Category Archives: Sex Differences

The Evolution Of Fun Names For Scientific Theories: The “Sneaky F*ckers” Strategy Has Company

The late British evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith came up with the “Sneaky F*ckers” strategy — in short, explaining a way that beta males get the girl. DragonflyIssuesInEvolution explains:

The term “sneaky fuckers” was coined by evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith to describe subordinate males who take advantage of the opportunity to mate with females while dominant males are otherwise occupied, leading to their reproductive success (Smith, 1993). It was originally thought that in some species such as deer and gorillas, only the dominate male mates successfully. But, through direct observation and DNA analysis, it is now known that often other males surreptitiously successfully mate when they can find the opportunity.

Basically, while the alpha male is off, oh, fighting the war, the beta male is sneaking sex with their woman. Maynard Smith has long held the lead for fun names of theories, but there’s a now nice showing from the Los Angeles contingent.

Yes, we’ve got some Americans losing the stuffy on theoretical names, with the “Crazy Bastard Hypothesis.” Evolutionary social psychologist Frank T. McAndrew covers the fun on his blog at Psychology Today:

Recently, a team of anthropologists at UCLA led by Dan Fessler tested what they called the “Crazy Bastard Hypothesis” in a series of studies. They gathered data online from thousands of Americans and in person from dozens of individuals in the Fiji Islands. They had people read short scenarios about individuals who engaged in risky, daredevil behavior or in more cautious, risk-averse behavior. They then asked them to make judgments about the characteristics that they thought the person in the story might possess. Among other things, the daredevil was perceived to be taller, stronger, and generally more physically formidable than the cautious individual.


Their “Crazy Bastard Hypothesis” gives us a fun and more complete way of thinking about risky male behavior.  Now, it is no longer just about advertizing genetic quality, but it is also about advertizing how one might behave as an adversary or an ally. If you see a “crazy bastard” who behaves with apparent disregard for his own personal well-being by doing things that would scare ordinary men away, you definitely end up wanting to have this person as a friend rather than as an enemy. Even though the crazy bastard’s behavior is not overtly aggressive, one can easily imagine the terror of dealing with such a reckless opponent in combat and the comfort that one might have going into battle with that individual as a comrade. Going way back to the dawn of recorded human history one can find rituals (often involving excessive consumption of alcohol) used by warriors to at least temporarily make themselves feel and appear to be formidable crazy bastards as a way of intimidating their enemies and taking the fight out of them before the battle even began.


Perhaps the “Crazy Bastard” is not so crazy after all?

Buy Frank T. McAndrew’s book, Environmental Psychology.