Sperm Wars, 10th anniversary edition: Infidelity, Sexual Conflict, and Other Bedroom Battles Paperback – 3 Jan 2006
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A 10th-anniversary edition of the controversial book that jolted the biological community and provided the scientific basis for women's empowerment
About the Author
Robin Baker is a bestselling author in the field of sexual biology. From 1980-96 he was Reader in Zoology in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Manchester, and he has over a hundred scientific papers and magazine articles to his name. His work and ideas on the evolution of human behaviour have been featured in many television and radio programs around the world.
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Top customer reviews
The book is engaging, and well written, being written in a format unlike anything I have come across previously. It's basically several 'case studies' which are fictional hypothetical situations, with a formal analysis of the behaviour exhibited afterwards.
My main criticism of the book, and why I didn't give it a 5-star rating is because A - I was familiar with a few of the concepts discussed prior to reading the book, so despite most of the book consisting of theories that were new to me, some of them were very basic, and thus didn't really need to be discussed in the depth they were. B - The main concepts the author comes up with are repeated over and over again throughout each chapter; it was obviously written with the intention of being understood by the average adult, but the repetition became monotonous.
It IS worth a read though, and for the price it's a good deal.
Sperm Wars leads us through a series of fictional sexual scenarios - and goes on to comment on them from a biological and evolutionary viewpoint - and their impact on the people involved. The scenarios are close to home - and the conclusions are hard hitting, uncomfortable and scientific - all at the same time.
This book gives the reader a unique and unromanticised view into the world of sex, and sexual selection - both in the human animal, and the rest of the animal kingdom in general. For all those who enjoyed the "Battle of the Sexes" chapter in Dawkin's Selfish Gene - this is the book for you. In fact, this is the book for anyone who is remotely interested in male and female sexual behaviour - but can probably only be fully appreciated in the light of Dawkin's book.
All in all, brilliant.
[Of course, to many social scientists, sociobiology already has a bad name. This is why the term is now rarely used and euphemisms such as behavioural ecology and evolutionary psychology were invented. I use the term sociobiology advisedly, because many of Baker's claims deal with physiology rather than psychology or behaviour and therefore, strictly speaking, fall outside the purview of behavioural ecology and psychology.]
Among the most familiar of the many charges levelled against evolutionary psychology are, firstly, that evolutionary psychologists spin speculative untested (or even untestable) 'just-so stories', and, secondly, that evolutionary psychologists are 'ultra-Darwinians' or 'Darwinian fundamentalists' who view every human trait as necessarily adaptive.
In general, these charges have little merit. However, Sperm Wars, is the exception that proves the rule. For once, both these charges have merit. Yet Baker presents his material for a mass non-specialist readership without giving a hint of how speculative and untested his ideas are.
Lack of References
As an avid reader of popular science, I have a prejudice against those examples of the genre which do not make even a perfunctory attempt to provide references or sources.
Acknowledging the absence of references, Baker refers interested readers (xv-xvi) to Human Sperm Competition: Copulation, Masturbation and Infidelity which he co-authored with Mark Bellis. This work is, indeed, comprehensively referenced and covers all the material in 'Sperm Wars'. However, it is also very expensive.
However, many of the papers authored by Baker and Bellis describing the research upon which the current book is based are now available in Sperm Competition in Humans: Classic and Contemporary Readings, a recent and reasonably priced collection, which also includes papers critiquing of Baker and Bellis's claims as well as the important 1984 theoretical paper on human sperm competition by Robert Smith that presumably inspired Baker and Bellis's own research.
Baker claims "worldwide... about 10% of children are in fact not sired by the man who thinks he is their father" and that "this is also the level found in Western industrial societies" (p60).
In support, Baker cites the level of misattributed paternity reported by child support agencies. However, child support agencies only test for paternity where this is already in doubt and therefore constitute an unrepresentative sample.
Actually, rates of misassigned paternity are now known to be less sensational, at least for Western societies (Bellis et al 2005; Gilding 2005).
Indeed, rampant misassigned paternity as envisaged by Baker would be problematic from a Darwinian perspective since it would raise the question of why putative 'fathers' have evolved to heavily invest in their ostensible offspring, when the latter are so often wrongly identified.
