How We Do It: Everything Masters and Johnson Did Not Know
For most of our history, humans have been extraordinarily ignorant about sex. Today, there is still much about sex that we either don't know or don't agree on.
For most of our history, humans have been extraordinarily ignorant about sex. Consider, for instance, that up until 1930 we did not know the most fertile period of a woman's reproductive cycle. In other words, we didn't really know the best way to make babies, or avoid making babies, for that matter.
Today, there is still much about sex that we either don't know or don't agree on.
For instance, Robert Martin makes the argument in his book How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction that a woman's fertile period is much longer than we believe it is. Martin has gathered a set of evidence that shows that sperm can actually survive up to 10 days in a woman's womb.
While this claim is controversial, Martin has a broader, and equally controversial claim to make about sex.
Martin tells Jeff Schechtman in this week's Specific Gravity podcast that fundamental conflicts exist between the medical community on the one hand and the field of evolutionary biology on the other. The medical community, in Martin's view, does not reflect enough about our evolutionary history, which can help us to understand fundamental biological processes as well as give us new insights on how to cure diseases.
Take, for instance, the issue of breastfeeding. How long should a woman breastfeed a child? It is difficult to know what is biologically appropriate.
The key to answering this question is evolutionary thinking.
"You can look at primates generally and predict what the breast feeding period should be," Martin says. And the answer, to be conservative, is that "we are biologically programmed for our babies to be breastfed for three years."
In the podcast below, Schechtman and Martin explore the concept of Darwinian medicine, which is the bringing of Darwinian ideas to practice in contemporary medicine. Have we stopped evolving? If not, what evolutionary changes have occurred relatively recently? We currently have an epidemic of reproductive cancers. How can evolutionary biology help us understand why?
Listen to the interview here:
- The exhaustive report is based on interviews with more than 50 people with ties to the company.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
Dogs' floppy ears may be part of why they and other domesticated animals love humans so much.
- Nearly all domestic animals share several key traits in addition to friendliness to humans, traits such as floppy ears, a spotted coat, a shorter snout, and so on.
- Researchers have been puzzled as to why these traits keep showing up in disparate species, even when they aren't being bred for those qualities. This is known as "domestication syndrome."
- Now, researchers are pointing to a group of a cells called neural crest cells as the key to understanding domestication syndrome.
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