Mind over mating

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Mind over mating

Could it be that the human brain's most beautiful potential art, music, literature and wit developed merely because of that old evolutionary imperative, sex? Deborah Smithexamines the evidence.

The exquisite cave paintings of Europe record the blossoming of a creativity that has made our species unique on earth. Tens of thousands of years ago Homo sapiens began to recreate the bison and other creatures of their everyday lives on rock faces deep underground.

These earliest of artists have been attributed with religious, cultural and mystical imperatives worthy of their striking place in human history. But could they have had something much more basic on their minds?

Could their art simply have been a ploy to lure a sexual partner into the cave a prehistoric version of "Come up and see my etchings?"

Dr Geoffrey Miller thinks so. In his new book, The Mating Mind (Heinemann, $49.95) the psychologist argues that sexual desire is behind the evolution of the extraordinary human mind. Art, music, poetry, humour, wit are not just fortuitous by-products of having developed massive brains which allowed us to survive in an ever-changing landscape, as many scientists believe; these special attributes evolved specifically because our ancestors were attracted to mates who exhibited them, says Miller, of University College, London.

Where others have tried to fathom how human nature evolved by focusing on the life-and-death problems our ancestors faced during the day, Miller has spent 10 years focusing on "the courtship problems they faced at night ... In poetic terms, I wondered whether the mind evolved by moonlight."

His conclusion: humanity's finest mental attributes are sexual ornaments, no different to the spectacular tails of male peacocks, which evolved because they are attractive to peahens.


Recent discussion on this board agonise how excruciatingly dull we are. To aid the dullness I table this article and encourage everyone to read it in full by following the hotlink, confirming the attraction of sex once more.

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), May 20, 2000


From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr (pic), near Monterey, California

I find this theory quite easy to believe. I, for one, think clever men are the sexiest!

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage), May 20, 2000.

This moron is stealing my theories! Of course, everything we do is a way of "strutting our stuff" to satisfy the desires of the Id. Haven't you ever seen a rock guitarist gyrating his pelvis as he fiddles with the shaft of his guitar in front of the ladies?

-- Sigmund Freud (send.the@money.to.me), May 21, 2000.

Dancr, I agree with you there. I would rather be with an incredibly intelligent ugly guy than with a sub-intelligent Adonis. Smart is sexy. =oP

-- cin (cin@cin.cin), May 21, 2000.

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