Read these selections from Dawkins and in 500 words, answer why the following human behaviors should be unsurprising to an evolutionary biologist.

 

1. There are many more single-mother families than single-father families.

 

2. Men on The Jerry Springer Show are infuriated when they find the children they believed were theirs are actually the children of another man.  They are even infuriated to find that their spouse has been adulterous.

 

3. In America, women often expect an engagement ring before the commitment of marriage.  By custom, this engagement ring should cost the man two months of his annual salary. 

 

4. It is a well-known tactic of male seducers to feign more commitment than they actually intend to make.

 

5. Both men and women are attracted to individuals of the opposite sex who are young, healthy, emotionally stable, and trustworthy.  Old vagrants who live under a bridge, smell awful, walk with a limp, and shout random obscenities at pigeons are not considered attractive potential mates.

 

 

Questions like the last one may seem absurd.  Why are males and females attracted to each other at all?  Why do parents bother to shelter and feed their children?  Why do we try to avoid life-threatening dangers?  Some are tempted to reply “Just because” or “That’s just the way we are”, but these are only evasive; evolutionary theory actually provides reasonable answers to these questions.  As is often the case, questions which we would never even have thought to ask turn out to be some of the most interesting questions there are.   

 

And just to reiterate a point Dawkins made in an earlier reading, we should not commit the appeal-to-nature fallacy and think that if humans have evolved to behave in a certain way, then that behavior is morally correct or even acceptable.  We do not feel sympathetic towards dead-beat fathers who refuse to pay child-support even if they are following Darwinian logic.