He tied in the fact that a society needs as many womb as possible and a few penis would do the job. Basically, saying the more people in a society the stronger it is. With this fact men basically are expendable, thus encouraged by society to participate in high risk endeavors. With high risk comes high reward. Hence a few successful men at the top.
Also, he points to the fact men have lots of shallow relationship while women value intimate relationship. But having a many shallow relationship allows men be more innovative since concepts are passed between then quicker compared to women.
Women would form small groups of intimate relationship while men will form large group. With large group emerges synergy and the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts. Hence, men form cultural things like religion, universities, sport teams, etc. What comes with forming and creating them is men dominate them. Also, the system men set up are design that only a few can be rewarded and recognized.
There wasn't no real conspiracy by men to dominate.
"There was no conspiracy" theory seems to have become as problematic today as all-embracing-conspiracy-theories.
In any social species, subgroups with common interests has colluded to different degrees. The collusion has been more effective when the group had dominant social power. Many societies have strictures which aim to keep women in-line and faithful to their husbands. It rather clear this is organized in the interests of the husbands (and not in the interests of the handsome vagabonds passing through...).
One can be certain there have been many overt and implicit conspiracies among groups of men as well as among groups of women, now and through-out history. Just not a single one since men and women are each members of other groups as well.
Similarly, a group of men conspiring to do something is not equivalent to a conspiracy for male domination. It's usually a conspiracy for their domination; their maleness is incidental.
"If a group loses half its men, the next generation can still be full-sized. But if it loses half its women, the size of the next generation will be severely curtailed. Hence most cultures keep their women out of harm’s way while using men for risky jobs."
Overall, it's a pretty objective (and in-depth) view of the gender debate.
"Why is it worse to kill a woman than a man? The argument usually advanced is that in killing women you are killing the breeders, whereas men can be more easily spared. But this is a fallacy based on the notion that human beings can be bred like animals. The idea behind it is that since one man is capable of fertilizing a very large number of women, just as a prize ram fertilizes thousands of ewes, the loss of male lives is comparatively unimportant. Human beings, however, are not cattle. When the slaughter caused by a war leaves a surplus of women, the enormous majority of those women bear no children. Male lives are very nearly as important, biologically, as female ones."
It's Orwell so it's well written.
But even Orwell needs references to back up this argument.
Also, while the man is out at war, the woman usually won't be procreating with anyone else until the man dies. The news of his death will probably affect her badly, and procreation is probably the last thing on her mind at least for a while (after which she may be too old).
But yes, hard data would be even better.
Beyond cultural acceptability, there is objective optimality. Since men thrive to validate themselves by providing more than they consume (cf. article again), it's a comparative disadvantage for women to raise kids without the benefit of that surplus.
In a society where it's reasonably easy to secure a (male) provider, you're a major loser as a woman if you can't secure one. In a society where it's hard, e.g. due to skewed gender demographics, it's acceptable to be a single mom.
There's been a quite politically incorrect paper about black US communities, their lack of men due to huge imprisonment rates and higher mortality, and the resulting prevalence of the single mom model. I think it was referred to by Freakonomics.
There is some counter-evidence to this claim: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dear_john_letter
"Dear John," the letter began. "I have found someone else whom I think the world of. I think the only way out is for us to get a divorce," it said. They usually began like that, those letters that told of infidelity on the part of the wives of servicemen... The men called them "Dear Johns".
Or don't get caught....
See, say, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levirate_marriage
Anyway, reproductive success (or just the chances of getting a wive) are even more skewed in polygamous societies, than in monogamous ones. It's an alpha-males paradies, and a loser's hell.
When we imagine this apocalyptic doom of population, and mankind, we imagine a perfect world in some much that we think everyone will breed with everyone. Some men my have a problem(ED), some women may not be able to bare children(thus the creation of fertility gods), and some-be it male or female- may not want to "do it" period(homosexuality). We may also still hold old world values/moral beliefs, such as monogamy, dear.
