Review of The Mating Mind

The mating mind is a book from G. Miller that deepens explanations about sexual selection theory. 

Parts of it are used here in-through for explaining a neword called Sexysm.


Here in this page there is an accesory review for the more formal one (In spanish, see it here)


Were nature’s ornaments really for our eyes only?
bugs must be golden for their own purposes, not to delight our eyes or to
symbolize divine providence.

and what about flowers? (first sexual pseudo-organs) were they any nice for any animal? he contradicts himself with what he later says:

primate color vision evolved in part to notice brightly colored fruit. T h e fruit evolved to spread its seeds by advertising its ripeness with bright coloration, to attract fruit-eaters such as primates and birds. Primates benefit from eating the fruit, so they evolve visual systems attracted to bright colors. T h e fruit’s genes can reproduce only by passing through the digestive tract of a primate, so the ripe fruit’s coloration is analogous to a sexual display. The fruit competes with the fruit of other trees to attract the primate’s attention. Yet the fruit’s sexual display can have side-effects on the sexual displays of the primates themselves, as a result of the primates’ attraction to bright colors. (Eve’s offer of the apple to Adam symbolizes the overlap between the sexual displays of fruit and those of primates.) If a male primate happens to  evolve a bright red face, he might prove more attractive to females

-Our ancestors plants unimind……


natural selection favors efficient problem-solving. And it is supposed to be modular and specialized for solving a particular problem, because modular specialization is the efficient way to engineer things. Fitness indicators violate all these criteria.

To traditional evolutionary psychologists, human abilities like
music, humor, and creativity do not look like adaptations because
they look too variable, too heritable, too wasteful, and not very
modular. But these are precisely the features we should expect of
fitness indicators. These are fitness indicators because they favour adaptation to compelser problem-solving mate…. problems are not only practical, the «aesthetical» ones are more complex and worthy!

-He nails it correct after with:

too many scientists are mis-describing effective fitness indicators like music and art as if they were nothing more than cultural inventions or learned skills.

But if you accept that mental evolution could have been influenced by runaway sexual selection, which produces
unpredictable divergence, then you can’t expect it to be
predictable or deterministic.

-It can be deterministic while not predictable for you! he later says about zebra and birds coming from sexy jumpers dinosaurs, as he later says:

Sexual selection thus works as a natural source of serendipity in

mutual choice renders traditional models of runaway sexual
selection irrelevant, because runaway depends on intense choosi-
ness by one sex and intense competition by the other. It depends
on sexual asymmetry.

-And then contradicts himself with the reasonable:

I think that female creative intelligence evolved through male mate choice as much as male creative intelligence evolved through female mate choice


In picking long-term sexual partners, our male and female ancestors both became very choosy. That choosiness is what drove sexual selection, which depends on competition to reproduce, not competition to copulate.

None of these social relationships entails any merging of genes, so they are not subject to positive-feedback processes as powerful as runaway sexual selection. But they still offer plenty of scope for all kinds of socially selected indicators to evolve. We can often use the same fitness indicators in non-sexual relationships as we do in sexual relationships

-He is over emphasizing «reprodcution is evolution bottom line…»,
and forgets that pleasure is a drive for being able to be willing to reproduce, since sex is an evolution of interaction, he forgets here to put pleasure first as he says later:

mind as a sexually selected entertainment system that plays not just upon our sensory biases, but upon our thirst for pleasure. Pleasure systems evolve for a reason: they encourage animals to do things that improve their survival and reproduction prospects

-He says it even clrearer here:

basic requirements for a fitness indicator: it should vary perceptibly, and it should be sufficiently costly that low-fitness pretenders cannot fake it.

Pleasure-giving courtship behavior is probably a better fitness indicator than courtship that merely activates sensations. Pleasure-giving is rather different from sensory exploitation. It feels better, it is better at tracking fitness benefits given to oneself, and it works better as a fitness indicator. Hot choosers that use pleasure to mediate mate choice are not more evolutionarily vulnerable than cold choosers. On the contrary, they are better positioned to let sexual selection take them off in new evolutionary directions where unknown pleasures await.


and then he adds a explantion of why pleasure is better than sex but it is neither god enough:

Pleasure alone is not enough. We need either more sexual competition than monogamy provides, or some interaction between sexual selection for entertainment and other sexual selection processes.

which introduces the :

We have to put the ornamental mind theory together with the fitness
indicator theory to explain why some sexual ornaments stick around.

and the sense aesthetic hacking:


sexual ornaments evolved to play upon the senses. Typically, males of most species like sex regardless of their fitness and attractiveness to the females, so they tend to treat female senses as security systems to be cracked.

Yet sexual choice also runs deeper than the senses. It depends on memory, anticipation, judgment, decision-making, and pleasure. Psychological preferences go beyond sensory preferences

-sex is somehow the point, ok…… the senses are ornaments……… but read it backwards and you’ll see what is more important! and how close it gets to making love to oneself!!


after our ancestors evolved communication systems such as language, art, and music, psychological preferences may have become crucial in sexual selection.


