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Is Golf Natural for Men?

  1. Aug 4, 2003 #1


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    Is love of golf an inherited trait? Did it evolve as a response to the existential boredom that men experience, but women do not?

    I haven't done a scientific study, but thought I would pass on anecdotal results. Every time I play golf, I notice that the course is about 90% men (that would leave the other 10% as women). Obviously a statistically significant difference, and one which I feel is cross-cultural. For example, even the primitive natives of the tiny Pacific island of Fiji are accomplished world-class golfers (for example, Vijay Singh).

    So the real point:

    A new study Is infidelity natural for men? is another example of bad science. As is common for many studies of human behavior - and the nature/nurture debate especially - this one misses the boat on 2 counts:

    a. No hypothetical causal mechanism is identified (i.e. where is the necessary "unfaithful" gene in men, and which cells is it expressed in that are unique to men?)
    b. No independent variable is identified (i.e. the results relate to biology, and not other factors which can be learned)

    From the article:

    "This study provides the largest and most comprehensive test yet conducted on whether the sexes differ in the desire for sexual variety,” wrote lead researcher David P. Schmitt, an evolutionary psychologist at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. “The results are strong and conclusive — the sexes differ, and these differences appear to be universal."

    "It is the first systematic, massive, scientific study of these sex differences,” said David M. Buss, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Texas in Austin who wrote “The Evolution of Desire.” Calling the Schmitt paper definitive, Buss said, “The evidence he presents is irrefutable."

    Schmitt thinks the roots of the differences his study found lie in ancient hunter-gatherer societies. Men who sought sexual variety had a greater chance of passing on their genes — and their promiscuous proclivities. Women who kept their mates improved the chances of raising children and were more likely to pass on their genes — and their monogamous proclivities.

    My conclusion: "Men behaving badly" are men behaving badly, no matter how you spin it. We are responsible for our actions. And if "infidelity" is inherited, this study does nothing to demonstrate that it is

    It is time to start calling studies like this for what they are. It's bad science if it does nothing to distinguish the desire for men to be unfaithful from the desire to play golf. Or maybe someone will "prove" that in the few hundred years that golf has existed, humanity has evolved around the need for a little white ball.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2003 #2
    Well I don't disagree with the findings but I do disagree with the idea that women do not have a propensity for sexual infidelity. Recent surveys have bourne that out. From what I recall, 52% of men and 47% of women are unfaithful to their partners. I believe the survey was conducted in America or a selection of Western countries. In terms of reproductive opportunities, it makes sense for both sides to cheat. Men cheat to increase the quantity of off spring they produce and women do so to increase the quality.

    From the article:

    While this is partly true, there is no good reason that women cannot try to have the best of both worlds. Eg. A loving faithful partner who raises children that are not his own and are genetically superior to those that she would have concieved with him. In another study performed in England, it was discovered that 25% of men were caring for children that were not biologically their own. It was also found that women engaging in adultery were more likely to orgasm thus increasing the chances of fertilisation by her extra-marital lover.

    An "infidelity gene", if there is such a thing, should reside in both men and women. However, the gene is likely to be expressed differently in each.

    Is this (and the article) an excuse for unfaithfulness? Well you can certainly read it that way. The fact is that there is certain genetically driven behaviour in humans that we might not like. Behaviour that we find morally questionable. Unfortunately for the people who have trouble accepting it that doesn't make it any less true.
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