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This is an interesting topic that may border on the uncomfortable for many. As much as Disney and Hollywood want to convince you, monogamy was not our natural state of relationship with one another.

There are a number of theories about how monogamy came into existence. I’ll skirt over the moral and ethical details, as they are highly subjective, and just lay out the “facts”.

To being with, I need to clarify that as we are looking back to find the root of monogamy, it no longer becomes “human” monogamy, but rather monogamy as a wider species. To this end, here are a few statistics to keep in mind: monogamy in primates is found in 15% of species compared with about 5% for mammals as a whole (Schaik and Dunbar, 1990). It also invariably involves close spatial association between the members of the pair (sorry guys, long distance is a no-no; more on that another time).

Monogamy in these species did not evolve because males are unable to defend access to more than one female. Hence, it must be related to behavioural services provided by the male which substantially increases the female’s reproductive output.

The major proposal by Schaik and Dunbar is that the services mentioned in the quote above involve protection against predators, defence of an exclusive feeding area, and protection of the female and child against infanticide by other males. This paper is a bit old but keep in mind the main points: protection and food.

Where resources are transferred across generations, social monogamy can be advantageous if partitioning of resources among the offspring of multiple wives causes a depletion of their fitness value and/or if females grant husbands higher fidelity in exchange for exclusive investment of resources in their offspring. This may explain why monogamous marriage prevailed among the historical societies of Eurasia: here, intensive agriculture led to scarcity of land, with depletion in the value of estates through partitioning among multiple heirs.

The major point here is that social monogamy is the outcome of strategic behaviour in regards to the allocation of resources to the next generation (Fortunato and Archetti, 2010). Again, we can see a common theme. Not necessarily food, but resources/wealth (which are essentially the same as food when considering the difference between humans and other animals).

Finally, we have one of the most recent studies done by Sergey Gavrilets at the University of Tennessee (2012). Gavrilets identifies a key trait in all polygamous alpha males: they don’t have to invest in their young because they’ll have plenty of offspring regardless. By comparison, a supportive male (not an alpha, but helps provide food and protection), can also be successful reproductively speaking, but only if they can be certain of their “target” children – otherwise they will be wasting resources on offspring that aren’t their own. Using the complex mathematics of his field (biomathematics), he reconciled a model for the transition from alpha polygamy to our current social paradigm of monogamy (a paradigm that is again turning a bit due to the rambunctious youths).

The crux of the matter? Low-ranking males offered food to females in return for mating opportunities as they had no prospects in physical domination. Obviously, these males were more likely to select faithful females. And think about it, women love material things right? Even gold-diggers will stay faithful (or appear to be) to a lesser male if the promise of wealth is large enough. This evolution into monogamy also signified a change in the concept of what “success” and “power” are. Today, they are more frequently associated with monetary assets than physical prowess.

It has been said, obviously, that Gavrilets’s paper is a bit oversimplified, but hey – spherical chickens in a vacuum (science joke; click the link for an explanation).

So what does this mean? Women are shallow? Well, yeah, but it’s in their nature. That’s how they evolved. No, seriously though, you can take away whatever you want from this information. Whether you hold patriarchal views or the more radical “modern” views, these are just scientific approaches to a social phenomenon. Biologically and evolutionarily speaking, I understand polygamy and the need to sleep around. I try not to judge people for it either, and consider myself quite open minded. Personally, though, in terms of a long-term partner I’m willing to really invest in, I’d prefer a faithful girl. Maybe that strips me of an alpha male status, but that’s how we appear to have evolved. Well, as it stands I probably have more physical prowess than any monetary assets so …

I’m a bit late with this since I haven’t had time due to exams, but let’s do this anyway. So, in the interest of maintaining some sort of intellectual, scientific awareness, I’m here to provide you with some “cheat notes” about this year’s Nobel Prize Winners (laureates). Feel free to use these notes to sound intelligent in conversation. I tried to keep the explanation simple; apologies if it’s a little hard to follow.

2012 Nobel Laureates:

Physics:

Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland for “ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems”. Basically, their research used electric fields to trap individual ions, and used laser beams to analyse their behaviour, allowing precise measurement of ions and photons. This relates to the field of quantum mechanics (dealing with the smallest of particles).

Two relevant problems in quantum mechanics are superpositioning, in which particles can exist in several states at the same time (like being in two or more places at once), and entanglement, in which separate particles share a link (this was explained in the post about Teleportation). As you can see, quantum mechanics runs into a lot of problems with precise measurement due to these problems (and more, including Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle). The methodology used by Haroche and Wineland takes us closer towards building quantum computers, amongst other things.

Some of you might be wondering why the Higg’s Boson discovery wasn’t awarded the Nobel Prize. There’s a bit of a story behind this which I’ll post later, but the gist of it is that it’s too early to determine the implications, application and veracity of the Higg’s Boson, but it’s quite likely that it will win the Nobel Prize for physics some time in the near future.

Chemistry:

Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka for “studies of G-protein-coupled receptors” which are dubbed “smart receptors on cell surfaces”. Using radioactivity (starting from 1968), Lefkowitz traced cell receptors and identified a family of receptors known as “G-protein-coupled receptors”. These enable cells to react to their environment, and are one of the most common receptors coded for by our genes.

