O'Reilly logo

Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Lila Rajiva, Will Bonner

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

The Mating Game

You see, romance, like a market bubble or a war, seems to come from deep down in the more primitive part of a man's brain. For, while the brain may have two centers of decision making, one seems to be more important. The other is merely a lackey and a stooge; it does what it is told. The advanced part of the brain, the lateral prefrontal cortex, is where Locke's rational man debates how to pursue happiness. The limbic system, on the other hand, is where he pursues it. The limbic system is what tells him what he likes and doesn't like. It's what drives his reactions.

And what drives the limbic system? Under all the advanced, logical thinking, what is it that makes people happy?

We thought about that recently when we were back in the U.S. after an absence of several months. Suddenly, the roads were crowded with Hummers. Would anyone—if he were using his lateral prefrontal cortex—want to drive around in a big, awkward, ugly, expensive car when a small, cheap one would get him where he was going just as well? No. Then why do they do it? Because their limbic system tells them to “maximize their inclusive fitness,” say scientists. Big cars help the owners get noticed. Hummers are like long, bright tail feathers on a bird or a big rack of antlers on a deer. From a utilitarian point of view, they are worthless. Worse than worthless, as a matter of fact. They increase the risk that the animal will be noticed by rivals and predators. They take energy to carry around. And ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required