By Scott Jameson
Long and short of this issue is that something has to explain why most of the really, really smart people are men. There are two hypotheses: men have a higher mean, and men have a higher standard deviation. They don’t really have to compete, and so some people believe that both are true. Some believe neither, of course.
Let’s start with three facts:
- Women tend to get slammed by men on Raven’s Progressive Matrices; the second graph in the post linked above details this. It’s a difference of 5 IQ points on average, quite a bit, certainly more than on other IQ tests.
- Women tend to lose even harder in visuospatial measures. John Loehlin pointed out in The Handbook of Intelligence that the gap here was a whopping 13.5 points.
- Raven’s is so g loaded because your score is primarily driven by spatial and verbal-analytic abilities.
The biggest subtest difference is spatial, and I think that likely explains the abnormally large differences in Raven’s scores. Other IQ tests, like the SAT, hardly use visual abilities. Women do about as well as men on the SAT. I’ve also seen the White-Asian gap smaller on the SAT than in other IQ tests, and that gap is also driven in large part by spatial scores. Conversely you might expect the SAT to go better for a hypothetical demographic that scores well in math and verbal abilities, but not especially well in spatial. By hypothetically I mean that these people make up like a fifth of the kids at the Ivy Leagues, even more than you’d expect from an average IQ of, I don’t know, 111ish.
Off topic: these differences are probably going to be slighter still now that they’re fastidiously removing every useful element of the test in an effort to make it less “biased” by race. I wonder if colleges will just throw up their shoulders and start looking for kids who do well on the ACT. Moving on.
There are other sex differences in subtest scores. Pulling from Loehlin again: “females tend to have an advantage on verbal tests involving the fluent production of words belonging to a category, such as synonyms.” Women are known to do better on verbal than on math.
Loehlin also points out that girls do better at math in early childhood, but that boys outstrip them by the time it, uh, matters, when they take standardized tests in adolescence.
I have a wild hypothesis that men and women respectively being more oriented towards mathematical and verbal thought corresponds to observed differences in interests. Women are known to read more often than men on average, whereas male dominated activities like sports and video games often have a distinctly mathematical bent. My spurious hypothesis is that doing these different things differentially develops their abilities, constituting an example of crystallized intelligence rather than fluid intelligence; alternatively, they were differentially selected for ability to perform well on tasks that their respective sex does more of, in which case the abilities are innate.
Even if they aren’t innate, it’d be an instance of secondary heritability because evidence tends to show male-female personality differences as innate; in this scenario they are innately prone to practicing different abilities to different extents.
Loehlin points to Hedges and Nowell’s 1995 meta-analysis, showing a higher male variation in IQ and elucidating a few more small subtest differences. I’ve lifted a meaty bit here:
On average, females exhibited a slight tendency to perform better on tests of reading comprehension, perceptual speed, and associative memory, and males exhibited a
slight tendency to perform better on tests of mathematics and social studies. All of the effect sizes were relatively small except for those associated with vocational aptitude scales (mechanical reasoning, electronics information, and auto and shop information) in which average males performed much better than average females. The effect sizes for science were slightly to moderately positive, and those for perceptual speed were slightly to moderately negative. Thus, with respect to the effect size convention, these data suggest that average sex differences are generally rather small.
- There are sex differences in scores of various IQ subtests, including but not limited to female orientation towards verbal and male orientation towards mathematical ability.
- The largest of these differences is a substantial male advantage in spatial ability.
- On any IQ test that doesn’t weight subtests such that men and women perform equally by default, men tend to score a hair better.
- Men also have a higher standard deviation in IQ.
There are more male geniuses, particularly with respect to mathematical genius. There are also more mentally retarded males. I just explained why men tend to populate CERN, NASA, Silicon Valley, and lists of who’s died in the Running of the Bulls.
(See my article on transvestic disorder and gender dysphoria for an intro on my view of transgenderism.)
I have been researching male-to-female (MtF) transgenders (TGs) in sports for the past few months. I, like we all do, have my own biases with what should be done with this problem (not letting them compete with women), however jumping to my initial bias there would not be fair so I’ve undertaken the task of reading as many journal articles on the matter as I possibly can. From my research on the matter, there is no direct consensus in the literature that I could come across. In this article, I will show some of the research I’ve found and how it is inconclusive (as well as interject my own thoughts on the matter, mainly speaking about bone density, somatype, and testosterone). (I will cover female-to-male (FtM) transgenders in a future article.)
One recent article making its way around the news is of a MtF who won a weightlifting competition. He (I will be referring to the people I reference by their biological sex) had a total of 590 pounds, besting the second place winner by 42 pounds. Hubbard (the weightlifter who ‘transitioned’) is 39 and has been ‘transitioning’ since his mid-30s. He has also had previous experience competing. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) has no guidelines that a TG athlete must undergo ‘sex-reassignment surgery’, however, they must be on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for at least 12 months and demonstrate that they have testosterone levels ‘within acceptable limits’. Well, what are ‘acceptable limits’?
The athlete must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to her first competition (with the requirement for any longer period to be based on a confidential case-by-case evaluation, considering whether or not 12 months is a sufficient length of time to minimize any advantage in women’s competition).
The athlete’s total testosterone level in serum must remain below 10 nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.
Compliance with these conditions may be monitored by testing. In the event of non-compliance, the athlete’s eligibility for female competition will be suspended for 12 months.
So the MtF athlete must have a testosterone level of less than 10 nanomoles and declare that they are ‘female’ for at least four years. The IOC states that the individual must be taking HRT for a year or two—whenever they are able to show that their testosterone levels are below that 10 nanomolar mark, they are then allowed to compete. However, other members of the IOC have stated that 10 nanomoles is too high (which is the lower end for males) while arguing that it should be reduced to 3 nanomoles per liter of blood (3 nanomoles is the upper-end for women).
