www.psychologytoday.com -- Megan McArdle Really Hates Sex at Dawn Some people HATE our book! Published on September 1, 2010 "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about." —Oscar Wilde Over the years of cocktail party conversations that proceeded the publication of Sex at Dawn, Cacilda and I have witnessed many reactions to our proposal that monogamy doesn't come naturally to most people. They range from "Yeah, so?" to "How dare you suggest such a thing?" To many—especially those who have no familiarity with evolutionary theory—the notion that sexual monogamy is an uncomfortable fit for most human beings is utterly obvious. "Just look around." they say, "Half the people in this room are divorced, or about to be." Every party has the red-faced, humorless, easily-offended type. Yesterday, at The Atlantic web site, Megan McArdle provided a stellar example. Her comments begin strangely, with the admission that she's "in the middle" of the book. Note the urgency to condemn it publicly, even before reading the damned thing! And boy, does she lash out: • "It reads like horsefeathers . . . like an undergraduate thesis," • "breathless rather than scientific" • "cherry-picked evidence stretched far out of shape to support their theory," • "they don't even attempt to paper over the enormous holes in their theory." Ouch! And that's just the first paragraph. But wait, it gets worse. The second paragraph is worth quoting in full, as it's really a perfect expression of the bug-eyed panic the book provokes in some people: "For example, like a lot of evolutionary biology critiques, this one leans heavily on bonobos (at least so far). Here's the thing: humans aren't like bonobos. And do you know how I know that we are not like bonobos? Because we're not like bonobos. There's no way observed human societies grew out of a species organized along the lines of a bonobo tribe." (emphasis in original) Got that? Humans aren't like bonobos because we're not like bonobos. No way! So there! Case closed. In addition to this somewhat embarassing "reasoning," it's pretty clear Ms. McArdle hasn't read even the first half of the book very closely. Pages 77 and 78 contain a table listing some of the major similarities between humans and bonobos, many of them unique to these two species. Hard to imagine how she managed to miss that. In the discussion of her article, she flatly states that chimps are genetically more closely related to humans than bonobos are, which is not only just plain wrong, it's something we explain very early in the book (along with a graph, no less, on p. 62).
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