The Brain Is a Sexual Ornament


Some say that everything we do is just an excuse to get laid. As it turns out, human brains are wildly inventive in their attempts to get us to have sex and fulfill their evolutionary destiny. I mean, a human brain invented Twitter, didn't it?


Geoffrey Miller's fabulous book, The Mating Mind, proposes that every magnificent faculty of the brain can be reduced to nothing more than a creative attempt to enthrall and then seduce sexual partners. The human brain is a fancy version of the peacock feather — nothing but an elaborate and highly sophisticated sexual ornament, no different than jewelry or lingerie. Advancing procreation and evolution is in our wiring.

Rich Doyle, author of Darwin's Pharmacy, agrees, and says that the brain evolved as a courtship device used for the capture and management of 'attention.' Human creativity is part of our 'cognitive toolkit,' which we employ through 'technologies of rhetoric' like storytelling, discourse, language, poetry, charm, religion, and art. These are 'attention management techniques' that capture attention and seduce potential mates. We get each other off by first turning each other on with our unique attributes and skills. It's all very simple: creativity is a way to spread our seed.

The rise of culture has provided a new dimension in which to wield our charms — it's the space where ideas have sex. Humans today compete less for someone to receive their genes than for someone to receive their memes — a new kind of replicator that leaps from brain to brain and competes for attention. We still imprint ourselves on each other, but today we mark our territory with 'ideas' and 'influence.' We use language not to charm each other into bed, but to capture a vote, a 'like' or a 'follow.' We orgasm in 140 characters.

Jason Silva is a media artist, filmmaker and host of National Geographic Channel's Brain Games, premiering tonight at 9 PM. He makes short films exploring the co-evolution of humans and technology, distilling big ideas into philosophical beat poetry. Follow him on twitter @JasonSilva