Contra Roosh V. on Evolution
This is a response to a post by Roosh V: The Theory of Evolution Does Not Apply to Modern Human Beings.
I quote extensively from his post. He, in turn, quotes from a book by David Stove, called “Darwinian Fairytales”. I will not attempt to identify which passages he wrote himself versus those he quotes from the book. I respond to everything as if Roosh said it. If you want to know which quotes are from Stove’s book, please see Roosh’s article.
This is not a personal attack on Roosh. I have nothing against him, and I like the fact that he is thinking about these issues. Roosh is an intelligent guy who is right about a lot of things. He is, however, very wrong about evolution.
I’ll begin with his opening paragraph:
I know your blood is already boiling from reading the headline above and that your intellectual self-defense mechanisms have been activated to refute all ideas you are about to encounter henceforth, but make yourself a cup of tea, relax, and consider the following viewpoint that has been concealed from you during your entire life.
OK. I’ve got my tea. Let’s begin.
Since high school I have believed in the theory of evolution, a logical and elegant solution over religious explanations in describing how life originated and evolved on earth. For the next 15 years, including four years studying microbiology in university, I never once doubted the theory, and have even infused the “survive and reproduce” paradigm into the theories and ideas I have shared on my blog and in my books. This paradigm is also a domineering belief in the “red pill” platform.
In the past year a thought entered my brain that I had trouble addressing: why have I yet to reproduce? I’m nearly 36 years old, with ample resources, intellect, health, biological “strength”, and access to females, but I have not yet produced a child. It’s not that I’m ejaculating inside women but failing to impregnate them, but I’m consciously and deliberately halting insemination for reasons that Darwin and his followers have not addressed, such as bad marriage laws and wanting to be free without obligations.
Darwin and his “followers” don’t have to specifically address the reasons why you aren’t reproducing. The theory of evolution does not imply that you, a specific individual, will reproduce. To put it simply, you haven’t reproduced because you chose not to reproduce. This fact does not contradict evolutionary theory. Most individual organisms do not reproduce.
I’ve had more fertile sexual partners than some kings and nobles of old, but have not reproduced once, meaning that game, in the way I have practiced and taught it, has gone squarely against evolution. In other words, remaining a virgin to this day as opposed to embarking on a multi-year world sex tour with triple-digit partners would not at all have changed the childless result I face in this very moment.
Yes, that’s true. Using birth control decouples sex from reproduction. That is the point of birth control. Having lots of sex was once a very effective reproductive strategy, but not any more.
Anti-evolutionary behaviors should have been weeded out of the gene pool according to the idea of natural selection, but the more I looked around, the more I saw nothing but my own behavior, of people who were actually frightened to death about being a parent even though they were healthy and could afford to raise children. In fact, the sum of Western ideologies seem aimed to specifically halt human reproduction.
You mean “anti-reproductive” behaviors should have been weeded out. They were and they will be. Selection takes time to change human nature.
We live in an unusual time. The industrial revolution and the sexual revolution have dramatically changed the environment, and thus the selective pressures on the human genome. Character traits that were once adaptive are now maladaptive, and vice versa. The birth control pill came into widespread use only about 50 years ago. It was part of a bigger shift in human behavior, the sexual revolution, which involved changes to cultural norms and social policies as well as new forms of birth control.
Evolutionary theory does not imply that organisms will always be adapted to their current environments. It implies that they will either adapt to a changing environment or go extinct. Biological adaptation occurs by selection operating on the genes of a population, so it takes place over generations. Cultural adaptation can happen faster, because it operates on beliefs and behavior patterns that can change during a human lifetime.
It is true that most people living in modern Western societies are not well adapted to their current environments. Fertility rates are well below replacement. What does evolutionary theory predict? That this condition is not permanent. Low fertility is self-correcting. Those with higher fertility leave behind more copies of their genes, and also their values, which are usually passed down the generations along with genes. The strange modern combination of low fertility (due to the sexual revolution) and energy abundance (due to the industrial revolution) is not a stable state. It will not last.
Western people are structuring their lives in deliberate ways to not reproduce at all and where their cherished hedonistic lifestyles would be greatly harmed if children entered the picture, and while it’s easy to use evolutionary theory in describing which man a woman chooses to have sex with, how can that possibly be correct if the man used condoms or the woman used birth control? Darwin’s theory refers to reproduction, not recreational sex and definitely not a prolonged period of sterile sport fucking, which has no benefit to the genes of the “athlete.” Having an explanation for why a girl on birth control went home with the “alpha male” after meeting him in the club has nothing to do with evolution or natural selection, since they both knew that no child would result and used the full force of their consciousness to prevent the creation of life. If reproduction was the purposefully blocked intent, evolution was not present during the sex event.
It makes no sense to say “evolution was not present during the sex event”. Evolution does not drive human behavior from moment to moment. It is not a thing that exists in your head. It is the process that creates the structures of biology over a long period of time by selecting the forms that lead to reproductive success. Evolutionary theory implies that biological forms, such as the brain, were selected for their contribution to reproductive fitness in the past.
The proximal cause of your behavior is your brain, not some evolutionary demon that tries to make you reproduce. To explain human behavior requires more than evolutionary theory. It also requires a theory of psychology.
So, why do people do things that are not adaptive, such as use birth control in a time of abundance?
Human behavior is driven by emotions. Technology gives us the ability to satisfy emotions without fulfilling their underlying functions. In doing so, we often circumvent the biological functions of the emotions. The function of sexual desire is procreation. Using birth control decouples sex from procreation, but sex still feels good. So some, or even most people use this new technology to act in a maladaptive way.
Does this maladaptation contradict evolution? No, although it would if it persisted for a long time. But it won’t. One way or the other, it will be eliminated. This is fairly obvious, because no population can have subreplacement fertility in the long run. It would simply disappear.
How could Darwin explain the prevention of reproduction by deliberate and conscious choice from fit humans beings? How could he explain that the richest peoples of the world with no lack in resources, intellect, and functioning reproductive systems were consciously going against what evolution prescribed for them?
I can’t speak for Darwin, but I can explain it. In fact, I already did. Our emotions were shaped by selection in past environments, in which sex was coupled to reproduction. Modern behaviors can be explained in terms of psychological mechanisms (such as emotions) that were adaptive in the past, but are not necessarily adaptive today. You emotionally want sex, not reproduction, because in the past the act of sex usually had the consequence of reproduction, so a desire for sex was an effective mechanism to make people reproduce.
Evolution does not prescribe anything. It simply operates on populations without foresight or conscious intent.
The one aspect of evolution, specifically, that does not hold true for modern humans, especially those living in the West, is that fit humans are reproducing up to the limit of the food supply, as stated by Darwin. In fact, the more resources a person has, the less likely they will reproduce at all, which you can witness at any time in a drive through the poor and rich parts of your city. Darwin’s theory doesn’t explain why this occurs, why the “strongest” and most “fit” are having the least amount of offspring or deliberately choosing not to have any offspring at all, even though natural selection specifically states that only the strongest can pass on their genes while the weak and infirm will not.
It’s not that having resources causes low fertility. There are a number of related reasons why wealth is correlated with low fertility in modern societies: (1) the rejection of traditional beliefs and ways of life that promoted marriage and children; (2) lower time preference leads to both having fewer children and accumulating more wealth; (3) women in the workforce causes greater wealth and fewer offspring; and (4) the welfare state subsidizes unproductive people to have children at the expense of productive people.
Notions of strength and fitness are not absolutes, they depend on the environment. What is fit in the arctic is not fit in the desert. What was fit 200 years ago is not what is fit in the modern developed welfare state. By definition, the fittest are those who reproduce the most. In its raw form, evolutionary theory is tautological, but it is not tautological when you apply it to a specific situation. To apply it, you have to examine the factors that lead to reproduction in the current environment to determine what will be selected for.
The inverse correlation between wealth and surviving offspring is a temporary phenomenon. It is self-eliminating. There are multiple ways this could happen, but it will happen. One way is that the welfare state will collapse when the ratio of unproductive to productive people gets too high. Another way is that the population as a whole will become more reproductive, because those who reproduce increase the frequency of their genes in the population.
In a discussion about evolution, you can’t assume that human nature is fixed. It can and will change over time.