The identification and understanding of the G-protein-coupled receptor has many applications when considering about half of all medications achieve their effect through these receptors.

Medicine:

Sir John B. Gurdon, Shinya Yamanaka for “the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent”. This one is a lot easier to explain. Basically, they discovered that mature, specialised cells can be reprogrammed to become immature “blank” cells that can develop into any tissue of the body. This not only broadens our understanding of cell and organism development, but perhaps one day will allow us to regrow vital organs, etc. (it’s possible but that’s not the focus of this Prize).

Literature:

Now I realise that this isn’t science related, but I felt like I should include this because the winner, Mo Yan, is actually a relative of mine (on my mother’s side). Seems like there is some sort of artistic talent in my family besides myself (since my parents are PhD scientists, sometimes I feel like there’s no art).

Mo Yan, “who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary”, is the first ever Chinese literature Nobel Laureate.

 

Chocolate is one of those clichés we often see in movies as the go-to food for heartbroken women, but how much truth is behind this response? A lot more than one might think.

Chocolate is a psychoactive/psychotropic food containing more than 500 natural chemical compounds, many of which are categorised as mood and pleasure increasing. A psychoactive compound is one that crosses the blood-brain barrier and acts on the central nervous system where it affects brain function. There are a variety of chemical substances in chocolate. Essentially, the ingestion of chocolate replicates good feelings that can imitate those of happiness and even falling in love. Interestingly, over 52% of women in the UK stated that they preferred chocolate over sex.

Phenylethylamine:

This chemical is released by the brain when falling in love, and is probably the biggest contributor to chocolate making us feel good. It releases dopamine (the happy chemical) and endorphins into our pleasure centres and peaks during orgasm. It helps mediate feelings of attraction, excitement and euphoria.

Tryptophan:

This is an essential amino acid that enhances serotonin function which helps diminish anxiety.

Endorphin:

A lot of people should be familiar with this chemical – it makes you feel good and warm. Endorphins reduce sensitivity to pain and are the body’s endogenous opiates.

Anandamide:

This chemical is an endogenous cannabinoid found in the brain. This can have a small effect of promoting a feeling of well-being. The presence of N-oleolethanolamine and N-linoleoylethanolamine also inhibit the metabolism of anandamide, prolonging the feeling.

Theobromine and caffeine:

We all know the effects of caffeine – it stimulates the central nervous system, increases blood flow to the brain, and increases serotonin production. All that basically amounts to increased alertness. It’s worth noting that there is only a very small amount of caffeine in chocolate though – much less than what you’d get from other sources (coffee, etc.).

Theobromine is a chemical cousin to caffeine and is found in greater concentrations in darker chocolate. Theobromine has similar effects to caffeine, to a much smaller degree, but is also a cardiac stimulant. It has been shown to reduce coughing and is also thought to pay a role in regulating moods.

Aggregate effect:

Binge eating chocolate can be explained by the above effects. Psychologically, people attribute a cause and effect relationship between chocolate and feelings of anguish, in which chocolate appears to make the consumer feel better. This is not a placebo effect (as demonstrated by the chemicals above), and thus makes the subconscious association stronger – resulting in cravings when things are going bad. However, it’s common knowledge that binge eating chocolate will lead to obesity, causing self-esteem and image problems, as well as inhibited production of certain chemicals such as dopamine, and basically ending up in feeling worse for a lot longer, so let’s take a look at the health issues of chocolate.

Health:

Surprisingly, chocolate is good for your health. The distinction we have to make here is the type of chocolate you’re eating. Dark chocolate is good for you. It can lower blood pressure and improve blood circulation, preventing the formation of blood clots and arteriosclerosis. We also know from above that chocolate contains phenylethylamine, releasing endorphins and dopamine. It also helps control blood sugar by reducing insulin resistance and is full of antioxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals (potassium, copper, magnesium and iron).

Modern day chocolate dates back to the addition of triglyceride cocoa butter by Swiss confectioner Rodolphe Lindt in 1879. Since then, chocolate has been made sweeter and sweeter so that the concentration of cocoa is more and more diluted. It’s this chocolate that’s bad for you – the one that’s basically just sugar and cream. White chocolate, specifically, has no cocoa solids in it at all. Milk chocolate (obviously) has milk (or condensed milk) in it and a lower cocoa percentage.

Given the health benefits, I would advise adding darker chocolates to your diet in moderate amounts. Personally, around 60% cocoa and I can still enjoy the sweetness of chocolate. Any higher and it’s too bitter for me. I’ve stayed away from white chocolate for a long time now but I eat a lot of dark and milk chocolate, even during cutting when I’m trying to lose weight. I haven’t personally found any fat gain problems with eating a whole block after training, but obviously, chocolate is a calorie rich food so if you’re not active, you should eat less but not avoid it completely.

Etymology of cocoa:

While I’m on the topic, I’d like to point out that although I’ve used the word “cocoa”, it’s believed that this English word was a result of English traders misspelling the original word “cacao”, taken from the Olmec civilisation.

“What professions do all these senators and congressmen have? Law, law, law, law, business, law, law, law … Where are the scientists? Where are the engineers? Where’s the rest of … life?”

– Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

The internet is experiencing an ever-growing phenomenon of lonely people complaining about their inability to attract the opposite sex, a movement that is championed by the “forever alone” meme. The vast majority of these are males, so I’m here to clear up a few things that may be confusing guys.

