So, the Playboy ethic was right?

Psychologist Christopher Ryan is out to defeat an archetypal figure in the mythology of monogamy. No, not prince charming; he’s after the widespread belief in a prehistoric hunter who would slay an antelope on the plains and heroically haul it back to his nuclear family.

You might wonder what this has to do with monogamy. Well, Ryan argues that in actuality the meat would have been shared with the entire tribe, because pre-agricultural societies shared everything — including sex. This is a key point he and co-author/wife Cacilda Jethá make in “Sex at Dawn,” which was released last year in hardcover and this month in paperback. Our hunting and gathering ancestors were nonmonogamous, they argue — the implication being that, biologically speaking, sexual exclusivity is unnatural.

  1. Uncle Patso says:

    I like the analogy of changing eye color — of course, many people do this via colored contact lenses. Much if not most social convention is like wearing contact lenses — something not exactly natural, but practiced every day by many many millions. And a few take it to the next level by, for example, wearing lenses of different colors depending on their mood.

    How much human behavior is really inherent in our genes and how much is like wearing contact lenses or “fashionable” clothes? We are only beginning to find out. How much is like language? All human societies have language; it is apparent that language is built into our brains, but they each have a _different_ language.

    I think the concept of private property should be listed as one of the Big Inventions along with agriculture and double-entry bookkeeping.

    It’s very difficult to be rational about sexuality, which evolved billions of years before intellect came along. Making much sense of something so primal takes lots of careful thought, along with willingness to abandon or at least question the “common wisdom.”

  2. Ah_Yea says:

    # 23 Animby,

    “STDs were almost unknown until the 15th century.”

    WOW! Of all the incredibly idiotic things you have said lately, this one is a whopper!

    “Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have been known since antiquity: gonorrhoea was certainly described by the ancient Egyptians, and was recognized by Greek and Roman medical writers. … By the Middle Ages both gonorrhea and syphilis were widespread.”

    You certainly are the embodiment of “Ignorance is Bliss”

  3. So what says:

    #42 Good link, could have lived my entire life without the knowledge of the injecting his own penis though. Frakking ouch.

  4. pedro says:

    #40 The only one here with dogmatic fixations is you, sheeple. Good thing you’re still unaware of how pathetic you are. I’m tempted to give you my phone number so you can call me when you get the gift of self awareness. That should be a sight to be seen.

    BTW, why are you calling scorn on yourself? Is it an unconscious need to punish yourself? Could be. Dogmatic people tend to be that way.

  5. deowll says:

    The last study I can recall looking at this in pygmy hunter gatherers had 1/3 monogamous, 1/3 practicing serial monogamy, and one third practiced casual sex.

    Large kills are normally shared with the group. Small kills often aren’t.

    Cheating spouses have traditionally had a rather high death rate.

  6. What? says:

    Zero is a value, if you don’t want it to be a number-then knock yourself out with that.

    B: the value of 1/x, as x approaches zero from any nonzero value, approaches infinity (very quickly). Look up “The Limit” on the WWW. This is a very powerful idea, useful in calculus.

    There are lots of infinities in math.

    The value of 1/x, as x approaches infinity from a value less than infinity, approaches zero.

  7. So what says:

    #46 and mathematicians wonder why people hate math.

  8. I read the book and found it very interesting but I am still living with my wife in monogamy.

  9. What? says:

    I don’t understand your remark at all. I have an engineering degree, and don’t understand the “difficult” theoretical maths. But, I can tell you math is more beautiful than any woman (or man, pick your poison).

    Math is so simple, so powerful at describing the world, and so extensible.

    It is only vulgar because many of its teachers make it that way to inflate their power.

    Fight the power.

  10. Ah_Yea says:

    So what,

    It seems the researcher who injected his own wang must have had a lot of zeal and very little common sense.

  11. Ah_Yea says:


    “I’m tempted to give you my phone number so you can call me when you get the gift of self awareness”

    HAR!! Don’t wait up.

  12. Skeptic says:

    Re: “Zero is a value”

    0 is nothing more than a placeholder. Numbers that approach zero certainly have value, but 0 itself has no value. Otherwise, lend me $1000 and I’ll pay you $0 as often as you like (every billionth of a second is fine with me), until you are paid back. Deal?

  13. What? says:

    S: when stopped at a stoplight, your speed does not have a value of zero?

  14. What? says:

    When you take all the money out of your bank account, the value of your balance isn’t zero?

  15. What! says:

    As it says on the WWW, zero is to addition as one is to multiplication. You’re also arguing that one doesn’t exist in the context of multiplication?

    What about the identity matrix? It doesn’t exist?

    I may ne wrong, but infinity doesn’t seem possible without the value of zero.

    Q: What kind of skeptic isn’t curious enough to learn something on which to rest his argumentative lever? A: a contrarian.

    Should you change you name to Contrarian?

  16. Animby says:

    #42 = Ah_No. Maybe you are unfamiliar with the word “almost”. Yes, the diseases existed but the incidence was very low. Now, go away, and work your way through your first grade vocabulary lists.

    #52 Skeptic : Have you considered a career in Congress?

  17. So what says:

    #56 Not to be a stickler but how would anybody know how prevalent STD’s were in Egypt 2000 years ago? Do the hieroglyphics show a drippy wang or something?

  18. bobbo, words have a meaning and a context says:

    #46–What==”as x approaches zero….” /// I like that explanation, it makes sense, but then as a kiddie I was also taught that infinity was “kinda” undefined or unknowable or perplexing as well.

    Are numbers best understood as they approach values, or best understood all on their own?

    Is there a difference between zero and null?

    If Pedro had 3 PhD’s wouldn’t their value unparadoxically be zero?

    Thinking more on the subject, if we aren’t being pimped, I think those PhD’s from Submissive must be divinity degrees? I think those aren’t really PhD’s, but in the way the religious do, they get transubstantiated into real meat, but with a caloric value of zero. Yes, do such degrees have a value of zero or do they only approach zero?

    …..and so it goes……

  19. What? says:

    B: I don’t have an answer. It depends on where you are going: are you reaching a fixed destination, or, is it enough to know what direction you’re going? As x goes to infinity, cosine of x varies between -1 and 1. There is no final resting point.

    The value infinity seems both a direction and a destination, as one can say infinity+1, or infinity-1, and it is easily to pick out which of the two is larger.

    (x^3)/(x^2) goes to infinity, as x goes to infinity

    (x^2)/(x^3) goes to zero, as x goes to infinity

    I don’t remember enough to say what zero/zero is.

    More women in my life equals more pain, that is for sure, and the cost grows at a greater rate than the benifits.

  20. So what says:

    @58 Bobbo, I had not thought of divinity studies it would explain some things. I still lean towards women’s studies or art history.