Harvard Lecturer Challenges Book About Origins of Rape

Article challenges theory that says rape is a development of evolution

An article co-authored by Harvard lecturer Andrew J. Berry in the journal Nature seeks to refute the argument that rape is a product of evolution.

Berry and his co-author, Jerry A. Coyne, attack the research behind the controversial book A Natural History of Rape, which suggests that the forces of natural selection promoted rape.

While some feminists have long fought to place full blame for rape on the rapist's choices, Natural History of Rape implies that this may not be the case because human genes could have evolved to favor the behavior.


But Berry and Coyne said that people are getting worked up about a theory that is not true.

"This is not an especially worthwhile debate," Berry said. "The book elicited a lot of excitement among feminists, and, in the process, the science has been overlooked."

Berry called Natural History's use of scientific evidence "a simple minded extraction" and criticized the authors for presenting misleading and illogical evidence.

In their book, Natural History authors Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer claim that rape may be an adaptation that allows males who would have been unable to find willing sexual partners to reproduce. They argue that the fact that most rape victims are in their reproductive prime suggests that rape is aimed at reproduction.

But Berry and Coyne argue that the authors' use of statistics is misleading.

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