Moved to Mate?

By Dr. Steven M. Platek

In ExPhysiology, Rest Day/Theory

March 25, 2010

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Dr. Steven M. Platek presents a scientific argument in support of the idea that naturally designed movements produce naturally attractive physiques.

Evolution has favored certain movements in different animals because those behaviors have produced two essential outcomes for possessors of the requisite species-specific movements: survival and reproduction—more specifically, being selected as a mating partner.

For example, the kangaroo and the rabbit (or hare) hop. Big cats (lions, tigers, cheetahs) sprint and pounce. Each of these species-specific behaviors has evolved because it has produced a survival advantage: a rabbit that does not hop fast becomes owl food, and a cheetah that runs too slowly starves. It’s hard to reproduce when you’re dead.

However, we often miss the other side of the evolutionary equation: these behaviors don’t exist only because they produce favorable survival adaptations but because the favorable survival adaptations they produce are sexy.

What does any of this have to do with fitness training or CrossFit? Generally, physical fitness training is focused on producing a physique that is found attractive to another person, but traditional fitness programs are missing the point: survival is sexy, and from nature’s viewpoint, survival demands functionality.

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88 Comments on “Moved to Mate?”

1

wrote …

If this is 'science', I'm hanging up my lab coat. This is probably the worst thing I've seen on a normally great CFJ.

"In fact, by actively training the muscles/muscle groups that were part of nature’s plan, it’s my hypothesis that we also accentuate those species- and sex-specific traits that are attractive to the opposite sex. I think a quick survey of any of the photographs at CrossFit.com supports my hypothesis. The guys are muscular, but not too muscular. They have shoulderto-hip ratios (SHRs) that result in a V shape."

Really? I can't do lat raises to get a V shape? Muscular, but not too muscular? That's a joke right? Khalipa, Carswell, Amundson! That took about 5 seconds. EvaT and Nicole have more abs (and probably a more stable midline) than I do.

2

wrote …

I have never felt compelled to comment on an article on CFJ before, but I have to agree with Matt and say that this is probably the worst article I've ever read in the Journal.

The "science" in this article is atrocious. It relies on oversimplified pop evolutionary biology, has a "hypothesis" that is uninteresting and irrelevant, and tries to support the hypothesis in laughable ways ("I think a quick survey of any of the photographs at CrossFit.com supports my hypothesis"? Really?).

CFJ readers are interested in what will make them stronger, faster, more agile, more enduring, more badass, etc. and what will make them healthier. If women who participate in CF and other function fitness movements cared about being optimally sexually desirable to the lowest common male denominator, most of them wouldn't be doing CrossFit.

This is an article for a glossy, know-nothing "health" mag like Self or Men's Health, not for CFJ.

3

Olivia de Santis wrote …

+1 on Simma's comment.

Seriously dudes? Can't this place be for talking about coaching, movement, science of exercise, and athletes? Must it really be home to shoddy articles using science as a thin veil to just perving on women? It's embarrassing to me to say I'm a Crossfitter when this is the sort of communication that is coming from Crossfit HQ's official publication.

Maybe whoever is driving this kind of content can set up a non-official "Babes of Crossfit" site and get it out of their system?

4

wrote …

I think that perhaps at one point the "survivable" male was seen as more attractive because of his ability to fight, provide food, and protection. The modern societal view of male attractiveness however is a completely different animal altogether. Lets take a bit of pop culture we're all familiar with here. The Twilight series movies. All the chicks faun over the scrawny, sickly looking Edward character, and bypass the buff, jacked, primitive werewolf male. I've even been told myself by women that I'm "too muscular", and that they find "skinny guys who just have abs" much more attractive. Lets keep in mind I'm 6ft, 205lbs...
So yes this article for the majority of it's point and content is total crap. Because if it was true that we as a race find these things to be most attractive then why dare I ask, does the majority of our society find physical inferior males and females (far to thin and under muscled)to be most attractive? After all society is made up of these humans which are supposed to find the most able bodied partners to be the most attractive. I think one look around at the societal view of beauty/sexiness would discount every thing in this article on a majority level.

5

wrote …

Therefore, not only are the winners of the CrossFit Games the fittest in the galaxy, they are the sexiest in the galaxy.

QED

Justin

6

Holy cow! Sorry that everyone hates this and that it is not about coaching, movement, science, etc. Let me try to respond to help clarify my thinking, although I don't think it will do any good.

First off, this article was not about perving on anyone, it was simply an observation of a relationship between functional fitness/movements and form - the form of the human body. I was not trying to downplay any CF-ers fitness by saying too muscular, that was perhaps a terrible choice of terms on my part. The point I was trying to make was that they are not disproportionately muscular, for example having a certain muscle or set of muscles that are so large that they no longer serve function. Second, there IS little evidence presented in this article. It was a conversational piece trying to make a point about the relationship between function and form. My notion to look at CF-ers for evidence, was not to be taken as scientific evidence. Rather the scientific evidence comes from biology, psychology and animal behavior. In almost every species there are traits, we call them honest biological signals, that serve to communicate information to the opposite sex. They communicate important information, not the least of which is reproductive viability. In fact the little data I do recapitulate is functional brain imaging data that confirms 3+ decades of research on attractiveness of female body form. My study actually found that optimally designed female bodies activated the same part of the brains as drugs of addiction. I'm not sure what "pop" biology is, but I cite plenty of good references in human biology, and a survey of the animal reproduction literature would reveal literally hundreds of articles demonstrating the link between physiological and morphological cues to biological, reproductive fitness and prowess. Again this article was simply a means of linking evolutionary biology with fitness by relating function and form. I don't think hardcore CF-ers do CrossFit for form, but they benefit from it none-the-less, and I think a lot of people turn first to CF in order to get fit, in traditional ways (i.e. to look nice, at least in the beginning).

Nick I struggle with your comment - "The modern societal view of male attractiveness however is a completely different animal altogether" - a lot in my science. The thing we have to remember is that evolutionary change is slow, really slow! And while many people report that they like waif women or lanky dudes there is actually not a lot of good scientific data to back that up. I was criticized here for saying, look at a bunch of CF-ers for evidence of good bodily form, but the same criticism holds for taking (e.g.) movie ticket sales as evidence of attractiveness. There are now several good papers showing that female choice varies in large part as a function of the menstrual cycle - the data suggests they do prefer masculinized, more fit males when ovulating. That is when it comes down to actually making babies - the name of the evolutionary game - they choose based on the types of bodily forms we know come from functional fitness.

At the end of the day no one can argue with the fact that humans are part of biology (we are just animals with big brains), that function and form are intimately linked, and that form serves to signal important reproductive information to members of the opposite sex. There is just no arguing about that.

I do hope that this helps clarify some of my thoughts in the article.

7

wrote …

Steven I've read those same studies and while it does clearly show a bias within a certain "cycle" or to use a CF term "time domain", that hardly constitutes a majority opinion of what is attractive to women. But rather a biochemical change, altering a woman's perceptions or tastes. In fact many of the "attractiveness" studies you are referring to focused only on the facial features (face pictures) and not the physique. Also the point you make is completely void when speaking of what men find attractive.
So I would argue that attractiveness is more of a matter of fad and fashion, than a matter of fact or science.

8

wrote …

Steven,

First of all, a suggestion: if you didn't want the article to be perceived as "perving", perhaps you should have illustrated it by providing images of men as well as women and made sure the photos of women showed them doing things (i.e., being functional in the CF spirit) instead of standing around in skimpy outfits.

Secondly, in your article, "fitness" is badly and narrowly defined, in my opinion.

The way you approach the question for women, I think you incorrectly associate hip to waist ratio with the CF definition of fitness. Hip to waist ratio may correlate with greater fertility, which is one kind of fitness, but it doesn't really correlate with one's max clean & jerk or whether one has trained the proper structure to throw an attacker on his head. There are plenty of women out there with ideal hip to waist ratios who don't lift a finger to exercise. And quite frequently, women can reduce their hip to waist ratio away from the "ideal" through hard training. A lot of elite female athlete's bodies are barely able to menstruate, have less than average amounts of breast tissue, lack the body fat that produces the rounded features that serve as a sexual signal (soft, rounded face, etc.) because of the changes due to their sport/fitness activities. Does this mean those women are somehow less sexy, or less fit? Fit for what? For winning gold medals? For victory in the kickboxing ring? For squirting out babies? For getting a date on a Saturday night?

