Against the Ant People

The heated controversy running through biology right now — pronounced, at least, in its zone of intersection with the wider public sphere — seems like something that should be inciting fission within the NRx. The collision between Hamiltonian kin selection (defended most prominently in this case by Richard Dawkins) and group selection (E. O. Wilson) drives a wedge between the baseline biorealism accepted by all tendencies within the Neoreactionary Trike and the much stronger version of racial identitarianism that flourishes within the ethno-nationalist faction. Until recent times, proto-Hamiltonian hereditarianism has been strongly aligned with classical liberalism, while ideological racial collectivism represents a later — and very different — political tradition. Not so much as a chirp yet, though. Are people unpersuaded about this argument’s relevance?

On a slight tangent (but ultimately, only a slight one) Nick Szabo’s epically brilliant essay ‘Shelling Out’ is remarkable — among other things — for its profound biorealist foundations. It makes an excellent theoretical preparation for Jim’s paper on ‘Natural Law and Natural Rights’, which also draws productively upon John Maynard Smith’s game-theoretic model of the ‘evolutionary stable strategy’ as the natural substrate of psychological and cultural deep-structure.

This is an important opportunity to put down some discriminatory markers. Can we turf group selectionist ideas out of NRx entirely, or do we have to fight about it?

December 9, 2014admin 59 Comments »
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59 Responses to this entry

  • Peter A. Taylor Says:

    The only Wilson I’ve read was _Consilience_. I read Dawkins’ _The Selfish Gene_ a long time ago, and read The Ridley article yesterday. I still don’t understand the controversy. Ridley seems to think that it has to do with the importance of warfare in evolution.

    Let’s say that we observe J. B. S. Haldane jumping into a river to save nine first cousins, but refraining to jump into a river to save one brother. Is that evidence in favor of Dawkins or Wilson?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Group Selection theory isn’t formulated within this kind of Hamiltonian calculus. This link might be worth repeating (then follow it back). For the Ant People, the group is a unit of selection, and not merely an emergent product of kin selection. It’s not an obvious mathematical absurdity, but it doesn’t seem to cash out in reality (group fitness benefits are too weak to cut through the kin selection noise).

    [Reply]

    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    The way I’m trying to understand this is that there is some allele that causes me to die for my tribe, which decreases the frequency of the allele within my tribe, but increases the size of my tribe relative to other tribes. If the second effect is greater than the first, and the allele is still fairly common within my tribe, that sounds to me like a win in terms of “kin selection”. My tribe gets big and splits in two, but due to random luck, the allele has different frequencies in the two new daughter tribes, so the process repeats. Is the controversy over how common this scenario is, or do I misunderstand the term, “kin selection”? Is Wilson focusing on situations in which the allele is already fixed within one tribe, but not the others, so the frequency can’t decrease easily within my tribe, and the tribes don’t interbreed very much? I don’t see how an allele like that would become fixed in the first place.

    Does Wilson’s theory make a prediction that is different from Dawkins’? If we’re talking about social insects where the group members are all siblings, then I don’t understand how “group” and “kin” are distinct from one another.

    The non-insect scenario I’m describing does seem like it would be freakishly uncommon.

    [Reply]

    Erik Reply:

    At least part of the controversy is over whether group selection can happen at all: one standard objection is, “how does this start?” The first person with the allele would have to be sacrificing himself for a tribe which lacks it.
    A common response is, “who cares?” It’s here and happening, so it must have started somehow, let’s focus on investigating how it works and what it does.
    “You must be seeing something else that behaves similarly.”
    “You’re trying to dismiss observation based on speculation.”
    “No, I’m trying to rule out one of multiple potential explanations based on it being mathematically impossible.”
    Argument continues.

    I don’t pretend this is a full overview, just that I’ve seen this form of argument several times.

    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    Does it help if we say that genes and culture co-evolve to a large extent, but that their propagation rates and propagation mechanisms are wildly different (slow and pure vertical vs. fast and mixed horizontal plus vertical)?

    Scelus Maximus Reply:

    The plural of anecdote is data, so you can’t draw any conclusions until you’ve seen him do it twice.

    Don’t you know how science works?

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 3:04 pm Reply | Quote
  • Hurlock Says:

    I am with Ridley and Dawkins on this one.
    Basically I think Wilson is caught in some very weird cognitive confusion.
    I don’t think there is actually much debate to be had about this. From what I know about both theories, Occam’s Razor clearly favors Dawkins’ (and Hamilton’s) kin selection.