The quote posted by Obiterdictum from Orwell, one of my favorite writers, is very intriguing to me. The part that stands out the most is:
''But this is a fallacy based on the notion that human beings can be bred like animals.'' -One the topic of utilitarianistic gender values
Animals in captivity are usually force breed to maintain a linage or specific trait. Animals can build emotional bonds, however, in the wild we see very few mammal species that follow the same guidelines we find social acceptable. For us to believe that every male will mate with every female we must also believe that every female will mate with every male, and vica versa.
Part of monogamy is breed into our subconscious, part is based on proximity, part is due to social context, and part is, well, emotional. There are countless stories of widows never marring after their husbands are gone[see Penelope in The Odyssey]. We, many of us, enjoy monogamous relationships. Something about them brings us a joy that is very hard to put a value on. We can be tricked into them, stockholm syndrome, we can even be forced into them, rape, but we can rarely artificially create them, Truman show.
We must also asses the value of monogamous relation ships versus open relation ships(I am sorry I do not know the proper word for it); thinking that everyone will value them the same. I do not have enough data to pass judgment, although, the animal kingdom does seem to be doing well for itself ;).
Then we have to break down the proper breeding matrices. No one has said anything about age distribution in population. So are we assuming all the males/females too young/old to breed died OR are we not including them in the first count? To inspire discussion I will say we never included them in the first count...but then the situation doesn't really work as we have a new generation coming of age at some point; a boost if you will. Hypothetically, using the example given with a population size 150(aftermath) we are left with 100 women and 50 men. Breeding can be done in at least 1 day; a week at the utmost. Now those women are taken pretty much out of commission at the ~7,8,9 month. That leaves 100 women more vulnerable to starvation, illness, miscarriage, death giving birth. We also do not have the number of still births. What is the status of food? How did this population destruction occur? Too many variables.
For every perfect scenario there exists an imperfect one just as likely to occur as the latter. No person, be it male or female, is more valuable because they were born with a functioning set of genitalia. Value is always in the eye of the beholder[see currency, trade, marketing].
I had to edit and remove some of my comment as it became more of a rant than an acceptable comment. The tl;dr version is, we are all different and thus behave differently. Some may be more willing to breed for the sake of it while others not so much, however, we can all be conditioned so that we are prepared for such a situation. I am not condoning this. I feel that place male and female on a scale is boarding the lines of eugenics- to which I am more opposed than I am for. Some men are strong, while others are weak. Some women are stronger than a weak man. Some men are cowards, others are not. Some women are brave, others are not. Measuring strength is easy, measuring other- not so physical traits- is harder.
I think monogamy spread because St. Augustine made it part of the Roman Catholic dogma that became the foundation for all Christian dogma, Christianity took over Europe, and then Europe colonized pretty much the rest of the world. I tend to think if things had gone differently, we'd be looking at a polygamous world.
(Edit: Did I just argue sexuality is a social construct? Oy vey...)
>I think monogamy spread because St. Augustine made it
> part of the Roman Catholic dogma that became the
> foundation for all Christian dogma
Sort of - I'm under the impression that Greek and Roman monogamy was more "soft monogamy" so to speak. You had your wife, but then you were free to do whatever your like beyond that as long as you didn't break your duty to the family, yes?
Interesting, most of the patriarchs in the Bible were polygamous, it was a famous rabbi's teachings (forget which one) that mandated monogamy as the way. For instance, here's Wikipedia on Abraham:
"Jews, Christians, and Muslims consider him father of the people of Israel. For Jews and Christians this is through his son Isaac, by his wife Sarah; for Muslims, he is a prophet of Islam and the ancestor of Muhammad through his other son Ishmael, born to him by Sarah's handmaiden, Hagar."
King Solomon was known for his many wives. I think hard monogamy - no prostitution, no bisexuality, no mistresses, concubines, or sexual relations with slaves - was largely established as the norm by Christianity. I know the Romans and Greeks definitely had other lovers and orgies and things like that, whereas once the Roman Catholic Church was established by Constantine this sort of thing was outlawed pretty quickly.
