Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sept 29 Ridley Ch 15, 16, 17 (Sex, Memory, Death)

I had no problems with the chapter on sex while it was discussing disease nor even genetic sexual promiscuity in mice. I thought the implications of extending P. polionatus and P. maniculatus to humans might explain a lot about the wide variety of sexual characteristics across populations. For example, Mormon and Muslim religions generally discourage marriage outside the faith and encourage polygamy. Most faiths urge monogamy though. Yet, many people are increasingly flocking to atheism or agnosticism or just falling out of practice in general. Perhaps there is a relationship between ‘moral corruption’ so to speak and the spread of a gene similar to that causing sexual promiscuity in mice. If the spread of this gene were originally quarantined primarily to people of specific religions advocating polygamy and urging to marry within the faith, then the slow spread throughout humanity makes sense. Even as I write this though, I am highly skeptical of the ideas I myself am generating. Likewise, I am highly skeptical of assertions such as those made at the end of the chapter on sex stating that males and females have sexually linked differences in interests such as machines and weapons for males versus clothes and words for females. Too many people have been exceptions to such observations for this sort of claim to resonate well with me. I, for example, am female but could really care less about clothes and find machines far more fascinating. Does this make me a mutant somehow? I think it is more likely that if at one point such interests were once tied to sex chromosomes, they have since experienced widespread mutation, and in any case can not be associated with one particular chromosome as several genotypic segments may result in the aggregate phenotypic expression of interests. This seems especially plausible considering the information presented in the chapter that follows; if you recognize that certain genes code for learning ability, then should you not also recognize that sexual practices such as monogamy or promiscuity are influenced by social learning?

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