Monday, May 26, 2014

Adaptive inverse slavery in human evolution: a new evolutionary paradigm

History is generally written by the winners. The social and academic elite, the winners, have written evolutionary theory as well.  Here we rewrite evolutionary theory from the point of view of the lower classes, and turn the idea of evolutionary success, properly, on its head.  This also raises the point that plausibility isn't the same as proof.
The air is spinning with fervor over various treatments of human genetic variation that seem to serve as closet cover for classical racism.  A coterie of investigators, some of them even willing to be publicly identified, is looking under every bed, so to speak, not for Commies but for traits that vary among humans because they are assumed to be the result of specific natural selection (and the bedroom is more than a metaphoric element of the traits chosen to study).

Here, we’ll look at human evolution in a way that takes very seriously their idea that essentially all our traits, or at least all traits about which a good story can be fed to the news media, are primarily chiseled into our genomes. Behavior is, of course, the ultimately juicy realm for such searches.  How can one not look at such traits with a modern scientific eye?  Here, we'll see the implications of this strong selectionist view: they’re very surprising, and form an entirely new theory of human evolution.  But first, some background.

Prologue to our new theory
The underlying axiom (that is, an assumption, or unquestioned belief) is that since we are the product of evolution, any of our traits must have been molded by natural selection specifically to make it like it is, or else it wouldn't be here.  And since selection only fosters genes, what is here is here because it's genetic.  The fact that culture can over-ride many traits, especially behavioral ones, is not of consequence if you accept this axiom, because an axiom is taken as true and universal.  It's not to be questioned any more than, say, the Resurrection or Genesis.

One major belief is that humans occur in distinct groups; we've got bananas, that is humans, and they're bunched into distinct groups (no, please!, don't over interpret 'banana' in this evolutionary discussion!).  You can call these bunches by their historic name, 'races', or you can use euphemisms to cover your political tracts (if that is relevant here) and say 'geographic' or 'ethnic' groups.  You may even note some small-print disclaimers from those who choose to say 'race', such as that the proponents of this view are not 'racist', or that, yes, the groups blur at their edges, but never mind those details. The discrete-category view is more convenient for the objectives of analysis which minimizes overlap because overlap gets in the way of tidy explanations by requiring nuances, caveats, and undermining assertions too subtle enough for reporters to understand.

There are many banana traits that this cadre of investigators work on.  No main point is lost here, however, if we just generalize and say that they rarely involve boring traits like, say, ankle width or relative length of ring fingers or the number of intestinal villi.  Mostly, investigators entice attention to their wisdom by stressing socially important (that is, divisive) traits like sexual behavior, intelligence, sociopathy, drug abuse, resemblance to Playboy bunnies, and so on.  The analysts in this arena and the news media seem to be concerned with who's good and beneficial to society, and who drags it (that is, us) down with their inferiority--or whose sexual appetites we need fear (or envy).

None of this is new.  Though probably widely written about by many others throughout history, we can start symbolically with Plato, whose Republic dealt with the obvious problem that society's finest specimens (that is, men!) are sent off to fight the Persians or Spartans, where these Adonises are often killed, depriving society and the next generation of their inherent, superior worth.  Of course many others, including Darwin, worried greatly about this problem.  These issues were a centerpiece of what was beneficently called racial 'hygiene' in the first half of the 20th century, emanating out of England, traveling to the US and even Asia, and of course being adopted enthusiastically in Germany.  They noted, for example, that genetically unworthy perverts, psychotics (and Jews and Gypsies), stayed home, draining society's wealth (and bedding its women) while the real manly men spilled their guts at Passchendaele.

The perceived problem was real.  History shows that the great hordes of people avoid making solid contributions to society, sow crime, disease, immorality, harmful antisocial behavior and so on, undermining society’s best.  In its most benign form this realization of our species' problem and how to fix it, was called eugenics, a purportedly sincere attempt to use the new tools of science, to read Nature’s mind and foster the traits she favored, gently helping the superior to reproduce while encouraging the inferiors to keep their pants on.

The idea was simple and has immediate appeal.  If we can see what’s good and makes us more adaptive in the Darwinian sense, and if it’s genetic (and, under the working axiom, it must be genetic), then why not help those with good genotypes and, well, you know what else in regard to the others.   

Of course, there is the problem of identifying what’s “good”, and therein lies the rub.  Usually, and historically, the definitions have been made by the scholars in the elite parts of society.  They naturally tend to assume they and their peers reflect the ‘good’, and it is equally natural to denigrate the smelly masses of the hoi polloi as the less-good.  “If”, a professor or journalist might think, “everyone was like me” society would be so much better off.  Of course, little thought is given to what a society in which everyone was an Einstein or Michael Jordan or Beethoven would actually be like, but we’ll pass on that question.