10 nanomoles per liter of blood converts to about 288 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter). Going with the lower end suggested by other members of the IOC, 3 nanomoles per deciliter of blood converts to 87 ng/dl. The range for women is 15 to 70 ng/dl. Now, the 10 nmol/l is, as you can see, way too high. However, 10 nmol/l converts to slightly higher than the lower end of the new testosterone guidelines for the average male in America and Europe (which I covered yesterday, the new levels being 264-916 ng/dl). As we can see, even 10 nmol/l is way too high and, in my opinion, will give an unfair advantage to these athletes (I know that there is no consensus on whether or not testosterone does give an inherent advantage to MtFs of to hyperandrogenic women; I provide evidence for that below).
In regards to women and hypoandrogenism, Stanton and Wood (2011) state that “excess production of endogenous testosterone due to inborn disorders of sexual development (DSD) may convey a competitive advantage.” The fact of the matter is, endogenous and exogenous testosterone does convey an advantage. So if having higher levels of testosterone conveys a physical advantage in said sport, then 10 nmol/l is way too high. Therefore, the only way (in the eyes of the IOC, not in my opinion) for MtFs to compete with women is to get ‘sex-reassignment surgery’, as the gonads will be removed and testosterone levels will plummet. But how by how much?
In a new review of the literature, Jones et al (2017) state that “there is no direct or consistent research suggesting transgender female individuals (or male individuals) have an athletic advantage at any stage of their transition (e.g. cross-sex hormones, gender-confirming surgery) and, therefore, competitive sport policies that place restrictions on transgender people need to be considered and potentially revised.” They further state that, in most instances, testosterone levels in MtFs “[tended] to be lower than average compared with cisgender women.” So they conclude that there is no evidence that MtFs have no inherent advantage since 1) most of them have lower levels of testosterone than ‘cis-gendered women’, and 2) that there is ‘no evidence’ of testosterone conferring an advantage in athletes (I beg to differ there). The review by Jones et al is a great starting point, however, I disagree with them on numerous things (which I will cover in greater depth in an upcoming, exhaustive research article).
Mueller et al (2011) studied a sample of 84 MtFs who were treated with 10 mg of oestradiol every ten days. They were “treated with subcutaneous injections of 3.8 mg goserelin acetate every 4 weeks to suppress endogenous sex hormone secretion completely.” Follow-ups then commenced at 12 and 24 months. It was found that their BMI, fat mass, and lumbar bone mineral density (BMD) had increased. Conversely, they had a significant decrease in lean mass with a concurrent increase in BMI, which would lead to strength decreases and increased range of motion (ROM), and there was no effect on femoral bone density. This is a larger study than most, most studies having ns of ~20, so the results are robust for this research.
Even if MtFs have a decrease in lean mass and gain in fat mass, they still have inherent biological advantages over women. Testosterone, of course, is not the only reason why men are superior to women in most sports (contrary to the literature). Muscle fiber distribution, cross-sectional area, leverages, etc all play a part in why men are better at sports than women (this is covered at length in Man the Athlete). To the best of my knowledge, cross-sectional area, muscle fiber distribution and leverages don’t change. This is another physical advantage that MtFs would have over ‘cis-gendered women’.
Hyperandrogenic women have also been the center of a lot of controversy (if you follow the Olympics, you may have heard about it occurring during the last Games). Hyperandrogenism affects 5-10 percent of women that are of reproductive age. Signs of hyperandrogenism include hirsutism (hairiness in women), androgenic alopecia (Price, 2003), acne, and virilization (the development of male body hair, bulk, and a deep voice, male-typical characteristics) (Yildiz, 2006). After Caster Semenaya’s dominating win in the middle distance run during last year’s Olympics, the IOC revised their regulations on hyperandrogenic women.
However, Karkazis et al (2016) argued against the IOC and IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation) stating that “The current scientific evidence, however, does not support the notion that endogenous testosterone levels confer athletic advantage in any straightforward or predictable way.” I strongly disagree with the contention, which I will cover at length in the future. (See Cardinale and Stone, 2006; Wood and Stanton, 2012; Vanny and Moon, 2015.) Of course testosterone is not the only biological factor that confers an advantage, but the difference between hyperandrogenic women and normal women is large (hyperandrogenic women have three times the testosterone compared to normal women, so between 45 to 210 ng/dl). So should they be allowed to compete with women with average levels of testosterone?
Men are built differently than women. Even with HRT, MtFs people would still have an advantage over women. The differences are biological, physiological and anatomic in nature and surgery nor HRT will affect certain factors that would confer an advantage due to the sex the person was born as. That part, in my opinion, is the key factor at play. The difference between MtFs and women do not go away due to surgery and HRT (though some do), so since MtFs have certain biological, anatomical and physiological differences, they should not be allowed to compete with women. That is the one main factor in this debate that is being overlooked. And due to these inherent advantages, they should be barred from competing with women.
This then brings up some interesting implications. Should we segregate competitions by race since the races have strengths and weaknesses due to biology and anatomy, such as somatype? It’s an interesting question to consider, but I think we can all agree on one thing: Women should compete with women, and men should compete with men. Thus, transgenders should compete with transgenders. Even the IOC’s regulations are too high, and in my opinion (contra the literature), testosterone does confer an advantage to those who have it in higher levels (i.e. MtFs). Even then, disregarding testosterone, there are a slew of reasons as to why MtFs should not compete with women which will be covered more in the future.
by Scott Jameson
An earlier post established that Omega 3 fatty acids are an important nutrient of which hardly anybody is getting enough, and that this deficiency is making us Westerners a bit dumber and a bit crazier on the whole. Description sometimes obligates prescription, so this post is where I spitball about possible solutions, and welcome you to join me in the comments.
I’m reminded of the gubbermint mandating the lacing of our salt with sorely needed iodine, or the enrichment of white flour with nutrients lost in the removal of the bran and germ as well as the bleaching of the endosperm.
