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Is Monogamy unnatural for our sexy species?

Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
edited July 2010 in Debate and/or Discourse
In this article:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/07/27/ryan.promiscuity.normal/index.html

the author of a book about prehistoric human sexuality argues that the norm of monogamy is mostly a relatively recent creation, arising after humans settled down and started farming. Very generally, his thesis is that pre-agricultural groups didn't really have a concept of ownership, whether of things or people, but that adopting a sedendary, agricultural lifestyle meant that women could be claimed by one man and reduced to a form of property. Even societies where men were allowed multiple wives were still monogamous, at least for the women.

I think the argument is probably a little bit simplistic, but I do generally agree with the theory that human beings are not naturally monogamous. Furthermore, I think there are reasons that monogamy is becoming more unrealistic in our current society. People live much longer than even a century ago, so the idea of having one sexual partner for 50+ years might be difficult for many folks. Furthermore, the greater level of freedom we all enjoy today (women especially) means that monogamy is now a personal choice, rather than something that is enforced by society and/or the law.

Like a number of human characteristics, our society has evolved in a way that conflicts with our biological nature.

Modern Man on
Aetian Jupiter - 41 Gunslinger - The Old Republic
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Posts

  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Maybe, but pretty much every single thing that defines human existence is "unnatural" in the sense that our non-cultured evolutionary ancestors didn't do it.

  • DuffelDuffel Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Actually, I think monogamy is pretty common among band-level hunter-gatherer societies, because there tends to be a roughly equal distribution of (adult) men and women.

    I would think it's pretty easy to be monogamous when there are only 10-30 people that you meet on a daily basis (so, 5-15 of the opposite sex), and you're probably related to about half of those (and an incest taboo is extremely common cross-culturally).

    Although personally I prefer a monogamous relationship for various reasons, I actually wouldn't have a problem with polygamy in modern society provided that it was done without coercion (ie, no 12-year-old girls getting married off to 80-year-old men), but just because people in the present have trouble with monogamy doesn't mean that it's somehow unnatural. We also have trouble not killing each other for frivolous reasons.

  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    It's pretty clear to me that while we naturally prefer to be emotionally monogamous, sexually we are disposed towards polyamory. These two imperatives are always in conflict because it's often difficult to separate them.

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    It always seems rather silly goose-tastic to me when people claim things are "unnatural" because our species didn't do them (or may not have done them) before we settled down and starting creating culture and civilization.

    Things that are possible or beneficial when you're a species living in loose, small groups of mobile individuals are not the same as the things which are possible and or beneficial when you are living as an increasingly large, dense, stationary body of regularly interacting individuals.

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Jesus, people. This thread is like a running gunbattle with stupid bullets.
  • citizenMckeecitizenMckee Registered User
    edited July 2010
    I have read that 99% of human male sperm can not actually impregnate, but are rather for rival male sperm combat. This would have to happen if during a substantial portion of our evolution the female sex was not monogamous and routinely had multiple partners during ovulation. I have also read that 10% of the world population believes thier father to be the wrong person... Naturally of course we can conciousley override such instinctual callings, but never the less a large portion of the human population chooses not to.

    With how our society is structured it is generally an advantage to be mongamous.. it sure leads to a lot of unhappiness though.

  • GungHoGungHo Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Are you asking us if it's ok for you to cheat on your wife?

    "Adios, mofo" -- TX Gov Rick Perry (R)
  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    wwtMask wrote: »
    It's pretty clear to me that while we naturally prefer to be emotionally monogamous, sexually we are disposed towards polyamory. These two imperatives are always in conflict because it's often difficult to separate them.
    I think that's a very good point. I've known a number of people who were swingers/in open relationships/whatever. But, in all those cases, they were really only emotionally involved with one person, regardless of how many orgies they went to. Wanting to have sex with people other than your main partner is a lot more common than wanting multiple emotional relationships at the same time.
    GungHo wrote: »
    Are you asking us if it's ok for you to cheat on your wife?
    I know how that would end for me, and it ain't pretty.

    Aetian Jupiter - 41 Gunslinger - The Old Republic
    Rigorous Scholarship

  • celandinecelandine Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Ever since hominids started living in groups, "natural" hasn't meant much. Even chimps have culture (they do different things depending on which band they're in.)

    On the other hand -- monogamy is hard. If you think you'd never be tempted to cheat, odds are you're wrong. I do think we're wired to want multiple partners.

