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Uterus is a more appropriate term than womb. Pregnancy lasts 39-40 weeks, longer than nine months. I have so many questions about several of of your assertions, but I really question the notion that women have lower pain tolerance. Childbirth? C’mon.

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author

Thank you for the correction, Elizabeth. I will use uterus.

And yes, both of the female editors agreed with your challenge on the pain. I saw a couple of papers on this, linked in the text. But maybe I don't have the full picture. Maybe something worth looking more into.

What other questions do you have?

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Without going into specifics, I feel that the picture you painted of women is full of stereotypical tropes that women have fought so hard to overcome. You need to provide some concrete data to support your assertions. Otherwise you do a lot of damage to your credibility and to women in general.

For some enlightening commentary on male fertility and social responsibility, I suggest you look at Gabrielle Blair’s “Ejaculate Responsibly”.

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Thank you Elizabeth.

I feel I have provided concrete data, and more than some. It's done through the links and 27 footnotes, quotes, and graphs. I've probably looked at over 100 papers, and read several from top to bottom, including a few meta-analyses. But I'm not perfect. If there are some specific claims that you would want to debate, I'm happy to look into them.

I think we're mixing two things: What we want the world to be like, and what it is. None of the things I say are what I think is right, or where I want the world to go. They are what I'm seeing science is claiming. I think it's very hard to actually direct the world where we want it to go if we don't understand first what we know about the hidden forces that drive it.

I would very much love to read the book, but unfortunately I get too many recommendations and can't read them all. I did read the summary on Amazon, and I probably agree with all of the claims I can read there. Did something I say make you think otherwise?

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Sep 5, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Hi Tomas, thank you. "If there are....specific claims....I'm happy to look into them." thank you: you've claimed men have higher pain tolerance than women. you've linked a paper and a book:

https://journals.lww.com/pain/abstract/1998/01000/sex_differences_in_the_perception_of_noxious.9.aspx?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email

https://academic.oup.com/edited-volume/45515/chapter-abstract/393446850?redirectedFrom=fulltext&utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email

Pls point to where it says "men have higher pain tolerance than women". they're both behind a paywall so many of us can't see the specific evidence and method behind it, for this big, and simple, claim. Someone must have been able to proxy the pain of childbirth, in men, to be confident about this big claim?

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Of course! The conclusion is in the abstracts.

In the 1st paper:

"Relative to females, males exhibit greater stature, muscle mass, strength, speed, aerobic capacity, ability to dissipate exercise heat loads, craniofacial robusticity, pain tolerance,..."

In the 2nd:

"Using a ‘box score’ methodology, they concluded the literature supports sex differences in response to noxious stimuli, with females displaying greater sensitivity."

I think this meta-analysis is probably quite relevant:

https://journals.lww.com/pain/abstract/2012/03000/a_systematic_literature_review_of_10_years_of.16.aspx

"The first set of results (122 articles), which is presented in this paper, examined sex difference in the perception of laboratory-induced thermal, pressure, ischemic, muscle, electrical, chemical, and visceral pain in healthy subjects. This review suggests that females (F) and males (M) have comparable thresholds for cold and ischemic pain, while pressure pain thresholds are lower in F than M. There is strong evidence that F tolerate less thermal (heat, cold) and pressure pain than M but it is not the case for tolerance to ischemic pain, which is comparable in both sexes. The majority of the studies that measured pain intensity and unpleasantness showed no sex difference in many pain modalities."

From this, I'd say the pain tolerance is probably a bit higher in men, but since it's not an extremely salient difference, I'm wondering it's worth keeping the claim.

I think it's important to note that, if this were true, it wouldn't mean that female pain is any less valuable, or that we should not cater to them when they claim pain. The literature around MDs disregarding women's pain complaints is appalling, and this should stop.

Does that make sense?

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Sep 5, 2023·edited Sep 5, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

thank you. re 2nd paper: tolerance and sensitivity mean different things. [On the 1st: it's not a paper, it's a book.] yes the book claims males exhibit greater pain tolerance, is that based on the 2nd paper or what pain study is that book claim based on? You summarised the evidence as: men have higher pain tolerance than women. Or probably higher. But there's no evidence men have higher, or probably higher, tolerance to ishemic pain? One meta-analysis, suggests men tolerate thermal and pressure pain, more than women. It'd be interesting to understand if people who have evolved to give birth, really do have lower pressure pain thresholds than those that haven't, or whether there is a flaw in methods/write-up. Does that make sense?

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Sep 9, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Yes, completely agree. If our model of reality is not accurate and we don't understand how things got to be the way they are today then we will not succeed in defining problems and working out solutions. What IS is very different from what "should" be.

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Sep 4, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Women having lower pain tolerance is a long-time very robust finding by pain scientists, that we can be quite sure of, I think. We have more pain receptors in our skin compared to men, to begin with. During childbirth women are full of hormonal painkillers just like men during fights. When the child is born earlier, before your body has ramped up its painkiller production, the process will be considerably more painful.

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thank you, pls may you paste a link to a journal article that says women have lower pain tolerance? there are sex differences in perception of pain, but i've not seen anything so definitive on tolerance. such a very robust finding would be widely known?

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Sep 5, 2023·edited Sep 5, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

For example, there's a review by Sorge & Strath: 'Sex differences in pain responses', Current Opinion in Physiology, 2018. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468867318300786

It may be pay-walled; I'll paste a piece from Introduction:

"Within patient populations, sex differences emerge repeatedly. Women are more sensitive and less tolerant to painful stimuli [15,16], though some have argued that the sex difference only exists in some modalities [17]. Regardless, multiple studies have shown sex differences in pain response in patients. During the development of the Sensory Hypersensitivity Scale, Dixon et al. reported that women had greater sensitivity than men, across a number of patient groups and healthy controls [18]. Pain has a biological (sensory) and psychological component and it is possible that sex differences exist in both aspects."

I.e. results where women report more pain are prevalent, and this can mean differences in physiology (receptors, hormones, sensory brain region activity, etc), but also that women tend to be wimps and complain more. As a woman I'd prefer the version without wimpiness, but apparently there's evidence for women's higher wimpiness as well. Zhang et al 2021 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811921009587) ran experiments and questionnaires and found that women's lower pain tolerance was at least partly modulated by higher fear and anxiety. Some other papers deal with physiological aspects of pain intensity and also find sex differences. I admit I haven't read any of these papers fully.

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Sep 5, 2023·edited Sep 5, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

thank you. women are not less tolerant to ischemic pain, according to the evidence Tomas has written above. The second paper you link is based on the cold pressor test. You've convinced me men have higher tolerance to thermal pain than women. But that's a much narrower claim than: men have higher tolerance to pain than women, which there isn't any evidence for? ["Women are...less tolerant to painful stimuli [15,16]", both references appear to be to mice studies, though links are broken on Elsevier. female mice and humans are both mammals, but a big leap from female mice to women?]

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Sep 5, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Thanks! My impression is also that the between-sex differences found are not particularly big (and they are blurred by large within-sex differences). But whenever a difference is found, it seems to be females less tolerant/more sensitive, right? No evidence for the opposite in any aspects or types of pain? I may just not have found it.

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Sep 5, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190110141806.htm "men....were stressed and hypersensitive to later pain when returned to the location in which it had earlier been experienced. Women...did not seem to be stressed by their earlier experiences of pain". Also, being more sensitive doesn't necessarily mean less tolerant

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"but I really question the notion that women have lower pain tolerance. Childbirth?"

It's true. Men tend to have a higher pain tolerance than women. Science backs it up. Childbirth doesn't have much to do with it.

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Why is uterus more appropriate? Genuine question - happy to be pointed to a fuller explanation elsewhere.

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Sep 8, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

I was waiting to see if someone else could more eloquently speak to this - and my Google search did not result in a satisfactory article. As I thought about it, I think the best illustration is this: I have a daughter. She has a uterus. That statement does not create any uneasiness in my stomach. If you were to say my daughter has a womb, my reaction might be to slap you, because she is eight.

Uterus is the medical term. Approximately once a month, my uterine lining is shed. Again, I would probably have a visceral reaction if in her human health and development classes, the menstrual cycle was described as the discharge from the womb.

Womb is what we associate with a baby.

Just as I would not describe my 8-year old daughter as having a womb, nor would a describe my 95-year old grandmother as having a womb.

Womb is also the term used by Christianity - Jesus was the "fruit of Mary's womb."

Also meaning that womb is what I would consider a religious connotation as opposed to a biological or scientific connotation.

Given the current environment in the United States - fall of Roe v. Wade, some of the crazy educational choices being made in FL, etc. - I hope my descriptions above illustrate why many women consider the word womb problematic.

Overall, I would consider describing a woman as "a person with a womb" as pretty high on the misogynistic/patriarchal scale. OB/GYN Jen Gunter dives into some detail of these effects in her book Menopause Manifesto. Unfortunately, not a short article accessible on the internet, but I think the following quote from that book is relevant to this discussion: "There is a common fallacy that women were never 'meant' to experience menopause. This assertion claims that menopause is an accidental state that resulted from longer life expectancies from modern sanitation and medicine, allowing women to live beyond their ovarian function...The tenacity of this myth is testament to the impact of patriarchal dogma. Erasing menopausal women from history is literally reducing women to the functioning of their uterus and ovaries. When something feels off balance I replace the word "women" with "men" to see how it sounds. If it sounds reasonable, I am more likely to consider the hypothesis worthy of further evaluation, but if we would never speak about men that way, then there is going to be a lot of side eye on my part.

Has anyone ever in the history of medicine ever uttered these words? 'Through good sanitation and health care, men are now living long enough to develop erectile dysfunction?' Doubtful."

I am starting to go beyond the scope of your genuine question (although I think it would be a prudent exercise to revise this article as Gunter describes and consider how it sounds). I appreciate your honesty in asking it. Sometimes it is difficult for marginalized groups to have to explain why something is not a preferred term - but it is really important that we all engage in (hopefully) productive dialogue. I hope this was helpful.

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This is very helpful, thank you.

The reproductive part of the uterus is indeed the relevant aspect for this specific article. However, the sexist and religious connotations make it completely unhelpful. I will definitely use uterus from now on, and might add a note on this topic in one of my posts.

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Sep 4, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Oy! Lot of pop human evolutionary biology here. I researched and taught behavioral ecology for 40 years. Let me just say it's a lot more complicated than represented here. You raised the biggest caveat at the end of the article: our physiology, anatomy, and much of our behavior evolved 4+ million years ago. These traits and their underlying genetic bases change slowly. Our current culture, however, is quite recent and always changing. This makes it challenging to interpret something as complex as sexual dimorphisms in anatomy, physiology, and behavior in terms of current culture. They make more sense in terms of small groups of related humans foraging on the African savannah and then other habitats as humans migrated from Africa. Once you recognize the disparity in time scales between biological and cultural evolution, and the lag of biology compared with culture, some of the oddities of human behavior start to make sense. Incels, for example!

Among animals there is great diversity in patterns of mate choice, with ecology playing a large role. When it is difficult for males to protect critical resources, like in marine mammals, females may choose males on physical vigor as shown in combat: think elephant seal bulls fighting on a beach. When resources like food or nest sites can be defended, then females may choose males by the resources they accrue: think red-winged blackbirds. And when resources are evenly distributed, females may choose males on attractiveness and ability to help feed offspring: think most songbirds which are monogamous; females in these groups may increase the genetic diversity of their young by engaging in sneaky extra pair copulations. Like I said, it's complicated. The impulse to understand our own mating behavior in terms of evolution is understandable, but should be done with caution and modesty.

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You're right!

This is just the 1st article in the series. I'm getting everybody in the same footing.

You are discussing the 3rd or 4th layer, which we'll get into! In fact, I have an article focused just on the animal kingdom. And for the cultural aspects, I can only tackle them once we are on the same footing on the biological side. Does that make sense?

That said, I'd love to have more pairs of eyes on my drafts before publishing them. If you are interested, I'd be happy to have you look at them so you can tell me what I got wrong or what I should change!

If you're interested, just respond to any of my emails, and I will get your reply in my inbox. I'll be able to use your email address that way. Please use an email address compatible with google docs.

Thanks!

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The critical point I was trying to articulate, much better said. We can't deny our biology, nor the the reality of "wetware" - the messy, amazing, electro-chemical system that keeps us alive and enables our perception and behavior. At the same time, that system has evolved, in us as a biological species, to give us the ability to build, not just physical nests, but "narrative nests" - massively elaborate cultural systems.

Parsing what shapes behavior - how the complicated and complex bio-eco-socio system shapes us - is a problem akin to, but vastly more challenging than, looking at the impact of steroids on a given home run in baseball https://www.theringer.com/mlb/2018/9/28/17913536/mark-mcgwire-sammy-sosa-steroid-era-home-run-chase or attributing specific storms to climate change https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/29/climate/climate-change-hurricanes.html

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Sep 5, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Nomenclature recommendation for this series - Use “sex”, not “gender” whenever you are referring to sex. Gender is a social construct, and using the terms interchangeably leads to confusion.

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Thanks! That sounds reasonable, somebody else has suggested the same. The article is updated on web.

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This is important - not because the distinction is simple, but precisely because it's not. Exploring the interaction, the messy middle, is exactly what you're trying to do.

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Sep 4, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Me ha encantado el enfoque atrevido y realista del artículo. Estoy en completo acuerdo con las diferencias entre ambos sexos por necesidad de conservar la especie. Todo lo demás, es agregado a las relaciones no procreativas pero lo básico, las diferencias existen y no deberían molestar a un feminismo mal entendido. Gracias por dar unas explicaciones tan claras y científicas aunque a muchas les pesen. Yo me lo he pasado muy bien leyendo lo evidente.

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Me alegro de oírlo, Marisa. ¡Esperemos que la mayoría sea como tú!

Lo que viene después es interesante, porque empieza a tocar rasgos psicológicos... A ver qué opinas. Un abrazo!

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Sep 4, 2023·edited Sep 4, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

I was very surprised by the claim that men have more pain tolerance than women. I was a martial arts instructor for thirty years and I thought the opposite. In my experience, men are better at tolerating physical blows (punches, kicks), where extra muscle mass can help to disperse the force; however, women always seemed more resistant to the pure "pain techniques" like joint locks, nerve strikes and pinches.

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You know, this is the scientific finding that is getting the most pushback. You are the 4th to tell me this, so I'm going to start taking it seriously. I'll look into the science to see how good the papers are. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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Men engage in many more physically painful behaviors than women do, often for fun. It would be surprising if men experienced pain more acutely.

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Cheers to you for tackling this topic at all, let alone doing a broad and deep dive into it. Not many people have the grapes to discuss things like this in public at all, because it just leads to massive pushback and accusations no matter what they say. Which is a shame - where are we as a culture if we can't even talk about what makes us us.

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Is isn’t comfortable, that’s for sure. Thanks for appreciating! It adds fuel!

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Sep 5, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Oh my, Tomas, I admire your willingness to explore a topic that has obsessed me for the last 40 years, ever since I read The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins at age 20, as part of my Biology degree. For now, a couple of small points. Beards on men are a sign of sexual maturity. They also serve to hide a non-square jawline. After menopause, women also grow "beards" (alright, chin hair). Women also hunt (think Diana, the huntress, and lionesses). How else can they feed their offspring when men are away for extended periods? So the answer to your question is sexual selection, like for the lion's mane and deep roar. The muscles are just for fighting.

BTW I'm another one who questions the pain tolerance studies.

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author

Thank you! Looking forward to more points. In the meantime, yes I’ll cover hunting with more nuance in the future!

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Sep 4, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Your viewpoint may have been relevant a century ago, but the sexual revolution and women's liberation have changed things significantly. Nowadays, men can be held accountable for child support, which discourages irresponsible fooling around. Additionally, women now have access to birth control, which empowers them to decide whether or not to become pregnant. Furthermore, better relationship between the sexes inspires shared parenting, with greater involvement from fathers. Today we are only beginning to witness the social ramifications of these changes.

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I think the poont of this article is that our genes change much more slowly than our society and economic incentives do.

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I disagree. The article elaborates on how having a uterus determines the way women think, "A huge amount of the PSYCHOLOGICAL differences between men and women can be explained by one simple fact. Women have a uterus."

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You don't think psychology is affected by genes? I'm pretty certain it is.

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Actually, our psychology has an impact on our genes through the process of partner selection. As per the theory of Darwinian selection, partner selection has a significant influence on genes. Nowadays, women may prefer a partner who possesses wit and kindness rather than someone with big muscles, bushy eyebrows, and a macho attitude. On the other hand, men may be attracted to women who are intelligent and poised.

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It's not either/or. The fact that genes influence behavior does not mean they dictate behavior. Environment has an influence on psychology and genes. As we can see, psychology also has an influence on environment. Culture is a product of genes and environment. And culture affects genetic drift, thereby influencing psychology, environment and culture again.

Tomas' point, it seems, is we should understand each of these influences in turn. Yes, birth control and the move towards social equality are important cultural developments. But they are not universal. They can be, if we can better understand the interplay between these factors and determine the best way to promote social equality.

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I agree with your response. Thank you.

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Sep 4, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

As a biologist, sexual selection is One of my favorite topics especially for educating people on evolution. That was a fun article. It needs some editing... Also, it would be better to use the word "uterus" instead of "womb". Then there's the word "gender" which refers to a person's choice. You should replace "gender" with "sex" when referring to phenotype.

Don't forget to include in follow up articles, the evolutionary reasons for "sneaky f***ers" and rape.

Enjoyed the article!

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author

BTW, I'd love to have more pairs of eyes on my drafts before publishing them. If you are interested, I'd be happy to have you look at them so you can tell me what I got wrong or what I should change!

If you're interested, just respond to any of my emails, and I will get your reply in my inbox. I'll be able to use your email address that way. Please use an email address compatible with google docs.

Thanks!

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Sep 4, 2023·edited Sep 4, 2023Author

Hi Lana, thank you for your comments!

I just changed womb for uterus in this article and all my future drafts. May I ask: What's the difference? A quick search didn't yield anything, nor did ChatGPT help.

I touch on rape ("forced copulation", or FC) in the next one, and will cover it more later. Hopefully I'll make it justice.

You mention sneaky f***ers, but given the context, I can interpret it in different ways. Do you mind clarifying? Thanks

Anything else I should edit or add?

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If you search John Maynard Smith and sneaky fkers, you'll find info.

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Solid start to a series. Looking forward to the rest. Two points:

1. You're talking about median, or typical characteristics. Everything in nature is distributed. Acknowledging that is vital; in modern society, valuing the individual, the "characteristics" of a group - the median and distribution - are relevant to the assessment of individual abilities and match for a social position. Too much political controversy is grounded misunderstanding of this simple point.

2. A great resource - https://carta.anthropogeny.org/archive with material on everything from male violence and the evolution of our species to grand-motherhood.

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author

Thanks!

Your point on distributions is valid. I will add this in the future.

How should I use the resource? It has plenty of articles, and usually I avoid browsing (too time-consuming) and instead search (to satisfy specifically the questions I have, so that I can drive my investigation, rather than being driven). So what specifically do you think I should read about it?

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Sep 4, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

There was big bottleneck in Y chromosome diversity that seems contemporaneous with agriculture and complexification of society. Our long hunter-gatherer past may not have shaped male selection as much as we thought until recently.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4381518/

It is commonly thought that human genetic diversity in non-African populations was shaped primarily by an out-of-Africa dispersal 50–100 thousand yr ago (kya). Here, we present a study of 456 geographically diverse high-coverage Y chromosome sequences, including 299 newly reported samples. Applying ancient DNA calibration, we date the Y-chromosomal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) in Africa at 254 (95% CI 192–307) kya and detect a cluster of major non-African founder haplogroups in a narrow time interval at 47–52 kya, consistent with a rapid initial colonization model of Eurasia and Oceania after the out-of-Africa bottleneck. In contrast to demographic reconstructions based on mtDNA, we infer a second strong bottleneck in Y-chromosome lineages dating to the last 10 ky. We hypothesize that this bottleneck is caused by cultural changes affecting variance of reproductive success among males.

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Ah, good one, Joannes. Thanks!

Yes, it's true that early agriculturalists might have spread their genes in a bigger way. It wouldn't eliminate any of this, but it might have toned it down. Something worth keeping in mind. Would love to read studies on this specifically.

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Sep 5, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Yeah, I think there is not much information found so far as to what was the mechanism for this bottleneck, so anything goes at this point. We could fancy the first harems or terrible large-scale warfare, but it might something as "boring" as series of pandemics from a combination of animal husbandry and life in larger connected groups, where say, only guys with large thyroids survived ; )

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Yo make a good biological analysis but forget how culture and social environment changes preferences and flirting uses

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author

Yes, you are right. I'm limiting this to the more scientific, evolutionary, physical, direct aspects. As the series moves forward, I will be branching into these topics. But the more you get into culture, the more it's a matter of opinion, so the harder it gets to make sound arguments. So I think it's good for all of us share a common biological, scientific ground before we venture into that!

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Sep 4, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

With regards to physical differences you explain we can exclude cultural and social explanations. But for topics like humor or partners' perferences it is almost impossible to draw biological conclusions. Humor is very culture/context dependent, and preferences for a partner is very much determined by how girls vs. boys are socialized. What do you think?

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Yes, I start touching on psychological aspects in the premium article this week, and then some more in the article next week. Humor, ambition, and altruism are examples.

Humor is a good example, because although women are as capable of it as men, there's a sexual bias in that men are more valued when they produce it, and women are more valued when they appreciate it. This is all distributions, of course, but the difference has been replicated. Understanding why this is the case is important!

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Th is is yet again limiting. Scientific is not always “objective” and without bias. I would suggest you read Emily Martin’s egg and the sperm

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Sep 6, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Can you please explicitly state what your thesis is of this article series? I feel that would be immensely helpful, as this first article appears headed in a direction of misogyny, racism, and transphobia. Please, what point are you trying to prove? Will it be helpful to marginalized groups? Or will it be used as a weapon by those that feel bodies different than their own are inferior? For example, please consider that it is well documented that the medical profession is often dismissive of pain in people with a uterus, and even more so, the pain reported by people of color with a uterus. What implications does a bold statement like "men have a higher tolerance of pain" carry? Can we make any statement regarding relative pain tolerance (which is subjective by nature)? Why make such a statement?

I appreciate based on your earlier comments that you do not have the capacity to read everything your readers suggest, so let me leave you with something thoughts from a book that I routinely reflect on. In "The Body is Not an Apology", writer and activist Sonya Renee Taylor asserts that there are 3 "peaces" we all must come to: (1) make peace with not understanding, (2) make peace with difference, and (3) make peace with your body. It is possible that this series is an attempt at #2 - making peace with difference. Please take the time to reflect on implications of this series. They are immense.

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author

Thanks Kelly.

I guess my goal for the series is to find the truth. Or put in a different way, to form an independent opinion on some of the topics you mention, and others. I am not coming at it with another agenda.

I am pretty sure the conclusions will not misogynistic, racist, or transphobic, as I’m a strong believer that all people are created equal and should have equal rights, and culture can overpower instincts.

But I also expect the conclusions to be unconventional, because culture is never perfect, stumbles forward, gets many things right in the process, and some wrong. Hopefully this process will elucidate some of its mistakes.

Does that make sense?

You are right with the comment about pain. Thanks to the community, we’ve been able to figure out that the evidence is not amazing.

Even if it was strong, though, that would not justify the dismissiveness of doctors of women’s pain because, as you say, for treatment, subjective pain matters a great deal.

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Sep 9, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

In thinking through my response, I initially started it with “the truth is”, but at realizing the harshness of those words, I realized MY truth is I struggle with how someone could read the concluding paragraph of this piece and think it was not misogynistic. My crude paraphrasing of that paragraph is this: “Because females have uteruses, men are stronger, better, and more prone to violence.” Maybe that doesn’t sound as misogynistic as saying a woman's place is in the home; however, someone that does believe a woman’s place is in the home probably finds little fault in my crude paraphrasing.

In thinking about having a goal of the truth, I was reminded of a passage I wrote down from Fredrick Backman’s novel, Us Against Them: “People will always choose a simple lie over a complicated truth, because the lie has one unbeatable advantage: the truth has to always stick to what actually happened, whereas a lie just has to be easy to believe. Lies are simple. Truth is difficult.”

One simple lie that I have been learning over the past 5-10 years is that we can easily define male and female. The truth is complicated, which the article I link at the bottom of this post discussing the debate surrounding the trans athlete Lia Thomas does a great job of diving into, asserting “there is no single, simple, or obvious way to decide who counts as a woman because human sex refuses to be neatly divided into two categories.”

Sticking with what we are learning from transgender athletes, one of the reasons I stated I feared this series could be racist, is that we have discovered when trying to use a simple, single, obvious way to determine who counts as a woman, athletes of African descent are disproportionately disqualified. This begs the question: Is our view of what makes a woman inherently racist?

To find the truth, we have to ask questions. As you continue to seek the truth, I implore you to ask yourself these questions:

What truth in exploring the differences between the sexes are you looking to find? Why does it matter? Why does it matter to you?

What assumptions have you made regarding the “simple truth that females have uteruses” should be challenged? In this response, I challenge that we can divide human sex into two categories. I don’t have the answer, but I also ask: do all females have a uterus? Do only females nurse?

What inherent biases might exist in the type of source that you use as you search for the truth? What could you learn from a “secondary source” such as a book that you can’t get from a primary source? Why do you turn to science and not religious or spiritual texts in a search for the truth? As absurd as it sounds, I find the following question very intriguing: What would Jesus say about the difference between the sexes?

