that those instincts are the result of our biological evolution and lead to the strengthening and continuation of the species.

    Again, this is explaining only the tendencies of “the natural man”. We Mormons believe that we have spirits piloting our bodies so that changes things.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2010 @ 9:14 am

  14. Dave,

    I don’t see why the naturalistic fallacy undoes the connections between EP theories and Mormonism. Can you elaborate?

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2010 @ 9:18 am

  15. Sam B: There’s no evolutionary basis for men to want to have sex as opposed to fulfill any other appetite.

    I have no idea where you get this idea. The strengthening and continuation of the species is the self-evident reason why procreation would be evolutionarily favored over other appetites. He is talking about instincts so the facts that some small percentage of people are homosexual, or that people have figured out birth control, aren’t evidence against Kanazawa’s position.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2010 @ 9:37 am

  16. Mark Brown: I think it isn’t safe to assume that the behavior in question is part of the everlasting gospel

    I am not sure what you specifically mean by “everlasting gospel” in this context. But I do think it is safe to say that the instincts of our mortal bodies don’t necessarily align with the desires of our spirits.

    And I also realize that our Proclamation comes perilously close to saying that

    Yep. That was the observation I made in this previous post.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2010 @ 10:11 am

  17. Geoff,
    Yes, but in my (admittedly quick) perusal of your post and his that you linked to, he wasn’t arguing “procreation.” He was arguing sex. And the two aren’t the same. (It’s possible that I missed his link between the two, in which case, ignore my first paragraph. That said, I still find the concept that there is a single underlying motivator for all action both reductive and not an accurate discriptor.)

    Comment by Sam B. — February 24, 2010 @ 11:08 am

  18. Sam, you would do well to read more of Kanazawa’s actual position. You are objecting to non existent arguments.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2010 @ 11:12 am

  19. “There is a surefire way to guarantee that their husband will never cheat on them, and that is to marry the biggest loser that they can find so that nobody else would want him.”

    Actually, this was my wife’s strategy; so far, it has been completely effective, and I have every expectation that it will continue to be 100% effective in the future.

    Comment by Matthew Chapman — February 24, 2010 @ 11:26 am

  20. Geoff,
    You’re right. But I don’t buy his broad argument that reproductive desires underlie all male actions. (He’s a little more careful in his article, essentially appending a “may” to his assertions.)

    Put simply, although evolutionary success and perpetuation of one’s genes is an important motivator, reducing it to the sole motivator is too reductionist, I believe. (Of course, although I’m a big fan of evolutionary biology, I’ve always been skeptical of evolutionary psychology; I find, with no expert background, that it tends to overreach with its explanatory power.)

    Comment by Sam B. — February 24, 2010 @ 11:31 am

  21. Sam, I think you are the one who is being a reductionist here with regard to the argument Kanazawa is making. Obviously Kanazawa uses bombastic titles for dramatic effect, but when you look at his actual arguments he doesn’t really say that reproductive desires underlie all male actions (which is WAY too broad). Rather he basically says that men are instinctually driven to become socially successful because of their evolutionary design. And the reason for their drive to socially succeed is the instinctual desire to mate.

    That is a compelling argument in my opinion because it does a good job of explaining what we all see around in the world in an intuitive way.

    Of course we Mormons overlay the idea of free willed eternal spirits merging with and piloting our physical bodies. I think that actually helps fill in the mysteries that Kanazawa has trouble explaining. (Like where he said “It would be a tremendous evolutionary puzzle if these men, after spending their entire lives attaining the status and resources they attained, then didn’t have affairs”)

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2010 @ 11:46 am

  22. Kanazawa should have said that it IS a tremendous evolutionary puzzle that many successful men don’t have affairs. His statement reads as if he’s denying the existence of that type of man.

    Comment by Tom — February 24, 2010 @ 11:56 am

  23. If his point is that men do everything they do in order to maximize the chance of reproduction, I’d say he has a better case. But if everything is about reproduction, what is the motivation for gay men to do anything? or the motivation to have a vasectomy?

