Here are some of my theories on evolution. They are based mainly on the science of evolutionary psychology, and try to explain various things about the way humans are, by looking at the way they evolved. Some of the titles may seem a bit frivolous, but all the essays have some serious argument to them. For those readers unfamiliar with evolutionary psychology, I have a page giving you a very brief explanation.
BUILT FOR THE STONE AGEI have made a fifty-minute pilot for a television series about evolutionary psychology and have cut it up into eight parts and put it on YouTube. You can view each clip from here, or you might want to go to YouTube and leave loads of positive comments instead.
Part One: Introduction and Pleasure
In which I introduce the whole pilot, and then present a comedy explanation of why people feel pleasure as they do. Zeus on Olympos experiments with giving humans varying amounts of endorphins, with some unfortunate consequences.
Part Two: Population
In which I make the point that humans evolved for a world they no longer live in. If I were to make this video again, I would do this sequence very differently. The rules of no incest and one-child-per-couple amongst today's ancestors becomes less and less realistic as one goes back in time. Once you have about 500 people on the top row of the chart you'd have enough for a stable breeding network - many of those people would be quite distantly related so the no-incest rule could be relaxed, and in reality a population of this size could remain about stable, some people having many children while others have none, and humans have never been perfectly monogamous.
Part Three: Group Selection
In which a committee tries to use the benefits of group selection to its advantage, but comes unstuck when the selfish rivalries of the individuals within it scupper the plan.
'Group selection' is the idea that a group might evolve a pool of genes that benefits the group as a whole and so the whole group would flourish at the expense of other rival groups. This theory has a fundamental flaw however...
Part Four: Engagement Rings
In which the notion that culture and tradition in human society are shaped by innate human instincts. The example used is the demand for a deposit in the form of an expensive ring, before a marriage propsal can seriously be considered. Our hero tries to seduce many women, but comes unstuck when Zeus alters the behaviour of his prey. He also reckons without the wrath of an angry father...
Part Five: Lekking
In which the idea that humans lek, just like peacocks, where the boastful males display their quality to the sensible quiet females, who then choose their mates. At a dinner party, the women pretend to be stupid while the men make fools of themselves.
Part Six: Generalisations
In which our exasperated presenter refutes the common objection to evolutionary psychology: that it makes appalling generalisations. Manchester United fans need not view this video.
Part Seven: Battle of the Sexes
In which the differing tactics of men and women in the mating game are pitched against each other. Who will be left holding the baby?
Part Eight: Judgement
In which a social scientist's objection to Part Seven is dealt with. The objection that evolutionary psychology is judgemental, and approves of immoral things, is also addressed. I then round off with a list of other topics that could be dealt with the same way. The brief end credits are followed by a quick gag that those who viewed Part Four will get, and no one else will.