    “It’s the selfishness of genes that makes us unselfish”

    This is actually a point I have been trying to communicate to a lot of people, especially in NRx, but they seemingly never really understand it.

    Ridley hits the nail on the head with that post.
    “Society is not built on one-sided altruism but on mutually beneficial co-operation.”

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “I am with Ridley and Dawkins on this one.” — Well, you would be Hurlock (but so am I). There’s a rich ideological undertow to this, as you’re noticing.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 3:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • Chuck Says:

    “Until recent times, proto-Hamiltonian hereditarianism has been strongly aligned with classical liberalism, while ideological racial collectivism represents a later — and very different — political tradition. Not so much as a chirp yet, though. Are people unpersuaded about this argument’s relevance?”

    The tension is mitigated by the fact that racial collectivism can be justified on the basis of Kin Selection. This is, for example, Frank Salter’s approach.

    “In neoDarwinian theory, genes are the basic unit of selection and humans are ‘survival machines’ evolved to perpetuate them into succeeding generations (Dawkins, 1976). Conversely, for humans and all other organisms, reproductive interest consists of perpetuating their distinctive genes (Hamilton, 1964). ‘[H]umans like other organism[s] are so evolved that their “interests” are reproductive. Said differently, the interests of an individual human (i.e., the directions of its striving) are expected to be toward ensuring the indefinite survival of its genes and their copies, whether these are resident in the individual, its descendants, or its collateral relatives. . .
    (http)://lesacreduprintemps19.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/saltermigration1.pdf

    What then is the practical difference?

    Perhaps group selection would imply a natural racialist disposition? For reference, Salter argues that there is none but that it would be logical for peoples to cultivate such, granting ordinary kinship concerns and simple math.

    Yet, whether or not there should be such racialist dispositions, some individuals are clearly disposed to exhibit them. The heritability of racial favoritism, for example, is non-trivial. Now, the kinship selectionists maintain that apparent group interest (e.g., implicit racial bias) results from evolved kinship recognition mechanisms over-generalizing. Accordingly: Yes, people only favor kin, not far extended kin, but far extended kin can look as kin in global context — thus people at times end up serendipitously, from a Kin to Ethnic Genetic Interest perspective favoring extended kin.

    As they say in Thailand, ‘same same’.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 7:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • Dan Says:

    There is no question that group-level memeplexes (such as religious beliefs) can be pro-survival or anti-survival at the population level, and that the memeplexes can propagate in populations that are selected for or against by these memes.

    Examples:

    Shakerism and Mormonism are two religious memeplexes that begin early in American history. Both were found in similar populations of the northern European stock that predominated in early America at the time. One believed in celibacy and has mostly died out. Another placed great emphasis on family and thrives.

    Orthodox Jews and Liberal Jews are ethnically very similar, but one is collapsing while the other is mushrooming because of huge differences in fertility, driven by differences in their respective memeplexes.

    Memeplexes can be selected for and against, and it is terribly important that your group has a good memeplex, if it is to survive.

    These days high-IQ societies are dominated by memeplexes that discourage fertility. This is a terribly important story. High IQ societies now almost universally have below replacement fertility and are demographically declining. This may be the most momentous shift in human history.

    The fact that 100% of high IQ societies have below replacement fertility means that we have a genetically heritable trait (intelligence) which is good for the survival of an individual but which apparently makes a society susceptible to all sorts of memeplexes that are cataclysmically fertility-lowering.

    [Reply]

    Different T Reply:

    This seems relevant to the entire post and comments, but especially here…

    “None of this will explain what we might call a pure concern for the survival of a culture, but we do not really need an explanation. . . . The simple fact is that a culture which for any reason induces its members to work for its survival, or for the survival of some of its practices, is more likely to survive. Survival is the only value according to which a culture is eventually to be judged, and any practice that furthers survival has survival value by definition.”

    It seems EO Wilson found BF Skinner. Naming conventions, FTW.

    http://www.sntp.net/behaviorism/ayn_rand_skinner.htm

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 7:38 pm Reply | Quote
  • Chuck Says:

    Admin: “but it doesn’t seem to cash out in reality (group fitness benefits are too weak to cut through the kin selection noise”

    In my opinion, Salter convincingly shows that group benefits are substantial (given the logic of kin interest) :