    Yeah, it’s not all about reproduction, I think the argument insists that it is sex. Which would in turn answer the questions: gay men do things to have sex with whom they are attracted to. Men have vasectomies to have sex without having to worry about conception. It’s about the basic sexual instinct.

    I agree with Geoff’s statement and I think it is the answer to what you are objecting:

    The idea that Kanazawa is presenting is that beneath all of our rational reasons for doing what we do is pure instinct… The theory is that those instincts are the result of our biological evolution and lead to the strengthening and continuation of the species.

    Again, I don’t think Kanazawa is trying to give any moral/religious/politically correct stand, or that his arguments nullify other aspects of human behavior.

    I agree it is a fair description of what we call “the natural man.” And it does correlate with our understanding of it.

    Comment by Manuel — February 24, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

  24. Yeah I was thinking that too Tom (#22). But in that particular case he was referring specifically to a few famous men who had admitted to having affairs.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

  25. Geoff,
    I actually don’t think that I’m being reductionist in my reading of Kanazawa; while I recognize that his title is meant to be provocative, based on what he’s written (some block quotes below; I don’t like dropping block quotes because it risks prooftexting, but these statements seem pretty representative of his conclusions), he stands by it.

    I actually pretty much agree with your tamed version of what he says. I agree that reproductive success underlies a lot of what people do. But it doesn’t underlie all male action.

    To recap everything I have said in the last two years on this blog, men do everything they do in order to get laid here

    Men have built (and destroyed) civilizations in order to impress women so that they might say yes. Women are the reason men do everything. here

    From the evolutionary psychological perspective, reproductive success is the end, and everything men do (be it crime or scientific research) is but a means to this ultimate end. here

    Comment by Sam B. — February 24, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

  26. Matthew (#19),

    Nice.

    Actually I posted before on Kanazawa’s theories on polygyny. Basically he says it would suck for many men because a lot would be left without anyone to marry at all.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2010 @ 12:25 pm

  27. Come on Sam B. Now you are just being silly. Yes Kanazawa uses over-the-top language in blog posts at times but he would have to be a moron to make the ludicrous sweeping claims you are attributing to him. The “tamed” version I have mentioned is obviously what he is talking about.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

  28. Geoff,
    I don’t want to turn into a troll, so I’ll bow out just saying that I don’t know that it is obvious that your tamed version is what he’s thinking. It would make infinitely more sense, of course, but my impression of evolutionary psychologists (which, of course, may be inclining me toward a more literal view that you’re taking of his rhetoric) is that they tend toward taking seriously explanations that I consider overbroad. I’d offer examples, but they basically come from reading through some chapters of a textbook for a course my wife took probably seven years ago, and I only remember my impression, not the details. (And how’s that for vague and unhelpful.)

    Anyway, I’ll gladly concede that you may be right that he really means the tamed version, but, based on what I’ve read in the past, I kind of doubt it.

    Comment by Sam B. — February 24, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

  29. (And by “bow out,” I don’t intend to say that I get the last word–rather, I really don’t have much more interesting to bring to bear here.)

    Comment by Sam B. — February 24, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

  30. Hey if hyper-literalism is your thang knock yerself out Amelia Bedelia. (Grin)

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

  31. It seems to me that Sigmund Freud made some of the same claims.

    Years ago, before I got married, my brother left his wife and was living with me and made a comment saying, he was very particular about the way he dressed, because he wanted to look good for himself. I said no, you want to look good to impress women, making him feel good about himself.

    If there were no women to attract, I am not sure men would dress at all. :)

    My wife and friend has written a book about the importance of women having a dowry. It does not have to be good looks, (that helps) but they need to have some kind of worth. A good job will do.

    Men, well, just have to be men and all that entails. Mostly being able to take care of women.

    Comment by CEF — February 24, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

  32. Yeah good call on the Freud connection CEF. I saw Kanazawa make a similar connection somewhere at his blog. Of course Kanazawa simply assumes Freud had the right idea but missed the crucial evolutionary backdrop.

    As for the dowry thing — seems to me that would be more important in a society that embraced polygyny than it is in our society.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

  33. There is a surefire way to guarantee that their husband will never cheat on them, and that is to marry the biggest loser that they can find so that nobody else would want him.