This does not mean that sperm competition has played no part in human evolution. On the contrary, both male physiology and male psychology show evidence of adaptations to counter female infidelity (e.g. testicle size and male sexual jealousy). It does, however, suggest that sperm competition has played a lesser role in human evolution than some of Baker's more outlandish speculations seem to presuppose.
Baker's best-known and most controversial claim has been termed 'the Kamikaze sperm hypothesis'.
Whereas sperm competition is usually conceived as entailing solely scramble competition, Baker suggests that contest competition is also involved. He envisages that some sperm are designed, not for fertilising an eggs, but rather for preventing the sperm of rival males from so doing.
In first positing this theory, Baker and Bellis (1988) pointed to sperm polymorphism. Large number of sperm ("up to 40% in normal humans") are apparently malformed. Given that there is likely to be strong selective pressure for fertile and competitive ejaculates, Baker and Bellis (1989) persuasively contend, rather than being dismissed as malformed mutants, "such consistent and abundant structures demand an adaptive explanation".
Their claim that "sperm such as those with two heads or tails etc." are "morphologically adapted for intertwining and barrier formation" seems intuitively plausible and is supported by their observation that such sperm are disproportionately concentrated in the 'copulatory plugs' of bats (i.e. barriers of seminal fluid which are designed to block ejaculations from rival males from accessing the female’s ova).
However, Harcourt (1989) suggests that the disproportionate concentration of malformed sperm in the copulatory plugs of bats may reflect, not specialisation for this role, but rather simply the impaired swimming ability of malformed sperm which are unable to swim free.
Harcourt also showed that the relative proportions of malformed sperm contained in the ejaculates of different species of ape did not positively correlate with the level of sperm competition observed in that species. Thus, gorillas, whose females usually mate with only a single male per cycle, have higher levels of sperm polymorphy than do chimps and bonobos, whose females are highly promiscuous (see Dixson 2009: p47-8).
In response, Baker and Bellis (1989) make the radical suggestion that "egg-getters may be the least, not the most, common sperm in an ejaculate and thus cannot simply be equated with the 'normal' morph". On the contrary, "the possibility that egg-getters belong to a less common structural type than the normal morph should at least be born in mind".
In other words, it may be the sperm with two tails or two heads that are actually the ones specialized for fertilization.
The problem with this argument is that it undercuts Baker and Bellis's previous arguments. For example, if the sperm with extra heads and tails are actually the ones specialised for fertilisation, then the disproportionate concentration of such sperm in copulatory plugs is converted from evidence for Baker and Bellis's theory into evidence against it.
Even more controversial than the notion of 'blocker' sperm is that of so-called 'killer sperm', which purportedly detect the presence of sperm from different males inside the reproductive tract of females by "comparing the surface chemicals" on their own heads with those of their rivals, then jabbing the rival sperm with "corrosive poison".
Among the many problems with this theory is the issue of how sperm detect whether a sperm which they encounter is from the ejaculate of a rival male.
Detection by genetic markers is implausible. Given that each sperm contains only half of the genes of the male from whom it originates, even sperm from the same male differ genetically from one another. Therefore, warfare between genetically-dissimilar sperm could begin in a male's own testicles. Detection of whether sperm are from rival ejaculates or not on the basis of genetic markers is therefore problematic (Pound et al 2006: 24).
However, Baker seems to envision that sperm from the same male are detected by a shared chemical marker rather than direct detection of genetic similarity. Even so, Baker and Bellis's theory requires that this form of sperm possess a marker, a detection mechanism and a mechanism of disabling rival sperm, all in a single-celled sperm.
As for empirical evidence supporting the existence of killer sperm, in 'Human Sperm Competition: Copulation, Masturbation and Infidelity', Baker and Bellis report that there were greater levels of sperm mortality when the ejaculates from two different males were mixed together in the laboratory than when ejaculates were unmixed.
Moore et al (1999) failed to replicate this finding. However, Moore et al failed to perfectly replicate the conditions of the original experiment. Whereas Baker and Bellis reported that the effects they observed occurred three to six hours after ejaculates from different males had been mixed, Moore et al conducted their analyses after only three hours.
Moore et al justified this methodological departure on the grounds that a three-hour time frame was "more biologically realistic", since sperm usually leave the vagina after one to three hours and, having left the vagina, "occur at much lower concentrations" in more advanced parts of the reproductive tract, such that "there is therefore much less opportunity for direct sperm-sperm contact". However, Pound et al (2006: p24) and Goetz et al (2007) suggest that it is possible that the majority of sperm competition takes place in the cervix and uterus where sperm could interact for a longer duration.