In the third link there is a rather interesting theory as to how it all started(hint: women made us do it).
When you mean monogamy do you mean sexually exclusive or socially monogamous? There is some evidence to suggest the later more than the former.  And some counter arguments. 
 Barber, Nigel "Monogamy is social - not sexual" ~ http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201007/m...
 Johnson, Sue "Monogamy: are we - can we be - monogamous?" ~ http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hold-me-tight/201003/mon...
In evolutionary terms, a woman would want to give the man the impression that she'd never mate with another if he was gone or away. Whether that's true is a different question.
The human switch from a visible estrus cycle was a change which allowed monogamy-with-cheating to be a much more feasible strategy than with earlier primates - who knew when mating was going to happen.
I actually wouldn't say that monogamy-with-cheating is the only human social/sexual pattern since humans also evolved an incredibly ability to change their behavior based on their social system.
But don't assume that a society that overtly pushes monogamy will actually wind-up with husbands always fathering their official children.
I do not mean to make you think that I believe that monogamy is "the only way", however, psychology plays a huge role in our sexual and social relationships. Many women prefer a more intimate one-on-one relationship, while men do not; or so it has been said.
I do not believe that all women want to cheat on their spouse. More data from a wider set is needed, and even then it is a matter of biology and social context; random chance.
But don't assume that a society that overtly pushes monogamy will actually wind-up with husbands always fathering their official children.
I did mean to imply that I did. It really depends on the social context and size of the group. A smaller group will be more apt to provide more intimate care than a larger group. It was not my intention to put the blame on the male gender by any means. Women and men have an equal role to play in the physical and mental rearing of any child.
Wars and fighting provide a ready surplus of women. In an Amazon tribe, the Yanomamo, I believe, 40% of all males die by murder or fighting. Recent genetic studies show that we have twice as many female ancestors as men. (Sorry, about the lack of citation.) Today jails, drug use, and general decrepitude keep large numbers of males out of circulation.
The most likely scenario. A million and one scenarios can happen but what is more likely to happen and what has happen.
Given that we have something like 7 billion people, the odds of losing half of either gender are fairly low. If it's because of something nuclear -- you will probably want to be on the casualty list, not the survivor's.
I wish I could downvote this post. It's flamebait, and it's irrelevant. Agree with the commenter who wondered why "debates" like this go on amongst people > age 13.
You're taking that quote out of context. The point is not what could happen today, but what could happen prehistoric groups. If you have two prehistoric tribes in conflict with each other it's entirely reasonable that you'll lose half of your combatants over a period of years. If you're losing men then you can replenish your numbers just as effectively, if you're losing women your capacity will be compromised.
In more recent history, during WW II the Soviet Union had an army with 34,401,807 men. The official tally was 8,668,400 dead from various causes. Assuming that this military included all men of draftable age (which is basically correct), about a quarter of men in that generation died. Yet since those losses were born mostly among men (the Soviet Union lost many civilians as well, it was a bloody war), the reproductive capacity of the society was not impacted nearly as badly as their population was.
Likewise, you're trivializing the serious cultural debates about, for instance, whether it's wise to send women into armed combat, or whether or not it's a problem for 90% of software developers to be men. It doesn't mean anyone is better than another, just that as a society maybe we should be comfortable with having more men than women in prison, in the Forbes 500, or in combat. Or maybe we shouldn't. Point is, that's a debate worth having.
Thanks for the link, I didn't bother checking to see if it was already posted. I notice the sig/noise is a lot lower and only posted 481 days prior but the tone of the good responses are still measured and thoughtful.
That, plus it definitely "gratifies one's intellectual curiosity." Seems relevant to me.
Is There Anything Good About Men? How Cultures Flourish by Exploiting Men
But somebody has to do it; in mammals it's only natural that it's the female, since she has to be around anyway in order to breast feed (which is not the case with birds for example: both parents can find and bring back food to the young).