    The more desirable the woman is, the more desirable her husband is likely to be, and the more likely he is to cheat on her. The more likely her husband is to remain sexually faithful to her, the less desirable he is (and the greater the probability that perhaps she could have done much better than him).

    Hmmm… This doesn’t seem to leave a lot of room for the attractive, desirable men who are also faithful. I know quite a few of them. I’m curious. Are they all just choosing to fight off the urges of their genetic programming? Are all males conscious of that struggle?

    When I got married, I was conscious of selecting for certain traits and loyalty was one of them. Also 20-20 vision and a few other things, including attractiveness. I dumped every guy I dated who showed signs of always checking out my best friend or whatever. And I’ve always told my daughter to go for good eyes and teeth, and my sons to go for tall girls:-)

    Comment by C Jones — February 24, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

  34. C Jones,

    I think he is playing the odds with his sweeping comments. (Focusing on which type of man is more likely to cheat rather than claiming they all will cheat.) All of us Mormons know Mormon men that make highly desirable husbands and still choose to remain completely faithful.

    Are they all just choosing to fight off the urges of their genetic programming?

    Yes.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

  35. Perhaps that is why we have devalued the importance of a dowry in our society, that is until more recently.

    I did not grow up hearing anything at all about a woman having a dowry. Something of an earlier generation, not relevant in the 50′s/60′s. My mother did not work, but today, my wife works and my daughters all have degrees and work.

    I think it mostly takes two incomes to make ends meet today, and therefore, the importance of a dowry has made a reappearance. Other wise, a woman will have to “settle”, as my wife and friend call it.

    I did not buy into it at first, but after two years of being a sounding board for my wife and her ideas, I have decided she and her friend are on to something.

    I sent this to my wife, she never takes part in blogs, so she sent the following to me to post for her.

    “I asked my wife about this. She believes there is no guarantee when you enter into a marriage contract that the man will not have an affair. You cannot affair-proof your marriage. But to most women, family is paramount. So…if a woman wants to keep her man to keep her family intact–and because she loves him (!), she must maintain a dowry. Because if she does not, she runs the risk of losing him to one of his affairs–probably a lonely woman who needs and wants a man and who has a better dowry!”

    I hope this is not a thread-jack. I just find such things interesting.

    Comment by CEF — February 24, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

  36. I don’t think that logic computes CEF.

    By the definitions we are using here, a highly desirable man is one who is, among other things, affluent. So if he is already affluent why would a dowry keep him from straying? Or, to put it in real life situations, would a dowry have done anything to keep Tiger Woods from being a philanderer? Answer: no.

    So the problem is that a dowry is probably good at keeping a poor husband from straying, but the poor husbands are the very ones who are less likely to have an affair to begin with. (Or more precisely, poor husbands are less likely to find a woman willing to have an affair with them to begin with.)

    Comment by Geoff J — February 24, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

  37. Geoff J – I agree with you, and I think my wife said that a woman cannot affair proof her marriage. And it is always a woman’s choice, she chooses to have the relationship or not. But the more affluent a man is, the more opportunities to have multiple sex partners, is only partly true.

    Wealthy is one of those things that is relative. Some women would never have a chance to be a sexual partner to the rich and famous, but they certainly can and do have sexual relationships with the man at work, down the street or in the dance hall she takes a fancy to.

    So the dowry thing is something my wife and friend came up with because my wife’s friend’s husband left her after 30 years or marriage and two kids.

    They have been trying to figure out if there is something she (the friend) could have done that might have keep her husband form leaving her for the other woman.

    They came up with seven things that a woman can do/have that is part of their idea of a dowry.

    Tiger Woods is wanting to work things out with his wife. Why? He can have any number women. So according to my wife, she must have some of those seven things that will keep a man coming back to her. Looks, sexually playful, money or the ability to make money, and spirituality are the ones that I remember. I would dare say, that if Tiger’s wife was not sexually playful before all of this, she, if she wants to try and hold on to Tiger, will learn to be so now.