The standard fear, and a very natural one it is, on the part of the quality elite is that they will be overwhelmed by their inferiors, who greatly outnumber them.  Unfortunately, not only do the inferiors hugely outnumber their superiors, but they reproduce like bunnies, eat up resources--those of the elite, not their own since they have little--yielding nothing good to show for it, and might even cause risk (theft, disease, and even….gulp….rape) to their superiors.  That is the often-unstated judgment lying behind eugenic thinking.

In many posts on our blog, we have tried to combat this kind of reflexively-deterministic thinking, because we’ve felt it is both scientifically naive, and awful for society.  It can get out of hand.  For example, the Islamic world was the most advanced for centuries relative to the rest of Europe, but now the Islamic world is treated as nearly subhuman in their lowly lifestyles and wanton (crusade-like) killing.  Similarly among the Europeans, often touted as the world's superiors, the Romans were superior relative to the barbarians in the north before the Legions were overwhelmed by pure Nordic legions wearing Viking helmets. These exemplify the changeability of position even over short time periods, which we think should be at least a bit worrying if one actually wants to take a scientific perspective and assert inherent genetically based group value differences. That's in part because these switches of fortune occurred far too rapidly to have a genomic explanation.

Still, the working assumption, again rarely actually stated, is that social discrimination that keeps the inferiors in their place is fully justified on evolutionary grounds.  In one way or another, this has been a prevailing view, as we’ve said, since the beginning of recorded history. What religions justified before, Darwin did in modern terms.  In fact, the idea of slavery was entirely consistent with this viewpoint—as long as the those in bondage stayed that way, and didn’t get uppity, they were like cattle and not really a threat to the good sort of humans.

But we’ve been thinking about all of this, in evolutionary terms and the selective axiom, and it suddenly dawned on us that in a profound and fundamental way, we and our intellectual ancestors in Darwinian biology, have had it wrong—indeed, have had it exactly reversed.  To correct that error, we think that an entirely new theory—a true paradigm shift—is in order and, indeed, is hardly even disputable.

A paradigm shifting new theory, modestly proposed
In fact, this new theory is an evolutionary valid inverse of the ages-old justification for slavery and other forms of bondage.  We still agree that societal inequality is a fundamental part of evolution and indeed, as before, is a good thing that has led to our globally overwhelmingly successful species.  Forget the Occupy movement and their groans about the unfair 1%.  Instead, it is that very 1% kind of figure that reveals the previously mistaken truth.  Social inequality is at the very foundation of human evolution….but in a way you never realized!

As scholars from time immemorial have observed, society is awash in reeking huddled masses. The intellectuals have better houses and cars, it’s true, and they enjoy quality wine rather than Thunderbird, and reading the NY Times to learn what is presented as the Truth.  The 1%ers enjoy softer jobs for more money, and make laws that allow them to gain their way into an ever-increasingly disproportionate share of the available wealth without it being called 'cheating' (which is defined as a welfare-collector's offense).  Their kids have a chance to get into the fabled halls of learning, so as to stay in their inherited social class; but since that’s expensive, and indeed rather a nuisance, they don’t have too many of children, and they wait to conceive them until they can start putting away those tuition funds.

Meanwhile the poor, miasmatic masses have less wealth, more unpleasant jobs (if any), and less savory diversions to while away the time…so they spend their lives, early and often, doing the bunny thing. As a result, of our species' billions, the vast majority increase faster than you can believe.  But how can they do that if they are inferior, as they so manifestly are, to the better sort of people?

Evolution is drunk.  Evolution has found a wickedly clever ruse: the lower classes are not inferior after all. Instead, they have corralled and enslaved the upper classes.  By various demonically indirect means, the upper classes are kept to small minimal numbers relative to the lower classes, so that they (the uppers) can devise things like industrial agriculture, vaccination, welfare programs and the like to nurture the lower, more reproductively successful classes.

How the lower classes managed to enhance their Darwinian fitness by enslaving a small group of upper classes who have lower fitness, and have done this for millennia, is quite remarkable. 

One might expect that since all behavior is genetically driven, the upper class genes would have been out-reproduced and made extinct long ago.  So the evolutionary determinist, needing an adaptive explanation to suit his axiom, might say this was a balanced polymorphism: genotypes for those who produce the resources are kept around, but at very low frequency, relative to genotypes generating the successful masses.  In this very implicit and indirect manner, like aphids farmed by ants, or ants zombified by fungi, the elites are the slaves of the main denizens of the human hives. And, remarkably, as educated as they are, the snoots don't even realize it--so, naturally, they don't rebel!