Most animals, plants, and bacteria do reproduce up to the limit of the food supply, or at least try to maximally have as many offspring as possible, but human beings have developed a consciousness that enables them to purposefully not reproduce even if they are able, and even develop a phobia to reproduction, and this has been in effect for at least 100 years in all major Western nations that currently suffer a death rate greater than the reproductive rate.
We must therefore conclude, with logic and rationale, that evolution is so flawed at explaining modern human reproductive behavior (and not merely casual sex where reproduction was never the intent), that evolution is not an observable or correct principle for human beings living in Westernized nations. We must discard evolutionary theory as applying to all humans through the mechanism of natural selection and begin a search for a new explanation that explains our current biological behavior.
No, there is no reason to discard evolutionary theory as applying to humans. It is your understanding of evolutionary theory that is flawed.
Evolution requires multiple generations, and you are observing a phenomenon that has existed on a large scale for only one generation. The recent phenomenon of subreplacement fertility has only existed for about 40 years in the West, although there was a general downward trend over the last 100 years. Evolution is acting on human nature today, selecting for the genes that lead to reproductive fitness, as it always has.
Evolution may have been the correct theory for a window of human existence, but that window has now closed and theories for post-evolutionary man, one in which there is no struggle for survival and where the strongest of the species are not reproducing, must be devised.
Nope. Evolution involves reproduction, variation and selection. Those elements still exist and will always exist as long as life exists. Life must reproduce itself. Offspring are not identical to parents. Some individuals reproduce more than others. All of the conditions for evolution still exist in human populations, therefore evolution still applies to humans.
Even if we were to concede that we got here through the process of evolution from a primordial soup, and that our brains are the result of it, these brains are now in a modern environment which has tripwired, hijacked, or corrupted any applicable evolutionary program. We have become one with the plugged-in cosmopolitan borg, and that regardless of the process that caused us to come about, that process is no longer in effect and a new process, yet to be described or understood, is manifesting itself throughout humanity and shattering Darwin’s “survive and reproduce” model.
It’s unlikely that, after reading what I have stated so far, a Darwinist would seriously doubt his faith in evolution. His mind is already racing for the rationalizations that allow evolution to remain true for him, and it’s this race that allows evolution to frame all biological explanations through Darwin’s brain. People are so invested in a theory that tells them what the end point is (i.e. everything we do is to survive and reproduce), that many hardcore atheists are no different from religious fundamentalists in the mental gymnastics they take every day to keep their faith alive.
Gymnastics are not required. The theory works. It does not imply that we are consciously motivated to survive and reproduce. It implies that our brain structure was shaped by natural selection to make us reproduce. (Survival is always temporary and only a means to reproduction).
A book that pokes numerous holes to the evolutionary boat is Darwinian Fairytales by Australian philosopher David Stove. While not a scientist by trade, Stove provides over a dozen non-religious arguments against evolution that were not presented to us during our scientific education in school. After reading through this book carefully, I have determined that evolutionary theory is no longer useful in describing the modern day behavior of human beings. Based on my scientific background, this did take great upheaval to my belief system, but there are too many doubts to the theory, mostly based from my own observation of human behavior, that I can’t believe such a flawed model any longer.
Evolution is not applying to modern humans.
If Darwin’s theory of evolution were true, there would be in every species a constant and ruthless competition to survive: a competition in which only a few in any generation can be winners. But it is perfectly obvious that human life is not like that, however it may be with other species.
Wrong on multiple levels. First, life is a competition to reproduce, not to survive. (We all die eventually.) Second, it does not apply to “any generation”, but to outcomes averaged over time. During a period of abundance, there need not be competition between individuals at all, and most members of a generation can survive to adulthood. This tends to eliminate the conditions of abundance, however, leading to increased competition in future generations. Third, it is not “perfectly obvious that human life is not like that”. It is like that. Human populations, over most of history, were limited by war, disease and famine. Even in the 20th century, a period of relative abundance, the death toll from war was roughly 160 million.
That theory is a universal generalization about all terrestrial species at any time. Hence, if the theory says something which is not true now of our species (or another), then it is not true—finish… If Darwin’s theory of evolution is true, no species can ever escape from the process of natural selection.
True. No species can escape from the process of natural selection.
If you look outside your window, you’ll see that there is no longer a vicious fight for survival, even in desperately poor nations. The sick and handicap, thanks to society’s intervention (a society created by the human animal that evolution supposedly applies to), can survive with ease, and even the mentally inferior who lives on the altruism of others can reproduce to their biological limit assuming they possess basic fertility.
The view from your window is limited and biased.
We currently live in a bubble created by the industrial revolution and the sexual revolution. The industrial revolution vastly increased the amount of energy available for human use, mainly by exploiting fossil fuels. The sexual revolution dramatically lowered fertility rates in the developed world. For those reasons food production grew faster than the population for a few generations, creating abundance. This is not a normal or permanent state of affairs. It is an exception to the norm, and there are good reasons to believe it will not persist for very long. Fossil fuels are finite, and low fertility rates are self-eliminating.
The theory of evolution implies that the welfare state is unstable and will eventually fail, but it does not imply that such a thing cannot exist. The modern welfare state in the West is barely a generation old, and is starting to break down. Earlier experiments, such as Soviet communism, failed miserably. Evolution is a theory of change, not a theory of stasis. It does not imply that populations are always adapted to their environments, or that the environment never changes. Evolution advances by trial and error, and most experiments fail.
The fundamental error in your thought is that you beg the question. You tacitly assume that human nature is fixed and universal, which is the same as denying that it evolved, or can evolve now. Likewise, you assume that the modern welfare state is an endpoint of history, not one of its cul de sacs. Do not assume that human nature and the modern social environment, as they appear from your window, are stable states that will persist indefinitely. They are not. They are transient.
Darwin must have gone wrong somewhere about man, and badly wrong. For if his theory or explanation of evolution were true, there would be in every species a constantly recurring struggle for life: a competition to survive and reproduce which is so severe that few of the competitors in any generation can win. But this prediction of the theory is not borne out by experience in the case of man. In no human society, whether savage or civilized, is there any such struggle for life.
This is simply ignorance of history. Until very recent times, such a struggle did exist in every human population. Until the modern bubble, most people died young of war, disease and famine. Even today, where there is overpopulation and competition for resources, violence usually breaks out. Rwanda is an excellent example.
You can try reminding the Darwinian, if you like, that this theory of evolution is a proposition about all species of organisms, at all times and places; and that man is a species, that the last three centuries are times, and that advanced countries are places.
Yes, it applies now, and its workings can be observed now, but not in the cartoonish way you seem to think about it. People who do not have children do not pass on their genes. That is selection, and it is happening now.
Darwinists will say that welfare, employment benefits, and even health care disturb natural selection and, if removed, we will see more of the evolutionary model of the strongest reproducing along with the fight for survival. This “veneer” idea is debunked below, but even if you were to take it as valid, multiple societies that contain billion of people currently have welfare, employment benefits, and health care, all developed from the will and efforts of the human animal, naturally and progressively. In other words, to make evolution true, we’d have to manually and artificially intervene and remove all the altruistic fruits and layers of our society that have independently come forth in all corners of the planet. Can you imagine a physicist insisting on blowing up an errant planet that doesn’t obey the laws of gravity to make sure his theories remain universally true?
An intelligent Darwinist would not say that welfare, employment benefits, and health care “disturb natural selection”. He would say that they change the selective pressures on humanity. They are part of the environment that shape human nature. We shape our environment, and our environment shapes us.
A “social Darwinist” does not want to end the welfare state because it contradicts his theory. He wants to end it because it is harmful and futile. A welfare state is not impossible to create; it is impossible to maintain in the long run (unless it is combined with eugenic social policies that make reproduction conditional on productivity and responsibility).
The reproductive urge to make babies is barely an urge
Your reproductive urge is so strong and so intense that you are wearing condoms, not ejaculating inside women to give them your seed, having panic attacks when a girl announces her period is late, and in the case of some men, dropping out from sex entirely for the evolutionary trivial reasons that women have unreasonable standards and bad attitudes.
There is no “reproductive urge”. There are various emotions, such as the sex drive and parental love, but there is no urge to reproduce. Evolution does not select for conscious values or goals. It selects for the brain structures that generate our emotions. Values are generated from our emotions interacting with other aspects of embodied experience.
Evolutionary theory is not a substitute for a psychological theory. It does not tell us how the brain works.
