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Cultural Evolution of Pants
AUTHOR
Peter Turchin
Peter Turchin
is a professor of Biology and Anthropology in the University of Connecticut and Vice President of the Evolution Institute | Follow him on Twitter

If you are in North America or Western Europe and look around, on any particular day, you will find most people wearing pants. But why is it the standard item of clothing for people, especially men belonging to the Western civilization. Why not a kilt, a robe, a tunic, a sarong, or a toga?

I asked this question here two days ago and got a variety of replies. As you will see, my preferred explanation will use several of the reasons people brought up. However, the most common theme in the discussion was utility or convenience. Here’s where I disagree: comfort provides (at most) 10 percent of the explanation. Just think of that ridiculous contraption, the tie, that you have to wear if you want to be elected to public office, or to become CEO. No, the much more important factors are the social ones: conforming to social norms and signaling social identity or status.

To convince you of the primacy of social factors I urge you to check out this extremely funny site, Bravehearts in Kilts Against Trouser Tyranny:

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http://www.kiltmen.com/

This site is hilarious not because the Bravehearts in Kilts are stupid, but precisely for the opposite reason. Once you have read their passionate defense of the kilt, you (at least if you are a male) will realize that it is us, pant-wearers, who are stupid. In warm climates or during summers in the temperate zone the kilt is much more comfortable to wear than the jeans.

Male’s testes hang outside the body for a reason: the optimum temperature for spermatogenesis is a couple of degrees less than the body temperature. So wearing tight pants kinda defeats that purpose.

Read more at Social Evolution Forum

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