1. “I want a girl to love me for who I am”. 

This is often used by guys who refuse to change parts of themselves, whether psychologically or physically. It’s also an excuse for making no effort. The entire concept of “loving you for who you are” is rubbish because no matter what you do, you are still you. Using this excuse to salve your conscience about being in poor physical shape and being a mental wreck is not going to make you attractive. The ability to change is also part of you – and if you are unwilling to improve yourself (by changing) you send a very poor message to the opposite sex.

A man that is willing to endure the physical hardship required to improve his physical image demonstrates that he is willing to make an effort to look presentable, has the knowledge and mental fortitude to suffer through training, and as an added bonus, appeals to the latent female instinct for being attracted to an alpha male, protector and provider. Maybe some of you are complaining how superficial and unfair this is. Get over it. Life is superficial and unfair, and if you just want to sit back and complain, life will leave you behind. You either play by the rules or lose the game. Maybe this will help guys understand – imagine if girls made no effort to look good. Old sweats, no makeup, no skin care products, blotchy faces, lumpy bodies and hair growing out the wazoo. Not very attractive any more, huh?

There’s also the psychological aspect, including habits and outlook in life. A man willing to change his bad habits is one that demonstrates a drive to constantly improve himself – something everyone finds attractive. A man working towards a good career demonstrates his ability to work hard to be a provider, and to prove to himself that he can be successful. What woman wants a guy who has no future? Who is unwilling to improve himself? So the next time you refuse to do something because you want a girl to “love you for who you are” think to yourself, what are you exactly? A stubborn little boy who refuses to grow.

2. “There was no chemistry”

This is actually one that girls use more, typically to tell a guy why they don’t like the guy. The guy, being a gullible, innocent little boy, believes her and thinks “there’s nothing I can do, there just wasn’t any chemistry”. Wrong. Chemistry is a lie (not the science behind it, just the way the word is used when dealing with attraction). I’m going to focus more on initial chemistry (so mainly, the first date). A girl’s idea of chemistry is perfection; they want to feel an unexplainable connection. But what is that connection exactly? Well, most girls don’t know but if you prod them enough, they might give physical examples. The guy looks at her the right way, talks to her the right way, says the right things, touches her at the right time and is confident, teasing and naughty to the right degree.

But wait! Those are all things the guy can do. You know what that means? You make your own chemistry. Chemistry can happen by chance, but why lose countless girls waiting for that chance to happen? Do those things and be that guy.

3. “Just be yourself”

This is another piece of advice that typically originates from girls. It’s almost useless. As mentioned above, you are always yourself. Even if you talk yourself up, you’re still you – you’re just showing the side of you that can sell yourself. If you overcompensate for your weaknesses, you’re just being the you that is protective of his own insecurities. No matter what, you’re always you. The point of this advice is to be confident – which is one (of many) attractive trait. Being confident is good but it’s not enough. This advice would be more accurate if it was reworded to “just be the best you can be”. Show the sides of you that are more attractive. Everybody is capable of being confident and fun to be with (usually dependent on your external environment and internal mood); just make it happen. Easier said than done, I know, but in the end you’re the only one who can change you.

4. “Be really nice/Be a jerk”

This one has many faces to it. Girls will tell you to be nice, but by now you should know that girls don’t give good advice regarding this topic. Some guys take it the opposite way and act like jerks. I definitely hear a lot of guys complaining that girls always go for jerks. Well guess what, at least being a jerk conveys self-worth and confidence. It’s better than what a lot of guys do – enslave themselves. There’s a difference between being nice and being subservient. I had a huge rant on this in my post “Why You’re to Blame for the Friendzone”. There are heaps of pictures of guys grovelling in an attempt to be nice – there are guys letting girls sit on them like chairs, holding all their stuff and doing their mundane tasks for them. That’s not being nice, that’s being a slave. Guess what? Slaves aren’t attractive, especially not to women. It demonstrates a huge weakness in your self-worth and confidence when you’ll lower yourself to such a pathetic level. By this stage, the girl has already lost all interest in you as a partner because you haven’t demonstrated any male characteristics worthy of being attractive (or if you have, you’ve undermined it by being a pathetic slave). How do you tread the line between being a jerk and being a slave? Well, a friend of mine put it this way: “don’t do anything for a girl that you wouldn’t do for a friend”. You are the most comfortable and natural when with your friends, and most of the time, that’s when you’re also the most attractive and balanced as a person. No special treatment (until you’re already in a relationship).

5. “I don’t care about looks or money – I just want a guy who is …”

Another thing girls say that is a lie. Now, this might offend some girls but I’m going to be brutally honest about it. Everybody cares about looks. Guys are just open enough to admit it (though males are becoming more feminine these days so there are guys who will claim otherwise). You’ve probably all heard that girls don’t know what they want. Well this actually applies to most people. Nobody knows what they want until it appears in front of them. And I can back this up with science.

“People will readily tell you what they value in a romantic partner,” said Eli Finkel, associate professor of psychology at Northwestern and co-author of the study. “But study after study shows that those preferences don’t predict whom daters are actually attracted to when they meet flesh-and-blood partners.”

