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Sunday, 24 July 2011

High end products of human sexual selection, and how they provide diversity

We might think things such as laptops and bikinis are simply the result of human intelligence, but they are not. Human intelligence enables these things to be made, but that is true for toilet rolls and portable toilets, too. The difference is that some things are made to be better than anything else, and to gain popular support. Yes, they do have nice-smelling toilet rolls with Winnie the Pooh sketched on them, but what I am talking about are big, industrial productions of artificial things which are highly selected. This can be seen in the competition for smartphone dominance between iPhone and Android for example, or in the fashion industry between all the big names.

What makes an item better than another? Its suitability to the environment and likelihood to succeed. Put simply, the same things which make some species dominate a habitat, and some individuals outperform others. And of course, the drive behind selecting which traits are thought best, is the same, Sexual Selection. Why sexual? Because these traits are merely bets, just like Apple bet that people needed what they never knew they did: such thing as an "iPad". People often select things without enough evidence they will succeed or not, and that is what sexual selection is all about. To a teenager, perhaps, a style of clothing may bring them friends or dates, but on the other hand it might make them a loser. If such things were easy to predict, selection wouldn't even be needed, and that would reduce diversity which renders a species more vulnerable to unforeseeable selection pressures of the future.

For example, if all humans were to decide that Buddhism is the best religion, and all live the same lifestyle, future selection pressures that would go against Buddhism e.g. require war with armies and guns, would be overwhelming. So as they say, people don't put all their eggs in the same basket. But we do so without realising.

The manufacturing of such diverse objects satisfies our inner drive to strive for whatever we think is best, and to be able to select it. The selection tool in this case is either building these things, or purchasing them. Someone who hates Apple will not work for them, but instead will help their competitor, Windows Phone. As the saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The product must adapt to its environment, so the reason some have touch screens is because people use their fingers to manipulate things. The reason behind a rail application is that people travel frequently. Apps which correctly predict the most popular needs (information, entertainment, organising, etc) are the most successful, just like features which are best adapted to the environment become dominant, for example the ability to use complex language to communicate.

Also, the sheer satisfaction, or addiction, of some people when they shop for clothes is linked to being in control (perhaps as a result of losing control of some other aspect in life), and being able to make personal selection decisions. Those who don't enjoy clothes shopping may place their bets when selecting their next smartphone or laptop, furniture, holidays and so on.

Yet this drive, the sex drive, shows a significant development during the teenage years, and stems from childhood which can have an impact on the direction it leads to. The reason behind children being perceived as "innocent" is the subconscious thought that children cannot select anything innately, and that outside influence will determine their outcome. After all, if this weren't true, then why would parents impose their own selections on their children, as if they are blank canvases? Maybe they are; find out more in the next post, Sexual Selection in Children and Teenagers.

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