In your treatment of male fitness, I find your view too narrow. Sure, like all creatures, female humans value "fitness" in a mate. However, "fitness" for humans doesn't just mean being able to lift the heaviest rock or run the greatest distance or sprint the fastest (all of which probably involve differently shaped physiques, by the way, and not all will include v-shaped torsos). "Fitness" can also mean having the personality to be a reliable father or partner, or possessing the kind of exceptional cleverness to invent better ways to hunt or predict where the best fish can be found. They can also mean having the talent to create the best cave paintings and therefore please the gods the most and earn the most respect from tribe members. All of these things provide survival advantages as well as a leg up in finding mates. When it comes to human beings, "fitness" is very complicated, as is "reproductive viability", and it seems to me that having a torso like an underwear model is a pretty trivial part of it.

I don't reject the way you make your argument because I'm in denial of human evolutionary history. I just prefer to think of that evolutionary history as much more complex than the fertility and reproductive potential of one hypothetical, self-standing, lone human organism. We evolved to be the most social creatures on earth and are genetically hard-wired to be heavily shaped by social forces such as culture. And culture plays a huge role is what we consider desirable--to the point where it becomes incredibly difficult or even impossible to figure out what "nature" has made us desire.

In the end, I guess I don't really understand the point of your article. Sure, people who are physically fit tend to have more pleasing bodies (according to most people's tastes) than people who are unfit. All things being equal, people who follow more productive training regimes will be more physically fit than people who follow ineffective training regimes. CF is a highly effective training approach. Therefore, CrossFitters will tend to be very fit. Ergo, there is a high probably that the average CrossFitter will have a more attractive body than the average non-CrossFitter (although the role of genetic predisposition can't be underestimated with these things--and it's also likely that CF attracts people who are naturally athletic, so CrossFitters self-select for the trait of attractive physiques). To me, all of this is a big fat "duh". So it makes me wonder whether there's a reason to go into the hypothetical evolutionary biology of the hypothetical attractiveness of CrossFitters' bodies other than to provide an excuse for us to pat ourselves on the back for being a presumably hot-bodied bunch.

On a personal note, sure, I'm pleased with what years of deadlifting have done to bring my ass more in accordance with what is considered conventionally attractive. But I get more excited about increasing my 1RM. And after years of weight training and martial arts my forearms and hands don't exactly epitomize feminine beauty, but I'm no less pleased by the way they look, calluses, slightly crooked fingers (from having been broken), scars, overly prominent brachioradiales and all. For me, and I would guess for most people here, training is about performance. It's about taking joy in what my body can do today that it couldn't do yesterday. For my part, I reacted negatively to your article because its preoccupations have nothing to do with that spirit.

9

wrote …

Didn't read the article, just looked at the pictures. I think the only thing wrong with the article is there should have been more pictures.

10

Jesse Gray wrote …

Jeez people, lay off the good Dr! I think people are getting way too serious here. What Dr. Platek is saying really isn't that controversial. Certain body types reflect fitness in an evolutionary sense and we are programmed to be attracted to that. To that end, Crossfit does a very good job of sculpting bodies with that look as opposed to other fitness regimes which distort the natural proportions of the human body.
Further more, this is a good article for the business of Crossfit which is a very legitimate reason for it to be included in the journal! If you have this printed out in your box or on your coffee table (have I revealed too much about my CF addiction?), people may read it. The knowledge that our kind of fitness increases your attractiveness is a good thing. I know, I know, every single Crossfitter cares only about functional fitness and apparently lives in extraordinarily hot climates with good UV protection which is why shirts are about as popular as a plague victim in the 14th century. Guess what, it's OK to want to look good and it's OK to have and article which explores a relatively scientific look at "hot abzzz".

I liked the article. Thanks Dr. Steve!

11

replied to comment from Jesse Gray

Actually, from a science viewpoint, the statement "Certain body types reflect fitness in an evolutionary sense and we are programmed to be attracted to that" is indeed controversial, if only because it's meaninglessly vague and not at all scientific.

As for regimes that "distort the natural proportions of the human body", what is natural? Is the body that is ideal and "natural" for a Khoisan who practices persistence hunting and whose greatest problem is heat the same as what is ideal and "natural" for an Inuit who does much of his hunting from a Kayak and whose greatest problem is the cold? What is "natural" and "ideal" for someone who lives in Manhattan?

So Olympic weightlifting develops proportionally oversized quads. Does this mean it "distorts the natural proportions of the human body"? Many forms of martial arts produce a cylindrical torso structure over time in men instead of a v-shaped torso. Does this mean it "distorts the natural proportions of the human body"? And if these kinds of things do "distort the natural proportions of the human body", is it CrossFit's job to denounce or undo the hard work that went into developing bodies that have clearly adapted for maximal performance in certain kinds of activities because these are deemed "distortions" from some "ideal" body shape that is impossible to prove scientifically as ideal?

You may think I'm being too hard on this article, but the one thing I expect from brands like CrossFit which I don't get from stupid gimmick-centered fitness industry BS is sport science. This article is a bad use of "science" and has nothing to do with sport.

I don't run a CrossFit business, so my opinion on this may not count for much, but if CF wants to use the same old lure of a perky ass, a sixpack, and more success in getting laid that every Nautilus-filled crap gym is using, then what does that do to the brand in the long term?

12

Gerard Mcauliffe wrote …

Steven, interesting article, thank you. It's science backing up what i perceive to be common sense.
As for the above response, some people are very sensitive! The images used in the article are obviously used for a reason and are not 'pervy'; whatever that means. However, it may have been wise to use a male image or two prevent yourself from being accused of 'objectifying' etc. I hope your not put off contributing other such articles to the journal.

13

In my defense, I did not choose the pics. Thanks for the feedback all. It'd probably be more beneficial to have an actual caucus about this.

14

replied to comment from Simma Park

I agree with Park. This is the first time I read CFJ article and thought it did not belong.

15

Russell Berger wrote …

a few thoughts-

I find it laughable that this wouldn't be considered relevant material for publishing in the CFJ. Whether Dr.Platek's claim is accurate or not, sexual attractiveness and it's relationship to fitness is an aspect of our program that is of huge consideration to the average person, even if he or she doesn't openly talk about it.

Second-

Simma, are you saying that showing only women in these images makes the article offensive but by adding a similar image of a male it would become magically acceptable? That doesn't make sense to me. Regardless, nothing in this article would suggest to me an unprofessional or distasteful use of that imagery. This makes me feel that the problem might be how these images personally effect you, not how the author employed them.
As for you finding Dr.Platek's views "narrow", that's kind of the point to establishing a claim like this is it not? The author isn't selling this as scientific law, he is forming ideas based, in my opinion, on common sense. I doubt he meant this to be an all-encompassing theory of how humans mate, but that seems to be your interpretation.

16

Russell - well said and a perfect recapitulation of my thinking. Thanks. I am thinking about this and not trying to lump all folks into a category, so to speak. The interesting thing for me about this 'common sense' idea is that it is empirically testable. And, quite frankly I am surprised at how many people do not take this as common sense and refute the ideas.

17

wrote …

Nick, #4 comment- Personally, I find the Werewolves (from Twilight) very, very hot and the deathly looking vampires disgusting. :)

That aside, perhaps we don't want to admit it, but there are some truths to the article. Individuals who are active are more likely to gravitate towards other active people, both as companions and future mates. These individuals are also the ones who see beauty and sex appeal in a healthy and muscular (or slightly muscular) bodies.

18

wrote …

I just thought it was poorly written and not scientific. Maybe the author aimed for a casual writing style, but it came across as childish, as if it belonged in a "science" magazine for kids. Besides poorly associating your point with "science", the entire premise is contradictory.

You claim that people can train poorly and "look fit" (bottom of page 3). You also say people can crossfit and look good. Then, you go on to use a person's looks as a measure for their health. ("Men who have high SHRs and women with low WHRs are healthier physically and mentally, experience increased longevity, and are relatively immune from the "modern” set of pathogenic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.")


Using MRI images and naked bums to distract me, while stating that men found women more attractive after they had fat surgically removed is not convincing. They had surgery to make themselves more attractive, and then the study asks men to confirm whether it worked or not?! That page proves that looks matter regardless of how they are achieved (surgery, lat raises, or functional fitness) - further contradicting the whole article.

The free hand ambiguous graph weakens your argument. If you didn't think the reader would believe you when you wrote it out, why did you think that a meaningless two lines would seal the deal?


Glassman, Budding and other CFHQ members regularly state that science is "observable, measurable and repeatable", not a string of 'common sense' thoughts.


And, ironically, one of the Related Articles at the top of the page is SB by Rippetoe....