    Being a construction worker, (not wealthy) nor are the guys I work with, but everyone of them are either divorced and/or have had multiple wives.

    I think what this is about, is just the way men are in general, the good, the bad and the real ugly.

    A member of the Stake Pres. back in AZ was a man I would have thought would have been one of those men that would never cheat on his wife. I was wrong, and he was not wealthy at all by the standards you are using here.

    I think another interesting question you may want to ask is, why will a woman take another woman’s husband? Shame on them.

    Comment by CEF — February 25, 2010 @ 10:58 am

  38. CEF: They have been trying to figure out if there is something she (the friend) could have done that might have keep her husband form leaving her for the other woman.

    Wow. That is a questionable objective if I ever saw one.

    I think there is something to be said for security and back up plans though. How does your wife propose most women come up with this dowry? Are her parents on the hook for it or does she have to go out and get a job to build one up herself? Doesn’t seem particularly practical to me but I admittedly don’t care enough about the subject to put a lot of thought into it.

    a man I would have thought would have been one of those men that would never cheat on his wife. I was wrong, and he was not wealthy at all by the standards you are using here.

    The issue of the desirability of a man relates to the number of opportunities he will have to cheat, not at all to whether he will cheat or not. Some loser dude may only get one opportunity in life to cheat and take it. Another more desirable man may have tens of thousands of opportunities and resist them all.

    why will a woman take another woman’s husband?

    On this subject, Kanazawa wrote:

    The problem, however, is that, as I explain in a previous post, mating among all mammalian species (including humans) is a female choice; it happens whenever and with whomever the female wants, not whenever and with whomever the male wants. The more desirable a man is (the more resourceful, the higher his social status, the physically more attractive), the larger the number of other women who would want to have sex with him regardless of whether he is married, either in an attempt to steal him away from his current mate (mate poaching) or in an attempt to be impregnated by him so that their child will have his superior genes but then to turn around and pass off the child as their current long-term mates’ genetic offspring (cuckoldry).

    Comment by Geoff J — February 25, 2010 @ 11:17 am

  39. So the problem is that a dowry is probably good at keeping a poor husband from straying, but the poor husbands are the very ones who are less likely to have an affair to begin with. (Or more precisely, poor husbands are less likely to find a woman willing to have an affair with them to begin with.)

    This would predict that infidelity would correlate with affluence, no? Do we see that in the real world? Intuitively, I would say no. Over some ranges of affluence, I would guess that there’s actually an inverse correlation.

    There probably is a correlation between affluence and the quality of a man’s mate and mistresses, depending on how you measure quality. But probably not quantity.

    Comment by Tom — February 25, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

  40. This would predict that infidelity would correlate with affluence, no?

    Possibly. More likely it predicts that more desirable men will have more women willing to cheat with them than loser men will. But that sort of goes without saying, no?

    As I said above: The issue of the desirability of a man relates to the number of opportunities he will have to cheat, not at all to whether he will cheat or not. Some loser dude may only get one opportunity in life to cheat and take it. Another more desirable man may have tens of thousands of opportunities and resist them all.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 25, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

  41. it happens whenever and with whomever the female wants, not whenever and with whomever the male wants.

    It is interesting that this is the exact thing many of our young women are being taught (they are the brakes) which so many people in the bloggernacle object to. I find it objectionable that it is the case, but I think it is true in the majority of cases, as a practical matter.

    Wow. That is a questionable objective if I ever saw one.

    I disagree. One must be careful to avoid blaming the victim, but I don’t think this precludes the idea of victims sharing some culpability for the bad things they experience. (Recent threads make it abundently clear that this distinction is beyond some people’s ability to grasp.) I think it is perfectly reasonable and even praiseworthy for a person to consider what things they can do to make sure their spouse is happy and content in their relationship.

    Comment by Jacob J — February 25, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  42. I don’t disagree with your point Jacob. I tried to cover myself by using the word “questionable” rather than something like “objectionable”.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 25, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

  43. I want to know how one would go about proving this guy’s point that all male motivated action is driven by sex urges. Anybody?

