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RS 216 - Diana Fleischman on "Being a transhumanist evolutionary psychologist"

Release date: September 2nd, 2018

Diana Fleischman

On this episode of Rationally Speaking, professor Diana Fleischman makes the case for transhumanist evolutionary psychology: understanding our evolved drives, so that we can better overcome them. Diana and Julia discuss sexual preferences, jealousy, and other drives -- how immutable are they? How do we know? And how would it change society, if we could change the distribution of people we find attractive, or normalize new relationship structures such as polyamory?


"Uncanny Vulvas" by Diana Fleischman

"Essays on Reducing Suffering" by Brian Tomasik (includes essays on animal suffering)

"The Manipulated Man" by Esther Vilar

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Reader Comments (14)

I read "Uncanny Vulvas" by Diana Fleischman. Firstly, she picked a GREAT title for the article. Most men will almost certainly prefer a genuine female mate, and sexbots will not replace girlfriends and wives. However, allowing angry, sexually frustrated males access to sexbots will probably reduce their level of violence, and especially sexual violence. Furthermore, just as violent video games do not usually lead to an increase in violence, sexbots will not lead to an increase in sexual violence.

Economic Liberalism, and Sexual Liberalism as well, gives people the greatest independence and freedom. People, with their freedom, will spontaneously work out arrangements that maximize prosperity. In a free economy, if an employer improperly dismisses an otherwise good employee, many other employers will capitalize on the opportunity and hire that employee quite quickly. Nothing guarantees job security better than a multitude of employment opportunities. Restrictions on employee termination actually tremendously discourage hiring in the first place and seriously hurts employees. With sexuality, as long as the world has about as many heterosexual males as heterosexual females, EVERY heterosexual has the opportunity to find a mate. This can apply to all other sexual variations as well.

This episode of RSPC also covers a lot of great issues.

Doesn't the very fact that we have a self awareness of the evolutionary origin of our behaviors, combined with the ability of our rational mind to control those behaviors, mean that we can overcome the limitations of our evolutionary behaviors?

Interesting that a disparity may exist between social preferences and sexual preferences, and that people shy away from potential mates with desirable sexual but socially disfavorable traits.

Monogamy with Flexibility definitely works much better than Strict Monogamy.

Men really should not complain about "slutiness" in women. No such analog exists when reviewing men. Most of the men who complain about female promiscuity either have sex with lots of women, or would quite happily do so. Furthermore, if men want women to have sex with them, those women necessarily have to have an openness to having sex in the first place. Perhaps these Incel dudes actually have more frustration about lacking a family than lacking sex.

Julia, you should add in that disclaimer for "The Manipulated Man" by Esther Vilar - that your guest does not completely agree with it.
September 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJameson
This was a very engaging episode. To be honest, the title sounded pretty dry and almost made me skip it. I'm glad I didn't! It's always a little painful when you know that you're one of the "reproductive dead ends" that they're talking about (thanks social anxiety). I can only imagine what it must be like to be able to talk about this topic in such a carefree way, secure in the knowledge that you won't ever be that person. It's an uneasy feeling to know that you're being profiled by society as being someone who's likely to be violent etc.
September 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterWJ
Thank you! I found the whole conversation very interesting, especially the Polyamory parts! Having said that, I found the section on Incels a bit vexing. The way Prof. Fleischman casually refers to men who cannot have sex as "reproductive dead ends" and theorizes that they are "prone to violence and a danger to society" just perpetuates the toxic narrative the anti-feminist/red-pill/Incel community holds about women.

These kind of men feel very emasculated and are in a state of deep insecurity. And hence vulnerable and prone to suggestion. In the absence of any type of support from society, they cope in maladaptive ways like latching on to a toxic narrative about women which makes them feel better about themselves.

The way to combat this is with positive messaging about masculinity and sex from both men and women! Compassion and empathy, without being judgemental, is the best way to go. Not socially profiling men who can't have sex as dangerous.
September 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPK
Even men with undesirable traits, or who for whatever reason have fail to succeed socially, need not consider themselves mere "reproductive dead ends". I know women who also have social anxiety, and they would appreciate a man who understands them. Even if a man never reproduces, he can still have a fulfilling, vibrant life with lots of social success and sex.
September 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJameson
"Reproductive dead end" here is a euphemism. If we're talking about being a reproductive dead end in the literal sense of the phrase, then I'm perfectly content to be one! But a man with social anxiety, especially one who isn't anything to look at, is going to be extremely hard pressed to find a mate. Such men cannot just rely on socially anxious women either, because those women have better options.

