Geoffrey Miller Quotes

Who on Earth is Geoffrey Miller?

Geoffrey Miller is the author of Spent and The Mating Mind.

Born August 13, 1965

Best 22 Quotes by Geoffrey Miller

“If most of your courtship attempts have succeeded, you must be a very attractive and charming person who has been aiming too low.”

Geoffrey Miller

“If you don't have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won't have the willpower to do a dissertation.”

Geoffrey Miller

“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

"Spent" Quotes

“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

“Capitalism is not materialistic” but semiotic. It concerns mainly the psychological world of signs, symbols, images, and brands.”

Geoffrey Miller
Spent

“Consumerism is hard to describe when it's the ocean and we're the plankton.”

Geoffrey Miller
Spent

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

"The Mating Mind" Quotes

“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

“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

“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

“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 unimaginative.”

Geoffrey Miller
The Mating Mind

“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

“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

“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

“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.”

Geoffrey Miller
The Mating Mind

“The human mind and the peacock’s tail may serve similar biological functions. The peacock’s tail is the classic example of sexual selection through mate choice. It evolved because peahens (female peacock) preferred larger, more colorful tails. Peacocks would survive better with shorter, lighter, drabber tails. But the sexual choices of peahens have made peacocks evolve big, bright plumage that takes energy to grow and time to preen, and makes it harder to escape from predators such as tigers.
The human mind’s most impressive abilities are like the peacock’s tail: they are courtship tools, evolved to attract and entertain sexual partners. By shifting our attention from a survival-centered view of evolution to a courtship-centered view, I shall try to show how, for the first time, we can understand more of the richness of human art, morality, language, and creativity.”

Geoffrey Miller
The Mating Mind

“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