[ExI] IQ and beauty

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Sat Oct 10 17:00:14 UTC 2015

On Sat, Oct 10, 2015 at 6:51 AM, Rafal Smigrodzki <
rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:

​>> ​
>> ​It's very difficult to say for certain what caused a extinction or what
>> caused semi-cyclic population levels for that matter, and if it happened
>> long ago it's probably impossible. However if the only use of a attribute
>> is decoration to attract a female and if that attribute is clearly
>> detrimental in all other activities, as is the case of the Irish Elk's
>> antlers or the Peacock's tail, then it's not unreasonable to conclude
>> that attribute would reduce the number of individuals in a species compared
>> to what they would have been if the female had used a better rule of thumb
>> to ascertain the fitness of a male. And perhaps it could reduce those
>> population numbers all the way down to zero.
> ​> ​
>  It is generally not reasonable to conclude anything in population
> genetics without doing some math, followed by simulations exploring various
> assumptions, followed by real-life measurements putting limits on
> assumptions.
> The least you can do before concluding anything is to read the relevant
> literature.

​Well... I've read Robert Axelrod's The Evolution of Cooperation and the
entire book is pretty much a report on the outcome of evolutionary computer
simulations that Axelrod performed. And I've read Richard Dawkins's The
Extended Phenotype (the best book on evolutionary biology I know of) which
has a good amount of math. And the work of E O Wilson and Robert MacArthur
got me interested in the subject in the first place. Was there anything
specific you have read that I may have overlooked?

> ​>> ​
>> ​Not necessarily. Females could become so rare that the poor male with
>> small antlers can't find any females at all, much less females that will
>> mate with him.​
> ### You are concluding that the cost of a signal presented by some males
> could somehow reduce the survival of females.

>From an Evolutionary point of view it doesn't matter if individuals survive
or not, it only matters if their genes do.
​ ​
It might not reduce the survival of the female but it would reduce the
survival of the female's genes because they will now be mixed with the gene
for enormously impractical antlers (a male elk could receive the gene for
exceptionally large antlers from his mother). So now the female's offspring
have the gene for liking big impractical antlers that they got from their
mother AND the gene for producing
​ ​
big impractical antlers that they got from their
​ ​
father; so that team of genes is headed for a positive feedback loop. And
positive feedback
​ ​
​ ​
seldom have gentle
​happy ​

​>> ​
>> ​There might not be any real competitors as the big antler males are all
>> dead but the female would not know that, there would still be competitors
>> in her mind so she might refuse to settle for the geek with the ugly small
>> antlers regardless of how practical they were. She wants bling
>> not practicality.
> ​> ​
> ### This is silly.

​And if I asked why it is silly I already know what you'd say "because
you're being anthropomorphic". Yes I know I'm being anthropomorphic but it
is a fact that human beings are part of the universe thus anthropomorphism
can be a useful tool in figuring out how Evolution works, sometimes as an
analogy and sometimes, as in this case, literally. The female elk REALLY
doesn't want to settle for a geek with ugly small antlers regardless of how
practical they are, and she REALLY does want bling not practicality.

>> ​>> ​
>> Not necessarily, not if a female Irish Elk
>> thought that a male Irish Elk that had antlers of a size that was less
>> than gargantuan to be so repellent that virginity is preferred. And after
>> all for all the female knows there could be a beautiful male out there
>> somewhere with huge grotesquely impractical antlers.
> ​> ​
>  Now, since you seem claim expertise in female elk sexuality, tell me how
> many elks did you see that actively rebuff males in order to protect their
> virginity?

​I personally have seen very few because the last Irish Elk died 7700 years
ago and I was just a kid at the time. However it is very common for modern
females to rebuff the advances of modern males and remained virgins, so I
think it is reasonable to hypothesise that things may have been no
different 7700 years ago.

 John K Clark
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