"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, July 6, 2017

What Makes Us Different From Animals? Not A Whole Lot And The Rest Is Vanity

It doesn’t take an evolutionary biologist to see how human nature is little different from that of animals.  We are aggressive, territorial, and self-protective.  We hunt in wolf packs, cooperating for survival.  Our societies are like ant and bee colonies – hierarchical, highly-organized, and militant.  We have herd instincts, and like geese group tightly to keep out intruders. 

Image result for images wolf packs

We may consider ourselves rational and cognitive; but most of our mental activities are used for work, to protect and safeguard our perimeters, for finding the proper mate, and for raising children – no different from animals.

A pregnant woman is no different from a pregnant cow, horse, or sheep.  She has mated, conceives, brings the fetus to term, and gives birth. We all eat, drink, copulate, and defecate. 

Image result for images pregnant cow

Men fight over power, land, and women just like animals.  Selecting the right mate – young, fertile, healthy, and strong – is essential for evolutionary success and only the strongest and most able men win them. 

Women like female animals are no less selective and choose mates who will provide successful offspring and will care for them.
Females may favor mating with a male that is loud or brightly colored simply because he is easy to locate. Reducing the amount of time it takes to find a mate may reduce a female's risk of being killed by a predator. But for many species, mate choice is probably more complex. For many birds and mammals, natural selection appears to favor females who choose mates that provide them with some direct benefit that will increase their fecundity, their survival or the survival of their offspring. Such benefits might include food, a safe haven or even the prospect of fewer parasites. 
In a long-term study of the barn swallow (Hirundo rustica), Anders P. Møller of the CNRS in Paris observed that females prefer to mate with males possessing elongated tail feathers. As it turns out, the long-tailed males are infected with fewer bloodsucking mites than their short-tailed counterparts. Because these parasites can jump from bird to bird, females that mate with long-tailed males benefit by avoiding infection and by producing greater numbers of healthier chicks than females that mate with shorter-tailed males (Dugatkin and Godin, Scientific American, 2002)
It should not be surprising that men and women still retain primitive survival traits.  Nothing has changed genetically since the emergence of Homo Sapiens.  Life is still a matter of survival and reproduction, and we are still no different from our earliest ancestors of 300,000 years ago.

Image result for images earliest homo sapiens

Men are still stronger and faster than women and their musculature, evolved to succeed at running long distances, hunting, fighting and defending women who, because of pregnancy and post-partum confinement could not fend for themselves.  Women’s bodies are still formed and shaped for pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation.

What is unclear is how male and female genetic codes written to control associated reproductive and survival behavior are still operative and have not been overridden by social forces. 

In other words, just as genetic sequencing in males and females differs and enables biologically and physiologically different subspecies, similar codes must have evolved to regulate behavior.  The aggressiveness and risk-taking that is seen in boys today – so different from the more associative, congenial, and caring behavior of girls – cannot be a social accident.  Boys and girls may still be acting out primitive imperatives.

Image result for images genetic dna codes

The point is not to revisit nature-nurture, nor to suggest that boys or  girls cannot overcome biological determinants.  The one trait both have in common is intelligence; and with that, parity can be achieved.

Shakespeare’s women are perfect examples of how the combination of native intelligence and fierce animal maternal behavior produced strong, defiant, and successful women; and no matter how strong or powerful their kings and princes might have been, they ran rings around them. Shakespeare’s characters understood their human, female nature and realized the power and potential of their equal or unsurpassed intelligence. 

Image result for images shakespeare tamora

The point is only that without understanding our fundamental and unchanged similarity to the rest of the animal kingdom, we will be continually unable to manage it.

In other words it is better to realize that territorialism, aggression, self-protection, and power are inbuilt, inbred, permanent features of the human being.  That the rules of Darwinian evolution remain unchanged, and that women and men are still as dissimilar as they have always been. 

Wars between families, societies, nations, and sexes will always continue.  Competition has always been and always will rule human behavior.  It is far better to accept the inevitable conflicts that always arise than to pretend that competition can be overruled by compassion, understanding, and inclusiveness. Millennia of history have shown that this is simply impossible.

The war between the sexes is in many ways more complex.  In a feminist age we are told that there are no differences between men and women.  Whatever codes were written for sexual, procreative, and child-rearing behavior, they can be overridden.  Just because a woman can have children, she is under no obligation to conceive and deliver.  Although it is the essential, predominant, and hardwired aspect of femaleness, it can be ignored.

Not only that, but sexuality is not binary but exists on a fluid spectrum.  All combinations and permutations are possible, we are told, and thus classic sexual conflicts will never more occur.

Image result for images fluid spectrum sexuality

This of course is just whistlin’ Dixie, for not only will jealousies, sexual competition, and settling behavior remain the same regardless of gender configuration; but the notion of a sexual spectrum will soon fade from currency.  The one or two percent of the population which is not heterosexual, binary, traditional, and historically predictable will eventually be assimilated and accepted but not lionized. 

This is where vanity comes in.  While we may accept the ineluctability of human nature, human biology, and DNA, we refuse to assume its preeminence.  With a little ingenuity, savvy, and intelligence, we can create a better, more peaceful, harmonious, and productive world.   A gender spectrum and the elimination of bi-modal sexuality will eliminate sexual conflict, jealousy, and pre-ordained social roles.  Negotiation, compromise, understanding, and good faith will eliminate wars and social conflict.

Image result for images dna

Despite the infamous prediction of Francis Fukuyama (‘The End of History’), history still lives.  Social, ethnic, racial, and especially religious conflict is more alive and well than it ever was; and we are no closer to a One World solution than ever.

Husbands, wives, and partners still fight for traction, turf, and authority.  Edward Albee was right when he said that marriage is the crucible of maturity.  He understood that men and women like George and Martha (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf) would cut each other to the marrow, but without each other and their primitive competition neither would either mature or survive.

It is only pride which makes us feel that there are uniquely human solutions to problems.  Not only have we been ordained by God to be special and lords over the beasts of the world, granted eternal life and salvation by his emissaries, but we in our supreme and limitless intelligence are distinct. 

While no scientist has explained why we have far more intelligence and cognitive abilities than we need for a prosperous survival (the only sticking point of Darwinism which postulates incremental evolutionary change), our human society is still no different from that of the Paleolithic.  The light bulb, car, computer, and smart phone can never be taken as signs of an advanced civilization because we are still behaving like Neanderthals.  They are window dressing, toys for those in temporary sanctuaries.

This is not pessimism but realism.  If the world cannot be improved through idealism, then perhaps a return to individualism, social competition, and aggressive territorialism and self-defense might achieve at least a stasis.

Even the most progressive thinker would have to agree that the nuclear stalemate between America and the Soviet Union resulted in a modern pax Romana.

Better step into the ring than pretend it doesn't exist.

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