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Fincher & Thornhill (F&T) present a compelling argument that parasite stress underlies certain cultural practices promoting assortative sociality. However, we suggest that the theoretical framework proposed is limited in several ways, and that life history theory provides a more explanatory and inclusive framework, making more specific predictions about the trade-offs faced by organisms in the allocation of bioenergetic and material resources.
We agree that sexual selection is a more comprehensive explanation for sex differences in direct aggression than social role theory, which is an unparsimonious and vestigial remnant of human exceptionalism. Nevertheless, Archer misses several opportunities to put the theoretical predictions made by himself and by others into direct competition in a way that would further the interests of strong inference.