Sunday, February 01, 2015

Evo Psych for PUAs

Evolutionary Psychologist Geoffrey Miller is interviewed on this (for lack of a better description) PUA podcast. See also The new dating game.
Ep. #67 The State of Evolutionary Psychology and the Mating Mind with Geoffrey Miller

[Geoffrey Miller] Yeah I'd say about seventy percent of evolutionary psychology is about mating, attraction, physical attractiveness, mental attractiveness, potential conflicts between men and women, and how those play out. But then other evolutionary psych people study all kinds of other things, like the learning and memory that Wikipedia mentioned. ...

[Geoffrey Miller] Well one thing to note is it's a pretty new field. I was literally at Stanford University when the field got invented by some of the leading people, who kind of had a joint retreat there at a place called The Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences. 1989, 1990.

And they actually strategized about, "How do we create this new field? What should we call it? How do we launch it? What kind of scientific societies and journals do we establish?"

So the field's only twenty-five years old. It started out pretty strongly though, because the people who went into it were brilliant, really world-class geniuses, and that's one of the things that attracted me to the field when I was a grad student.

Since then, the quality of the research has gotten way better. It's a very progressive field in the sense that we actually build on each other's insights. Other areas of psychology, everybody wants to coin and patent their own little term, their own, almost, trademarked little theory, and try to ignore a lot of what other people do.

We tend to be in more of the tradition of mainstream biology, where you actually respect what other people have done before, and try to build on it. So I think we're really good at doing that.

The other thing to remember, apart from it being a young field, is it's a pretty small field. There's fewer than a thousand people in the world actively doing evolutionary psych research, compared to fifty thousand people doing neuroscience research, or probably a hundred thousand scientists doing cancer research.

So it's not a huge field. There's probably more science journalists trying to cover evolutionary psychology than there are evolutionary psych researchers. ...

[Geoffrey Miller] Well I'll tell you what areas of science really impress me at the moment, in terms of being super high-quality and sophisticated. One is behavior genetics. Twin studies. So I did a sabbatical in Brisbane, Australia with one of the big twin research groups, back in 2007.

And they were just making this shift. They had tracked thirty thousand pairs of twins in Australia for the previous twenty years, and given them literally hundreds of surveys, and measurements, and experiments over the years. And they were just starting to collect DNA from all these twin pairs.

And what you have now is big international networks of people working in behavior genetics, sharing their data, publishing papers with fifty or a hundred scientists on the paper, working together and being able to identify, "Hey, here's where the genes for, like, how sexually promiscuous you are overlap with the genes for this personality trait, or the genes for this physical health trait."

And it's amazingly sophisticated. It's powerful. The datasets are huge. The problem is a lot of that stuff is very politically incorrect, and it makes people uncomfortable. And people are like, "You can't say that propensities for murdering people are genetic. Or, propensities for having a lot of musical creativity are genetic," people don't want to hear that. So there's a big kind of ideological problem there. But honestly that's where some of the best research is being done in the behavioral sciences. ...

[Geoffrey Miller] Well one big thing is I think a lot of the pickup artist guys who quote The Mating Mind book, or refer to evolutionary psychology, get all obsessed with status, and they talk about alpha males, and beta males, and gamma males, and omega males, and whatever. Status, status, status. And that's fine. Status is important, no doubt.

But the idea that you can simply categorize human males into, "Oh, you're an alpha. You're a beta." That works for gorillas. It works for orangutans, where the different statuses are actually associated with different body sizes. Like an alpha orangutan is literally twice as heavy as a beta orangutan, and has huge cheek pads, and the beta doesn't. And they have completely different mating strategies.

But for humans, status is way more complicated. It's fluid, it depends on context. ...


Al_Li said...

He needs some games

Jon Claerbout said...

Nice of you to credit my university for inventing the field in 1984, but I feel it was invented at your university published in 1984 with Axelrod's book, "The evolution of cooperation." (smiles)

ben_g said...

Gorilla status depends on context as well.

Rastus Odinga-Odinga said...

"people don't want to hear that" No kidding. I recently had a "discussion" with a sociologist who was amazed that I thought that intelligence might have a heritable component. She thought that I, as a scientist, would be as incapable as she of even thinking such a thing, let alone saying it.

Carpenter E said...

[Geoffrey Miller] Well one big thing is I think a lot of the pickup
artist guys who quote The Mating Mind book, or refer to evolutionary
psychology, get all obsessed with status, and they talk about alpha
males, and beta males, and gamma males, and omega males, and whatever.

No. "Alpha" and "beta" are not about status. And no one says they are fixed types like Geoffrey claims. They are a sliding scale. It is simply easier to say alpha and beta than to constantly name a number of traits.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

They are about status and any other usage is generally useless or delusional

Georg said...

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