19

Dane Thomas wrote …

I appreciate looking at attractive examples of the human form as much as anybody else and have no trouble with the concept that CF training enhances attractiveness. I have no trouble with the author's attempt to wrap that assertion in a cloak of scientific respectability, but I don't personally think that the good Doctor managed to "present a scientific argument in support of the idea that naturally designed movements produce naturally attractive physiques." His hypothesis was presented using some scientific terms, but that was about it.

In my opinion using the promise of sex appeal to sell a philosophy of training and nutrition is primarily about marketing and has very little to do with science, performance or fitness. It takes CF a step closer to the globogym or fitness magazine mentality and a step away from the scientific respectability and functional performance orientation that many of us have grown to expect from the CFJ.

I'm not saying that selling BootyExpress classes with this kind of imagery (http://www.worldclass.se/upload/content/common/product_image/Product_BootyExpress.jpg) isn't effective, but I'd rather see CF stay above that. (Jolie doing a suggestive deadlift technique demo with Miss Medina was fun, but that doesn't mean that we need a Crossfit PoleDance specialty section.)

20

wrote …

So, I should go get plastic surgery to improve my waist-to-hip ratio? I should get some fat injected into my hips to make them rounder and remove a couple ribs and a bunch of muscle to make my waist smaller? A lot of Crossfit women fitter than I am have strong stocky middles and lean hips with little body-fat to provide curves - are they still beautiful? I think so, my husband thinks so, but maybe it takes an educated eye.


How about a picture of Tanya Wagner instead of that skinny model to introduce the article? A picture of a real fire-breather, THE fittest woman!

21

Erik Larson wrote …

Hey Steven - how do I get in touch with you? I am in the process of opening Aspen Crossfit and would like to speak with you about a couple of ideas. My email is eriklarson@aspencpa.com

Also, as far as the article goes, what I got from it is that everything is energy and the more fit we become and the more energy we have, the more attractive we become. Would you rather hang out with some firebreathing athlete from the opposite sex that exudes positivity or some fat slob that sits on the couch face down in a bag of marshmallows? Its simple really...

22

wrote …

"Men who have high SHRs and women with low WHRs are healthier physically and mentally, experience increased longevity, and are relatively immune from the “modern” set of pathogenic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity."

And what about genetic predisposition to larger/smaller frames?

Seriously?

23

wrote …

I've just never had an article from CFJ be Not Safe For Work, not that I, err, read CFJ articles at work, I mean, only on my lunch break!

But seriously! The very not clothed models were unexpected and made me close the window like a guilty smut browser when the boss comes round.

Oops!

24

replied to comment from James Varpalotai

To add to my previous comment,

"Men who have high SHRs and women with low WHRs are healthier physically and mentally, experience increased longevity, and are relatively immune from the “modern” set of pathogenic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity."

That is about as scientific and factual as stating "Males with red hair are undoubtably better runners that blond men, or that females with large hands have lower cholesterol."

This article is a play on words to simply imply that we find, generally, that the opposite sex is more attractive when they have more defined muscles and lower amounts of body fat. Really? We hadn't noticed.

Good effort though. The graph was amusing as well.

25

Edward Stedman wrote …

To everyone complaining about the model in this article...

Are y'all serious??? The majority of the pictures posted on CrossFit sites and videos is of people with very little clothing on. I don't hear a lot of shouting about men with there shirts off and women in very similar garb during an actual workout.

I do agree, in that, I do not feel this is one of the CFJ's more useful or interesting articles, but I can get why it was written and included here. You don't have to read and agree with every article and video posted on the CFJ. The longer CF and the CFJ are around and post new material the more likely that controversial topics will arise.

Back to those angry, offended, or put-off by the pictures in the article...

What do people at your box/gym dress like? I know one of the things I love about most CF gyms is that I can be as comfortable as I want during a workout. If that means the shirt comes off, then the shirt comes off. And I am amazed at how small and tight the athletic clothing has gotten for women (have you seen what some women are wearing in the Sectional videos?). I'm sure some/many people (including CFers) flaunt their bodies around for vanity and ego some of the time, that just the way many, many people are.

If you are a person who keeps yourself relative covered at all time you are in public, then great, but don't be shocked or offended by this model in this article. Really people, the CJF put out a male and female poster with pictures of athletes at the 2009 Games. All of those people were dressed just as little as this articles model. I didn't hear a lot of criticism about that.

26

replied to comment from Russell Berger

Russell--

"Simma, are you saying that showing only women in these images makes the article offensive but by adding a similar image of a male it would become magically acceptable?"

Absolutely not. What offends me about this article is the crap science, and the whole premise, which I find kind of insulting to both men and women.

It was merely a suggestion to avoid coming off as "perving", as one other commenter described it.

27

wrote …

To those who think I'm offended by this article--yes, I'm offended. But not because I'm some kind of oversensitive chick.

I'm offended because the article is dumb. I think of CF as a thinking athlete's outfit. Yeah, I think the idea of aesthetic ideals runs counter to the spirit of CF and is generally irrelevant. But if someone wants to make a case for it being highly relevant, by all means s/he should do so, but s/he should do it with an article that doesn't sound like something I'd read on iVillage or that was written by a 15 year old who has just discovered the ideas of Desmond Morris.

I'm not saying Steven is dumb--his bio indicates that he's been studying theories of evolutionary biology at a refined level for some time. I'm saying his article is intellectually insulting to any group of people with an interest in the science of training. Am I wrong in thinking CFers fall into this category?

As others have written and I have written, this article, when you strip away the dumb attempts to bring some kind of "evolutionary biology" into it as though that would make the article really scientific, is basically saying that fit people are generally considered more attractive, and CrossFit is a good way to get fit.

Duh.

A photo slideshow with no text would have made the point more effectively and more honestly.

28

wrote …

Vanessa #20 comment - Agreed, where is Tanya at?!

29

Hey Vanessa, for the record, "that skinny model" and the other girl in the article are no less than total Crossfit firebreathers and friends of mine. Perhaps, because of their devotion to Crossfit, their bodies have have been sculpted into beautiful, lithe machines which you assumed must be models. If you would like to know more, Sarah C. and Sarah P. will be teaching a class on a** kicking this weekend at the Nor-Cal Sectionals.


P.S. Simma, you pretty much totally missed the point of what I said.

30

wrote …

Is the photo on THIS page of an actual Crossfitter?


I think the main objection is that we don't want the CFJ to become just another Muscle and Fitness, appealing to the lowest common denominator. Or a T-Nation which we can only read at home after the children have gone to bed.


Crossfitters already appreciate healthy bodies. Tell us something we don't know. Sell these articles to M&F or T-Nation.

31

This is what baffles me,

1. You agree with the authors observations
2. You consider CF a "thinking" persons domain
3. You berate the author for his attempts to think through and explain those observations.


Your criticism is empty and contradictory, much like you described this piece.

32

Yes, that's Sarah P. She will kick your butt on a WOD and at Ultimate Frisbee!

33

Jake Di Vita wrote …

People who are actually finding this article offensive really might want to consider developing some thicker skin.

Try looking at the article objectively rather than emotionally.

34

replied to comment from Vanessa Pinter

I am the woman in the photo on this page. Yes, I have an unlimited membership at Crossfit Davis. This was the first time I had ever been to any sort of photo shoot. I am fully aware that there are many more shining examples of Crossfit fitness. Although this is embarrassing, here are some of my stats on prescribed wods:
Fight gone bad - 300
Karen - 6:29
Helen - 11:09
Cindy - 16 rounds
Kelly - 22:21
I realize that my stats are not stellar, but they at least prove that I am, in fact, a crossfitter. Sarah C is a also a dedicated crossfitter. She is phenomenal in the gym and will blow everyone away at NorCal Sectionals.

Vanessa, I actually wanted to thank you. I live for competition and I consistently perform better in competitive settings when I have a little fire burning in my belly. You've given me exactly what I needed to boost me through sectionals this weekend!

35

replied to comment from Russell Berger

Russell,

If I read an article by someone who advocated a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet for weight loss and heart health, I would agree with them that most people are overfat, are heading for heart disease, and their diets were likely a major culprit. Duh, right? I would not agree with that person, however, on their hypotheses about fat as the dietary cause of obesity or heart disease, because the science behind the lipid hypothesis is overwhelmingly crap. I would pretty much consider that person a moron if they were to say, "Well, if you eat fat, you will become fat, because you're putting fat into your body." For many people, this seems like common sense observation. And it is. But it is also wrong, because common sense observations are not scientific observations, and they are just as likely to be wrong as right.

