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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Psychology Today: Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature

"Excerpted from Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters, by Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa, to be published by Perigree in September 2007.

1. Men like blond bombshells (and women want to look like them)

Long before TV—in 15th- and 16th- century Italy, and possibly two millennia ago—women were dying their hair blond. A recent study shows that in Iran, where exposure to Western media and culture is limited, women are actually more concerned with their body image, and want to lose more weight, than their American counterparts. It is difficult to ascribe the preferences and desires of women in 15th-century Italy and 21st-century Iran to socialization by media...

Until very recently, it was a mystery to evolutionary psychology why men prefer women with large breasts, since the size of a woman's breasts has no relationship to her ability to lactate. But Harvard anthropologist Frank Marlowe contends that larger, and hence heavier, breasts sag more conspicuously with age than do smaller breasts. Thus they make it easier for men to judge a woman's age (and her reproductive value) by sight—suggesting why men find women with large breasts more attractive.

Alternatively, men may prefer women with large breasts for the same reason they prefer women with small waists. A new study of Polish women shows that women with large breasts and tight waists have the greatest fecundity, indicated by their levels of two reproductive hormones (estradiol and progesterone).

Blond hair is unique in that it changes dramatically with age. Typically, young girls with light blond hair become women with brown hair. Thus, men who prefer to mate with blond women are unconsciously attempting to mate with younger (and hence, on average, healthier and more fecund) women...

[Ed: I don't think there's a cross-cultural preference for big breasts.]

2. Humans are naturally polygamous

Among primate and nonprimate species, the degree of polygyny highly correlates with the degree to which males of a species are larger than females. The more polygynous the species, the greater the size disparity between the sexes. Typically, human males are 10 percent taller and 20 percent heavier than females. This suggests that, throughout history, humans have been mildly polygynous.

[Ed: I thought this meant, rather, that men naturally cheat on women.]

3. Most women benefit from polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy

The only exceptions are extremely desirable women. Under monogamy, they can monopolize the wealthiest men; under polygyny, they must share the men with other, less desirable women. However, the situation is exactly opposite for men. Monogamy guarantees that every man can find a wife. True, less desirable men can marry only less desirable women, but that's much better than not marrying anyone at all.

4. Most suicide bombers are Muslim

Suicide missions are not always religiously motivated, but according to Oxford University sociologist Diego Gambetta, editor of Making Sense of Suicide Missions, when religion is involved, the attackers are always Muslim. Why?
The surprising answer is that Muslim suicide bombing has nothing to do with Islam or the Quran (except for two lines). It has a lot to do with sex, or, in this case, the absence of sex...

Across all societies, polygyny makes men violent, increasing crimes such as murder and rape, even after controlling for such obvious factors as economic development, economic inequality, population density, the level of democracy, and political factors in the region...

It is the combination of polygyny and the promise of a large harem of virgins in heaven that motivates many young Muslim men to commit suicide bombings. Consistent with this explanation, all studies of suicide bombers indicate that they are significantly younger than not only the Muslim population in general but other (nonsuicidal) members of their own extreme political organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. And nearly all suicide bombers are single.

[Ed: I wonder if they applied this to the LTTE.]

5. Having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce

The continued presence of (and investment by) the father is therefore important for the son, but not as crucial for the daughter. The presence of sons thus deters divorce and departure of the father from the family more than the presence of daughters, and this effect tends to be stronger among wealthy families.

6. Beautiful people have more daughters

One of the most celebrated principles in evolutionary biology, the Trivers-Willard hypothesis, states that wealthy parents of high status have more sons, while poor parents of low status have more daughters... This hypothesis has been documented around the globe. American presidents, vice presidents, and cabinet secretaries have more sons than daughters. Poor Mukogodo herders in East Africa have more daughters than sons. Church parish records from the 17th and 18th centuries show that wealthy landowners in Leezen, Germany, had more sons than daughters, while farm laborers and tradesmen without property had more daughters than sons. In a survey of respondents from 46 nations, wealthy individuals are more likely to indicate a preference for sons if they could only have one child, whereas less wealthy individuals are more likely to indicate a preference for daughters...

Physical attractiveness, while a universally positive quality, contributes even more to women's reproductive success than to men's. The generalized hypothesis would therefore predict that physically attractive parents should have more daughters than sons. Once again, this is the case. Americans who are rated "very attractive" have a 56 percent chance of having a daughter for their first child, compared with 48 percent for everyone else.

