Flaws of microaggression research + Why are people sexually attracted to cartoons?

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The Problem with Research on Microaggressions

KEY POINTS: Microaggression research does a poor job distinguishing between offensive or annoying behaviors that are and are not racially motivated. Some of the research extolled by advocates as testifying to the power of microaggressions arguably shows the opposite. Research guaranteed to overstate microaggression frequency has been misinterpreted as demonstrating frequent experiences of microaggressions... (MORE - details)

Why are people sexually attracted to cartoons? Evolution.

KEY POINTS: According to Pornhub statistics, "hentai" and "cartoons" regularly rank among the most popular search keywords. Such pornography is a supernormal stimulus, an artificial object that triggers an animal's instinctual response more intensely than natural analogs. Supernormal stimuli not only explain our heightened response to pornography, but also art, junk food, and social media.

EXCERPTS: . . . Attraction to the illustrated human form clearly extends deeper into our psyches than some newfangled millennial kink. But before we look at why people are attracted to hentai, we need to take a slight detour to discuss songbirds.

Among Nikolaas Tinbergen's many insights was a theory that evolution may not have imbued animals with an innate kill switch toward instinctual responses.

To test his  theory, he created fake eggs that were large, saturated blue, and covered with black polka dots. He then placed these eggs in the nests of songbirds instinctually driven to sit on speckled, pale blue eggs. The birds quickly abandoned their natural brood to nurture the new arrivals, despite the artificial eggs being too big for them to lay on without sliding off.

He called this a “supernormal stimulus” — a phenomenon that occurs when an artificial object triggers an animal’s instinctual response more intensely than the natural object the instinct evolved to seek out. Because nature could never produce eggs like Tinbergen, the songbirds could not adapt evolutionary defenses to prevent the fake eggs from pulling so strongly at their instincts.

Tinbergen devised several other experiments to show supernormal stimuli affecting other species [...] Supporting Tinbergen’s experiments are supernormal stimuli we’ve created accidentally. Turns out, beer bottles are exactly what an Australian jewel beetles looks for in a mate (and then some). These beetles treat trash piles like a singles bar and can become so enamored with the bottle of their dreams that they will die trying to mate with it.

[...] In The Evolution of Desire, evolutionary psychologist David Buss argues that evolution imprinted men and women with particular instincts for finding mates...

[...] Visual cues denoting reproductive value include youth, health, and social status. In short, men are primed to seek attractiveness in mates. While attraction varies from culture to culture, its more common features include “full lips, clear skin, smooth skin, clear eyes, lustrous hair, and good muscle tone, and features of behavior, such as a bouncy, youthful gait, an animated facial expression, and a high energy level.”

Hentai takes these visual cues and dials them up to 11. The female characters in these movies morph the natural cues men have evolved to seek in mates to levels beyond what is sustainable in nature. Basically, they are polka-dotted eggs for the heterosexual male mind.

To keep us squarely in SFW territory, let’s consider Jazz-Age sex symbol Betty Boop. Boop checks all the boxes Buss notes clue men into health and reproductive value. She has smooth skin, full lips, good muscle tone, and large, clear eyes. She’s bouncy and displays vast amounts of bubbly, youthful energy.

In fact, her youthfulness represents an unnatural extreme, with features exaggerated to absurd, neotenic levels. Her head is impossibly large, her legs too long given her torso, her arms too short, and her hip-to-waist ratio would prevent her from walking. A real-life Betty Boop surviving to puberty would be a medical marvel. As a cartoon, she has lived on as a sex symbol for nearly 100 years.

[...] “In reality, we humans don’t really like reality — we prefer exaggerated, more human than human, images of the body,” noted Dr. Nigel Spivey. “This is a shared biological instinct that appears to link us inexorably with our ancient ancestors.”

[...] While sexual cartoons may offer one form of supernormal stimulus, it hardly stands alone. Today, people have an unprecedented level of control over our environment, and we’ve used that advantage to imbue our environments with a fleet of supernormal stimuli. Pornography, advertisements, propaganda, the internet, video games, the list goes on.

[...] There’s still much research needed to bridge the social and biological causes for the so-called “porn-gap,” but common presumptions surrounding the subject means the majority of porn media, animated or otherwise, targets heterosexual men and their subconscious triggers... (MORE - missing details)

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