Goodreads helps you follow your favorite authors. Be the first to learn about new releases!
Start by following Geoffrey Miller.

Geoffrey Miller Geoffrey Miller > Quotes


more photos (1)

Geoffrey Miller quotes (showing 1-23 of 23)

“Men write more books. Men give more lectures. Men ask more questions after lectures. Men post more e-mail to Internet discussion groups. To say this is due to patriarchy is to beg the question of the behavior's origin. If men control society, why don't they just shut up and enjoy their supposed prerogatives? The answer is obvious when you consider sexual competition: men can't be quiet because that would give other men a chance to show off verbally. Men often bully women into silence, but this is usually to make room for their own verbal display. If men were dominating public language just to maintain patriarchy, that would qualify as a puzzling example of evolutionary altruism—a costly, risky individual act that helps all of one's sexual competitors (other males) as much as oneself. The ocean of male language that confronts modern women in bookstores, television, newspapers, classrooms, parliaments, and businesses does not necessarily come from a male conspiracy to deny women their voice. It may come from an evolutionary history of sexual selection in which the male motivation to talk was vital to their reproduction.”
Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
“Imagine a young Isaac Newton time-travelling from 1670s England to teach Harvard undergrads in 2017. After the time-jump, Newton still has an obsessive, paranoid personality, with Asperger’s syndrome, a bad stutter, unstable moods, and episodes of psychotic mania and depression. But now he’s subject to Harvard’s speech codes that prohibit any “disrespect for the dignity of others”; any violations will get him in trouble with Harvard’s Inquisition (the ‘Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion’). Newton also wants to publish Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, to explain the laws of motion governing the universe. But his literary agent explains that he can’t get a decent book deal until Newton builds his ‘author platform’ to include at least 20k Twitter followers – without provoking any backlash for airing his eccentric views on ancient Greek alchemy, Biblical cryptography, fiat currency, Jewish mysticism, or how to predict the exact date of the Apocalypse.

Newton wouldn’t last long as a ‘public intellectual’ in modern American culture. Sooner or later, he would say ‘offensive’ things that get reported to Harvard and that get picked up by mainstream media as moral-outrage clickbait. His eccentric, ornery awkwardness would lead to swift expulsion from academia, social media, and publishing. Result? On the upside, he’d drive some traffic through Huffpost, Buzzfeed, and Jezebel, and people would have a fresh controversy to virtue-signal about on Facebook. On the downside, we wouldn’t have Newton’s Laws of Motion.”
Geoffrey Miller
“Existing political philosophies all developed before evolutionary game theory, so they do not take equilibrium selection into account. Socialism pretends that individuals are not selfish sexual competitors, so it ignores equilibria altogether. Conservatism pretends that there is only one possible equilibrium—a nostalgic version of the status quo—that society could play. Libertarianism ignores the possibility of equilibrium selection at the level of rational social discourse, and assumes that decentralized market dynamics will magically lead to equilibria that yield the highest aggregate social benefits. Far from being a scientific front for a particular set of political views, modern evolutionary psychology makes most standard views look simplistic and unimaginitive.”
Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
“Scientific theories never dictate human values, but they can often cast new light on ethical issues. From a sexual selection viewpoint, moral philosophy and political theory have mostly been attempts to shift male human sexual competitiveness from physical violence to the peaceful accumulation of wealth and status. The rights to life, liberty, and property are cultural inventions that function, in part, to keep males from killing and stealing from one another while they compete to attract sexual partners.”
Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
“You may think that tax policy sounds like the most boring topic in the world. That is precisely what most governments, corporations, and special interests would like you to think, because tax policy is where much of society and the economy gets shaped. It is also where well-informed citizens can achieve socioeconomic revolutions with astonishing speed and effectiveness—but only if they realize how much power they might wield in this domain. If citizens don’t understand taxes, they don’t understand how, when, and where their government expropriates money, time, and freedom from their lives. They also don’t understand how most governments bias consumption over savings, and bias some forms of consumption over other forms, thereby distorting the trait-display systems that people might otherwise favor.”
Geoffrey Miller, Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior
“Many thinkers have tried to “naturalize” consumerism in that way, including most social Darwinists, Austrian School economists (Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Murray Rothbard), Chicago School economists (George Stigler, Milton Friedman, Gary Becker), Darwinian libertarians, globalization advocates, management gurus, and marketers. Their model (which I call the Wrong Conservative Model, because I think it’s wrong, and because it’s usually advocated by political conservatives) is: human nature + free markets = consumerist capitalism”
Geoffrey Miller, Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior
“The rich covet the new iPod not for the sounds it can make in their heads, but for the impressions it can make in the heads of others.”
Geoffrey Miller, Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior
“Ecologists have long understood that the typical interaction between any two individuals or species is neither competition nor cooperation, but neutralism. Neutralism means apathy: the animals just ignore each other. If their paths threaten to cross, they get out of each other’s way. Anything else usually takes too much energy. Being nasty has costs, and being nice has costs, and animals evolve to avoid costs whenever possible. […] If we were typical animals, our attitudes to others would be dominated not by hate, exploitation, spite, competitiveness, or treachery, but by indifference. And so they are.”
Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
“The ad does not say “Buy this!”; it says, “Be assured that if you buy and display this product, others are being well trained to feel ugly and inferior in your presence, just as you feel ugly and inferior compared with this goddess.”
Geoffrey Miller, Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior
“Thus, all ads effectively have two audiences: potential product buyers, and potential product viewers who will credit the product owners with various desirable traits.”
Geoffrey Miller, Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior
“Our responsibility is not to speculate endlessly about the possible futures of our daughter species, but to become, with as much panache as we can afford, their ancestors.”
Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
“Dismissing the idea that female choice could influence the direction of evolution began to look both sexist and unscientific. By drawing attention to the evolution of social and sexual behavior in animals, the sociobiology of the 1970s did for the study of animal sexuality what feminism did for the study of human sexuality. It empowered thinkers to ask “Why does sex work like this, instead of some other way?”
Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
“capitalism is not “materialistic,” but “semiotic.” It concerns mainly the psychological world of signs, symbols, images, and brands,”
Geoffrey Miller, Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior
“You could be the fittest person imaginable in terms of strength, intelligence, disease resistance and vitality, but if you fail to reproduce your contribution to the future of the human gene pool is zero. For anything to evolve it has to affect the probability of passing on your genes.”
Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
“The healthy brain theory proposes that our minds are clusters of fitness indicators: persuasive salesmen like art, music, and humor, that do their best work in courtship, where the most important deals are made. We”
Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
“Thus, consumption taxes tend to reduce conspicuous consumption and promote longer-term retirement security, family wealth, social welfare, technical progress, and economic growth. In essence, income taxes penalize people for what they contribute to society (labor and capital), whereas consumption taxes penalize people for what they take out of society (new retail purchases). So, to tax experts, it is no surprise that U.S. and U.K. citizens spend too much and don’t save enough, relative to what would be optimal for society and even for themselves.”
Geoffrey Miller, Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior
“At the other extreme, the consumption tax rate should be very, very high for any products that impose massive negative externalities. Consider handgun ammunition. Currently, one can buy five hundred rounds of 9 mm ammunition for about $110 from online U.S. retailers—about twenty-two cents each. But each round of ammunition has a slight chance of falling into the wrong hands and killing someone. How slight? About 10 billion rounds are sold per year in the United States. There are about thirty thousand gun-related deaths in the United States per year (including suicides, homicides, and accidents). Assuming the typical gun death involves one round of ammo, the chance that any given round will end up killing someone is about thirty thousand divided by 10 billion, or three per million. Now, a person’s life is generally reckoned to be worth about $3 million, according to the usual cost-benefit-risk analyses by highway engineers, airlines, and hospitals. If each bullet has a three per million chance of negating a $3 million life, then that bullet imposes an expected average cost on society of $9. That’s about forty times its conventional retail cost of $0.22, so, by my reasoning, it should be subject to a consumption tax rate of 4,000 percent. This is obviously a rough calculation; it ignores the injury costs of nonlethal shootings (which would increase the tax) and the crime-deterrence effects, if any, of citizens having ammo (which would decrease the tax).”
Geoffrey Miller, Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior
“David Buss has amassed a lot of evidence that human females across many cultures tend to prefer males who have high social status, good income, ambition, intelligence, and energy--contrary to the views of some cultural anthropologists, who assume that people vary capriciously in their sexual preferences across different cultures. He interpreted this as evidence that women evolved to prefer good providers who could support their families by acquiring and defending resources I respect his data enormously, but disagree with his interpretation.

