There’s arguably no greater mystery than who we fall for. Why do some romances fizzle out, while others flourish, and grow into lifelong companionship? What can science reveal about lust, romance, and compassion? In a live show recorded onstage from the Majestic Theater in Madison, To the Best of Our Knowledge, in partnership with the Center for Humans and Nature, explored the science of love.
This episode was produced in partnership with the Center for Humans and Nature, an organization that brings together scholars from a diversity of disciplines to think creatively about our relationships with nature and each other. What do you think evolution can tell us about love and morality? Share your thoughts at humansandnature.org. This episode was made possible through the support of the John Templeton Foundation.
Almost every creature on the planet has sex, and when you consider the sheer variety of different mating behaviors and rituals in the natural world, it’s hard not to feel grateful. The hoops humans have to jump through to find a mate pale in comparison to what other species contend with: post-coital cannibalism, detachable sexual organs, or traumatic insemination, just to name a few. Biologist Carin Bondar has devoted her career to exploring the myriad ways animals mate in the wild, and shared a few of the ingenious ways animals find each other, breed, and rear offspring.
Can you fall in love with anyone? More than 20 years ago, psychologist Arthur Aron made two strangers fall in love in his laboratory by asking them 36 questions. Writer Mandy Len Catron tried out the 36 questions with a guy she barely knew. Now they’re in love.
By the time most people reach young adulthood, even if they’re not in a committed relationship, they’re generally expected to know what kind of person they want to be with, that is, the gender of an ideal mate. Sexual orientation is widely assumed to be fixed after a certain point in early life development. But for years psychologist Lisa Diamond has been challenging that notion, and through her research offers a radical new understanding of sexual orientation, arguing that it’s much more fluid than previously believed.
Imagine you’re on a beach and off in the distance you spot a drowning child. Would you risk your life to save them? History is filled with countless examples of people risking life and limb for complete strangers, but why? How can evolutionary science explain that kind of selfless altruism? Evolutionary biologists Jeff Schloss and David Sloan Wilson joined Steve Paulson to explore how group selection can explain altruism.
Our musical guest for this hour, Asumaya, talks about how one person can play the music of a full band. Alongside some performances, he tells us what inspires the myriad of sounds he has in his musical arsenal.