Differences in complex social behaviors can have purely genetic causes even within the same species

An article came out about cooperation between an African tribe and a type of bird called the honeyguide. The bird spots bee hives and guides the human to it, the human knocks it down, breaks it open and shares it with the bird. The tribesman and birds communicate via a series of chirps and calls. For example, there is one special call a tribesman can use to signal to a bird that he would like to look for honey. There is another special call the honeyguide can use to get the attention of a tribesmen when they have a hive they would like cracked open. Now, in the case of the tribesman, it is possible to culturally transmit the details of the various calls down the generations. The honeyguides, however, are very much like the cuckoo which lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. This means it isn’t possible for direct cultural transmission of the calls and likely indicates that in the case of the birds, the transmission of call knowledge is purely genetic. To quote the popular mechanics article:

There’s still some mystery as to how exactly young honeyguides learn to recognize the Yao tribesmen’s calls. Like the European cuckoo, honeyguides are nest parasites. Adults will surreptitiously lay their eggs in other bird’s nests and those birds raise the young honeyguides. This pattern rules out the possibility that the honeyguides are learning how to interact with humans through parental training.

Bolding was mine. While I will agree that exactly how this is done is unknown, mystery is a bit too strong of a word. There are really only two possible explanations. Either they are learning it from other honeyguides a few years older, or it is being genetically transmitted. Even if certain aspects of the behavior, like what specific type of call, is being learned from peers, the overall behavior has to have a strong genetic component. Otherwise why aren’t the other birds in the area copying the honeyguides? It would be a very easy source of food.

This isn’t the first time that a complex behavior was observed which really could have no other explanation than genetic. Most notably in Darwin’s origin of species. In it he described the tumbler pigeon which had the following complex behavior:

The short-faced tumbler has a beak in outline almost like that of a finch; and the common tumbler has the singular inherited habit of flying at a great height in a compact flock, and tumbling in the air head over heels.

No other pigeon showed this behavior (i.e., it was singular). And pigeon breeders kept different varieties close together so if it could be learned it probably would have. There is really no other choice but to conclude that the tumbling behavior was and is genetic. The tumbler pigeon was undoubtedly the same species as the other domesticated species. It could breed with and produce viable offspring with those other varieties, yet small and particular genetic differences were more than enough to generate wildly unique behavior. If this genetic determination of complex behavior via only a very small fraction of the genome is possible in pigeons, it is also possible in humans. The outrageously greater violent criminal activity in Blacks, for example.

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Power, Sex, Suicide: Or why do genders exist in the first place?

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There has been a lot of crap happening the last few weeks, so I thought a not particularly political post might be a nice respite for some. Please bear with the large digressions in this post. It may not seem like it, but it is all related in a meandering sort of way. I promise. I will get to the point eventually and hopefully you will learn some interesting things along the way. Anyway, I wanted to expand on the evolutionary origins of two sexes (as opposed to none or more than 2). I did not cover it in Smart and Sexy because it wasn’t directly relevant enough to be included. The focus in the book was the intellectual differences between human genders, not why gender exists in the first place. It would have been too much of a digression to include that. I think it is an interesting question nonetheless and wanted to address it at some point. Especially since a growing group of lunatics keep wanting to expand the number of genders to the limit of infinity.

On to the first “non sequitur,” or so it deceptively seems. There was recently an askreddit thread which asked about atmospheric oxygen concentrations during the carboniferous period and reminded me of the topic of this post. Specifically, the oxygen concentration was an astounding 35% compared to today’s 21% and the person wanted to know why it was so high and why it dropped so much afterward. If we went back in time to that era, we would suffer from oxygen poisoning. I imagine that wildfires then must have been quite a hellish sight. Literally. This high oxygen concentration probably also explains why insects grew to be so large during this time, such as seagull sized dragon flies. Most insects depend upon passive diffusion to get oxygen to their cells and that is more effective at higher partial pressures of oxygen. Our lower concentration of oxygen today probably isn’t enough to enable such large insects, which is why they evolved to be smaller. Anyway, I had actually read some books which tried to answer this question and I relayed that info in the following comment:

Like most of the other ideas here this is a hypothesis. Life has made various evolutionary innovations over history and one idea is that woody bark/stems first evolved some time immediately proceeding the carboniferous. Woody stems are stronger and more resilient because there are protein cross links between cellulose strands. Cellulose being a long strand of linked sugars. Woody stems are very difficult to digest, which is why pretty much nothing eats it. When it first evolved, literally nothing ate it because it was so new and no organism had the tools to break it down. So, during the carboniferous trees and plants with woody stems proliferated because they had few or no natural predators, and probably also because they could grow taller than their competitors thanks to the strong stems and thus had better access to sunlight.  They did still die of old age however, and that woody material would just sit there without decaying. Eventually it would be buried and millions of years later we would dig it out of the ground as coal or oil. Most of the coal and oil deposits date from this period which is why it is called the carboniferous period.

