Contra Roosh V. on Evolution

This is a response to an article by Roosh V: The Theory of Evolution Does Not Apply to Modern Human Beings.

I quote extensively from his article. He, in turn, quotes extensively from the book Darwinian Fairytales by David Stove. I will not identify which passages were written by Roosh himself, and which were quotes from the book. I will respond to everything as if one person said it. However, the source should be pretty clear from the style of writing.

This is not a personal attack on Roosh. I appreciate that he is thinking and writing about these issues, but he is 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.

Okay. 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 anymore.

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 and sexual revolutions 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 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 doesn’t happen overnight. It takes 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. Many people use this new technology to act in a maladaptive way.

Does this behavior contradict evolution? No. 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 below-replacement fertility in the long run. Eventually, it would disappear.

How could Darwin explain the prevention of reproduction by deliberate and conscious choice from fit human 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. By itself, “survival of the fittest” is tautological, but it is not tautological when you apply it to a specific environment. Also, it should be “reproduction of the fittest”. To apply that principle, you have to know what affects reproduction in the current environment.

The inverse correlation between wealth and reproduction is a temporary effect of modern civilization. It is self-eliminating. Modern civilization cannot subsidize an unlimited number of reproductive free-riders. If it continues to do that, it will eventually collapse due to dysgenics and overpopulation. If modern civilization becomes sustainable and lasts long enough, human nature will adapt to it. Maladaptive behaviors, such as voluntary low fertility, will be eliminated.

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. Below-replacement fertility has only existed for about 50 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.

We cannot transcend evolution. 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.

Mental gymnastics are not required. The theory works. It does not imply that we are consciously motivated to survive and reproduce. That is your misconception. The theory 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 during the 20th century, a period of relative peace and prosperity, millions of people died young from war, disease and famine.

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.

Yes. 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 and sexual revolutions. 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, 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 that it will not persist for very long. Fossil fuels are finite, and low fertility is self-eliminating.

The theory of evolution implies that the welfare state is unstable and will eventually fail, but it does not imply that the welfare state 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, nor that the environment never changes. Evolution advances by trial and error, and most experiments fail.

You are begging the question: assuming the conclusion in the premises. 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 the end of history, not a historical experiment that is doomed to fail. Do not assume that human nature and the modern social environment, as they appear from your window, are stable states that will persist indefinitely.

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. 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. Natural selection doesn’t stop if we change our environment. No matter how we change our environment, human nature will be shaped by the ability to reproduce in that environment.

The intelligent Darwinist does not oppose the welfare state because it contradicts his theory. He might oppose it, or want to reform 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 population control. That is an important prediction of evolutionary theory. We could use our knowledge of evolution to make our civilization sustainable. Or, we could put on ideological blinders and march to our doom.

The Darwinist does not reject reality because it conflicts with his theory. There is no such conflict. It is the anti-Darwinist who rejects both reality and the theory of evolution, because they conflict with his altruistic morality.

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 emotional experience in a specific environment. Neither emotions nor values are guaranteed to be adaptive in every environment.

Emotions are heuristic, ad hoc and stimulus dependent. They do not always motivate adaptive behavior, even in the ancestral environment. They motivate many different behaviors to solve different biological problems. They can be deceived by artificial stimuli, such as sex with birth control. Intuitive values arise from emotional experience, and are also heuristic and ad hoc.

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 maximum capacity, and the population was limited by food scarcity. For example, look at a population graph of Ireland from 1600 to modern times. You can see how the introduction of potatoes caused an initial population boom and then a bust during the Irish Potato Famine.

Currently, there is an abundance of food, and the only limiting factor is voluntary low fertility. People are making maladaptive choices now, because our emotions are not adapted to modern civilization. This is a temporary state of affairs. Either modern civilization will collapse and bring an end to abundance, or we will both reform our civilization and adapt to it.

Whatever happens, human nature will be determined by who reproduces. Human nature is not fixed and universal. It is shaped by natural selection. If we change our environment, then we will eventually change human nature.

