the handicap principle a missing piece of darwin s puzzle

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The Handicap Principle

Author : Amotz Zahavi
ISBN : 0198026021
Genre : Science
File Size : 90. 96 MB
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Ever since Darwin, animal behavior has intrigued and perplexed human observers. The elaborate mating rituals, lavish decorative displays, complex songs, calls, dances and many other forms of animal signaling raise fascinating questions. To what degree can animals communicate within their own species and even between species? What evolutionary purpose do such communications serve? Perhaps most importantly, what can animal signaling tell us about our own non-verbal forms of communication? In The Handicap Principle, Amotz and Ashivag Zahavi offer a unifying theory that brilliantly explains many previously baffling aspects of animal signaling and holds up a mirror in which ordinary human behaviors take on surprising new significance. The wide-ranging implications of the Zahavis' new theory make it arguably the most important advance in animal behavior in decades. Based on 20 years of painstaking observation, the Handicap Principle illuminates an astonishing variety of signaling behaviors in animals ranging from ants and ameba to peacocks and gazelles. Essentially, the theory asserts that for animal signals to be effective they must be reliable, and to be reliable they must impose a cost, or handicap, on the signaler. When a gazelle sights a wolf, for instance, and jumps high into the air several times before fleeing, it is signaling, in a reliable way, that it is in tip-top condition, easily able to outrun the wolf. (A human parallel occurs in children's games of tag, where faster children will often taunt their pursuer before running). By momentarily handicapping itself--expending precious time and energy in this display--the gazelle underscores the truthfulness of its signal. Such signaling, the authors suggest, serves the interests of both predator and prey, sparing each the exhaustion of a pointless chase. Similarly, the enormous cost a peacock incurs by carrying its elaborate and weighty tail-feathers, which interfere with food gathering, reliably communicates its value as a mate able to provide for its offspring. Perhaps the book's most important application of the Handicap Principle is to the evolutionary enigma of animal altruism. The authors convincingly demonstrate that when an animal acts altruistically, it handicaps itself--assumes a risk or endures a sacrifice--not primarily to benefit its kin or social group but to increase its own prestige within the group and thus signal its status as a partner or rival. Finally, the Zahavis' show how many forms of non-verbal communication among humans can also be explained by the Handicap Principle. Indeed, the authors suggest that non-verbal signals--tones of voice, facial expressions, body postures--are quite often more reliable indicators of our intentions than is language. Elegantly written, exhaustively researched, and consistently enlivened by equal measures of insight and example, The Handicap Principle illuminates virtually every kind of animal communication. It not only allows us to hear what animals are saying to each other--and to understand why they are saying it--but also to see the enormously important role non-verbal behavior plays in human communication.

Contracts Of Fiction

Author : Ellen Spolsky
ISBN : 9780190232160
Genre : Literary Criticism
File Size : 21. 26 MB
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The Contracts of Fiction reconnects our fictional worlds to the rest of our lives. Countering the contemporary tendency to dismiss works of imagination as enjoyable but epistemologically inert, the book considers how various kinds of fictions construct, guide, and challenge institutional relationships within social groups. The contracts of fiction, like the contracts of language, law, kinship, and money, describe the rules by which members of a group toggle between tokens and types, between their material surroundings - the stuff of daily life - and the abstractions that give it value. Rethinking some familiar literary concepts such as genre and style from the perspective of recent work in the biological, cognitive, and brain sciences, the book displays how fictions engage bodies and minds in ways that help societies balance continuity and adaptability. Being part of a community means sharing the ways its members use stories, pictures, plays and movies, poems and songs, icons and relics, to generate usable knowledge about the people, objects, beliefs and values in their environment. Exposing the underlying structural and processing homologies among works of imagination and life processes such as metabolism and memory, Ellen Spolsky demonstrates the seamless connection of life to art by revealing the surprising dependence of both on disorder, imbalance, and uncertainty. In early modern London, for example, reformed religion, expanding trade, and changed demographics made the obsolescent courts a source of serious inequities. Just at that time, however, a flood of wildly popular revenge tragedies, such as Hamlet, by their very form, by their outrageous theatrical grotesques, were shouting the need for change in the justice system. A sustained discussion of the genre illustrates how biological homeostasis underpins the social balance that we maintain with difficulty, and how disorder itself incubates new understanding.