Agreeing with the most basic of an author's unscientifically observational musings has nothing to do with whether the article, which he himself presents as a "scientific argument" is actually worth its salt.

Look at how the article presents itself:
"Dr. Steven M. Platek presents a scientific argument in support of the idea that naturally designed movements produce naturally attractive physiques."

There is no more controversial word in biology, especially human evolutionary biology, than the word "natural". And yet, it gets thrown around this article as though everyone should accept that something called natural is, indeed, natural. Whatever that means.

And here is the "hypothesis":
"In fact, by actively training the muscles/muscle groups that were part of nature’s plan, it’s my hypothesis that we also accentuate those species- and sex-specific traits that are attractive to the opposite sex."

Which muscles or muscle groups are not part of nature's "plan"? Does the author realize that the very term "nature's plan" is anti-scientific and indicates a perversion of theories of natural selection? Does the author understand that there are mountains of scientific controversy around the questions of what is considered unique to our species and what is particular to each sex within our species?

I would call this article a scientific house of cards, but it's not even that.

It's kind of like being told by my friend's 5 year old daughter that Lucky Charms is healthy food because it contains vitamins and minerals and is made with whole grains. In the end, she's not interested in whether whole grains promote health or longevity over other categories of food, or whether supplementing what is chemically a bowl of sugar with some vitamins and minerals confers any kind of benefit to health or longevity at all. She doesn't care to clarify what "healthy" means or even whether Lucky Charms can be classified as "food". She basically wants to eat the Lucky Charms and will take whatever "evidence" is available as support for her "scientific argument".

"Moved to Mate" is just interested in marketing the hot bods of CFers and wants to prove the superiority of CF in the sexiness department. So it clumsily strings together some ill-defined evolutionary biology hypotheses and catch phrases and claims that they support the idea and claims that they constitute a "scientfic argument".

It would be one thing if this article were presented as scientific musing and outlined a proposal for the kind of study that might be able to prove the "hypothesis" (it would actually require a whole series of studies, since the hypothesis is not a proper hypothesis at all). But it's not. So even if I agreed with every single thing in this article, it would still make it a crap scientific argument unworthy of publication in CFJ as a scientific article.

36

replied to comment from Sarah Pittiglio

Sarah,

Nobody is saying your credentials as a CrossFitter and athlete are in question. A bunch of us just happen to think the article in which your picture appears is bad. It is no reflection on you and what you do.

37

wrote …

I'm afraid I'm with the nay sayers on this one.

I'm not going to take issue with the faux science, but with the overall message.

If the simplified message of the article is....doing Crossfit or Crossfit type exercise makes you look fit/healthy and therefore a prime candidate for reproduction I have two issues with it

1. It is anti one of the qualities I like most about the Crossfit philosophy, which is that in the pursuit of fitness, it is what you can do which is more important than how you look.

2. I believe the premise as it relates exclusively to CF and CF type exercise is false. Actually, if you managed to do a major quantitative experiment in bars and nightclubs (which are the main stadia of the Olympics of sexual attraction and activity), I think you'd find that the main sexual triggers women respond to in men are pectorals and arms - mainly because they are the easiest to spot in clothes - and these two body parts are probably the most underutilised comparatively in CF as opposed to the classic global gym hero who makes it their life's goal to curl and bench more. And if (treading carefully) we move on past the most obvious sexual trigger on women's phsyique - the breasts, which aren't really affected by training, I think it would be hard to argue that Crossfit makes a woman's physique more outwardly sexually attractive than pump, step or high energy aerobics classes.

I've probably offended everybody with this but hey ho

38

wrote …

This is a long fascinating topic for me, since about 8th grade - no kidding. Who hasn't wondered at some point why the shape of a face or figure could elicite such overpowering internal responses? What does it mean, and why? 10 seconds of objective thought (not an easy thing to accomplish wrt this topic) could bring one to the conclusion that most face/body shapes are arbitrary characteristics, and hardly worth all the fuss that our brains put us through over them. EG, Hip/waist may be an indicator of fertility, but a very poor one at best - and it still grabs nearly everyone's attention.

Some of the above questions by Simma illustrate just how complex a subject this is - how to explain the reported attraction of Hawaiians to their morbidly obese queen (reportedly too large to move herself)? How to explain the fashionable figure icons from the bustle enhanced buxom to the Twiggy? How could both Kate Moss and big Cindy Crawford be viewed as gender icons at the same time? We've all known unattractive, physically weak or significantly obese but powerful men who garnered plenty of genuine attraction.

Attraction is not reducable to a single element. And yet - there are the scans of brain activity which respond to certain shapes, certain ratios, certain patterns. In short, to reduce this necessarily brief, consumer oriented introduction to the ideas behind the science of physical attraction, it must be left scientifically incomplete.

In the panapoly of characteristics which might result in "reproductive attraction", what we might say is that the unconscious but measurable brain activity that results from visual exposure to the opposite gender seems to reveal information about sexual attractiveness that we didn't have access to before. That information points to the ability - perhaps an obvious ability - of the unconscious mind to recognize the elements of fertility (or perhaps better stated as "reproductive desirability"?) which are enhanced by CrossFit's prescription for fitness. One of the fascinating ideas to me is that science can attempt to re-address the topic with more objective tools. Getting a glimpse at how it may be done is of great interest.

Has anyone noticed, for example, that even CFers who are not classically shaped in the ideal of male/female 'beauty' still look damned good? Butts too round/flat, pelvic girdle too large/small, muscles too big/small, pecs too big/small - don matta. They look good. The way CF athletes move looks good. The article talks about one easily recognized ratio - hip/waist or shoulder/waist - but seems clear to me there are other more subtle indicators that may be discovered as this science moves forward, perhaps with similarly objective ways to measure them.

Why bother with this discussion in the CFJ? Fair question. I would say it's fair game because reproductive fitness is as important an issue as any other element of fitness, just harder to quantify and discuss - it is clearly an emotionally loaded topic. This article illustrates that elements of reproductive fitness can be objectively measured and evaluated. Even if only a small percentage of the topic can be reduced to scientific inquiry, I find it interesting nonetheless.

39

wrote …

Dang all of you people need to stop complaining and go workout and get nice bodies....because I bet if you were lookin good you wouldn't be talking crap on here

40

replied to comment from Paul Eich

Paul,

Your casual but interesting musings have more scientific backbone than Steven's article.

I would agree with you that reproductive fitness is relevant to CF. But reproductive fitness is not the same as physical attractiveness. Articles on how CF style training makes it easier to conceive, carry to term, and have healthier offspring? Totally relevant. Articles on how CF style workouts benefit people with hormonal imbalances (which are often detrimental to reproduction)? Totally relevant.

Even an article about a study comparing ratings of attractiveness between men and women of comparable weight/height, bodyfat %, ethnicity, etc. who do CF vs. other training protocols, I don't know that I would deem it relevant, and it's not a topic I'm particularly interested in, but I wouldn't find it intellectually offensive.

Sweeping assumptions about what is natural and attractive based on a shallow and careless interpretation of and use of theories of evolutionary biology? Not something I care to see in CFJ.

But I wouldn't say issues of reproductive fitness were so much emotionally loaded as that questions about human biology are scientifically, philosophically, and culturally loaded and so deserve a bit of care and intellectual rigor.

And Nick--

Breasts are, indeed, very aesthetically affected by training. They almost always get smaller as the body gets leaner. The exception would be very lean, small-breasted women, who may see a slight increase in projection due to hypertrophy of underlying pectoral muscles.

41

Dane Thomas wrote …

As I tried to make clear in my previous post I'm with Simma on the use of Pseudo-science in the article. I also find it troublesome that the author chose to focus on changes in response to images of surgically altered bodies instead of those altered by a combination of exercise and diet. Of course, there may not be any such studies available to reference (yet). Might be worth looking into for those looking to use CF to help get a PhD.

As for the photos, Sarah P and Sarah C - you two have NOTHING to worry about in either the attractiveness or performance departments. Your shots were the best part of this article, no question about it!

42

wrote …

Simma,
I love your arguments, thanks for standing out.

43

Simma,

I actually strongly agree with a number of your points on the accuracy of the Authors claim. I also agree that this is far from a broad, peer-reviewed scientific study of anything. But I also beleive that it was never the Author's intention to be that, and I think that is what you are missing. You want this article to be something that it doesn't need to be to be interesting or effective. Regardless of all of your criticisms of the "unscientific" aspects of this article (which I would say are accurate), it is still thoughtfull, entertaining, and could potientially still be very accurate. Show me any claim that involves the subject of evolutionary biology, even packed full of scientific data and well-designed studies, and I'll show you something that is totally unproveable without access to a time machine.