Even accepting their rationale as theoretically sound, it is regrettable that Moore et al did not follow the standard scientific procedure of attempting to perfectly replicate the conditions of the original experiment. Even if it is biologically implausible that interactions between ejaculates continue beyond three hours in real world conditions, a finding of higher sperm mortality after six hours would still represent a perplexing finding demanding an explanation of some sort.
Moore et al also chemically labelled the spermsfrom different males to determine whether, when mixed, the sperm from different males are more likely to aggregate with one another, as would be expected if sperm were 'waging war', or seeking to impede one another. They found no evidence that this occurred.
However, Baker, in a blog response, has suggested that the process of chemically labelling the sperm may have interfered with the sperm's own method of recognising sperm from different males.
Overall, the claim that sperm are specialised to engage in contest competition inside the female reproductive tract remain, at best, unproven. Further research would surely be more productively spent analysing the ejaculates of non-human species whose mating systems are known to include higher levels of sperm competition (e.g. chimpanzees and bonobos) where such adaptations are more likely to have evolved.
Mastubation and Oral Sex
Masturbation and oral sex are both viewed by Baker as adaptations. Baker views male masturbation as a means of expelling elderly and dying sperm and female masturbation as a means of influencing sperm retention. Oral sex, meanwhile, is viewed as a means of detecting disease, fertility, fidelity and health through taste and smell. (Female masturbation and oral sex also stimulate orgasm, which Baker claims is adaptive in regulating sperm retention: see below.)
Certainly, sexual behaviour is likely to be subjected to intense selection pressure given its relatively direct impact on reproductive success, the ultimate currency of natural selection. Masturbation appears wasteful and would therefore be selected against unless it conferred some advantage. Yet, although its taboo nature renders its prevalence difficult to assess, masturbation appears to be universal among men.
As Smith (1984) observes, a further factor supporting the claim that male masturbation serves an adaptive function in expelling sperm past their 'shelf life', is that, in the absence of masturbation, nocturnal emissions provide a substitute mechanism.
However, masturbation and oral sex may still be more parsimoniously understood as non-adaptive behaviours which are pleasurable because they simulate intercourse. Besides humans, masturbation has been observed in only a few species, mostly primates (and, even among primates, the practice is common only in captivity).
Masturbation may be a by-product of two characteristics common to primates and especially developed among humans, namely, manual dexterity and a capacity for behavioural innovation – traits which evolved for entirely different purposes.
Manual dexterity may have evolved in the context of tool-use and manufacture and be linked to bipedalism. However, human manual dexterity combined with a capacity for behavioural innovation may have enabled humans (and some primates) to invent an alternative method of achieving (some of) the pleasure associated with intercourse by masturbation.
On this view, rather than itself an adaptation, masturbation and oral sex may be by-products of three other adaptations, namely manual dexterity, the capacity for behavioural innovation and finally the pleasurable sensations associated with sexual stimulation and orgasm.
Certainly, Baker's claim that "there is no intrinsic reason why licking a woman's genitals should stimulate her sexually anymore than stamping on her foot" (p75) is unwarranted. Whereas oral sex (especially fellatio) is a reasonable simulation of intercourse, stamping on a person's foot is likely to result in injury and disability with the potential for adverse impact on the person's reproductive success and is unlikely to be arousing to anyone (even a masochistic foot-fetishist).
[Incidentally, foot-fetishism is one of the few forms sexual behaviour for which Baker does not offer an adaptive explanation. He does, however, offer an adaptive explanation for masochism, claiming that rough-and-tumble sex play evolved to enable women to assess whether a prospective mate has the physical capacity to overcome their resistance, a trait which it is desirable her offspring inherit (p253-5). This might explain why women are paradoxically more likely to remain in a relationship with a male who successfully raped them than with a male whose attempt they rebuffed (Wilson & Durrenberger 1982; Ellis et al 2009) as well as the curious prevalence of rape fantasies among women (Bivona & Critelli 2009). However, it fails to explain why masochism, although one of the few 'paraphilias' common in women as well as men, is apparently more common among men than women – and moreover more common among men than sadism.)