    I write about math here:
    http://numberblog.wordpress.com/
  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I have read that 99% of human male sperm can not actually impregnate, but are rather for rival male sperm combat. This would have to happen if during a substantial portion of our evolution the female sex was not monogamous and routinely had multiple partners during ovulation. I have also read that 10% of the world population believes thier father to be the wrong person... Naturally of course we can conciousley override such instinctual callings, but never the less a large portion of the human population chooses not to.

    With how our society is structured it is generally an advantage to be mongamous.. it sure leads to a lot of unhappiness though.

    The prevalence of promiscuity throughout human society leads me to believe that sexual monogamy is an "unnatural" behavior. It is also, however, the best behavior for societal well-being, and it also confers certain biological advantages over promiscuity (limiting VD exposure being the most important).

    EDIT: Almost forgot why I quoted this post; fathers raising the children of other males unknowingly is common throughout nature, and only in the most extreme cases would anyone even know it. Only recently, with the advent of the paternity test, have we begun to see how widespread it is.

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I read that article the other day. One of my poly friends posted it to her Facebook.

    I'm not a big fan of the evo psych bent. The morphological discussion is interesting (penis size, for instance).

    That said, I think it's telling that none of the other members of the homidae family engage in long-term sexual pair bonding. I'm not going to go so far as argue that polyamory as it's modernly practiced is in our genes, but longterm monogamy sure isn't either.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    wwtMask wrote: »
    It's pretty clear to me that while we naturally prefer to be emotionally monogamous, sexually we are disposed towards polyamory. These two imperatives are always in conflict because it's often difficult to separate them.
    I think that's a very good point. I've known a number of people who were swingers/in open relationships/whatever. But, in all those cases, they were really only emotionally involved with one person, regardless of how many orgies they went to. Wanting to have sex with people other than your main partner is a lot more common than wanting multiple emotional relationships at the same time.

    Most people are so immature, insecure, or unstable that they can barely maintain a single committed relationship. I mean, look at divorce rates. The amount of work that's required for each added person in a relationship (particularly if not all parties are mutually attracted) is enormous; when only 50% of people can stay married to one person the odds of maintaining a stable relationship with 3 or more involved seem obviously tiny.

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Jesus, people. This thread is like a running gunbattle with stupid bullets.
  • Captain CarrotCaptain Carrot Harrisonburg, VARegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    People live much longer than even a century ago, so the idea of having one sexual partner for 50+ years might be difficult for many folks.

    Average life expectancy has increased a good deal, yes, but that's largely a function of reduced infant/child mortality. I'm pretty sure marriages nowadays do not tend to last significantly longer than in 1910.

  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    That said, I think it's telling that none of the other members of the homidae family engage in long-term sexual pair bonding. I'm not going to go so far as argue that polyamory as it's modernly practiced is in our genes, but longterm monogamy sure isn't either.
    Which goes back to the point the author made about hunter-gatherer versus agricultural communities.

    In a hunter-gatherer society, there isn't much of a need to worry about who fathered what child. There's no property to speak of to pass down and kids are pretty much raised communally by the group. On the other hand, agricultural societies need to have clear inheritance lines and children are raised by relatively close family groups, so there is an interest in making sure that your resources are going to the right kid.

    Aetian Jupiter - 41 Gunslinger - The Old Republic
    Rigorous Scholarship

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    wwtMask wrote: »
    It's pretty clear to me that while we naturally prefer to be emotionally monogamous, sexually we are disposed towards polyamory. These two imperatives are always in conflict because it's often difficult to separate them.
    I think that's a very good point. I've known a number of people who were swingers/in open relationships/whatever. But, in all those cases, they were really only emotionally involved with one person, regardless of how many orgies they went to. Wanting to have sex with people other than your main partner is a lot more common than wanting multiple emotional relationships at the same time.

    Most people are so immature, insecure, or unstable that they can barely maintain a single committed relationship. I mean, look at divorce rates. The amount of work that's required for each added person in a relationship (particularly if not all parties are mutually attracted) is enormous; when only 50% of people can stay married to one person the odds of maintaining a stable relationship with 3 or more involved seem obviously tiny.

    This is a little like pointing to people getting fired or laid off and then saying, "See? People can't even hold down one job! Let alone two simultaneous part-time jobs!"

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Meh, the "once upon a time we lived in poly utopia" argument doesn't make sense to me either. We're jealous because we're a social species with an inherent tension between individual needs/wants and group needs/wants.

