Monday, October 11, 2010

Peter McAllister: Manthropology: The Science of Why the Modern Male Is Not the Man He Used to Be posted this video - Peter McAllister suggests that the modern male is a weak and feeble shadow of what men once were, both physically and intellectually. I disagree.

I have no doubt that we are physically weaker and maybe even slower - we no longer need to survive on the basis of our physical skills. On the other hand, we are exposed to and process thousands of times more information in a day than any early human was exposed to a month, or maybe even a year.

On the other hand, while what we know is likely greater than anything ancient man knew, our memory, language skills, and other elements of cognition may be inferior. Still, modern humans are capable of higher levels of cognition - post-formal stages - than early man ever could access. That alone allows to compensate for some our physical weaknesses.

The lecture is based on McAllister's book, Manthropology: The Science of Why the Modern Male Is Not the Man He Used to Be (October 26 release date).
Could your husband, brother or father be the worst man in history? University of Queensland-trained anthropologist Peter McAllister claims today's man isn't a patch on what he once was: that despite his huge brain, the modern bloke fails to measure up physically, creatively and emotionally with men of the distant past.

Join the author of Manthropology: The Science of the Inadequate Modern Male for some lively debate and discover why ancient men were smarter and stronger, and what the future holds for this once-mighty gender.

The event is presented by the Adelaide-based RiAUS (The Royal Institution of Australia) as part of National Science Week. The moderator is radio broadcaster Amanda Blair.

Peter McAllister is a science writer and archaeologist from Western Australia. His main research interest is paleoanthropology, and he writes funny and informed science books about what evolution can teach us about the human condition. His popular science book, Manthropology, is currently under development as a documentary series.

McAllister also writes prize-winning sci-fi thrillers like his novel Cosmonaut, which was developed for a major motion picture by Warner Brothers and Village Roadshow. Outside his work as a scientist and writer, McAllister has held jobs as: a journalist, a graphic artist, an advertising salesman for a country music radio station, and once (nearly) as a Chinese-speaking football commentator.

Here is a bit more about the book from Amazon:

Product Description

Manthropology is the first of its kind. Spanning continents and centuries, it is an in-depth look into the history and science of manliness. From speed and strength, to beauty and sex appeal, to bravado and wit, it examines how man today compares to his masculine ancestors.

Peter McAllister set out to rebut the claim that man today is suffering from feminization and emasculation. He planned to use his skills as a paleoanthropologist and journalist to write a book demonstrating unequivocally that man today is a triumph---the result of a hard-fought evolutionary struggle toward greatness.

As you will see, he failed. In nearly every category of manliness, modern man turned out to be not just matched, but bested, by his ancestors. Stung, McAllister embarked on a new mission. If his book couldn’t be a testament to modern male achievement, he decided, it would be a record of his failures.

Manthropology, then, is a globe-spanning tour of the science of masculinity. It kicks off in Ice Age France, where a biomechanical analysis demonstrates that La Ferrassie 2, a Neanderthal woman discovered in the early 1900s, would cream 2004 World Arm Wrestling Federation champion Alexey Voyevoda in an arm wrestle. Then it moves on to medieval Serbia, showing how Slavic guslar poets (who were famously able to repeat a two thousand-line verse after just one hearing) would have destroyed Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, in a battle rap. Finally, it takes the reader to the steaming jungles of modern equatorial Africa, where Aka Pygmy men are such super-dads, they even grow breasts to suckle their children. Now, that’s commitment.

For modern man, the results of these investigations aren’t always pretty. But in its look at the history of men, Manthropology is unfailingly smart, informative, surprising, and entertaining.



Russian arm wrestling champion Alexey Voyevoda has a twenty-two-inch bicep and has curled more than two hundred and fifty pounds---with just one arm. But could he stand up in an arm wrestling match with an average Neanderthal male? Or, for that matter, a female? (p. 10)


Today’s Ultimate Fighters compete in a sport where bouts routinely end with an unconscious loser splayed out on a blood-soaked canvas. But what would a match in the Octagon look like next to the Pankration bouts of the Ancient Greeks: a battleground or a playground? (p. 77)


A modern army goes into battle with state-of-the-art technology and centuries of strategical insight. But for sheer determination, could they have bested Nero’s legions, who marched nearly two marathons a day for six days straight---each legionary carrying hundred-pound packs? (p. 99)


There’s philological evidence that suggests Homer may not have written the Iliad; he may have rapped it. If 50 Cent had to face Homer in a rap battle, would he come out on top? (p. 160)


Wilt Chamberlain is known for scoring on more than just the court. He claimed to have had as many as twenty thousand sexual encounters in his lifetime. Such conquest could only be matched by one of the world’s greatest conquerors: There is the evidence that approximately 32 million people are descended from Genghis Khan. (p. 248)

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