I thought I’d address what E.O. Wilson’s thoughts on Rushton’s theory and clarify some things on endemic disease and cold winter and how they relate to this r/K paradigm. Proponents of Rushton may look to it and say ‘Well, E.O. Wilson said X, so therefore the reason why it’s not accepted is Y!” However, this comes from a faulty misunderstanding of what Wilson said.
I think Phil is an honest and capable researcher. The basic reasoning by Rushton is solid evolutionary reasoning; that is, it is logically sound. If he had seen some apparent geographic variation for a non-human species – a species of sparrow or sparrow hawk, for example – no one would have batted an eye. … when it comes to [human] racial differences, especially in the inflamed situation in this country, special safeguards and conventions need to be developed.
This little blurb does not address anything, really. Yes, it does address the fact that people attacked Rushton for his research on human racial differences. What it does not address is Rushton’s incorrect application of the theory, as covered yesterday. So, bringing up Wilson’s thoughts on Rushton and the controversy surrounding his theory is a moot point.
I don’t understand why people cannot just accept that Rushton was wrong with his misuse of the theory. Notice how I never said anything about his data—I only talked about his misuse of the theory. People act as if both his data and theory need to be correct, well, why can’t one be right and the other wrong (the data and the theory)? Because that’s how it is in reality.
Rushton’s data was largely correct, however, his misapplication of r/K theory shows that he just saw, for instance, current TFRs (total fertility rates) and just arbitrarily placed Africans as r and Eurasians as K, when looking at what Rushton said about both environments—tropical and cold—would lead to K selection for the tropics, since Rushton asserts that endemic and infectious disease is a selective agent (with no references) while Asia was ‘unbearably cold (also with no reference). This characterization of Pleiositicine environments as ‘hot and endemic disease’ and ‘unbearably cold’ has literally no basis in reality.
Tropical environments are more challenging than cold/temperate ones (Dobzhansky, 1950: 221). Knowing this, Rushton’s assertion of cold winters selecting for higher levels of intelligence in Eurasians compared to Africans is wrong since life is easy nowhere. This characterization of life being ‘easy’ in tropical environments has no basis in reality. It’s like people assume that in the tropics you can just laze around all day while fruits fall onto your lap and you have to do nothing that’s cognitively demanding. This is not true at all. Just look at how a savanna looks, does that look ‘easy’ to live in?
There are also a few more things I’d like to talk about in regards to Rushton’s theory, mainly on endemic disease and why it is an agent of K-selection; not r. Even then, r characteristics probably wouldn’t be able to evolve in the savanna (Miller, 1991: 670). The thing is, populations that evolve in disease-ridden places are expected to select for high population growth—increasing r. However, populations in other areas would increase K as they would be selected for survival and not disease resistance. So if disease was a main difference in so-called r/K differences between populations, r-selected people would be more disease resistant AND they would live longer lives (Miller, 1991: 672).
Case closed, right? Wrong. Miller (1991) writes: “If differences in disease rates do prove to be part of the explanation, the theory would not be an r vs K selection theory, because resistance to disease and a long life span are considered K characteristics, rather than r characteristics” (pg: 672). It is also doubtful that conditions in Africa are much more variable in comparison to other continents.
Furthermore, if an alien observed us with no prior knowledge of our species and only had Pianka’s (1970) paper to go off of, he would conclude that Mongoloids would be r-selected due to the cold winter temperatures which bring a high mortality rate. This is the direct opposite of what Rushton claimed.
Miller states at the end of the article that these differences between populations clearly need explaining. However, the explanation is not r vs. K selection, as Afrosapiens and I showed yesterday, Rushton reversed r and K for the three races, making Africans r when they really would be K and making Mongoloids K, when in reality they would be r. Miller addresses other possibilities, such as testosterone, citing Ellis and Nyborg (1992) for racial differences in testosterone, however, he notes that the difference is only 3 percent which wouldn’t account for racial differences in behavior. (Also recall my critique of having no measure of central adiposity.) I’ve definitively shown that even if the races did differ largely in testosterone that it would not account for disease acquisition nor higher rates of crime.
from Anderson (1991: 53)
Above are the agents of selection, their defining characteristics, and independent and dependent variables. Notice how for r-selection the typical agents of selection are temperature extremes, drought, and natural disaster. For K-selection, the usual agents of selection are limited food supply, endemic infectious disease, and predation. Alpha-selection selects for competitive ability and is thus closer to K than r. Limited resources that can be collected or guarded such as shelter or food are agents of selection.
Clearly, as you can see, if this theory did apply to the human races, Mongoloids would be r and Africans would be K. Endemic disease is an agent of K-selection, not r. This is because endemic disease usually imposes density-dependent selection while cold winters impose density-independent selection. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, intelligence can be selected for due to agents of r- or K-selection! Rushton had no reason to add intelligence as a ‘K trait’, as Pianka did not even add it to his continuum. Further, Pianka gave no experimental rationale as to why he placed those traits on r or K (Graves, 2002: 135)! So due to this, Rushton’s claims are wrong and people should stop pushing his r/K theory.
Clearly, Rushton reversed r and K selection and wrongly applied them to the races of man. The three races he describes are NOT local populations, so any inferences made off of any so-called evolutionary environment are not warranted because he did not use the right variable (r or K) for Africans or Eurasians. However, some people may not want to admit that Rushton—and by extension, them—were wrong so they will attempt whatever kind of mental gymnastics possible to attempt to prove that Rushton was ‘right’. As I’ve already said, I don’t have a problem with Rushton’s data; I have a problem with his misapplication of r/K to humans—which I’ve made a strong case that he was wrong and didn’t know what he was talking about in terms of ecology and evolution.
Rushton’s theory was no longer viable 3 years after it was proposed when Judith Anderson got her hands on it, writing the paper Rushton’s Racial Comparisons: An Ecological Critique of Theory and Method. There is literally no saving his application of r and K to humans because he used it wrong! I don’t care what E.O. Wilson said, because he didn’t address Rushton’s application of r/K to human races. He only said if he noticed this variation between another species that no one would have batted an eye. That says absolutely nothing about Rushton’s erroneous application of r/K selection to the races of man.
I hope any HBDers reading this will stop and think for a moment before stating that Eurasians are K and Africans are r. This canard needs to stop in this sphere and I hope I set the wheels in motion to end it.