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"See Mankind's First Bikini!"

(advertising for film '1,000,000 years B.C.' starring Raquel Welch)

Much has been written on genetic behaviourist theory, even in this, our own esteemed tomelet. Most of it is utter bollocks. Here's why. For the sake of ease, conventional/popular gene behavioural theory will be referred to as sociobiology.

One area of weakness in sociobiology is evidence. Where is it? Much is made of "in prehistoric times", "in a hunter-gatherer society" and such phrases. Let's think about that word "prehistoric". It means, perhaps unsurprisingly, pre-historic. So the evidence is hardly comprehensive or conclusive. Yet massive assumptions are made from cave paintings. It's like trying to understand the twentieth century by examining some Andy Warhol paintings and our cemeteries - there are some truths there, but you're unlikely to stumble on them, and if you do then you can't be sure of them.

There is considerable doubt, academic and otherwise, that prehistoric people lived in the conventional hunter-gatherer society, where men dashed off to kill large meaty carpets and women collected berries, nurtured the young and swept the caves. Some tribes were vegetarian and genders shared the tasks, according to some sources (which I can't be arsed to look up, and I suspect that only SL is still reading, anyway). In some societies a few women maintained a crèche while practically everyone went off to hunt - co-operating in a group, not competing, and there is no evidence at all that prehistoric or primitive man competed for mates. None.

On to a great twentieth century axiom: men want to have sex with as many women as possible in order to propagate; women want to find a mate for life to help look after the children by hunting for food. It's in our natures; we can't help it. This is one of the all-time great excuses/lies, explaining rape and adultery by men and timid sexlessness in women. Why is it so compelling? There are alternatives with just as much logical weight, e.g. the man who wishes to father surviving children should find a woman who is likely to make a good mother, and stick to her and the kids like glue, always helping and protecting them; whereas a woman's best chance of getting pregnant is to shag as many men as possible.

Also, if reproduction is paramound we spend a hell of a lot of time avoiding it. The usual answer to this is that our primeval urges, e.g. to shag the woman next door, are subsumed into more sophisticated urges which really tend towards the same thing, e.g. to stay single, make pots of money, buy a big house and car to impress women, and then shag the woman next door.

This is perhaps more compelling, but reduces the strength of sociobiology. All it then does is explain how our behaviour might be similar to some behaviour millions of years ago, but not the same. It possibly becomes truer, but trivially true rather than informative.

Homosexuality is a real problem for sociobiologists, who come up with such laughable scenarios as: men pretend to be homosexual in order to make themselves more attractive to women, and: men become homosexual because they don't get enough sex from women. There, that should have offended any dyed-in-the-wool poof. Bollocks, isn't it? I have yet to find a satisfactory account of homosexuality within sociobiology.

Incidentally, there are plenty of things that influence our behaviour that have nothing to do with genes, e.g. the weather, whether a virus is flying towards me today, whether a madman is burning my house down, whether I was born in a rich or poor country, and so on.

To sum up: sociobiology is an inadequate and sometimes inaccurate explanation of behaviour. Its language, especially its metaphors, is based on a state of affairs that may never have existed, and does not apply now; certainly there are too many other factors in behaviour for sociobiology to be anything other than a dubious addendum.

Fuck it all, anyway, shoplifting's much more important. Avoid scientists called Richard.

- Jehanine