I accept your apology and do understand that written communication sometimes promotes misunderstanding. However, my recommendation is that is you don’t want to come off as combative, don’t begin your comment with a presumption that the writer is talking out of her ass. It tends to put people on the defensive.

Once Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile it soon began to be commonly repeated by others and is now the standard time for male middle-distance runners. In other words, if you don’t know something is possible, it’s quite likely it will never occur to you. Examples that demonstrate other possibilities than the ones that have primarily been considered open the doors for more people to have more choice and less societal based conformity.

We haven’t shared a common ancestor with lobsters for over 700 million years so you are correct that Peterson and his theories about that are irrelevant. We do have a very close biological tie to bonobos, however — as close a tie as we have with chimps. Because we are all primates, that’s a lot more important than how we might or might not be like lobsters. How bonobo societies live speaks to how recent human socialization may have significantly changed our natural configurations. Chimps live in hierarchical societies with a fair amount of male violence and that is often used to explain that as being therefore natural for us as well, but since bonobos are just as close a relative and don’t live that way, it shows that this is not necessarily the case. That’s just one of the reasons that it’s worth mentioning.

I stand by my assertion that whether some consider a work that provides and analyzes scientific data as being off-base or ideological is irrelevant if they can’t provide substantive refutations for the assertions made therein. It’s essentially just calling names otherwise — mostly because what the speaker is hearing confronts some old entrenched sacred cow belief. Unfortunately, a fair amount of contemporary social science is tainted by this kind of thing, as described in this OP. Some anthropologists insist that these cultures that have group sex, or other forms of multiple partners are monogamous societies because they have something they call marriage. It’s their belief that long-term, monogamous pair-bonding into a nuclear family is the natural and correct relationship style and therefore call books like Sex at Dawn suspect without actually refuting anything specific in that has been asserted.

Everything that I’ve encountered in Sex at Dawn is just a confirmation of things that I’ve read and learned in a variety of other places and sources from a variety of scientific disciplines over the past several years — from primatologists to anthropologists and cultural historians, etc. For that reason, I feel comfortable citing from them, particularly since what I cited were direct quotes from anthropologists describing particular cultures (whose depictions of those cultures are not in academic dispute). It’s really kind of petty to act like those quotes aren’t valid. It’s another way of telling me that I don’t know what I’m talking about without really anything to back that up, which is again, kind of a combative way to talk to someone.

Here’s something else to consider:

“The only problem with this is that hardly anyone in America is actually an individual. Most people have not done the intentional and laborious work to separate themselves out from their cultural programming and unexamined wounds; merely unconsciously acting out scripts that have been written for them by others. You think you are an individual, in part because that is a highly prized thing to be, but almost certainly, you are not. You are more than likely a meat-puppet driven from behind the scenes by narratives that you have never even given a second thought to.”

I don’t know whether or not you’ve done the work to actively examine all of the things that your cultural programming has taught you and to truly individuate yourself, but I’m guessing not as much as you think you have. It’s hard to notice the ocean when you are swimming in it.

You have rightly commented that you had no way to know about my background and larger perspective after reading one short article by me, but none-the-less it didn’t stop you from advising me about how I should interact with my readers, which is again, fairly rude and antagonistic.

Don’t make them feel like unwitting dupes of the system. Grant them intelligence and agency. Educate them on how it works for you and others while being frank about the downsides.

How exactly am I doing anything remotely like making them into an unwitting dupe of the system? As it says in my profile descriptor, I write about sex and society, among other things. I’m describing the marriages and sexual mores of other cultures. If that isn’t important to you, then why did you even read this story in the first place?

A bit of friendly advice: If you would like to hold an actual discussion with somebody, don’t start off by trying to show them up and dominate them. That’s one of those things that our culture teaches, particularly to men, as the way to rise in the dominance hierarchy of patriarchy but it’s not the way to make friends or be taken seriously. When you do it to women it comes off as particularly condescending and rude.

There’s nothing wrong with adding in another perspective or asking a question, like why talking about bonobos is pertinent to human behavior, but it will be infinitely better received when it comes from a place of curiosity and wanting to contribute to a discussion rather than from a place of wanting to smack somebody else down as having done something pointless or irrelevant. Contrary to what your culture has taught you, such behavior doesn’t make you look Alpha, it makes you look like a jerk. I suspect that you aren’t actually a jerk because you did apologize — something that is rare on the internet. Still, in that case, it’s better to go forward in the spirit of dialog and sharing ideas than in the spirit of proving you are right and someone else is wrong. Just something to consider…..

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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