7. What Bill Gates and Paul McCartney have in common with criminals

Men simply do not feel like acting violently, stealing, or conducting additional scientific experiments, or they just want to settle down after the birth of their child but they do not know exactly why.

The similarity between Bill Gates, Paul McCartney, and criminals—in fact, among all men throughout evolutionary history—points to an important concept in evolutionary biology: female choice.

Women often say no to men. Men have had to conquer foreign lands, win battles and wars, compose symphonies, author books, write sonnets, paint cathedral ceilings, make scientific discoveries, play in rock bands, and write new computer software in order to impress women so that they will agree to have sex with them. Men have built (and destroyed) civilization in order to impress women, so that they might say yes.

8. The midlife crisis is a myth—sort of

Many middle-aged men do go through midlife crises, but it's not because they are middle-aged. It's because their wives are. From the evolutionary psychological perspective, a man's midlife crisis is precipitated by his wife's imminent menopause and end of her reproductive career, and thus his renewed need to attract younger women.

[Ed: Especially for this, I assume they have some convincing data.]

9. It's natural for politicians to risk everything for an affair (but only if they're male)

Moulay Ismail the Bloodthirsty, the last Sharifian emperor of Morocco, stands out quantitatively, having left more offspring—1,042—than anyone else on record, but he was by no means qualitatively different from other powerful men, like Bill Clinton...

Men strive to attain political power, consciously or unconsciously, in order to have reproductive access to a larger number of women. Reproductive access to women is the goal, political office but one means. To ask why the President of the United States would have a sexual encounter with a young woman is like asking why someone who worked very hard to earn a large sum of money would then spend it.

[Ed: Obviously they didn't consult the economists on cost-benefit analysis. Hurr hurr.]

10. Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist

Psychologist Kingsley R. Browne identifies two types of sexual harassment cases: the quid pro quo ("You must sleep with me if you want to keep your job or be promoted") and the "hostile environment" (the workplace is deemed too sexualized for workers to feel safe and comfortable). While feminists and social scientists tend to explain sexual harassment in terms of "patriarchy" and other ideologies, Browne locates the ultimate cause of both types of sexual harassment in sex differences in mating strategies...

The quid pro quo types of harassment are manifestations of men's greater desire for short-term casual sex and their willingness to use any available means to achieve that goal. Feminists often claim that sexual harassment is "not about sex but about power;" Browne contends it is both—men using power to get sex. "To say that it is only about power makes no more sense than saying that bank robbery is only about guns, not about money.

Sexual harassment cases of the hostile-environment variety result from sex differences in what men and women perceive as "overly sexual" or "hostile" behavior. Many women legitimately complain that they have been subjected to abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment by their male coworkers. Browne points out that long before women entered the labor force, men subjected each other to such abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment."

[Ed: I find the heading misleading. It should be rephrased.]"

Although this column reads like a list of "just-so" stories, I'm sure that in their book they have lots of data supporting their arguments.
According to college women : Seventy Percent of men are not marriage material ? - "To be dating material, a man’s got to earn at least $2,025 per month. Sexual relationships, a man’s got to earn about $2,530 per month. Going steady would require about $3,225 per month of income Only men who make more than $4,000 per month will make the grade to qualify for marriage material... These series of scientific findings may also explain Singaporean men’s desire to have foreign spouses, especially those of Chinese or Vietnamese origin. On the day I collected my marriage certificate, my wife remarked that ROM was packed with couples with many wives to be of PRC origin. Perhaps it is easier to benchmark a Singaporean man’s income against a Vietnamese or Chinese scale with our high GDP per capita figures."

Straight Dope Staff Report: Who are the Gypsies? - "How did the Romani people come to be called Gypsies? Anthropology professor Anne Sutherland in Gypsies: The Hidden Americans (1975) says the word Gypsy derives from the time when the Romani entered Western Europe and "represented themselves as Egyptians," the name subsequently evolving into Gypsies. In The Gypsy-American: An Ethnogeographic Study (2002), cultural geographer David Nemeth of the University of Toledo adds some color to the story, which dates back to Romani prehistory, when the first traveling bands arrived in medieval European towns. Their "leaders professed to be Christian [royalty] of a kingdom in the East, which they called 'Little Egypt.' They claimed to have been driven from their Christian land by infidels, meaning the Islamic Turks." Professor Ian Hancock of the University of Texas says there are a few other explanations for the association between "Gypsy" and "Egyptian": One is that Europeans of the time called lots of foreign populations Egyptians; another is that the Romani people stayed in an area called Little Egypt when they first entered Europe."