    “Applying this formula allows us to estimate the impact on the genetic interests of a random Englishman of 10,000 ethnic Danes replacing 10,000 ethnic English (or vice versa). To simplify, let us assume that this is a neat replacement, so that over succeeding generations all the immigrants survive to reproduce.3 We also assume that the Englishman loses no genealogical kin in the process. Replacement involves two effects, the removal of 10,000 Englishmen and the introduction of 10,000 Danes, who in the mathematics of population genetics have negative kinship to the English population. Removal of the English in this case reduces genetic interests by 10,000 x 0.0021 =21. The replacing Danes bring a negative kinship of the same magnitude. Subtracting the latter from the former gives a loss to a random Englishman’s genetic interests of 42 units. Now we express those units in number of children by dividing by the parent-child kinship of the English, which is

    The number of children lost due to the immigration of 10,000 Danes is therefore 42/0.2516 ? 167 children (or siblings). This is a large family indeed. Repeating the scenario with Bantu immigrants, the loss to a random Englishman’s genetic interests of replacement of 10,000 English is 10,854 children (or siblings).4 Bantu suffer the same loss from 10,000 English immigrants to a Bantu territory.

    The genetic distance between English and Bantu is so great that, on the face of it, competition between them would make within-group altruism among random English (or among random Bantu) almost as adaptive as parent-child altruism, if the altruism were in the service of that competition. Thus it would appear to be more adaptive for an Englishman to risk life or property resisting the immigration of two Bantu immigrants to England than his taking the same risk to rescue one of his own children from drowning” (Estimating Ethnic Genetic Interests: Is It Adaptive to Resist Replacement Migration?)

    So, I don’t think that’s the issue. It’s this:

    From Wilson: “The third phase in evolution is the origin of the eusocial alleles, whether by mutation or recombination. In pre-adapted hymenopterans, this event can occur as a single mutation. Further, the mutation need not prescribe the construction of a novel behaviour. It need simply cancel an old one. Crossing the threshold to eusociality requires only that a female and her adult offspring do not disperse to start new, individual nests but instead remain at the old nest. At this point, if environmental selection pressures are strong enough, the spring-loaded pre-adaptations kick in and the group commences cooperative interactions that make it a eusocial colony (Fig. 4b).”

    So, in the NRx context, are there “pro-racialist genes” or just “kinist genes” which can, at times, be racially overgeneralized?

    Meh.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 7:43 pm Reply | Quote
  • Against the Ant People | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 7:44 pm Reply | Quote
  • Chuck Says:

    @Dan

    “The fact that 100% of high IQ societies have below replacement fertility means that we have a genetically heritable trait (intelligence) which is good for the survival of an individual but which apparently makes a society susceptible to all sorts of memeplexes that are cataclysmically fertility-lowering.”

    This deserves more discussion. Nicholas Wade made the point recently:

    “think of how appalling it would be if we were living in a society where everyone has an IQ of 150, such a society would drive itself into ruin in just a few generations, I would expect given how intellectuals often espouse far flung theories which have disastrous consequences” (A Troublesome Inheritance: A Conversation with Nicholas Wade: 20:50)

    IQ shredding as balanced selection.

    [Reply]

    Aeroguy Reply:

    Yet there are plenty of stable clans of high IQ Mormons and Orthodox Jews breeding copiously. Advances in contraception (and the disastrous domotist experiments) disrupted the environment so it’s to be expected that there be a shakeup in the population. The high IQ population isn’t going to disappear, the composition is just in flux as minority phenotypes become the dominant phenotypes due to being advantageous in the new environment. The sex drive genes don’t work like they used to so other genes will come to the forefront.

    I see kin selection as a satisfactory explanation for eu-social behavior, though in past discussions on kin selection I seemed to be behind the curve. If I’m understanding how group selection would work, it would require frequent and continuous genocidal conflict. Though ant colonies and lion prides make war the scale seems too small and the actions too kin selection motivated, like the habit of male lions killing cubs from conquered prides while keeping the females to breed with.

    Jim had a piece mentioning the pattern of successful minority groups getting genocide and in the long history of warfare genocide is hardly unheard of. Group selection may yet have use in anthropology, but it would require close inspection to confirm and skepticism. I don’t think there’s going to be an argument because I doubt the eth-nats care about the mechanism. If it can be shown and broadcast that certain minority groups are no more genetically different than the difference between similar Caucasian groups then they’ll be committed to group selection and admin will have his argument.