    Historically, humans have engaged in polygyny, partly for demographic reasons and partly as a function of cultures that treat women as property to a greater or lesser degree.

    Monogamy is how people compromise between wanting to sleep around and not wanting anyone to sleep around on them.

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  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    People live much longer than even a century ago, so the idea of having one sexual partner for 50+ years might be difficult for many folks.

    Average life expectancy has increased a good deal, yes, but that's largely a function of reduced infant/child mortality. I'm pretty sure marriages nowadays do not tend to last significantly longer than in 1910.

    Not true at all, really.

    http://divorce.lovetoknow.com/Historical_Divorce_Rate_Statistics

    ~100 in 100,000 men/women in 1900 got divorced vs ~10,000 in 100,000 in 2000.

    But it also has very little to do with life expectancy. Divorce rates are higher now than ever before because opportunities for unmarried singles at later stages of life are so much greater and societal backlash for being single or getting divorced is so much lower. In 1900 a woman who was unmarried at the age of 30 would be ostracized and would have very little opportunity to maintain a life for herself, much less have any upward social/economic mobility. Men who were divorced a hundred years ago were talked about and shunned since divorce was so uncommon. Nowadays a man or a woman can remain unmarried their entire life with relatively little effect on their social and economic prospects. Divorce is no longer viewed as a bizarre, horrible thing; it's treated as not only normal but, to some degree, expected.

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Jesus, people. This thread is like a running gunbattle with stupid bullets.
  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    You have to look at the political reasons for polygamy in ancient times, too. Kings took many wives because more wives = more children. I don't think love was a big factor.

    JKKaAGp.png
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    Modern Man wrote: »
    wwtMask wrote: »
    It's pretty clear to me that while we naturally prefer to be emotionally monogamous, sexually we are disposed towards polyamory. These two imperatives are always in conflict because it's often difficult to separate them.
    I think that's a very good point. I've known a number of people who were swingers/in open relationships/whatever. But, in all those cases, they were really only emotionally involved with one person, regardless of how many orgies they went to. Wanting to have sex with people other than your main partner is a lot more common than wanting multiple emotional relationships at the same time.

    Most people are so immature, insecure, or unstable that they can barely maintain a single committed relationship. I mean, look at divorce rates. The amount of work that's required for each added person in a relationship (particularly if not all parties are mutually attracted) is enormous; when only 50% of people can stay married to one person the odds of maintaining a stable relationship with 3 or more involved seem obviously tiny.

    This is a little like pointing to people getting fired or laid off and then saying, "See? People can't even hold down one job! Let alone two simultaneous part-time jobs!"

    If 50% of people got fired within 5 years from jobs which, at time of hiring, they believed (or stated that they believed) to be life-long career positions then yes, I would say exactly that.

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Jesus, people. This thread is like a running gunbattle with stupid bullets.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    That said, I think it's telling that none of the other members of the homidae family engage in long-term sexual pair bonding. I'm not going to go so far as argue that polyamory as it's modernly practiced is in our genes, but longterm monogamy sure isn't either.
    Which goes back to the point the author made about hunter-gatherer versus agricultural communities.

    In a hunter-gatherer society, there isn't much of a need to worry about who fathered what child. There's no property to speak of to pass down and kids are pretty much raised communally by the group. On the other hand, agricultural societies need to have clear inheritance lines and children are raised by relatively close family groups, so there is an interest in making sure that your resources are going to the right kid.

    I was unconvinced by that point in the article. If you look in terms of number of cultures rather than raw capita, most cultures worldwide are polygamist. A lot of current pre-agricultural cultures are monogamist and patrilineal. Some agricultural cultures are matrilineal. Without actually seeing some real numbers, I'm not entirely convinced that there's a relationship between agriculture and marriage traditions.

    That said, it's a compelling point. I've made a similar point before, but in reference to womens' suffrage rather than marriage.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • DuffelDuffel Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    mythago wrote: »
    Meh, the "once upon a time we lived in poly utopia" argument doesn't make sense to me either. We're jealous because we're a social species with an inherent tension between individual needs/wants and group needs/wants.

    Historically, humans have engaged in polygyny, partly for demographic reasons and partly as a function of cultures that treat women as property to a greater or lesser degree.

    Monogamy is how people compromise between wanting to sleep around and not wanting anyone to sleep around on them.
    Not all cultures practiced polygyny. Some practiced polygyny, some practiced polyandry, some practiced monogamy. Some cultures trace their lineage through maternal lines and thus fatherhood isn't as important as cultures (like ours) that trace ancestry through the father (hence why, until very recently, all wives and children took the family name of the husband/father).

