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Greta, others, Scientific American recently publishing a really nice piece on the problems with the evolutionary psych approach. These criticisms were far more detailed than the more common Just So Story, and I think all the more damning as a result.


I am personally asexual so I do not care about sex or relationships :D. But good article anyway.


Thanks for linking to Wikipedia's "Just-So Story" entry. I've had the same exact feeling about many, many evolutionary explanations and arguments that I've heard before, as well as many from other spheres, and it's greatly alleviating to hear there's an actual term for this practice. It's kind of annoying when even bright minds act out of haste.

And the disparity between genital and mental reports of sexual arousal doesn't surprise me in the least. As a guy, I know I've gotten erections just out of the blue, in the absence of any plausible stimuli, and I can even retain them awhile without experiencing excitement, so it's pretty obvious there's more than one level in the process. I think there's something akin to the "Don't think about X - induces thought about X" paradox involved as well.

A little while back, I wondered how psychologically felt arousal could lead to physiological effects that can't be voluntarily controlled. I can't just give myself a boner or take it away by simple whim, like I can wave my hand. So I concluded that your subconscious - if that's what we want to call it - might have some degree of monitoring of higher-level conscious thought. When you think "X is sexy", the lower levels of your mind will notice and the appropriate actions will take effect.

But what if you think, "X is sexy to some people," or "I'm supposed to think X is sexy," or even "I'm not supposed to think X is sexy." Some thoughts involving sexuality could be misinterpreted by your mind and lead to the disparate genital and mental responses! That was my first theory.

The Beautiful Kind

I think the reason women's feedback on arousal doesn't match up to physiological data is because women are so repressed in our society.

Whenever I ask a guy what his fetish is, he can tell me right away. But lots of women say they don't have one. YES THEY DO! Everyone does! They don't even acknowledge their own fantasies, they bury them.

A brain isn't a landfill, it's a garden. Take care of your garden and enjoy all the pretty flowers and juicy fruit!


Beautifully expressed. When I read that article awhile ago, I had to scratch my chin as well. But... well... it was a NYT article, and given that science journalism isn't always great, and it really isn't my area of study, I wasn't sure how to critique the positions posited. I enjoyed this read, though. /blogbookmarked

Laura Lee

I have always been annoyed with these evolutionary arguments for observed differences in male and female behaviors. One of the aspects of it that makes little sense to me is that if a male has a trait that is beneficial to him only as a male, and he lives long enough to pass on his genetic code as a result, his offspring might just as easily be a female who inherits the trait as a male. The female who has a trait that aids her in reproduction might pass that predisposition on to her sons. As we all know, the fashion model who mates with a funny looking genius is just as likely to produce odd looking people with the model's intelligence as stunningly beautiful geniuses.

penis sleeve

"A scientific study where random men approached girls on college campuses and said, 'Will you have sex with me right now?'—to which most of the ladies said 'no thanks,' surprisingly. But three-quarters of men said yes to the same question!"

Wait! A random group of men asking for sex were refused by most women? However, when this same random group asked other men the same question, 3/4 of these men said yes to having sex with them?


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