-psycology is yet one more ornament…. which even leads to making love to yourself, but only selfishly:

paper by Richard Dawkins and J o h n Krebs in 1978. They argued that when animals send each other signals, they are selfishly trying to influence each other’s behavior.

Signals are for the good of the sender, not the receiver.

-Wrong… you’ll see:

They are sent to manipulate behavior, not to convey helpful information. If the receiver’s genetic interests overlap with the sender’s interests, they may cooperate.

-so they are not only selfish mateee.. mutually selfish instead. for example, if selfish gene is the absolute lead, no need for morals, but morals are out there for a reason:

The idea that the human mind evolved as a bundle of fitness indicators does not sit comfortably with contemporary views of human nature and human society. In fact, it violates at least eight core values commonly accepted in modern society.

Variation in fitness betrays our belief in human equality.

The heritability of fitness violates our assumption that social and family environments shape most of human development.

Loudly advertising one’s fitness violates our values of humility, decorum, and tact.

Sexual status hierarchies based on fitness violate our belief in egalitarian social organization.

The idea that people sort themselves into sexual pairs by assessing each other’s fitness violates our romantic ideal of personal compatibility.

The conspicuous waste demanded by the handicap principle violates our values of frugality, simplicity, and efficiency.

The sexual choice mechanisms that judge individuals by their fitness indicators violate our belief that people should be judged by their character, not the quality of their genes.

Finally, it seems nihilistic to propose that our capacities for language, art, and music evolved to proclaim just one message that has been repeated loudly and insistently for thousands of generations: «I am fit, my genes are good, mate with me.»

A mind evolved as a set of fitness indicators can sound like a
fascist nightmare.  According to the Machiavellian intelligence theory, our minds evolved to lie, cheat, steal, and deceive one another, and the most cunning psychopaths became our ancestors by denying food, territory, and sexual partners to kinder, gender souls.

-Take it easy matee… you lack compass of pleasure, and you know that morals are also useful for faking how selfish we can «reach to be»… but only up to one point: see:

moral norms should be aimed directly against the irresponsible use of fitness indicators. We value humility precisely because many people are unbearable braggarts who try to flaunt their fitness indicators so relentlessly that we cannot hold a decent conversation. We value frugality because so many people embarrass everyone with their ostentatious displays of luxuries, and waste limited resources that others need. We
value egalitarianism because it protects the majority from aspiring despots intent on power and polygyny. These norms do not just fall randomly from the sky. They emerged as moral instincts and cultural inventions to combat the excesses of sexual self-advertisement and sexual competition

Our moral instincts may be just another set of evolved adaptations.

-You see… Morals are also natural limitations to the selfish gene! They are selfishly useful but up to one point: don’t lie too much:

Fitness is like money in a secret Swiss bank account. You may know how much you have, but nobody else can find out directly. If they ask the bank, the bank will not tell them. If they ask you, you might lie. If they are willing to mate with you if your capital exceeds a certain figure, you may be especially tempted to lie. This is what makes mate choice difficult. The supposedly low heritability of fitness was one argument against the importance of fitness indicators in sexual selection. The other problem is the potentially low reliability of fitness indicators. An animal trying to
find a high-fitness mate is in the position of an attractive gold digger seeking a millionaire. She has incentives to mate only with a male who offers high genetic or financial capital. But every male has incentives to pretend to be richer than he is, to attract more mates. What is a poor girl to do?


After having review you all this i must thank you very much for this other very enlightning thoughts you gave me:


Generally, the larger the sex difference in body size, the more polygynous the species. In humans, the average male is about 10 percent taller, 20 percent heavier, 50 percent stronger in the upper body muscles, and 100 percent stronger in the hand’s grip strength than the average female.Male
human brains average 1,440 grams, while female brains average
1,250 grams.

Let me highlight this:

Men have a slightly greater variation in I Q , producing more geniuses as well as more idiots




vision is about seeing objects, and objects tend to have edges. This edge-
detection principle has been used in most successful robot vision systems designed by humans. Now consider how a male could grab the attention of a female’s V1 system. He has to activate her edge-detectors.

One of the deepest insights from sensory bias theory is that there is always some evolutionary contingency in the design of perceptual systems. These contingencies make it impossible to predict all possible responses to all possible stimuli just from knowing what a perceptual system evolved to do. Therefore, if a new sexual ornament evolves that excites a perceptual system in a novel way, it may be favored by sexual selection in a way that could never have been anticipated. For example, biologist Nancy Burley
found that female zebra finches just happen to be attracted to males that have tall white plumes glued on top of their heads.

