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Why Are Differences Between Men & Women Being Denied? | Steve Stewart-Williams

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Why Are Differences Between Men & Women Being Denied? | Steve Stewart-Williams

The Evolutionary Role of Culture (00:00:00)

  • Humans have distinct characteristics, such as sexual differences, family structures, emotions, and cultural practices, which can be confusing to an alien scientist studying our species.
  • Culture is a unique aspect of humans that involves learning and sharing tricks, leading to an open-ended system that evolves independently of biological evolution.
  • Cultural evolution is driven by the selection of memes, which are elements of culture that can replicate themselves.
  • Selection favors replicators, such as genes or memes, that are best at replicating themselves.
  • Humans can be seen as "gene machines" designed to pass on their genes to the next generation.
  • Denying the differences between men and women can have negative consequences, such as hindering scientific research and understanding of human behavior.
  • It is important to recognize and study these differences to better understand human nature and develop effective policies and interventions.

We Are Born to Maximise Grandchildren (00:05:03)

  • Humans are ultimately designed to have grandchildren, ensuring the continuation of their genes, rather than for the good of the species or survival alone.
  • Inclusive fitness includes kin altruism, where individuals spread their genes by helping genetic relatives survive and reproduce.
  • Identical twins share a higher genetic similarity and experience a stronger bond and affinity compared to fraternal twins, even when raised separately.
  • People tend to feel an affinity for individuals who resemble them, which can have both positive and negative implications, such as facilitating racist beliefs.
  • Prejudice against people with different accents may be more pronounced than prejudice against people with different skin colors because accents were more common markers of difference in ancestral times.
  • The "ingroup-outgroup" dynamic seems to be a deeper trend than physical appearance in determining prejudice, with accents often serving as strong ingroup markers.
  • Prejudice against people who look different can be overcome by other factors, such as shared accents.

What Most People Get Wrong About Sex Differences (00:11:40)

  • People often think that there are no sex differences or that they come almost solely from culture.
  • People also tend to exaggerate the magnitude of human sex differences.
  • Both mistakes can cause problems.
  • Desire for sexual novelty: Men have a stronger desire for sexual novelty than women.
  • Sexual orientation: The vast majority of men are primarily interested sexually in women and the vast majority of women are primarily sexually interested in men.
  • Desire for sexual variety: Men have a stronger desire for sexual variety than women.
  • Desire for casual sex: Men have a stronger desire for casual sex than women.
  • Face-to-face aggression and violence: Men are more aggressive than women.
  • Parental inclinations: Women have stronger parental inclinations than men.
  • Jealousy: Men are more upset than women about sexual infidelity, while women are more upset about emotional infidelity.

How Men & Women Feel Jealousy Differently (00:16:27)

  • Jealousy is part of pair-bonding psychology, evolved to protect the pair bond and facilitate child-rearing.
  • The main difference in jealousy between men and women is paternity uncertainty.
  • Men are more focused on sexual infidelity because they risk investing in a child that is not their own.
  • Women are more focused on emotional infidelity because it increases the chances that their partner will leave them and make it harder for them to raise their child.
  • There is a trend of denying the differences between men and women.
  • This denial is often based on ideology rather than science.
  • Ignoring these differences can have negative consequences for individuals and society.

Why Women Have Concealed Ovulation (00:20:15)

  • Concealed ovulation may be the default state in women, with no specific adaptive reason for it.
  • One theory suggests that concealed ovulation increases the frequency of sex needed for conception, leading to stronger pair bonding and increased parental investment.
  • Anorexia in women is not an adaptation but a cultural byproduct of status-seeking and intersexual competitiveness in wealthy societies.
  • Male preference for female body size varies based on economic conditions and hunger levels.
  • During uncertain times, men prefer fuller women, while during stable economic periods, they prefer thinner women.
  • When hungry, men prefer women who appear more robust and capable of handling environmental challenges, known as the "environmental security hypothesis."