For yourself and your family, fish oil pills are fine- kelp oil if you’re one of those people. But we need solutions that work for nearly everybody, and the brilliance of the examples I listed above is that everybody eats that stuff (bread and salt) and now it’s laced with nutrients they’ve been needing. So we could produce N3s at low cost and legally mandate that certain foods contain them. Chia is a promising source: it’s cheap, it’s loaded with N3s, and it doesn’t taste fishy. Flax also works, but it’s loaded with phytoestrogens. Tons of seeds have those, I think Chia as well, but I’ve been told (incorrectly?) that flax is a particularly bad offender. Anyway, how do we load Chia or a similar seed into people’s diets?
Omega 3 eggs are one way to go. Chickens metabolize plant ALA (such as from chia or flax) into DHA and store both in their eggs. Just as we made use of the auroch and tarpan’s efforts to have a brain, we can hijack the chicken’s futile attempts to provide brain-material for her nonexistent offspring, using her eggs as a vehicle to get N3s into ourselves. It’s as simple as a mandate that a certain percentage of all chicken feed must be N3 rich seeds and/or insects.
Another obvious place to look is the plant oils that go into our food. Check out the table on the Wikipedia page for ALA: soybean and rapeseed oils have a pathetic showing for ALA content, and they’re put in absolutely everything. The State mandates that all gas will be a bit ethanol: why not all soybean and canola be 10, 20% Chia or some comparably high ALA crop?
It’s worth pointing out that you can genetically modify ALA rich vegetable oil to be on a quality closer to par with fish oil, having some of the ALA converted into the more useful EPA. Forget any concerns about GMOs you may have because the oils I’m talking about lacing with GMOs are already themselves GMOs.
We also must mandate that all infant formula be laced with N3s: EPA and DHA in particular, and tested for stuff like mercury if it comes from fish. You probably know at least one person who is autistic because they were bottlefed.
Comment your potential solutions below. I want to hear them. Double points for anyone playing the game on hard mode: free market solutions (libertarians) or animal-free solutions (vegans). If you try both, you’re a masochist and you need help.
The tone of this article may be slightly different than the rest. I hate when people make idiotic, rash judgments on things that they really do not understand.
People are dumb. There is nothing wrong with that, but when those dumb people discover some science, they then misinterpret the article and twist and turn it to fit a political agenda, all the while having absolutely no idea at all about the actual study nor knowing anything about the hormone testosterone! Due to this, you get some cringey articles from the alt-right because they are too ignorant to actually read something without their ideological blinders on.
The study I will be reviewing was on testosterone, which established new levels for nonobese American and European men. The problem is that the new levels are lower than the previous levels; uneducated and biased morons think that means that they (the government) are trying to feminize men and thus they—on their own—lowered testosterone levels themselves. …this is dumb. Like, really really dumb.
Over 9,000 nonobese American and European men were assayed for a harmonized normal range in males; Travison et al, (2017) used the results from a local assay which was sent to the CDC where “testosterone concentrations were measured using a higher order liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry method.” Then, Travison et al (2017) used the results from both tests (the local sample and CDC sample) to create a ‘harmonized reference range’ which were then used to generate the age-specific reference ranges across the whole cohort. Using this method, they discovered that the range for testosterone for nonobese males aged 19-39 was between 264-916 ng/ml.
Now, people who don’t understand why this study was done (to see the range of testosterone in men to see the actual range) would say ‘aha! They are trying to lower testosterone and feminize men!”, like the retards Chateau Heartiste and ‘Zeiger‘ from the Daily Stormer. I won’t cover the article from Heartiste (because there’s nothing of substance there to talk about, just some inane drivel), so I’ll cover ‘Zeiger’s’ main points.
The feds have started a process to lower the official “standard” levels of testosterone in men, presumably in an effort to solve the grave “toxic masculinity” problem we’ve got going on here in America.
No. No one has ‘started a process to lower’ the levels of testosterone in America. You do not understand science, so why the hell are you talking about it?
The problem here is that it’s basically a hoax study.
….is this guy a retard? How is this a ‘hoax study’?
The blood samples were obtained not from healthy, athletic males, but from males who were already the subjects of other medical studies. In other words, they were largely composed of ordinary people who ate crappy standard diets, lived sedentary lifestyles, drank water loaded with chemicals, and who are exposed to a whole bunch of estrogen-mimicking chemicals.
….you mean the average man in America? You think they should control for weight, when the average man in America is obese/overweight? Why control for all of those variables when you’re attempting to see what the range is in a large cohort to get a better idea of what the actual range is in men so that they could better diagnose low testosterone and any other maladies involved with it? This study was done to establish the range for the average American and European male, not one who is athletic, low body fat, etc. You’d need to actually understand why the study was undertaken to get that, though.
Now, this new, much lower range of what is considered “normal” testosterone levels is becoming the standard pushed by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and applied by the various private testing organizations.
You don’t even understand why this ‘new, much lower range’ is considered ‘normal’ and why it’s ‘becoming the standard pushed by the CDC’ and ‘applied by the various private testing corporations’. Because that is the new range for nonobese American and European males aged 19-39!
The old reference range comes from the Framingham Heart Study in which men aged 19-40 were assayed (Bhalin et al, 2011; assays were done in the morning after an overnight fast so I have no problem with this). ‘Zeiger’ writes:
The old standard was based on actual healthy males. Now they’ve dropped the standard to “non-obese.” As a rule, the fatter someone is, the lower their testosterone. This means that the broadening of the criteria for “healthy” to include men who are pretty fat, but short of “obese” will certainly lead to a lower average testosterone level.
Did you know that in the old reference sample (Bhalin et al, 2011), the average BMI of the whole cohort aged 19-39 was 25.2 (average age 32.7)? For men with an average age of 33.3, they had a BMI of 27.4 and men aged 40 had BMI 28 (see table 1; Bhalin et al, 2011). I don’t take BMI as a predictor of health (indeed men with a 27 BMI had a lower risk of mortality than men in other BMI categories), but it is a predictor of testosterone levels. ‘Lean males’ are not between BMI 25 and 28; unless they were testing some IFBB pros, which I know they did not. So they values were similar. He wouldn’t know that though because he’s clueless to the literature.
