Bigging Up Darwin


Following up the spectacular success of The Rebel Cell the estimable Baba Brinkman has hit new heights with The Rap Guide to Evolution, with the hit single “Natural Selection” featuring Richard Dawkins.  Here’s an excerpt from Baba’s dispatch from Fresno, where he’s touring the production:

The feedback was mostly very positive, but at one point I was accosted by two women who said they were very offended by the show, which they found deeply misogynist; they suggested I focus on the “long view” of evolutionary history instead of trying to apply evolution to “short term” subjects like understanding human mating strategies.  They said they thought my take on evolutionary psychology was “the equivalent of social darwinism”, and used the example of breast augmentation, which evolutionary psychologists might designate an attention-getting strategy rather than a sad example of female objectification.  

To this I responded that un-augmented breasts themselves were already an attention-getting strategy, since all other primates have flat breasts that only swell during lactation, whereas human female breasts (and buttocks) have evolved through sexual selection to store fat deposits, making them a prominent mechanism for appraising the fitness (ie youth & fertility) of mates, which was not a popular answer (although technically it was an answer from comparative anatomy rather than evolutionary psych).  I found out later that I was speaking to a professor of Women’s Studies from the local university.

And here’s a video from the show:


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Bigging Up Darwin

  1. Baba answer’s the question about breasts with far more equanimity than I ever could. I have dealt with people from Women’s Studies milieux and they are barking mad, for the most part, and would test the patience of Job himself.

  2. Really, breast augmentation is not an example of objectifying women? That’s news to me, I mean really, what a silly idea, of breasts being used as objectification.

    I would swear there is something called an “is ought’ problem which last time I checked had something to do with the fact just because that is the way something is, does not mean that’s the way it ought to be.

    I’m surprised Mr. Potter, I thought you would have known better.

    • Another useful philosophical distinction is between use and mention.

      • Indeed. Those who use breast augmentation rarely mention it.

        • And certainly never pointedly.

  3. More like Blahblah Brinkman.

  4. I invite everyone tempted to take crudely simplistic evo-psycho theories seriously, to read Stephen Jay Gould’s essay “Women’s Brains,” as well as Natalie Angier’s essay, “Men, Women, Sex and Darwin.”

    • Or , for an entertaining look at the evolution of keyboard instruments, Arthur B. Loesser’s Men, Women & Pianos.

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