17. 11. 2020

The Red Queen

Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

by Matt Ridley


Doporučení od Honzy Michelfeita.

Goodreads review:

Packed with new information, many examples, clever ideas - it was delight to read each day on my way to work. The evolution processes are much more complex than we could ever imagine - propelled by the Red Queen phenomenon. Despite the fact our brains have not been designed to understand fully their own evolution but it is nice keep trying to learn more and more about it - and this is so awesome, the never ending story of science!


reproduction is the sole goal for which human beings are designed; everything else is a means to that end. (Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 06:39 PM, page 130-31)

Everything can be inherited except sterility. (Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 06:42 PM, page 147-48)

one of the more appealing aspects of human nature is that people calculate the consequences of their actions. (Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 06:53 PM, page 184-85)

the average genetic difference between one Peruvian farmer and his neighbor, or one Swiss villager and his neighbor, is 12 times greater than the difference between the “average genotype” of the Swiss population and the “average genotype” of the Peruvian population.’ (Thursday, May 15, 2014, 08:45 AM, page 273-75)

A man uses his wife to produce children for him. A woman uses her husband to make and help rear her children. Marriage teeters on the line between a co-operative venture and a form of mutual exploitation – ask any divorce lawyer. Successful marriages so submerge the costs under mutual benefits that the co-operation can predominate; unsuccessful ones do not. (Thursday, May 15, 2014, 12:42 PM, page 377-80)

Sex, like marriage, is a co-operative venture between two rival sets of genes. Your body is the scene of this uneasy coexistence. (Thursday, May 15, 2014, 12:44 PM, page 382-83)

breeding and survival come into conflict, it is breeding that takes precedence. (Thursday, May 15, 2014, 12:45 PM, page 387)

Sex is recombination plus outcrossing: this mixing of genes is its principal feature. The consequence is that the baby gets a thorough mixture of his four grandparents’ genes (because of recombination) via his two parents (because of outcrossing). Between them, recombination and outcrossing are the essential procedures of sex. Everything else about it – gender, mate choice, incest avoidance, polygamy, love, jealousy – are all ways of doing outcrossing and recombination more effectively or carefully. (Friday, May 16, 2014, 10:43 PM, page 504-8)

Evolving is not a goal but a means to solving a problem. (Friday, May 16, 2014, 10:50 PM, page 531)

Nicholas Humphrey, a Cambridge psychologist, was the first to see clearly the solution to this puzzle. We use our intellects not to solve practical problems, but to outwit each other. Deceiving people, detecting deceit, understanding people’s motives, manipulating people – these are what the intellect is used for. (Sunday, May 18, 2014, 10:53 AM, page 567-69)

Natural selection is not going to pick genes that help gazelles survive as a species but hurt the chances of individuals – because such genes will be wiped out long before they can show their benefits. Species are not fighting species, as nations battle other nations. (Sunday, May 18, 2014, 10:55 AM, page 578-79)

Animal altruism is a myth; even in the most spectacular cases of selflessness, it turns out that animals are serving the selfish interests of their own genes – if sometimes being careless with their bodies. (Sunday, May 18, 2014, 10:56 AM, page 586-87)

many mutations happen. They are accumulated at the rate of about one hundred per genome per generation in mammals. (Monday, May 19, 2014, 09:13 AM, page 760-61)

One of the reasons the common mushroom has changed very little over the three centuries that it has been in cultivation is that mushrooms are asexual and so no selective breeding has been possible.33 (Monday, May 19, 2014, 05:27 PM, page 774-76)

Europe was laid waste by measles after AD 165, by smallpox after AD 251, by bubonic plague after 1348, by syphilis after 1492, by tuberculosis after 1800. (Thursday, May 22, 2014, 07:13 AM, page 1058-59)

The bacteria in your gut pass through six times as many generations during your lifetime as people have passed through since they were apes. (Thursday, May 22, 2014, 07:16 AM, page 1072-73)

an immune system, used only by the descendants of reptiles. (Thursday, May 22, 2014, 07:43 AM, page 1141)

