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Sex, Mutations, and Marketing
- The Nature and Culture of Mental Fitness Indicators
With Harald Eia
Sunday 30 August 18:30
Landmark kunstkafé, Rasmus Meyers Alle, by Lille Lungegårdsvann
Evolution happens because DNA copies itself very accurately, but not perfectly.
Copying errors called mutations arise; a few are helpful but
most are harmful. To minimize the number of harmful mutations in offspring,
sexual reproduction and mate choice evolved.
Animals choose their sexual
partners for various 'fitness indicators' - sometimes physical ornaments
such as the peacock's tail; sometimes mental capacities such as human
language, creativity, humor, art, and music. These traits evolved not just
for survival benefits, but because prehistoric men and women both favored
them as reliable signals of good genes, good brains, and good mental health.
In this talk, Miller will review the theory and evidence concerning these 'mental
fitness indicators', and their connections to the evolutionary genetics of
intelligence, personality traits, moral virtues, and mental disorders.
Finally, he will discuss how modern humans try unconsciously to display their fitness
indicators through conspicuous consumption. The nature of human
trait-display is now being shaped mainly by the culture of marketing, and
the more clearly we understand this, the more leverage we have for improving society.
is an evolutionary psychologist and professor at the University of New Mexico, USA. He has authored
The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
(2001) on mate choice in humans. His main point is that sexual selection has been the driver behind the development of mental abilities
such as language, humour, art, etc. In his most recent book
Spent: Sex, Evolution, and the Secrets of Consumerism
(2009) he shows how modern consumerism fits into this picture.
is just now finishing the production of a TV-show - Brainwash - which criticizes the lack of
evolutionary analysis within the social sciences. Eia will discuss evolutionary psycholocy with Miller - and with the audience.