Archive

Monthly Archives: January 2014

me:  sounds way cooler if you call it a metabase
 Dustin:  that makes it sound like a drug
 Sent at 3:21 PM on Wednesday
 me:  so way cooler
you guys should have a party next friday to celebrate phil’s freedom
PHILJAM
 Dustin:  haha
that exact idea — and name — has been discussed
 me:  isn’t that an annoying construction
because you’re never sure if it’s has or have
because the emdashes imply substitution, not plurality
but then when you get to the “has” you are confused and think, shouldn’t that have been “have”? because you have scanned the sentence as if the emdashes were commas
but they are not. they are emdashes.
 Sent at 3:23 PM on Wednesday

Check it out here or read it below. At the bottom I’ve also included two paragraphs that help contextualize/give more background on the evolutionary logic. Enjoy!

The men featured are young. Most are white. Many have tousled hair, a couple sport grizzly beards, and a few are tattooed. As a rule, the men are good-looking. Their cheekbones would make Derek Zoolander proud, but the models are not sitting for their “Blue Steel” close-ups. They are all posing for their mug shots. They are all under arrest.

The existence of hotandbusted.tumblr.com—recently featured on BuzzFeed as “13 Mugshots of the Hottest Guys Ever Arrested“—undermines the popular notion that criminals are usually unfortunate-looking. When browsing the website’s thumbnails, one is struck by a pattern, not of warty asymmetry, but of strong chins.

Scientists have tried to decipher why that pattern exists—to unlock the evolutionary meaning of face shape. Their research suggests “roguish good looks” are actually a cluster of physical characteristics, from wider faces to longer ring fingers.

Undergirding all of this is the influence of testosterone. Facial width and finger ratio have been proposed as proxies for testosterone levels, and both have been used predict to antisocial behaviors ranging from cheating in games to verbal and physical aggression—just the kind of mischief that landed our Tumblr sweethearts a late-night date with the sheriff.

Being hot and busted, then, goes hand-in-hand with masculinity. But why might good looks be packaged with a nasty temper?

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION]
A sample of faces on Hot & Busted (hotandbusted.tumblr.com)

Evolutionary theorists know that costs (in this instance, anti-social behavior) can obscure hidden benefits. Women prefer men with faces that are more masculine—i.e., more testosterone-inflected—than average, at least for sexual relationships. If these are the same men that are so prone to troublemaking, why would they be worth the worry—why are women attracted to them at all?

Some scientists believe that, like a peacock’s tail, more masculine faces signal underlying genetic strength. Presumably, these strong men are better able to get what they want—food, women, status—through aggression. Direct confrontation was historically a winning strategy, triggering coevolution of a psychological makeup that encouraged confrontation. Today we rely on social institutions to resolve conflict, but aggression continues to accompany masculinity.

Genes are famously selfish; evolution acts at the level of the gene, not the group. All things equal, anti-social traits will persist so long as they provide their owners a reproductive advantage. Consider not just the bedroom but also theboardroom, where dominant, masculine physical characteristics are still privileged over merit.

We can even relate the results of the 2004 U.S. presidential election in part to face shape. Voters prefer leaders with more masculine features during times of belligerence. With the Iraq War freshly launched, citizens weren’t about to hand control over to John Kerry and his longer, more cerebral face.

Should voting guides include facial breakdowns so that citizens can recognize their own biases? Perhaps, but the affinity for manly faces is built-in for both sexes, so the theoretical voter’s guide would also have to mention that hostile world leaders might be more likely to capitulate to dominant-faced presidents. A threat delivered by Sly Stallone seems—and probably is—more credible than one from Steve Carrell.

Returning to our rowdy heartthrobs—will the NYPD start profiling based on face-width instead of race? Perhaps the police could station female officers at street corners to frisk approaching hot dudes? Luckily, we will probably avoid this porny dystopia. No scientist would testify on behalf of such a program because biology does not equal destiny. Inclination is not action. Genes are neither a promise of reproductive success nor a guarantor of bad behavior. Masculinity may be carried into the present by genetic inertia, but its merit—like any evolved trait—is mediated by our choices, and by the world around us.

 

Omitted paragraphs on dual reproductive strategy–maybe the basis for a separate article!

[Knavery aside, masculine sires still promises better genes for their offspring. Note the word choice: sire, not partner. The ideal reproductive strategy for human women (romantics, avert your eyes) suggests that the sire—the biological father—might best be a different male than the woman’s life partner. Evolution, like capitalism, knows the benefits of specialization. Women maximize their fitness by ensuring that their offspring survive and procreate. Survival requires both good genes and good parenting. However, the men with the best genes are not necessarily the best fathers; because they are so desirable, they tend towards promiscuity (doing so maximizes their own fitness), meaning their attention and resources are divided amongst many partners. Moreover,there’s still that whole “aggression” thing to deal with. The point is, there are other men out there better suited to raise the children. But the best outcome is offspring fathered by a masculine, genetically strong sire, then reared by an appropriate partner.

To accommodate the two-pronged nature of this strategy, women’s tastes change every month with their cycle. The preference for masculinity—for signals of underlying genetic quality—is heightened during ovulation, the moment of peak fertility, and moderated throughout the rest of the cycle, when preferences tip towards non-genetic factors.]

This is Ashok.

reality in bits: economics, technology, and thought

Notes on a Theory...

Thoughts on politics, law, & social science

Nicole Gaddie

Journalist | Golfer | Storyteller | @NicoleGaddie

A kitchen for every pot

Public housing, people and policy

99 is not 100

"It's not about trash, not about waste. It’s about how we’ve chosen to live.”

TechCrunch

Startup and Technology News

SHAM Lifestyle

SHAM Lifestyle Agency.

The Belle Jar

"Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences." - Sylvia Plath

Burly's Baseball Musings

News and Jaundiced Views on the National Pastime

Sad Old Bastard Radio

Broadcasting sad sounds for sad old bastards and reviewing live music around the Bay Area

dvdsn dvdsn

work, thoughts, translations

Collectively Speaking

A Blog of The Women's Collective

Another World Is Happening

and I want to learn about it

FiveThirtyEight

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight uses statistical analysis — hard numbers — to tell compelling stories about politics, sports, science, economics and culture.

dc young entrepreneurs

You're an entrepreneur. We're your support team.