There’s a whole article here entitled “You Say You Don’t Care About Dating a Hottie?” (article from my friend Nav; thanks!): http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-01-dont-dating-hottie.html

Looks will always be important because by definition, someone you find good looking will trigger chemical reactions in your body making you like that look (dopamine, epinephrine, serotonin, etc.), so looking at something good looking will naturally make you happier and lustier (lust being an important first step in the love cycle). There’s also the primal instinct of people to want the best genetic pool for their children, meaning height, symmetry and other physically attractive traits are premium goods in the attraction market.

As for money? Well, who doesn’t like nice things? Money may be more or less important to a woman (or man) depending on the individual (most women love it), but it will always play a part in the selection process. Think about it. Two identical guys, except one is broke and the other is a millionaire. Who do you pick? Exactly.

Money represents the ability to give women things that they want that can make them happy. It also tickles the fancy of that primal urge to find a provider as a husband. I’m not saying flaunt your wealth – that’s an arrogant dickmove – but you should have a foundation of confidence based on the successes you’ve achieved in your life, and monetary wealth is one of them. In fact, women can smell money from a mile away so really, you don’t have to flaunt your wealth. You’re probably better off trying to hide it. Just don’t give the impression you’re a bum.

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So, hopefully that clears up some of the confusion out there for guys. In the end, the crux of the matter is that you’re the only one that can make you more attractive, so moping around isn’t going to solve your problems. In fact, since negativity is an unattractive trait, by complaining instead of doing something about it, you’re actually making yourself more unattractive – thus adding to your problem. Even if you think you don’t show that side of yourself, this kind of negativity is undermining; it seeps into your personality and into everything you do.

Be attractive by making yourself attractive. Nobody is going to do it for you.

Surprisingly enough, I do not completely reject the notion of dream interpretation, though to paraphrase Sheldon Cooper, astrology is complete hokum.

The reason why I consider dream interpretation slightly more realistic is because rather than narcissistically claiming self-importance or self-worth based on arbitrarily defined constellations, dreams are a product of one’s self. Don’t get me wrong, the entire “industry” for dream interpretation is basically a scam to lure in the weak minded, but at its core, a dream is a series of information that your brain is processing during REM sleep. Often, it can manifest in mundane ways, but sometimes the dream is abstract (my favourite) and is thus more confusing. The crux of the matter here is that a dream is simply an obscure collection of information that you already know – thus dreams cannot predict the future (in any useful way) or any of that other nonsense, but they can be a manifestation of your current concerns.

I wrote this article with a post I had in mind where I interpreted someone’s dream for them, but unfortunately I think that person removed his post so I can’t use it as an example. Suffice to say it was an abstract desert setting in which he came under attack by mysterious riders, one of whom (the only one whose face he could see) was a beautiful woman. I interpreted the barren, primitive setting as an allusion to abandonment and isolation, the attack as a feeling of alienation and victimisation, and the woman as a latent sexual frustration. Combined, I saw the dream as a manifestation of the poster’s feeling of loneliness, caused by a constant lack of success with women, to the point where his automatic reaction to them was one of defence (they being the source of some pain), and the specific woman’s face to be indicative of one particular girl at the current time that he’s been thinking of. Naturally, I made this interpretation without any contextual knowledge of the person, which may have increased the accuracy, but surprisingly he responded a few days later that it was indeed very accurate and that he had been struggling with the exact issues I mentioned.

Anyway, the point here is he already knew he had these issues – so the dream in itself is only telling yourself something you already know. In that regard, it’s an exercise in futility to try and discover something profoundly important in your own dreams because the dream itself will only contain information you already know.

It’s interesting that the majority of dream interpretation involves some sort of latent sexuality. The majority of Sigmund Freud’s dream interpretation works involve sexual symbols (the snake, the number three, the playing of an instrument, etc.) as well as egotism. These are all really just indicators that behind all the pretense, sex and narcissism are hugely important factors to humans.

“What lies at the heart of every living thing is not a fire, not warm breath, not a ‘spark of life’. It is information, words, instruction.”

– Richard Dawkins, 1986.

Many of you have heard the term “meme” due to the recent popularity of internet memes. However, the word “meme” has existed long before the advent of funny pictures with poorly written English emblazoned on it. Interestingly, it was Richard Dawkins who invented the word in 1976 from Greek influences. He shortened it to “meme” because he wanted the word to be a monosyllable that sounded similar to “gene”. On a related note, that means it’s pronounced “meem” similar to “gene”, not as some people say “me-me” or the French word “meme” meaning same (I can’t do accents on my keyboard, but there’s one over the first “e”).

So what is a meme? This quote from the Smithsonian is pretty good to help build an initial understanding:

Our world is a place where information can behave like human genes and ideas can replicate, mutate and evolve.

Essentially, a meme is an idea or concept that is spread from generation to generation through means that are non-genetic (transmitted via writing, visual representation, speech, gestures or any other imitable phenomena). The importance of the word meme resembling the word gene is that memes are theorised to evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to biological evolution – basically, a meme is like a gene for information. Here’s one more good quote:

A meme is an idea that behaves like a virus – that moves through a population, taking hold in each person it infects

– Malcolm Gladwell

Memes are powerful language tools because they can convey a vast array of inherent information with very few words (or actions/images depending on the meme). Dawkins defined a meme as a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation and replication. Internet memes are the most commonly known these days, and just think of the amount of information we can get out of a few words or an image.