Well, the process plants use to grow is that they take CO2 out of the atmosphere to build cellulose and other structural molecules and release oxygen. So what was happening in the carboniferous was that this was a very one way process. The carbon was being fixated and nothing was breaking down the large organic molecules to re-release it.

That all changed when fungi, think mushrooms and molds, eventually evolved the enzymatic equipment to break down woody stems. Some time at the end of the carboniferous presumably. With this second innovation, the woody part of plants didn’t just sit around waiting to be buried, it was broken down and the fixated CO2 was released back into the atmosphere. Obviously this added a new variable to the equation and the oxygen level in the atmosphere struck a new and lower balance.

I suggest “Oxygen: The molecule that made the world (Oxford Landmark Science)” and “Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life” by Nick Lane if you are really interested in this subject.

Some of the other comments did touch on this same idea but some people argued that the carbon dioxide concentration wasn’t high enough to account for all the oxygen. That honestly doesn’t make sense to me. The only process I know of which can oxygenate an atmosphere is photosynthesis, and photosynthesis absolutely requires carbon dioxide molecules to run to completion and release oxygen. One carbon atom is fixated for every one molecule of oxygen released (elemental oxygen is a diatomic molecule [except ozone which is triatomic oxygen but that doesn’t matter for this discussion]). Yes, CO2 was much lower in concentration than oxygen but that was because it was being used up. Venus and Mars both have much more carbon dioxide, for example, and presumably so would Earth if there were no photosynthesis.  Wildfires and volcanism were probably the main things getting CO2 back into the atmosphere which explains why it was never completely used up. In fact, carbon dioxide concentrations at the time were three times higher than pre-industrial levels, and double today’s level, but that was still only about 1-1.2% of the atmosphere. My guess is that Earth’s core was hotter, and that there was far more volcanism then than today. That would have made for a very high rate of carbon dioxide release which fueled the one way carbon fixation trip going on in the plant world. The point is, the idea that “there wasn’t enough carbon dioxide” is a red herring. oxygen release simply can’t happen without carbon dioxide, period, and the reason it was so low and not 96% of the atmosphere like on Mars is because of the stupid high rates of fixation.

As a side note, life seemed to get along just fine with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels double that of today during the carboniferous… Plants grew so abundantly in fact that this time period produced great deal of our oil reserves; perhaps even most of it. We also had monster sized insects. I don’t know why climate skeptics never mention this. It goes a long way in demonstrating a bit higher carbon dioxide concentration isn’t going to end the world.

At the end of my comment I mention two of my favorite lay-person science books. Both by Nick Lane, the first is Oxygen and the second is Power, Sex, Suicide. (You can consider the majority of this post to be an indirect summary of these books). The first one I read was the later, which also came out after Oxygen. Both books are great, but I have to note that there is a great deal of overlap between the two. For those of you familiar with mitochondria you can probably guess why. If not, the short answer is that mitochondria take oxygen and use it to to break down organic molecules into water and carbon dioxide. The energy released via this reaction is captured and used to fuel life itself. So, a book on the history of oxygen is by necessity going to overlap a lot with a book on mitochondria. My impression overall is that the material in Oxygen was reworked, improved, and added to new material to create Power, Sex, Suicide. Thus, if you read the later you will have most of the information you could have gotten in the former (though not all). If you had to pick only one to read, Power, Sex, Suicide is the best choice.

The title of the book was absolutely inspired. If you read the title your first thought is that it is about some game of thrones-esque political intrigue. Chimps throwing shit at each other is of course one of the most attention grabbing topics for humans available so anytime you see it on amazon, your gaze is instantly drawn there. The provocative title is what made me take a closer look. However, what makes it even better is that it is in no way deceitful. It is a book about mitochondria which are the power stations of the eukaryotic cell. All large multi-cellular life depends on this power generation. This is the most widely known fact about mitochondria and I will leave it to the reader to learn more about it.