The traits women prefer are certainly correlated with male abilities to provide material benefits, but they are also correlated with heritable fitness. If the same traits can work both as fitness indicators and as wealth indicators, so much the better. The problem comes when we try to project wealth indicators back into a Pleistocene past when money did not exist, when status did not imply wealth, and when bands did not stay in one place long enough to defend piles of resources. Ancestral women may have preferred intelligent, energetic men for their ability to hunt more effectively and provide their children with more meat. But I would suggest it was much more important that intelligent men tended to produce intelligent, energetic children more likely to survive and reproduce, whether or not their father stayed around. In other words, I think evolutionary psychology has put too much emphasis on male resources instead of male fitness in explaining women's sexual preferences.”
Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
“our social needs for intimacy, belonging, and acceptance. Mate preferences for status can explain our esteem needs for recognition, fame, and glory. Mate preferences for intelligence, knowledge, skills, and moral virtues can explain our cognitive needs to learn, discover, and create, and our self-actualization needs to fulfill our potential (for example, to display the highest possible mate value given our genetic quality).”
Geoffrey Miller, Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior
“Thus the name of the game when it comes to evolution is not obtaining food or other resources: it is reproduction. Which came first, the chick or the egg? From an evolutionary perspective the egg did. A chicken is merely an egg's way of producing another egg. The chicken is just a transient reproductive superstructure that provides for the perpetuation of genes.”
Geoffrey Miller
“By intelligently choosing their sexual partners for their mental abilities, our ancestors became the intelligent force behind the human mind’s evolution.”
Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
“Scientists have no more status than what other scientists award them through citations, talk invitations, and tenure. “Status” makes a misleadingly concrete-sounding”
Geoffrey Miller, Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior
“One problem with most current governments is that they prioritize economic growth (as mismeasured by GDP per capita) over citizens’ happiness, quality of life, efficiency of trait display, and breadth and depth of social networks. The latter outcomes are not actually any harder to measure than GDP per capita. For example, the UN Human Development Index (HDI) measures overall quality of life fairly well by taking into account life expectancy, literacy, and educational attainment; this index puts Iceland, Norway, Australia, and Canada at the top, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the bottom.”
Geoffrey Miller, Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior


All Quotes | Add A Quote
Play The 'Guess That Quote' Game
Geoffrey Miller
212 followers
The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature The Mating Mind
2,069 ratings
Open Preview
Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior Spent
935 ratings
Open Preview
Mate: Become the Man Women Want Mate
678 ratings
Open Preview
Flesh: The Dino Files Flesh
35 ratings