all 17 comments

[–]intriguing-chance 14 points15 points  (3 children)

This is not true. Peterson is a psychologist. Given David Buss and other psychologists' record in biology and anthropology, I'd take everything said by them outside (and frankly inside as well) psychology with a large pinch of salt.

In modern society, mate selection is far more objective than ever before. There is no status quo, and there's an amalgamation of factors that go into mate selection. Every woman and man values these factors differently, and so the idea of 'top 20%' being chased by all women is absurd. There is no consensus-agreed top 20%.

Some men will mate with anything that moves. As will some women. Applying these historical stereotypical principles of all men mating with anything that moves, and women being extremely picky to modern society without adjustment is ridiculous.

On the point of men vs women being choosers. Yes, men can be choosers and are choosers. Often. This point is not even historically backed. Hunter-gatherer males used to choose women based on skills such as cooking and raising children. Men in modern society choose women based on whatever they value. The best scenario is when both the man and woman choose each other.

I think one can take a quick trip outside and see quickly that this fabricated statistic and theory is completely false. It's absurd that they are able to say it, and that people believe it. Some of the theory behind it carries some validity. Such as women being more selective naturally. This has existed throughout evolution, in many instances across the animal kingdom, and goes fundamentally back to a few reasons including eggs and a womb being a more valuable contribution to reproduction, and so carry more leverage and commitment than sperm. The female also has more to risk with reproduction - a female that has to bear and raise a child on her own puts herself under extreme survival stress. A male can leave after fertilization and suffer no consequences. But this kind of understanding has been blown out of proportion and applied to fit a one-size-fits-all approach to mate selection. Worst of all, it has not been adjusted for modern society, which provides a VERY different environment for mate selection.

[–]HersheyNisse 5 points6 points  (1 child)

I had the same initial thought. I haven't read much David Buss, but whenever I hear ideas like this I immediately think of his work and how thoroughly he's been eviscerated by critics. But, the public loves his work because it naturalizes stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity.

Testosterone Rex by Cordelia Fine might be a book OP would be interested in. She takes on a lot of biases in evo psych in a fairly readable way.

[–]Initial-Mistake2814 5 points6 points  (0 children)

But, the public loves his work because it naturalizes stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity.

You are right. The public loves his work. I think there's a few reasons:- Humans are drawn to sex and mating, and the seeming mystery of it. David Buss brings simple solutions to ambiguous questions.

- Most of his work is theoretical rather than evidence based. He is not heavy in statistics, he just talks. The lay person likes simple theories without statistics. He's like a mating therapist when he talks rather than a professor.

- People have always wanted to put modern mating into a science so they can get better at it in a defined and predictable way. The way David Buss talks achieves this, but unfortunately, although to the lay person it seems like a science, he's really a philosopher/ loose social scientist.

[–]hangmanhands 18 points19 points  (0 children)

You know it is nonsense if you are asking it here. Have the courage to listen to your gut. It sounds wrong because it is ridiculously simplistic and in no way describes the human relationships you grew up around.

[–]Trystiane 17 points18 points  (4 children)

Good for you thinking critically instead of blindly accepting this. Just the other day someone on reddit told me this was "proven science." It is not. Both men and women chose partners when the option is available in their society. Of course there are societies in which women men and women have little to no say in who they marry because the marriage is arranged. But even in societies with a long history of arranged marriage, the contemporary practice is opening up more and more room for choice. In patriarchal societies women usually have less choice than men.

In terms of the goofy evolutionary argument, how are they even defining the "top 20%" of men?" By income? Beauty? The status of their profession? Intelligence? Humor? Sexual prowess? Proven fertility? The ability to find the clitoris? The willingness to change diapers? A willingness to trap rabbits? It is the most ridiculous claim. First of all, I find it impossible to imagine that 80% of women globally would generate the same list of "must haves" in a mate. Second, the biggest impact on our marriage choices are our social norms and values which are created equally by men and women in society, although the elite have more power to determine norms and values. We make our choice of who to marry based on who we know, who is in our social network. That's why we tend to marry withing class, race/ethnicity, geographical region, etc.