‘The essence of sex in our theory,’ wrote Hamilton, ‘is that it stores genes that are currently bad but have promise for reuse. It continually tries them in combination, waiting for the time when the focus of disadvantage has moved elsewhere.’ (Thursday, May 22, 2014, 10:38 AM, page 1273-75)

The genes of animals and plants turn out to be full of half-suppressed mutinies against the social harmony. (Friday, May 23, 2014, 05:29 PM, page 1535)

cuckoldry. (Friday, May 23, 2014, 05:31 PM, page 1543)

A male is defined as the gender that produces sperm or pollen: small, mobile, multitudinous gametes. A female produces few, large, immobile gametes called eggs. (Saturday, May 24, 2014, 02:48 PM, page 1595-96)

Human mitochondria, for example, have thirty-seven genes of their own. (Saturday, May 24, 2014, 02:52 PM, page 1606-7)

Well-fed opossums are significantly more likely to have sons than poorly fed ones. (Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 08:01 PM, page 1885)

In the Peruvian spider monkeys studied by Meg Symington, there was a clear association between rank and gender of offspring. (Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 08:06 PM, page 1904-5)

So human society, like ape society but unlike most monkey society, is a female-exogamous patriarchy and sons inherit their father’s (or mother’s) status more than daughters inherit their parents’ status. Therefore, says Trivers–Willard, it would pay high-ranking fathers, or dominant women, or both, to have sons and subordinates to have daughters. (Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 08:12 PM, page 1933-35)

In India, even today, girls are often given less milk and less medical attention than boys. (Thursday, May 29, 2014, 05:04 PM, page 2049)

Mildred Dickemann of California State University has postulated, the channelling of resources to sons represents the best investment rich people can make when society is highly stratified. (Thursday, May 29, 2014, 05:05 PM, page 2056-57)

the more parasites, the more showy the species. Even among human beings, the more polygamous a society is, the greater its parasite burden, though it is not clear if this means anything. (Tuesday, June 03, 2014, 12:16 PM, page 2441-42)

It is a well-known developmental accident that animals’ bodies are more symmetrical if they were in good condition when growing up, and less symmetrical if they were stressed while growing. (Tuesday, June 03, 2014, 12:20 PM, page 2464-65)

Every behaviour is the product of an instinct trained by experience. (Thursday, June 05, 2014, 08:24 PM, page 2795-96)

seventy-five per cent had had more than one hundred partners; twenty-five per cent had had more than one thousand. (Friday, June 06, 2014, 09:09 PM, page 2904-5)

‘Which woman would not rather be John Kennedy’s third wife, than Bozo the Clown’s first?’ says one (female) evolutionist.17 (Friday, June 06, 2014, 09:23 PM, page 2954-56)

So, inside the skull of a modern city dweller there resides a brain designed for hunting and gathering in small groups on the African savannah. (Saturday, June 07, 2014, 07:16 PM, page 3022-23)

Mankind, in other words, has many potential mating systems, one for each circumstance. (Monday, June 09, 2014, 07:40 AM, page 3082)

the more polygamous a society is, the more likely it will be to show male-biased inheritance. A survey of four hundred societies found overwhelming support for his hypothesis. (Monday, June 09, 2014, 04:27 PM, page 3170-71)

sperm production per gram of tissue is unusually low in man. (Monday, June 09, 2014, 06:03 PM, page 3526)

that the amount of sperm retained in the vagina varies according to the woman’s tendency to have an orgasm. If she has no orgasm, or if she has an orgasm more than a minute before the male ejaculates, very little sperm remains in the vagina at all. (Monday, June 09, 2014, 06:22 PM, page 3599-3600)

Men whose wives have been with them all day ejaculate much smaller amounts than men whose wives have been absent all day. (Monday, June 09, 2014, 06:27 PM, page 3629-30)

Whatever doctors, old wives’ tales and the Roman Catholic Church may say, human ovulation is invisible and unpredictable. Chimpanzees go pink; cows smell irresistible to bulls; tigresses seek out tigers; female mice solicit male mice – throughout the mammal order, the day of ovulation is announced with fanfare. (Monday, June 09, 2014, 09:12 PM, page 3686-89)