A common argument by someone not fulfilling their evolutionary need is that they possess a lack of “resources,” but this can be laughed upon its face with a visit to an African village or South American slum where children living on a dollar a day make it to reproductive age and later go on to reproduce heartily themselves. In fact, the more you raise your children in impoverishment, the more likely they will have more kids and spread your genes than if you raised them in comfort and luxury. The “resources” argument is outright absurd if uttered in the West where the state will raise the kid for you and allow it to reach reproductive age without you spending a dollar.
Consider that I can have 100 children in Washington DC right now and all 100 will be properly clothed, fed, and cared for without me lifting a finger. None would die from neglect before reaching adulthood. Quick—go forth young man and place your seed within every woman you have sex with! Then escape the country and watch from afar as your seeds grow. I promise you the state will raise those seeds and that your genes will be passed on for the next hundred generations, and you will have done as much to live out your evolutionary destiny as the great Mongol kings. Isn’t that why you are here for?
There is an easier way: sperm donation. I have children that I have never met.
But of course you will do no such thing, because there is only a trivial drive in you to reproduce, and if you fail to do it during your lifetime, you would not even shed a tear, and may actually be happier because of it. Based on Darwin’s theory, we should be jumping at the chance to use the altruism of others or the state to maximally reproduce, even if it still comes at detriment to ourselves, but we’re not, showing how absurd and false the “survive and reproduce” paradigm really is.
Human life is full of opportunities for reproduction which the supply of food would permit, but which are not taken in fact.
For most of human history, people did reproduce at roughly their maximal capacity, and population was limited by food scarcity. Look at a population graph of Ireland from 1600 to 1900, for example, to see how the introduction of potatoes caused an initial population boom and then a bust during the potato famine. Currently, in the developed world, there is an abundance of food. Population is limited mostly by the conscious choice not to have children. As I have explained, this is a transient condition. Just because most people don’t take advantage of opportunities to reproduce now doesn’t mean it will always be that way. Human nature is determined by who reproduces.
You are begging the question by assuming a fixed, universal human nature. Human nature is variable and dynamic. There is variation within human nature, and selection acts on that variation over generations. Evolution changes human nature by selecting for the genes that lead to reproduction. Changing the environment changes human nature in the long run.
…our species practices, or has practiced, on an enormous scale, infanticide, artificial abortion, and the prevention of conception. No other species does anything at all of this kind, but we do, and we appear to have done so always.
Actually, until very recent times fertility rates greatly exceeded replacement in almost every human population. When they were limited voluntarily, it was usually to invest more energy in fewer offspring: an adaptation to scarcity. Below replacement fertility is a modern phenomenon. (Perhaps the late Romans had it, but then they were replaced by more fertile Germans and Arabs.) So, no, birth control did not limit human populations in the past. In almost every time and place, human populations were limited by war, disease and famine, not low fertility. What we have traditionally done on a massive scale is warfare, not birth control.
…women are hardly ever permitted to marry as soon as they are capable of reproduction. The result is, of course, that years of reproductive opportunities are very commonly neglected, however plentiful food may be.
Darwin also didn’t mention why the reproductive urge decreases when humans move from rural areas to cities. How can it be that bars, movie theaters, cafes, yoga studios, and sushi restaurants can diminish, delay, or outright halt a human being’s need to reproduce? Why do humans dedicate their lives—often during their most fertile years—to professions and careers and shallow social experiences in dense cities that hurt their ability to reproduce? It turns out that humans have this weird tendency, as civilization marches on, to develop specializations, activities, and gadgets that self-limit their reproduction or that of others, while at the same time becoming more energized at making money, accumulating possessions, having fun, and raising cute dogs and cats than having the maximum number of children they’re able to.
Again, human behavior is driven by emotions. We are driven to satisfy our emotions in the easiest way possible. Sometimes, we find ways to satisfy an emotion while bypassing the function of the emotion. Sugar is an example of this. Humans like the taste of sugar, because prior to a few hundred years ago sugar was mostly found in fruits and vegetables, which are good for us. Recently we developed the ability to mass produce sugar. Now we can satisfy sugar cravings with candy. That eliminated the function of the desire for sugar. Ironically, it is now hard to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables because they would rather eat much sweeter candy.
Birth control is a way of satisfying your sexual desires without fulfilling their function of making babies. It feels good, but it isn’t good for you biologically. Cute dogs are another way of getting cheap emotional satisfaction. Humans are good at inventing addictive technologies, and this is a problem, but it does not contradict the theory of evolution.
Humans do not reproduce up to the limit of the food supply
Actually, they always do in the long run. That’s been the general pattern for all of human history: populations growing up to the limits of the food supply. You are generalizing from one short and unusual time period.
The Malthus-Darwin proposition, then, that population increases if food does, may be a truth, or a false but fertile near-truth, when it is applied to species other than Homo sapiens. But applied to our species, the best it can be is the following pure triviality: that population increases if food does, unless it is prevented from doing so by one or more of a dozen different causes that we know of, or by one or more of an indefinite number of causes that we do not know of.
The human population is still growing, and its growth matches fairly well the growth in fossil fuel extraction. Populations can grow exponentially, and so they can exceed any food supply very quickly. Yes, food is only one of the requirements for people to exist, so there is no law that the population will always grow to the limits of food production. However, in the long run it will tend to do that. Low fertility rates are self-correcting, because higher fertility is selected for as long as children survive. Thus, no population can have persistent low fertility. As long as fertility rates are above replacement, the population will grow until it reaches the carrying capacity of the environment.
In the long run, the only way to maintain a stable population below the natural limit of growth is to use state power to limit individual reproduction. It cannot be done by people choosing voluntarily not to reproduce, because low fertility is always selected against.
The offspring of a most privileged class exhibit, in fact, more strongly than those of any other class, and far more strongly than the offspring of the poor, a proclivity towards a whole range of things, every one of which is more or less unfavorable to parenthood. To early sexual exhaustion, to sexual incapacity, to sexual indifference, to homosexuality, to religion, to study, to art, to connoisseurship, to gambling, to drunkenness, to drugs … To almost anything in the world, in fact, except increasing or even maintaining the numbers of their own class by reproduction.
If so, then those traits are being selected against in the modern world and there will be fewer privileged people or fewer people who respond to privilege in that way. Evolutionary theory does not imply that what we view as privilege will be selected for.
It’s important to reiterate that Stove doesn’t disprove evolution, and leaves aside the fact that the theory can fit quite well for other organisms, but he gives too many examples to count on how evolution is not correct for explaining human reproduction and behavior. To find the greatest paradox to evolution, all you need is a mirror, since your own life goes against it, as does mine.
Nope. I have 5 kids with my wife and others by sperm donation. But even if I had no children, that would not contradict evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory does not imply that every organism reproduces. Most individual organisms fail to reproduce.
Here, for example, is a respected sociobiologist, Professor R. D. Alexander, writing in 1979: “… we are programed to use all our effort, and in fact to use our lives, in reproduction.” People who use all their effort, in fact use their lives, in reproduction: does that sound like anyone you know, or ever heard or read of?
Yes, it sounds like most people in the world prior to 1900, and it still applies today to people in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and most of Central Africa. It also applies to a friend of mine who has 8 kids.
It means that an impediment, however microscopic, to an organism’s maximal reproduction, if such an impediment ever occurred at all, would be completely eliminated by natural selection, and as quickly as such elimination can take place.
Not exactly. The impediment would be selected against, but nothing guarantees that such impediments don’t exist at all, or disappear immediately. When they exist they are selected against. Voluntary low fertility is a modern behavior, and any genes that lead to it will be selected against. Evolution takes time, and it does not have foresight.
I know dozens of men personally who have had sex with over 100 women, but I do not know one who engages in purposeful reproduction, even though they are so easily able to. We are all “errors” of evolution, along with billions of other human beings.
Having sex with a hundred women is not a good reproductive strategy right now, so of course people doing that are not trying to reproduce (unless they are really stupid). They are just spinning their wheels in the mud, as far as biology is concerned. So yes, most PUAs are reproductive failures. But not everyone is a reproductive failure. Billions of people have children, and some have lots of children. The planet will be populated by the descendants of those who reproduce the most, not those who fuck the most.
Evolution requires high child mortality that is absent in humans
No, it simply requires reproduction, variation and selection. You could have evolution with minimal child mortality, if something limited reproduction in adulthood. High child mortality was, however, present in all human populations until modern times.
