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The Irish Curse

I just read Robert Wright’s the Moral Animal. My favorite story was this one:

It has been found that Chimpanzees have testes that weigh more relative to their body weights than do other primates such as gibbons. Interestingly, there is an evolutionary explanation for this. Female chimpanzees are actually quite promiscuous while female gibbons are monogamous.

Think about why testes weights are different, then, across the two species. If females copulate with lots of different males, the only way male genes have a chance of getting into the next generation is if the species produces lots of semen for transportation. Thus, the male who gets his DNA into an egg is a question of sheer volume. So, the species with small relative testes weights have evolved because their males do not need to engage in this bedsheet battle!

Promiscuous does not mean unfaithful, either in animals or people. But now think about what the meaning of the Irish Curse is? I don’t know where the urban legend came from, but if true, it says something about Irish women that I was unaware of.

What does this have to do with economics? Nothing, at least not directly.

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