Dylan Ratigan Show   |  August 12, 2010

Easy beer vs. easy sex

Christopher Ryan, author of “Sex at Dawn,” explains whether cavemen’s choice of beer over sex changed human sexuality.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> level, the basic decision between beer and sex. what if men had to choose between the two? what if all people had to choose between the two? a new theory is raising eyebrows suggesting that thousands of years ago the cavemanma made a fundamental decision. picking beer over sex and changing humanity and society forever. when hunter gathers roamed the land looking for food, they had multiple partners, there was no possession of land. they had sex when they could. monogamy was never even considered.

>> you get my point. i don't know what zug-zug is. cave man talk for sex. that's what it seemed like. enough of this guy hitting me in the head tw the club because he wanted to eat the elephant meat. stopping specifically to grow wheat. not to eat, but ? to make beer. so now the fateful decision. stay at home , work the fields, grow the wheat, put the beer on tap, or go play the field, well, the beer won out over easy sex. now monogamy rules the day to run the farm. christopher ryan is the author of sex at dawn. a book exploring the origins of human sexuality . professor, a pleasure to see you. i recognize the beer part comes for a different theory, but your basic theory is agriculture led to monogamy. can you explain it further for us?

>> there was no need to really worry whose son was whose. paternity certainty was an unissue. only when there was property to be passed down from father to son did it become important to control women's sexuality so you could tell whose son was whose. that was the beginning of the end of easy sexual days.

>> so you're saying because i have to know whose farm it is, the need to know whose farm it is creates the need for monogamy and lawyers.

>> exactly. lawyers, marriage, slavery, domesticated animals. the whole package. sorry.

>> no, no. you go ahead.

>> if you look in the old testament. thousand shalt not covet my neighbor's wife. right. if you read on, nor his slaves, nor his house, nor his ox, nor his ass. meaning his donkey.

>> i was going to say, come on.

>> in other words the wife is another possession. when private property entered the lexicon, it became an overriding important issue.

>> that sucks when you think about it. but if you were to really get into it, do you buy the theory that if agriculture created monogamy and lawyers, which is your theory, right? ? so agriculture creates monogamy. monogamy creates lawyers. there's the basic course of civilization.

>> sort of.

>> the theory here is beer created agriculture and the decision to grow things to drink beer was preferable going about the woods and chasing squirrels and having sex with whoever will have me. do you buy into the free theory of your theory? if agriculture created monogamy and lawyers, do you think beer made agriculture .

>> but for the integrity of your analysis and to eliminate my jokery you legitimately believe, this is an actual theory. and an actual thing. agriculture led to the need for monogamy. as for the beer thing, you're guess is as good as mine, is that you're telling me.

>> yeah, in "sex at dawn" we've outlined how hunter/gathers transitioned into agricultural societies along with monogamy. it doesn't work for me that it was about beer. i think it was about survival. at the same time it happened the earth experienced rapid global warming . so people were responding to a change in climactic conditions like we're about to enter into now. and they really had no choice.

>> maybe they needed the beers to deal with the global warming . how did global warming , that particular warmi ining cycle, factor into the decision to leave gathering?

>> well, it wasn't really a decision. that's the thing. we look back into the past and we talk about why people decided this or that. nobody decided to become an agricultural society. they were gathering grains that grew naturally wild in the fert ? l crescent. and they understand these grains were ripe. when the climate changed so rapidly and there wasn't enough water, then they figured out they could bring the water by irrigation. so the first sign of agriculture is cutting irrigation channels.

>> they took control of the situation because they had to. and thus came irrigation. here's one thing for your monogamy assertion.

>> all right.

>> according to peggy vaughn, who wrote "the monogamy myth." maybe a counter book to your sex at dawn.

>> sure.

>> 60% of husbands, ladies plug your ears, 60% of husbands and 40% of wives will have an affair before their marriage completes itself. however the marriage completes itself. does that dispute your entire theory of monogamy when people aren't monogamous?

>> not at all. not at all. our theory is that monogamy does not come naturally to our species because 95% of our sbis tense on the planet we were relatively permiscuous. the idea that traying from a monogamy is a fill your of your marriage is bunk.

>> did you write this book -- to make a case to your wife?

>> yeah, my wife is the co-author.

>> you guys made a case together. i appreciate that. i'm going to try to get the beer g guy on. if he can make a good case for beer leading to agriculture , i'm going to bring you back.

>> we'll have a beer together.