[Paleopsych] Fwd: Universal Footprint: Power Laws

Alice Andrews aandrews at hvc.rr.com
Tue Oct 11 11:02:06 UTC 2005

>How does this extravagance fit into 
>the notions of economy that underlie 
>Paul Werbos' Laplaceian math?  And 
>how does this excess production of 
>new form fit into a universe that 
>many think is ruled by the 
>form-destroying processes of entropy?

hi HB: Have you read Geoffrey Miller's 
The Mating Mind? I think he answers 
this question--and more! Here's a 
little bit:

>From page 124 and 128:

"Zahavi suggested that most sexual 
ornaments are "handicaps": they 
advertise true fitness by handicapping 
an individual with a survival cost . 
He also argued that handicaps should 
be the only evolutionary stable kinds 
of sexual ornament, because  they are 
the only ones that convey the 
information about fitness that 
individuals really want when makig 
sexual choices. His paper unleashed a 
storm of protest. The handicap idea 
seemed absurd. Throughout the late 
1970s the handicap principle was 
attacked by almost every eminent 
evolutionary theorist. Surely sexual 
selection could not have an intrinsic 
drive to produce wasteful displays 
that impair survival? Apparently, most 
biologists in the 1970s had not read 
Thorstein Veblen. They did not make 
the connection between conspicuous 
consumption to advertise wealth and 
costly sexual ornaments to advertise 
fitness. Without that connection it 
was hard to see how Zahavi's handicap 
principle could  work....How could 
sexual selection favor fitness 
indicators that impaired an animal's 
survival prospects? How could mate 
choice favor a costly, useless 
ornament over a a cheaper, more 
beneficia ornament?........
As with Veblen's conspicuous 
consumption principle, the form of the 
cost does not matter much.  What 
matters is the prodigious waste. The 
waste is what keeps the fitness 
indicators honest."

Miller then goes on to talk re Rowe 
and Houle and their 1996 paper re 
'genic capture'...which, from the 
description in  TMM, might be of 
interest to you if you don't know 

e-Galley okay?

lots of best wishes,
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