…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.

Until very recently, every human population had fertility that was significantly above two children per woman. High child mortality balanced high fertility. When fertility was voluntarily reduced, it was usually to invest more energy in fewer children, which is an adaptation to scarcity. Below-replacement fertility is a recent development. The late Romans might have had it too, but then they were replaced by more fertile Germans and Arabs.

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.

…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.

For example, we like the taste of sugar. In the past, sugar was mostly found in fruits and vegetables, which are good for us. Recently, we developed the ability to mass-produce sugar. This made our taste for sugar dysfunctional. Today, we can satisfy sugar cravings with candy, instead of healthy fruits and vegetables.

Birth control is a way of satisfying your sexual desires without fulfilling their function of making babies. It feels good, but it isn’t adaptive. Cute dogs are another way of getting cheap emotional satisfaction. They resemble babies, but are cheaper and easier to take care of. Opiate drugs are another example. Humans are good at inventing addictive technologies. 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. We use fossil fuels extensively to produce food.

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 adaptive if the children survive. High fertility people replace low fertility people. 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 population cannot be controlled by voluntary low fertility. We could impose low fertility on ourselves, by state coercion. That would be a solution to the reproductive tragedy of the commons. Otherwise, the population will grow until it is limited by premature death.

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 people who act that way in the future. Evolutionary theory does not imply that what we view as privilege will always be adaptive.

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.

Well, that doesn’t apply to me. I have five children 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 sub-Saharan Africa.

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 never exist or disappear immediately. When they exist, they are selected against. Voluntary low fertility is a modern behavior. Any genes that contribute to it are currently being 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 over 100 women is not a good reproductive strategy right now, so of course people doing that are not trying to reproduce. They are just spinning their emotional wheels in the mud. So yes, most pickup artists are reproductive failures. But not everyone is a reproductive failure. Billions of people have children, and some have many children. The planet will be populated by the descendants of those who have the most children, not those who have the most sex.

Evolution requires high child mortality that is absent in humans.

No, evolution requires reproduction, variation and selection. You can have evolution with minimal child mortality, if something else limits reproduction, such as birth control. Normally, child mortality is the main type of natural selection, but it is not the only possible type.

High child mortality was present in all human populations until modern times. The modern world is an anomaly in many ways.

Today, we have low child mortality, and so natural selection is almost entirely based on the choice to have children. In this environment, those who choose to have the most children are the fittest. Any gene that is positively correlated with fitness is increasing in frequency, while any gene that is negatively correlated with fitness is decreasing in frequency. That is evolution.

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. Natural selection is not the survival of the strongest. It is the reproduction of the fittest. Biologically, survival is just a means to reproduction.

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. What was adaptive in the past (such as postponing child-bearing) can be maladaptive today.

…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. That struggle can involve violence, but there are other forms of competition: 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 always competing: for money, for housing, for mates, for jobs, for social status and approval, etc. That competition is usually non-violent, because it takes place within a society that prohibits violence between its members, and enforces that prohibition with the threat of violence (police with guns). That society also has a military, and it acquired land by violent conflict in the past, as all societies do. It exists only because of its capacity for violence.

Altruism is mostly 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 or laundering money. 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, then 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 that far in the past, and it may not be that far in the future. Many people went hungry in the United States during the 1930s. In the Soviet Union, millions died of starvation in the 1920s and 1930s. Famine killed roughly 85 million people in the 20th century. (See Famines at Our World in Data.)

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: Study shows humans still evolving. In the French-Canadian population studied, the average age at which women had their first child fell from 26 to 22 over 140 years (about 4 generations), because those who got married and started families earlier had more children, and most of their children survived to adulthood.

French colonists went to North America to escape hunger in France. Their population grew rapidly due to the abundance of food. That 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 North America caused a shift in human reproductive behavior.