For the “strongest” to survive, the weak must continually die. Darwin suggested levels that can be interpreted as over 50%. But in human beings, nearly everyone survives, even the weakest, meaning that natural selection is no longer selecting for the strong, thanks in part to medical advances. If natural selection is not selecting, and not ensuring that only the strong pass on their genes, evolution is not occurring in humans.
No, that’s a common misconception. It’s not that the strongest survive, it’s that the fittest reproduce. What counts as fitness depends on the environment. In every environment, some people have more offspring than others. The modern environment is no exception. Selection continues. Gene frequencies are changing in the human population. If anything, they are changing more rapidly than before, because the selective pressures have shifted so dramatically.
…there will be in every species a severe struggle for life among conspecifics, and a high child mortality. And that is the very thing, of course, which is needed to ensure in turn that in every species there will be that natural selection which is, according to the Darwinian theory, the vera causa of evolution.
There is a struggle for life between members of the same species, but it could take many forms other than violent conflict. It could be who can outrun predators better, who can metabolize lactose better, who can resist disease better, or who chooses to have children.
…[evolution] implies a struggle for life among humans which is far more severe, and a child mortality which is far higher, than any which really exists, or indeed could exist, consistently with our species surviving at all.
There is no “struggle for life”
If a man today really did believe we were engaged in a “struggle for life,” competing viciously for food and survival every moment of the day, he would be labeled mentally insane and instituted. Only in cases of starvation is any struggle seen, and yet even then humans will still act rationally and altruistically in times of crises, even to non-relatives, as you have seen in the news after natural disasters rip through tight-knit communities.
That’s a strawman. The metaphor of a struggle for existence does not imply the outward appearance of violent conflict at all times.
People are competing all the time: for money, for housing, for mates, for jobs, for social status and approval. This competition is usually nonviolent because it takes place within the same society, in a context where there are laws that prohibit violence, and police with guns to back up those laws.
As for altruism, it doesn’t exist except as a small scale aberration. Altruism is a myth, not a reality. People give a very small percentage of their incomes to charity, less than they spend on entertainment. Most charity contributions come from a few wealthy people with a lot of extra money. Charity often has an ulterior motive, such as buying political influence with a contribution. When you take into account tax breaks and the diminishing marginal utility of money, it is insignificant as a percentage of what people spend their time and effort on.
As for the welfare state, if humans were altruistic the welfare state would be redundant. Private charity would take care of the poor. The reasons why the welfare state exists are too complicated to go into here, but it is not due to altruism at an individual level. Welfare policies require the forcible redistribution of wealth by state power, not some individuals being altruistic to others. Generally speaking, the welfare state buys peace from some using wealth confiscated from others.
Considering that no modern Western citizen has seen starvation, or likely ever will, they’ll luckily escape Darwin’s all-encompassing theory for their entire lives. So while food is plentiful, and there is no struggle for life, what biological theory of life are we following? What is determining the progress of the species? It surely isn’t evolution by natural selection. A program of “everyone lives” and “everyone can reproduce if they want” is not what any Darwinist has proposed.
Starvation isn’t as far in the past as you seem to think, and it may not be that far in the future. Many people went hungry in the US during the 1930s. In the Soviet Union, millions died of starvation in the 1920s and 30s. People are starving today in North Korea.
Setting that aside, there is an abundance of food in the developed world at the current moment. Does that mean evolution has stopped in those places? No, far from it.
Here’s an example of evolution during a time of abundance: http://phys.org/news/2011-10-humans-evolving.html. In the French Canadian population studied, the age at which women had their first child fell from 26 to 22 over 140 years (about 4 generations) simply because those who got married and started families earlier had more children, and most of their children survived to adulthood. French colonists came to the New World to escape hunger in France. Their populations grew rapidly in the New World due to the abundance of food. This selected for people who, for various reasons, had more children. Having more children is only a good reproductive strategy if you can feed them, so the relative abundance of food in the New World caused a shift in human reproductive behavior.
If everyone lived to adulthood, and there were no restrictions on reproduction, then the selective pressure on human nature would be entirely based on the choice to reproduce. That choice is not magic. It is determined by brains, and different brains make different choices. Given those conditions, evolution would select for brains that choose to reproduce, for whatever reason.
Evolution does not generate “progress” as you define it. Evolution simply changes the genome to fit the current environment, and it does so without foresight, without conscious intent, and without value judgments.
as for that “struggle for life” among conspecifics, supposedly universal and constant, which Darwin was later to make famous, he saw nothing of it among the Yahgans [indians]. Well, that should go without saying: there was none of it there. Collecting shellfish, their commonest form of food-getting, was done by family groups, or by individuals. In winter, when the guanaco, with a good layer of fat on them, were forced downhill by the deepening snow above, a group of men would go off for a few days to hunt them. Whatever they got was simply shared among the hunters, who carried home as much as they could to share with their families. Well, they would, wouldn’t they? Only someone who had “the struggle for life” on the brain would expect anything different.
Primitive or uncivilized people usually have a very high rate of death from warfare and other forms of violence. I don’t know about the Yaghans specifically, but ask yourself this: Why did the Yaghans live in a shitty place like Tierra del Fuego instead of a nice place like Buenos Aires? Because they got their asses kicked in tribal warfare, over and over, forcing them into a really hostile environment.
…what would it be like, to meet a population of humans who really were always engaged in a Darwinian struggle for life? I cannot say. The best I can summon up is a very indistinct picture of a number of people in a sort of pandemonium competition for food. In my picture, the people are not distinguishable from one another by age, by sex, by rank, or by anything.
That’s a silly strawman. The struggle for existence does not mean that animals are always flailing around madly trying to get food. When a deer eats grass in a meadow, it is engaged in the struggle for existence. It has to eat to survive. It is killing a plant to survive, and it is eating something that could be eaten by another animal, so by its actions it is harming others. Its immune system is constantly fighting pathogens. Its internal processes struggle against disease and decay. Eventually, it dies. The struggle for existence is omnipresent, and it takes many forms. Violent conflict between members of the same species is only one of those forms.
Humans created civilization as a behavioral strategy in the struggle for existence. Organizing society on a large scale is a means of extracting more energy from the environment for human usage. The struggle for existence created the impetus to develop new methods of food production and warfare, and new forms of social organization. So, when you look out your window, the civilized order you see around you was created by the struggle for existence. To exist, it had to displace other kinds of order. Animals were killed, forests were cut down, and wars were fought to create the civilization you see outside your window. It is maintained by police and armies. These things are not incidental to civilization, they are essential for it.
If humans are altruistic and have no tendency to expand our population to the limits of the environment, why did we create civilization at all? Why didn’t we just limit our population to 100 million and live off the fruit of the land with little effort? Why is it only in recent times that we transcended the Malthusian condition, when it has been in our power to do so for at least 100,000 years?
…if, on the other hand, your faith in Darwinism is so profound that you simply must have human beings, not only in the remote past but now too, always engaged in a struggle for life so severe that it leaves no room for altruism and exacts a child mortality of 8o percent or more: well, if you have made that uncomfortable bed, you will just have to lie in it. And one of its minor discomforts is this: that you will have to reconcile yourself to performing, all your life, that evasive trick of which Hume rightly complained. That is, of calling certain facts—namely the facts of human altruism—a “problem” or a “difficulty” for your theory, when anyone not utterly blinded by Darwinism can see that these facts are actually a demonstration of the falsity of your theory.
The “facts of human altruism” are not a problem for me, because I do not observe these “facts”. Altruism is fiction, not fact. There is no evidence that humans are altruistic, and there is an enormous amount of evidence to the contrary. Altruism must be rejected on both empirical and theoretical grounds.
Altruism is an innate human trait
When evolutionists discuss altruism, they attempt to paint it as a “mistake” of evolution or strain mightily to somehow make it fit their theory, instead of just admitting that their theory is wrong. Altruism is indeed a pathological trait in humans, who are far from “selfish” beings constantly working in their self interests. Every single day you have a need to share, teach, help, and communicate, and not only to your relatives but also strangers, and the benefits you receive from this altruism doesn’t at all increase your ability to reproduce. In fact, I believe the need to have children is not only to pass on your genes, but to have ready-made targets to receive your overflowing and debilitating altruism.
There is no evidence that the human species, or any other life form, is altruistic except in certain limited ways that are predicted by evolutionary theory, such as parents investing energy in children, which is reproductively selfish. There is no need to invoke some mystical altruistic impulse when you observe human behavior honestly. not through rose-colored glasses, not trying to make it fit some moral preconception, but for what it actually is. People are selfish.