I have argued that Baker is guilty of viewing many human traits as themselves adaptations when a more parsimonious explanation is that they represent non-adaptive by-products of other adaptations. Homosexuality is one trait which Baker acknowledges is non-adaptive, arguing instead that it is a maladaptive by-product of bisexuality. Bisexuality, meanwhile, is, according to Baker, adaptive in providing practice for heterosexual sexual relations and hence facilitating a precocious sexuality and reproductive rate.
In respect of male homosexuality, the primary problem with this theory is that, among men, exclusive homosexuality is far more common than bisexuality (Reiger et al 2005). It is hard to see how homosexuality can be a maladaptive by-product of an adaptive disposition towards bisexuality when the latter is far more common than the former.
Among women, conversely, bisexuality is more common than homosexuality. However, Baker's theory fares no better as an explanation for homosexuality among women since, by Baker's own reckoning, bisexual women begin their lesbian careers rather late, half after the age of twenty-five and nearly a quarter not until they reach thirty (p291). This seems a little late to gain practice in managing one's heterosexual relationships, let alone facilitating a precocious sexuality and reproductive rate, since, by this age, women have already passed the age of peak fertility during which, in ancestral populations, most reproduction would have taken place.
[For a review of more plausible theories relating to the evolutionary paradox of homosexuality: see Born Gay: The Psychobiology of Sex Orientation by Wilson and Rahman. In the present context, is also worth mentioning one recent theory of the evolution of homosexuality, not included in Wilson and Rahman's survey, which draws explicitly on sperm competition theory. Studies have found that men seem to be more aroused by pornographic materials indicating high levels of sperm competition (those featuring multiple males copulating with a single female) (Pound 2002) and, in response to such images, men produce ejaculates containing higher levels of sperm, possibly an adaptive response to cues for the probability of sperm competition (Kilgallon & Simmons 2005). Drawing on this research, it has been suggested that homosexuality may be a by-product of this adaptive tendency to be aroused by the sight of males copulating (see Pound et al 2006: p13-14).]
Baker argues that rape "is a strategy by which a man may increase the number of women who might have his children" (p323).
However, rape itself may be more parsimoniously viewed as a non-adaptive by-product of the greater male desire for commitment-free promiscuous sex as well as men's greater physical strength and willingness to use violence to achieve their ends (see A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion).
Baker also controversially contends that rape resistance functions as, in effect, a mate choice mechanism among females. Thus, “the only way a woman’s body can select out the most successful of rapists is to do everything possible to avoid being raped”, thereby selecting out only “the most cunning, determined and competent of rapists” (p318).
He therefore proposes that women are actually more likely to become pregnant from rape than from consensual sex because successful rapists have successfully proven their fitness by their ability to overcome her resistance. There is indeed some evidence of higher conception rates for rape as compared to consensual intercourse (Gottschall & Gottschall 2003).
This theory might also explain the paradoxical prevalence of rape fantasies among women (Bivona & Critelli 2009), as well as the paradoxical finding that women are more likely to remain in a relationship with a partner who successfully forced himself on them than with a male whose advances they successfully resisted (Wilson & Durrenberger 1982; Ellis et al 2009).
Baker argues that the female orgasm represents an adaptation designed to influence sperm retention. However, no lesser pioneer of the evolutionary psychology of human sexuality than Donald Symons (The Evolution of Human Sexuality) has convincingly argued that the female orgasm is better viewed as a by-product of the male capacity to orgasm – the clitoris thus representing the female equivalent of male nipples (only more fun).
[For more recent discussion of this issue: see The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution; and Puts and Dawood 2006.]
One of Baker’s more promising ideas is the notion that the human penis functions as "a very effective suction piston" (p178), designed to remove the sperm of rival males.
This theory explains several features of human sexual morphology and behaviour, including the large size of the human penis relative to that of other primates and the extended duration of human coitus. It also explains the male 'refractory period' and 'Coolidge Effect' – i.e. why men are unable to resume intercourse with a woman after ejaculation for a certain period, but are (supposedly) able to do so with a different female.
It is also one of the few of Baker and Bellis’s ideas that has actually been supported by subsequent research, not least some delightful experiments conducted with sex toys of various shapes (Gallup et al 2003; Gallup and Burch 2004; Goetz et al 2005).
Regrettably, however, this is one of the few theories developed by Baker in collaboration with Mark Bellis which Baker does not expand upon in any real depth in 'Sperm Wars'.