If everyone lived to adulthood, and there were no restrictions on reproduction, then natural selection would be entirely based on the choice to reproduce. That choice is not magic. Brains make choices, and different brains make different choices in the same environment. If modern conditions last long enough, evolution will generate brains that choose to reproduce.

Evolution does not necessarily generate what you view as progress. Evolution generates reproducing machines.

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/uncivilized people usually have a high rate of death from warfare and other forms of violence. Why did the Yahgans live in a shitty place like Tierra del Fuego, instead of a nice place like Buenos Aires? Without a doubt, they were forced into that hostile environment by tribal warfare. Today, the Yahgans are almost extinct.

…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 way to extract more energy from the environment. The struggle for existence created the impetus to develop new methods of food production and warfare, and new forms of social organization.

Modern civilization was created by the struggle for existence. To exist, it had to displace other types of order. Animals were killed, forests were cut down, and wars were fought to create the civilization that you see outside your window. It is maintained by police and armies.

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? If it was in our power to transcend the Malthusian condition for all of human history, why have we only done so recently?

…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 80 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

No, it isn’t.

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 species, 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.

See Altruism and Selfishness.

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 is a delusion/deception. It does not make people altruistic. It divides the world into “us” and “them”, the “good” and the “bad”. It 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 for my groceries. The store doesn’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. The indoctrination begins in childhood and continues throughout life. It doesn’t make people altruistic, but it does make them pretend to be altruistic.

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 has 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.

Conscious deception requires an additional layer of mental processing, which is cognitively expensive. So, people are consciously honest most of the time. However, they are often subconsciously dishonest. Humans have a remarkable capacity for self-deception, and that self-deception tends to be self-serving. Hypocrisy is the close companion of morality.

The mating game is a great example of the insincerity of social interaction. You don’t pick up a girl by being honest. You do it by presenting an attractive fake persona, and constructing a pretense for sex. Flirting is mostly about delicately exchanging the pretense of politeness for a new, more intimate pretense. Neither side openly acknowledges their goals. The mating game takes place within a fog of pretense and deception.

In the mating game, both sides are selfish, and both engage in deception. Women often pretend to be interested in sex, when they just want male attention. Men often pretend to be interested in a relationship, when they just want sex. In a relationship, both sides can cheat.

Most of Roosh’s content has been focused on “game”, which is how to deceive and manipulate women into having sex. So…

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. As we grow up, we learn to hide our thoughts and feelings, and present a fake persona to others. Deception is an acquired skill. In the process of acquiring it, we also learn to deceive ourselves. People become fake on the inside, so that they can be fake on the outside.

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. The pretense of altruism is one of those shared deceptions.

…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 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. Evolution is not a little man that sits on your shoulder and tells you what to do. Desires and intentions are not directly generated by evolution. They are generated by brains, they depend on experience, and they are not always adaptive.

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 that outcome 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 become a professor and an author. He was striving for success in his field, for social status, for money and power, because he valued those things.

You eat because you are hungry, not because you want to reproduce. However, hunger evolved because eating is instrumental to reproduction. That is true for every drive. There is no reproduction drive, but every drive has a biological function that is instrumental to reproduction.

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 that all communication is deceptive? It is selfish, but it is not all deceptive. Whether it is deceptive or not 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, and 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. It is a selfish adaptation from both an individual and a social perspective. Civilization benefits the individual, because it makes his labor more productive. Civilization benefits society by making it better at extracting resources from nature, and better at competing with other societies for those resources. Civilization is not only selfish; it is also violent. 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. You can see it when you go to work, buy groceries or pay taxes. It is going on every time someone has a baby. It is going on with every barrel of oil that we pump out of the ground, and every acre of rainforest that we cut down.

The veneer is in your head: it is your self-deception that hides your own selfishness and violence from you, 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 it provides benefits to its members. It also has incentives that prevent its members from defecting on the implicit social contract.

See Game Theory and Society.

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?

There are two answers to that question, one for the individual, and one for the society.

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, and 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.

The individual learns to deceive and manipulate others to get social acceptance, approval, status and power. The pretense of altruism is selfish.