    [Reply]

    Chuck Reply:

    Aeroguy: “Yet there are plenty of stable clans of high IQ Mormons and Orthodox Jews breeding copiously. The high IQ population isn’t going to disappear, the composition is just in flux as minority phenotypes become the dominant phenotypes due to being advantageous in the new environment. ”

    The “high IQ population” won’t disappear because IQ is measured on an intervals scale. Absolute general mental functioning could decrease in principle, though, due to relaxed selection. (I doubt it since selection seems pretty balanced.) The problem is raising mean mental functioning (if only by seasteading selection) and keeping groups from self destructing. High IQ groups that don’t destruct need to be studied. The cultural meme that keeps them viable should be isolated and re-constructed in a sensible way (i.e., no invisible men in the sky).

    Aeroguy: “If I’m understanding how group selection would work, it would require frequent and continuous genocidal conflict.

    I don’t well grasp the debate.

    Aeroguy: “If it can be shown and broadcast that certain minority groups are no more genetically different than the difference between similar Caucasian groups then they’ll be committed to group selection and admin will have his argument.”

    I don’t know what you mean. There’s no chance that e..g, Bantus will turn out to be more similar to White French than e..g, White Poles. And for groups that aren’t different e.g., Marxist Whites, there is a clear kinship rational to oppose their destructive, form this perspective, tendency.

    Admin was just trollin’.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    This Jim post seems clearly relevant.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 8:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • Chuck Says:

    @Admin

    (read: we have to fight about it.)

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Always the preferred option.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 8:06 pm Reply | Quote
  • Rasputin Says:

    Nick,

    As a further tangent, have you come across Jeremy England’s Statistical Physics of Self-Replication paper?

    http://www.englandlab.com/uploads/7/8/0/3/7803054/2013jcpsrep.pdf

    With a (much) more accessible overview here:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/groundbreaking-idea-of-lifes-origin-2014-12?IR=T

    As always, would be fascinated to hear your thoughts…

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Thanks. Now on my reading list.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 8:46 pm Reply | Quote
  • peppermint Says:

    Can we turf group selectionist ideas out of NRx entirely, or do we have to fight about it?

    This is why you will never be a true neoreactionary.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Duh!

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 8:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • notapasserby Says:

    For more context, this should be, at the very least, an interesting read http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110649/

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Yes, indeed.

    [Reply]

    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    This makes me think the controversy is largely semantics. “Kin” and “group” are overlapping fuzzy sets. To modify Haldane, I would jump into a river to save 16 randomly selected neighbors, where 50% or more of my neighbors are first cousins of mine, but not 15 (and few of the people who would move in if my village were wiped out are my cousins). Is my “group” the set of my neighbors, the set of my first cousins, my entire species, or the set of people who share my “altruistic” allele? If an interesting allele causes a mother to risk her life to save a daughter who has only a 50% chance of having that allele, is that “group” or “kin” selection?

    My guess is that E. O. Wilson would say that my Haldane modification is “group selection”, and it happens frequently. One opposing position would be to say that it is “kin selection”, and it happens frequently. Another opposing position would be to say that it is “group selection”, but it unusual.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 9:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • pseudo-chrysostom Says:

    >Can we turf group selectionist ideas out of NRx entirely

    groups with more out-group preference than in group preference have a distinct tendency to not survive the test of history.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 9:48 pm Reply | Quote
  • Izak Says:

    The reason this doesn’t seem to be a big dispute in NRx circles, and probably never will be, is because the White Nationalists, for all of their talk of “genocide,” probably don’t really think that Whites are undergoing any kind of existential threat. No one really thinks this. The Wilson/Hamilton dispute would matter a lot if Whites were getting killed left and right and truly on the verge of extinction. The question would obviously be “How do we best preserve X?” — and then the dispute would better inform how to determine what X might be in the first place — and it would help determine whether racial identitarianism (even if Hamilton is right) can help preserve X (even if it should only be understood as individuals who happen to be White) rather than some other individualist or identitarian formation.

    But that’s not the actual question WNs are concerned with at all. I think they’re more worried about how to improve the very good conditions Whites (and all of modernity, which Whites basically created) are in. They’re concerned a whole lot with questions of aesthetics, culture, leading an authentic life with a self-actualizing purpose beyond mere survival, that sort of thing. So they see “the white race” as a conduit of identity through which they can answer such questions and thus best improve either themselves or their racial group — the distinction really doesn’t matter. (You’ll notice that WN journals do not shy away from posting self-improvement articles. This is no coincidence.) Let’s say Hamilton is proven correct beyond the shadow of a doubt. We still have compelling reason to suspect that rerouting our morals toward a large construct of some sort can allow us to thrive as individuals and thus maximize our individual chances of reproduction. So it doesn’t really change anything.