    EDIT: Well feral beat me to it.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    If 50% of people got fired within 5 years from jobs which, at time of hiring, they believed (or stated that they believed) to be life-long career positions then yes, I would say exactly that.

    I'd say they should have more realistic expectations about the permanence of such arrangements.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    You have to look at the political reasons for polygamy in ancient times, too. Kings took many wives because more wives = more children. I don't think love was a big factor.
    Up until fairly recently, the only people who tended to marry for love were the poor. For the wealthy classes, marriage was a political/economic alliance between the families, with the actual husband and wife having little say in the matter.

    And men have almost always had more opportunities to enjoy multiple sexual partners.

    Aetian Jupiter - 41 Gunslinger - The Old Republic
    Rigorous Scholarship

  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    So the author of this book is, according to the article, a psychologist.

    Where are his credentials in paleo-anthropology, archeology etc... that would allow him to even begin to make his argument? Or is this, as would seem to be the case from the article (though that may be because of bad science reporting) just a case of imaginative wankery and the reading back into the pre-neolithic past certain very modern views?

    Lecturers I've encountered (eg: Brian Fagan, Jeremy Adams), with far more relevant-to-the-subject credentials, have all voiced the opinion that - while the evidense is scanty - all indications are that monogomy was the overwhelming norm among humans prior to the neolithic revolution.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Where are his credentials in paleo-anthropology, archeology etc... that would allow him to even begin to make his argument? Or is this, as would seem to be the case from the article (though that may be because of bad science reporting) just a case of imaginative wankery and the reading back into the pre-neolithic past certain very modern views?

    Yeah when I read the article, my gut reaction to the headline was "yeah! that's right!" but then when I read his reasoning my reaction was more like "facepalm."

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • DuffelDuffel Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    So the author of this book is, according to the article, a psychologist.

    Where are his credentials in paleo-anthropology, archeology etc... that would allow him to even begin to make his argument? Or is this, as would seem to be the case from the article (though that may be because of bad science reporting) just a case of imaginative wankery and the reading back into the pre-neolithic past certain very modern views?

    Lecturers I've encountered (eg: Brian Fagan, Jeremy Adams), with far more relevant-to-the-subject credentials, have all voiced the opinion that - while the evidense is scanty - all indications are that monogomy was the overwhelming norm among humans prior to the neolithic revolution.
    You actually had Brian Fagan as a lecturer?

    I'm jealous. He wrote my arch 101 textbook. Not to say that my own archaeology professors weren't pretty awesome too.

  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    So the author of this book is, according to the article, a psychologist.

    Where are his credentials in paleo-anthropology, archeology etc... that would allow him to even begin to make his argument? Or is this, as would seem to be the case from the article (though that may be because of bad science reporting) just a case of imaginative wankery and the reading back into the pre-neolithic past certain very modern views?

    Lecturers I've encountered (eg: Brian Fagan, Jeremy Adams), with far more relevant-to-the-subject credentials, have all voiced the opinion that - while the evidense is scanty - all indications are that monogomy was the overwhelming norm among humans prior to the neolithic revolution.
    You actually had Brian Fagan as a lecturer?

    I'm jealous. He wrote my arch 101 textbook. Not to say that my own archaeology professors weren't pretty awesome too.

    Sorry, should have been clearer. I wish I personally had him as a lecturer. No I mean I have listened to several of his series of lectures for The Teaching Company.

  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    You have to look at the political reasons for polygamy in ancient times, too. Kings took many wives because more wives = more children. I don't think love was a big factor.
    Up until fairly recently, the only people who tended to marry for love were the poor. For the wealthy classes, marriage was a political/economic alliance between the families, with the actual husband and wife having little say in the matter.

    And men have almost always had more opportunities to enjoy multiple sexual partners.

    Well, even the poor didn't always marry for love. Women had the pressure of getting married by a certain age, and the inability to provide for themselves. Combine the two and you have a lot of marriages that are about social and financial security.

    JKKaAGp.png
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    If 50% of people got fired within 5 years from jobs which, at time of hiring, they believed (or stated that they believed) to be life-long career positions then yes, I would say exactly that.

    I'd say they should have more realistic expectations about the permanence of such arrangements.