That is how the individual develops his internal veneer.

At a social level, dishonesty is mostly a tragedy of the commons. If everyone else is lying, then you must lie to fit in. If everyone else is honest about their motives, then there is an advantage to being slightly dishonest about your own. If everyone is slightly dishonest, then there is an advantage to being slightly more dishonest. And so on. The social environment “falls” down this slippery slope. Honesty is unstable.

However, a certain amount of dishonesty can be socially functional. For example, politeness is a type of dishonesty that makes social interaction easier, especially between strangers.

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. Human beings are selfish, like all other organisms. Unlike other organisms, we pretend to be altruistic for selfish reasons.

We have the delusion of morality. 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. 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. 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 are special” 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.

The theory of evolution is not a puppet master theory. Evolution is not a puppet master. It is a process. Genes are not puppet masters. They don’t control your behavior from somewhere up in the sky. Your genes are expressed in your body. They cause your behavior by coding for RNA and proteins in your cells.

The theory of 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 shift responsibility to someone or something else. However, evolutionary theory does not support that. 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. In the abstract, genes consist only of information. They affect the world only by their expression in individual organisms, where they affect the reproduction of the organism. Over time, they are selected to positively affect reproduction.

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, you are not a servant of your genes, and genes are not gods. That is a very misleading metaphor. Genes have no independent intelligence, agency or purpose. Your genes are an intrinsic part of you, not a puppet master that controls you from the outside.

As an abstract entity that exists in multiple organisms, a gene consists only of information, and does nothing. “The selfish gene” is a misleading metaphor.

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.

Life is emergent order. A flow of energy exists. In that flow, there is turbulence. Life is a type of turbulence: a circularity in a flow of energy.

Evolution came into existence when the first replicating system (probably a cell) came into existence, and then replicated. Once the cycle of reproduction started, it was not only self-perpetuating, it was also complexity-generating. Mutations created cells with different properties, and some were better at replicating than others. Eventually, the world was teeming with replicating cells.

Evolution is not driving toward consciousness. It tends to increase complexity, given a sufficiently complex environment. Consciousness is one type of complexity.

Life as a whole does not have purpose. Evolution itself has no purpose. An organism has the purpose of reproduction, because its form was selected to reproduce.

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. Most energetic altruism in nature is parent-to-child, which is instrumental to reproduction. There can be some limited altruism between relatives, but it is not explained by the concept of inclusive fitness.

Even clones, such as bacteria, are not selected for altruism. Multicellularity requires a reproductive bottleneck. Sexual reproduction is such a bottleneck. You are a colony of cells that descend from a single cell, a zygote. Your cells work together because they can’t reproduce independently, in the long run. They inherit their genetic program from the zygote, and they work to create new zygotes. The coherence of your body is explained evolutionarily by the reproductive 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. However, the cells of your body will not slug it out, because their genes were selected to contribute to the reproductive fitness of the whole organism.

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.

Right, and that’s why the notion of inclusive fitness is bogus.

…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 notion of inclusive fitness can be easily debunked. It is a misconception about evolution. Congratulations on being smarter than many biologists!

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. 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” are mostly attempts to make evolutionary theory consistent with modern moral intuitions. Most people have a hard time accepting that morality is a delusion/deception. Some biologists and philosophers have tried very hard to make evolutionary theory consistent with their moral delusions.

Evolutionary theory itself is simple, elegant and robust. The fundamental theory has not changed since Darwin. It is reproduction, variation and selection, repeated. No octopus legs are required.

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.

Evolutionary theory does not “condemn” biological errors. That is your misinterpretation. Evolutionary theory does imply a type of teleology, in which forms are explained by their functions, and dysfunctional forms can be called “errors”, but that is not assigning blame or making a subjective value judgment.

Biological errors can exist precisely because evolution is not an intelligent designer who has a plan and makes sure everything happens according to that plan. Evolution does not guarantee that every organism is perfectly adapted to its environment.