    I also hardly see how this dispute would inform questions of economic protectionism vs free market. But that’s another story.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 10:10 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    Group and kin selection are both real. Kin selection always trumps group selection, however, there are certain group traits that are indifferent to kin selection. Obviously, on these traits, the group as a whole that randomly lands in the correct camp will win. On the gripping hand, group selection biologists seem to be unable to admit that kin selection always trumps group selection, which means specific research is lacking. I will have to make up a stupid example.

    Group A throws out any food their kin and allies don’t want.
    Group B gives this surplus food to any random tribesmate who asks.

    Group B is going to win in any fights with A, voila, we have group selection.

    Also, we can see in the modern world that fictive kinship is a strong selection force. Why are we assuming that ancient tribes didn’t use it? With nations, group selection on e.g. Germans as a group is basically guaranteed, because the group is intentionally fed back into kin-selection-type forces.

    I guess I mean to say the group biologists need more precise terminology.

    Finally I just became curious about whether your comments prune extra whitespace, so I’m going to find out. Is there an awkward empty space below?

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 11:39 pm Reply | Quote
  • peter connor Says:

    Very simply, the problem with Group Selection is that natural selection is a rather simple mathematical process based on the survival of genes from individuals based on survival rates of the individual’s offspring, and there is no way that this process can be affected by a group benefit except to the extent that the group benefit is coincidental to the increase in individual offspring’s survival. E.O.Wilson appears to have been somewhat innumerate.

    [Reply]

    Hurlock Reply:

    Yes, this is what makes me think the whole debate is actually rather silly.
    Even if people insist on group selection so much, it inevitably collapses into kin selection anyways to the point of being completely redundant.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 11:51 pm Reply | Quote
  • Different T Says:

    This “scientist,” Matt Ridley, is quite strange.

    e.g.

    Surely it is more likely that people bear, raise and treasure their children for the same reason that rabbits, blackbirds and spiders care for their offspring — because they are descended from individuals that cared for offspring. and then he states…Throughout history those people who found child rearing worth it, despite the effort, left behind more descendants than those who did not. Huh? That does not follow at all. If he wants to make a genetic-determinism argument why does he shift to granting agency in “those people who found child rearing worth it”?

    e.g.

    I went fishing at the weekend. The salmon I was fortunate enough to land (and release) is an extreme example. Although in good shape when she left my hands, she will very likely die within the next two months, exhausted by the effort and risk of reaching a stream where she can lay her eggs. and then Her breeding instinct is the very opposite of rewarding for herself. But it perpetuates her genes. What kind of weird anthropomorphism is this? He realizes he’s talking about a fish, right?

    e.g. (the kicker)

    Nearly all the kind things people do in the world are done in the name of enlightened self-interest.

    What. The. Fuck.

    The fact that 100% of high IQ societies have below replacement fertility means that we have a genetically heritable trait (intelligence) which is good for the survival of an individual but which apparently makes a society susceptible to all sorts of memeplexes that are cataclysmically fertility-lowering.

    It appears (to be very generous) that it also increases individuals susceptibility to certain, what’s the word….

    [Reply]

    Different T Reply:

    How does “If group selection were to work properly, war would mean the total annihilation of the enemy by the victorious group” follow from “But group selection is a theory of competition between groups, and that is generally known by another name in human affairs. We call it war.”

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 10th, 2014 at 12:56 am Reply | Quote
  • Dark Psy-Ops Says:

    Groupies tend to have a libidinal investment in a ‘dear leader’, who acts as a quilting point for an artificial Zeitgeist, and embodies the universalizing traits that all group members should ultimately emulate. Group selectionists (r) tend to try to absorb any kin selectionists (K) into their milieu, and all but demand that K will conform to their pattern of altruism, sacrificing themselves and their proclivities to exclusionary kinship for the ‘greater good’ of the herd/colony. Human groups lacking ‘hard’ biologically determinant relations rely more on symbolic, facialized politics, with a focus on ‘purely spiritual’ markers of cohesion. For example, God becomes the (absent) kin/father of the group, and members are admitted into His body via the ‘transubtantiated’ markers of a displaced familialism. Divergent loyalties and monadic individualists are paranoically felt to be a threat to the group’s rigid and often fragile structures of ritualized compatibility, and so group-think becomes a necessary component of its repetitive existence… (lol)

    ‘Against the ant-people!’ is a wicked war-cry, and it should be used more often, but it looks like this small diversion into the science of maximizing fission was too polite and seemingly unpolitical to catch fire and spur the enemies brave men-at-arms to arms.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 10th, 2014 at 5:22 am Reply | Quote
  • Henk Says:

