Sexual Selection is a Sheltered Feedback Loop

The worlds of academia, high fashion, religion, and modern art produce sublime wonders, and sometimes monstrous absurdities. They can afford such creative freedom because their systems of self-regulation and self-perpetuation are insulated from the mun- dane pragmatics of the outside world. Their autonomy endows them with liberty and creative power. They are free to evolve under their own momentum, along lines of their own choosing, without having to justify themselves at every step to outside critics.

Sexual selection can work similarly. One of sexual selection's central processes allows species to evolve in arbitrary directions under their own momentum. We shall see how this process, Fisher's runaway process, can provide a pretty good first model for how the human mind evolved.

Under natural selection, species adapt to their environments. When the environment refers to a species' physical habitat, this seems simple enough. If a species lives in the Arctic, it had better evolve some warm fur. Under sexual selection, species adapt too, but they adapt to themselves. Females adapt to males, and males adapt to females. Sexual preferences adapt to the sexual ornaments available, and sexual ornaments adapt to sexual preferences.

This can make things quite confusing. In sexual selection, genes do not code just for the adaptations used in courtship, such as sexual ornaments. They also code for the adaptations used in mate choice, the sexual preferences themselves. What the physical environment is to natural selection, sexual preferences are to sexual selection. They are not only the tastes to which sexual ornaments must appeal, but the environment to which they must adapt.

With sexual selection, genes act as both the fashion models and the fashion critics, both the apostates and the inquisitors. This creates the potential for the same kind of feedback loops that drive progress in high fashion and modern theology. These feedback loops are the source of sexual selection's speed, creativity, and unpredictability. Yet they also raise the classic problem of runaway corruption in autarchies: who watches the watchmen? How can mere genes be trusted as both selectors and selectees in evolution under sexual selection? The world of mate choice plays by its own rules, and though survival is a prerequisite for mating (as it is for scholarship, fashion, and faith), the principles of sexual selection cannot be reduced to the principles of survival. The biologist seems to have no point of entry into this protean wonderland where genes build brains and bodies, which pick the genes that build the next generation's brains and bodies, which in turn pick the genes that pick the genes. . .


Genes selecting genes.

Folksonomies: evolution sexual selection

/science/biology (0.571244)
/science/medicine/genetics (0.451040)
/science/biology/zoology/endangered species (0.385985)

sexual selection (0.953939 (positive:0.490038)), sexual ornaments (0.752577 (negative:-0.246086)), sexual preferences (0.732334 (positive:0.138911)), Feedback Loop Genes (0.714598 (positive:0.667594)), mun- dane pragmatics (0.661190 (neutral:0.000000)), mate choice (0.646279 (neutral:0.000000)), high fashion (0.643881 (positive:0.791568)), feedback loops (0.639939 (positive:0.652558)), natural selection (0.638165 (positive:0.580313)), mate choice plays (0.630818 (neutral:0.000000)), monstrous absurdities (0.594724 (positive:0.622983)), sublime wonders (0.587156 (positive:0.638240)), modern art (0.583137 (positive:0.638240)), creative freedom (0.582592 (neutral:0.000000)), runaway process (0.580345 (negative:-0.203574)), arbitrary directions (0.578994 (negative:-0.383761)), creative power (0.578563 (positive:0.767616)), central processes (0.578318 (negative:-0.383761)), good first model (0.577538 (positive:0.539712)), human mind (0.577436 (positive:0.539712)), protean wonderland (0.577290 (positive:0.339454)), adapt (0.576912 (neutral:0.000000)), warm fur (0.575682 (positive:0.541335)), physical habitat (0.575033 (neutral:0.000000)), runaway corruption (0.574380 (negative:-0.505122)), fashion models (0.570572 (neutral:0.000000)), classic problem (0.569133 (negative:-0.505122)), fashion critics (0.568213 (negative:-0.405386)), physical environment (0.567950 (positive:0.652721)), modern theology (0.565696 (positive:0.791568))

mun- dane:Organization (0.807886 (neutral:0.000000)), Fisher:Person (0.676837 (negative:-0.203574)), Arctic:GeographicFeature (0.669898 (neutral:0.000000))

Charles Darwin (0.976685): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Environment (0.899900): dbpedia
Natural selection (0.837269): dbpedia | freebase
Selection (0.809626): dbpedia | freebase
Biology (0.773680): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Evolution (0.763526): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Natural environment (0.712243): dbpedia | freebase
Adaptation (0.653224): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 The Mating Mind
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Miller, Geoffrey (2011-12-21), The Mating Mind, Random House Digital, Inc., Retrieved on 2013-06-24
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: evolution science sexual selection