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Study: Men's Biceps Predict Their Political Ideologies (theatlantic.com)
18 points by thetabyte 1651 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments

> (...) it is a fitness error for weaker contestants to attempt to seize resources when they cannot prevail and for stronger ones to cede what they can cost-effectively defend

I call bullsh* on that one.

How can biceps circumference relate so strongly with evolution when nowadays bulging muscle is largely a result of gym training and nutrition (which, btw, costs money, biasing this study even further)?

I would say it's more about ego relating to muscle mass than the other way around. Egotistical rich men are more likely to be focused on their appearance and willing to turn into gym rats.

The argument that only the egotistical care about physical fitness is hilarious.

Please point where I say "only".

All I'm saying is that rich, "alpha" male are in the best position to frequent gyms heavily and bulge muscle. They have the drive, the time and the money. I think the study reached at this data, then (IMHO, wrongly) concludes there's a correlation (strong men choose competition over collaboration) instead of a causation (egotistical rich men have bigger biceps).

Also, biceps circumference only relates to fitness or strength up to a certain point, hypertrophy is left to bodybuilders. Just look at the average tribesman for examples of extreme fit people with average body measures.

I don't think fitness and muscle mass are entirely correlated, unless you consider marathon runners much less fit than the average obese person.

Or, biceps and support for redistribution are both correlated to something else, the far more likely and simpler explanation.

They didn't claim causation.

How is an intermediate correlating effect far more simple than not having one?

Bicep size is probably far more closely related to high body fat rather than strength. It's much easier to put on fat than muscle.

Why not link them the other way? The article claims that individuals who are stronger physically will try to claim socio-political highground, but it seems much more realistic to me to observe this data and say that people who aren't as competitive or interested in gaining from others don't have the bent to exercise their biceps.

A better experiment for this hypothesis would be to take these original subjects and have some of them adopt an exercise system and others to abandon one. Then test if ideologies actually change as a result of physical strength.

Lets see, amongst the poor, blue collar workers (doing manual labour) tend to be more conservative. Amongst the wealthy, feelings of entitlement are correlated with time to go to the gym. Evolutionary psychologist: if you keep publishing nonsense like no one will take your field seriously.


"These associations remained significant even once the researchers controlled for political party."

This seems to rule out the correlation coming from manual labor being associated with conservatism.

The headline was "Men's Biceps Predict Their Political Ideologies" you can't rule out political idealogical in a study about political Ideology. There is a spectrum of belief within political parties which explains why the association remained.

Evolutionary psychology is a collection of these "just-so" stories, they apparently don't have anything else to publish, and no one ~should~ take them seriously.

These nerds have never thrown a punch if they think bicep size is responsible for fighting ability.

CINC. Willingness to fight and larger muscles are both a consequence of higher testosterone.

What does CINC stand for?

My guess is "Correlation Is Not Causation".

Journalists really like substituting 'correlated with' with 'predict'...

I have to wonder if the biceps size is correlated with something like geography, which in turn is correlated with political affiliation.

Maybe I missed it, but I did not see a sample size. Without this, the study is meaningless - the odds of a correlation between two variables each with two possibilities is not that improbable (i.e. flipping two coins and hitting heads both times in one group, and tails in the other group, with 20 percent error).

N.B. the headline does not match the original article


'men's biceps predict economically rational self-interest'

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