Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How Women Got Their Curves

Despite the salacious title, or maybe because of it, Barash and Lipton’s How Women Got Their Curves and other Just-So Stories is an interesting survey of the evolutionary biology of women’s bodies.  The book is an excellent way for beginners to the subject to understand how an empirical science emerges from the matrix of theories and preconceptions.  Much of this subject is still in the realm of pure speculation.  A form of informed logic is used to hash out issues like the concealed ovulation and menopause.  This is how a science begins.  From these thought experiments, called Just-So stories by the authors, empirical research can go forth, and firmer data, we hope, can be provided.

The book also performs one of the time honored missions of science.  It knocks yet another supposition of human supremacy from its perch.  Our bodies have been and are subject to natural selection just like every other animal.  If we have not explored ourselves from this standpoint, it is because of our inability to place ourselves under the same scrutiny as every thing else.

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