Monday, February 2, 2009

Self-Deception, Over-Confidence and Disposable Men: A Risky Proposition

This is an interesting post from

Roy Baumeister has argued that men are more evolutionarily dispensable than women. If you were to cut the world's male population in half, the only real effect this would have on our species-provided we could overcome our predilections against bigamy- is that those men left alive would end up having even more sex.

Cut the world's population of women in half and the results are a disaster.

This shows up in evolution as well. Since men are evolutionarily dispensable, nature has a tendency to experiment more with them. This explains why there are far more male geniuses and male retards than female.

It also explains why, historically-and only until the advent of the airplane and the 20th century discovery of the military worth of civilian targets-men went off to fight wars and women stayed at home.

This also effects personality. Historically, 80 percent of all women procreate and only 40 percent of all men do. Baumeister contends that the men who get lucky are the ones with greater visibility. Men have to stand out to attract women-which is why they're built to take risks.

His main premise is based in Kurt Warner's belief that we was a better quarterback than Brett Favre (this while Favre was one year from the Super Bowl, and Warner was not even in the NFL). Turns out that Warner WAS a more accurate passer, so that his belief, which was a cognitive bias, was not false. The argument fails on these grounds.

However, the support he brings in, from Roy Baumeister, is the real point of the post. Are men expendable in the way he suggests? I don't think so, if purely on the ground of genetic diversity. But there might be some truth to the notion that we do things - especially taking risks - as a way to secure the continuation of our gene line. Maybe.

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