[Edit: This idea is addressed in a more recent popular science work, Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?, that may appeal to readers of 'Sperm Wars', but is similarly speculative.]
Future Sex, the 'EEA' and Proximate Motivations
In his final pages, Baker speculates on how the development of technologies such as paternity testing and artificial insemination as well as legal developments will change the nature of human sexual behaviours. He expands on this topic in a later book entitled Sex in the Future.
However, in this discussion Baker seemingly fails the grasp the concept referred to by evolutionary psychologists as the 'Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness' (or 'EEA'), whereby humans have evolved to behave adaptively only in respect of those institutions that existed in the ancestral environments in which we evolved. On this view, we simply haven’t had sufficient time to have evolved adaptations dealing with evolutionary novelties such as motor cars, guns, DNA tests, contraception, artificial insemination and chocolate bars simply because these inventions are too recent.
Thus, it would take many generations before men and women's behaviour evolves so as to deal adaptively with evolutionary novel technologies or evolutionarily novel legal institutions such as those discussed by Baker in his final chapter. Yet, by the time this evolution has occurred, the technologies and legal institutions will have themselves evolved or become obsolete.
In other words, given the exponential rate of human technological and social progress, biological evolution will never catch up with cultural evolution.
Baker's mistake may derive from a failure to understand the distinction between the proximate motivation for a behaviour and the ultimate reason the behaviour evolved.
This is suggested by Baker's claim that "nothing... can remove a person's subconscious urge to have as many grandchildren as they can", or "a man's subconscious urge to have as many children with as many women as his genes and circumstances will allow" (p363).
In fact, nothing can remove these subconscious urges simply because no such urges, conscious or subconscious, exist in the first place. Rather, people’s proximate motivations, whether conscious or subconscious, surely concern more proximate goals (e.g. sex with attractive partners) which, throughout our evolutionary history, tended to result in higher reproductive success, without any need for evolution to implant any subconscious urge with respect to reproductive success itself.
Thus, all non-human species are surely not aware, consciously or subconsciously, of the connection between sex and offspring, yet this does not prevent them seeking sex and thereby maximising their Darwinian fitness.
Infanticide in China
This failure to grasp the concept of the 'EEA' also underlies Baker’s most egregious error, which he saves for his penultimate paragraph.
Here, Baker suggests that the preference for male offspring and the sex-selective infanticide practised in China is an adaptive response to the limit the state has placed on the number of children any woman can have. In support of this assertion, he claims that "the coercion impinges more on a woman's potential reproductive success than a man's" because "a successful man... can still have many children if he can surreptitiously inseminate many women" (p363-364).
Baker fails to grasp that, if some Chinese males are indeed fathering more than their share of offspring with multiple partners, then, given an equal sex ratio, other males must be fathering fewer than their share (perhaps victims of cuckolding by these other males). On average, therefore, if the sex ratio is equal, male and female reproductive success will be also equal and it would pay parents to continue produce an equal ratio of male and female offspring.
Ironically, however, given the unequal sex ratio resulting from the sex-selective infanticide that, although maladaptive, is still widely practised in China, individual parents would actually on average benefit by producing more female offspring – namely, the precise opposite of what they are actually doing. This is because, due to the selective killing of female offspring, there is likely to be a shortage of females and a surplus of males in future adult populations, resulting in many males being unable to find mates and a higher average level of reproductive success for females.
Therefore, rather than, as Baker claims, "neatly highlighting how basic reproductive strategies adapt to social change" (p363), the example of sex-selective infanticide in China seems to demonstrate the exact opposite – namely how, in evolutionarily novel environments, humans sometimes spectacularly fail to behave adaptively.
Fact and Fiction – Second-rate erotica interspersed with second-rate science fiction?
Finally, I personally disliked the fictional interludes with which Baker intersperses his discussion. To me, they read like second-rate erotica, written not so much to inform or illustrate the principles he elucidates as to titillate the reader.
However, a critic would claim that, in fact, the entire book is best classed as fiction and that apparently factual descriptions of "killer sperm" on a seek and destroy mission simply represent a substitution of second-rate erotica with second-rate science-fiction.
In this light it is interesting to note that Baker's latest work, Primal, though drawing on evolutionary psychology, is a work of fiction – and, unlike the work which forms the subject of the current review, admits to being such.
