Horizon (1964– )
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What's the Problem with Nudity? 

Modern research, mainly in London and Turku (Finland), examines paleontological evidence and modern test-subjects on how the unique human sense of nudity roots in biological evolution. It ... See full summary »




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Episode credited cast:
Himself - Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Dan Fessler ...
Himself - UCLA (as Prof Dan Fessler)
George Fieldman ...
Himself - Evolutionary Psychologist (as Dr George Fieldman)
Martie Haselton ...
Herself - UCLA (as Dr Martie Haselton)
Nina Jablonski ...
Herself - Penn State University (as Prof Nina Jablonski)
Kerri Johnson ...
Herself - UCLA (as Dr Kerri Johnson)
David Reed ...
Himself - Florida University (as Dr David Reed)
Peter Wheeler ...
Himself - Liverpool John Moore's University (as Prof. Peter Wheeler)


Modern research, mainly in London and Turku (Finland), examines paleontological evidence and modern test-subjects on how the unique human sense of nudity roots in biological evolution. It proves nudity, except for patches on skull and genitals, was an advantage in hot Africa about 3 million years ago, and cloths evolved 500,000 years ago giving greater flexibility. Humans are conditioned to select 'healthy' mates from corresponding indicators, such as limited hairiness and features discernible under clothing. Written by KGF Vissers

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Release Date:

3 March 2009 (UK)  »

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User Reviews

Cod-piece science
20 August 2010 | by (Waiheke Island, New Zealand) – See all my reviews

The Documentary Channel screened this BBC Horizon programme called "What's the problem with Nudity" the other night. It tried to figure out why nudity is such a social problem for our species by asking 8 total strangers who have never stripped or been nude in front of other people (and a battery of TV cameras) to do exactly that. Coupled with a potted history of homo sapiens and more ancient forebears, it tried to figure out at what stage in our genetic and cultural history we decided that it was not OK to be around others without "clothes" on. As this kind of cod TV science goes, it was rather un-illuminating on practically all questions it set out to answer. On the contrary, it left me with a great deal of other queries about aspects that never got touched on. The obvious clanger was asking 21st Century males and females to rate male chests' sexual attractiveness based on hirsuteness or baldness of said chests. This was supposed to give a clue that evolutionary we have lost our body hair because females preferred to mate with hairless men. But what this really showed was the scientific incompetence of the sex researchers setting up such a thoughtless, biased and uncontrolled experiment: even intuitively (if I may) I would have shown the subjects a range of hairy and hairless women to rate, and I bet the outcome would have been far more pronounced in favour of hairless-ness than the male-only version. Hairy females did far worse evolutionary speaking than hairy males, just look at the number of hairy men still with us compared to the amount of hairy females (ladies with moustaches notwithstanding) and the relentless marketing of lady-shaves, depilatory products and the opprobrium heaped on unshaven continental women. And we all know that when woman are at their most fertile era in their cycle, they prefer hairy bad boys as bed mates over plucked metrosexuals - and this has a long history too: interbreeding with hairy Neanderthal men apparently was far more common than many of us would like to remember.

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