Skipping sex for a second to briefly mention suicide, it turns out that mitochondria are important for signaling apoptosis, or programmed cell death. I.E., suicide. Two of the main reasons for this to happen is for fine tuning body structure and reducing the risk of cancer. In the first case, an example would be when hands grow in the embryo they are initially webbed then cells between the fingers intentionally die off so the fingers are separate. In the later, when a cell becomes damaged and malfunctioning (and thus more likely to eventually become cancerous) this can usually be detected and trigger the cell to commit suicide before developing into full-blown cancer. Obviously this doesn’t always work, but it definitely helps to cull damaged cells. Aging may be tied to this phenomenon because over the course of a lifetime the population of stem cells slowly depletes as they become damaged and are culled to prevent cancerous growths. Stem cells are the most likely to turn cancerous because they are the only cells which continue to rapidly divide, which means bad mutations are more likely to occur and regular or rapid cell division doesn’t need to be turned on via new mutations before the cell line becomes cancerous. Of course, having a lower population of stem cells reduces your body’s ability to keep all your tissues in a youthful state. Thus it is possible that aging, at least in part, is a result of evolved mechanisms for reducing the risk of cancer. Those suicidal mechanisms require mitochondria.

And now on to Sex. What does mitochondria have to do with Sex? Well, as it turns out, they have everything to do with sex. But to understand that, you first need to know the history of how mitochondria came to be. When life first came to exist on Earth, the planet did not have an atmosphere with much oxygen. There were plenty of reduced molecules floating around the oceans and being released via volcanic vents which could be oxidized for energy. (The term “oxidized” was originally coined when scientists thought only oxygen participated in this type of reaction, which was a long time ago. The definition has since been expanded to include reactions which don’t involve molecular oxygen but the name stuck. Path dependence. Obviously the first life wasn’t using molecular oxygen to derive energy when there wasn’t any molecular oxygen available.)

Eventually photosynthesis evolved in the ancestors of modern day cyanobacteria and chloroplasts. Light was a readily available source of energy which did not require any preexisting source of reduced molecules. Carbon dioxide at the time was probably at Venus or Mars percentages so that was absurdly abundant too. The cyanobacteria thus did extremely well, spread everywhere including places with no other source of energy, and proceeded to oxygenate the atmosphere at a massive scale. At first, however, preexisting reduced molecules present in the oceans would have quickly reacted with the released oxygen and thus the build up of the gas would have been delayed. Perhaps for millions of years. Evidence for this comes in the form of banded iron formations. Reduced iron is far more soluble in water than oxidized iron, so oxygen would be released, it would react with the iron, then the new molecule (rust basically) would sink to the bottom of the sea floor forming these bands.

Eventually, however, these reduced reactants would have ran out and oxygen would have started building up in the atmosphere. Believe it or not, oxygen is actually a very poisonous gas. And yes, that includes to you as well. We can live in it only because of evolved mechanisms that deal, incompletely, with its extreme reactivity. (This is not an endorsement for antioxidant products, personally I think that stuff is useless. Or worse than useless if it keeps cells functional long enough to avoid triggering apoptosis and thus allowing them to become cancerous). All of this poisonous oxygen in the atmosphere created a selection pressure for mechanisms that could mitigate the problem. In short, eventually this led to not only the ability to mitigate the presence of oxygen free radicals, but to actively harness oxygen as an electron acceptor in the production of usable energy. Some bacteria, including the ancestors of mitochondria, developed this ability. Though it isn’t entirely clear how it happened, one of these oxygen loving bacteria was engulfed by an archaeal cell (site with more detail). Probably with the intention of using it as food. Either that or the oxygen loving bacteria became parasitic on archaeal hosts. At some point this predatory or parasitic relationship goofed up and both cells started working symbiotically. The larger cell could provide shelter and sources of food, while the newly formed mitochondria could use oxygen to efficiently convert that food into energy and possibly transfer oxygen defense mechanisms to the host cell if it started out oxygen intolerant. This was the origin of all subsequent multicellular eukaryotic life, including you. A descendant of this lineage similarly engulfed a cyanobacteria and that become the universal ancestor of plants.

Some time later, the early eukaryotes developed sexual reproduction where genetic material is shared between two individual members of the species in order to reproduce as opposed to earlier binary fission. Reasons why are debated, but my preferred explanation is that sexual reproduction increases the probability of novel genetic combinations which may have increased evolutionary fitness especially with respect to, but not limited to, evading predators and parasites (including infections). Keep in mind that the origin of sexual reproduction is not the origin of the sexes. You don’t necessarily have to have two genders to sexually reproduce. (This is a general biological fact and should in no way be misconstrued as an endorsement of any sort of mental illness related to gender in humans. It doesn’t matter how worms do it, we are human and we only have two genders).