Science is a tool, and being totally reliant on it as your only way of considering the world is just as bad as it being totally absent from your world.

44

Russell Berger wrote …

Simma,
this is how I should have phrased that last post: your disagreements with the authors ideas would have been so much better served by the rebutals in your second post alone, but your continued focus on wether it is "scientific" enough does no one any good.

45

wrote …

Ryan - lol !!! more pics for you guys would have been all good - very brave of you to say so.. seriously folks lighten up!!

46

replied to comment from Simma Park

Simma, your rigor in cross examining the science and the article is probably a good example of how the science of diet could have been saved from 30 wasted years!

I want to respond to this one point, because I think it is central. "But reproductive fitness is not the same as physical attractiveness."

Not always, but generally it is. In fact, most elements of attractiveness could be attributed to fitness. I've seen research that indicates symmetry implies disease resistance, clearly beautiful hair will correlate with fertility, good teeth are an indication of past and future health/fertility, hip/waist is an indicator of fertility, "good skin" ... etc etc etc. he same ratio that defines the proportions of Cindy Crawford's face are found in Tom Cruise's face. Attractiveness as measured in paintings could be summarized as the average features of the culture/ethnicity in question - average pelvic girdle, average facial width to height, average of the nose length/width, average of the eye shape, etc etc etc. IOW - many, many cultures in many times/locales have identified 'average' as fit/healthy/reproductively desirable and beautiful. Isn't that striking? And CF's argument could be summarized as 'any strength to excess becomes weakness." I'm seeing crossovers there beyond Greg Glassman's intellectual conceptions.

I speculate that this concept of 'average equals desirable' gets blasted by the necessity of bringing something stimulating and different to the stage in order to sell this, that or the other. IOW - we the entertained public, get bored by one vision of 'desirable' so the entertainers shop different images to us in order to keep our attention; images that are not 'average' but are extreme in some way or another. In this way, the natural connection between average but symmetric features equals 'desirability' is ... "perved". Style begins to trump what might be considered 'real' indicators of desirability. Not only that, but it's sold in a way that disconnects the more organic aspects of desirability for a focus on what can be transmitted via screen and print.

So this is one long speculative rant and not scientific but I think it goes to the heart of your statement I quoted above. Attractiveness in an organic sense is very much the same as reproductive fitness. I think that's what we recognize when we notice how damned pleasing it is to look at CFers of a variety of non-ideal shapes and sizes. So how long until Dr. Platek's discipline can identify and quantify more wholistic (I can't believe I'm using that term) measures of attractiveness, can ping on the organic qualities of fitness/attractiveness - and then do something useful with the information?

Simple point - attractiveness is not a separate topic from reproductive fitness. These topics are 'joined at the hip.' Learning to interpret what attractiveness means has been part of growing up for me, and incidentally, CrossFit has accelerated the process by putting the body into a perspective of function vice entertainment.

If I had to guess, which I suppose I am, it's the idea that CF is somehow backsliding into the process of viewing a 'body as primarily entertaining' that strikes some negatively.

47

wrote …

Russell, are you on the CFJ staff?

To echo Nick's point, when I started CrossFit 2.5 years ago, I was 178# (5'10"). I'm 196 pounds now and I've gotten comments that I've over done the muscle stuff more than once.

48

wrote …

I feel your pain brother.....

49

wrote …

Can't believe some people are so uptight...

And this article IS relevant, anyone who does CF and claims its aesthetic effects are completely unimportant to them is either lying or in denial. There's nothing wrong with wanting to look good and having a little vanity.

50

wrote …

Paul,

You make good points. Although casual, your line of thinking accounts for different possibilities for interpretation, etc. Your comments give me the impression that you have an idea of how science and scientific inquiry work.

The original article does not.

In other words, the lines of reasoning you propose are not the same as the original article. You don't so much defend and expound on the reasons for the original article as provide the outline for a completely different article, one which wouldn't trigger my pet peeve about the abysmal quality of public scientific discourse in our society today.

Maybe you or someone who thinks along your lines could persuade me that a science of attractiveness could be relevant to CF. But this article is so very far away from doing that.


Russell,

I don't expect the article to be a peer-reviewed study. I realize it's a piece of lay science writing and that there are no hard truths for people studying human evolutionary biology. But that's hardly an excuse for displaying no cogent reasoning or having no rigor about making a reasoned argument. An article proposing avenues of study on the topic, as I said, might be good, if the ideas held together and were presented clearly. Or perhaps this article could be reworked and presented as a summary of evolutionary biology theories which might to relevant to exploring CFs impact, if any, on a hypothetical universal sexual attraction. I still might not find it a good fit with CF, but it wouldn't irk me to this extent.

It is the author himself who presents the article as scientific argument. Perhaps if he meant it to be a light musing on sundry scientific ideas as they relate to shapely asses and broad shoulders, he should have written the article accordingly. Saying after the fact that the piece was not meant to be scientific when, in the piece itself, he repeatedly claims to be arguing scientifically--well, I'm not sure what to do with that, but in my opinion, it doesn't make the piece any better.

51

wrote …

Paul, your well written rebuttals of Simma's comments give some validity to discussing why reproductive fitness is related to CF. Honestly, very thought provoking. They do not, however, back up what the article says. You discuss different issues about the same topic.

I think there would have been less discourse if the CFJ Editor had of listed the article as an opinion piece instead of a scientific argument.

Russell, your arguments to Simma are more annoying than productive. You are just countering everything she says, but for what? It feels like you're blindly defending CF. You originally stated that looks are relevant to CF, which ignored the real issue about the author's claims. Then attacked Simma in 3 concise points. And then stated that the article is "still thoughtfull, entertaining, and could potientially still be very accurate." And then go on to discount science as not being that important. Just take a step back. Sure, 'thoughtfull and entertaining' are each readers choice, but is potentially very accurate? Will the article just magically one day line up to science? Despite science not really being a big deal without a time machine?


The article has flaws. Sexuality and fitness are related, but sexuality and mating are so much more complicated than just looks. (And by the fact that we are no longer hunters and gatherers, so it doesn't really matter if anyone can chase down a zebra.) CF is good for fitness. Many girls like guys with big arms and abs (fitness related, but easily achieved without CF). Some girls also like guys that are well endowed in their wallet and/or pants (non-fitness related factors).

Ergo, vis a vie, concordantly, many people found this dumb.

52

wrote …

Simma writes more eloquently than I do. Paul, too.

53

replied to comment from Matt Solomon

Maybe so, but I am right with you and chuckled reading your last line.

54

wrote …

I am the architect!!!

55

Shane Skowron wrote …

The biggest thing this article fails to consider is the fact that CF isn't the only way to produce a biologically-pleasing aesthetic. Sure, some bodybuilders might look too big and not "functional." But many do. Some natural bodybuilders look no different than the very same CF'ers you mention in the article.

In fact it's possible to replicate this so-called desired technique through non-functional methods. For example, bodybuilding, surgery, or for some people especially women, nothing at all.

So yes, CF can produce aesthetic that is will appeal to our evolutionary behavior, but if you don't present any evidence to show how it's better than anything else, then what's the point?

56

wrote …

Ok so I read the article and I read through some of the comments and Simma is a genius. She just tore all the people arguing with her apart. Not to mention she is write, that was a pretty weird article haha. I know a lot of people who train using body building methods who look 100 times better than people who have been crossfitting for years.

So maybe, just maybe, passing on good genetics is more important for survival than passing on lesser genetics that have been worked on harder to be expressed.

For example, the guy who can have a nice body doing bodybuilding perhaps has better genetics than the guy who does crossfit and has a crappier body. So the chick wants to hook up with the buff bodybuilder dude. Maybe he could have an even better body doing crossfit, but who cares. He has the genetics to develop muscle mass easier and his pecs are more attractive than the guy with crappy genetics who can't gain 5lbs of muscle.

57

wrote …

wow..."write" should be "right" haha. Boom

58

wrote …

Really interesting. I have noticed myself looking far more for more athletic girls to be with since starting crossfit. I thought it was based on similar interests but maybe its on a much deeper genetic level!!

59

wrote …

Obviously got to this late.

An interesting idea to relate attractiveness&fitness to mate selection. However, it's been noted that various other cultures do not comply with the article's or ancient greek's notions of hip:waist ratio. The CF and fitness popular ratio for women is different than the ancient greeks.

