Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

The evolution of homosexuality: A new theory

How did human homosexuality evolve?

Richard Prum: Diversity in sexual attraction found in people is a fundamental aspect of human biology, yet it's actually been poorly described or poorly theorized in previous evolutionary biology.

I don't know if people know so much about sociobiology specifically, but one way to get at that might be to talk about the definition of fitness and how that lead to certain views about the inevitability of adaptation as a strong force; The beauty happens theory is the idea that ornament evolves merely because it's attractive or beautiful. The beauty happens idea is contrasted with the more popular theory that comes from Alfred Russell Wallace about the evolution of ornament as a kind of practical indicator of mate quality.
The aesthetic view of evolution provides some really interesting insights into the evolution of human sexuality, and in particular human sexual diversity.

So individuals that are attracted to the same sex are frequently imagined to evolve because they provide help to their kin, that is, if there are some people in any social group that are non-reproductive because of their sexual preferences then they will be helping with raising of their nieces and nephews. This is sort of the "helpful uncle" hypothesis. The problem with that idea is that it should actually lead to a kind of asexual phenotype or an asexual behavior; it doesn't actually describe the evolution of sexual attraction itself.
Well the aesthetic view of evolution proposes that we should put subjective experience—that is, the nature of animal and human desire—at the center of our scientific explanation. So in order to explain same sex attraction in people we need to actually ask: how could same sex attraction actually evolve?

Well, in the book I propose that human same sex attraction evolved specifically because it contributed to female sexual autonomy or to the freedom of choice. What I mean by that is that in the case of female/female sexual relationships they could contribute to female alliances that could protect females from sexual coercion by male hierarchical groups. At the same time I propose that male/male sexual attraction could have evolved because any social situation in which males have multiple sexual outlets would have contributed to female freedom to move among individuals in that social system and to avoid coercion and sexual violence. This is a new aesthetic theory of the evolution of same-sex behavior in people, and I think it's one that deserves really serious consideration as we move forward.

Malcolm Gladwell live! | Strangers, Storytelling, and Psychology

Join the legend of non-fiction in conversation with best-selling author and poker pro Maria Konnikova.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to your calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

Can a quantum strategy help bring down the house?

Study finds quantum entanglement could, in principle, give a slight advantage in the game of blackjack.

Photo by Sheri Hooley on Unsplash
Surprising Science
In some versions of the game blackjack, one way to win against the house is for players at the table to work as a team to keep track of and covertly communicate amongst each other the cards they have been dealt.
Keep reading Show less

Virgin Galactic uses space tech to create new supersonic jet

The space tourism company Virgin Galactic teams up with Rolls Royce to create a new Mach 3 supersonic aircraft.

Credit: Virgin Galactic
Technology & Innovation
  • Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has announced a partnership with Rolls Royce.
  • The space tourism company will create a new supersonic jet for super-fast travel on Earth.
  • The aircraft will travel at Mach 3 – three times the speed of sound.
Keep reading Show less

Map of the World's Countries Rearranged by Population

China moves to Russia and India takes over Canada. The Swiss get Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi India. And the U.S.? It stays where it is. 

Strange Maps

What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on?

Keep reading Show less

Hulu's original movie "Palm Springs" is the comedy we needed this summer

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.

Gear
  • Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
  • As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
  • The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast