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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » Sex, Art and Selection

Sex, Art and Selection

What do Women Want?

The men, on average, responded genitally in what Chivers terms “category specific” ways. Males who identified themselves as straight swelled while gazing at heterosexual or lesbian sex and while watching the masturbating and exercising women. They were mostly unmoved when the screen displayed only men. Gay males were aroused in the opposite categorical pattern. Any expectation that the animal sex would speak to something primitive within the men seemed to be mistaken; neither straights nor gays were stirred by the bonobos. And for the male participants, the subjective ratings on the keypad matched the readings of the plethysmograph. The men’s minds and genitals were in agreement.

As one would expect. Men are pretty well focused. There is a fairly straightforward correllation for sex in the male mind and his orientation (apparently they didn’t have any furries in their study -what a shame). Women on the other hand…

All was different with the women. No matter what their self-proclaimed sexual orientation, they showed, on the whole, strong and swift genital arousal when the screen offered men with men, women with women and women with men. They responded objectively much more to the exercising woman than to the strolling man, and their blood flow rose quickly — and markedly, though to a lesser degree than during all the human scenes except the footage of the ambling, strapping man — as they watched the apes. And with the women, especially the straight women, mind and genitals seemed scarcely to belong to the same person. The readings from the plethysmograph and the keypad weren’t in much accord. During shots of lesbian coupling, heterosexual women reported less excitement than their vaginas indicated; watching gay men, they reported a great deal less; and viewing heterosexual intercourse, they reported much more. Among the lesbian volunteers, the two readings converged when women appeared on the screen. But when the films featured only men, the lesbians reported less engagement than the plethysmograph recorded. Whether straight or gay, the women claimed almost no arousal whatsoever while staring at the bonobos.

Well now. Women are turned on by just about anything sexual in nature. That is something, now isn’t it? While men’s sexual stimulation and their acknowledgement of it to others corresponds, women won’t admit it when they’re physically aroused by things they don’t think they should be.

Irrational Intelligence; Get Smarter

Stanovich, an adjunct professor of human development and applied psychology at the University of Toronto, believes that the concept of intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, fails to capture key aspects of mental ability. But that doesn’t mean he discounts the tests’ credibility: “Readers might well expect me to say that IQ tests do not measure anything important, or that there are many kinds of intelligence, or that all people are intelligent in their own way,” he writes. After all, theories about emotional and social intelligence — which weigh interpersonal skills, the ability to empathize, and other “supracognitive” characteristics — have gained popularity in recent years, in part by de-emphasizing the importance of IQ.

Getting A’s in school doesn’t necessarily get you laid. Nor is the opposite true.

Opinions have changed over the last few years, and many scientists would now agree, “If you were to average the contribution of genetics to IQ over different social classes, you would probably find 50 percent to be the maximum contribution of genetics,” says Nisbett, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Class is a crucial determinant of intelligence; adoption studies, for example, have indicated that “raising someone in an upper-middle-class environment versus a lower-class environment is worth 12 to 18 points of IQ — a truly massive effect,” he says. Children of middle-class parents are read to, spoken to, and encouraged more than children of working-class parents, all experiences that influence intellectual development.

I mentioned something about how some zany scientists believe that behavior is (too a certain extent) linked to genetics. I linked to this post at orgtheory.net (about this essay). This is becoming a bit of a corpus of data about how societal traits are bred into people -behavior, sexuality, and intelligence all included (although not entirely genetic in the short term). This provides that a person’s environment has quite a bit of influence on their outlook/behavior. It also affects their ability to reproduce (i.e. you cannot spawn if you are dead). A generation of survivors will see themselves as slightly superior to others due to the fact that they made it through the filter. And they will absorb traits of the filter -what helped them to survive will pass on. Natural Selection at the societal level then passes down after some time to the genetic level. Where the Ruskies are getting tougher, learning to deal with cruelty and are less inhibited to being cruel, Americans are being bred to be soft, less able to deal with/deal out cruelty (in the public sphere, anyway) and directed towards a moral center. People who don’t care about God or morals are just as likely to spawn, but will their children follow them?

Why Everyone Is An Artist:

“What does it mean to call the arts evolutionary adaptations?” Dutton asks.
He explains, expanding on his assertion that “the arts, like language, emerge
spontaneously and universally in similar forms across cultures, employing
imaginative and intellectual capacities that had clear survival value in

“[T]he art instinct proper,” he writes, “is not a single genetically driven impulse similar to the liking for sweetness but a complicated ensemble of impulses – sub-instincts, we might say – that involve responses to the natural environment, to life’s likely threats and opportunities, the sheer appeal of colors or sounds, social status, intellectual puzzles, extreme technical difficulty, erotic interests, and even costliness. There is no reason to hope that this haphazard concatenation of impulses, pleasures, and capacities can be made to form a pristine rational system.”

I mentioned something about why humans evolved with artistic instincts before: to get laid. (Really, this new mention is because there is a new review, in a different perspective, to The Art Instinct.)

Natural selection is one thing, but the stronger, and more entertaining, basis for Dutton’s case for an evolutionary aesthetics is sexual selection, which Darwin explored in The Descent of Man. A clear tenor voice wouldn’t help Pleistocene man outrun a jaguar, but it might ingratiate him with the ladies — remember the guitarist on the stairs in Animal House? — allowing him to spread his genes widely and spot the savanna with little Pavarottis. Dutton describes the possession of artistic talent as “an ornamental capacity analogous to the peacock’s tail” — or to a florid vocabulary. These traits signal a certain robustness or intelligence, which are attractive qualities in a potential mate.

So, in the overal scope of things -over millenia -things seem to be pragmatically geared towards sex. At the same time, who gets the chance to spawn (and who is allowed to survive) affects the society and culture. All of which affects the behavior, tastes, level of intellectualism of said people. These things get put into the genetic code. On a scale, Stalin might have had the same level of effect on the Russian people that television had on Americans. The art produced and desired by these cultures shifts with it as men seek to beat one another in the sexual arena (Russians tend to use brute and overt masculinity – American males try to woo women with their poems and paintings). And men know what they want, although not always how to get it and their lineage reflects how they will attempt to get it (this is the rule, not the exception and I recognize that there might be several splinter groups within in the whole). Women, on the other hand are attracted to just about anything on a primitive level and let cultural factors affect how they choose their mates -a fact subconsciously recognized and utilized by men who produce art or follow the common cultural traits.