Baker, R.R. & Bellis, M.A. (1988). 'Kamikaze' Sperm in Mammals? Animal Behavior, 36, 936-939.
Baker, R.R. & Bellis, M.A. (1989). Elaboration of the kamikaze sperm hypothesis: a reply to Harcourt. Animal Behavior, 37, 865-867.
Bellis, Hughes, Hughes and Ashton (2005) 'Measuring Paternal Discrepancy and its Public Health Consequences' Journal of Epidemiology 59(9):749
Bivona & Critelli 2009 The nature of women's rape fantasies: an analysis of prevalence, frequency, and contents Journal of Sex Research 46(1):33-45
Dixson , A.F. (2009) Sexual Selection and the Origins of Human Mating Systems (Oxford Biology) New York: Oxford University Press
Ellis, Widmayer & Palmer (2008) Perpetrators of Sexual Assault Continuing to Have Sex With Their Victims Following the Initial Assault International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 53(4):454-63
Gallup, G. G. Jr., Burch, R. L., Zappieri, M. L., Parvez, R., Stockwell, M., and Davis, J. A. (2003). The human penis as a semen displacement device. Evolution and Human Behavior, 24, 277-289.
Gallup, G. G., & Burch, R. L. (2004). Semen displacement as a sperm competition strategy in humans. Evolutionary Psychology, 2, 12-23.
Michael Gilding (2005) Rampant Misattributed Paternity: The Creation of an Urban Myth. People and Place 13(2): 1
Goetz, A.T., Shackelford, T.K., Weekes-Shackelford, V.A., Euler, H.A. Hoier, S., Schmitt, D.P., & LaMunyon, C.W. (2005) Mate retention, semen displacement, and human sperm competition: a preliminary investigation of tactics to prevent and correct female infidelity. Personality and Individual Differences 38: 749-763
Goetz, A.T., Shackelford, T.K., Platek, S.M., Starratt, V.G., & McKibbin, W.F. (2007) Sperm Competition in Humans: Implications for Male Sexual Psychology, Physiology, Anatomy, and Behavior. Annual Review of Sex Research 18: 1
Gottschall & Gottschall 2003 Are per-incident rape-pregnancy rates higher than per-incident consensual pregnancy rates? Human Nature 14(1):1-20
Harcourt, A. H. (1989). Deformed sperm are probably not adaptive. Animal Behaviour,
Kilgallon SJ, & Simmons LW. (2005). Image content influences men's semen quality. Biology Letters, 1, 253-255
Moore, H.D.M., Martin, M. and Birkhead, T.R. (1999) No evidence for killer sperm or other selective interactions between human spermatozoa in ejaculates of different males in vitro. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B: Biological Sciences, 266 (1436). p. 2343.
Pound N. (2002). Male interest in visual cues of sperm competition risk. Evolution and Human Behavior, 23, 443-466.
Pound, N, Shackelford, TK & Goetz AT (2006) 'Sperm Competition in Humans'. In Shackelford, TK & Pound, N (Eds.), Sperm Competition in Humans: Classic and Contemporary Readings (pp. 3-32) New York: Springer.
Puts, D.A. & Dawood, K. (2006) Female orgasm: Adaptation or by-product Twin Research and Human Genetics 9(3): 467-472
Rieger G, Chivers ML, Bailey JM (2005). Sexual arousal patterns of bisexual men. Psychological science 16(8): 579-84.
Smith, R. L. (1984). Human sperm competition. In R. L. Smith (Ed.), Sperm Competition and the Evolution of Animal Mating Systems (pp. 601-660). New York: Academic Press.
Wilson & Durrenberger (1982). Comparison of rape and attempted rape victims. Psychological Reports 50:198-9.
The bit I had a problem with was the attempt to universally interpret every conceivable (no pun intended!) situation - from pregnancies resulting from rape to male/female homosexuality - as being subconscious attempts to produce optimum numbers and qualities of grandchildren. The book's weakness is that alternative interpretations are not discussed eg the high incidence of (particularly male) homosexuality on certain South Sea islands is attributed to an absence of STDs. In 'The Problem of Method', Jean-Paul Sartre refers to the same phenomenon on the Marquesas Island, but attributes it to a shortage of women, an exceptionally low female birth rate (a fact not mentioned in Sperm Wars).
William Irvine, Author of The Polygamist The Polygamist
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