There’s an exceptionally stupid article by Magnus Linklater in the Times today. He talks about the recovery of the British osprey population over the past 50 years with reference to their apparent monogamy and long-term pair bonds. The article ends:
What the osprey demonstrates is that, whatever indiscretions may be committed in the course of a relationship, a stable family background is ultimately the best guarantee that the species will prosper. It works for ospreys. It probably works for humans too.
So why is this exceptionally stupid? Well, it seems like almost too obvious to have to say, but: we are not ospreys.
And all you have to do is choose a different species and it enables you to draw a completely different lesson. Like for example that other fine Scottish bird, the capercaillie, which teaches us that the recipe for a successful species is for all the men to gather together and fight over the best spots to dance and sing in front of the women, with a handful of the strongest, funkiest and loudest men fathering children on all of them. Or perhaps we should learn from the herring, and millions and millions of us all gather together once a year and have a vast mass orgy.
By all means argue for monogamy: just don’t drag the ospreys into it.