Role of Socialisation in Sex Differences (00:26:05)

  • Sex differences are influenced by both socialization and biological factors.
  • Many sex differences appear early in development and persist despite cultural pressures.
  • Hormonal associations, such as prenatal testosterone levels, are linked to the emergence of male and female traits.
  • Sex differences are cross-culturally universal, suggesting an evolutionary basis.
  • Evolutionary explanations focus on the greater reproductive variance among males, leading to stronger selection for certain traits, such as status-seeking and multiple sexual partners.
  • Species with greater reproductive variance among males exhibit more pronounced sex differences.
  • Certain preferences, like male chimpanzees' preference for toys with reciprocating motion, may have evolutionary roots.
  • Boys and girls exhibit different behaviors and preferences from a young age, with boys engaging in more physical activities and girls nurturing and caring for others.
  • Research on monkeys suggests an evolutionary basis for parental instincts in females.
  • Toy preferences are among the most significant sex differences, with boys preferring trucks and girls preferring dolls, although the evolutionary rationale for this is unclear.
  • Children raised in gender non-conforming households still exhibit the same sex differences in toy preferences, indicating a biological basis for these preferences.

Did Ancient Men Actually Do More of the Hunting? (00:38:15)

  • Anthropologists have studied the division of labor in hunter-gatherer societies for over a century and have concluded that men typically do most of the hunting, especially big-game hunting.
  • A recent paper by Abigail Anderson and colleagues challenged this view, arguing that hunting is more evenly divided between men and women than previously thought.
  • However, a new preprint has critiqued Anderson's paper, arguing that it made several methodological errors, such as coding societies that did not have female hunting as ones that did and only including a small subset of the available data.
  • When these errors are corrected, the data shows that men do most of the hunting, supporting the traditional view.
  • There is an assumption that male behavior is desirable and that women's roles, such as caregiving and gathering, are less valuable.
  • This bias is evident in the way that some people criticize women for not doing as much big-game hunting as men, while ignoring the fact that men do not do as much berry collecting as women.
  • This bias can be seen in the way that some pro-feminist arguments implicitly devalue the roles that are more common among women.

The Paradox of Gender Equality (00:42:57)

  • There is a gender equality paradox where sex differences seem to be smaller in more gender-equal nations.
  • In more gender-equal societies, people have more freedom to pursue their interests and nurture their individuality, leading to larger individual and sex differences.
  • Sex differences in interests, with men typically being more interested in objects and women typically being more interested in people, play a role in the gender gap in STEM fields.
  • Discrimination and sexist socialization contribute to the gender gap in STEM fields, but they are not the whole story.
  • Men and women tend to go into different occupations because of their different interests, not because of segregation or apartheid.

Our Ancestral Mating Setup (00:49:51)

  • Humans primarily engage in pair bonding, although polygyny is acceptable in certain cultures.
  • Jealousy is a natural emotion, but some individuals may be more inclined toward polyamory and less prone to jealousy.
  • Humans likely practiced both lifelong monogamy and serial monogamy, with serial monogamy being more prevalent.
  • In ancestral times, couples who failed to conceive after a certain period often separated to enhance their chances of reproduction.
  • Modern cultural norms stigmatize unions that do not last a lifetime, despite their potential prevalence in ancestral times.
  • The high divorce rate in modern times compared to the past may be attributed to cultural changes and reduced stigma associated with divorce.
  • Balancing the decision to stay together for the sake of children with recognizing when a relationship lacks fulfillment or health is crucial.
  • Testicle size is related to mating systems in species.
  • Bonobos and chimpanzees have large testicles relative to their body size due to frequent mating.
  • Gorillas have small testicles because only the dominant male mates with females, reducing sperm competition.
  • Humans are somewhere between bonobos/chimpanzees and gorillas in terms of testicle size.
  • Some interpret this as humans evolving towards chimpanzee-level promiscuity.
  • Gibbons, a pair-bonding primate, have testicle size similar to humans.
  • This suggests that humans may have had some degree of sperm competition in the past, but not as much as bonobos and chimpanzees.
  • Pair bonding is likely the most common mating format for humans.

