I don't make a habit of inventing imaginary friends but I thought it might be fun to invent one for this post. Meet The Devil's Advocate. Here is what he says:
What a waste of time, Ridley is wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
You simply cannot extrapolate from animals to humans. Humans are rational beings; their behaviour is driven by learning - in other words culture - not by instinct like animals.
Ok, of course there is what we call libido - and if you accept that evolution happened that could be an instinctive reaction I suppose. But THAT'S IT. We humans make rational choices about what we do. We freed ourselves from the cold tyranny of the genes when we stopped being apes.
And another thing, even if we accept that genes have anything at all to do with sexual behaviour it is the wrong way of looking at it. You wouldn't study waves in the sea by studying molecules of water; you have to look at the bigger picture. It is all too complicated to be reduced to simple genes.
Ridley undermines his own argument by conceding (on page 120 - in my copy). He says:
In describing the human mating system, it is hard to be precise. People are immensely flexible in their habits depending on their racial origin, religion, wealth and ecology.
Surely this is exactly the point there is NO universal behaviour that can't be overridden by culture and personal choice.
Oh! And then there is the moral argument. Ridley tell us throughout the book that he is not taking a moral stance on the issues he discusses. But that is not how this will be seen. I can just imagine potential rapists reading this saying "I can do what I want and claim it's all in my genes." If I get caught I'll take this book to my brief - it'll be thrown out of court.
This book should be thrown out too.
The Devil's Advocate.
Is the Devil's Advocate wrong? If he is wrong why is he wrong? Over to you!
Peter Edited by: PeterDF at: 9/17/03 3:32 am