The advent of sexual reproduction, however, created a problem not dissimilar in type to the penis fencing worms in the previous link. That is, evolutionary self interest creating bad incentives for competition during reproduction. In the case of worms they are trying to reproduce without incurring the metabolic costs of growing eggs. Between mitochondria competition needs a bit more explanation, though. Mitochondria within eukaryotic cells have never completely lost their genome even today. Each eukaryotic cell thus has two methods of transmitting genetic information to descendants. One is through the mitochondria and one is through the nucleus. Even though mitochondria only increase in number via binary fission, random mutations can occur during that process thus allowing separate mitochondrial lines to evolve independently of one another. Since mitochondria have their own genome, reproduce, and are variable they are subject to natural selection. If in sexual reproduction two mitochondrial lines are placed together within the same cell, you create a situation of direct competition between both lineages for the domination of that cell and thus the opportunity to be passed on down the line. Competing mitochondria could and would evolve ways of eliminating rivals. Ways which would only have minimum concern for the overall well being of the host cell. What does it matter how the host cell does if that other mitochondria wipes you out?  Even at the cellular level, diversity + proximity = war. An evolutionary war between mitochondrial lineages going on within the cell is obviously not a desirable situation for the organism as a whole. Eliminating the potential for mitochondrial war would be a great advantage to any eukaryotic organism which managed to accomplish it. Basically, the nuclear genome would need to step in and tell everyone to play nice… Na, its much easier to build a big wall.

Which, 2500 or so words in, FINALLY gets us back to the title of this post. I do apologize, but I feel the explanation is incomplete without the requisite background information. Having two sexes is a direct response to this issue of battling mitochondrial lineages and is what gives us our most universal definition of two sexes. Having distinctive male and females genders is “the wall” so to speak keeping different mitochondrial lineages from directly competing with each other. Specifically, the female sex is that which donates mitochondria to offspring and the male is that which does not donate mitochondria to offspring. That’s it. This is the commonality, the only commonality, between all males and all females in all species which have distinct genders. It also explains why more than two genders is in no way necessary. Two individuals is enough to gain the benefits of sexual reproduction and two sexes is enough of a wall to prevent intracellular competition via natural selection in mitochondria.

As I have already pointed out, there are examples of sexually reproducing species which do not utilize two different genders. In the case of fungi, I am not sure how they deal with the issue of mitochondrial war (or if anyone else does) but I am sure they have some mechanism for it even if unknown. Maybe creating billions of spores renders it a moot issue because there is more than enough opportunity for both lineages. In the case of the penis fencing worms, you can see the problem of not distinguishing genders quite saliently. Two individuals attempt to forcefully inject (rape?) each other with sperm while not getting injected themselves. You have got to love the sadistic creativity of nature for creating a species in which each individual acts as both the rapist and the rape victim at the same time. You’ve got to rape before you get raped. This method of reproduction can and does cause injury to the rape “victim” which could lead to infection and other issues. Not exactly ideal from a fitness perspective.

And this is why sexually reproducing organisms have evolved a binary gender dynamic many, many times independently. Evolving a male and female sex is one of the best examples of convergent evolution because it has happened so many different times.  Most people are already familiar with sex determination in mammals which is determined via an XY system. Two X chromosomes gear the human form to passing on mitochondria (i.e., female) as well as other things, while an X and a Y chromosome gears the human form to not pass on mitochondria (i.e., male) again among other things. But the mammalian XY system isn’t the only way this mitochondrial division of labor can be accomplished. Fruit flies, for example, have an independently evolved and completely unrelated XY sex determination system. Hymenoptera insects (ants, bees, and wasps) have a haplodiploidy sex determination system in which the male only has one set of chromosomes (haploid) while the female has two sets of chromosomes (diploidy). A number of lizards and other reptiles use a temperature determination system. Some fish determine sex via social hierarchy. (Again this is not an endorsement of mental illness in humans, despite wikipedia believing it is.) Even plants can’t wait to give up hermaphrodism and divide into two sexes and that has happened independently a ton of different times. Last in my list, though I won’t claim it is exhaustive, is the ZW sex determination system present in some birds, turtles, crustaceans and so on. Mirroring the XY system, ZZ is male and ZW is female. Like with mammals and fruit flies, when these species are not closely related chances are these systems are also independently evolved. It has recently been called into question that the bird ZW is actually independent of the mammalian XY because of discoveries with the playtpus sex determination system. I tangentially discussed this in an April fools article I wrote on hybridization theory a while ago and I will let you read it to come up with your own conclusions. Keep in mind, a joke works better if you mix in some facts to make it more believable…