For one, it makes it a lot harder to get testosterone hormones prescribed to you by a doctor, since your T levels need to be absolutely rock bottom in order to be considered “deficient.”
No, retard. If you’re feeling lethargic, have low energy, low sex drive, etc, then you will be assayed and compared against the new harmonized values. If you’re teetering on the low-end of the normal range variation, then you will get some TRT (testosterone replacement therapy). You’ve never worked with people with low testosterone, so shut the fuck up.
In addition, if this process continues, you could start seeing men with healthy testosterone begin to be seen as “pathological” because their levels are “too high” compared with the new standard. So power-lifters who watch their diets could start being prescribed drugs to lower their T levels.
This is dumb. If I get prescribed drugs to lower my testosterone levels, I’ll be sure to let my readers know (I compete and watch my diet) and my levels are above average for my age.
All of this is based on an obviously flawed methodology.
No, it isn’t. You don’t understand the methodology because you don’t understand science and you don’t understand testosterone.
It’s a transparent push to feminize men and normalize being a low-T faggot.
Nice appeal to emotion at the end there. You don’t understand science so you don’t understand the methodology so this lets you use the new study to support your biases. I strongly recommend that you do some heavy reading into this because you don’t know shit about this matter.
Ten years ago, Travison et al (2007) observed that there was a substantial “and as yet unrecognized, age-independent population-level decrease in T in American men, potentially attributable to birth cohort differences or to health or environmental effects not captured in observed data.” Testosterone levels have declined in America, independent of chronological aging. (See Nyante et al, 2007 for contrary view, they state that there is no decrease in testosterone, also see table 4 which shows that blacks had higher levels than whites, with whites having 5.28 ng/ml and blacks having 5.9 ng/ml for an 11 percent difference. Using previous NHANES data, Nyante et al, 2007 showed that the levels in whites were 5.38 while in blacks it was 5.28 for a .05 percent difference. Nevertheless, this is more evidence for the honor culture hypothesis (Mazur, 2016) which shows why low-income blacks have higher levels of testosterone than better-educated blacks of the same age range.)
Further, a substantial proportion of the intercohort variation was due to assay differences, i.e., saliva, blood, etc (Travison et al, 2017). Further, Travison et al (2017) tested men with BMIs less than 30, the same as Bhalin et al (2011) which was the old reference. But people need to read the actual studies cited to get the truth, and not just speak from emotion (ironic…) about something that they literally have no clue about. Also, read the LabCorp statement on this matter.
Yes, we do have a testosterone decline in the West, and no, it is not due to any nefarious plot to lower testosterone levels or feminize men; if people knew how to read scientific papers then I wouldn’t have to write this article in the tone that I did, but alas you can’t have everything you want in life.
I did write in the past that the testosterone decline in the West is the cause of our fertility problems (this article compliments the linked article), and to higher fertility rates in the West, testosterone levels must also be raised. People who have no idea about how and why studies are carried out shouldn’t talk about them. People who do not understand what they are talking about should not talk about them. Recall that I blasted Heartiste’s Big Food Shilling a few months back, and I also did the same last month rebutting the article that ‘Man ‘originated’ in Europe‘. These people clearly have no understanding of science and quickly latch on to anything that will affirm their worldviews without having the actual knowledge to assess what they are talking about.
I hope that Heartiste and Zeiger actually educate themselves on the matters they write about, because this is just embarrassing and shows no understanding of science or of the hormone testosterone. There is a lot of bullshit floating around out there, mostly from uneducated morons who don’t know a thing about what they are writing about, it just conforms to their worldview and they will thusly write about it all the while being ignorant to the reality of the matter. I wish ideologues would stop writing about things that are not educated in. Alas, I don’t think that will happen anytime soon because people have an agenda to push, science be damned (which is ironic because these same people get on the Left for doing the same. . .).
This is a serious problem, as I have noted before, so to change this, change diet to whole foods, get more exercise, stop drinking from plastic water bottles; you need to shape your own environment in order to have higher testosterone levels; I have extensively documented that testosterone increases or decreases based on a ton of environmental factors. That we are experiencing a large decline in testosterone here in the West shows that we are not as active, we are eating shitty food, and men are not being as dominant as they were in the past.
So yes, in two days time the testosterone reference range for men in America and Europe will be between 264 to 916 ng/ml, and no it is not due to them, this is the actual level in nonobese men. People need to stop the fear mongering bullshit and people need to stop talking about shit that they literally have no understanding of.
When organisms that we don’t normally signify as ‘intelligent’ do, indeed, show ‘intelligent’ behavior, our definition of the word—what we call ‘intelligent’ behavior—needs to be reevaluated. Bacteria and other microbes can certainly respond to cues from their environments and communicate with each other. So if bacteria can respond to environmental stimulus by having plastic behavior, then they do show a semblance of ‘intelligence’. Just because bacteria don’t talk doesn’t mean that they are not ‘intelligent’ in their own right.
Bacteria respond to cues from their environment, just like any other intelligent organism. That means that they have behavioral plasticity, the ability to change their behavior based on what occurs in their environments. Bacteria have been shown to exhibit behaviors we would call ‘intelligent’, i.e., acquiring information, storage, processing, use of information, perception, learning, memory, and decision-making (Lyon, 2015). It is proposed that “bacteria use their intracellular flexibility, involving signal transduction networks and genomic plasticity, to collectively maintain linguistic communication: self and shared interpretations of chemical cues, exchange of chemical messages (semantic) and dialogues (pragmatic)” (Jacob et al, 2004).
Clearly, bacteria can and do adapt at the phenotypic level, not only the genotypic level as some have asserted in the past. Using this definition of intelligence, that is, being able to perceive, process and integrate information about the state of the environment to change the organism’s behavior is intelligent behavior (Pinto and Mascher, 2016), all organisms, from bacteria to humans and in between are intelligent. If bacteria do show evidence of behavioral plasticity—and they do—then we must look at them as intelligent creatures, as well as come to the realization that all biological organisms are, in their own right, intelligent. Intelligence is not only for any ‘higher’ organisms; so-called ‘lower’ organisms do show behavioral plasticity, meaning they know what is occurring in their environment. Is that not intelligent?