Marx said that religion was the opiate of the masses, a tool imposed on them by the outnumbered elites to keep them in their place.  In reality, wealth is the opiate of the elite.  There’s nothing like a Lexus, an opera (or Fox News) to pacify an investment banker.  And gated communities? The psychiatrists and lawyers who live in them fancy that these are to keep the stinking riff-raff out, but really it’s the other way round: it’s a very clever fear tactic generated by the proverbial huddled to keep the ivory folks penned in and away from the tawnier, more evolutionarily successful women.  Stupefying delusions of luxury keep the low-reproductive servant class in their safely restricted neighborhoods, an evolutionary finesse long ago imposed on them by the teeming and, even if grimier and ill-colored, rutting masses.

But this kind of evolutionary balance is hard to maintain given the persistently delayed and reluctant reproduction among the elites. They should always be at risk of extinction by simply spending resources on privilege rather than progeny. From a neo-eugnic point of view, now that we at last really understand evolutionary determination (the axiom we've referred to), we can see that the human species no longer needs this awkward balance: it's hard to maintain, and dangerous to the evolutionarily successful genotypes, because the elites often try to sneak out of their cages in the dark of night, into the realm of their superiors, to buy the occasional reproductive favors, which pollute the recipients' superior gene pool.  Clearly our species would be much better off if we simply used robotic technology to set up the world as an automated feeding ground for the masses, and eliminated the elites who, after all, just exhaust resources (like grassland, that could feed favelas by the thousands, to produce their fancy T-bone dinners, or fuel their Beemers and yachts) while contributing only feebly to the overall human patrimony. 

A modern eugenic policy, fully informed by rigorous genomics as those in the benighted 20th century were not, and truly based on the selectionist evolutionary axiom, should use what science has now, finally, discovered, and employ that technology to foster what Nature herself manifestly has always favored.  We know very well which races are the ones cleverly deluded into thinking of themselves as superior, which enabled them (us) to be led into serfdom by their more numerous masters. We in the decision-making positions behind our ivory towered isolation, in our rarefied numbers, should overlook the unsavory color, vulgar language, carnality, criminality, and stench of the masses and treat them for what they are:  Nature’s choice.

This may be an inverse realization relative to the theory you've heard about but remember the Darwinian axiom: the one principle is that they who reproduce most are the 'best' in evolution's eyes. There is no obligation to like them.  They need not be intelligent or even healthy.  But they are the evolutionary successes, empirically and theoretically.

This inverse truth may seem strange but it is in fact not surprising that even staunch Darwinians have had things 180 degrees wrong for more than a century.  They believe in their science, but it is only natural that they have seen the world filtered from their professorial on-campus perspective, and their being treated as knowing elites has flattered whatever they said, no matter how wrong.  Indeed, this longstanding error shows how subjective even science can be!

Yes, they're right: human behavior is all genetic and if their axiomatic genetic determinism is correct, we know very well how it works and what to do to help enhance Nature’s manifest choice.  The dream of the 19th and 20th century eugenicists and race hygienists, to use science to take over the chores that evolution has shown us, can now be realized, but in the proper rather than a dated and incorrect direction.  And in this electronic automated age, we no longer need the smug parasites, the small fringe of wealthy serfs, to make this happen.  We can eliminate the upper classes.  But this is evolution, not social science, so this should not be done by redistribution of resources! Instead, in the benign spirit of the original eugenic movement, the upper classes who should now understand this can help us improve our species voluntarily by refusing to reproduce.  

Or, other measures could be taken…..


Holly Dunsworth said...

Brilliant plan! Thank you!

Kirk Maxey said...

Human evolution moves too slowly to be compelling as public policy. In the short term, bright minds can always be recruited from whatever population pool is producing them, to fill those crucial jobs where intelligence is mandatory. But in the long term, it is just an amusing spectator pastime. One aspect of ongoing evolution that I find particularly ironic is infertility due to intellectual distraction. Advanced education causes many with normal biological fertility to pass into their forties without once having passed on their genes. Thus evolution continues to buffet our species in a whimsical fashion, just now weeding away the most intelligent, with a special emphasis on the women. Even for those determined female professionals who insist on “having it all” which means a dynamic career and a family, the family part is usually cut short after 1 or 2 offspring. Not so much for their male counterparts, who more often “double-down” by instead producing two clutches of offspring with two different female partners. Among women, natural selection is working most cruelly against the overachievers, and rewarding those who never thought to include college in their life aspirations. Among 35 year old women without any education beyond high school, the number of surviving offspring is 2.8 times that for those with an advanced degree. Natural selection proceeds stunningly when working with reproduction differentials of only 0.1 in lifetime reproductive success. Imagine for a moment a future human species in which the women become characteristically disinterested in intellectual pursuits. Instead of writing thoughtful blog posts, they may instead struggle to compose a novel spelling of "Caerollynn" for the name of their 12th child. But then imagine that this moment is still 500 years in the future. Yawn. Watching humans evolve is even duller than watching soccer.

Susan said...