A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Johnny vs Sean

I came upon this little gem during my regular wanderings in blogosphere and it amused me heartily. But really, nobody can possibly take this seriously.  It does beggar belief though that this  is the kind of stuff that masquerades as scientific research these days:

British women now prefer feminine looking men over their more rugged counterparts because they no longer need to worry about the survival of the fittest, new research suggests.

And people think creationists are loony.

Now researchers believe that improvements in health care in wealthy western countries mean women do not have to worry about so much about the quality of their offspring – and so are picking more feminine looking men.
The researchers at the University of Aberdeen came to the conclusion after studying the preferences of 4500 women from 30 different countries.
They found a direct correlation between the quality of health care and the choice of male.
In countries with better health care, the more likely women would pick a feminine looking man and visa [sic] versa.

It doesn't, however, explain why Sandra Bullock picked Jesse James as her mate for life.

A pity she wasn’t apprised of the results of this piece of scientific quackery 6 years ago.

Basic arithmetic informs me that 4500 women from 30 countries works out to be an average of 150 per country. That doesn't seem to be a particularly large sample from which to be making such grandiose universal  generaliziations. Mostly it sounds like someone drawing a rather long bow from what boils down to a bit of picture waving. Furthermore, I doubt very much that what a woman picks from a line up of photos ends up to be her idea of a long-term relationship when other factors come into play. Perhaps it’s just my layman reading of the piece but the whole thing sounds woefully simplistic.

So what does this have to do with Johnny Depp or Sean Connery? Depp, it seems epitomizes the feminine- faced males and Connery is the ruggedly masculine archetype. According to the research the likes of Depp are in and the ruggedly masculine archetype has seen better days.

While the research itself sounds as dodgy as Jesse James' cryptic apology for exercising poor judgement, the assumptions behind the research are even more suspect -- a kind of biological determinism gone mad, while making the mistake of implying that women choose their mates purely on the basis of physical attributes. This kind of thing is nothing new, incidentally. Another over-the-top hypothesis, with slightly more credibility, is the notion that women choose their mates based on their smell... something to do with a T-shirt experiment, immune systems and pheromones. A quick trip to the "Relationships" section of the local bookstore could have saved British taxpayers a ton of dosh.

But where are fellers in all this? The other half of the procreation equation seems to have gone AWOL in this head prodding exercise. Have they been reduced to becoming experimental props or a passing “visa versa” comment? In this politically correct age, surely researchers must still give lip service to being inclusive. Are we to infer from this entire undertaking that evolution is an unequal opportunity match-maker?

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