Any organism that can immediately act in a different way when its environment changes can, in my opinion, be said to be intelligent. All biological organisms have this ability to ‘go off of their genetic coding’, if you will, and change their behavior to match what is currently going on in their environment. Furthermore, the number and fraction of single transduction genes can be used as a measure of ‘bacterial IQ’ (Sirota-Mahdi et al, 2010).
This, of course, has implications for our intelligent physiology. Since our physiological systems incorporate the intelligent processes of the intelligent cell, then, on a larger scale, our physiology is also intelligent. Our physiology is constantly responding to cues from the environment, attempting to maintain homeostasis. Since our body has a need to stay in homeostasis, then our physiological systems are indeed intelligent in their own right. They incorporate the processes of the intelligent cell; looking at our physiology in this way, we can see how and why these systems are intelligent.
Further, physiologists have been referring to physiological systems as “homeodynamic”, rather than “homeostatic”, seeing chaotic states as healthy “allowing organisms to respond to circumstances that vary rapidly and unpredictably, again balancing variation and optimization of order with impressive harmony” (Richardson, 2012). If our physiological systems can do this, are they not intelligent? Further, according to physiologist Dennis Noble, “Genes … are purely passive. DNA on its own does absolutely nothing until activated by the rest of the system through transcription factors, markers of one kind or another, interactions with the proteins. So on its own, DNA is not a cause in an active sense. I think it is better described as a passive data base which is used by the organism to enable it to make the proteins that it requires.” So, as you can see, genes are nothing without the intelligent physiology guiding then. This is only possible with physiological systems, and this begins with the intelligent cell—intelligent microbes.
Some people misunderstand what genes are for and what they do in the body. The gene has long been misunderstood. People don’t understand that genes direct the production of proteins. Since physiological systems—at their core—are run by microbes, then the overall physiological system is itself intelligent. Genes, on their own, are not the masters but the servants. Genes do code for proteins that code for traits, but not under their own direction; they are directed by intelligent systems.
Think of how our gut microbiome co-evolved with us. Knowing what we now know about intelligent cells, we can also say that, by proxy, our microbiome is intelligent as well.
Understanding intelligent cells will lead us to understand intelligent physiology then, in turn, lead us to understand how genes are the servants—not the masters as is commonly asserted—of our traits. Physiology is an intelligent system, and since it is intelligent it can then react to cues from the environment, since it is made up of smaller cells, which make up the larger whole of the intelligent physiological system. These intelligent systems that we have evolved are due to the changeability of our environments in our ancestral past. Our physiology then evolved to be homeodynamic, attempting to maintain certain processes. The ever-changing environment that our genus evolved in is the cause for our homeodynamic intelligent physiology, which begins at the smallest levels of the cell.
The intelligent microbes are the smaller part of the larger whole of the intelligent physiological system. Due to this, we can say that at the smallest levels, we are driven by infinitesimally small microbes, which, in a way, guide our behavior. This can definitely be said for our gut microbiome which evolved with us throughout our evolutionary history. Our microbiome, for instance, had to be intelligent and communicate with each other to maintain our normal functioning. Without these intelligent cells, intelligent physiology would not be possible. Without ever-changing dynamic environments, our intelligent physiology and intelligent cells would have never evolved.
Intelligent physiology evolved due to the constant changeability of the new environments that our ancestors found themselves in. If we would have evolved in, say, more stable, unchanging environments, our physiological systems would have never evolved how they did. These intelligent physiological systems can buffer large ranges of physiological deficiencies. The evolvability of these systems due to the changeability of our ancestral environments is the cause of our amazing physiological intelligence, developmental plasticity, and microbial intelligence.
When you think about conception, when a baby is forming in the womb, it becomes easier to see how our physiological systems are intelligent, and how genes are the slaves—not masters—of our development. Intelligence is already in those little cells, it just needs an intelligent physiology for things to be set into motion. This all goes back to the intelligent cells which make up the larger part of intelligent physiology.
The general factor of intelligence (g) is said to be physiological. Jensen (1998: xii) states that “Students in all branches of the behavioral and social sciences, as well as students of human biology and evolution, need to grasp the essential psychometric meaning of g, its basis in genetics and brain physiology, and its broad social significance.” There are, furthermore, “a number of suggestive neurological correlates of g, but as yet these have not been integrated into a coherent neurophysiological theory of g” (Jensen, 1998: 257). I personally don’t care for correlations too much anymore, I’m interested in actual causes. Jensen (1998: 578) also states “Although correlated with g [size of the brain, metabolic rate, nerve conduction velocity, and latency and amplitude of evoked electrical potentials], these physiological variables have not yet provided an integrated explanatory theory.”
This seems suspiciously like Dreary’s (2001: 14) statement that there “is no such thing as a theory of human intelligence differences – not in the way that grown-up sciences like physics or chemistry have theories.” If g is physiological, then where is the explanatory theory? On that same matter, where is the explanatory theory for individual intelligence differences? That’s one thing that needs to be explained, in my opinion. I could muster something up off the top of my head, such as individual differences in glucose metabolism in the brain, comparing both high and low IQ people (Cochran et al, 2006; Jensen, 1998: 137), however, that is still not good enough.
In physiology there is sliding filament theory which explains the mechanism of muscle contraction (Cooke, 2004). Why is there no such theory of why individuals differ in intelligence and why have these “suggestive neurological correlates of g” not been formulated into a coherent neurophysiological theory? There are numerous theories in physiology, but a theory of g or why individuals differ in intelligence is not one of them.
It’s like Darwin only saying “Species change“, and that’s it; no theory of how or why. He’s just stating something obvious. Similarly, saying “Person A is smarter or has a higher IQ than person B” is just an observation; there is no theory of how or why for why individuals differ in intelligence. There are theories for group differences (garbage cold winter theory), but no individual differences in intelligence? Hmmm… Sure it’d be a ‘fact that species change over time’, but without a theory of how or why, how useful is that observation? Similarly, it is true that some people are more intelligent than others (score higher on IQ tests), yet there is no explanatory theory as to why? I believe this ties back to the physiological basis for g: are physiologists studying it, and if not, why?
