Matt Ridley

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Matthew White Ridley, 5th Viscount Ridley, DL, FRSL, FMedSci (born 7 February 1958), known commonly as Matt Ridley, is a British journalist who has written several popular science books. He is also a businessman and a Conservative member of the House of Lords.

Quotes[edit]

The Red Queen (1993)[edit]

  • Everything can be inherited except sterility.
    • Ch. 1. Human Nature
  • Reproducing sexually must improve an individual´s reproductive success or else sex would not persist... It is increasingly hard to understand how human beings came to be so clever without considering sexual competition.
    • Ch. 1. Human Nature
  • The idea that we were designed by our past was the principal insight of Charles Darwin. He was the first to realize that you can abandon divine creation of species without abandoning the argument from design.
    • Ch. 1. Human Nature
  • ...then the study of human nature must have profound implications for the study of history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and politics. Each of those disciplines is an attempt to understand human behaviour, and if the underlying universals of human behaviour are product of evolution, then it is vitally important to understand what the evolutionary pressures were.
    • Ch. 1. Human Nature
  • In behavior, as in appearance, every human individual is unique.
    • Ch. 1. Human Nature
  • It is no harder to explain than a game of cards. There are aces and kings and twos and threes in any deck of cards. A lucky player is dealt a high-scoring hand, but none of his cards is unique. Elsewhere in the room are others with the same kinds of cards in their hands. But even with just thirteen kinds of cards, every hand is different and some are spectacularly better than others. Sex is merely the dealer, generating unique hands from the same monotonous deck of genetic cards shared by the whole species.
    • Ch. 1. Human Nature
  • People are attracted to people of high reproductive and genetic potential -the healthy, the fit and the powerful. The consequences of this fact, which goes under the name of sexual selection, are bizarre in the extreme.
    • Ch. 1. Human Nature
  • When a neo-Darwinian asks 'Why?' he is really asking 'How did this come about?' He is a historian.
    • Ch. 1. Human Nature
  • One of the peculiar features of history is that time always erodes advantage. Every invention sooner or later erodes advantage. Every invention sooner or later leads to a counter-invention.
    • Ch. 1. Human Nature
  • In history, and in evolution, progress is always a futile, Sisyphean struggle to stay in the same relative place by getting ever better at things. Cars move through the congested streets of London no faster than horse-drawn carriages.
    • Ch. 1. Human Nature
  • I asked John Maynard Smith, one of the first people to pose the question 'Why sex?', whether he still thought some new explanation was needed. 'No. We have the answers. We cannot agree on them, that is all.'
    • Ch. 2. The Enigma
  • So sex equals genetic mixing.'
    • Ch. 2. The Enigma
  • ...nobody has told the coelancath, a fish that lives off Madagascar and looks exactly like its ancestors of 300 million years ago, that it has broken some law by not evolving.
    • Ch. 2. The Enigma
  • Evolving is not a goal but a means to solving a problem.
    • Ch. 2. The Enigma
  • Nicholas Humphrey, a Cambridge psychologist, was the first to see clearly the solution to this puzzle. We use our intellects not to solve practical problems, but to outwit each other. Deceiving people, detecting deceit, understanding people's motives, manipulating people -these are what the intellect is used for. So what matters is not how clever and crafty you are, but how much cleverer and craftier than other people. The value of intellect is infinite. Selection within the species is always going to be more important than selection between the species.
    • Ch. 2. The Enigma
  • As one of Kondrashov's critics put it, sex is a 'cumbersome strange tool to have evolved fro a housekeeping role'
    • Ch. 3
  • In chess or in football, the tactic that proves most effective is soon the one that people learn easily to block. Every innovation in attack is soon countered by another in defence.
    • Ch. 3
  • Computer viruses have since become a worldwide problem. It begins to look as if parasites are inevitable in any system of life.
    • Ch. 3
  • He (Thomas Ray) had discovered that the notion of a host-parasite arms race is one of the most basic and unavoidable consequences of evolution.
    • Ch. 3
  • The longer your generation time, the more genetic mixing you need to combat your parasite.
    • Ch. 3
  • It is sometimes hard even for biologists to remember that sex is merely a genetic joint venture.
    • Ch. 3
  • Therefore, broadly speaking, males invest less and seek quantity of mates, while females invest more and seek quality of mates.
    • Ch. 3
  • Females choose; their choosiness is inherited; they prefer exaggerated ornaments; exaggerated ornaments are a burden to males.
    • Ch. 5
  • ...the males best at seduction tend to be the best at other things as well.
    • Ch. 5
  • Advertising works. Brand names are better known if advertised with sexy or alluring pictures, and better-known brands sell better. Why does it work? Because the price the consumer would have to pay in ignoring the subliminal message is just to high. Better to be fooled into buying the second best ice-cream than go to all the bother of educating yourself into the ability to resist salesmen.
    • Ch. 5
  • As every bird-watcher knows, the beauty of a bird's song is inversely correlated with the colourfulness of its plumage.
    • Ch. 5
  • Such 'habituation´is just a property of the way brains work; our senses, and those of grackles, notice novelty and change, not steady states. The female preference did not evolve: it just is that way.
    • Ch. 5
  • Evolution is more about reproduction of the fittest than survival of the fittest; every creature on earth is the product of a series of historical battles between parasites and hosts, between genes and other genes, between members of the same species, between members of one gender in competitions for members of the other gender.
    • Ch. 5
  • Life is a Sisyphean race, run ever faster towards a finishing line that is merely the start of the next race.
    • Ch. 5
  • ...compare mankind with other animals that share our highly social habits: with colonial birds, monkeys and dolphins. As we shall see, the lesson they teach is that we are designed for a system of monogamy plagued by adultery.
    • Ch. 5
  • ...conditioning usually reinforces instinct rather than overrides it.
    • Ch. 6
  • Evolution does not lead to Utopia. It leads to a land in which what is best for a man may be worst for another man, or what is best for a woman may be worst for a man.
    • Ch. 6
  • Wealth and power are means to women; women are means to genetic eternity.
    • Ch. 7

External links[edit]

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