So maybe the adventurous sailors explore the world simply because they can; not "in order to come back rich, and mate" but because, having mated, they can leave their family behind and go do something else.
It's the ultimate in taking a long view. Most investments will have paid off (or disappeared) several times by the time the investment in a child repays. A good investment of time and money in a child can pay off well, with personal and monetary fulfilment, but you've got to keep up with the time and money for 20 years with a child.
Many parents will disagree with this position, but it's rare to find one that doesn't really enjoy the time when the kids are in bed asleep.
There were articles about how couples with children are unhappier over here recently:
Yet I believe I'd be unhappy in my old age if I don't have children (not to mention several good points in that discussion).
I keep going back to the "experiencing self vs remembering self" talk many people here directed me to:
The experiencing self is unhappier, but the remembering self is definitely happier :)
But spending too much time with them is not as fulfilling as actually doing something -- or even reading a good book.
There is no fulfillment in wiping a child's ass, or even feeding them. You do it because you have to, and I actually don't mind doing it. But as useful as it is for them, it's pointless for me.
That is not a problem as long as I have other things to do / to care about; it would be if they were the beginning and end of my day.
First, there is no mechanism of action that backs up his claim that society uses men as expendable. It's easy to see that it would be adaptive (for the society itself) to use men this way, but there's no guarantee this will happen without a mechanism of action. In fact, society seems to have developed mechanisms (such as monogamous marriage) that act against allowing men to be disposable sources of semen.
Second, even accepting everything else, his essential claim that a woman can't increase the number of her descendants by acquiring wealth and prestige is clearly false. All she has to do is find a way to transfer the wealth/prestige to her son(s), who in turn can use it in the ways Baumeister indicated.
Is there anything more fitting to the audience of this site? Does this fit in with the sex distribution here? (surely)
Anyone know where that conclusion originates? It's kind of hard to google - I keep finding myself back at Roy Baumeister.
(38 most) / (0 references) = ∞ vacuousness!
That aside, I observed a ton of hand waving in this talk, and I'm willing to bet it isn't backed up by the appropraite amount of rigor in his "research". In particular, I am concerned about how hard he tried to poke holes in his own theory, given the risks that might pose to his forthcoming (at the time of the talk) book.
Since we just had Cargo Cult Science posted the other day, this is a great time to think about this. I sometimes think that we (hacker news readers) might actually be more suseptible to accepting theories that haven't rigorously examined because our need to understand things is unusally great. So when we come across a theory that is internally consistent, not obviously wrong, and just sort of seems to make sense, we tend to reject any attempts to discredit the theory, lest we risk going from understanding to not understanding.
In other words, I think we sometimes value the feeling of understanding something over any utility that would come from actually understanding it.
I do agree though that it starts out good, and becomes less and less substantiated, but on the whole it is interesting.
One argument was that the adventurous sailor would be subsumed by the cobbler or tavernkeeper in the mating game. True, but he wouldn't be subsumed by the beggar, now would he?
Another argument is to find a counterexample. "There were female scientists. Good female scientists. Your claim is now disproven!". Except for the fact that the claim is statistical and you just picked an outlier.
There are a couple of main claims, which are quite objective:
Are males more extremely distributed than females? Is the minimum wage pertubing the mean wage (yes, it is - but significantly?) Is the absolute grade scale pertubing the results (yes, but by how much?) If all three are confirmed, you could say the societys obsession with the mean is what causes all the trouble.
I think your point about less and less substantiality is warranted. It is the first couple of paragraphs which has the most meat and is the most objective. It would be bad to dismiss them, if the latter parts are weaker. Yet, the weaker parts are the ones people will attack in an argument - they are the low-hanging-fruit. Especially if they have an agenda to be fulfilled in the gender wars. Though the more objective parts are the parts you should seek to refute.