In a prospective mate, the typical manifestations of severe social anxiety are not deal breakers to men the same way they are to women, because men and woman have different priorities. Think about the term "basement dweller". When was the last time you heard such a phrase being applied to a woman? There just isn't the same stigma attached to a friendless woman in her 20s who still lives with her parents as there would be to a man in the same circumstances. Additionally, there's no shortage of good men out there without social anxiety who have the capacity to understand and meet the needs of a socially anxious woman. So why would those women settle for anything less?

I'd love to know if there was some research on this, but from my observations browsing communities like r/socialanxiety, the socially anxious woman + socially confident man pairing is overwhelmingly more common than socially anxious woman + socially anxious man, or socially confident woman + socially anxious man.

For the record, I don't mean to imply that women for "have it easy" or anything like that. I don't seek to minimize the difficulties faced by women with social anxiety, and I know that SA presents a unique set of challenges for women that socially anxious men do not have to deal with.
September 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterWJ
(33:33) "And sexual assault is at a very low rate."

Huh, I read that "rape culture" involves the denial of widespread rape.
September 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMax
WJ, you definitely have a point. Having social anxiety will make dating difficult. I just don't want you to give up.

Being short limits a man's scope for finding females, since as a simple matter of biology, women prefer men taller than themselves. Men do find it really to woo a woman taller than themselves. So short men generally have to look for even shorter women, and this means a much smaller pool of prospective makes. But nonetheless, short women do exist.

I'm not sure about the juxtaposition of couples with social anxiety, but I would still expect that since people generally relate to other people with similar conditions as themselves (paraplegia for instance), and in fact prefer mates with similar conditions as themselves, that a woman with social anxiety would relate well to a male with social anxiety. I know that paraplegic people generally prefer a mate with paraplegia, as opposed to a fully ambulatory person. In the alternative, if most of the women with social anxiety pair with men without social anxiety, and if approximately equal numbers of males and females have social anxiety, that does leave a number of women without social anxiety who still need a mate, and they could pair with the men who have social anxiety. Everyone can still find someone to share their love.

On another note, Diana Fleischman made the important point that Passion is not all there is to Love. In the Triangular Theory of Love, Love consists of Passion, Friendship, and Commitment. Conflating all of Love with mere Passion does lead to unnecessary and tragic divorce. A person that has a fling may very well continue to consider their spouse to be their best friend and life partner, and such a fling should not justify divorce. Furthermore, such flings may even improve the sex life between the spouses by introducing variety. Likewise, a person should not think that just because they have Passion and physical desire for someone, that this is "True Love" that will lead to a lasting, stable relationship that includes Friendship and Commitment. In the extreme case, a person can actually have intense physical desire for someone else, right up to the point where that person actually gets to know their partner and discovers their partner really has a lot of creepy, unethical viewpoints and serious dependability issues. Thusly, conflating Passion with Love leads to divorce in three ways: (1) Perceiving any breech in sexual fidelity as a breech of trust, (2) Causing incompatible people to marry in the first place, due to the presence of physical attraction, but in the absence of sufficient social compatibility, and (3) Confusing mere sexual desire for a new mate with an enduring relationship.
September 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJameson
The episode did get better over time, but the first discussion about "transhumanism" and genetic engineering was so far removed from any social, economical, or even scientific reality as to be not only irrelevant, but actually stupid.

It was to be expected that the podcast would lose a lot of quality when Massimo left, but until recently I thought it was (at least more often than not) still worth listening to -- but this episode was my last one.
Unsubscribed for absence of relevance and decreasing rigor, after 216 episodes, many of which I listened to more than once.
September 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLukas
I understand that women and men are driven by primal instincts to find attractive in a mate those traits which will satisfy their selfish genes need to successfully reproduce, and then have those offspring reproduce. As Julia said, straight men find younger women who appear healthy with a high hip to waist ratio universally sexy, and will prefer to mate with them. Pretty understandable.

Straight Women are driven by Hepergamy to find attractive, those men who stand out from the rest of the rabble, who are confident, drive a flashy car, dress schmick and are sexually aggressive towards them. Those are the guys who are most likely to posses the Driven Gene and have the wherewithal to give the woman and her children the resources they need to carry on the line. Also pretty understandable.

What I would have liked to hear was an explanation of what drives homosexual men and women in their mating choices. Members of those groups are essentially in the same "reproductive dead end" boat as the Involuntary Celibates.

Do Gay men find young slim men with a high hip to weight ratio attractive or are they instead attracted to those men who stand out from the rest of the rabble by showing signs of upward mobility such as high confidence, drive a flashy car, dress schmick and are sexually aggressive towards them. How about Lesbians. What makes Lesbians moist in the crevices? Are they attracted to the body type that (the generic) men like or are they Hypergamous as well, and prefer a woman who displays sexual aggressiveness and displays a higher than average ability to attain resources, by driving the flash car etc. Perhaps I am mistakenly limiting my thinking with regard to homosexuals to the binary in this regard and while there may be a different reproductive dynamic at play here altogether. Does the binary dynamic remain as a result of the misfiring genes or do the standard heterosexual mating preferences remain in the mix?