Reaction time (RT) is one of the most talked about physiological correlates in regards to IQ. However, as a fitness professional, I know that exercise can increase reaction time, especially in those with intellectual disabilities (Yildirim et al, 2001). I am now rethinking the correlate between reaction time and IQ, since it can be trained in children, especially those with intellectual disabilities. Clearly, RT can be trained by exercise, participating in sports, and even by playing video games (Green, 2008). So since RT can be trained, I don’t think it’s a good physiological measure for g.
Individuals do differ in individual physiology, however, I have never heard of a physiologist attempting to rank individuals on different traits, nevermind attempting to say that a higher level of one variable is better than a lower variable, say blood pressure or metabolic rate. In fact, individuals with high blood pressure and metabolic rates would need immediate medical attention.
There are also wide variations in how immune systems act when faced with pathogens, bacteria and viruses. Though, “no one dreams of ranking individual differences on a general scale of immunocompetence” (Richardson, 2017: 166). So if g is physiological then why don’t other physiological traits get placed on a rank order, with physiologists praising certain physiological functions as “better”?
Richardson (2017: 166-167) writes:
In sum, no physiologist would suggest the following:
(a) that within the normal range of physiological differences, a higher level is better than any others (as is supposed in the construction of IQ tests);
(b) that there is a general index or “quotient” (a la IQ) that could meaningfully describe levels of physiological sufficiency or ability and individual differences in it;
(c) that “normal” variation is associated with genetic variation (except in rare deleterious conditions; and
(d) the genetic causation of such variation can be meaningfully separated from the environmental causes of the variation.
A preoccupation with ranking variations, assuming normal distributions, and estimating their heritabilities simply does not figure in the field of physiology in the way that it does in the field of human intelligence. This is in stark contrast with the intensity of the nature-nurture debate in the human cognitive domain. But perhaps ideology has not infiltrated the subject of physiology as much as it has that of human intelligence.
This is all true. I know of no physiologist who would suggest such a thing. So does it make sense to compare g with physiological variables—even when classic physiological variables do not have some kind of rank order? Heritabilities for BMR are between .4 and .8, which is in the same range as the heritability of IQ. Can you imagine any physiologist on earth suggesting a rank order for physiological traits such as BMR or stroke volume? I can’t, and if you knew anything about physiological variables then you wouldn’t either.
In sum, I believe that conflating g with physiology is erroneous; mostly because physiologists don’t rank physiological traits in the same ways that human intelligence researchers do. Our physiology is intelligent in and of itself, and this process begins in the cell—the intelligent cell. Our physiological systems are intelligent—in our bodies are dynamic systems that keenly respond to whatever is going on in the environment (think of how the body always attempts to maintain homeostasis). Physiology deals with the study of living organisms—more to the point, how the systems that run the organisms work.
Looking at physiological variables and attempting to detangle environmental and genetic effects is a daunting task—especially the way our physiological systems run (responding to cues from the environment, attempting to maintain homeostasis). So if general intelligence—g—had a true biological underpinning in the body, and if physiologists did study it, then they would not have a rank ordering for g like psychologists do; it’d just be another human trait to study.
So the answer to the question “Do physiologists study g?” is no, and if they did they would not have the variable on a rank order because physiologists don’t study traits in that manner—if a true biological underpinning for g exists. Physiology is an intelligent and dynamic system in and of itself, and the process begins in the intelligent cell, except it is on a larger scale, with numerous physiological variables working in concert, constantly attempting to stay in homeostasis.
Homo Neanderthalis vs. Homo Sapiens Sapiens: Who is Stronger? Implications for Racial Strength Differences
Unfortunately, soft tissue does not fossilize (which is a problem for facial reconstructions of hominins; Stephan and Henneberg, 2001; I will cover the recent ‘reconstructions’ of Neanderthals and Nariokotome boy soon). So saying that Neanderthals had X percent of Y fiber type is only conjecture. However, to make inferences on who was stronger, I do not need such data. I only need to look at the morphology of the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, and from there, inferences can be made as to who was stronger. I will argue that Neanderthals were stronger which is, of course, backed by solid data.
Neanderthals had wider pelves than Homo sapiens. Wider pelves in colder climes are due to adaptations. Although Neanderthals had wider pelves than ours, they had infants around the same size as Homo sapiens, which implies that Neanderthals had the same obstetric difficulties that we do. Neanderthals also had a pelvis that was similar to Heidelbergensis, however, most of the pelvic differences Neanderthals had that were thought to be derived traits are, in fact, ancestral traits—except for the cross-sectional shape of the pubic ramus (Gruss and Schmidt, 2015). Since Neanderthals had wider pelves and most of their pelvis were ancestral traits, then wide pelves may have been a trait of ancestral Homo (Trinkaus, Holliday, and Aurbach, 2014).
Hominins do need wider pelves in colder climates, as it is good for heat retention, however (see East Asians and Northern Europeans). Also, keep in mind that Neanderthals were shorter than us—with the men averaging around 5 feet five inches, and the women averaging about 5 feet, about 5.1 inches shorter than post-WW II Europeans (Helmuth, 1998).
So what does a wider pelvis mean? Since the Neanderthals were shorter than us and also had a wider pelvis, they had a lower center of gravity in comparison to us. Homo sapiens who came Out of Africa, had a narrower pelvis since narrow pelves are better to dissipate heat (Gruss and Schmidt, 2015). Homo sapiens would have been better adapted to endurance running and athleticism, in comparison to the wide-pelved Neanderthals.
