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...Dr. Kawecki and like-minded scientists are trying to figure out why animals learn and why some have evolved to be better at learning than others. One reason for the difference, their research finds, is that being smart can be bad for an animal’s health...Perhaps (see also Steve G's and commenters' discussion here regarding grade ranges among male and female students - I find that Steve's observation holds generally for my seminars too), male stupidization is a function of an environment in which males have historically had social advantages over females. That social environment involves increasing "costs" to further learning for men operating already within a status quo that favors their position. But it may include far more benefits for women from increased and ongoing learning, potentially resulting in a dramatically changed social status quo. Male stupidization, then, may be a reaction against a shifting status quo. Acts of male autonomy in this context are then expressions against learning-driven changes in the social environment. Programmed male cost-avoiding can only then make reference to an increasingly simplistic version of the historical status quo in which male advantages are socially inherited and automatic.
Forming neuron connections may cause harmful side effects. It is also possible that genes that allow learning to develop faster and last longer may cause other changes...
Dr. Dukas argues that learning evolves to higher levels only when it is a better way to respond to the environment than relying on automatic responses...
Dr. Kawecki suspects that each species evolves until it reaches an equilibrium between the costs and benefits of learning. His experiments demonstrate that flies have the genetic potential to become significantly smarter in the wild. But only under his lab conditions does evolution actually move in that direction. In nature, any improvement in learning would cost too much.