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

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sun Dec 09 2001 - 04:24:45 MST

On Sat, 8 Dec 2001, Spike Jones, commenting on Damien's comment
about jealousy wrote:

> I can easily imagine those females who bred
> with possessive males having more reproductive success. Their
> men would perhaps be more likely to stay by and help raise the
> larvae if they had a sense of ownership.
> [snip] I have a hard time imagining a stable society in which most
> of the copulation took place in anything other than practical monogamy.

Scientists have studied this. You should read a book like "The Red Queen".
Humans by and large, just like other animals aren't "faithful". For
men sperm is cheap and if they can get away with sowing it elsewhere
it is to their advantage to do so. Women on the other hand have to
live with the fact that men have risky professions (may not come
back from the hunt, etc.) so currying the favors of another man
from time to time may keep meat on the table when otherwise times
would be pretty tough.

The roots of jealousy are simple -- men never know if a child is
really theirs and women never know when a man will leave them
for a more fertile woman. So protecting the turf is built into
the meme set and probably the gene set.

(Before you start to throw things -- go *read* about it.
Much of the thinking about this has been turned on its
head by the advent of DNA testing. I think with humans the
figures for extra-marital fatherhood are 10-15%).

I always solved the concept of jealousy and faithfulness by
informing girlfriends I would simply determine whether or not
a child was mine. That approach rationalizes jealousy very


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