Given that Homosexuals whose reproductive urges leave them unable to reproduce with their partner of choice, do we assume this a misfiring of their genes and if so then does this make them as pitiable as those piteous Incels who also will not reproduce. Which is more deserving of our understanding-----or pity?

The Involuntary Celibates, the infertile, Gay Men, Lesbians, and the Childless by Choice anti-natalist crowd should consider getting together as a social group. I hear you get better discounts on the "reproductive dead end" express that way.

The podcast was good, and thought provoking as usual Julia.
September 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSedrik
Given the high minded topics exclusively discussed on this podcast, and the not entirely clinical nature of the sexual subject matter contained in this one, I am assuming that we are all adults here and will proceed below with some crude language that I picked up somewhere during my misspent youth. I will understand Julia if this does not meet community standards and you do not allow it.

I find the MILF phenomenon of interest, and I propose a slightly different take or an addition to Diana Fleischman's observations here.

I am 40+ and have observed, when I used to frequent clubs and dive bars a bit more often than I do lately, that younger guys would come into our age groups watering holes in small troupes looking exclusively for MILFs who were preferably there without their husbands, while guys in my age group were looking to hookup with any of the younger women who came in looking for older guys with all the sophistication that age brings, or lets face it guys with suits and money.

It was an observational treat to watch over the rim of my Brave Bull the stratagems play out between these seemingly mismatched pairs. I satisfied myself over time as to why the younger women were setting the bait for older men and that was Hypergamy, but what explained the MILF hunters. I would have thought these young guys would want the much 'fresher' lightly driven sporty model instead of the relatively old(er) hard riven mini van model which was merely washed, waxed and spit-shined for the nights festivities, but no.

I would as often as was practicable strike up a conversation with one of these guys and try to suss out their motivations. This was not a randomized, double blind study so it is rife for criticism, but what i gleaned from these guys was that younger guys do want to recreationally bang older chicks who are stepping out on their husbands. They do not want an emotional entanglement with them at all but they have come to believe that married pussy is the hottest, wettest pussy there is and they are out to get their share. I guess it makes sense if you assume that a married woman with 1.6 children finds herself in a humdrum routine, and all the spark has gone out of her sex life. A night on the prowl with the girls, being looked at again, being asked to dance by young men with an iron rod in their pants, reawakens the hormones and gets the juices flowing.

She goes to the club with some of her office girlfriends and begins to tingle in those places again like back when she was single. She is not looking for an older man who can give her children resources, no she is looking for nothing more than a damn good shag and a few repeats of that intensely red and rigid NRE fueled shag that she is missing at home.

Nobody ever admitted it, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if there was also an underlying element of good old Oedipus complex involved with it. These MILFs aren't their mother, but they are a handy substitute. They get all that with MILFs and on top of that they get the an additional ego boost from the fact that they are mating with some other guys wife. It is a win, and a big ego boost if you can smash (vigorous and repeated intercourse) another guys woman, because that turns him into a Cuckold, and you into the big man or to put it another way the Superior Bull. It is a purely transactional interlude, where each party gets what they came for and nobody gets hurt.

The intentions of us older men towards the younger 20 somethings are not so nearly as raw, and when compared to the MILF hunters our relationships are more measures, more instructional, advisory, fatherly if you will, and sometimes in the throes of passion the Electra Complex manifests loudly in these young women as if they are living out an incestuous fantasy.

I have had that happen to me to some degree on a few occasions, and while it is fun to indulge their fantasy once, it gets rather disturbing if it goes on repeatedly. I once inquired if something had happened to the young woman in her past and suggested we talk about it. I was shut down fast and told that it was just her fantasy and she always goes there in her head when having sex.

I'm an understanding and supportive person but I couldn't continue on with that and suggested she seek counseling, and she suggested I mind my own business and go fuck myself, then bailed out. I guess she has found some other Creeper to indulge her fantasy nowadays. I guess she isn't hurting anyone with her little sexual fantasy, if fantasy was all it was. I wish her the best.
September 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSedrik
This is amazing information. Thanks for sharing.
September 25, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterunique girl names
The nature over nurture movement that began around 2008 was a bummer. For 8 years, the podcasts said FUGGEDABOUT dating if you're not an alpha male until Trump hit the campaign trail & someone thought maybe we should rethink this cave man stuff, for a while. It just tends to be short lived & we all go back to caveman culture.
September 25, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterlion
Very interesting personality and developing the better contents.
October 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterShahbaz Sharif
Diana Fleischman and Julia Galef on the same podcast, a rare treat!!
November 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

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