Re: Human faithfullness [was Re: Fwd: Lanier essay of 2001.12.04]

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Mon Dec 10 2001 - 09:29:50 MST

On Mon, 10 Dec 2001, Dossy asked me...

[BTW, there is no offense taken to the questions. I'm
not easily offended and don't mind providing personal
information if it helps contribute to your picture of
my experiences and therefore my POV.]

> (Sorry to produce yet another reply to this so late in the
> thread ...)

Don't worry, some of the conversations go on for weeks...

> Robert, do you know who your biological father (or biological
> parents) are?

To the best of my knowledge yes. But I've never actually been
tested to determine whether I got switched at the hospital.

> How certain are you that they are indeed your true biological
> parents, particularly your father?

Moderately certain, but not absolutely. For my purposes I
don't particularly need 100% certainty. They were both around
when I was growing up, did a relatively good job with myself
and my brothers and so I'm pretty content with the status quo.
I actually enjoy being part of the Bradbury "clan", so I'm
not interested in rocking the boat.

> Did you observe infidelity between your parents as you were
> growing up? Was the question of you being your father's
> biological child ever brought up while you were growing up?

No and no. Though my brothers do often claim I'm the mailman's
child much to the annoyance of my mother.

Damien commented:
> Oh dear. That might work for you, my good Mr Spock (but wait! that can't be
> right--Robert is a wildly emotional seeming dude, and the better for it),
> but it has no bearing on how the genes+culture bias toward feeling jealous
> *actually works*. [snip]

I understand how it is "supposed" to work and how many people may experience
it. Whether it is genes or experiences I am unsure, but at least with that
particular emotion I believe I've diminished its steely grip on my mind.

The reasoning process is something like this. My first priority is
to be the director of "my own person". My second is to try and be
fair or balanced. Others imposing fidelity rules upon me would
violate the first priority. To fullfill the second priority I
must be reciprocal. The paternity testing idea is a rational
corral around what is prumably a genetic drive that males should
have not to devote resources to offspring they are unrelated to.
Some of the other issues raised, like "time faithfullness", also
fall under the first/second priority rules.

That doesn't mean that one cannot develop a monogamous relationship
(a tip of the hat to Spike) through voluntary sign-up but there would
have to be opt-out clauses (for me). The structure of most common contracts
(and therefore most meme sets other humans possess), e.g. marriage,
tends to be all or nothing. I've yet to find someone with whom one
can define how this aspect of a relationship should be structured
based on reason rather than emotion. My last experience of having
my mind hijacked by an emotion (love, rather than jealousy) left a
sufficiently deep scar that I currently prefer to generalize the
expression of that emotion to a larger class of individuals (humanity)
rather than wrestle with single significant points of failure.

John commented:
> One plus where religion(especially conservative) is concerned is as an
> added buttress against infidelity. This would be a big attraction for
> both men and women. Especially in our day and age, with so many coming
> from divorced families who want to do better with their own marriages.

The "Human Sexuality" psych course I took circa '89 at the U.W.
had an interesting discussion of a tribe in India where the village
elders take the adolescents of the tribe, collect them into a "camp"
for a few months and have them all sleep with all of the other potential
mates in the village. At the same time they are actually trained to
become good sex partners. Interestingly enough the village has a
phenomenally low divorce rate (< 5%(?)). I suspect it is because one
learns who the right partner may be for you and the idea that "the grass
may be greener elsewhere" may be, to a large degree, purged from
the meme set of individuals having this experience.

Food for thought.

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