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. However, it does explain many things.

All scientific theories 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 that 50% of humans were homosexual and 50% were heterosexual, and this balance persisted for a long period of time, even though the homosexuals did not reproduce. That would be a huge problem for the theory of evolution. It does not predict that all organisms will be perfectly adapted to their environments, or even that most will be well adapted at any 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 100,000 years ago, perhaps earlier. We out-competed 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 why men and women are different, or why parents take care of their children, or why capitalism works better than communism.

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 to chase pussy. 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 biological adaptation: the pair-bond. The pair-bond is a type of cooperation between a male and a female. It gives the male a biological incentive to invest energy in the offspring of the female, because they are probably his offspring too.

The pair-bond is difficult to create, because of a prisoner’s dilemma that exists between the mates. Each could potentially benefit by defecting on the deal. The male could impregnate the female and abandon her. The female could mate with other males, cuckolding her partner. The pair-bond has great advantages, but it also has risks.

Traditional marriage was a license to have sex. In the past, most cultures prohibited sex outside marriage. That strengthened the pair-bond. It protected men from being cuckolded, and women from being abandoned. It also reduced conflict between men over women.

Evolutionary theory explains the form of traditional sex roles in terms of their biological and social functions. If you don’t understand their functions, sex roles might seem archaic and oppressive. That is why we have abandoned traditional sex roles in modern times. We didn’t (as a culture) understand their biological and social functions.

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.

As I said before, behavior is generated by brains, not by evolution. 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 complex process. To understand human behavior, you need a psychological theory. The theory of evolution is necessary but not sufficient to understand human nature.

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.

Evolution does not select for behaviors such as “going off to war” or “staying home from war”. It can select 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 trait is more adaptive.

To explain and predict human behavior, you need a theory of human psychology and an understanding of the environment. To explain the behavior of humans in groups, you also need a theory of society.

The theory of evolution constrains the space of psychological and social theories. One such constraint is that you cannot use altruism to explain human behavior or society, because altruism cannot evolve. But the theory of evolution is not a psychological or social theory itself.

The theory of evolution 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 manosphere 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 extent.

First, 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. They are induced from data, and then applied back to the same type of data. If they fail, they are adjusted to fit the data.

No theory generates predictions by itself. Theories are pattern-languages. A theory must be applied to a specific situation to create a model, and the model generates predictions. For example, Kepler’s laws of planetary motion are very abstract. They can be used to model a specific orbit, such as the orbit of Jupiter. That model will generate predictions that can be verified or falsified. And of course, Kepler’s laws were themselves induced from observations of planetary motion.

The test of a theory is whether it reduces the complexity of the data. Every observed planetary orbit fits Kepler’s theory to a close approximation. So, the theory reduces the data of planetary observations to a few numeric parameters for each planet. Given those few parameters, planetary observations can be predicted to a high degree of accuracy.

Scientific theories are not automatically falsified just because reality is complex. For example, the theory of gravity implies that things fall. But birds don’t fall out of the sky. Should we discard the theory of gravity? Perhaps. Or maybe we just need some additional knowledge about birds to apply the theory to them. If we do that, are we making up a “just-so” story to avoid falsifying the theory?

We accept the theory of gravity because it explains many things. It reduces many 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 air friction into account. To explain how birds fly, you have to understand how their wings generate an upward force.

By itself, Newton’s theory of motion doesn’t predict any actual observations. It doesn’t tell you what you will see when you look out your bedroom window. To use it, you need to create a specific model that is an instance of the abstract theory. The theory only constrains that model. It does not define it. Once you have a specific model, then you can use Newton’s laws to calculate missing information within that model.

Even then, there are problems. You might think that you can use Newton’s theory to predict planetary orbits, but that requires some additional assumptions and approximations. Newton’s theory 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 can frame and solve problems.