    I don’t disagree that sex is a massive motivator (for both genders); I’m merely talking about proving his specific claims.

    Comment by brady — February 25, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

  44. As far as I can tell these sorts of macro theories can’t be proven or disproven in any objective way brady. That seems to be the beef some people have with evolutionary psychology. But that doesn’t mean the arguments and theories aren’t persuasive. As I mentioned I find this one quite persuasive.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 25, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

  45. This all reminds me of Razib who I quoted at my blog

    “…much of the evo-psych which penetrates the broader public mindspace is driven by demand-side forces.”

    There’s a reason to be skeptical of these sorts of untested claims.

    Comment by Clark — February 25, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

  46. Geoff- Something that can’t be proven or disproven in any objective way ought to be the definition of unpersuasive…

    But– I think your line of approach in #40 is a pretty good one- you could actually start to get data on that from which one could then say something more than the gibberish Kanazawa is trying to sell.

    Comment by brady — February 26, 2010 @ 12:36 am

  47. To recap everything I have said in the last two years on this blog, men do everything they do in order to get laid

    The problem with this sort of reductionism is that it cannot explain the existence of social strictures against adultery, incest, fornication, and the like.

    As a consequence (allowing for the form of the argument here), one immediately has to rewrite the statement as:

    “Men do everything they do in order to propagate a successful next generation; the instinct to have sex outside those constraints is a biological artifact of that greater evolutionary purpose.”

    The only likely counterargument against this would be evidence that men are overwhelmingly uninterested in those social constraints, which is ridiculous. How many men want their daughters (for example) to have sexual relations with random strangers?

    To be sure there is somewhat of a double standard there (i.e. the instinct is stronger when one is not the male in question), but the point remains.

    Comment by Mark D. — February 26, 2010 @ 7:55 am

  48. “This blog” is Kanazawa’s of course.

    Comment by Mark D. — February 26, 2010 @ 7:56 am

  49. brady: Something that can’t be proven or disproven in any objective way ought to be the definition of unpersuasive…

    Har! Ummm… if you believe that then you are at the wrong blog amigo. You see, most of us around here find the claim that there is a God extremely persuasive.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 26, 2010 @ 8:24 am

  50. Mark,

    I think the problem is that you are taking Kanazawa’s “men do everything they do” statements too literally. He of course doesn’t really mean everything (butt scratching, nose picking, etc.), rather he obviously means the internal drive to socially succeed and do things like “become the President of the United States… become America’s favorite entertainer…become the most successful golfer in history”. So the claim is that within the evolved social structure men have an instinctual drive to succeed and that traces back to the instinctual desire to breed.

    Now you might complain that there is no reason for social structures and strictures to organically arise but I suspect there are arguments on both sides of that discussion. In any case, that argument is getting off track in this thread.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 26, 2010 @ 9:07 am

  51. Geoff- I don’t really have a problem with these evolutionary drivers, so long as it is theologically acknowledged that they are rules which are meant to be broken, in that men do things for different reasons other than what their programming (survive, procreate, ensure survival of procreated spawn) tells them to all the time.

    A smart person I know once called it “veto free will”, though I think I prefer the concept of “Limited Free will” currently (not saying the two are incompatible)

    Comment by Matt W. — February 26, 2010 @ 9:45 am

  52. Yep Matt. This is indeed very much in line with my Veto Free Will idea. I find this theory persuasive for several reasons but one of them is that it gives us some plausible explanations for why the “natural man” is the way it is. I see this theory jibing nicely with the idea that for people, “when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts“.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 26, 2010 @ 10:15 am

  53. he obviously means the internal drive to socially succeed and do things like “become the President of the United State

    The problem is that he is trivially wrong. He is using an inductive argument to identify the desire to have sex as the only driver of all significant male success.

    If you are going to use induction, you can’t just leave out all the evidence that doesn’t support your premise, which is precisely what he does here.

