Monday, June 20, 2011

Science never sleeps: "Conspicuous spending often driven by desire to have flings, researchers say."

Scientific research is shedding light on a question that has long baffled mankind:

What do men who flaunt flashy stuff really want?

Researchers from Rice University, the University of Texas-San Antonio, and the University of Minnesota may have solved the mystery. Health Daily News reports that the researchers...

...found that conspicuous spending by men is often driven by the desire to have uncommitted romantic flings.

Could there be a parallel to human male behavior in the animal kingdom?

"This research suggests that conspicuous products, such as Porsches, can serve the same function for some men that large and brilliant feathers serve for peacocks," study author Jill Sundie, an assistant professor of marketing at UTSA, said in a news release from Rice University.

A "news release"? Ahh, but there's real science here:

In analyzing more than 1,000 men, researchers revealed that being in possession of a Porsche or another flashy luxury product did make a man more desirable to women than owning a non-luxury item, such as a Honda Civic. Just as peacocks flaunt their brightly colored tails to attract potential mates, certain men show off flashy products, like brightly colored sports cars, to draw the attention of women, the study found. The researchers also indicated that the men who pursued this strategy were only interested in short-term sexual relationships with women.

Had any of these researchers from Rice or UT San Antonio or the U of Minnesota conducted a study that concluded that teleology or design may have played any role in life, they would have been denounced by fellow scientists as IDiots, had their paper retracted from publication, and effectively ended their scientific career. The publication of a modest paper by ID advocate Stephen Meyer suggesting that undirected mechanisms may not be sufficient to account for the evolution of the forms of organisms resulted in a firestorm, with the withdrawal of the paper and the destruction of the career of the journal editor (Richard Sternberg) who published the paper.

Yet 'research' from three prestigious universities that demonstrates that guys who drive Porsches want to pick up women gets a "news release" and professional approbation.

Such different scientific approaches to the inference to design.

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