The theory of evolution explains a lot. It explains the diversity of life. It explains similarities between species as due to common inheritance. It explains why we can organize the different types of life into a “tree” of inheritance relationships. It helps to explain the distribution of species on the planet. It explains why we find fossils of extinct species, and how those extinct species are related to other species, existing or extinct. It partially explains many things about human nature, such as the differences between men and women, why we are selfish but capable of cooperation, why parents love children, and much more.

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.

It sounds like 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. The theory of evolution is part of a rational worldview, but it is not a worldview itself.

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.

No and no. Reproduction is obviously essential to the continued existence of human beings. The theory of evolution is correct, and it has profound implications for us.


  1. > We cannot transcend evolution. 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.

    Eh. We can. It's possible we create an AGI singleton. It might prevent evolution.

    This post reminds me of "Thou Art Godshatter" from LW

    > For millions of years before hominid consequentialism, there was reinforcement learning. The reward signals were events that correlated reliably to reproduction. You can't ask a nonhominid brain to foresee that a child eating fatty foods now will live through the winter. So the DNA builds a protein brain that generates a reward signal for eating fatty food. Then it's up to the organism to learn which prey animals are tastiest.

    > DNA constructs protein brains with reward signals that have a long-distance correlation to reproductive fitness, but a short-distance correlation to organism behavior. You don't have to figure out that eating sugary food in the fall will lead to digesting calories that can be stored fat to help you survive the winter so that you mate in spring to produce offspring in summer. An apple simply tastes good, and your brain just has to plot out how to get more apples off the tree.

    > And so organisms evolve rewards for eating, and building nests, and scaring off competitors, and helping siblings, and discovering important truths, and forming strong alliances, and arguing persuasively, and of course having sex...

    > When hominid brains capable of cross-domain consequential reasoning began to show up, they reasoned consequentially about how to get the existing reinforcers. It was a relatively simple hack, vastly simpler than rebuilding an "inclusive fitness maximizer" from scratch. The protein brains plotted how to acquire calories and sex, without any explicit cognitive representation of "inclusive fitness".

    > A human engineer would have said, "Whoa, I've just invented a consequentialist! Now I can take all my previous hard-won knowledge about which behaviors improve fitness, and declare it explicitly! I can convert all this complicated reinforcement learning machinery into a simple declarative knowledge statement that 'fatty foods and sex usually improve your inclusive fitness'. Consequential reasoning will automatically take care of the rest. Plus, it won't have the obvious failure mode where it invents condoms!"

    > But then a human engineer wouldn't have built the retina backward, either.

    > when the blind idiot god created protein computers, its monomaniacal focus on inclusive genetic fitness was not faithfully transmitted. Its optimization criterion did not successfully quine. We, the handiwork of evolution, are as alien to evolution as our Maker is alien to us. One pure utility function splintered into a thousand shards of desire.

    1. You didn't explain how AI would transcend evolution. How would it?

      The text is interesting, in that Yud has some understanding of the relation between emotions and adaptiveness: that emotions are heuristic, stimulus-dependent and ad hoc. That's an important point, but the rest is somewhat garbled, with some false assumptions (e.g. thinking of emotions as providing "rewards" rather than generating motivation).

      "Alien to evolution" is an odd metaphor. It sounds like the error Roosh makes in saying that evolution was not present when he had non-procreative sex. Evolution is just a process. It has no foresight, and no plan/purpose/design. There is no evolution demon inside your brain, telling you to reproduce.

      Yeah, the organism doesn't compute a utility function. It just has heuristic problem-recognizers that generate motivation: hunger, thirst, lust, love, etc. Those were selected to make us reproduce, but they don't work in every environment, they can be tricked (e.g. with a condom), and they don't explicitly or implicitly calculate reproductive fitness.

      So, that's true, and important, and something I often try to explain. However, it is not a failure of evolution, or a failure to transmit God's utility function. It's just that evolution is evolution: a process of incremental induction of form by trial and error. In other words, it's not magic.

      You might find Reproduction | Masturbation interesting (on this blog). Or Motivation, where I talk about how emotions work.


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