Regardless, you can see that using two and only two sexes has evolved again and again and again and again and again in completely unrelated species with incredible levels of divergence. Even in the sex changing fish they opted to have two sexes rather than just stay hermaphroditic. The fish are never both male and female at the same time. Having two and only two sexes, regardless of how that is accomplished, seems to be some sort of evolutionary equivalent of an energy minimum. Dealing with mitochondrial war doesn’t strictly require two sexes and other arrangements can work (in species that aren’t human), but clearly the two sex binary is one of the easiest and most effective ways for nuclear genomes to prevent intracellular war between mitochondrial lineages. Judging by the widespread level of convergence, cellular civil war must be a very common and extremely grave problem for biology to deal with. The existential urgency of preventing the internal war probably accounts for why an astoundingly large and diverse list of species have all converged on the two and only two sex binary. They keep falling back to that arrangement via remarkably different yet equally effective systems. And so that is why we have two sexes and not zero or a million. And it is why we will always have two and only two sexes.

 

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Read The origin of species by Charles Darwin. Its great, its free, and it is nothing but alt-right

This book is well beyond copyright so you can read it for free online, including on this site which has both a typed and photocopied version on the same page. Also, please look at Jim’s excellent analysis of progressives re-writing history to downplay Darwin’s contribution of natural selection.

I know at least some of you already accept evolution. Some don’t being of certain Christian varieties. If you are religious and don’t believe in evolution, that is fine, it isn’t a requirement to be in the dark enlightenment (and I would prefer if arguments over it were saved for elsewhere, there are bigger fish to fry). However, accepting evolution makes understanding racial differences far easier.

With a background in biochemistry and lots of exposure to genetics it has never been that difficult for me to accept evolution and for a long time I never bothered to read it because “preaching to the choir” and all that. However, I was traveling for vacation a few years ago and walked into a book store to find a book for leisure reading when I stumbled across The origin of species. This was in a third world country where book selection was fairly eclectic. Often people would come in and exchange one book for another for a small fee, so someone must have brought the origin of species with them and traded it in. From experience I knew that both the content (especially the content) and the language difference was more than the locals were interested in. When I saw it I reflected on the issue and decided it was shameful that a biologist had not read this classic of scientific writing. (I bet PhD biologists as a group would be embarrassed by the results from a survey of how many of them actually read it) That some other random backpacker (probably European) had brought it with them to this obscure bookstore sort of gave me the boot in the butt to finally read it. So I set out to rectify the issue and purchased it for my leisure reading.

I will say that the content is just as relevant today as it was in 1859. His explanations of evolution are at least as good if not better than most of what you can find by modern writers despite their access to much better data. And I mean that. His descriptions and arguments are eminently approachable and understandable. They do not require any sort of “difficult” mathematics or complicated pictures of chromosome cross links to work through. Ya, it doesn’t have the benefit of genetic arguments, but that isn’t so important because in my experience even most college students in biology hate learning to really understand how genetics works (especially pre-meds. Don’t get me started on them. Ends justify the horribly inconvenient and bothersome means is their motto. Doctors aren’t nearly as great as many people think). Genetics can be difficult so I forgive them (my past classmates). Personally, genetics was one of my favorite classes. But you already knew I was weird as hell. Most people find it a real pain, and it can be a challenge. So in a way it is better that Darwin’s explanation of evolution doesn’t address modern biology. It makes it so much easier for a lay person to easily understand. If you want the hard details you can always find them elsewhere after reading Darwin’s clear, detailed, yet easy to understand account. But don’t expect the modern products of dysgenics to equal his elegance in writing.

