Men and their non-evolution

  • Article by: BILL WARD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 24, 2012 - 4:03 PM

Photo: Val B. Mina, MCT

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We've come a long way. Or maybe not.

A recent study found that modern man is a lot like Cro-Magnon Man. Emphasis on "man."

The research by an Australian university determined that "upper body strength in adult males is a crucial variable that appears to have impacts on a wide range of mental mechanisms. ... Physically strong men have a greater sense of entitlement, a shorter fuse on anger, and are more likely to turn aggressive when angry."

The conclusion: "Despite the steady decline in physical aggression and violent deaths that have accompanied Western civilization, the human mind is still designed for ancestral environments."

A local expert agrees -- to a point.

"All primates use strength and aggression to establish dominance," said William Beeman, chair of the University of Minnesota's Department of Anthropology.

But, he added, "Power and control of resources are equally potent ways to establish dominance, and talent in the arts and that undefinable 'charisma' are also likely to produce dominance and a high hierarchical position. Think of the powerful preachers, actors, musicians, artists and orators of the world. In some ways these skills are symbolic substitutes for the physical dominance that likely characterized early human beings."

Beeman also took some issue with the Australian study's assertion that stronger men tend to support a more militaristic foreign policy, citing action stars (Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger), who are more likely to be Republicans than their peers.

Being strong and aggressive personally doesn't determine your politics, Beeman said: "Over the years Democrats have proved to be as capable of militancy as Republicans."

Bill Ward • 612-673-7643

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