This badly drawn picture by itself is enough to evoke a wide range of information. It means someone who is always unsuccessful at finding companionship and is used by the victim to demonstrate his/her emotions regarding their situation. There’s a huge list of internet memes; I’m not going to go through every one of them. Internet memes are plentiful though, which dilutes their potency a bit. Here’s a stronger example: Olympics. With that one word alone, I can make you think of competitions, athletes, races, medals and an overarching theme of unity and celebration.

However, remember Gladwell’s definition. Memes mutate over time and can end up misrepresenting something, or becoming impervious to change. Folk etymology is an example of this (I’ve gone into this in my etymology posts), where people start believing that a certain idiom originated one way when in actual fact it was another (such as the “cold shoulder”). Other good examples can be found in urban myths, which persist even when scientifically proven wrong. My girlfriend’s anatomy lecturer told her that your heart stops beating when you sneeze. This has been proven false already, what’s an anatomy lecturer doing not knowing this?

Now that we understand that memes are ideas and information transmitted over time, we have to accept that memes are prone to mutation and cannot be considered fully reliable. Here’s the interesting thing though – religion is also a meme. We can see evidence of religion changing or “mutating” over time as the Church changes its public stance on certain issues (heliocentric solar system, evolution, etc.).

It’s interesting that memes are often subject to “survival of the fittest”. It is for that reason why we don’t practice human sacrifice, because that is a weak idea from an evolutionary point of view (it doesn’t promote growth). There’s a whole scientific side to memes that I didn’t get into (I was focusing more on its power as a language tool). For those of you interested in finding out more, this is a good article:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/What-Defines-a-Meme.html

Ok, so it’s a weird title, but I’m serious. I’m going to use some naughty words here so let’s try to be mature.

I was watching season 7 of How I Met Your Mother and there was this scene where Barney talks about his penis. He says something like “She’s magnificent”, to which Robin asks “She?”. Then Barney says “Of course it’s a girl. Every dude knows his penis is a girl. It’s like a ship.”

This actually got me thinking though. I’ve never thought of my penis as either a girl or boy; it’s just a part of my body.

However, I can see the emotional need for a man to consider his penis to be female. That would make masturbation/self-love less homosexual. I suppose it could even make regular sex more kinky because it would be like girl on girl (humour me, this idea is shaky at best).

So guys (and girls?), tell me. Is your penis male or female? If you have anything interesting to add, feel free to do so. Since I can’t make polls here, it’s just going to have to be in the comments below.

In the interest of making this a slightly more meaningful, I’m going to mention something a friend of mine brought to my attention. It’s called the Kinsey Scale (also known as the Homosexual-Heterosexual Rating Scale).

Rather than use my own words, I’m going to be lazy and quote Kinsey himself:

Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories… The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects.

While emphasizing the continuity of the gradations between exclusively heterosexual and exclusively homosexual histories, it has seemed desirable to develop some sort of classification which could be based on the relative amounts of heterosexual and homosexual experience or response in each history […] An individual may be assigned a position on this scale, for each period in his life. […] A seven-point scale comes nearer to showing the many gradations that actually exist.

—Kinsey, et al. (1948). pp. 639, 656)

If you were to lazy to read that, basically it means almost nobody is fully straight or gay; people tend more strongly towards one sexual orientation than the other but they do not fully belong to that sexual orientation.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no actual test for this so don’t go trying to figure out whether you’re straight or gay online. The Kinsey Scale is just a seven level scale that basically tells you it’s not as simple as it being black and white – there’s another five shades to think about.

It’s been a while since I’ve made a new post, mainly because I’ve been busy with my last semester of university starting. That may just be an excuse for laziness on my part though, but we’ll go with the former. Anyway, the blog’s gone over 1,000 views now so I thought I’d do a good article with knowledge that will really benefit people’s thinking and their overall prospects for being an academic mind. Surely, knowing about this topic is considered “classier” than knowing the names of some celebrities, and since celebrities get so many readers I hope that this will get at least a few.

It also occurs to me that I may be losing some readers with the complexity of my diction, for which I apologise. This is simply how I write when talking about academic matters. It requires some paying attention to understand, but believe me, it’s an acquired taste.

Anyway, I was actually continuing a discussion of the nature of “evil”, following on from my blog post about villains, and was requested to make a post about ethics (specifically, Aristotle’s ethics). So here we go. Just a foreword, don’t go ratting on me about how these categories are not all-encompassing. I did not invent these, I’m merely redelivering information that I learned at university by consolidating all my knowledge and focusing it towards one particular topic. Unlike my three categories for villains, what I’m posting here are internationally accepted standards. Whilst I am sure that, for the purposes of psychoanalytical profiling, there exist many more categories, I assure you that the information I am about to divulge is correct to a university level academic standard.

The two types of ethics:

I’m not going to tell you who Aristotle is (because you should have an idea and can find this out for yourself), but Aristotle’s ethics fall into the category of teleological ethics. There are two broad groups of ethics: teleological and deontological. Teleological theories stipulate that behaviours/actions are considered ethical if the result is desirable, whereas deontological theories stipulate that a behaviour/action is only ethical if it is following some kind of paradigm such as duty or the law.

