x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

How lords of the dance make good dads

Nikolaus Oliver is on hand with advice for a so-called scientist to rethink his curious notions about men and dancing.

I have a question regarding modern science and scientists. How do they come up with the ideas for what they investigate? Do they pluck them out of thin air? Do they wake up in the middle of the night shouting: "Eureka! I've thought of a question!"?

Does it occur to no one to vet the lab-coated fraternity and the questions they pose themselves before authorising them to get busy with the microscope? Because, frankly, some scientific studies are so barmy they're not worth the research paper they're written on.

A prime example has been produced by Dr Nick Neave, an evolutionary psychologist, no less. Dr Nick's thesis is that the way men dance reveals their biological fitness to become fathers. Watching men dance allows women to choose their spouses wisely.

All those who think Dr Nick needs to stop wasting our time and find himself a real job, raise your hands.

There are so many things wrong with Dr Nick's quest for knowledge that one hardly knows where to begin. First, men can't dance. Put more accurately, 98 per cent of men can't dance, never have been able to dance and don't want to dance, even if it does constitute the gateway to procreation. Which it doesn't.

Second, what does he mean by dance? Well, not ballroom dancing, or ballet. Not the waltz, or the Watusi. He just means what in my youth was called "disco dancing". That, apparently, is the sole dance indicator of paternal promise.

Apparently, if you want to be a father, your dancing shouldn't involve waving your arms about, or repeating the same limited movements over and over (paradoxically known as "dad dancing").

No, you must bend, twist and nod. Bend, twist, nod. Got that?

The BBC, ever eager to be helpful and to squander the British taxpayers' money, has produced a cartoon to illustrate this supposed fertility dance. It rather resembles the 1980s pop singer Jimmy Somerville. Although to the best of my knowledge he never fathered anything beyond some ill-advised fashion choices.

There is another limitation to Dr Nick's theory, which could be fatal. The sort of dancing he sees as significant to the evolution of humanity came into existence only in the 1960s. So before that time, it was just a lottery as far as dance and parenthood were concerned. Perhaps thanks to disco we are off on some new evolutionary path.

Looking at modern music videos, I wouldn't be a bit surprised.