It takes profound courage to truly seek the truth. I view your engaging with me on this thread as empirical evidence that you are honest in your response, and I hope I have not been unkind (if I have, you too should call me out so that I can do better). I agree wholeheartedly with Brene Brown that our world needs courageous cultures and brave leaders, and the only way we get there is by making mistakes. Good luck in your quest for the truth.

https://genestogenomes.org/trans-exclusion-in-sports-a-discriminatory-and-erroneous-tradition/?fbclid=IwAR2z0T2zglqMkvnEqgARpBt-Aux5uBPeB-LM37mw6HaXN4YWTy_XwRbWs50

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Thank you Kelly. I try! And the tone matters less to me than the content. Your thoughts were valuable, so that's what I paid attention to.

Your questions are very valid here, and that's precisely why the very first footnote of the article is:

"I’m also not trying to get into the gender and sex orientation debate. In fact, I steer away from it. It’s a hard topic, there’s a mismatch in the debate between knowledge and confidence, and I don’t know more than others who write more intelligently on the topic. Instead, I want to cancel out the noise and think about all of this from first principles. Form my own opinion along with you. In this article, I am considering only heterosexual, cisgender people. If, in the future, I have something to add to the conversation on other topics like homosexuality or gender, I will do it then."

This was a sincere comment. I genuinely do not have a formed opinion on many of these topics, so I don't feel equipped to discuss them intelligently.

I can understand why, if you read in a random place the sentence “Because females have uteruses, men are stronger, better, and more prone to violence”, your first reaction could be to consider it misogynistic. Many people writing that sentence might be. It's why I work so hard in making Uncharted Territories a place where we can all trust each other to be genuinely honest intellectually, and where we don't assume that intent.

Everybody comes at every topic with biases. What I try very hard is to be conscious of them, and try to eliminate them as much as I can. This is why nearly every specific claim in the article is supported by linked papers: That way, people like you can check them all, and call me out on the specific ones they disagree with—as has happened with women and pain.

The reason why I turn to scientific papers and not books or sacred texts is precisely because I want to avoid as many assumptions and biases as possible, not just mine. A sacred text is the ultimate bias, because supposedly it can't be questioned (that's the "sacred" part). A book will layer its own opinions on whatever evidence is available. So I do read plenty of books, but when I want to form an independent opinion myself, I go to the sources.

What makes scientific papers special is that they are all *falsifiable*. That's what neither sacred texts nor opinions or feelings have. They make claims, they test them empirically, and if somebody doesn't believe them, they can do their own empirical tests and bust them. I believe that my opinions are much stronger when they're built from the ground up from falsifiable data.

More on all this next week!

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As an academic biologist, specializing in animal behavior, I would spend the end of the semester talking about just these ideas. You have done an excellent job presenting the issues and references. It is indeed a difficult topic to present objectively with ruffling lots of feathers among both sexes. Thank you for providing this excellent introduction to this topic. I firmly believe that this basic biological sexual difference (uterus) is the basis of much human behavior. And I assume you know about the biology of seahorses in which the sex roles are reversed in that males carry and care for the eggs during development.

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Good to hear from you, Scott!

I'm very glad to hear. Thank you!

And yes, oh yes I've heard about seahorses. One of the articles of the series is called Bestial Kingdom, where I'm going to be doing an overview of all the insights we can learn from looking at sex in the animal kingdom.

I'm looking for experts who might want to have a look at my drafts before publishing. LMK if you're interested!

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I would be happy to take a look at your draft. Can't say I am truly and "expert"

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Sep 4, 2023Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Consider the effects of changing environment warming multiple pollution sources 80000 chemicals released into the environment and all this potential effects on fertility and sperm count and spontaneous abortion

Improving survival of infants and mothers reducing need for serial pregnancies and serial wives

Increase costs of child raising with increased survival

All these are considerations in population or fertility issues and cultural approaches to male and female interaction

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Very interesting article as usual. And, as is always the case when we see the extent to which DNA shapes everyday behaviours that most people do without being aware of it, and without being aware of what creates them, this raises the question of free will. I'd be curious to see an article from you on this subject!

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Interesting comment as usual, Olivier!

Your wishes are orders.

https://unchartedterritories.tomaspueyo.com/p/does-free-will-exist

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