Examples of teleological theories include ethical egoism, utilitarianism, ethical elitism and ethical parochialism. Of these, I’ll explain the two most interesting (in my opinion), those being utilitarianism, which is the concept of “the greater good” in which sacrifices can be made to accomplish a larger aggregate gain in utility and ethical parochialism, which maximises the utility of your group (be that sports team, fans, company, family or any other discernible group). A good example of utilitarianism can be demonstrated through the hypothetical of a sinking ship. Your lifeboat can only support the weight of five people whereas you have six people trying to occupy the lifeboat. Either one person sacrifices himself to die (or is forced to by the group) or all of them die. If nobody volunteers, a utilitarian view would justify you forcibly removing a member of the boat to their death because you are saving five other lives by doing so (whereas it would be concerned unethical to kill somebody else using a deontological viewpoint). As for ethical parochialism, that should be axiomatic – you support your own “team” more than others.

A good example for a deontological theory would be Kant’s system, which we will get into later.Basically, deontological theories are heavily rule and duty based but they produced skewed results. For example, donating out of an act of compassion is not considered ethically valid as you have no duty or rule compelling you to donate. As such, teleological theories are generally considered superior.

Aristotle’s ethics:

Aristotle’s ethics were intended to apply to everyone, regardless of cultural background or belief. He believed that ethics should be axiomatic – that is self-evident once explained – and believed the purpose of all ethics should be towards the final goal, that being the achievement of “good”. The ultimate “good” that he suggested humans should all strive for was the flourishing of human life. Aristotle categorised his ethics into two groups of virtues: moral and intellectual. Now, there are 13 moral virtues and 5 major intellectual and 3 minor intellectual virtues so you can probably guess that I’m not going to list them all for you. You can probably just Google the list if you want. I will, however, explain how his virtues worked.

Moral virtues are obtained through good habit formation and practice. Moral virtues have two extremes (known as vices), those being excess and deficiency. Every person is naturally closer to one extreme than the other (that is to say, nobody stands at the arithmetic mean between these two vices). For example for the moral virtue of courage, the unethical practice of cowardice would be courage by deficiency, whereas excess courage would be considered something akin to recklessness.

Intellectual virtues are obtained through education and training. These have only one extreme, deficiency, except for prudence which has two extremes. Excess prudence would be fraud and opportunism whereas a deficiency in prudence constitutes negligence.

Justice is a little special as it is divided into three different types.

Distributive justice ensures that common goods are distributed maintaining proper proportionality. This means that if you have two kids and one is larger, and thus has a bigger appetite, if you give them both the same amount of food you are actually violating distributive justice. The key word here is proportionality.

Remedial justice is in the realm of law; it ensures the remedy of a wrong (i.e. compensation equal to damages).

Commercial justice ensures that the value of something given should equal the value of what is given in return (where this value is determined by market forces; i.e. ripping someone off violates this).

Thomas Aquinas refined Aristotle’s virtues with a Christian influence, but I’m not going to talk about that.

Evolution of ethics and morality:

The evolution of ethics is axiomatic. Quite simply, ethics and morality evolved as a point of necessity. If they had not, we would not exist in our current state – we would probably still be hunter-gatherers or would have died out as a species. This is a fact. There is no way we would be living in civilisations if it were customary for us to kill and rob our neighbours, thus, to survive, we evolved certain ethics and morals. I reject the Christian belief that god gave us morals, because that is both a horribly pessimistic view (that humans are incapable of being good without someone giving it to us; also it doesn’t explain why evil exists), and because it is arrogant to assume that before Christianity came along a few thousand years ago, every life form on the planet was evil (remembering that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old).

To articulate this point further, let me put it this way. The very fact that you are even here to ponder how ethics came to be means that ethics were a necessary part of evolution. Without it being a part of evolution, we would only have rudimentary semblances of society. These are all facts. Now on to my own personal hypothesis.

I believe that there are two primal instincts at play here. First and foremost, the strongest human instinct is survival. For that purpose a human will do anything within their power. An extension of survival is selfishness. A human will always, within the boundaries of what is allowed, seek to gain as much for themselves as possible. Now, this begs the question why we don’t loot and pillage and rape all the time. Well, short answer is we used to. However, as social order developed into a more complex system of social paradigm and law, humans were faced with a choice between getting whatever you wanted at the cost of community (and thus the inherent benefits of community such as economies of scale and safety), or giving up certain things to establish a community.

Now, as I said, survival is the strongest instinct and that is closely followed by selfishness (as the two are strongly correlated – to have more is to survive better). In a primal state, it would not be considered wrong to kill or pillage. There would be no concept of right and wrong (as these are human fabrications). Why is it that we chose society over personal gain? Because the prospect of a large community (which would eventually become cities and countries) offered more than the prospect of fending for one’s self. First, there are the intrinsic benefits a community brings. These should be obvious. There are many things that you can accomplish as a team rather than alone. Communities also tend to prosper more and offer more chance to profit (thus appealing to the selfish side). At the same time, humans are social animals. We cannot reproduce asexually and inter-mixing genes within a family is bad. Diverse genetic breeding produces stronger children. So in a toss up between “I can take my neighbour’s stuff if I’m stronger than him” and “I can have good children, more potential mates, more potential material gain and more safety” (among other things of course), humans naturally went for the one with the highest chance of survival – community. This is axiomatic too. If any creature did not naturally choose their best option for survival, they would not exist anymore.

