Saturday, November 10, 2012

General Petraeus and the biology of alpha male primates

General Petraeus's extramarital affair is dominating the news today.

On the one hand, I don't like adultery; nor do I trust high government officials.

On the other hand, adultery is so very common that I fail to understand how it can be a public scandal -- or even news -- much less a court martial worthy crime.

The fact of the matter is that alpha male primates tend to be polygamous.  It's not clear to me that they truly have a voluntary choice in this.

To me, this is very similar to the issues surrounding same sex marriage.  People cannot choose whether they are straight or gay.  Similarly, I suspect that alpha males cannot choose whether or not to be polygamous.

Polygamous behavior by alpha males has been a great source of concern for females who have to share their attention -- and also for beta males who are unable to find mates, because alpha males dominate the field.  Monogamy has been a solution proposed for the benefit of females and beta males for thousands of years; but, clearly, it does not work.

The definition of insanity is doing something over and over and expecting different results.



Some afterthoughts on 11/14/12

Today I am looking at some of the other behavior of Bradley, namely bizarre anonymous e-mails to Kelley & bringing home large quantities of classified documents.

It appears that she does have some issues of judgment.  Having an affair with a married man is also a judgment issue.

We also have to look at Petraeus's judgment in consorting with such a person, but this is a stereotypical situation: sycophants clinging to the rich and powerful for dubious purposes.

This does raise questions with respect to national security.

On the other hand, his public appearances with his wife may raise issues of national security, since people wanting to get at him might get at him through her.  In China, the private lives of public officials are regarded as state secrets, for this reason.

Nevertheless, I continue to suspect that polygamous behavior is biological, and not susceptible to elimination by public shaming and discipline.

Moreover, I suspect that secrecy and shame make the polygamous behavior more dangerous from a security perspective, rather than eliminating it.

Rather than cloaking normal, biological behaviors in secrecy, let's out the sycophants.

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