How Women Got Their Curves And Other Just So Stories

Author : David P. Barash
ISBN : 9780231518390
Genre : Science
File Size : 74. 13 MB
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So how did women get their curves? Why do they have breasts, while other mammals only develop breast tissue while lactating, and why do women menstruate, when virtually no other beings do so? What are the reasons for female orgasm? Why are human females kept in the dark about their own time of ovulation and maximum fertility, and why are they the only animals to experience menopause? David P. Barash and Judith Eve Lipton, coauthors of acclaimed books on human sexuality and gender, discuss the theories scientists have advanced to explain these evolutionary enigmas (sometimes called "Just-So stories" by their detractors) and present hypotheses of their own. Some scientific theories are based on legitimate empirical data, while others are pure speculation. Barash and Lipton distinguish between what is solid and what remains uncertain, skillfully incorporating their expert knowledge of biology, psychology, animal behavior, anthropology, and human sexuality into their entertaining critiques. Inviting readers to examine the evidence and draw their own conclusions, Barash and Lipton tell an evolutionary suspense story that captures the excitement and thrill of true scientific detection.

I Ll Have What She S Having

Author : R. Alexander Bentley
ISBN : 9780262297981
Genre : Psychology
File Size : 28. 4 MB
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Humans are, first and foremost, social creatures. And this, according to the authors of I'll Have What She's Having, shapes -- and explains -- most of our choices. We're not just blindly driven by hard-wired instincts to hunt or gather or reproduce; our decisions are based on more than "nudges" exploiting individual cognitive quirks.I'll Have What She's Having shows us how we use the brains of others to think for us and as storage space for knowledge about the world. The story zooms out from the individual to small groups to the complexities of populations. It describes, among other things, how buzzwords propagate and how ideas spread; how the swine flu scare became an epidemic; and how focused social learning by a few gets amplified as copying by the masses. It describes how ideas, behavior, and culture spread through the simple means of doing what others do.It is notoriously difficult to change behavior. For every "Yes We Can" political slogan, there are thousands of "Just Say No" buttons. I'll Have What She's Having offers a practical map to help us navigate the complex world of social behavior, an essential guide for anyone who wants to understand how people behave and how to begin to change things.

Homo Mysterious

Author : David P. Barash
ISBN : 9780199910793
Genre : Science
File Size : 55. 17 MB
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For all that science knows about the living world, notes David P. Barash, there are even more things that we don't know, genuine evolutionary mysteries that perplex the best minds in biology. Paradoxically, many of these mysteries are very close to home, involving some of the most personal aspects of being human. Homo Mysterious examines a number of these evolutionary mysteries, exploring things that we don't yet know about ourselves, laying out the best current hypotheses, and pointing toward insights that scientists are just beginning to glimpse. Why do women experience orgasm? Why do men have a shorter lifespan than women? Why does homosexuality exist? Why does religion exist in virtually every culture? Why do we have a fondness for the arts? Why do we have such large brains? And why does consciousness exist? Readers are plunged into an ocean of unknowns--the blank spots on the human evolutionary map, the terra incognita of our own species--and are introduced to the major hypotheses that currently occupy scientists who are attempting to unravel each puzzle (including some solutions proposed here for the first time). Throughout the book, readers are invited to share the thrill of science at its cutting edge, a place where we know what we don't know, and, moreover, where we know enough to come up with some compelling and seductive explanations. Homo Mysterious is a guide to creative thought and future explorations, based on the best, most current thinking by evolutionary scientists. It captures the allure of the "not-yet-known" for those interested in stretching their scientific imaginations.

The Moral Arc

Author : Michael Shermer
ISBN : 9780805096934
Genre : Science
File Size : 49. 27 MB
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Bestselling author Michael Shermer's exploration of science and morality that demonstrates how the scientific way of thinking has made people, and society as a whole, more moral From Galileo and Newton to Thomas Hobbes and Martin Luther King, Jr., thinkers throughout history have consciously employed scientific techniques to better understand the non-physical world. The Age of Reason and the Enlightenment led theorists to apply scientific reasoning to the non-scientific disciplines of politics, economics, and moral philosophy. Instead of relying on the woodcuts of dissected bodies in old medical texts, physicians opened bodies themselves to see what was there; instead of divining truth through the authority of an ancient holy book or philosophical treatise, people began to explore the book of nature for themselves through travel and exploration; instead of the supernatural belief in the divine right of kings, people employed a natural belief in the right of democracy. In The Moral Arc, Shermer will explain how abstract reasoning, rationality, empiricism, skepticism--scientific ways of thinking--have profoundly changed the way we perceive morality and, indeed, move us ever closer to a more just world.

