seven habits of ineffectual people

2/27/08

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God knows I hate salacious articles more than most people – it seems like the only pieces getting published these days are ill-thought-out rants with catchy titles (and I should know). However, it’s always awesome when a salacious article gets put out by Psychology Today, and it’s even awesomer when it’s backed up with vague research.

Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature is just such an article, the kind of piece that can really fuck up a dinner conversation if that’s what you have in mind. Give it a read, because I’m going to write more about it tomorrow, but I’ll give you the ten statements it proffers right off the bat:

1. Men like blond bombshells (and women want to look like them).

2. Humans are naturally polygamous.

3. Most women benefit from polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy.

4. Most suicide bombers are Muslim.

5. Having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce.

6. Beautiful people have more daughters.

7. What Bill Gates and Paul McCartney have in common with criminals.

8. The midlife crisis is a myth—sort of.

9. It’s natural for politicians to risk everything for an affair (but only if they’re male).

10. Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist.

After reading this piece, I cut and pasted an entire paragraph, yanked it up to 24-point font, printed it out and stuck it on our bulletin board. I will buy a nice, neat, ancient dram of scotch for anyone who reads the article and can guess the right paragraph. (Hint: I don’t think it’s entirely obvious.)

0 thoughts on “seven habits of ineffectual people

  1. mom

    About
    “5. Having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce.”
    I know it’s just an anecdotal part of this particular item and all, but where were you and your three brothers when…
    Never mind.

    Reply
  2. jon

    Here’s my guess: “Women often say no to men. Men have had to conquer foreign lands, win battles and wars, compose symphonies, author books, write sonnets, paint cathedral ceilings, make scientific discoveries, play in rock bands, and write new computer software in order to impress women so that they will agree to have sex with them. Men have built (and destroyed) civilization in order to impress women, so that they might say yes.”
    Or is that too obvious to have been the correct answer?

    Reply
  3. Bill

    I’m guessing this is the money quote…
    “Physical attractiveness, while a universally positive quality, contributes even more to women’s reproductive success than to men’s. The generalized hypothesis would therefore predict that physically attractive parents should have more daughters than sons. Once again, this is the case. Americans who are rated “very attractive” have a 56 percent chance of having a daughter for their first child, compared with 48 percent for everyone else.”

    Reply
  4. caveman

    “In the physical competition for mates, those who are competitive may act violently toward their male rivals. Men who are less inclined toward crime and violence may express their competitiveness through their creative activities.”

    Reply
  5. Neva

    Abuse, intimidation, and degradation are all part of men’s repertoire of tactics employed in competitive situations. In other words, men are not treating women differently from men—the definition of discrimination, under which sexual harassment legally falls—but the opposite: Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women.
    I don’t think this is what you picked, but it’s what I would pick. To paraphrase it – men are jerks to everyone – not just you, lady.
    I can’t believe you are giving much creedence to this pop psychology bullshit, Ian. Everyone has a theory and can manipulate stats to prove it – didn’t we learn this from Freakanomics and it’s ilk?

    Reply
  6. Neva

    FYI – for all you other spelling impaired, just learned that credence has only one e, unless you are John Fogerty.
    Also, Ian, thanks for teaching me about polygany vs. polygamy.. didn’t know the difference before I looked it up. Again, I learn so much from xtcian!

    Reply
  7. Drake

    My vote:
    A single theory can explain the productivity of both creative geniuses and criminals over the life course: Both crime and genius are expressions of young men’s competitive desires, whose ultimate function in the ancestral environment would have been to increase reproductive success.
    ===============================
    I chose this because I’m still on the fence as to whether you, Ian, are a genius or a criminal. ;)

    Reply
  8. Anne

    So, yeah, you two hotties produced a girl for your firstborn. That was easy! :-)
    I subscribe to evolutionary explanations for human behaviors, so many of the authors’ points, and especially this (below), make perfect sense to me.
    “What distinguishes Bill Clinton is not that he had extramarital affairs while in office—others have, more will; it would be a Darwinian puzzle if they did not—what distinguishes him is the fact that he got caught.”
    However, I do not assume that humans are powerless to modify encoded self-interested behaviors when it is in their interests, or the interest of society, to do so. (Thus: One can remain faithful in a long-term relationship even though it goes against one’s instincts.)

    Reply
  9. Matt

    It wouldn’t be this paragraph, I’m sure.
    “It is the combination of polygyny and the promise of a large harem of virgins in heaven that motivates many young Muslim men to commit suicide bombings. Consistent with this explanation, all studies of suicide bombers indicate that they are significantly younger than not only the Muslim population in general but other (nonsuicidal) members of their own extreme political organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. And nearly all suicide bombers are single.”

    Reply
  10. Matt

    I don’t know if I’d agree with this:
    “Abuse, intimidation, and degradation are all part of men’s repertoire of tactics employed in competitive situations. In other words, men are not treating women differently from men — the definition of discrimination, under which sexual harassment legally falls — but the opposite: Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women.”
    Perhaps in some cases, but I don’t know any guys who go around commenting about how callipygious their male colleagues are in an effort to compete against them.

    Reply
  11. craighill

    What distinguishes Bill Clinton is not that he had extramarital affairs while in office—others have, more will; it would be a Darwinian puzzle if they did not—what distinguishes him is the fact that he got caught.

    Reply
  12. Piglet

    Don’t know what you picked, but here’s what I would display:
    “Women often say no to men. Men have had to conquer foreign lands, win battles and wars, compose symphonies, author books, write sonnets, paint cathedral ceilings, make scientific discoveries, play in rock bands, and write new computer software in order to impress women so that they will agree to have sex with them. Men have built (and destroyed) civilization in order to impress women, so that they might say yes. ”
    Kinda sums up our lives, don’t it?

    Reply
  13. Hen Pecked Big Ben

    I’d choose the paragraph that included this quote: “Their productivity–expressions of their genius–quickly peaks in early adulthood, and then equally quickly declines throughout adulthood.”
    How long are you going to make us wait to tell us the right answer?

    Reply
  14. ken

    Doesn’t get more salacious than this:
    Until very recently, it was a mystery to evolutionary psychology why men prefer women with large breasts, since the size of a woman’s breasts has no relationship to her ability to lactate. But Harvard anthropologist Frank Marlowe contends that larger, and hence heavier, breasts sag more conspicuously with age than do smaller breasts. Thus they make it easier for men to judge a woman’s age (and her reproductive value) by sight—suggesting why men find women with large breasts more attractive.
    I’m a Laphroaig man, by the way…15 Year. It’s like drinking a peaty campfire.

    Reply
  15. Matt

    That’s an interesting part, Ken.
    “[M]en may prefer women with large breasts for the same reason they prefer women with small waists. A new study of Polish women shows that women with large breasts and tight waists have the greatest fecundity, indicated by their levels of two reproductive hormones (estradiol and progesterone).”
    Why can’t it simply be because they’re fun to play with?

    Reply
  16. Steph Mineart

    If I’m not mistaken, this article (and the book it came from) have been debunked as junk science without reproducible studies attached somewhere out there on the internets. I remember some of the writing in it pretty vividly.

    Reply
  17. Salem

    For Humor, the “promise of 72 virgins” paragraph. Having a pair of Klipsh Horns, beer funnel, and girly drinks for Sorority girls and Ian………maybe. But strapping on a bomb to get to third base? too funny.
    As a cautionary tale, the “Midlife crisis” paragraph.
    For Ian, the boobie size paragraph. (see Klipsh Horns)

    Reply

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