However, it can’t be forgotten that Darwin was a badwhite. Here is some modern academic hack who only wishes he had a hundredth of the prestige of Darwin who lets us know Darwin would be right at home in neoreaction or the alt-right (as well as pretty much anyone else who lived in that more sensible time). Much to the everlasting shame of the originator of modern biology. lol.

he still divided humanity into distinct races according to differences in skin, eye or hair colour. He was also convinced that evolution was progressive, and that the white races—especially the Europeans—were evolutionarily more advanced than the black races, thus establishing race differences and a racial hierarchy. Darwin’s views on gender, too, were utterly conventional. He stated that the result of sexual selection is for men to be, “more courageous, pugnacious and energetic than woman [with] a more inventive genius. His brain is absolutely larger […] the formation of her skull is said to be intermediate between the child and the man” (Darwin 1871). [me: all of that is absolutely true btw] Although female choice explains sexual selection, it is the males who evolve in order to meet the chosen criteria of strength and power; such nineteenth century differentiation between the sexes was crucial in providing an alleged biological basis for the superiority of the male.

The whole article comes off as awkward because it is difficult to reconcile the idea of Darwin as the patron saint of (progressive) atheism with his clearly badwhite race realist beliefs. The fact is Darwin is the property of us, the badwhites who make up neoreaction and the alt-right. It is time we claimed the patron saint of atheism back for those who he actually most closely represents. Darwin is our hero, and we should remind those smug shitlibs of it every chance we get.

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The Missing Links

The Cathedral is a Christian sect that very cleverly adopted the camouflage of secularism so as to more easily infect (memefect?) non-Christians and non-religious institutions in addition to actual believers. This was a natural evolution of the theology given that the constitution of the United States originally sought to keep religious authorities out of government. I think it is instructive to compare some tenets of the protestant reformation to some of the ideas currently held by the progressive elite. The analogy of change in Christian culture to evolution is quite intentional. Natural selection can impose truly remarkable morphological changes to organisms. For example, consider this video detailing the evolution of whales from their land based ancestors. Culture should in theory be much more adaptable and otherwise susceptible to change than biologically physical features. If the process of natural selection can make something more or less like a deer into a whale, then it isn’t so hard to imagine that the process could morph Christianity into modern secular progressivism given the right environment.

In Nick Wade’sA troublesome inheritance he discusses how social institutions are fundamentally based on the aggregation of behaviors of the individuals that make up the population of societies. These behaviors ultimately have a significant biological component. Though in some sense the form of the cultural expression of a population’s behaviors can vary significantly over a short time, the underlying biological dispositions act as a brake slowing the overall change and limiting its manifestations. A lack of prerequisite biological dispositions can prevent effective institutions from being formed. The greater persistence of genes underlying dispositions also make it more likely that abandoned cultural norms could be resurrected. It should not be surprising that when one generation rejects or alters some cultural norm that it can re-emerge in a related, if modified, manifestation since the underlying biology is probably more or less the same. As such, the fact that ideas resembling Christian doctrines persist or re-emerge in secular culture should almost be expected. The following list contrasts older theological doctrines with modern secular progressive principles.

  • The ancestor of egalitarianism is probably Martin Luther’s justification by faith alone. Before that, European and every other culture believed in hierarchies and the idea of priests being the intermediary between god and the average peon. After the reformation, it became believed that anyone could interact with god through faith and through reading the bible. It is this concept that mandated that bibles should be written in all common languages so everyone could read it and become closer to god. At the time that this was first proposed it must have been an extraordinarily radical and new idea. I have nothing against the idea of equality before the law and an equality of opportunity. For example, for everyone to read the bible you would need mass literacy, which is undoubtedly good for society. However, you can see how this concept has gotten more and more extreme ever since to the point that now people are denying that differences exist between races and gender. If you bother to disagree with them they will condemn you with nothing less than righteous indignation. This certainly suggests a religious quality to the belief in egalitarianism. [edit] I recently had a conversation with a churchian who expressed that no sin is of greater magnitude than any other sin. It is all just sin. In other words, a slut with ten partners is no more sinful than an otherwise true Christian who had an impure thought about an attractive woman. A murderer is no worse than someone who tells a white lie in polite company. Clearly the belief that all sin is created equal supports the Christian origin of egalitarianism.
  • Manifest destiny and creating god’s kingdom on earth was originally a very religious idea. In essence, the New England puritans believed that they and the United States were predestined or elected by god to spread certain religious ideals as well as expand in influence. To the puritans and their descendants at least, the creation of the United States was thus part of god’s divine providence and his plan to spread his desired human organization as far as possible. This tradition continued in Progressive Christianity, which gave birth to the Wilsonian progressives who thought up the idea of the league of nations, and eventually FDR with the united nations and other world bodies with an explicit mission to spread progressive ideals worldwide. In essence, this is the idea that history and culture march in a linear fashion to an inevitable Utopian state and requires the work of true believers to be accomplished. Before it was god’s kingdom on Earth, but now God’s kingdom has been replaced by the divine mysteries of democracy, liberalism, freedom, equality, pacifism and other contradictory beliefs. Most other religions in the world believe in a cyclical nature of time and culture. The idea that history moves on a linear trajectory, an arch of progress, is fairly unique to western Christianity and that uniqueness has been inherited by modern secular progressivism. Again, this is not all bad. Technological progress is real and desirable. Neoreactionaries also believe a better civilization is desirable. The problem comes when this is combined with egalitarianism above. That some people don’t seem to fit this narrative of history progressing towards a better society causes a lot of consternation to progressives. To jump-start the progress toward Utopia that has been stalled by the failures of various demographics, crypto-calvinists implement doomed policies that have a philosophical foundation in egalitarianism. Since egalitarianism is untrue, these policies are ill-conceived and ironically usually make things worse.
  • The seeds and concepts of socialism and Marxism existed years before Karl Marx was ever born and were certainly within the reach of the Puritan imagination. Mark 10:25 is a classic example of the Christian attitude towards wealth. Jesus states:

