Posted by: Chris | August 31, 2010

Biology and Destiny, Ctd.

Megan McArdle and Jesse Bering make good points, contra Drs. Ryan and Jetha, regarding how much chimpanzee and early human behavior (and the genetically-determined impulses we’ve inherited from them) should impact modern human behavior.



  1. While I have no problem with most of their critiques, both of them also pile on the “who cares?” bandwagon by mis-characterizing the point (as I understand it, second- and third-hand) of the book. They assert that the book is claiming that certain lifestyles are “right” and others “wrong.” What (I believe) the book claims is that certain modes of behavior cause less psychological strain… which does not inherently make a behavior right or wrong, but certainly is of significance when deciding upon social norms.

  2. I just reread both posts, and to me it does not seem that either make moral claims (nor do they ascribe any moral claims to the authors) and are quite clearly grappling with the authors at the level of their recommendations: that we should adjust our social norms to accomodate greater promiscuity because we are hardwired toward infidelity. Bering and McArdle made the obvious point that we, as infinitely more social creatures than bonobos, have other considerations besides sex drive, to determine behavior, many of which are just as hardwired, thus Ryan and Jetha’s recommendations are quite hollow.

    Also, I believe both, unlike some critics (read: me) have read the book first hand.

  3. […] and Destiny Christopher Ryan responds to Megan McArdle by completely missing the point.  McArdle, etc. made two points, as I see it: a) there are […]

  4. […] echoes the more sociological (as opposed to biological) criticisms posed, by myself and others, to Savage’s compatriots Drs. Jetha and Ryan about the efficacy of trying to […]

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