Facing Social Class

Author : Susan T. Fiske
ISBN : 9781610447812
Genre : Social Science
File Size : 43. 72 MB
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Many Americans, holding fast to the American Dream and the promise of equal opportunity, claim that social class doesn't matter. Yet the ways we talk and dress, our interactions with authority figures, the degree of trust we place in strangers, our religious beliefs, our achievements, our senses of morality and of ourselves—all are marked by social class, a powerful factor affecting every domain of life. In Facing Social Class, social psychologists Susan Fiske and Hazel Rose Markus, and a team of sociologists, anthropologists, linguists, and legal scholars, examine the many ways we communicate our class position to others and how social class shapes our daily, face-to-face interactions—from casual exchanges to interactions at school, work, and home. Facing Social Class exposes the contradiction between the American ideal of equal opportunity and the harsh reality of growing inequality, and it shows how this tension is reflected in cultural ideas and values, institutional practices, everyday social interactions, and psychological tendencies. Contributor Joan Williams examines cultural differences between middle- and working-class people and shows how the cultural gap between social class groups can influence everything from voting practices and political beliefs to work habits, home life, and social behaviors. In a similar vein, Annette Lareau and Jessica McCrory Calarco analyze the cultural advantages or disadvantages exhibited by different classes in institutional settings, such as those between parents and teachers. They find that middle-class parents are better able to advocate effectively for their children in school than are working-class parents, who are less likely to challenge a teacher's authority. Michael Kraus, Michelle Rheinschmidt, and Paul Piff explore the subtle ways we signal class status in social situations. Conversational style and how close one person stands to another, for example, can influence the balance of power in a business interaction. Diana Sanchez and Julie Garcia even demonstrate that markers of low socioeconomic status such as incarceration or unemployment can influence whether individuals are categorized as white or black—a finding that underscores how race and class may work in tandem to shape advantage or disadvantage in social interactions. The United States has one of the highest levels of income inequality and one of the lowest levels of social mobility among industrialized nations, yet many Americans continue to buy into the myth that theirs is a classless society. Facing Social Class faces the reality of how social class operates in our daily lives, why it is so pervasive, and what can be done to alleviate its effects.

Animal Signaling And Function

Author : Duncan J. Irschick
ISBN : 9781118966600
Genre : Science
File Size : 27. 98 MB
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The diversity of animal signals has been widely documented, and the generality of animal signals also tantalizingly suggests that there are common mechanisms that have selected for their origin. However, while much progress has been made on some fronts, we still lack a general theory about why the diversity of signaling structures exist. Our compilation will directly address this gap by focusing on an exciting new arena of sexual selection, namely using functional approaches to understand signaling. This approach is rooted in the idea that many signals are designed to transmit important functional imformation that is both important for issues of male quality (and hence male competition), and female choice. The increasing use of technology in sexual selection studies has enabled researchers to test whether signaling is either constrained by, or accurately transmits information about functional capacities. Further, in animals that fight vigorously, functional capacities such as endurance or strength may make the difference between winning and losing. This volume brings together a diverse collection of researchers who are actively investigating how function and signaling are related. These researchers use both a variety of methods and taxa to study animal signaling, and we believe that this integrative view is important to open up fresh vistas for why animal signals have evolved.

Applied Evolutionary Psychology

Author : S. Craig Roberts
ISBN : 9780199586073
Genre : Business & Economics
File Size : 88. 80 MB
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This is the first book to overtly consider how basic evolutionary thinking is being applied to a wide range of special social, economic, and technical problems. It draws together a collection of renowned academics from a very disparate set of fields, whose common interest lies in using evolutionary thinking to inform their research.

Animal Signals

Author : John Maynard Smith
ISBN : 0198526857
Genre : Nature
File Size : 41. 65 MB
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Why are animal signals reliable? This is the central problem for evolutionary biologists interested in signals. Of course, not all signals are reliable; but most are, otherwise receivers of signals would ignore them. A number of theoretical answers have been proposed and empirical studies made, but there still remains a considerable amount of confusion. The authors, one a theoretician the other a fieldworker, introduce a sense of order to this chaos. A significant cause of confusion has been the tendency for different researchers to use either the same term with different meanings, or different terms with the same meaning. The authors attempt to clarify these differences. A second cause of confusion has arisen because many biologists continue to assume that there is only one correct explanation for signal reliability. The authors argue that the reliability of signals is maintained in several ways, relevant in different circumstances, and that biologists must learn to distinguish between them. In this book they explain the different theories, give examples of signalling systems to which one or another theory applies, and point to the many areas where further work, both theoretical and empirical, is required.

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