I'm sure some of you have taken a gander at Hunter-Gatherer societies still out there. They are few and far between but the ones in africa don't seem to wear much clothing. This gives a look at what H-G groups bodies may have looked like beyond 10,000 years ago. Of note is in those societies what drives mate selection is how well one can hunt in the males or have some sort of skill or trait that is beneficial to survival.

It's not how attractive their body looks like. Now perhaps at a young adolescent level that is all there is. However, such H-G groups are small, at most typically of 30 individuals so there isn't a huge sample to go on.

Unfortunately, there doesn't ever seem to be an interest to look into how the young adolescents look at each other. I'd take a gander and guess they look for cues that are more primitive in nature.

Once we get into civilized socities, it all goes to hell and we start to clamor for "Twiggy" and "Edward" or other extremes. We got all kinds of other fashion notions that ebb and flow that pretty much stem from being ludicrous to begin with.

Another known variable is that females on birth control are attracted to different qualities in males than they are on when not on BC. Due to hormonal control, their likes differ. Perhaps, this explains "Edward-lovers". Hah.

Now amongst, CrossFitters, like minded fitness individuals, such fit bodies may become the ideal.

A certain type of CrossFitter body may not be attractive to the Bodybuilder or Powerlifter, olympic lifter, distance runner, etc, etc. So again, such baselines may only be per groups.

Many, many years ago, if you didn't fit in one of the group, you were as good as dead. Now, you can go find another group and fit in.

Interesting article. I think we'd all like to see some statistical data than just a few snippets of the data turning into an article.

60

replied to comment from Dave Borders

Matt's "concordantly" just made coffee come out of my nose.

61

replied to comment from Ryan DeBell

Ryan,

I'd love to qualify as a genius, but, to be honest, it's just about having a basic scientific fluency, reading comprehension skills, an ability to do some critical thinking, and the tools to express some thoughts clearly in writing. Most of this was taught to me in the public school system of the town where I grew up, and these are skills that ought to be both unremarkable and widely distributed in any industrialized democracy.


Comments to general participants in the discussion:

In addition to topic-related criteria, I think every submission to CFJ should be judged on whether someone with the above-mentioned basic skills would find an article intellectually insulting before it is accepted for publication. I would say the editors usually DO take this into consideration. Can't figure out what about this particular article made it slip under the bar, except maybe that someone must have become distracted by the photos.

People here who have complained that I, Matt, and others have been harshing on CFJ don't seem to get that all of us voluntarily pay to be here, so we clearly value CFJ enough to pay for it. Even those of us who hated this article. To a (wo)man, all of us naysayers find that this article is not worthy of CFJ. Which obviously means (ergo, concordantly) that we think CFJ has some worth. I personally find CFJ to have a lot of worth, and that is why I want to hold it to a high standard.

As for the issue of vanity or aesthetics/appearance-centered articles... it's not that I'm trying to be holier-than-thou and pretend I have no vanity. It's that the rest of, well, EVERYTHING (TV, magazines, the Internet, you name it) is saturated by obsession about this topic. Every single crap gym markets itself based almost entirely on appeals to vanity. The vast majority of health and fitness information out there is about vanity. CF sets itself apart because, though it often leads to pleasing aesthetics (and nobody's complaining about it), its real concern is about what people can do, not how they look. If I wanted to obsess about appearance, I could do a Google search for "hot abs" or "firm ass" or "hot body get dates" or whatever and grow old and die visiting all the gazillion sites out there that are about nothing but vanity. So I personally don't want or need CF to concern itself with appearance issues.

Besides, there's not much to say on the topic from a CF point of view. I can only imagine a CF conversation about "puny" calves:
"I'd like to have bigger, rounder calves."
"For what?"
"Because they'd look better."
"Calf size and shape is largely genetically determined."
"Isn't there anything I can do?"
"Maybe, if you want to take time away from real training."
End of discussion. Or, as an alternate ending:
"I'm willing to do that."
"Then go talk to a bodybuilder."

About the only thing that you can say about CF from an aesthetic point of view is that it almost always makes people look good. That's great--I agree with that. But this is only one of the most obvious things ever. It isn't worth wasting editorial or reader time on an article that uses a gimmick to allow an author to yammer on about it when everything there is to say can be done so in 20 words or less or with some photos from the games. If individual CF outfits want to market based on vanity issues, I say "whatever". They have businesses to run. I might not care too much if CFJ published articles about how to get customers in by capitalizing on vanity and kept those pieces under a category like business strategy or business model. But I'd rather not see that crap labeled as science.

Obviously, there's a significant minority of people in this discussion clamoring for articles acknowledging aesthetics and vanity. I guess it's up to the editors to weigh those wishes against the risk of alienating other CFers. My personal opinion on the issue is clear. *shrug*

But the bad science has no excuse.

And lastly, for the male CFers who complain that women want them to look like Calvin Klein models or slender hipster douchebags instead of the freaky strong monsters that you are (and I use "monster" with respect)... this is kind of an issue that you see most with very young women. As we get older, many of us (more than enough of us to provide you with a decent dating pool) develop an appreciation for burliness. And participation in athletic activity only increases the chances that a woman will expand her range of body types she considers sexy to include freaky strong monsters. If you want to date exclusively women in their teens and early 20s, especially those who are allergic to sport, you're mostly out of luck--overt maleness (things like body hair, strongman-like physiques, etc.) is often threatening or distasteful to women at this age, and it's also the age at which their tastes are most susceptible to molding by media images. But if you're willing to wait until those women grow up a little and develop a sense of agency and acceptance about what they find attractive, you'll do well. Unless your face looks like ass, in which case, you should cultivate a great sense of humor.

Just kidding.

The only insurmountable handicap is being a huge jerk, which will still land you women--just not the sort you probably want in your life.

62

wrote …

Totally disagree with this article about 'the majority of crossfit women being curvy'. They are blatantly straight up and down with not much going on in the way of curves. All you need to do is have a look at the mainpage at the women on there to see that. I don't have a problem with the way they look at all but curvy deffo isn't it!

63

wrote …

"Can't figure out what about this particular article made it slip under the bar, except maybe that someone must have become distracted by the photos." Simma - in my experience, the editor doesn't see the photos during the writing/editing process. I think you should consider the possibility that the article isn't as rotten to most as it was to you. Start w a different set of assumptions, and the errors that got you spooled seem pretty harmless. Regardless, keep up the science crusade - we all need to understand the tenets of the scientific method better.

64

wrote …

Sarah #34 - glad you weighed in. It wasn't necessary, but it was good. Best of luck to you at the Games!

65

wrote …

The moral of the story: you'll get laid if you do your thrusters (pun intended).

66

replied to comment from Paul Eich

Paul,

That line was meant to be a joke, as most seem to agree that model in the picture has a nice physique, even if the way she is posed might seem a little too glossy fitness mag for some tastes.

In my judgment, the article remains truly terrible. If I had turned in that article in the 11th grade, both my biology teacher and my English teacher would have failed me. No amount of adjusting my assumptions could alter my judgment here, unless I stopped assuming that science articles for CF should make sense, be well written, and demonstrate that the author gives the audience credit for knowing how science works. We don't know whether most people didn't find it rotten without taking a poll of all readers. Maybe some people are new to such ideas of evolutionary biology and therefore the novelty of the ideas are enough for them, even if the writing and scientific reasoning are bad. Maybe people have low expectations, maybe lots of people thought it was cruddy but weren't bothered by that fact enough to write in, maybe I'm a total outlier--who knows?

But I've pretty much made my case for why I think publishing the article was a mistake for CFJ, which is usually a good-quality source of both information and inspiration. The editors can do with that what they want.

67

wrote …

As a CFJ junkie who lurks in the comments sections I have really enjoyed this particular discussion. Register this reader for Simma's side.

68

wrote …

69

wrote …

I have the right to not like something without getting personal emails attacking me as a person. You have just violated my sense of safety in the public forum.

----- Original Message -----
From: Michael
To: simmapark@gmail.com ; vanessa.pinter@comcast.net ; mattsolomon_@hotmail.com
Sent: Friday, March 26, 2010 4:57 PM
Subject: CFJ Moved to Mate?


I do this in private because I do not intend to flame anyone, but punish in private. Are any of you scientists? Did you look at the listed references? You use the word 'dumb', more than once!? Seriously? You generalize about the CFJ because of one article? Simma your words smack of a jilted woman who was cheated on, more than once. Don't generalize about an entire community! I am not the LCD, Lowest Common Denominator. I read Muscle & Fitness 28 years ago, so? I'm not a bodybuilder and I am fairly certain 'all bodybuilders' are not unintelligent dolts! There must be an above average intelligent group of men in that community.