So there you go, the evolution of ethics and my take on why it occurred this way.

It’s been a week since this blog went up and I’ve hit 500 views so I thought I’d celebrate by performing another community service (alongside my attempts to educate people in English and science). This time I’ll be telling you why people who complain about being friendzoned only have themselves to blame.

Now I’m no expert on girls, nor am I as smooth as some of my friends, but I do have a beautiful girl friend (which I consider an achievement that qualifies me to advise people stuck in the friendzone). Better yet, I have an analytical mind and will rationalise, to the best of my ability, the reasons behind my argument. It’s up to you whether you choose to believe in my reasoning or not, but honestly, if you have the time to add to this growing internet phenomena of friendzoning I think you’re due for a bit of a change in the way you think and behave. Before I get started, I’ll just mention that it would be more correct for me to say “friend zone” but as the phenomena is practically a term on its own, I combined the words (which also makes it easier for me to type and create a verb for it – friendzoning).

Let’s start with a disclaimer. I’m going to be generalising a lot because that’s the only possible way for me to write anything short of going around to each and every one of you with a case-by-case analysis. It’s the concept you need to understand, not the specific examples. In fact, if you’re dumb enough to think that every girl (yes, this will be targeted towards guys) is identical then maybe that’s the whole reason you’re not having much success. To make it easier on the eyes, I’m going to break it up into subheadings now.

Edit: In retrospect, the post title isn’t really addressed directly so I’ll just mention now: if you do any of the things I say not to do and none of the things I say to do, then that’s why you’re friendzoned. It’s your own fault.

Alpha Male:

Now, since we’re talking about heterosexual guys, it should be safe to assume that the girl you’re after is looking for a man. A man. Why is that important? So you can realise that you should stop acting like a pussy. Put it this way: would you be going for a girl that acts all masculine? I’m not talking about the “cool” girl who hangs out as a friend, plays games or joins in with sport and teasing, I’m talking about excessive bodily noises, behaving like a slob, poor hygiene and anything else considered not very feminine. Since we’re generalising here, the answer should be no. You want a girl who, despite any other cool traits, is still very feminine. What makes you think that girls want a feminine guy? This is why the age old adage “confidence is sexy” is still relevant. Confidence is a part of masculinity.

The topic of masculinity will inevitably lead to the controversial topic of the “alpha male”. Looking at primal animals (from which we evolved) the alpha male was basically the strongest provider (mainly of protection) and thus every female instinctively wanted the alpha male. Alpha male status basically denotes you as someone females find more attractive than others. Don’t get this term confused with jerks – they’re two completely different categories. The only reason why jerks have more success than you is because of something all jerks have. Yep, confidence. Do you honestly think women are stupid enough to intentionally choose somebody that will end up treating them wrong? No, they choose these jerks because they’re initially attracted to their confidence.

I’m going to be taking a lot of paragraphs because I don’t want this to turn into a block of text that’s hard to read. More on alpha males though – there are numerous traits of an alpha male and some of them will depend entirely on circumstance and environment. More general traits include wealth (provider), good looks (aesthetics and genetics), good body (protector and aesthetics), status (provider and power), and the confidence that I mentioned earlier. By now, hopefully you understand what I’m getting at. To be the ideal male, you should be confident, successful and just act with dignity and rectitude. Let’s review, can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this following picture?

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It should be pretty damn clear why this guy is in the friendzone. That’s not an alpha male. That’s a slave. It’s practically shouting at the girl that he’s not worthy of her attention because he has no dominance, no dignity and no confidence. Just to make my point clear, here’s another one.

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The pitiful fact that he’s kneeling in front of her while doing this not only emphasises his subservience (which is practically the opposite of alpha maleness) but basically tells the girl that he’s already in the palm of her hands. More about how girls think later.

Just one last thing to note before leaving the alpha male topic, remember how I said being an alpha male isn’t the same as being a jerk? Well yeah, that’s important. Sure, being an asshole is better than being the quiet guy who nobody thinks of, but if you can be the awesome guy who’s also not an asshole, that’s even better. Sorry, I just had to include one more because this one is the epitome of pathetic.

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If you’re going to do that, at least get your face out of the dirt and face upwards. Give her a cheeky grin and tell her to watch her step.

Making your intentions clear:

Let’s start this one off with a picture from Friends, since the show was what popularised the term “friendzone” in the first place.

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Notice how he said “you waited too long to make your move”. Time is not an arbitrary measure, but you need to make your intentions clear. If you act like nothing but a friend, eventually, that’s how she’ll think of you. If you don’t make it clear that you’re interested in her, then at some point it’s going to be game over for you. And no, doing everything for her and always agreeing with her doesn’t let her know that you’re interested in her. That’s how she comes to know of you as the friend she can always rely on and who’ll do anything for her.