18 year old offers her virginity for £10,000 - ""I get lots of guys wanting to help me out with my 'problem' - some replies are really creepy. But I got so frustrated with the empty offers that I turned them down."... Asked how she wanted to be paid, the greedy teen replied: "Cash would be perfect but what does £10,000 look like? I don't want to wander round with that much money in case I get robbed." But she got angry when our man asked if she was a prostitute and lying about losing her innocence."

Bad Singing Costs Man's Life - "Romy Baligula, a 29-year-old jobless man, was shot dead Tuesday night in a karaoke bar in San Mateo, Philippines... Frank Sinatra's Song "My Way", a frequent cause of fights and sometimes deaths when patrons sing out of tune, has been taken off at many karaoke bars in Manila."

strange maps - There's no description, so This Is True's: "This one's hard to describe, but it's what happens when you cross a fascination with maps with an overactive imagination. For instance, what if you took a map of the 50 U.S. states and instead of putting on the state names, rename each state with the country whose Gross Domestic Product most closely matches that state? California would be France; Colorado, Finland. Texas (sorry, eh?) would be Canada. Another one: a heat map of Europe in 2071 ...if global warming continues at the current rate. It's fun, interesting, maybe even educational."

The Straight Dope: Whatever happened to adoption of the metric system in the U.S.? - "Opponents of metrication have succeeded in painting it as a one-world plot, with the introduction of an alien system of weights and measures the obvious prelude to a takeover by the Bolsheviks. To this day you'll hear media commentators moaning that recalculating football fields and baseball diamonds in meters threatens the integrity of American sport. Converting to metric will cost money, the critics say, and unless you're involved in foreign trade it confers no benefit."

Man fails exams for 38th time, gets full marks for persistence - "The 73-year-old Indian farmer has been taking - and failing - his high school exams every year since 1969 and has just flunked again for the 38th time. He has vowed not to get married until he passes the exams, which are normally given to schoolchildren at the age of 15... "Once I pass I want to get married to a girl who's under 30," said Yadav."

Army food is 'cheaper than a dog's dinner' - "The Army spends more feeding its dogs than its soldiers, it has been claimed. Figures obtained by a Tory MP show that £1.51 a day goes on meals for troops, compared with £2.63 for military dogs. Even prisoners – who cost £1.87 a day to feed – fare better than servicemen. Schoolchildren get £1.55 for lunch alone."

All the right moves - "The PUA alphabet turns out to be a dizzying cacophony of mind games, all designed to make a woman feel intimately connected to him, painstakingly mapping her psyche for manipulation. And in this day and age it's easily done. Mass culture over the past decade tells us that where once the underlying female instinct in falling in love was the search for security, now we are enslaved to the idea of a soul mate - there is one true love for us out there, one unmatched connection. Luckily for the PUAs that connection is, with the correct training, easily faked. Hence a combination of creative thinking - the pre-prepared photos, the runes, the word association - and obsession with scientific statistics. Men who, in their failure to seduce, were never considered masculine, creep their way in. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and if you have the key, how far do you go with it?... 'Hello Emma!' He fixes me with an unwavering stare and Clintonian double-palmed handshake. There is no one else in the room but he and I. And then, just as quickly, he drops my hand as if it were a bag of cold chips on the high street, and turns his back on me to speak to another girl. I am unanchored. I am bewildered. But mainly I want Mystery to pay attention to me... Would women, I ask, be able to work the equivalent to The Game? 'But you already have it!' says Neil. 'It's the cover of every woman's magazine, of Cosmo and Glamour: "Six tips to get a man". "Six tips to keep him faithful." It's already part of your culture.'"
Emotionally manipulating women is a skill that brings many rewards.

Shanghai Cheerleader Seeks McDonald’s Dishwasher - "The Western world that I’ve seen in movies and TV is just like heaven, with clean streets, unique architecture, and a pure sky. Whether a busy metropolis or a quiet little town, it all appears so warm and fragrant and harmonious... Western men are all brought up in an independent environment. They have the ability to think independently, unlike Chinese men, who parrot the words of others. For example, my classmates: if the central government says Japan and China have good relations, then they would like Japan. When the central government stirs up nationalism, they scream for the overthrow of Japan. None of them has brains. They are just someone else’s monkey, but think themselves so grand. They are all just a bunch of pig heads."

