January 5, 2014
to be posted on nobabie.net

Valerie Foster
Natural Sciences Division
Pasadena College
1570 East Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91006

Dear Dr. Foster:
I read with interest your article (Valerie Foster Exploring the Evolution of Human Mate Preference SCIENCE vol. 342 no. 6162 November 29, 2013 page 1060) I take your point that students think about sex a lot.  As I remember at Harvard Medical School they taught us that a healthy student will think about sex every three minutes or maybe it was every ten.  I’m not sure.  Probably I was thinking about sex at the time.  The inherent interest of the subject I find rather humbling; I write about sex and mate choice all the time with singular lack of response.  Having read your paper a couple of things come to mind.

The first issue is that you teach the evolution of mating preference.  The novelist Samuel Butler said, “A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg.” As far as evolution is concerned a child is only a person’s way of making a grandchild.  So in mating choice fertility of the mate and offspring is the first, nearly the only, issue.

And fertility of both depends on kinship.  If you want the brief version you can look up the summary I recently posted on my web site mentioned above.  At the very least you should glance through it and find the Iceland article by Helgason.  For the long version you could read the whole site, but that is probably a bit much.  None the less, children are the biggest issue there is or ever was for humanity and understanding just who has them and why dwarfs in importance such things as fire, tool use, literacy, language and so forth.  I have for the past ten or fifteen years dropped everything else and pursued this one question alone, not because I am drawn to it but because it is so critical, particularly now when we have a world bursting with babies and a civilization dependent on countries that are dying for lack of babies.  Have any of your students so much as broached the issue of fertility in mate choice at all, much less kinship, fertility and mate choice?

A second question is rather less crucial but gnaws at my soul.  We are told, and I can easily believe, that men are territorial and competitive while women are more social and family oriented.  Over the years as I have sought to bring this matter to the attention of those best suited to understand it and pursue it.  I have had few replies, even few courtesy notes.  Precious few indeed have made any contributor remark or offered to pursue it.  All but one of them have been men.  One woman did her best to spread the word, just one, and she was a poet. 

Now isn’t that odd.  This is the quintessential women’s issue; success in love, marriage and babies.  And networking is a woman’s strength, if we are to believe what we are told.  Yet not a single professional woman I know of has ever muttered it to another.  What do you think is going on?


M. Linton Herbert MD

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