My common sense, or lack thereof from time to time, attracts me to women with round hips and ass (I prefer the word ass to buttocks, personal preference), average to larger than average breasts. The past 3 g/f's of mine have been blonde and blue or green eyes. Two of them were way smarter than me, on many levels, and the one was a 'bar set too low' situation. Please check your superiority at the door next time.

Just my two grains...


Best regards,

MJ

70

wrote …

OK, I'm taking a big breath here. It just felt like a stranger overheard a nice discussion I was having with a friend, followed me home, rang my doorbell, and started cussing me out at home!


Sarah, yes, you look awesome, and you COULD sell this article to M&F or TNation! I will watch you compete in your sports bra and bootie shorts (or other costume of choice) and cheer you on! But really, images of athletes competing, like Olympic Beach Volleyballers, are different than that same amount of skin in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.


This article just rubbed me the wrong way with it's glossy posed images and BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS OF PLASTIC SURGERY! I hate having to cover up those images of "the Mommy Makeover" just so I can read the comics in peace.


But maybe it's not such a bad way to go about things anyway...


Think about it now... a concept... the Crossfit Journal writers write articles expressly for O, M&F, Fitness, Runner's Magazine, etc, thus spreading the word. The writers match their style to the magazine's style and add photos that also match that magazine's style (but with a spectrum of Crossfitters, from fire-breathers to average.) Awesome, huh?

71

replied to comment from Jason Goss

Interesting Jason - and why wouldn't one of the 1000s of factors involved in attraction shift according to the priorities of a different culture ...

72

replied to comment from Paul Eich

Paul and Jason,

Jason's link is interesting, although the conclusions in that article could also be questioned at every step of reasoning (and I made the mistake of starting to read some of the comments, which made me despair for the future of humanity).

For instance, one could argue that most developed nations have a strong cultural and legal structures in place to enforce rights for women. In addition, such societies generally expect long-term monogamy from a reproductive bond, and they also are getting people to live longer. As a result, perhaps, women have more invested in choosing a mate with whom they can harmoniously live in a pair bond for a long time, because this is their goal and/or their expectation when they enter into a sexual/romantic relationship with a man. In the West, for instance, even when relationships end, and even in societies where people prefer to forgo marriage and just have relationships, society compels a man to continue contact with his family and contribute to the raising of his children, regardless of what happens to the romantic pair bond. So a woman who wants to have children with a man can reliably expect to have him in her life for a long time.

Whereas, in societies where men are likely to die early deaths, or there are few social/cultural barriers to having men leave their mates, etc., perhaps women ignore whether or not men are suitable for relationships and would rather just get the DNA that will likely give their offspring the best chance for survival in harsh conditions (produced by both physical hardships from scarcity, etc. and cultural/social/legal hardships from lack of rights or status).

In other words--maybe women in developed countries look at the social benefits to themselves as well as the social benefits to their children, and getting absolutely maximal disease-resistance and famine-survival traits for their offspring is not the only consideration when they select mates. But women who live in harsh conditions where they have no cultural/legal/social security in society or within their bond with a man write off the traits that would contribute to a happy relationship, since they have no such expectation, and instead choose to care only about giving their offspring the best genes for resisting disease or famine, since there is relatively little stability for themselves or for their children.

Someone might want to try using the number of abandoned children and orphans in a society as a proxy for security instead of the national health index, for instance, and see if the results line up.

And sure, it may not just be the health index. Cultural preferences may be part of it. But maybe prosperity is more germane. I'd like to see a study of what women choose based on their economic class. Do the women who belong to the wealthier strata of a society have different desires when it comes to testosterone expression (because that's really what this study targets; "masculine" is a word that is culturally defined and not strictly scientific) than women scraping out a living subsistence farming or picking through garbage? Do women in culturally and economically "elite" classes have different preferences for testosterone expression than those in "working" classes?

Just an example of how people's cultural assumptions and what people want to believe can creep into analysis of such phenomena and color their conclusions.

Anyway, as you can see, I DO have a great deal of interest in this topic (which still does not change the fact that I think Platek's article is essentially worthless on scientific grounds), and I DO think it merits a lot of study.

However, I still don't see the topic's relevance to CF. As I have said, maybe someone will write the article that makes me see the connection. If so, I would probably enjoy reading that article. But this article isn't really relevant, and I still maintain that Platek's wasn't either, despite its unsuccessful attempts to shoehorn itself in.

73

replied to comment from Vanessa Pinter

Vanessa,

Yes, that was a crappy thing for Michael to do, but I hope you don't let it make you feel unsafe. He's obviously just a guy who doesn't even have the balls to be a troll. Maybe he realized that posting that to CFJ would get him chastized or banned by the staff (although I somehow have a hard time giving him credit for being able to think it through that far, given the display of his intellectual faculties in that e-mail).

I don't think anyone who wanted to defend that article is happy to know that this guy is "helping" them in this way. I also doubt CFJ staff would agree with his behavior, but he's technically not being threatening--he's just being a fool and a jackass who is embarrassing only himself.

In the future, I'll be ignoring his e-mails and the e-mails of anyone who behaves similarly. There's no point in letting idiocy like this get to you.

74

wrote …

Wow.... love the comments trail. This is the second time I've come back to this journal article - but only for the comments. I still haven't read the article so I can't and won't comment on it's content.

However, I will comment positively on Simma's eloquency. 10 out of 10 for you. But really, I'd prefer to read well thought out comments on many other articles instead of this one.

Cheers

Karen

75

wrote …

I love Simma Park!

But seriously this article is a joke. The opening "Dr. Steven M. Platek presents a scientific argument in support of the idea that naturally designed movements produce naturally attractive physiques" could not be more wrong. The article is not scientific and does not make a reasonably compelling case. Sorry. Cute graph though. Simma has already covered everything so no need in repeating it.

I also love CFJ and expect the articles to be held to a higher standard. Just wanted to throw another vote out there.

-Mike Essman

76

wrote …

Nice example here of where the comments prove significantly more intelligent and interesting than the article that spawned them. CFJ readers are an astute group. Interesting to read this article presented as "science" after the main site recommended us to read an article on "Science and Pseudo-Science" yesterday...

I am certainly no evolutionary biologist, but I think Nick had a good point way back in post #7 when he said, "So I would argue that attractiveness is more of a matter of fad and fashion, than a matter of fact or science." Maybe the evolutionary conclusion is that humans are able to adapt to the times. At a time in human history when life was physical and success was relevant to functional fitness, Crossfitter-type bodies that indicated potential for successful living were likely attractive to both sexes. We now live in a time where people can attract mates regardless of their physique. It seems that a fashion of today is that wealth (measured in money or appealing lifestyle), or potential for achieving it, may trump physique for ensuring quality of life, and therefore attractiveness to mates.

Clearly, one does not need to have a sub 6-minute Fran to live well in American society. Serious CF athletes do have the luxury of having time to to WOD's 1-2 times/day. The ability to spend time pursuing passions beyond working and basic life functions is probably an attractive quality to mates. Physique can be a great indicator of desirable attributes. In some rural parts of China for example, obesity is actually an attractive body type.

I consider Dr. Platek's article an interesting viewpoint, but it is does not appear that it can be called science. He has not supported his assertions with any scientific evidence or references whatsoever. CFJ should feel free to publish such opinions, and I do not agree with those here who seem to be suggesting some form of censorship based on why they personally like reading this Journal. On the other hand, Crossfit makes it clear that its brand is not represented by or for posers. CFJ should use caution in how it presents pseudo-science (aka non-science posing as science), and remember that just because someone is a scientist does not mean that their writings have any scientific merit whatsoever.

77

replied to comment from Howie Schwartz

Howie,

Just to clarify, I'm not advocating censorship. A journal cannot print every article that gets submitted. Editors must decide not only what is well-written, but also what is relevant to the mission or purpose of the journal. They must also decide what is worth saying in their publication. Does something really deserve 1500 words, or is an article's purpose so obvious or so lacking in depth that it's not worth publishing? That's not censorship. That's good editorial decision-making. Editors are needed because they uphold quality standards and keep their publication on topic.

The main website says:

"CrossFit's mission is to fuel a revolution in fitness based on the pursuit of function, not form--on measurements of performance, not anatomy."

Boil down this article any which way, and even if the scientific concepts and citations presented in it could be shown to actually support the article's premise (which they in no way do), even if the article were more honestly presented as an opinion piece, I would say that the article still should have been turned down because it fails to be edifying by any CF criteria. It deals with obvious propositions that don't need any exposition. It also comes off (I hate to say) as douchebaggery, essentially trying to make the point that CF will make you sexier than any other training protocol.