I think the future will be even more interesting than now. In the most developed parts of the world, women surpasses men in higher education. Note that this fits the presumption: males have a more extreme ability distribution. This will have a great impact. There will be less well-educated men for the well-educated women. And this is a first in the history (of Europe). It will be interesting to see how that one plays out.
Well, if the beggar is Diogenes...
The main counter argument is that most world conquerors are not especially fertile; Napoleon had maybe six kids (max.); Alexander had two and was maybe gay; Hitler had zero. How would the "conqueror" trait have so much influence on humanity if conquerors did not father many children (and there were not enough successful conquerors to start with).
I try to develop a more substantiated analysis of this article here: http://blog.medusis.eu/of-parrots-and-men
The argument is Evolutionary Psychology, which is a rather soft science. So is economics, but that doesn't mean it isn't useful.
However, in order to make it useful you have to think statistically about the behavior of humans in LONG LONG period of pre-history.
Leaving aside the fact that nature does not design anything, if evolution is to select a trait that is "mostly unsuccessful", then this trait is to be incredibly successful when it actually succeeds.
And in fact, Genghis Khan is the exception; other well-known world conquerors are not exceptionally prolific, casting doubt on the possibility that "unknown world conquerors" (if such people ever existed?) would have been prolific enough and numerous enough to have an impact on the human species.
I'm well aware of Evolutionary Psychology, its premises and its shortcomings; it isn't "soft science" but rather "non-science" since it can't be refuted. Most of its claims may be right, or wrong, but that doesn't matter because we have no way to tell.
In particular, I've never agreed that men shoot for the moon while women are happy to live more modestly in a low-risk way. Have the people who say this ever been to Hollywood? The place is full of young women who risk everything to achieve that incredibly high status position of movie star.
Or, like the Dixie Chicks wrote in "Long Time Gone"
Me, I went to Nashville
Tryin' to be the big deal
Playin' down on Broadway
Gettin' there the hard way
Living' form a tip jar
Sleepin' in my car
Hockin' my guitar
Yeah I'm gonna be a star....
Now, one place where I agree with the author of this article is that there there are most likely meaningful innate differences between women that may have resulted from evolutionary pressures, and that we should not be suppressed by a culture of political correctness from honestly discussing them, even when some of these differences favor men.
But the conclusions still seem very spotty to me, not at all consistent with my observations. The big about diapers? The men I know are deeply involved with their children, extremely paternal, and change a hell of a lot of diapers. Women may not start tech companies as often as men, but they are definitely willing to take great risks to seek status.
I don't mind the question, and I'm not at all offended by the answer, but I am not at all convinced. There's a lot more to this story.
btw, you may skip hardcore genetics in lectures from 2 till 8. ^_^
Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind
Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, The Woman That Never Evolved
They're probably the best, most thoroughly researched, and least political of the evolutionary bio books I've found that aren't primarily about hardcore genetics and heavily math-based game theory.
From the wikipedia link, it seems this should still be consistent with lotusleaf's suggestion: the avian sex chromosomes are thought to be related to the autosomal chromosome 9 in mammals - so any variability in intelligence which was determined by X-chromosomal genes would not necessarily be as apparent in those ZW-carrying animals.
 and in any case, I think down-voting ought to be used only to punish bad form, not to express disagreement - there's not-voting for that.
Which I think is all that is warranted when you declare your opinion that the difference is due to XX vs. XY without backing that up. If you had phrased it differently, like "Hm, I wonder if this has something to do with XX vs. XY?", that would actually sound like a conversation-starter.
I'm bothered by this title. Had a water cooler chat yesterday and was talking about question structure. This came up, yes/no; "do you still kick your dog?". Say, no, and it implies that you used too.
The title seems to imply that we need to explain what's good/bad about men when the entire question is dumb.
My point is though that you have to be careful when discussing such delicate matters. While an argument could be made that men tend to perform better at abstract reasoning and women tend to perform better at other mental tasks, small differences in wording can make a difference between offensive and objective.