    People should certainly have more realistic ideas going into marriage, but that's a part of the whole immaturity and instability issue I was talking about. People get married for a lot of stupid reasons and, frequently, without particularly thinking through the whole "permanent commitment" factor. Key factors in keeping up an ongoing, committed relationship are communication, being emotionally available, and being aware of your own emotional state. I have no studies to back me up, but I would wager that a large portion of failed marriages result from couples who failed to practice those things even before the wedding, leading to people entering a union without being entirely aware of their own feelings on the matter, much less the feelings and expectations of their partner.

    But the fact that some couples are capable of remaining married indefinitely, and a large minority are capable of remaining together for significantly more time than the majority, implies to me that the issue lies with the individuals rather than with the institution.

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Jesus, people. This thread is like a running gunbattle with stupid bullets.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    What is the crux of Brian Fagan or Jeremy Adams' arguments?

    I've seen some archeological arguments for monogamy but a possible confound is that social pair-bonding does not necessarily imply sexual exclusivity.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • DuffelDuffel Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    So the author of this book is, according to the article, a psychologist.

    Where are his credentials in paleo-anthropology, archeology etc... that would allow him to even begin to make his argument? Or is this, as would seem to be the case from the article (though that may be because of bad science reporting) just a case of imaginative wankery and the reading back into the pre-neolithic past certain very modern views?

    Lecturers I've encountered (eg: Brian Fagan, Jeremy Adams), with far more relevant-to-the-subject credentials, have all voiced the opinion that - while the evidense is scanty - all indications are that monogomy was the overwhelming norm among humans prior to the neolithic revolution.
    You actually had Brian Fagan as a lecturer?

    I'm jealous. He wrote my arch 101 textbook. Not to say that my own archaeology professors weren't pretty awesome too.

    Sorry, should have been clearer. I wish I personally had him as a lecturer. No I mean I have listened to several of his series of lectures for The Teaching Company.

    Ah. Well, don't feel too bad about it, because now I want to download these lectures too. I hadn't heard of the Teaching Company.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    But the fact that some couples are capable of remaining married indefinitely, and a large minority are capable of remaining together for significantly more time than the majority, implies to me that the issue lies with the individuals rather than with the institution.

    There's an obvious comparison to homosexuality here.

    I, personally, don't have a problem with monogamy as an institution, but I'm (obviously) skeptical of our adherence to it as the most normal or the default state. Some people are happy with it, some people tolerate it but are unhappy with it, some people are overtly unhappy with it and reject it.

    Edit: This Teaching Company thing sounds awesome. To the Googlemobile!

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    People live much longer than even a century ago, so the idea of having one sexual partner for 50+ years might be difficult for many folks.

    Average life expectancy has increased a good deal, yes, but that's largely a function of reduced infant/child mortality. I'm pretty sure marriages nowadays do not tend to last significantly longer than in 1910.

    Not true at all, really.

    http://divorce.lovetoknow.com/Historical_Divorce_Rate_Statistics

    ~100 in 100,000 men/women in 1900 got divorced vs ~10,000 in 100,000 in 2000.

    But it also has very little to do with life expectancy. Divorce rates are higher now than ever before because opportunities for unmarried singles at later stages of life are so much greater and societal backlash for being single or getting divorced is so much lower. In 1900 a woman who was unmarried at the age of 30 would be ostracized and would have very little opportunity to maintain a life for herself, much less have any upward social/economic mobility. Men who were divorced a hundred years ago were talked about and shunned since divorce was so uncommon. Nowadays a man or a woman can remain unmarried their entire life with relatively little effect on their social and economic prospects. Divorce is no longer viewed as a bizarre, horrible thing; it's treated as not only normal but, to some degree, expected.

    Yeah, most of the life expectancy stats you hear or read about have an unstated assumption of only counting those who survive infancy. Because of that, "marriage expectancy" would be a much better statistic.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    But the fact that some couples are capable of remaining married indefinitely, and a large minority are capable of remaining together for significantly more time than the majority, implies to me that the issue lies with the individuals rather than with the institution.

    There's an obvious comparison to homosexuality here.

    I, personally, don't have a problem with monogamy as an institution, but I'm (obviously) skeptical of our adherence to it as the most normal or the default state. Some people are happy with it, some people tolerate it but are unhappy with it, some people are overtly unhappy with it and reject it.

    Edit: This Teaching Company thing sounds awesome. To the Googlemobile!

    I also think that claims about whether humans were monogomous or not in 10,000+ years ago is deeply irrelevant to what people can or should do today.

