A lively excursion into the new, and still disputed, field of Evolutionary Psychology.
In this introduction, Miller, who died at age 44 of Hodgkin’s Disease before the book’s completion, and Kanazawa ask readers to examine the life choices they’ve made and re-cast them as evolutionary destiny. A female reader out there may remember the time she tried to dye her hair blonde and came out looking like Ronald McDonald, while a male might cast his mind back to the night he got drunk on Jim Beam and swore to go out looking for the bastard who stole his woman away. In fact, think of almost any foolish, or even sensible, thing you’ve ever done, and the authors would explain it as the result of the irresistible force of sexual selection, a cornerstone of the arguments underlying Evolutionary Psychology. Why do women want to be blonde? Because, argue the authors, men prefer to mate with blonde women. Why do men prefer to mate with blonde women? Because hair darkens as it ages, and so blonde hair (pre-Clairol) is a sign of youth, and therefore greater fertility and health. Why do men want to perpetrate violence on sexual rivals? Because men are forever less certain of the paternity of a child than women can be of the maternity, and to care for a child not of your own lineage is to let your genes die with you. While the explanations often feel more like elaborate exercises in logic than true science (after all, blondes are not indigenous to all parts of the world, so cultural forces must come into play somewhere), the authors do maintain a peppy, sly tone throughout the book, making each explanation (to questions such as, “Why is Sexual Harassment so Persistent?” and “Why are diamonds a girl’s best friend?”) interesting, if not entirely persuasive. The tone sometimes shifts toward an exasperated defensiveness, but because this is a relatively new, still hotly contested discipline, perhaps this is to be expected.
Provocative, entertaining and often wholly unconvincing.