    Unpersuaded about relevance. I have to admit that I don’t fully understand what Wilson is all about, precisely, but I don’t think that (genetic) group selection theory is required to motivate racialism.
    A good fundamental motivation can be found in genetic-cultural co-evolution: to carry a thriving european culture, you need a population of suitable (i.e., co-evolved) carriers. Euro culture and euro people once embraced each other in a wildly successful co-evolutionary dance. Mix in too many people who didn’t genetically learn the dance, the dance degenerates into an awkward and unpleasant stopming on each other’s feet.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 10th, 2014 at 10:49 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Is anyone actually defending group selection? Has anyone actually read Wilson’s book? Worked out the math?

    No. Certainly not in Twitter.

    The argument doesn’t go that far back. And it can be used both ways too. Sure, many nationalists are quite optimistic in how cohesive a large nation can ever be, in a way that seems to invoke group selectionists arguments. Group selection not existing does disprove that a nation can really work like the brotherly clockwork that many nationalists aspire to.

    But the alternative to group selection, which actually appears to exist, is kin selection. And that means that people are more clannish than they are tribalist. The clannish is a smaller unit; but it’s still a collective. It’s above the individual. And of course the usual argument about large societies, is that large human groups are basically fictive kin selection; people fooling themselves into seeing their comrades as brothers, thus using kin-selected psychology.

    Kin selection doesn’t prove that human psychology follows narrow individual game-theoretical behavior. It does of course to a point; and Szabo’s theory of money is quite brilliant. But it’s not a theory of politics. His legal scholarship, as all legal scholarship, shows a great way without showing the way to get there. His smart contracts are going nowhere, (possibly) his Bitcoin isn’t going very far either. There’s a lot of ruin in a human brain before one can get to the game theory calculator.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    You’re not denying this argument is taking place (in biology, of course, where it belongs)?

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    I deny most people around here have a clue about the biology argument; and that it isn’t that relevant either.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 10th, 2014 at 2:32 pm Reply | Quote
  • E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Says:

    Seems like kin-selection can get out of hand in the same way group-selection can. Extreme outbreeding destroys the genetic unity of the clan, but extreme inbreeding induces crippling disorders.

    Identifying the degree of outbreeding is necessary to make any kind of rapproachment between the two positions (they are in a sense, mutually exclusive) – simply arbitrarily grouping some people as white and others as non-white (for example) glosses over differences that may be important to the question of genetic unity.

    But given that the variation between individuals can be greater than that between groups, it may be possible to find a person from a very far-flung place who is more similar to you than your next-door neighbor, simply because of coincidence.

    I’d like to know what the difference between the more narrow set of group traits and the wider set of individual traits is, their overlap, and the degree to which my prior statement can be proven true (and what impact that would have on group-selection arguments.)

    [Reply]

    Chuck Reply:

    “But given that the variation between individuals can be greater than that between groups, it may be possible to find a person from a very far-flung place who is more similar to you than your next-door neighbor, simply because of coincidence.”

    It’s very improbably that e.g., two Han will conceive a genomic ethnic Scott. Israeli statistician Omri Tal noted:

    “The probability that a random pair of individuals from the same population is more genetically dissimilar than a random pair from distinct populations is primarily dependent on the number of informative polymorphic loci across genomes from the total population pool. This probability asymptotically approaches zero with a sufficiently large number of informative loci, even in the case of close or admixed population. (“Two complementary perspectives on inter-individual genetic distance.”)

    But it’s more likely than, say, two horses conceiving a genomic human — but still just close to zero. (The rhetorical trick is “more similar [in a particular loci]” versus “more similar [in overall genomic composition]”)

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 10th, 2014 at 3:06 pm Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    Lots of excellent commentary on this thread. Does anybody know where the best defenses / critiques of Salter’s work can be found in the HBD-sphere?

    [Reply]

    Rasputin Reply:

    Does anyone happen to have a copy of James Gouldings take down of Salterism? I read it ages ago and regret not being able to revisit it – along with the rest of his writing, apart from what is thankfully archived here.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Frustrating, isn’t it? I was hunting for the same stuff.

    [Reply]

    Chuck Reply:

    David B had s series of posts on this over at Gene Expression:
    (http)://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/003895.html
    It was more political philosophical, as quantitatively there is not much to discuss.
    You can find Salter’s discussions here:
    (http)://www.humanbiologicaldiversity.com/
    probably, for quant and philosophy:
    Salter, Frank. “Misunderstandings of Kin Selection and the Delay in Quantifying Ethnic Kinship.” Mankind Quarterly 48, no. 3 (2008).
    Salter, Frank. “The War Against Human Nature: Race and the Nation in the Media.” Quadrant 56, no. 10 (2012).