People from tropical climates have longer limbs, and are tall and narrow (which is also good for endurance running/sprinting) while people from colder climates are shorter and more ‘compact’ (Lieberman, 2015: 113-114) with a wide pelvis for heat retention (Gruss and Schmidt, 2015). So, clearly, due to the differences in pelvic anatomy between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals,
Furthermore, due to the length of Neanderthal clavicles, it was thought that they had long clavicles which would have impeded strength. However, when the clavicles were reanalyzed it was discovered that when the clavicles were adjusted with the body size of Neanderthals—and not compared with the humeral lengths—Neanderthals had a similar clavicular length, which implies a similar shoulder breadth as well, to Homo sapiens (Trinkaus, Holliday, and Aurbach, 2014). This is another clue that Neanderthals were stronger.
Yet more evidence comes from comparing the bone density of Neanderthal bones to that of Homo sapiens. Denser bones would imply that the body would be able to handle a heavier load, and thusly generate more power. In adolescent humans, muscle power predicts bone strength (Janz et al, 2016). So if the same holds true for Neanderthals—and I don’t see why not—then Neanderthals would have higher muscle power since it predicts bone strength.
Given the “heavy musculature” of Neanderthals, along with high bone robusticity, then they must have had denser bones than Homo sapiens (Friedlander and Jordan, 1994). So since Neanderthals had denser bones, then they had higher muscle power; they had a lower center of gravity due to having a wider pelvis and being shorter than Homo sapiens whose body was heat-adapted. Putting this all together, the picture is now becoming clearer that Neanderthals were, in fact, way stronger than Homo sapiens.
Another cause for these anatomical differences between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens is completely independent of cold weather. Neanderthals had an enlarged thorax (rib cage), which evolved to hold an enlarged liver, which is responsible for metabolizing large amounts of protein. Since protein has the highest thermic effect of food (TEF), then they would have had a higher metabolism due to a higher protein diet which would also have resulted in an enlarged bladder and kidneys which are necessary to remove urea, which possibly would have also contributed to a wider pelvis for Neanderthals (Ben-Dor, Gopher, and Barkai, 2016).
During glacial winters, Neanderthals would have consumed 74-85 percent of their calories from fat, with the rest coming from protein (Ben-Dor, Gopher, and Barkai, 2016). Neanderthals also consumed around 3,360-4,480 kcal per day (Steegman, Cerny, and Holliday, 2002). Let’s assume that Neanderthals averaged 3800 kcal per day. Since the upper limit of protein intake is 3.9 g/bw/day (erectus) and 4.0 g/bw/day for Homo sapiens (Ben-Dor et al, 2011), then Neanderthals would have had a theoretical higher upper limit due to having larger organs, which are useful in processing large amounts of protein. The protein intake for a Neanderthal male was between estimated to be between 985 kcal (low end) to 1170 kcal (high end). It was estimated that Neanderthal males had a protein intake of about 292 grams per day, or 1,170 kcal (Ben-Dor, Gopher, and Holliday, 2016: 370).
Assuming that Neanderthals did not eat carbohydrates during glacial winters (and even if a small amount were eaten, the model would not be affected) and an upper limit of protein intake of 300 grams per day for Neanderthal males, this implies that 74-85 percent of their diet came from animal fat—the rest being protein. Protein is the most thermogenic macro (Corvelli et al, 1997; Eisenstein et al, 2002; Buchholz and Schoeller, 2004; Halton and Hu, 2004; Gillingham et al, 2007; Binns, Grey, and Di Brezzo, 2014). So since Neanderthals ate a large amount of protein, along with their daily activities, they had to have had a high metabolic rate.
To put into perspective how much protein Neanderthals ate, the average American man eats about 100 grams of protein per day. In an analysis of the protein intake of Americans from 2003-2004, it was found that young children ate about 56 grams of protein per day, adults aged 19-30 ate about 91 grams of protein per day, and the elderly ate about 56 grams of protein per day (Fulgoni, 2008). Neanderthals ate about 3 times the amount of protein than we do, which would lead to organ enlargement since larger organs are needed to metabolize said protein as well. Another factor in the increase of metabolism for Neanderthals was the fact that it was, largely, extremely cold. Shivering increases metabolism (Tikuisis, Bell, and Jacobs, 1985; van Ooijen et al, 2005). So the Neanderthal metabolism would have been revved up close to a theoretical maximum capacity.
The high protein intake of Neanderthals is important because high amounts of protein are needed to build muscle. Neanderthals consumed a sufficient amount of kcal, along with 300 grams of protein per day on average for a Neanderthal male, which would have given Neanderthals yet another strength advantage.
I am also assuming that Neanderthals had slow twitch muscle fibers since they have wider pelves, along with evolving in higher latitudes (see Kenyans, East Asians, European muscle fiber distribution), they would have an abundance of type slow twitch muscle fibers, in comparison to fast twitch muscle fibers, however, they also have more slow twitch fibers which Europeans have, while African-Americans (West-African descendants) have a higher amount of fast twitch fibers. (Caesar and Henry, 2015). So now, thinking of everything I explained above and replacing Neanderthals with Europeans and Homo sapiens with Africans, who do you think would be stronger? Clearly, Europeans, which is what I have argued for extensively. African morphology (tall, lanky, high limb ratio) is not conducive to strength; whereas European morphology (wide pelvis, low limb ratio, an abundance of slow twitch fibers) is.
The implications for these anatomic differences between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens and how it translates into racial differences will be explored more in the future. This was just to lay the anatomic and morphologic groundwork in regards to strength and cold weather adaptations. Nevertheless, the evidence that Neanderthals were stronger/more powerful than Europeans stands on solid ground, and the same does hold for the differences in strength between Africans and Europeans. The evolution of racial pelvic variation is extremely important to understand if you want to understand racial differences in sports.
After the publishing of the article debunking r/K selection theory last week, I decided to go to a few places and provide the article to a few sites that talk about r/K selection theory and it’s (supposed) application to humans and psychometric qualities. I posted it on a site called ‘truthjustice.net‘, and the owner of the site responded to me:
Phillippe Rushton is not cited a single time in AC’s book. In no way, shape or form does the Theory depend on his opinions.
