read doc ☆ The Evolution of Beauty Hardcover Í richard o prum

mobi The Evolution of Beauty

read doc ☆ The Evolution of Beauty Hardcover Í richard o. prum ß A major reimagining of how evolutionary forces work revealing how mating preferences what Darwin termed the taste for the beautiful create the extraordinary range of ornament in the animal world In the great halls of science dogma holds thatNge Mate choice can drive ornamental traits from the constraints of adaptive evolution allowing them to grow ever elaborate It also sets the stakes for sexual conflict in which the sexual autonomy of the female evolves in response to male sexual control Most crucially this framework provides important insights into the evolution of human sexuality particularly the ways in which female preferences have changed male bodies and even maleness itself through evolutionary time The Evolution of Beauty presents a uniue scientific vision for how nature's splendor contributes to a complete understanding of evolution and of ourselv The Evolution of Beauty is utterly fascinating It puts forth the notion that evolution is not all due to natural selection where every mating display is an honest signal of genetic superiority Rather there is a separate force at work aesthetic evolution of mate choice which created a lot of the ornaments and behaviors we see in the animal world todayPrum makes his arguments via interesting narratives about birds ducks and humans I found it useful to look up bird displays as he talks about them so I can see and hear for myself the complex shows that they put on Going in I thought I would be learning about an abstract concept so I was surprised by how much of what I'm reading applies to our lives today including sexual coercion females' right to make reproductive choices and sexual conflict between the sexesFor such a technical topic I found the book mostly readable and digestible The initial two chapters were a bit slow as Prum talks about the history of evolutionary science and puts forth his views But if you can tough it out through those then you get to the meat of it with chapter three and it's completely mesmerizing from there on out

pdf ´ The Evolution of Beauty ½ Richard O. Prum

Th a dizzying array of appearances and mating displays Club winged Manakins who sing with their wings Great Argus Pheasants who dazzle prospective mates with a four foot wide cone of feathers covered in golden 3D spheres Red capped Manakins who moonwalk In thirty years of fieldwork Prum has seen numerous display traits that seem disconnected from if not outright contrary to selection for individual survival To explain this he dusts off Darwin's long neglected theory of sexual selection in which the act of choosing a mate for purely aesthetic reasons for the mere pleasure of it is an independent engine of evolutionary cha An excellent book seeking to revive Darwin’s hypothesis in Descent of Man that female sexual autonomy is an evolutionary force occupying a separate sphere from that of adaptive mate choice Darwin originally posited two aspects to his theory of sexual selection first that aggression evolved to increase the survival of contenders in male to male competition for mates and secondly—perhaps saliently—the female preference for beauty “the taste for the beautiful” drives aesthetic evolution in males His theory was vehemently denounced by his contemporaries in part because it was deeply at odds with the Victorian cultural milieu One critic Mivart argued that animals lacked the cognitive capacity free will and sensory powers to make sexual decisions based on ornamentation Underlying this was the implicit belief female choice could not drive such order and structure as the peacock’s tail that female preference was far too fickle to have a concerted effect Such detractors also felt that the mate choice theory of sexual selection was a dilution of Darwin’s comprehensive theory of evolution; thus a stain on his legacy He remained persuaded of his theory of sexual selection up until his deathIn contradiction to the Wallacean adaptationist view of evolution—which holds the sexual ornaments evolved only as authentic indices of uality—the authentically Darwinian view accepts the contingent character of beauty Beauty is not sought for its adaptive utilitarian value but as a value in and of itselfMany popular ideas are contested in this book Despite widespread opinion to the contrary females seem to not be attracted to extremely masculine traits Instead it is hypothesized that such hyper masculine features arose due to male to male competition Through female mate choice men have actually evolved to social cooperation and reduced aggressiveness Finally the last chapter makes an intriguing connection between eugenics and the obsession with adaptive improvement since eugenic social programs were explicitly anti aesthetic Aesthetic choice and adaptive mate choice are often opposed Sexual autonomy drives the production of the beautiful motivating aesthetic evolution via sexual selection