    One big reason, it is a lot easier to follow through on "till death do we part" when death comes in your mid 30s if you are lucky. No mid-life crisis to worry about.

  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    You have to look at the political reasons for polygamy in ancient times, too. Kings took many wives because more wives = more children. I don't think love was a big factor.
    Up until fairly recently, the only people who tended to marry for love were the poor. For the wealthy classes, marriage was a political/economic alliance between the families, with the actual husband and wife having little say in the matter.

    And men have almost always had more opportunities to enjoy multiple sexual partners.

    Not really. For the poor, there was a strong pressure to find a good match for one's daughter. Haven't you seen Fiddler on the Roof?

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2010
    Feral wrote: »
    But the fact that some couples are capable of remaining married indefinitely, and a large minority are capable of remaining together for significantly more time than the majority, implies to me that the issue lies with the individuals rather than with the institution.

    There's an obvious comparison to homosexuality here.

    I, personally, don't have a problem with monogamy as an institution, but I'm (obviously) skeptical of our adherence to it as the most normal or the default state. Some people are happy with it, some people tolerate it but are unhappy with it, some people are overtly unhappy with it and reject it.

    Edit: This Teaching Company thing sounds awesome. To the Googlemobile!

    I also think that claims about whether humans were monogomous or not in 10,000+ years ago is deeply irrelevant to what people can or should do today.

    One big reason, it is a lot easier to follow through on "till death do we part" when death comes in your mid 30s if you are lucky. No mid-life crisis to worry about.

    And it seems that genetic movement ("evolution") has been accelerating since we got rid of all those random events like getting eaten by a lion and being sent to jail without passing go or collecting $200.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Scalfin wrote: »
    Yeah, most of the life expectancy stats you hear or read about have an unstated assumption of only counting those who survive infancy. Because of that, "marriage expectancy" would be a much better statistic.
    I find this chart useful, it gives average life expectancy at different ages:

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005140.html

    Aetian Jupiter - 41 Gunslinger - The Old Republic
    Rigorous Scholarship

  • mrflippymrflippy Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    But the fact that some couples are capable of remaining married indefinitely, and a large minority are capable of remaining together for significantly more time than the majority, implies to me that the issue lies with the individuals rather than with the institution.

    I'm not so sure that I agree with this. Society and culture (and religion) has a huge impact on this sort of thing.

    A couple being able to stay together isn't necessarily indicative of them being any better at relationships either. How many people are together because one of them doesn't know about the other's infidelity, or they do know but are staying together for the kids, or they are only together because if they divorce it's a sin, or one spouse is controlling and the other is too passive to get out, or maybe they are still married, but living separately.

  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    Scalfin wrote: »
    Yeah, most of the life expectancy stats you hear or read about have an unstated assumption of only counting those who survive infancy. Because of that, "marriage expectancy" would be a much better statistic.
    I find this chart useful, it gives average life expectancy at different ages:

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005140.html

    Keep in mind though that info does not even extend back to before the Industrial Revolution.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I also think that claims about whether humans were monogomous or not in 10,000+ years ago is deeply irrelevant to what people can or should do today.

    One big reason, it is a lot easier to follow through on "till death do we part" when death comes in your mid 30s if you are lucky. No mid-life crisis to worry about.

    Sure, I largely agree.

    I do think there is some relevance to it, though. (Besides, it's just something I'm intellectually interested in.) If we were to determine that there are minor advantages to longterm monogamy (for example, reduced STD rates) and that monogamy were "natural" for us as a species, then it would make sense to promote monogamy as the social norm to take advantage of it's social benefits. But if it were "unnatural" then we'd need to determine whether it would be better to promote STD control through other measures (like condom use and frequent testing).

    Obviously, we can do both. But I believe, in general, that social norms should somewhat follow what comes naturally for us, unless there's a really strong compelling reason to reject our impulses. To use another really hamfisted analogy, we might determine that pedophilia has a genetic component - but we wouldn't allow it because it's so harmful in our culture. But if we were to determine that attraction to slightly younger adults also had a genetic component, we wouldn't have the same reaction because it's not as harmful. (This is also the reason that homosexuality and pedophilia are not directly analogous - one is harmful and the other is not.)

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • ThejakemanThejakeman Registered User
    edited July 2010
    I hope that one day in my lifetime every single practitioner of "evolutionary psychology" finds themselves conflagrated for no apparent reason, leading to the publishing of a paper stating that clearly in their natural state, humans were meant to conflagrate for no reason.

    buncha psuedo-scientific silly geese.

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