    “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

    Christianity contains the premises that give rise to the belief that wealth is a hindrance to salvation. The legacy of which is an amorphous feeling that all those who are wealthy must be be reprobates. In addition, in John Winthrop’s sermonA Model of Christian Charity he specifically advocates for acts of charity by the rich to the poor. He gave this sermon on the Mayflower during the voyage to America and outlines what we would call wealth redistribution today. This sort of attitude led to the very first experiment with Socialism in America. The initial laws of the puritan colony mandated that all produced goods be collected into a common stock and distributed equally among its members. Colonists had no incentive to work harder because there was no benefit to doing so. The results of greater productivity would be redistributed to others. Unsurprisingly, they worked as little as possible. In William Bradford’sOf Plymouth Plantationhe described the attitude of young able bodied men:

    For the young unmarried men that were most able and fit for labor and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.

    As true today as it was in the 1600s, young men did not like being coerced into being cuckolded beta providers for women and children who were not their own. An extreme revulsion at being made cuckolded providers is one of the most fundamentally natural and just aspects of the masculine condition. Men accrue resources in excess of their needs for one reason and one reason only: to gain an opportunity to mate and guarantee the fitness of their biological children. The nature of man will eternally frustrate attempts to impose socialism since it breaks the link between wealth creation and evolutionary fitness. Socialist Plymouth was accordingly frustrated by repeated famines for years until they changed to a more capitalist system that guaranteed men would reap the benefits of their work. Once people were able to directly enjoy the benefits of their labor, food and goods were produced in excess of need and the colony prospered. Capitalism took such a strong hold early on in America not because the founders were inherently predisposed to free enterprise; quite the opposite. Rather capitalism became preferred because their initial attempt at a communal order, which they correctly perceived to be consistent with Christian doctrine, was such an abysmal failure and left such a strong impression that all pretense of socialism was firmly abolished. So great was the change that the new economic system induced in the colony, the holiday of Thanksgiving was invented to celebrate the abolition of socialism and the beginning of more prosperous, happier times. In a fashion contradictory with the previous interpretation of the faith, it became accepted that bounty accrued as a result of hard productive labor could be interpreted as a sign of election.