Stove remarks how a human being or group spontaneously showing altruism would and should have been crushed by existing non-altruistic human groups. Since that did not happen, it suggests that altruism was likely with us from the first man.
No, it never existed.
…how, in a constant competition among conspecifics to survive and reproduce, altruistic individuals could possibly avoid being demographically “swamped” by non-altruistic ones.
Yes exactly. That’s why people aren’t nice. They kill. They rape. They conquer and enslave. They cheat on their mates. They cheat on their taxes.
There is no reason whatever, apart from the Darwinian theory of evolution, to believe that there ever was in our species an “evolution of altruism” out of a selfish “state of nature.” People believe there was, only because they accept Darwin’s theory, which says that there is always a struggle for life among conspecifics, whereas there is no such struggle observable among us now, but a great deal of observable altruism instead. The right conclusion to draw, of course, is that Darwin’s theory is false.
No, the correct conclusion is that altruism doesn’t exist. That is consistent with the evidence of human behavior and human history.
For Darwinian theory says that there is always a struggle for life going on among the members of every species. So why was not every tender shoot of altruism or morality always promptly sheared off by natural selection?
Every tender shoot of altruism was sheared off. Genghis Khan has a lot more descendants than Jesus Christ.
Morality exists because morality is just a myth used to justify social control of individual behavior and to direct aggression outside a group. It does not make people altruistic, although they might view themselves as altruistic through the lens of morality. Morality divides the world into “us” and “them”, the “good” and the “bad”. Morality is used to justify many things, including hatred, cruelty and killing. In every war, both sides consider themselves to be acting morally.
If you on an impulse make an altruistic “offer” to some of your non-altruistic conspecifics, they will—if words mean anything—close with your offer, and thereby improve their own chances of surviving and reproducing; but not yours. If you make a habit of this kind of thing, there is only one way matters can end for you, and for any offspring you may manage to leave who inherit your amiable disposition. Your lineage, far from becoming one of “the favored races in the struggle for life,” will quickly be extinguished.
That’s why the world runs on exchange, not altruism. That’s why I have to pay money at the store for my groceries. They don’t hand them out for free. That’s why capitalism works and communism fails. People are selfish.
If for over 100 years you incessantly teach people they have a selfish nature and act only in their best interests, you are surely enabling selfish behavior in humans, and yet in spite of this continuous brainwashing, altruism is still hugely present in all societies. If I had the ability, for over 100 years, through the media and academia, to state that mushrooms are the most vile food imaginable, I have no doubt that per capita consumption of mushrooms would decline.
It’s quite the opposite. On every communications platform, people are bombarded with propaganda telling them to be altruistic. We start kids off watching cartoons that promote being nice to others as a virtue. Yet, it has almost no effect on how people behave. People are selfish, because they are motivated by emotions that evolved to make them reproduce.
The human need to communicate
Humans have an innate need for communication, for communication’s sake, among other needs that don’t improve their survival or reproduction.
…it is perfectly obvious that people do not now communicate, or communicate as much as they do, because of any advantage which accrues to themselves from communicating. Indeed, there are few human experiences more common than that of people finding that they have injured their own interests, by too great a readiness to communicate, or too great a receptivity to the communications of others. Yet lessons of this kind are constantly thrown away on us, simply because our love of communication is so strong, and so little controlled by a regard for our own interests.
“Perfectly obvious” is not a rational argument.
Communication serves an important function: it allows us to coordinate our behavior. Try going without communication for a week and you’ll see how important it is to survival and reproduction.
The myth that human communication is selfish and deceptive
It’s not a myth. It’s the reality.
Being deceptive requires an additional layer of mental processing that is expensive, because consciousness is an expensive and limited commodity. So, most of the time we either avoid that extra layer by being honest, or we internalize deceptions so that we deceive ourselves as well. Avoiding the extra layer of processing is the main reason for self-deception. This often involves a disconnect between what we do and what we say (hypocrisy). Often, the mental models that drive behavior are different from those that drive communication (compartmentalization). We learn to interact through artificial personas instead of sharing our real thoughts and feelings.
The sexual marketplace is a great example of the insincerity and duplicity of social interaction. I was not much of a player in my day, but I did learn how to pick up girls. I did not do it by being sincere. I did it by learning how to construct the persona that women find appealing, and how to create the pretense that is necessary to seal the deal. Walking up to a girl and saying “Wanna fuck?” is honest, but it doesn’t work. Slowly building up a fake rapport and a fake pretense for fucking is what you have to do. In those interactions, the women were usually complicit in the deception. Both sides participate in constructing a socially acceptable pretense for sex. The woman wants the pretense of being seduced, being won over by charm. She doesn’t want the bare truth to be exposed: that she just wanted to get fucked by a good looking man. Then there are those women (the majority in clubs) who pretend to be interested in fucking, but are really just looking for attention and will never put out. There are men who pretend to want a relationship but will never commit. The modern sexual marketplace is a very complex web of deception and pretense.
Another often-heard quote is that humans constantly manipulate and lie to achieve their ends, but such tactics can only work against a backdrop of honesty and truth telling, since lying is a parasitic behavior that needs the “clean” behavior to be effective. Therefore being honest is the original human state, while lying is the parasitic and more rare form of communication.
Honesty is the default, simply because it is easier. That’s why young children are honest, and only gradually develop the ability to disguise and distort their thoughts and feelings when they speak. We learn to filter and distort our beliefs to get approval from others and get what we want.
Lying does not depend on a background of honesty. It is often the opposite. Lying begets more lying, and lying becomes obligatory. We must participate in shared deceptions or be ostracized. Exposing the big shared lie is the ultimate heresy.
…it is not hard to see what the result would be, if in the future such manipulative communication were to become universal, or even nearly so. Communication, whether manipulative or otherwise, would then just die out altogether, for the simple reason that no hearer would ever know what any speaker meant by the words he uttered.
No, communication would just be somewhat competitive and somewhat cooperative, somewhat honest and somewhat deceptive, as it in fact is.
…human intelligence and consciousness plainly have a degree of autonomy which is wildly inconsistent with Darwinism. If intelligence and consciousness in humans are always subordinated, like all other adaptations of organisms, to their striving to increase, then The Origin of Species was an attempt by Darwin to increase the number of his descendants. But it was not.
You use metaphors, such as “subordinated”, that cloud the relationship between evolution and psychology. Intelligence and consciousness were selected for their contributions to reproductive fitness. That does not mean that we consciously strive to reproduce. Knowledge, including values, is the result of instinctive mental processes operating on the data of experience. There is no evolution demon sitting on your shoulder telling you what to do.
As an aside, Darwin had 10 children. Three died in infancy or childhood. His surviving offspring benefited from his wealth and fame. Publishing “The Origin of Species” probably did increase the number of his descendants, whether he intended it to or not.
Yet if what The Selfish Gene says is true, what else can that book be, but manipulation of its readers by the genes of Richard Dawkins, striving for their own maximal replication?
Richard Dawkins’ genes didn’t consciously write his book to reproduce themselves. He was motivated by his emotions, which shaped his life choices, which (by a very complex and somewhat random process) led him to being a professor and a writer of books. Dawkins was striving for success in his field, for social status, for money and power, because these things gave him emotional satisfaction.
When you take a shit, you do so because you feel an uncomfortable fullness in your rectum, not because you consciously reason that if you don’t shit, you will eventually die, which would reduce your reproductive fitness. You shit because it feels bad if you don’t and it feels good if you do. The mechanism that makes us feel that way, however, evolved because if you don’t shit, you will eventually die, which would reduce your reproductive fitness
If “all” communication was deceptive, you would be confused as to what you’re even reading right now, and take an agonizing amount of time to process a single sentence.
Who said all communication was deceptive? It is selfish, but it is not all deceptive. Whether it is deceptive depends on the intent of the communicator. Our brains do invest a considerable amount of processing power on detecting deception, but only when such knowledge is useful to us.
The veneer idea is false
This idea, that civilization, morality, unselfishness and self-restraint, are only superficial and misleading appearances, disguising our selfish, savage, animal nature, I will call for short “the veneer idea.”
The “veneer idea” is a strawman and also a false dichotomy. It assumes that civilization, politeness, and morality have no biological functions, so they must be merely a veneer over biology, rather than social and cultural tools used by biology to survive and reproduce.
