Is ADHD a Disease of Civilization?

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Many kids we diagnose would be fine hunter-gatherers.

childgroup-c02reducedDuring my two years of research on children among the Kalahari San, or Bushmen, I watched kids scramble over huge termite hills, chase each other around the scrub brush in the savanna, practice dance steps, stop to dig up a tasty tuber, pick some berries, or throw a rock at a hapless bird or turtle which they could then cook and eat. I often wondered how many of them Read more

Wife-Wooing*

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It’s easier when you remember that it’s about love.

contemplator-couple-1b1A posting by Psychology Today blogger Anita Kelly produced a lively discussion (including some prudish comments on masturbation). The basic idea was that your wife is tired and resents you because she does much more of the chores and child care than you. But there also seemed to be an honest recognition of a fact that’s been proven as well as any fact about sex differences: average women desire sex less than average men. (See “Sex Differences in…Sex “). But Dr. Kelly seems to want all the compromises from him: Read more

Epidemic Obesity: Adaptation Gone Wild

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Obesity is unnatural, but it’s natural to try for it.

titian_venus_mirrorThis morning I sat on a panel for medical students; the subject was obesity. Nationally, as anyone who hasn’t been hiding under a rock knows, the picture is not pretty-in fact it’s pretty ugly. By the standard definition, obesity means a Body Mass Index (BMI; weight in kilos over height in meters squared) above 30, and in about 15 years starting in 1990 we went from 22 percent to 33 percent obese.

Now, I don’t care what you call it or Read more

Human Nature in High Places

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Statesmen understand human nature. Why not psychologists and social scientists?

apg_obama_nobel_091009_mn1Most psychologists don’t like human nature, or at least not the idea of it. Clinicians, life coaches, and corporate motivators dislike it because it implies unchangeability. Anyone who took college psychology knows how to modify behavior, from direct instruction to manipulative advertising.

And then, what fool surveying the huge variety of human personalities, needs, and tastes would dream of trying to characterize all that as one thing? Well, some fool might, but not the philosophers, evolutionists, historians and political leaders who have long used the phrase. They’ve always meant something complex, varied, and big-but not limitless.

 Barack Obama, for instance. Read more

Sex Differences in…Sex

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634963_49660373-copyNote: By invitation, I’ve started a blog on the Psychology Today website, and my latest post can be read there or here, although different (and likely more numerous) comments will be  posted there. This entry resembles and updates one I posted here in March 2009, which was followed by an interesting exchange on “insatiable widows” and other cross-cultural myths.

We hear a lot about sex differences, and arguments rage over which are real. Evolutionary theorists weigh in about why this or that difference should be expected, while some anthropologists say cultures vary so much that generalizations are folly. But of all Darwinian predictions about la différence, few are as logical as the one about sex differences in sexuality. Here’s why. Read more

Craig Venter’s “Creation”

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It’s not creation, but it’s a technical achievement full of promise.

To say that Craig Venter’s latest contribution is garnering hype would be one of the understatements of the year.  The paper, whose title begins “Creation of a Bacterial Cell…” was published in the print version of Science on July 2—Daniel Gibson was the first of many authors, Venter the last—but it had already appeared online on May 20 and generated a lot of comment, not least of all by Venter himself. Read more

Barack Obama on War and Human Nature

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Is Barack Obama an evolutionary psychologist?

Since I criticized President Obama’s speech last year in Cairo (and even “rewrote” it) and later pointed out the names and deeds of those who did not get the Nobel Peace Prize because he did, I think it’s only fair that I resume this blog after a long hiatus by writing about his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in December.

I have to say that it stunned me. Read more