    It was great for America that the early colonists experienced such a harsh lesson about the dangers of socialism and that it was thereafter successfully suppressed for many years. However, America was still a Christian country and Christian doctrines still carried the dormant seeds that could spontaneously germinate into new strains of progressivism at any time once the initial failure of common property faded from the cultural memory. And, of course, it did as the modern world can attest.
  • Total depravity is the ancestor of modern ethnomasochism among people of European descent. This is more commonly called white guilt, but I feel ethnomasochism better connotes how self-destructive and foolish the attitude, behaviors and policies that result from it are. Total depravity is the idea that man is fundamentally sinful as a result of original sin. Humanity is so inclined to sin that it is physically and mentally incapable of not sinning. As such, man must repent of his innate evil and be thankful for being saved by Jesus Christ because in no scenario would he have been able to save himself from his own fundamental wickedness. Undoubtedly, experiencing guilt is an important part of repenting and of minimizing sin. In secular progressivism, the direct attribution of original sin to every person has been replaced by a direct attribution of responsibility to whites, and especially white males, for the fact that other human groups (i.e., minorities and women) are not able to achieve and thus signal high status at the same frequency as white males. Of course, white males have very little to do with the failings of other groups, but the experience of guilt for sin seems to be a natural part of the biological psychology of Europeans. Opportunistic groups find it convenient to appeal to that tendency to gain political advantages in western society.
  • The book of revelation is an important part of the bible. Therefore apocalyptic imagery has long been popular (for lack of a better word) in Christian thinking. There is supposed to be an end of the world filled with great disaster and at that time Jesus will come for a second time, repel the devil, and establish god’s kingdom on earth. Unlike some of the other doctrines listed here, most cultures and religions make some references to an end of the world that is accompanied by disasters of Biblical proportions. A fear of the end of the world is probably a universal human trait rather than specific to Christians or Europeans. What evolutionary benefit such beliefs could possibly have I honestly can’t fathom. But the universal presence of such beliefs suggest they offer some benefit or are a side effect of genes that cause some other useful phenotype. In a secular society, however, the justification for an end times belief is much harder to come by without recourse to the supernatural. Since people are still compelled, for whatever reason, to hold apocalyptic beliefs something “rational” had to be substituted. Of course that something is human induced climate change. I am not as skeptical about climate change as some. For example, humanity is releasing a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and it would surprise me if that didn’t have SOME effect. Where I differ with the cathedral is in its insistence that carbon dioxide is going to cause some sort of apocalypse that destroys all life and especially human life. Carbon dioxide is a natural component of the atmosphere and plants require it for carbon fixation. If plants have more carbon dioxide available, they will simply grow more easily and likely get larger. Increased carbon concentrations will probably end up being good for agriculture. Plants better able to use the carbon would evolve and sequester carbon at a greater rate, creating a negative feedback to human emissions. In addition, warm periods in earth’s history seem to be better, not worse, for biological diversity. Of course, given that the previous link is from the cathedral, the cognitive dissonance created by this contradictory finding is rationalized so they can maintain their apocalyptic beliefs. They simply assume that climate change is much more rapid this time around and their beliefs are validated. For the most part, climate scientists are underestimating the rapid pace at which evolution can take place. Species seem stable not because evolution is slow, but because environments are relatively stable and species very rapidly reach a stable form that is at equilibrium within their environment. Species can be drastically modified in surprisingly few generations if the selection pressures drastically change. Enough digression; the point of this is that though the cathedral may be right that humans are causing some amount of climate change, it is a non sequitur that this change is going to cause an apocalypse. The evidence they have doesn’t support such a drastic conclusion. If anything, there is reason to believe extra carbon dioxide will ultimately be beneficial. Belief in an apocalypse scenario caused by climate change thus seems more of a religious sentiment than a reasonable conclusion drawn from the data.
  • (Edit:) The American conservative advanced the point the missionary work common to mainline protestants is still alive and well in the form of foreign volunteerism of progressives at the individual level, and so-called “benevolent” foreign policy at the level of government. Rather than repeating the argument, I recommend you read through the article in the previous link.
I am not saying all of the results or desires of Protestantism are bad. World peace, eliminating poverty and hunger, having more wealth equality and strong work ethic* are all reasonable goals. Unfortunately for progressives, you can only achieve your goals when you have an accurate understanding of how reality actually works. In the case of social engineering, that means understanding the biological instincts of man and working with what they are, not what we would like them to be. Benevolent intentions are not good if they result in bad outcomes. Benevolent intentions and bad outcomes are just as evil as malevolent intentions and bad outcomes. Judging by the real world impact, there is no difference. To continue doing things that cause bad outcomes despite evidence that it doesn’t work can only occur as a result of mystical thinking. However benevolent the intention, this makes progressive policies both religious and prone to creating evil in the world.
*Not to be biased towards cultural explanations of behaviors, it may be better to describe it as Germanic work ethic rather than protestant work ethic.

 

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R vs. K selection

Dark Enlightenment bloggers talk about R vs. K selection quite a bit.  I found this video by Bozeman Science (unaffiliated with atavisionary.com) and thought it was worth sharing:

Though compared to other species, all humans are very k selected, humans do vary with respect to other in their level of r or k selection. Someone who has four kids and spends the bare minimum on raising them and doesn’t help them with university would be considered r selected by human standards. Someone else who only has one or two and invests heavily in providing them the best education and opportunities would be considered k selected.

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