There is a cultural veneer that obscures, to some extent, the truth about human nature and how our societies work. That is a form of self-deception. Civilization, however, is not a veneer. It is a social adaptation. Civilization is a tool in the struggle for existence.
Civilization is a form of social organization that allows us to cooperate on large scales. Cooperation is very useful to the individual — it is selfish. Not only is civilization selfish, it depends on violence. It requires police, prisons, armies, wars, genocides, and the destruction of wilderness. Land must be conquered, tamed and held against outsiders. The population must be controlled.
…if you intend to stick to the Darwinian theory, you simply have to say that, in the human case, most of the time, the struggle for life is going on below the surface of society: concealed by the veneer of unselfishness, considerateness, and so forth.
Actually, the struggle is easy to see. It is going on every time you go to work or buy groceries or pay taxes. It is going on every time someone has a baby. It is going on with every barrel of oil we pump out of the ground and every acre of rainforest we cut down. The veneer is in your head: it is your self-deception that hides from you your own selfishness and violence, and the selfishness and violence of your society.
Darwinism and Freudianism are only variations on a common theme, and what that theme is. It is that such things as self-restraint, cooperation, and consideration for others are merely part of a thin disguise which society places over our selfish and non-moral animal nature.
Cooperation is not a veneer placed over our selfish and non-moral animal nature. Cooperation is selfish, it does not require morality, and it occurs in many animals and plants. Society is based on cooperation, and society is selfish from the perspective of its members. People participate in society because it is a way of getting what they want.
Despite the widespread and longstanding acceptance that the veneer idea has enjoyed, and still enjoys, it is false, and even obviously false. For it compels us to ask a certain simple question, and yet cannot answer it: namely, whence the veneer? What could have brought such a thing into existence in the first place, or kept it in place if it had once come into existence?
That is a good question. My answer is that you have been there and seen how it happened yourself. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.
As a little child you were honest and sincere, not deceptive. You were honestly selfish. As you grew up, you slowly became more filtered, more morally constrained, more socially repressed. In high school you developed an artificial persona that made it easier to deal with a challenging social environment. Your self-deception became more profound. As an adult, you perfected your deception and manipulation abilities to seek sex and money. All this you learned because you were driven by your emotions - the emotions that evolved to make you reproduce. You want social acceptance, approval and status.
We did not evolve deception per se; it is just something our brains learn how to do because it is a useful ability. The deceptive nature of the social environment emerges out of the competition between individuals within a social environment. Even though they cooperate as members of society, they also compete for approval, status and benefits within society. In some cases, such as politeness, a shared deception makes cooperation easier. Society leads to deception and self-deception.
If the members of every species are always engaged in a struggle for life with one another, and if human beings were selfish and non-moral animals at first, how could even the least little bit of morality or of altruism have escaped being eliminated by natural selection?
Altruism was never selected for and doesn’t exist. Morality exists as a cultural myth because it works. Morality is a shared cultural adaptation: a system of cultural norms that reflects social power structures and incentives. The basis of moral intuitions is part of a psychological theory, too big to go into here, but I have dealt with it in other places. Morality, like religion, exists because it works, even though it is a lie. It helps people to survive and reproduce.
If evolution was in effect, it would have been impossible for the “veneer” of civilization to develop.
No, civilization is a social adaptation. Civilized groups were able to defeat uncivilized groups and replace their populations, generally speaking. Europeans replaced native Americans because they were more civilized. Civilization exists because it is a more effective way to extract energy from the environment and use it to reproduce. Civilized people out-competed uncivilized people biologically, spreading civilization throughout the world.
Evolution is the last in a long line of “puppet master” theories
I could, with better justification, say that your view is just another in a long line of “humans be speshul” theories.
The stories of man can’t help but include a puppet master that is controlling all our behavior. Before it was god, now it’s genes.
“Our stars rule us,” says the astrologer. “Man is what he eats,” said Feuerbach. “We are what our infantile sexual experiences made us,” says the Freudian. “The individual counts for nothing, his class situation for everything,” says the Marxist. “We are what our socioeconomic circumstances make us,” says the social worker. “We are what Almighty God created us,” says the Christian theologian. There is simply no end of this kind of stuff. What is wrong with all such theories is this: That they deny, at least by implication, that human intentions, decisions, and efforts are among the causal agencies which are at work in the world.
Evolution is not a puppet master theory. There is no puppet master, just a process. Genes don’t control our behavior from somewhere up in the sky. Your genes are expressed in your phenotype. They cause your behavior by coding for RNA and proteins in your cells. Evolution does not deny human agency as a causal mechanism. It explains human agency as a biological adaptation.
It is no mystery why the supply of puppetry theories never fails: there is an unfailing demand for them. People want relief from responsibility, and puppetry theories promise them this relief.
Many people do want to deny their agency, and to shift responsibility to someone or something else. However, evolutionary theory does not support this. Your genes are not outside of you, pulling the strings. They are intrinsic to you, not extrinsic.
According to the Christian religion, human beings and all other created things exist for the greater glory of God; according to sociobiology, human beings and all other living things exist for the benefit of their genes.
Organisms have the adaptations that they do, according to the religion of Paley, because a single benevolent God intends them to survive and reproduce; and because that intention will be fulfilled the better, the better adapted the organisms are. According to the new religion, organisms have the adaptations they do, because many selfish gods intend to have copies of themselves, and as many copies as possible, carried by the next generation of organisms; and because that intention will be fulfilled the better, the better adapted the organisms.
No, not really. These so-called gods (the genes) don’t exist anywhere outside the individuals. They are just an abstraction for repeating patterns of molecules that replicate themselves. You are imposing the puppet-master metaphor on genes, and it is misleading. Genes in the abstract do not make individuals act one way or another. They do not have intentions, they do not act in the world except through the phenotype. Your phenotype is an expression of genes that are selected for their contribution to reproductive fitness, that is all. Genes are not puppet masters.
Genetics has merely provided the new religionists with the precise locality of their gods, on the chromosomes of the sex cells.
Whether Darwin intended to or not, his theory swapped out one god for 30,000 powerful, purposeful, and apparently intelligent gods that control an individual human’s destiny. You are but a pathetic servant of these tiny genes.
No. Genes are not gods. Their only intelligence and agency is the intelligence and agency of an individual in whom they are expressed. They can only act through the medium of the individual. I am not a servant of my genes. My genes are an essential part of me. They are the only thing constant about me. They are what gives my body coherence, what makes it act as a unit, what makes it a subject. In a sense, I am my genes.
Why is there evolution?
Where did it come from? What is driving it towards organization and consciousness? What is the reason for this process existing? Evolutionary theory does not answer this, and takes on the phenomenon of replication as an automatic given, like the existence of the Planck constant.
In particular, a molecule of DNA, or of water, or of anything, is not benefited by a replica of it brought into existence by this molecule itself, or by something else, or by nothing.
[Molecules] cannot delight in the number of replicas that they make of themselves. They are not even intelligent enough, after all, to know when they have made a replica of themselves.
Nothing is driving it toward anything. It is emergent order. A flow of energy exists, and in that flow various kinds of turbulence emerge. Life is a kind of turbulence: a circularity in a flow of energy. Each individual life form has the objective purpose of reproducing its genes, and each gene is selected for its contribution to the reproductive fitness of the individual. The process as a whole does not have purpose. It pulls purpose out of causality by a feedback loop.
Inclusive fitness is a flawed explanation to altruism
To solve the “altruism problem,” evolutionists came up with the idea of inclusive fitness, whereby you are likely to aid your relatives so that their genes can be passed, which contain identical copies of some of your genes. Stove makes the sarcastic comment that bacteria must then have extensive forms of altruism.
…what vast quantities of altruism must exist, between generations or between siblings, in all those species which reproduce either parthenogenically or by fission! For the members of these species share all their genes with their offspring or with their siblings.
There is no need to explain what does not exist. The only significant form of altruism in nature (and humans) is parent to child, which is energetically altruistic but reproductively selfish.
The basis of selection is individual reproductive fitness, not inclusive fitness. Sibling rivalry is very common, for example. I gave a detailed explanation for this in another post.