Their white-plume preference probably did not evolve as an adaptation, because as far as we know, ancestral finches never had white plumes on their heads. T h e preference just happened to be a latent possibility in a visual system that evolved for other purposes. I think this idea of evolutionary contingency in perceptual systems is one of the most intriguing ideas to come out of sensory bias theory. It might even work better than runaway sexual selection as a general explanation of why sexual ornaments diversify so unpredictably in different species.

there is no example of a sensory bias that leads animals to favor sexual partners that are smaller, less healthy, less energetic, and less intelligent than average. Most sensory biases are consistent with what we would expect from adaptive decision-making machinery that evolved for mate choice.

With the evolution of eyes came the possibility of visual ornaments. With the evolution of bird ears came the possibility of bird song. And perhaps, with the evolution of language comprehension abilities in our ancestors, came the possibility of sexual selection for much more complicated
thoughts and feelings expressed through language.


Ornamental mind

human brain as an entertainment system that evolved to stimulate other
brains—brains that happened to have certain sensory biases and pleasure systems

At the psychological level, we could view the human mind as evolved to embody the set of psychological preferences our ancestors had. Those preferences were not restricted to the surface details of courtship like the iridescence of a peacock’s tail; they could have included any preferences that lead us to like one person’s company more than another’s. The preferences could have been social, intellectual, and moral.


The mind as amusement park. The mind as a special-effects science-fiction action film, or romantic comedy. The mind as a Las Vegas honeymoon suite. The mind as a dance club, cabinet of curiosities, mystery novel, computer
strategy game, Baroque cathedral, or luxury cruise ship.

the mind as a sexually selected entertainment system identifies some selection pressures that may have shaped the mind during evolution.

If the human mind evolved as an entertainment system like Hollywood,
those of its features that look like military-competitive weaknesses
may actually be its greatest strengths.

Its propensity for wild fantasy does not undermine its competitive edge, but attracts enormous interest from adoring fans. Its avoidance of physical
conflict allows it to amass, quietly and discreetly, enormous resources and expertise to produce ever more impressive shows. Its emphasis on beauty over strength, fiction over fact, and dramatic experience over plot coherence, reflects popular taste, and popular tastes are what it lives on. Its huge promotional budgets, costly award shows, and conspicuously luxurious lifestyle are not just wasteful vanity—they are part of the show. Its obsession with fads and fashion do not reflect victimization by exploitative memes, but the strategic appropriation of cultural ideas to promote its own products.

Modern human culture is a vast, collaborative attempt to chart out this space of all possible stimulation, to discover how to tweak our brains in pleasurable ways.

Sexual selection explores this space of all possible stimulation. In sexual selection, traits that began as indicators tend to grow m o r e complexly o r n a m e n t a l because the sensory preferences of the opposite sex partially impose their own aesthetic a g e n d a on the indicator. Conversely, traits that originate as p u r e r u n a w a y o r n a m e n t s tend to acquire value as fitness indicators because aesthetically impressive o r n a m e n t s tend to be costly a n d difficult to produce.

Aesthetic tastes

The fitness-indicator principles are good at explaining why animals of a given species have such a strong consensus about what they like in a sexual
trait: why all peahens like the peacocks to have large, symmetric, bright, many-eyed tails. The fitness-indicator perspective explains the perfectionism and conservatism of sexual tastes within each species. It also explains why large, long-lived animals have not degenerated to extinction under the pressure of harmful mutations. On the other hand, the ornamental principles are good at explaining why animals of different species develop such different tastes: the tails that attract peahens, for example, are not turn-ons for female turkeys or female albatrosses. The ornamental perspective explains the protean divergence of sexual tastes across species over macro-evolutionary time. It also explains why sexually
reproducing life on our planet has split apart into millions of different species.

The ornamental view is especially important for appreciating the role of evolutionary contingency in shaping sexual traits, sexual selection would sooner or later havediscovered that intelligent minds similar to ours make good  courtship o r n a m e n t s a n d good fitness indicators

Birds come from sexy jumpers:

wings originated as sexual ornaments, along the following lines. Take a fairly useless dinosaur forelimb. Add a bit of color or an extra skin-flap with a novel mutation. Apply sexual choice a n d the runaway process. Result: a large surface area o r n a m e n t e d with color, available for display to the
opposite sex. Feathers make excellent sexual ornaments—they are light, flexible, a n d movable. T h e y are still used in courtship displays by male rifle-birds, w h o snap t h e m open and shut in front of awestruck females. If the male protobirds h a p p e n e d to combine their forelimb displays with energetic j u m p s during courtship, a n d if females selected for the best j u m p e r s , then the transition from a display function to an aerodynamic function would be relatively smooth. O n c e wings proved useful in other contexts such as escaping predators, then survival selection
would start shaping t h e m for flight instead of just sexual ornamentation. T h i s would have led to the well-documented proliferation of bird species well before the extinction of their dinosaur cousins 65 million years ago.


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