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Old June 23 2013, 12:30 AM   #16
stj
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Re: Study Says Men Are Cause Of Menopause

The human life span is essentially unchanged. It's the average life span that has increased as infant mortality has decreased. People don't really live longer, it's just that more of them live out a normal life span. The fifty and sixty year olds were not old per se, they were older, since so many of their coevals died before five. There is a partial exception, in that exposure to sunlight and loss of teeth had aging effects. Even then, upper class men and women kept their looks much longer, in addition to the benefits of good childhood nutrition on appearance.

As to the cause of menopause, the popular evolutionary psychology "explanation" for menopause is that grandmothers' care for their grand children to perpetuate their genes. The role of menopause is generally supposed to be extending the lifespan of grandmother's by limiting the number of pregnancies, which tend to shorten female lives. Every childbed is a battle. Many battles, more chances to die.

However there is not a scrap of evidence to show that menopause is any more effective than wrinkles in saving older women from the vicissitudes of childbirth. Nor is there any evidence showing that grandmothers are more effective at child care than the ugly aunt (or for that matter, the lesbian aunt or the gay uncle.) There isn't even any evidence that crabby old women are any better at child care than same generation female friends who just cooperate. It has not even been ruled out that menopause is not a side effect of the switch from open ovulation (females in heat) to concealed ovulation. And any hypotheses about menopause's primary effect being the limitation of reproduction are ruled out tout court.

The story is just more EP agitprop. It's being test marketed for popularity, i.e., superficial plausibility as an "explanation." EP theories are handicapped by lack of evidence, so there's inevitably a lot of desperate handwaving like this.

Evolutionary psychology is the new scientific racism. Its perpetrators keep making up stories about how genes mean women really are fundamentally different from men in ways that just so happen to coincide with the backward notions about women they inherited from their childhoods. Instead of wondering whether women as a group aren't subjected to fantastic indoctrination and social pressures that prevent sexual fulfillment, they conclude that women really are naturally less interested in sex because their genes say so. (And you can usually substitute "God" for "genes" without changing the flavor!) Etc. ad nauseam.

I have no doubt that some day, when the time is ripe, EP will sadly conclude that homosexuality really is a developmental disorder instead of a normal variation. They already have the occasional enthusiast rediscovering the validity of racial differences. I also have no doubt this will be a fertile field of research as more suitable circumlocutions are found. I don't think it's much of a science in which progress is based on plausible deniability.
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