Some eager followers of the new religion of believing everything any scientist comes up with, tend to elevate science to the position of god of all knowledge. It is the pope of truth to some.
I have always loved science. But science now and science in the wayback when I started to be curious about the whys of nature are two different animals to many.
Science is far from right all the time, sometimes makes massive blunders that take years to uncover and correct [such as Piltdown Man] and certainly is not foolproof in this new age of publish or perish where one stands to gain a lot by coming up with something new.
Joseph Brean in the National Post highlights this truth in his article “Two Major Research Projects Reveal Origins of Human Monogamy – Too Bad Their Conclusions are Contradictory.
Being a teacher and creator of the site, Schoolgenius.com, as an educational resource along with this one I felt compelled to show his findings here for educational and research purposes with no intent of making any profit from it. So for your education, here it is …
Two major research projects reveal origins of human monogamy — too bad their conclusions are contradictory
In an odd scientific coincidence, two major research projects on the evolutionary origins of human monogamy revealed their findings Monday, but came to such contradictory conclusions that both cannot possibly be correct.
The teams, both British, used similar statistical analysis to recreate evolutionary history millions of times in a computer and measure the likelihood of any one outcome. But one identified murderous males as the main cause of monogamy, while the other found it was intolerant females. Each accused the other of confusing effects with causes, a common criticism in evolutionary psychology, in which Darwinian natural selection is used to explain modern human behaviour, with varying degrees of success.
Neither claimed conclusive proof, but one is billed as the “most comprehensive and definitive study to date,” while the other claims to “bring to a close the long running debate about the origin of monogamy in primates.”
If anything, the conflict disproves that claim, and reveals a hot debate about why humans, a few mammals and nearly all birds tend to mate with a single partner.
In mammals, social monogamy is a consequence of resource defence
The search for the origins of monogamy starts with the insight that mating habits change the pressures of natural selection. The males and females of monogamous species tend to be similar in size, for example, with similar weapons like horns or teeth. Monogamous species also copulate less frequently, and the males have comparatively small testes. In polygynous species, on the other hand, males and females often look very different.
Discussion of monogamy has often focused on the “involved father” theory, in which a male who cares for infants increases the success of his offspring. But not all monogamous male primates care for infants, so there must be something else going on. That is where disagreement begins.
“In mammals, social monogamy is a consequence of resource defence,” said Dieter Lukas, lead author of the “intolerant females” study, which looked at more than 2,500 mammal species. “Female behaviour is influenced by the distribution of food, and male behaviour is influenced by the distribution of females.”
Monogamy, in this theory, arose when food was scarce, and breeding females were intensely competitive and intolerant of each other, and therefore widely dispersed among discrete territorial ranges. “Under these conditions, guarding individual females may represent the most efficient breeding strategy for males,” the team writes in the current issue of Science.
“We can also find no evidence of any close association between the evolution of monogamy and the risk of male infanticide, which has been suggested as an alternative driving force,” said co-author Tim Clutton-Brock. Even when they restrict their analysis to just primates, he said, they do not come to the same conclusion as the other team.
And by the way I’m far from convinced that humans are really monogamous
Their study, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at 230 primate species and found infanticide by rival males was the key factor. With a relatively long lactation period, human females especially would have benefited from a stable partner to protect unweaned infants, otherwise a rival male could kill them, so that lactation would stop, ovulation would resume and he could mate with the female himself.
“Although we can’t be certain with humans about the evolutionary scenario, when we look at the pattern across all primates, we can see a very strong pattern of infanticide causing the evolution of monogamy,” said lead author Christopher Opie. “That’s where science differs from just telling stories. We can actually pit these different hypotheses against each others and see which one comes out, which is most likely. And furthermore, as well as testing between them, we’ve actually come up with an evolutionary scenario, a pathway that we can show [for the origins monogamy].
“There were a number of responses to infanticide,” Prof. Opie said. “Monogamy is not the only one. For example, female chimpanzees mate with as many males as possible to make sure that all the males think that they’ve got at least some chance of being the father. And that’s a pretty good anti-infanticide strategy, in fact. But some primates use monogamy as the strategy. Following that, males started to care for their infants too, more than just protection, so they were providing grooming, cleaning, carrying duties and so on.”
Prof. Clutton-Brock was reluctant to draw conclusions about modern human mating behaviour, citing the overwhelming effect of culture, which is new in evolutionary terms.
“It’s important to be very cautious about what you say about humans,” he said. “And by the way I’m far from convinced that humans are really monogamous.”
[Editor: Of course even tho this illustrates rather well that science is not an inanimate new god of truth, all-knowing and all-powerful, advocates of the religion of science will continue to disregard this truth of necessity because it puts their religion in a bad light.]
Tags: science, evolution, religion, science mistakes