    [Reply]

    Chuck Reply:

    My comments with links keep getting blocked. Hmmm. I’ll try again:
    David B had s series of posts on this over at Gene Expression:
    (google: “gene expression” “Gene Expression: Frank Salter refresher”)
    It was more political philosophical, as quantitatively there is not much to talk about.
    You can find Salter’s discussions here:
    (google: “Human BioDiversity Reading List HBD Bibliography,”)
    probably, for quant and philosophy:
    Salter, Frank. “Misunderstandings of Kin Selection and the Delay in Quantifying Ethnic Kinship.” Mankind Quarterly 48, no. 3 (2008).
    Salter, Frank. “The War Against Human Nature: Race and the Nation in the Media.” Quadrant 56, no. 10 (2012).
    He did reply to the critiques above, but that was in his book i.e., On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity, and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration which, I guess, you download at:
    libgen.org/search.php?mode=last

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I hope I’ve sorted that out. Your alert sent me trawling through the spam queue, and I found a couple.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 10th, 2014 at 4:10 pm Reply | Quote
  • Chuck Says:

    @admin

    re: Salter

    best critiques (of the philosophical outlook but not of the quant, which I think is pretty solid)
    http://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/003895.html

    best defenses would be Salter himself

    (quantitative) Salter, Frank. “Misunderstandings of Kin Selection and the Delay in Quantifying Ethnic Kinship.” Mankind Quarterly 48, no. 3 (2008) (http)://www.mankindquarterly.org/samples/SalterMQXLVIII-3.pdf

    (political philosophical) Salter, Frank. “Race and the Nation in the Universities.” Quadrant 56, no. 11 (2012).
    (http)://www.humanbiologicaldiversity.com/articles/Salter,%20Frank.%20%22Race%20and%20the%20Nation%20in%20the%20Universities.%22%20Quadrant%2056,%20no.%2011%20(2012).pdf

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 10th, 2014 at 7:15 pm Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    I’m in agreement with Alrenous and can’t see why multi-level-selection-theory is wrong, see: Wilson, David S. and E. Sober, 1994, “Re-Introducing Group Selection to the Human Behavioral Sciences,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 17, p. 585-684.

    My question is—can group competition/selection between human groups be analogous to competition between multicellular or pluricellular organisms? Of course these mechanisms are still reducible to the gene level but so what. Human groups need not be physically isolated to be reproductively isolated, given enough time these groups may even speciate—which couldn’t happen at the individual level. A highly ethnocentric/clannish/ethno-nepotistic people will always be able to outcompete and neo-colonize a highly atomized and radically individualized group.

    Merlotti (1986) summarizing Spencer (1892): “Let enough members of a society disobey the code of amity (for members within the tribe) and the society will fragment; let enough disobey the code of enmity (against neighboring tribes) and the society will be crushed.”

    Merlotti quoting Sumner (1906): “”The exigencies of war with outsiders are what makes peace inside, lest internal discord should weaken the we-group.”

    Merlotti summarizing Arthur Keith (1946, 1948): “”the success of the human species had been secured by cooperation within groups and competition between them.”

    I agree with these quotes—but mid-20th century forces of academic Marxist influence completely subverted the quality of anthropological thought and derailed it from its pursuit of “reality/truth”.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 11th, 2014 at 5:56 pm Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    Here’s a cute paper:

    Deadly competition between sibling bacterial colonies

    Avraham Be’era1,H. P. Zhanga,E.-L. Florina,Shelley M. Payneb,Eshel Ben-Jacobc1 and Harry L. Swinney
    Contributed by Harry L. Swinney, November 26, 2008 (received for review September 22, 2008)

    Abstract
    Bacteria can secrete a wide array of antibacterial compounds when competing with other bacteria for the same resources. Some of these compounds, such as bacteriocins, can affect bacteria of similar or closely related strains. In some cases, these secretions have been found to kill sibling cells that belong to the same colony. Here, we present experimental observations of competition between 2 sibling colonies of Paenibacillus dendritiformis grown on a low-nutrient agar gel. We find that neighboring colonies (growing from droplet inoculation) mutually inhibit growth through secretions that become lethal if the level exceeds a well-defined threshold. In contrast, within a single colony developing from a droplet inoculation, no growth inhibition is observed. However, growth inhibition and cell death are observed if material extracted from the agar between 2 growing colonies is introduced outside a growing single colony. To interpret the observations, we devised a simple mathematical model for the secretion of an antibacterial compound. Simulations of this model illustrate how secretions from neighboring colonies can be deadly, whereas secretions from a single colony growing from a droplet are not.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/106/2/428.full