Stanford Pictures from Others (6/6)

Pictures of the Stanford trip from others (almost all ripped from Facebook, which accounts for the tiny size):

Ed: The pictures in this post were restored in late December 2010 after Mediafire deleted my account in 2007

Grand Canyon:

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(For some reason the thumbnail probably won't work. So: original picture)
Group shot at Hoover Dam

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Group shot at one of the points

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Coin throwing

Vegas (mostly taken when everyone but me and the Cunning Linguist ran off to do shopping):

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(For some reason the thumbnail probably won't work. So: original picture)

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Jumping dolphin

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Huge bowl of Pho

Marginalising me

Some of the girls drew stuff on napkins to oppress me. The Cunning Linguist was supposed to send me the big versions of these weeks ago!!!

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I can't make out what is on my sweater, but I'm saying: "I find the chill invigorating", "I'd like to think of myself as a Renaissance Man" and "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!" (the last is very ironic)

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On the left you will see a statue of David. The house in the centre has the Sistine Chapel Ceiling. I forgot what "the V man" is. On the right, I, the Renaissance Man, am saying: "This is so pretentious". And there's a Renaissance Woman to the right of me (it might just be me, but she looks like a disembodied head). I think the 2 small figures in the foreground are our children. Hurr hurr.

Narita (way back):

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I don't know what's so fascinating about me drinking Udon soup with a straw

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And that wraps it up. Now I can move on to my Shanghai/Hong Kong travelogue.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Stanford Pictures from Others (5/6)

Pictures of the Stanford trip from others (almost all ripped from Facebook, which accounts for the tiny size):

Ed: The pictures in this post were restored in late December 2010 after Mediafire deleted my account in 2007

Day with Tom Kosnik:

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Running through Stanford

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Animated lesson

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Picture of a picture

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We love his snacks!


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Me looking furtive

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The comments on this photo on Facebook:
Me: Wah now the secret is out
Shafy: and part 2 of the story is that you found huishan and both of you happily looked at the pictures harharhar.
Chris: hahahahha
aileen and i jus burst out laughing. we gave it 6 claps!!! huishan is still showering in ignorance. haha
Cunning Linguist: OH HAHA> hahahhahaa (huishan here)
Me: 6 claps in total or 6 claps each ah
Shafy: hahahahaha! ♥6 claps is off the scale! (assuming max = 5 claps, like 5 stars)

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3 of us on the first day


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(For some reason the thumbnail probably won't work. So: original picture)
At Farmers' Market

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Mickey D's

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4 of us in LA

Stanford Pictures from Others (4/6)

Pictures of the Stanford trip from others (almost all ripped from Facebook, which accounts for the tiny size):

Ed: The pictures in this post were restored in late December 2010 after Mediafire deleted my account in 2007

San Francisco:

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Candy Store shelves

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Me in Candy Store
The girls claim I look like an Oompa Loompa

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Cool car

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Us at Fisherman's Wharf

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Gay America

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Golden Gate in fog

Berkeley vs Stanford:

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Jaga in Red

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Me in Blue

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Forum on the last day. I'm told a better version is available but I haven't seen it floating around in the ether yet.

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"For lunch i had the WORSE RICE IN MY LIFE (see bottom left pic)
WHAT THE HELL. it was red bean rice. Darren and I were going BERSERK just from eating it. (as usual we have gabriel gloating)
ME: OMG this is the worse rice i have ever eaten in my life. I SWEAR.
Gabriel: Let me taste it. The worse rice i have ever eaten is SAF rice.
He reaches over for a scoop.
ME: so how? damn bad right.
Gabriel: Yah, its worse than SAF rice."
(As documented by the Cunning Linguist. Yes, it was worse than Pineapple Rice with Chicken or Chestnut Rice with Chicken)

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Us at Great Mall

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Jabir looking very pleased with his The Onion anti-feminist edition (cobbled together from past issues). I'd known The Onion had a print version but seeing it in the flesh was an interesting experience. And of course it was hilarious, given its contents, with stories like "Women Now Empowered By Everything A Woman Does" and "How Can I Use Feminism To My Advantage?".

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Hoover Tower

Stanford Pictures from Others (3/6): Breakdancing in San Francisco

Pictures of the Stanford trip from others (almost all ripped from Facebook, which accounts for the tiny size):

Ed: The pictures in this post were restored in late December 2010 after Mediafire deleted my account in 2007

Breakdancing in San Francisco:

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