    Comment by Mark D. — February 26, 2010 @ 10:32 am

  54. Well there is no question that Kanazawa overstates his positions with his bombastic style at his blog Mark. But I don’t think he really claims that sex is “the _only_ driver of all significant male success” so you appear to be attacking a straw man to me. But he does say that instinctual sexual desires are “unconsciously, indirectly, and ultimately” (and universally it seems) underlying motivations of all highly socially successful men. The claim that it is a universal motivator is not the same as the claim that it is the only motivator.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 26, 2010 @ 10:42 am

  55. Seems to me that while he isn’t saying it’s the only factor he is saying it is the dominant factor.

    Comment by Clark — February 26, 2010 @ 11:41 am

  56. It may be true that sex is not “the only driver” in men, but the three others – eating a cookie, playing hookie, getting money from a bookie – really fall short of…well…nookie.

    Comment by larry — February 26, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

  57. As fantastic as this conversation is, it would really be enhanced by looking at the work by Baumeiter – where he puts some meat on the bones, so to speak, and fleshes out these theories with a bit more evidence.

    http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm

    Comment by Zen — February 28, 2010 @ 3:04 pm

  58. The problem with the theory that it is the dominant factor is that men are or become cognizant of the higher social purpose of sexuality, and as soon as that awareness is established, one can no longer claim that sex in and of itself is the primary motivation for men to succeed.

    In traditional terms, this is the argument that men largely do not have a second nature (informed by morality and rationality) but only a first (informed by lust). The doctrine of total depravity, more or less.

    Comment by Mark D. — February 28, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

  59. So this conversation brings to my mind the question of whether it is the natural man or the spiritual man that seems to be evolving beyond the necessity for sex as in it being possible to simply clone offspring? Or is that just unthinkable and beyond the pale of what HF would ever permit? And how does that possibly impact the necessity of nookie question?

    Comment by Walt Eddy — February 28, 2010 @ 8:03 pm

  60. I don’t understand your question Walt.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 28, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

  61. Mark (#58),

    I am not sure why you think any of that constitutes a problem. (I get the feeling you are looking beyond the mark a little here but I may be wrong.)

    Comment by Geoff J — February 28, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

  62. Geoff, I guess it goes to the nature of evolution and its realm.

    You, as I understand it, tend to accept Kanazawa’s analysis relative to pre-Adamic man’s sex drive — men’s willingness to do anything in order to get “it” — in post-Adamic man, but apparently subject to post-Adamic man’s free agency (Somehow through the spirit?).

    Now, post-Adamic man seems to be on the precipice of cloning, which could conceivably tend toward eliminating the necessity for nookie. Or do you simply foreclose that as a possibility? Or perhaps cloning would just result in a pre-Adamic man. If not, is it the evolution of the natural man beyond nookie or does it stem from the spirit side of post-Adamic man?

    It’s very possible, however, that I am just confused about your position on the evolution of the natural man and of evolution as it pertains to the man who allows the spirit to choose the right. Does the post-Adamic man who always chooses the right foreclose evolution?

    Anyway, just my thoughts/questions.

    Comment by Walt Eddy — February 28, 2010 @ 9:54 pm

  63. Zen (#58). Thanks for the link. That is an interesting read that is definitely right up the alley of what we are talking about here.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 28, 2010 @ 11:09 pm

  64. Walt,

    I haven’t fully decided yet what I believe regarding Adam (literal vs figurative etc.) so it is a little dicey to start talking making pre-Adam and post-Adam distinctions. I will say that I am not convinced that spiritless pre-humans ever existed. So I can’t really answer your questions because I find myself tripped up by the assumptions that your questions are based upon.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 28, 2010 @ 11:17 pm

  65. Okay, I understand. I guess I need to go back and read more carefully some of the other posts on the garden, on Adam, and on the nature of man, both physical and spiritual, relative to evolution. Anyway, I’ll be waiting to see how your beliefs on these subjects evolves and how this discussion plays out from here on out. :)

    Love the posts and the thoughts expressed and explored here, though.

    Comment by Walt Eddy — March 1, 2010 @ 3:08 pm

  66. Hey Geoff J., sorry to solicit you this way, but I’m looking to send you an email? Is there a place I can contact you? Or can you send an email to this one? Thanks.

    Comment by Arthur H. — March 15, 2010 @ 8:47 am

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