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Evolve 6
Evolve 6
Evolve 6
Evolve 6
Evolve 6
Evolve 6
Evolve 6
Evolve 6
Evolve 6
Evolve 6
Evolve 6
Evolve 6
Evolve 6
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Evolve 6


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  • 1. The Mating Mind How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature Geoffrey Miller Group 4: Renee LeBlanc Morgan Maiolie Erin Kee
  • 2. Miller, Geoffrey. The Mating Mind: How Sexual Selection Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature New York: Doubleday, 2000.
  • 3. Major Themes
    • How Sexual Selection shaped the way humans evolved
    • How Sexual Selection added to human intelligence
    • How Sexual Selection relates to the cultural aspects of human nature
    • Significance of courtship and how both sexes choose a mate
  • 4. Chapters
    • I. Central Park
      • States case for Theory of Sexual Selection as means of evolution, specifically that of the human brain
    • II. Darwin’s Prodigy
      • Differentiate between Natural and Sexual Selection
      • Reasons for delay in research on Sexual Selection
    • III. The Runaway Brain
      • Process in which choices made by brain directly influence its development and the development of sexual preferences in which polygyny is needed to some degree to ensure success
      • Bird tail length example
      • Does not show a high enough level of brain dimorphism to match the speed required to make theory work
  • 5. Chapters
    • IV. A Mind Fit for Mating
      • Brain=high costs to maintain
      • Indication of fitness through creativity thus stretching the mind’s capacities
        • Art, music, etc.
    • V. Ornamental Genius
      • Senses are utilized to make life decisions including mate choice
      • Sensory bias theory: animal senses are more responsive to some stimuli than others which influences sexual selection to produce ornaments with sexual appeal
      • Uses self promotion/marketing perspective
    • VI. Courtship in the Pleistocene
      • Pleistocene included evolution of humans, especially that of the human mind
      • Multi-male, multi-female social groups
      • Courtship displays
  • 6. Chapters
    • VII. Bodies of Evidence
      • Both sexes evolved distinctive ornaments (penis, clitoris, breasts, buttocks)
      • Courtship=sexual maturity
    • VIII. Arts of Seduction
      • Art
      • Morality
      • Language
      • Creativity
    • IX. Virtues of Good Breeding
      • Human morality as direct result of sexual selection
      • Leadership
      • Generosity in courtship
  • 7. Chapters
    • X. Cyrano and Scheherazade
      • Language as an adaptation and what it is for
        • Communication
        • Manipulation
        • Display
        • Used in courtship
    • XI. The Wit to Woo
      • Protean behavior: adaptively unpredictable behavior such as when prey zigzag to escape a predator
      • Concludes that sex is one of the most sophisticated arenas for courtship
  • 8. Method of Argument
    • Bases a lot of work on Darwinian beliefs
    • Used theories to give credibility to arguments
      • Darwin (Sexual Selection), Zahavi (Handicap Theory), Fisher (Runaway hypothesis)
    • Mainly based on reasoning
    • Little to no use of direct empirical data
    • Not geared specifically toward scientific reader
  • 9. Effectiveness
    • Explains theory in detail
    • Confusion about exact link between Sexual Selection and fitness/cultural intelligence
    • Very anecdotal which was unnecessary at times
    • Irregular segues
    • Needs more empirical evidence
  • 10. Significance to Human Nature
    • Adds to research about Sexual Selection
    • Combines many theories from different fields
    • Gives reasons for the development of specifically human traits such as language with syntax, art, religion, etc.
    • Brings up issues of similarities and differences in the sexes, specifically the brain
  • 11. Reviews
    • “ Part of this problem may stem from the fact that Miller bifurcates natural and sexual selection into two distinct processes. This is problematic considering that, in humans particularly, there may exist a close connection between sexual and natural selection owing to humans becoming ecologically dominant at some point in our past. As such, other conspecifics began influencing our evolution much more directly. Therefore, “survival” selection will probably start to look a lot like sexual selection because the dominant environmental feature influencing hominid reproductive success, particularly in the realm of social cognition, was other hominids. ” –John D. Wagner, Department of Anthropology , University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
  • 12. Reviews
    • “ Miller’s thesis is simple, yet profound: perhaps the human mind evolved as a result of sexual selection, essentially the equivalent of the peacock’s tail, except that in our case, much of the choice works both ways: males choosing females as well as females choosing males. Miller gets wonderful intellectual mileage out of this notion, pointing out, for example, that the brain itself, as an energetically expensive organ as well as one that is highly vulnerable to mutational damage, serves as an ideal fitness indicator. Similarly with the brain’s products, and not just obviously useful behavior of the sort that contributes to survival selection, but also those uniquely human characteristics that have so bedeviled sociobiological explanation: art, music, poetry, creativity, all of which seem unlikely to contribute to fitness. ”- Barash, D. P. (2002). What's A Brain For? Human Nature Review . 2: 187-194.
  • 13. Reviews
    • “ Miller's main claim to our attention lies in his assertion that ''the human mind's most distinctive features, such as our capacities for language, art, music, ideology, humor and creative intelligence,'' are due more or less exclusively to mate choice. With his highly mechanistic view of evolution, Miller has to construe art as a puzzle for evolutionary biologists since this activity does not serve any obvious utilitarian function. We are assured, however, that all falls into place when we think in terms of sexual selection. For art, it turns out, is part of the ''extended phenotype'' of human beings: it is one of those characteristics that, while not being physical, still affect individual reproductive success. ”-Ian Tattersall, Author of “Becoming Human” and “Extinct Humans”, American Museum of Natural History