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 11th, 2014 at 6:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • PoorGradStudent Says:

    The most intellectually honest thing to say is “I don’t know”. Few of us have Scott Alexander’s ability to subsume dozens of journal articles over a long evening. Discussions of multilevel selection theory are not cognitively accessible to mere muggles without prohibitive time investment. What is the point, other than to repel the most repulsive of WNs? Dawkins vs. Wilson is a poor proxy war for Moldbug vs. Kevin McDonald. The NRx Jewish question is primarily about cladistics, not mechanisms.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 11th, 2014 at 9:40 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bob Says:

    And of course the usual argument about large societies, is that large human groups are basically fictive kin selection; people fooling themselves into seeing their comrades as brothers, thus using kin-selected psychology.

    Yes, and this is quite evident from how larger organizations, from religions to nation-states, exploit this kin-selected psychology. – “brothers and sisters in Christ”, “Muslim Brotherhood”, the fatherland, motherland, etc. They tend to employ kinship language and get their adherents to view their fellow adherents like their close family members:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/three-american-teens-recruited-online-are-caught-trying-to-join-the-islamic-state/2014/12/08/8022e6c4-7afb-11e4-84d4-7c896b90abdc_story.html

    “I am . . . obliged to pay taxes to the [U.S.] government,” Hamzah Khan wrote. “This in turn will be used automatically to kill my Muslim brothers and sisters. . . . I simply cannot sit here and let my brothers and sisters get killed, with my own hard-earned money. . . . I cannot live under a law in which I’m afraid to speak my beliefs. I want to be ruled by the Sharia [Islamic law]. . . . Me living in comfort with my family while my other family are getting killed is plain selfish.”

    And the likely reason they have to exploit this kin selected psychology is because dying for others is generally not a good strategy:

    http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/your-countrys-not-your-blood/

    I think Dawkins’ extended phenotype paradigm is a good explanation for what Wilson regards as group selection. Dying for others is not a good strategy, but getting others to die for you can be a good strategy. A gene or genes that can get other gene complexes or organisms to serve its interests in concert can obviously be a good strategy for the particular gene or genes. The group is the extended phenotype of the gene.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 14th, 2014 at 6:15 am Reply | Quote
  • Lightning Round – 2014/12/17 | Free Northerner Says:

    […] Capitalism sucks. Related: The origins of money. Related. […]

    Posted on December 17th, 2014 at 6:35 am Reply | Quote
  • Exfernal Says:

    In the case of group selection, total lack of autonomy for a single ‘ant’ is required – defection means death, literally. No genetic continuation for defectors.

    [Reply]

    Exfernal Reply:

    As for your own cells, taken individually.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 17th, 2014 at 3:05 pm Reply | Quote
  • Phillip Says:

    The collision between Hamiltonian kin selection (defended most prominently in this case by Richard Dawkins) and group selection (E. O. Wilson)

    There really isn’t a debate anymore between Dawkins and Wilson. In his most recent work, Wilson adopts Dawkins’ gene selection view and his “extended phenotype” concept, although he persists in using the term “group selection”.

    From Wilson’s “The Social Conquest of Earth”:

    Selection has remained at the individual level, queen to queen. Yet selection in the insect societies continues at the group level, with colony pitted against colony. This seeming paradox is easily resolved. As far as natural selection in most forms of social behavior is concerned, the colony is operationally only the queen and her phenotypic extension in the form of robot-like assistants.

    [Reply]

    Exfernal Reply:

    Not entirely true. It misses the aspect of ‘distributed intelligence’ of the whole colony. Pheromones that are the medium for quorum sensing/signalling.

    [Reply]

    Exfernal Reply:

    Also queen ‘songs’ and worker ‘dances’.

    [Reply]

    Phillip Reply:

    Extended phenotypics is compatible with chemical and other forms of signalling as well as with emergent phenomena such as distributed intelligence.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 19th, 2014 at 10:32 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lightning Round – 2014/12/17 Says:

    […] Capitalism sucks. Related: The origins of money. Related. […]

    Posted on December 24th, 2014 at 3:15 pm Reply | Quote

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