At least the male ibis need only keep up his sex-six-times-a-day routine for a few days each season before egg laying. Men must keep up sex-twice-a-week for years. (Monday, June 09, 2014, 09:15 PM, page 3701-2)

Psychologists have found that couples who lack moments of jealousy are less likely to stay together than jealous ones. (Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 06:02 PM, page 3800)

There has been no genetic change since we were hunter-gatherers, (Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 08:32 AM, page 3942)

Polygamy and spatial skills seem to go together in several species. (Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 10:00 AM, page 3971)

conscious choice and technology can both influence evolution, an idea explored at length by Jonathan Kingdon in his recent book, Self-made Man and His Undoing. (Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 12:43 PM, page 4056-57)

(for reasons of historical accident, the ‘normal brain’ is female unless masculinized). (Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 12:50 PM, page 4087-88)

Testosterone is an ancient chemical, found in much the same form throughout the vertebrates. (Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 12:53 PM, page 4091)

Brain Sex, the first pulse of hormone exposes the photographic negative; the second develops it.16 This is a crucial difference from the way the hormone affects the body. The body is masculinized by testosterone from the testicles at puberty, whatever its womb experience. But not the mind. The mind is immune to testosterone unless it was exposed to a sufficient concentration (relative to female hormones) in the womb. It would be easy to engineer a society with no sex difference in attitude between men and women. Inject all pregnant women with the right dose of hormones and the result would be men and women with normal bodies, but identical feminine brains. War, rape, boxing, motor racing, pornography, beer and hamburgers would soon be distant memories. A feminist paradise would have arrived. (Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 08:14 PM, page 4111-17)

Research in Britain, America and Germany has all confirmed that a prenatal exposure to deficiency of testosterone increases the likelihood of a man becoming homosexual. (Thursday, June 12, 2014, 12:16 PM, page 4258-59)

This only demonstrates how sketchy our knowledge of the relationship between genes, hormones, brains and skills still (Thursday, June 12, 2014, 12:19 PM, page 4266-67)

In Taiwan, some families practise shim-pua marriage in which an infant daughter is brought up by the family of the man she will marry. She is therefore effectively married to her stepbrother. (Thursday, June 12, 2014, 08:24 PM, page 4534-35)

Singh’s theory is slightly different but intriguingly parallel. He argues that, within reason, a man will find almost any weight of woman attractive so long as her waist is much thinner than her hips. (Thursday, June 12, 2014, 10:17 PM, page 4672-74)

The ideal figure was the one with the lowest ratio, not the one with the thinnest torso. (Thursday, June 12, 2014, 10:18 PM, page 4679-80)

The male obsession with youth is characteristically human. There is no other animal yet studied that shares this obsession quite so strongly. (Sunday, June 15, 2014, 10:45 PM, page 4728-29)

Body language matters for male sexiness.31 (Sunday, June 15, 2014, 10:56 PM, page 4790-91)

We learn mathematics and a vocabulary of ten thousand words, and what people’s characters are like. But this is because we have instincts to learn these things (with the possible exception of mathematics), not because we have fewer instincts than bats or cuckoos. (Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 08:29 AM, page 5163-65)

In human beings, eighteen per cent of the energy that we consume every day is spent in running the brain. (Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 05:30 PM, page 5218-19)

It makes a difference whether that region has animals that you can eat or animals that can eat you.’ (Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 09:40 AM, page 5256-57)

The human mind may not be much suited to logic at all, they conclude, but is well suited to judging the fairness of social bargains and the sincerity of social offers. It is a mistrustful Machiavellian world.44 (Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 06:08 PM, page 5370-72)

Deception is therefore the reason for the invention of the subconscious. (Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 06:10 PM, page 5382-83)

We are positively turned off by traits that half a million years ago would have been considered irresistibly sexy.’ (Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 08:20 PM, page 5458)

an ornament designed for sexual display, whose virtuosity at everything from calculus to sculpture is perhaps just a side-effect of the ability to charm. (Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 08:34 PM, page 5520-21)

Mankind is a self-domesticated animal; (Thursday, June 19, 2014, 06:54 PM, page 5567)