Richard O. Prum ½ The Evolution of Beauty doc

The Evolution of BeautyA major reimagining of how evolutionary forces work revealing how mating preferences what Darwin termed the taste for the beautiful create the extraordinary range of ornament in the animal world In the great halls of science dogma holds that Darwin's theory of natural selection explains every branch on the tree of life which species thrive which wither away to extinction and what features each evolves But can adaptation by natural selection really account for everything we see in nature Yale University ornithologist Richard Prum reviving Darwin's own views thinks not Deep in tropical jungles around the world are birds wi I am a little conflicted about this bookPopular science books may be usefully divided into those with One Big Idea and those with Many Small Ideas Both are useful but I typically judge them differently If it's a Many Small Ideas book eg a collection of essays I am likely to judge it primarily on the writing style as that is what is in common across the entire book typically Whereas if it is a One Big Idea book I am likely to judge it on the uality of that idea Prum's writing style is incidentally very goodThis book's One Big Idea is by the author's own admission not one that originated with him That's ok though because it is true to say that it has been a controversial often neglected and sometimes nearly suppressed idea It is I think both important and contains a great deal of truth So you would think I would like this book and by and large that is the case I do like itHowever I did get the impression at times that Richard Prum was a little afraid to face the full implications of the idea he was writing aboutThe idea in uestion as far as I know first publicly raised in a serious way by Charles Darwin is that of sexual selection as a driver for evolution That is the idea that evolution is not only driven by survival of the fittest but also by survival of the most attractive This may not seem so revolutionary but in many ways it is just as explosive as the idea that markets price things not only owing to their relative merit but that prices are also driven by irrational exuberance and fiscal bubblesThus for example when looking at the extravagant plumage of the peacock there are broadly speaking two theories1 the peacock that is otherwise fittest can afford to produce the most extravagant tail feathers so really the female is selecting for good genes for acuiring food and avoiding predators and fancy tail feathers is just how she measures that2 the peahen just likes the peacock with the flashy feathers because she does no real reason but if she instead were to be the one peahen to pick the drab fellow who was a good father her sons would never be able to reproduce and thus peahens who go for impressive tail feathers get selected for becausewell no reason really Beauty Not everything is about survival of the fittest If you go for plain when the rest of your species does not you will not have many grandkidsPrum does a pretty efficient job of demolishing hypothesis 1 which I think it is fair to say is the broadly supported theory He asks if peacocks just have big tail to show off that they can survive even with such a handicap why don't they gnaw one leg off That would be an even impressive display of handicapping if you manage to continue to survive but we don't see that in nature and if we did peahens would not respond favorably to it There are all kinds of things that could be handicaps and therefore evidence of how great you are to survive with such a handicap pulling your plumage out injuring yourself etc etc But we don't see just any kind of handicaps working it has to be the specific kind of handicap that females in that species like in the case of peafowl showy tail feathersThe problem with this is that as with classical economics wanting to make everything about people optimizing for money some evolutionary scientists want everything to be about natural selection by survival of the fittest Once you introduce a truly independent second driver you go from a linear system to a non linear one and you can get crazy results Just as you can get economies stuck in sub optimal states or cycling through debt fueled booms and busts you could get species stuck in sub optimal states or cycling through long term cycles of fashion in appearance and even courtship behavior that don't particularly have anything to do with fitnessAfter having established that Darwin's complex ideas on evolution not shared by Wallace by the way were correct though Prum shies away from the harsher possibilities For example when we look at the impact of people buying homes not to live in but as something to sell again later it is clear that it can drive your economy into some bad places There is no particular reason that Prum explains anyway why sexual selection could not have the same issues for a speciesBut and here is my main issue with this book Prum has conflated in his mind the idea that females of many species exercise choice and the idea that human females should have choices in mate choice He never says it so plainly but you can get a clear sense in his writing that he just likes sexual selection better than conventionally understood natural selection because it's about female choice and not about predation I got the strong impression that he would have a visceral negative response to the idea that this could ever result in anything bad happening to the species or that anything good could result for those species where females do not have as much choiceIt seems a fairly good example of the problem with having academia that is so overwhelmingly from one part of the political spectrum Just as Victorian biologists aside from Darwin choked on the idea that sex and female mate choice could be an important driver of evolution so Prum appears to be choking on the idea that those species where female mate choice is the main driver of evolution could ever have anything bad result from thatIt doesn't have to be this way not least because the way that human females choose their mates is not much like peahens; they often take into account aspects of the fellow's brain such as personality and responsibility and whether he can hold down a good job They don't all go for the fellow with the nice tail feathers though of course some do So if mate choice as a driver of evolution is problematic for species fitness in say the Guianan Cock of the Rock a real bird species name btw that does not mean that female freedom of choice is not to be desired in humans Because while there are a lot of interesting parallels between birds and humans there are also some nontrivial differencesMore fundamentally whether or not an idea is comforting or reassuring is not a proper factor in influencing whether we explore the possibility that it is true Prum has obviously done a lot of good work in demonstrating that evolution and mate choice is not just about fitness traditionally defined The book is well written with many beautiful pictures and drawings and than a few fascinating discussions of different species courtship and mating habits the chapter on ducks was eually amusing and disturbing for example It gave me a lot to think about and for that reason alone it is worth reading Even if I have the sneaking suspicion that Richard Prum's opponents are not the only ones that are uncomfortable with the possible conseuences of his ideas