The Mutual Mate Choice Model (01:03:16)

  • Humans exhibit sexual dimorphism, but the differences are often overstated.
  • Both sexes compete for desirable mates and are choosy to some degree, with females being more selective for long-term partners.
  • The evolution of our intelligence and cultural capacity led to increased dependency of human babies, requiring allomaternal care beyond the mother.
  • Fathers often invest heavily in their children due to their close genetic relationship, reducing the sex difference in reproductive variance in humans.
  • As the maximum offspring number decreased, it selected for a lower level of dimorphism in humans compared to other mammals.

Why Some Men Insult Intimate Partners (01:09:24)

  • Men sometimes use derogation of their partner as a tool for keeping their partner.
  • David Buss talks about this and categorizes the ways in which men keep a partner into two main categories: the carrot and the stick.
  • The carrot involves nice stuff like being attentive, giving gifts, and being kind.
  • The stick involves unpleasant ways to try to keep a partner under control, such as insulting them.
  • The rationale for this research is that if you can persuade someone that they're not so great, they're less likely to think they can do better than their current partner.
  • This is not a recommendation, and it's important to remember that there are unreasonable audiences.
  • Moving from benefit-affording to C-inflicting mating strategies, everyone has seen this on the reverse side as well, with women also using these tactics.
  • There's a fear that a partner is slipping away, leading to jealousy or uncertainty.
  • This can lead to making a partner feel guilty for spending time with friends or family, which can make it harder for them to leave a relationship.
  • Resource independence becomes tougher to achieve when a woman has fewer males around her who are not brothers, uncles, or fathers.

Applying EvPsych Into Daily Life (01:12:30)

  • Evolutionary psychology can help individuals understand their desires and behaviors, leading to empowerment and better decision-making.
  • Understanding the evolutionary origins of emotions can help people manage their emotional reactions more effectively.
  • Evolutionary psychology suggests that our traits and behaviors are influenced by both genes and the environment.
  • Rejecting evolutionary psychology does not eliminate external influences; it merely changes the source from genes to the environment.
  • The question of a greater purpose beyond gene propagation is complex and lacks a simple answer.
  • Evolutionary psychology can help us understand our nature and make conscious choices about our values and goals.
  • Despite our evolutionary origins, culture and intelligence allow us to transcend our biological programming and choose our own meanings and values.
  • Steve Stewart-Williams believes in holding conflicting ideas simultaneously.
  • John Tuby, whom Steve Stewart-Williams met, passed away last year.
  • David Buss is considered a genius by both John Tuby and Steve Stewart-Williams.

Do Common Mutations Occur in Different Generations? (01:23:03)

  • The genome theory of population genetics suggests that advancements in healthcare and technology have reduced selection pressures, leading to the accumulation of suboptimal mutations in the population.
  • This accumulation of suboptimal mutations may explain the decline in birth rates and the increasing prevalence of mental and physical health issues in modern society.
  • Certain genetic traits once disadvantageous, such as myopia, may have become less detrimental due to technological advancements, potentially lowering the average genetic quality of those traits.
  • Genetic technologies could potentially be used to filter out negative traits or select embryos for desired characteristics, but ethical concerns arise regarding the consequences of such interventions.
  • Most mental illnesses are associated with a lower number of offspring, suggesting some level of natural filtration.
  • There is no population-wide coordination mechanism for genes to anticipate future events.

Where to Find Steve (01:29:19)

  • Steve's favorite social media outlet is his Substack, called "The Nature Nurture Nature Newsletter" (stevestewartwilliams.com).
  • He is also on Twitter as @stvestwil.
  • Steve Stewart-Williams discusses the denial of differences between men and women.
  • He argues that these differences are real and should not be ignored or denied.

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