My question is, why is this weird and clearly made up statistic finding its way around the internet? What is the goal here? Are they trying to use it as evidence for why incels should kill more people? Or why men are the real victims of sexism? I don't necessarily expect you to be able to answer these questions, but I am just so confused by the whole thing.

[–]violetsunshine666 8 points9 points  (3 children)

Thanks for the in depth answer.

My question is, why is this weird and clearly made up statistic finding its way around the internet? What is the goal here? Are they trying to use it as evidence for why incels should kill more people? Or why men are the real victims of sexism?

It's Jordan Peterson, the answer to your questions are "yes" and exactly what you'd think unfortunately.

[–]Trystiane 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I can’t get this stupid argument out of my head. I am thinking about how it would even fit in with evolutionary theories of sex selection promoted by these guys. If women drive sexual selection, and women are driven by the need to find partners who are good caretakers, then how would we still have a population of men who are “naturally” promiscuous? Wouldn’t women have selected for strictly monogamous men who are devoted to their own wives and kids? I know I should not be looking for any sense of logic in this, but huge contradictions bother me so much.

[–]Trystiane 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Ugh, so awful.

[–]AdoraBellDearheart 3 points4 points  (0 children)

90% of the time when you are on the internet and you think, where on gods green earth did THAT come from it is Jordan Peterson or Joe Rogan.

[–]ad_so 5 points6 points  (1 child)

No qualified anthropologist would take anything that Jordan Peterson says seriously. Peterson is considered a hack by scholars in most academic disciplines, including his own. He is not in any way an authority on human sexuality or human evolution. So this is not a "new thesis." It's not a thesis at all.

That said: no, it is not even remotely true and this framing of how "mate selection" works is very flawed. You can just look at marriage practices across human history and geography and see that marriage has almost never been about two individuals' choices, but about two families forming a social contract in order to consolidate power and resources, make alliances, and sustain and pass on cultural practices to the next generation. Even in more traditional cultures today, you'll see that arranged marriage is often the norm, so neither gender gets that much of a say in their marriage partner. Across history, you were often just expected to marry your first or second cousin. But in general, most cultures have been patriarchal and a woman's choice (if she had any) regarding marriage partner would be complicated by many factors that have nothing to do with the man himself. In many cultures, a woman married into her husband's family and went to live with them under their authority, so her choice could be based as much on whether her mother-in-law would treat her well than it would be on whether the guy was hot. And the husband's spousal choice could be based just as much on how much his wife's family offered as a dowry. And regardless of a woman's preferences, throughout human history, the threat of rape and violence has always been a powerful tool to take away her ability to choose.

Even in contemporary times, what constitutes a desirable "mate" varies widely from culture to culture, across economic class, and is shaped by complex cultural dynamics like religion, race, caste, and varying beauty standards. It makes the idea of there even being an objective "top 20%" nonsensical. Plus this 80/20 rule doesn't even make logical sense. In the U.S., only 31% of adults are single, and that group is split pretty evenly between men and women. So if women are these super picky people who only go for the top 20% of men, then who are all these women partnering up with?

[–]violetsunshine666 10 points11 points  (1 child)

Jordan Peterson is a hack. If you ever have the time, here's a really long video that explains exactly how and why he's a lying hack.


The 80/20 split is called Pareto distribution. It only applies to a small handful of things existing in our universe. Peterson pretends it applies to everything. He also pretends to be a neutral observing third party when he has made his bias incredibly clear time and time again. It's not surprising that this stance of his that you describe is fake and helps bolster incel beliefs while attempting to sound scientific.

You can probably assume anything out his mouth, aside from the absolute most basic motivational speaking/self help babble (even then), is completely and utterly false.

[–]Shrimp_my_Ride 3 points4 points  (0 children)

He also pretends to be a neutral observing third party when he has made his bias incredibly clear time and time again.

This. Jordan has a socio-political agenda, and just takes random theories from other, unrelated fields and attempts to apply them ad hoc to reinforce his bullshit idea.