Two podcasts back-to-back, Tyler Cowan interviewing Joseph Henrich, which included a discussion of polygamy worldwide. (It came up in the Q&A as well, from a woman who writes about "sex and politics" and was fishing for an endorsement of polyandry from Henrich.) 85% of the world's cultures practice at least some polygamy. Note that most of those cultures are small, so that this doesn't mean that 85% of the world's population practices polygamy. Nor does everyone in those cultures practice it, as by definition it means some men are excluded. Next podcast was suddenly about Tinder and the statistic that 6% of the men dominate the dating, over half essentially using it as an efficient shopping tool for women who will sleep with them. I thought: Those are the same subject.
So I wonder...Is Tinder a reassertion of the prehistorically and even historically much more common norm of polygamy? Is it just a return to normal, but we don't like it? By the way, I hate those guys on some visceral creepiness level. I hope I would have the strength of character to feel the same if I were one. Monogamy greatly increased wider societal cooperation and reduced violence, which allowed a wider network of shared ideas. Too many unmated males wandering around a society creates a situation in which their only mating strategies are high risk and violent. Low trust, low display of success because it provokes envy. But wider sharing of ideas creates a virtuous cycle allowing a group to outcompete other groups. Voila! Western Civ. (The influence of feudalism and forbidding cousin marriage are related phenomenon.)
Yet how much changes when mating is now less likely to produce genetically coded partial replicas - we call them "children" - because of birth control and abortion? The risks and rewards are now different for polyamory. And does it matter that marriage is no longer an automatic? The term polygamy has a different meaning now, and how much of what we see about polygamous societies in Papua, New Guinea applies to downtown Baltimore?
We now have enough data that the sociology and even anthropology of Tinder are researchable. Do we want to know?
It's interesting to note that a species with a high female-male ratio would likely be more evolutionarily successful than one with an even female-male ratio because one male can impregnate many females, but not vice versa, thus accelerating population growth. The problem is that evolution works at the individual level, not at the group level, so that if there were, e.g., 20 females per male, then it would be genetically advantageous to bear male children, thus reversing the trend of a high female-male ratio. For further reading, look up "Fisher's principle" and The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Organisms may cooperate in groups to facilitate survival, but in ways which are distributed over the entire group, rather than differentiated by phenotype.
It would be interesting to know how this has modified the genetics of poultry in factory farms, where female offspring are by far more desirable. Have genes which increase the likelihood of bearing hens over co... roosters... been selected for, since that will maximize how many of your offspring survive?
Oh, if only I could live in that twenty-to-one world.
While I would not say that whatever has happened in evolution was the best possible thing, there are often payoffs and penalties we don't see at first glance. Father's resources and protection likely aid survival, and they will mostly invest only in children they believe are theirs. Maybe a brother's. So the 20-1 ration would likely work great until the first emergency, and then lots of children would die. Maybe jealousy would set in even before that. Plenty of species, when a male takes over a harem, kills all the previous children.
Let's say that we shipped a group of several dozen to several hundred colonists to an alien planet, where they will have to develop a new society over centuries, using only the limited resources they can scavenge there without any help from their homeworld. The best strategy would be to choose a few males while the remainder are female. This would optimize exponential growth while keeping the gene pool diverse and having a backup in case one male dies. In this situation, sex-selective abortion might also make sense.
So they backdoored into Pick Up Artist philosophy.
I think you need to look a step beyond just who is born, and in a reproduction environment that is less structured than a mission to Mars. A human child is born woefully underdeveloped relative to a calf or a colt. Even kittens and puppies pretty quickly mature out of complete dependence on their mother. Human children on the other hand take years to reach an age when they can reproduce. I'd also note that you see the fewest males to females (largest harems) as offspring are born with greater levels of independence. A wolf pack has a structure not unlike a human extended family or clan while yearling bulls are usually kicked out of a cattle herd.
Males have basically two strategies for ensuring their offspring reach adulthood. They can either spread their seed far and wide with the hope that some lands on fertile soil, i.e. that somebody else will help the impregnated woman raise the child, or they can stick around after impregnation to invest the energy they could have used clubbing (maybe literally in the day) into raising their child. A woman's choices are more limited since she is physically necessary to ensure the child doesn't starve after birth so her strategies need to revolve around selection of a mate who presents with the best chance of overall survival.
Put these two situations in a blender and you wind up with a social structure where cuckoldry is the best option for evolutionary development, as you two have noted. Women mate with the small number of most fit men, and pair bond with the less fit men to ensure survival of the children. Since most men won't accept that social structure openly without compulsion it may take some subterfuge for it to happen. It doesn't hurt to have less fit men reproduce because you need a steady supply of men for pair bonding, and the occasion when their offspring are better adapted to a changing situation. The compulsion in fact will land on the women to force them into accepting a pair bond with a less fit man rather than being part of a more fit man's harem since their genes are more likely to survive from having regular access to a more fit man rather than producing offspring with a less fit man.
Now give women control over which impregnations will produce offspring (birth control and abortion), add in social support structures that don't require a pair bond to ensure children survive to adulthood, and you get the female mating strategy run amok. Women mate only with the most fit men (in their estimation) during their peak years of fertility, and only pair bond with men later when they have less claim to social support for children. You wind up with a large cohort of frustrated men who have little outlet for their mating urge, and more importantly little reward for performing socially acceptable functions unless you happen to be the Yamnaya storming across the Eurasian steppes. I'd also say there's evidence that women aren't entirely happy with the situation, either. As you noted from the Tinder statistics, it's now the most fit men who get to be the most selective. They know the chances of their offspring's survival are very high since they don't have to worry about cuckolding their mate's unlucky boyfriend, and women are now primarily and largely solely responsible for ensuring the survival of their children. The elites don't mind the situation, since they either benefit from it (Elon Musk has something like six kids from several different women IIRC) or still largely stick to the old pair bonding model via assortative mating, and the compulsion is now running towards trying to get that cohort of frustrated males to accept their position.
Any time we get a look into the family life of a polygamous household in the Old Testament it's always Dysfunction Junction.
Polygamy may have made more sense back when men dropped like flies due to war. This was the case for early Muslims, hence why they can have four wives.
I think you meant that comment to be a reply to my comment about 101 syndrome ^
Yup. I don't consider having four wives to be a good habit.
I was wondering if the recent abortion ruling will allow the return of anti-adultery and anti-fornication laws. Given AIDS, monkeypox, and antiibiotic resistant STIs there is at least a rational basis for such laws.
Boxty, Boxty, there are too many congresspeople who would not vote against their personal interests in that way, even if it were proven to save lives of their constitituents.
Har de har har. Congress exempts itself from the laws it passes and Democrats are generally immune to prosecution anyway.
But I assumed it would be determined by the states and not the U.S. Congress if the courts overturned Lawrence vs Texas. That was concerning sodomy laws in Texas.
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