God's little rabbits: Religious people out-reproduce secular ones by a landslide
By JESSE BERING - SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
Added: Thu, 30 Dec 2010 14:46:26 UTC
Thanks to Stu Hillman for the link
What’s that famous quote, by Edna St. Vincent Millay? Oh, yes: "I love humanity but I hate people." It’s a sentiment that captures my normal misanthropically tinged type of humanitarianism well, but it roars apropos on some particular occasions. For example, making conversation at the pizza shop in my small village in Northern Ireland one recent evening, the topic turned to what I do for a living. Now, this simple query is usually a hard question for me to answer; when I say I’m a professor, inevitably I’m asked what I teach. When I say psychology, they giggle uncomfortably about their problems or say—as if it’s the most original line—that I’m in the right town for that. When I correct them and say I’m not a clinical psychologist, but a researcher, I have to explain what exactly I research. "Evolutionary psychology" tends to conjure up some bizarre ideas in the non-academic. And so it did on this occasion, as I struggled to articulate the nature of my profession in a cramped pizza parlor with about a half dozen locals eavesdropping on as I did so. Somehow or another, as conversations with me so often do, homosexuality came up as an example of a complex human behavior which evolutionary psychologists try to understand.
I wish I’d had a notebook in hand to scribble down the young employee’s comments word-for-word, so as to provide you with a proper ethnographic account. But here, in a nutshell, is what he very confidently said to me, flavored with the peculiar vernacular flourish found in this part of the world: "Aye. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothin’ against gay people. But what I don’t get is why they’d choose to be selfish and not ‘ave a family and kids-like which is what we’re here for, how’s you’s go against evolution by not continuin’ the line cause you’s can’t help the species without having kids. Just seems selfish-like to me." I replied that, as a gay man myself, it’s not quite as simple as ‘choosing’ not to breed; since women are as arousing to me as that half-eaten pepperoni pizza sitting on that table over there, I said, I couldn’t get an erection to inseminate a woman for the life of me. I do, however, I continued, get a mighty erection by seeing other men’s erections, so therein—I pointed my finger to the heavens for emphasis—lies the true Darwinian mystery! I then took my pizza and left. In haste. And now I’m writing this from Ohio.
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