Of course, there's room for opinion about questions of relevance and edification potential. But if the editors had agreed with me and rejected this article for being irrelevant and pointless, they would not have been censoring. They would have been both exercising their decision-making rights and performing their function as editors.

Not that it matters here, because they should have rejected it for quality before they even needed to contemplate relevance. I think we agree on that.

If someone came up with a well-researched, well-written, and scientifically sound article against something that CF prescribes and the editors rejected it for conflicting with CF's official recommendations, something like that might legitimately be called censorship. I think it's important to make the distinction between an action like that and completely reasonable, even if debatable, editorial decision.

78

wrote …

I am not sure why the article makes people so angry. Not to add fuel to the fire but I suspect that some of it is linked to the evolutionary nature of the article. Nothing sets the internet ablaze like a discussion of evolution.


I read though the comments above and took a few notes. Here are some of my favorite quotes:


“worst article I have ever read”, “atrocious science”, “oversimplified pop evolutionary biology”, “poorly written”, “shallow and careless interpretation of the theories of evolutionary biology” , “pseudo-science”


Dr. Platek’s Bio (partial): editor-in-chief for the journal Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience, associate and managing editor of the journal of Evolutionary Psychology, associate editor for the journal of Personality and Individual Differences, and the consulting editor of the journal of Human Nature.


For those of you that made the comments shown above, I would encourage you to contact the journals listed above to alert them of the impostor / quack in their presence.


79

wrote …

Scott,

I don't think anyone has suggested that Dr. Platek is dumb or unqualified. His titles and positions do nothing to dispel the accusations that you have dutifully compiled. I think it is important to judge the ARTICLE as written instead of accepting it simply because it was written by a Dr., PhD., HQ staff, etc.

Your suggestion is kind of like saying that as a college student, I am not capable of writing on a 5th grade level. I could point you to several examples of how this is certainly possible. :(

80

replied to comment from Mike Essman

Scott,

You do understand that nobody is actually refuting or ranting about any of the theories or studies that Platek brings up, right?

I personally have no argument with or problem with studies he mentions about SHR/WHR, about the effect of ideal bodies on the reward centers of brain, about the idea that our lifestyles outpace our evolution, etc. in and of themselves. I even enjoyed, although at Platek's expense, figure 1, which actually got me to laugh out loud. These ideas are common enough in popular culture; anyone with access to the Discovery Channel or the Internet is likely to be familiar with them. (Speaking of Discovery Channel, I do take issue with almost all of the examples from the animal kingdom that are meant to support by way of analogy, but at least they entertained me: "For example, female cheetahs do not find slow male cheetahs sexy. In fact, they probably find slow cheetahs downright repulsive." Really?)

My problem is that these are presented as supporting Platek's "hypothesis". They don't. They're just distractions that try to fool readers into thinking Platek is demonstrating that his hypothesis has merit. He is not. If you think about it carefully--or rather, at all--not only do these discoveries/ideas fail to support the author's so-called hypothesis, but the author also fails to make a case for why they're even relevant to his point. I really hope nobody needs to fisk the article for that to be clear.

I would like to believe that, given Platek's credentials, he can draw on a vast reserve of knowledge to firmly support whatever argument he wants to make. The question is, why doesn't he? Why does he instead choose some barely tangential or completely irrelevant ev. bio. mishmosh and string it together to produce an argument that ends up being such SB (to use a Rippetoe-ism) that it almost comes off as someone's idea of a joke?

Maybe it's been a long time (or possibly never) since Dr. Platek wrote something for popular consumption, and he mistakenly thought that, since we are not his colleagues or his students, we are blithering idiots. Perhaps he thought that explaining his "scientific" ideas in plain, conversational English instead of the specialized language of his field somehow meant talking to his readers as though they were second graders. And maybe he phoned in the process of constructing his argument, figuring we lay readers wouldn't know or care whether what we read makes sense as long as he quoted some studies and put in some graphs and figures.

Obviously, I'm being mostly sarcastic with the above. Just because the article ends up being totally condescending doesn't mean that Platek was consciously being a douchebag when he wrote it. For all I know, he's a really nice guy.

But the point is, Mike is right--Platek's qualifications in no way prevent him from producing dreck. Why didn't the folks at CFJ see that? I joked about the distracting model in the photos before, but what I should really ask is: Could it be that, like you, they decided his long list of credentials meant they didn't have to hold that article to any basic standards of quality or relevance?

81

wrote …

Frankly, I applaud anyone who has the energy to spend five days commenting in detail on an article that they believe to be a waste of time.

Nice article Steve. I hope this does not discourage you from being an active contributor to the CrossFit Journal and community. Your work and insight is welcome to the majority, and I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

P.S. Get those hips open on your Jerks, lol!

82

replied to comment from Justin Bergh

Well, I was making a case for holding CF to the same rigor in discussing and thinking about fitness as it has in teaching people how to jerk. And I was making a case to both editors and readers for upholding CFJ's quality amd focus by excluding articles like this. Perhaps there no value in trying to do that?

I would welcome future contributions by Steven, if they're any good and serve any function in our intellectual explorations of fitness. Which is what CF is kind of about, no?

83

wrote …

Clearly Simma has the corner market on upholding our intellectual sanctity. I hope she'll consider writing her own article for CFJ, so she can show the good doctor, and the rest of us, how it should be done.

84

replied to comment from Jarrett Smith

CFJ is already full of great articles from expert authors who demonstrate many different ways "it should be done".

Once again, I am not saying CFJ is crap (quite the opposite, in fact) or putting on airs. I'm trying to do what I can to avoid seeing articles that are prime examples of how it "shouldn't be done".

85

replied to comment from Simma Park

Simma,
You ask the question "is it CrossFit's job to denounce or undo the hard work that went into developing bodies that have clearly adapted for maximal performance in certain kinds of activities..." (in reference to Olympic lifter's "overdeveloped quads" and a martial artist's "cylindrical torso structure."
The answer, IMO, is YES!!!!
We state over and over in Crossfit that we specialize in NOT SPECIALIZING. Therfore, if any of us have 'specialized' in something to the extent that a certain body part is 'overdeveloped' then, yes, it IS the job of the Crossfit trainer to 'undo' this-IF generalized fitness is the goal.
Not that there is anything wrong with specializing, or attempting to attain elite status in any given sport. If this is your goal, then, NO-'Undoing' those imbalances isn't the goal at all. But in reference to training the average person who has 'imbalances,' whether they come from specializing in a certain sport or through pure neglect, is IS the job of the Crossfit trainer to denounce and undo the 'hard work' that went into creating these imbalances-IF GENERAL FITNESS IS THE GOAL.
Brandon

86

wrote …

I'm having trouble understanding why one individual (whose stated goal is to encourage scientific discourse) would reply to such a significant amount of comments opposing her response to this article. Discourse of any kind is predicated upon the existence of a variety of opinions. We understand someone on here finds the article to be "crap science", others seem to have no issue with it, and crucifying an author for one article (which is exponentially better than the multitude of fitness magazine crap printed with greater regularity) is not only rude, but incomprehensibly (at least to me) childish.

We all can tell by now that some people have a problem with the "science" in the article (and repeatedly and in a loud voice, continue to berate the author), but as far as scientific weight goes, this article, posted on a fitness programs online journal is virtually meaningless. Espousing science and rationality while simultaneously littering comments with unnecessary ad hominem attacks and personal critiques of a persons intelligence based off of a single article, is sort of like pooping right on top of the lovely grass-fed filet you just sent out of the kitchen.

87

wrote …

Hey, I just want to say that I look better and feel better since doing crossfit. I like taking my shirt off at the gym because I know everyone else is looking and it pushes me to work harder- and I have a dry, clean shirt to put back on when I am done. I'm an engineer so I have an analytical / logical bent to my thinking. I liked the article and I guess I don't care who agrees or disagrees. I read some of the early Simma comments, then lost interest because well, how many damn times do you want to beat a dead horse? It's dead already!

Also like to comment on how many people I have heard make reference to "exercise porn" when talking about crossfit videos. These videos are amazing on so many levels. Girls and guys look great, I learn about movements or technique or how to do a WOD, and frankly I'm addicted to it. Maybe that little perv part of my brain (yeah, just said that to fire up the crusaders!) goes off when I watch the videos but I would rather be addicted to CF than addicted to drugs!

Now go LIFT something!

88

wrote …

Great article. The takeaway....Crossfit will get you liad. It's science.

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