Clones have identical reproductive interests, so for clones altruism = selfishness. But even clones, such as bacteria, are not selected for altruism unless there is a reproductive bottleneck, such as exists for sexually reproducing multicellular life. You are a colony of clonal cells, and those cells work together for their common interest because they can only reproduce in the long run via your sex cells. A cell line that deviates from that program is called cancerous, and it never leaves descendants in the long run. The coherence of your body is explained evolutionarily by the reproduction bottleneck of sex.
Two sister bacteria, despite their genetic identity, will slug it out with each other for the means of subsistence, just like any other pair of good Darwinian girls.
Yes, as predicted by evolutionary theory. Altruism is a myth and genes aren’t puppet masters.
A male robin red breast then, at least when defending a territory, cannot even tell the difference between a bit of red wool and a trespassing rival, even though a trespassing rival could quite easily be his brother. Yet the theory of inclusive fitness requires us to believe that he can tell the difference between his brother and a cousin, and again, between a cousin and an unrelated conspecific. Well, it is not logically, or even biologically, impossible.
True, and that’s why it doesn’t exist.
…the theory of inclusive fitness still has the gaping puncture which it had at first. Namely, that it requires sibling altruism to be about as strong and common as parental, whereas in fact it is nothing of the kind. If so, we might as well admit that although, genetically, the sibling relation is “just as close” as the parent-offspring relation, biologically, it is nowhere near as close, at any rate as far as altruism is concerned.
Yep, that’s right. There is plenty of sibling rivalry. The idea of inclusive fitness is retarded. It can be easily debunked. You have done it, and it can be done more formally using the concept of evolutionary stability. So, forget about it.
We are puppets to genes that want their counterparts inside your relatives to reproduce, but this can’t even begin to work the way evolutionists propose unless you are told that you are a relative of someone, because the genes themselves don’t know what relation you have to a random man on the street. Genes are so stupid, in fact, that when newborn babies are accidentally switched in hospitals, the two unlucky sets of parents will altruistically raise the genes of another couple without any doubt it’s their own. Yet we’re supposed to believe that it’s these same genes that are working continuously to control you like a slave so that copies of them in you and your relatives can be allowed to replicate.
Again, we are not puppets to genes that want their counterparts inside your relatives to reproduce. We are the expressions of the genes in our bodies that were selected for their contributions to individual reproductive fitness (gene-copying). That’s why I care a lot more about my own children than I do about my cousins, nephews and nieces. I care even less about other people’s children, chimpanzees, cows or fruit flies, even though I share most of my genes with them.
Evolution is like a buggy software program that needs constant patching as more “testing” reveals its obvious flaws. Instead of just doing away with the theory, scientists will create all sort of monstrous octopus legs and attach them to the theory, creating exceptions that even Darwin himself couldn’t have imagined.
The monstrous octopus legs you are talking about are mostly attempts to make evolutionary theory consistent with modern moral intuitions, such as the idea that altruism is good, so it must exist, so there must be some way it can exist, etc. Yes, some biologists and philosophers have gone to an enormous effort to try and reconcile altruism with evolution, rather than just admit that humans aren’t altruistic. Scientists and philosophers are not immune to self-deception and cognitive dissonance.
Evolutionary theory itself is simple, elegant and robust. The fundamental theory has not changed since Darwin. It is reproduction, variation, and selection, repeated.
Evolution blames nature for errors
People who believe in evolution victim-blame the organism when it acts outside the confines of evolution.
Contraception, homosexuality, natural celibacy, the love of truth or of beauty, accepting submission signals [in fighting], adopting children, and resenting baby snatchers: what a heavy catalogue of errors! It singles out our species as being the most hopelessly stupid of all the pupils in the great school of natural selection.
Blame is a moral notion. The “errors” of evolution are not moral errors, they are just variants that are selected against.
…scientific theory cannot possibly reprehend, in any way at all, any actual facts. It can explain them, predict them, describe them, but it cannot condemn them as errors. Astronomy cannot criticize certain arrangements of stars or planets as erroneous, and no more can biology criticize certain organisms, or characteristics of them, as erroneous.
Evolution does not “condemn” them. That is your misinterpretation. Evolutionary theory does imply a kind of teleology, in which forms are explained by their functions, and dysfunctional forms can be called “errors”, but that is not assigning blame or any kind of subjective value judgment.
Wherever Darwinism is in error, Darwinians simply call the organisms in question or their characteristics, an error! Wherever there is manifestly something wrong with their theory, they say that there is something wrong with the organisms.
Darwinians, rather than admit that their theory is simply not true of our species, brazenly shift the blame, and designate all of those characteristics “biological errors.”
Evolutionary theory allows for both variation in individuals and change in the environment, so it could never explain 100% of the data. It can, however, reduce the information content of the data. That’s actually true of all scientific theories I can think of. They all allow for some error in measurements or predictions. Explanation always involves some residual error that is unexplained. That is not scientists blaming nature for not fitting their theories. It is just how theories work: they never explain everything perfectly.
A persistent maladaptation could be used to falsify the theory. For example, suppose 50% of humans were homosexual and 50% were heterosexual, and this balance persisted for a long period of time even though homosexuals did not reproduce. That would be a huge problem for the theory of evolution. The theory does not predict that all organisms will be perfectly adapted to their environments, or even that most will be well adapted at any given point in time, but it does imply that persistent maladaptations will be corrected over time.
Humans are an example of evolutionary farce
…far from every attribute being rigidly destroyed which is in the least degree injurious, in our species there is precious little except injurious attributes. Nearly everything about us, or at least nearly everything which distinguishes us from flies, fish, or rodents—all the way from practicing Abortion to studying Zoology—puts some impediment or other in the way of our having as many descendants as we could. From the point of view of Darwinism, just as from the point of view of Calvinism, there is no good in us, or none worth mentioning. We are a mere festering mass of biological errors.
Nonsense! We became the apex predators on land about 100K years ago, perhaps earlier. We outcompeted most other large animals on the planet, using tools, fire, clothing, houses, agriculture and social organization. We have been very successful at expanding our population and range at the expense of other large animal species, such as lions, elephants, tigers and bears. We have covered the Earth with our doings and beings. The human adaptation has been very successful.
Darwinism can tell you lots of truths about plants, flies, fish, etc., and interesting truths too, to the people who are interested in those things. But the case is altogether different, indeed reversed, where our own species is in question. If it is human life that you would most like to know about and to understand, then a very good library can be begun by leaving out Darwinism, from 1859 to the present hour.
You cannot fully understand human nature unless you understand evolution. You cannot understand, for example, why men and women are different, or why parents take care of their children, or why people want to be paid in exchange for work.
As recently as three years ago I started noticing the flaws of evolution from self-examining my behavior and those of my hypersexual male peers, because you don’t pick up a book titled “Darwinian Fairytales” unless you already harbored serious doubts about the theory. I must admit that I made a mistake to use evolution as a reason to whore around with women when it was clear as day that I did not aim to reproduce. The behavior I did enact for so long can best be explained as entertainment seeking, relieving a lack of purpose in life, and wanting to feel masculine, but there was nothing evolutionary about it, and it has not at all increased my reproductive success than had I been an introverted 22-year-old and told my father to arrange a marriage for me with a girl from his Iranian hometown.
Evolution was never a reason to chase pussy, but don’t blame evolution for your life choices. They were your choices. Are you denying your own agency and shifting the responsibility for your choices to an abstract theory? Evolutionary theory did not tell you go out and chase pussy, and if you thought it did, that was a mistake on your part, not a problem with the theory.
With this review I don’t aim to completely throw evolution under the bus, for it does apply quite nicely to other organisms, and natural selection has surely applied to humans during certain periods of their history, but it should not and can not be used to describe current human behavior, including your own, because any set of conditions that put humans through an evolutionary grinder are no longer present in modern civilization. Doing otherwise would be deception on a large scale, and I won’t deceive myself further by using it, even if it reduces scientific backing for some of my ideas.
Without using evolution as a tool, there is a big question that must be answered: where does traditional sex roles—and behavior—come from? Or more precisely: what are the correct sex roles for humans? The answer to the second is easier than the first. The correct sex roles are what has sustained human populations and society in the past and what will sustain human populations and society in the future. Biology need not be taken into account.
You just went in a circle. For a population to be sustained, it must survive and reproduce. Sustaining the traits of the population (such as having functional legs, kidneys, brains, etc.) requires selection, because mutation adds “errors” to the genome in every generation. Biology must be taken into account because populations are biology and society depends on biology.