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This one is roughly correct. When the girl loses any sexual interest in you, you are no longer in the game. If you confess after she has decided that you’re only a friend, you’re just going to get an awkward “let’s just be friends” kind of rejection. Your image in her eyes is very important. That doesn’t mean be a pig and make blatant advances on her, but keep her guessing. Just when she thinks you’re just a friend, you say something naughty. She goes “oh! I can’t believe he said that about me” and starts to feel self-conscious. At some point, she’ll start to care about your opinion on how she looks and she’ll want to prove herself to you. That’s how you’re meant to do it – girls are too used to being chased so a guy that can make her do the chasing is both interesting and an alpha male (because by nature, that’s what the alpha male is). I’m not going to go any further into this but just remember, when I say “make your intentions clear” I mean, make sure she knows (or thinks it’s a good chance) that you want more than just friendship. I’m pretty forward and flirtatious myself so I’ve never run into a friendzone problem because none of the girls I’ve been with were ever certain that I just wanted to be friends. It might have also had something to do with me being impatient when I want something, but I would hint at something more than just friends every now and then to keep them on their toes and to keep that interest there.

She just doesn’t like you:

Then give up. Life isn’t so easy that you’ll always get whatever you want. People, of all things, are very emotionally complex. It’s not as simple as “I want an xbox, therefore I work for the money and when I get the money, I can have that xbox that I want”. Sometimes a girl just won’t like you. Take a hint, you’ll be better off and so will she. Not only is pining after the same girl after being subtly rejected very beta (beta meaning not alpha), it puts you in a bad emotional state and prevents you from reaching for other opportunities. Also, it annoys the crap out of the girl.

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So I saw that picture and people were going on about how he was friendzoned. I think that’s just a pretty blatant hint that she’s not into him. Holy crap she practically shouted out “I’m lesbian”. The fact that she felt the need to state that they were “not dating” and just “best friends” seems pretty intentional to me. This is why girls always complain that us guys don’t get hints. Also, why would the guy say “hahahaha” after saying “I love you”. That’s just giving the girl an excuse to take it as a joke. Stick to your guns, don’t pussy out half way.

Even if you want that one particular girl more than anyone else, it’s still better for you to let go – at least for now. Why? Because after letting go, you might find that you didn’t like her as much as you thought you did. Other girls could make you forget her. And if not, by leaving, you have an opportunity to erase your history with her and reinvent yourself before coming back for another shot (maybe a year or so later). It’s better to be constantly in and out of the “I just met you zone” than permanently in the “friendzone” (if you want the girl, that is; those of you that are happy just being friends are either lying to yourself or shouldn’t be bothered about the friendzone in the first place).

And yes, if you finish sticky-taping your balls back together and ask the girl out, you might get rejected. Maybe that’s because she doesn’t like you. But refer to the paragraph above – you’re more of a man (and thus more attractive) if you try, fail then leave. I’ll let you guys in on a secret. My ex cheated on me and we broke it off on mutual terms. She was surprised that I didn’t try to get her back and that I let go of her so quickly and easily. Within two days, she was trying to ask for me back. I still ditched the bitch because that’s what being alpha is and if I let her walk all over me, I’d be like the human bridge up there – pathetic.

Understanding how girls think:

I’ll be blunt. This is incredibly freaking hard. However, there are a few things in particular that you’re better off knowing. First of all, girls are attracted to confidence. We’ve gone through that already. Second, girls are insecure and emotional creatures – they will constantly seek affirmation from peers. That’s why married men and guys with girlfriends are more attractive to girls – because the guy’s worth has already been verified by another female. If the girl is single, she might think “why isn’t he with me? Is the other girl better?” and then feel the need to prove to herself that she’s the better one (which is why we get women who hit on married men, besides the “thrill” of cheating). There are ways to play on these insecurities to get the girl to chase you but I won’t get into those (and they’re not as bad as it sounds). Third, girls are attracted to wealth and status. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar. That doesn’t mean a girl will pick solely based on those things, but they do play a significant role. The older the girl gets, the more important money and status will be and the less important things like physical appearance will be (good news for some of you).

Why are wealth and status important? Because females are, by nature, nest builders. They seek the best man to provide for a family, then they have children and raise them in their nest. All girls want a perfect nest. Why wouldn’t you? Of course, sometimes they just want these things because they’re narcissistic. In reality, it’s probably a mix of both. Just remember, girls want a guy that has the potential to provide them things they want, whatever it is they want (superficial stuff or family stuff).

Notice how I say “potential”. This is important because sometimes you don’t have to have the wealth already. Why are men with no direction or future, and who are unwilling to change themselves, unattractive? Because women know they’ll end up nowhere with a man like that. Physical appearance comes in a bit here – the fact that you work out is attractive on multiple levels. First, it means a hot body (or a potential future hot body), and second, it means you’re the kind of guy who’s willing to improve parts of himself that he knows need work. That is immensely attractive in both men and women.

Of course, there are also the other well-known traits that can give you a few extra points. Being interesting and funny and stuff always helps. Just remember though, girls are always talking about that “chemistry” between them and a guy. What they don’t know (and what a lot of you guys don’t know) is that chemistry doesn’t just happen. You make it happen. From the moment a girl meets you, the way you look, smell, present yourself and speak, as well as what you say and with what kind of tone, your body language and your entire carriage all contributes towards whether she feels chemistry or not. Sure, you can fluke it from time to time, but if you really know what’s going on, you can create that chemistry yourself.

So, if you made it through this entire post you’ve probably had some problems with the friendzone. Let me know in the comments below whether you learned anything, whether anything makes or doesn’t make sense and even if you want peoples’ (including mine) opinion on a particular situation of your own, put down the details and I’ll do my best to give you an answer.

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