A careful study of history can clearly show what happens when men step outside of their traditional roles and what happens when women step outside of theirs, something spending ten minutes on Tumblr can verify. What are the sex roles and proper behavior of humans that allow a sustainable and mentally healthy population without ushering in the policies that would lead to a cultural collapse? The answer is the sex roles we already are familiar with, ones that have been known since Biblical times.
Sex roles can be understood as social and cultural adaptations that augment a basic biological adaptation: the pair-bond. The pair-bond is a form of cooperation between male and female that gives the male a biological incentive to invest energy in the offspring, because he has some reasonable expectation that they are his.
The laws governing sexuality can be understood as solving the prisoner’s dilemma between the sexes, and are fundamental to a functioning civilization, which is why they became religious prescriptions in the ancient past. You can’t understand those principles unless you understand evolution. Marriage, and laws against rape and adultery, are a means of guaranteeing paternity, which gives males a reproductive incentive to take care of their wives and children.
The social enforcement of marriage makes male investment in children a good reproductive strategy from a selfish, Darwinian perspective. Marriage is a way of aligning the interests of men with the interests of individual women and with society. It increases cooperation and reduces conflict.
It’s a natural human urge to understand the “why” of how life came about, a question that was no doubt asked by the first man. The problem in answering with evolution is that—besides it being wrong—it locks your mind into a narrow perspective. Thinking that all humans act in genetic self interest clouds all your thoughts on human behavior and prevents you from seeing obvious contradictions and hidden truths. Because you have firm faith in evolution, you are not even allowing your mind to consider another viewpoint.
Once again, to understand human behavior you need a theory of psychology, not just biology. Humans don’t magically act in their genetic self interest. The brain is not a black box that magically generates optimal reproductive behavior. The genes don’t pull our strings from up there in the sky, with foresight and conscious intent. They determine the structures of our brains, and those brains generate behavior by a fairly complex process. Psychology and biology go together as part of a complete theory of human nature. Evolutionary theory does not predict human behavior, it merely constrains psychological theories.
Say you encounter an article that says the following: “Men who go off to war have more children than men who don’t.” Evolution would describe this by saying that women want to reproduce with men who are most fit and strong and better able to defend the tribe. But let’s flip it and say “Men who don’t go off to war have more children than men who do.” Evolution can describe this too! It can say, “A superior reproductive strategy is to stay with the fertile women and reproduce with them during the time the alpha males are away.” Even the simplest of minds can find an explanation once it already knows the final result it’s aiming for.
I would dismiss that article as naive. First of all, evolution does not select for behaviors such as “going off to war” or “staying home from war”. It selects for psychological traits such as aggressiveness or risk-avoidance. How those traits produce behavior depends on the environment, and what behavior is adaptive also depends on the environment. You cannot use evolutionary theory alone to determine which behavior or which trait is more adaptive.
Evolutionary theory cannot be used by itself to explain or predict human behavior. To explain and predict human behavior requires a theory of human psychology and an understanding of the environment. Evolutionary theory merely constrains the space of psychological and social theories, making it easier to find a good one in that space. One such constraint is that you cannot use altruism to explain human behavior, because altruism cannot evolve.
Simply coming up with an evolutionary just-so story is not the same as understanding why people do things or what traits were actually selected for in a population. Evolutionary theory is not idiot-proof. When used in a lazy or naive way it generates errors, like any other scientific theory.
If evolution can be used to explain both sides of the coin, which is often does, it’s not a scientific theory but a rationalization theory that justifies any and all human behavior as somehow fitting the theory. In other words, the theory is like playdough that can fit in any situation, and this is even done in the red pill portion of the manopshere to take any behavior a man or woman does and somehow justify it in terms of evolution, even if it’s based on people acting on the willful mission to not reproduce. What’s convenient for evolutionists is that none of their assertions can be proven, meaning that evolution is not more than one step above astrology in terms of describing or predicting human behavior. It’s gibberish.
That is an interesting point, and I will address it to some degree, although it goes off into the realm of epistemology and the philosophy of science.
First of all, that criticism applies to all scientific theories, not just the theory of evolution. All scientific theories, and in fact all models of reality, are like that, because they are induced from data and then applied back to the same kind of data they are induced from. If they fail, they are adjusted to fit the data. The idea that theories generate testable predictions without any additional input is a false conception of science, and of knowledge in general.
No theory generates predictions by itself. Theories are just pattern-languages that have to be applied inductively to specific situations by filling in lots of details. Theories are induced from data and then applied back to data to explain and predict it. When they don’t fit the data, they are adjusted, revised or discarded in favor of better alternatives. That’s how science works, and that’s how your brain works too.
The test of a theory is whether it can be used to reduce the informational content of the data, not whether it explains everything you want it to explain in the way you want to explain it.
For example, the theory of gravity implies that things fall. But birds don’t fall out of the sky. Does that mean the theory of gravity is false and should be discarded? Perhaps. Or perhaps it means we need some additional knowledge about birds in order to apply the theory to them. But if we do that, aren’t we just coming up with a “just-so” story to avoid falsifying the theory?
We accept the theory of gravity because it explains a lot of things. It reduces a lot of complex phenomena to simple formulas. It explains the rates at which objects fall, the paths of projectiles, the orbits of heavenly bodies, and many other things. To explain those things, however, you have to take other things into account. To predict or explain the path of a projectile, you have to take friction into account. To explain how birds fly, you have to understand how their wings generate lift.
Do Newton’s laws of motion predict any actual observations? No. That theory doesn’t tell you what you will see when you look out your window. To use it, you have to make lots of initial observations, and then create a specific model that is an instance of the generic models of the theory. The theory only constrains your model, it does not define it. Once you have a specific model you can use Newton’s laws to calculate missing information within your model. But even then there are problems. You might think that you can use Newton’s theory to predict planetary orbits, but you actually can’t, not without some additional assumptions and approximations. Newton’s laws of motion can only be applied precisely to two idealized bodies moving in empty space. (See the three-body problem.) Theories are not magic crystal balls that emit knowledge of the world. They are conceptual frameworks in which you frame and solve problems.
Evolution does not explain all the data of biology, but it does place constraints on the data. Evolution could not explain a purely homosexual species, or life forms emerging de novo out of clay, or a bat species that arises immediately from a giraffe species without intermediate forms, or a species that is predominantly altruistic and exists for a long period of time. No such phenomena have ever been observed. There are things that are hard to explain within the framework of evolutionary theory, but they always turn out to be explicable within the theory. The behavior of bees is a good example: what seems like an exception to evolutionary theory turns out to be an excellent example of it. (See Bees are not Social.) Evolution explains a lot. It explains why most men want to fuck women, why most parents love and take care of their children, why men find younger women more attractive but women prefer older men. It explains the similarities and differences between existing life forms, and why fossils can be arranged into a tree of life.
Evolutionary theory has important practical implications. For example, once you understand that sex differences have a reproductive function, you can eliminate the hypothesis that they are arbitrary social or cultural constructs. That has important implications for how we live. It has political implications: it removes support for the idea that sex roles are oppressive.
Darwin’s theory came at the right time of history. The monarchy was overthrown and scientific rationalism dominated the day. The missing piece to complete the Enlightenment was a way to kill god, and Darwin came forth with a brilliant theory that did the job. The only problem is that it’s not true for humans, at least not in the way for other forms of life on earth.
There must be something else motivating and driving human beings that can’t be explained by current science, and so therefore the science we have is unable to provide a definitive and consistent account of our origin story along with our behavior. This means that if you are using evolution to structure, organize, or explain your own life, you are living a falsehood—a soothing falsehood but a falsehood nonetheless.
If you thought that evolutionary theory alone was a sufficient basis for organizing or explaining your life, that was your mistake. You made evolution into a god and now you are denouncing it as a false god. Evolution is not a god. It is a process.
I must state that it’s not a comfortable position for me to neither believe in god or human evolution, for I have no working model for my own existence. It’s a weird place because my brain, for some reason, craves an origin story for where it came from. It’s searching, hunting, for something that explains how it got here, but I will be patient in this search, because I find it liberating and free that I no longer have to frame every human action through the lens of “survive and reproduce” and “all humans act in self-interest to spread their genes.”
Now that I have done this, it’s much easier to see how reproduction is not an important or essential human behavior and that evolution is nothing more than a severely flawed theory for explaining human beings.
Nope and nope. Reproduction is obviously essential to the continued existence of human beings, and evolution is not a flawed theory.