AC outlines a very coherent theoretical explanation for the differing psychological behavior patterns existing on a bell curve distribution in our population. Especially when it comes to the functioning of the Amygdala for which we have quite a lot of data by now.
Leftists are indeed in favor of early childhood sexualization to increase the quantity of offspring which will inevitably reduce the quality and competitive edge of children. They rank significantly lower on the moral foundations of “loyalty”, “authority” and “purity” as outlined by Jonathan Haidt’s research into moral psychology. Making them more accepting of all sorts of degeneracy, deviancy, and disloyalty to the ingroup.
They desire a redestribution of resources to the less well performing part of our population to reduce competitive stress and advantage while giving far less to charity and being significantly more narcissistic to increase their own reproductive advantage.
Their general mindset becomes more and more nihilistic, atheistic, anarchistic, anti-authority and overall r-selected the further left you go on the bell curve. A denial of these biological realities in our modern age is ridiculous when we can easily measure their psychology and brain functionality in all sorts of ways by now.
Does that now mean that AC is completely right in his opinions on r/K-Selection Theory? No, much more research is necessary to understand the psychological differences between leftists and rightists in full detail.
But the general framework outlined by r/K-Selection Theory very likely applies to the bell curve distribution in psychological behavior patterns we see in our population.
I did respond, however, he removed my comment and banned me after I published my response. My response is here:
“Phillippe Rushton is not cited a single time in AC’s book. In no way, shape or form does the Theory depend on his opinions.”
Meaningless. He uses the r/K continuum so the link in my previous comment is apt.
“AC outlines a very coherent theoretical explanation for the differing psychological behavior patterns existing on a bell curve distribution in our population. Especially when it comes to the functioning of the Amygdala for which we have quite a lot of data by now.”
No, he doesn’t.
2) even if r/K were a valid paradigm, it would not pertain to within species variation,
3) it’s just a ‘put these traits on one end that I don’t like and these traits at the other end that I like and that’s my team while the other team has all of the bad traits’ thing,
4) his theory literally rests on the r/K continuum proposed by Pianka. Furthermore, no experimental rationale “was ever given for the assignment of these traits [the r/K traits Pianka inserted into his continuum] to either category” (Graves, 2002: 135), and
5) the r/K paradigm was discredited in the late 70s (see Graves 2002 above for a review)
“Leftists are indeed in favor of early childhood sexualization to increase the quantity of offspring which will inevitably reduce the quality and competitive edge of children. They rank significantly lower on the moral foundations of “loyalty”, “authority” and “purity” as outlined by Jonathan Haidt’s research into moral psychology. Making them more accepting of all sorts of degeneracy, deviancy, and disloyalty to the ingroup.”
I love Haidt. I’ve read his book and all of his papers and articles. So you notice a few things. Then see the (discredited) r/K paradigm. Then you say “oh! liberals are bad and are on the r side while conservatives are K!!”
Let me ask you this: where does alpha-selection fall into this?
“They desire a redestribution of resources to the less well performing part of our population to reduce competitive stress and advantage while giving far less to charity and being significantly more narcissistic to increase their own reproductive advantage.”
Oh.. about that… liberals have fewer children than conservatives. Liberals are also more intelligent than conservatives. So going by Rushton’s r/K model, liberals are K while conservatives are r (conservatives are less intelligent and have more children). So the two cornerstones of the (discredited) r/K continuum show conservatives breeding more and also are less intelligent while it’s the reverse for liberals. So who is ‘r’ and ‘K’ again?
“Their general mindset becomes more and more nihilistic, atheistic, anarchistic, anti-authority and overall r-selected the further left you go on the bell curve. A denial of these biological realities in our modern age is ridiculous when we can easily measure their psychology and brain functionality in all sorts of ways by now.”
‘r’ and ‘K’ are not adjectives (Anderson, 1991: 57).
Why does no one understand r/K selection theory? You are aware that r/K selection theory is density-dependent selection, correct?
“Does that now mean that AC is completely right in his opinions on r/K-Selection Theory? No, much more research is necessary to understand the psychological differences between leftists and rightists in full detail.”
No, he’s horribly wrong with his ‘theory’. I don’t deny psych differences between libs and cons, but to put them on some (discredited) continuum makes no sense in reality.
“But the general framework outlined by r/K-Selection Theory very likely applies to the bell curve distribution in psychological behavior patterns we see in our population.”
No, it doesn’t. Psych traits are not normally distributed (see above). Just like Rushton, AC saw that some things ‘fit’ into this (discredited) continuum. What’s that mean? Absolutely nothing. He doesn’t even cite papers for his assertion; he called Pianka a leftist and said that he tried to sabotage the theory because he thought that it described libs (huh? this makes no sense). AC is a clear ideologue and is steeped in his own political biases as well as wanting to sell more copies of his book. So he will not admit that he is wrong.
Let me ask you a question: where did liberals and conservatives evolve? What selective pressures brought about these psych traits in these two ‘populations’? Are liberals and conservatives local populations?
I’ve also summarily discredited AC and I am waiting on a reply from him (I will be surprised if he replies).
However, unfortunately for AC et al, concerns have been raised “about the use of psychometric indicators of lifestyle and personality as proxies for life history strategy when they have not been validated against objective measures derived from contemporary life history theory and when their status as causes, mediators, or correlates has not been investigated” (Copping, Campbell, and Muncer, 2014). This ends it right here. People don’t understand density-dependent/independent selection since Rushton never talked about it. That, as has been brought up, is a huge flaw in Rushton’s application of r/K theory to the races of Man.
Liberals are, on average, more intelligent than conservatives (Kanazawa, 2010; Kanazawa, 2014) Lower cognitive ability has been linked to greater prejudice through right-wing ideology and low intergroup contact (Hodson and Busseri, 2012), with social conservatives (probably) having lower IQs. There are also three ‘psychological continents’—Europe, Australia, and, Canada and are the liberal countries whereas Southeast Asia, South Asia, South America and Africa contain more conservative countries with all other countries including Russia, the US and Asia in the middle and “In addition, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, cognitive test performance, and governance indicators were found to be low in the most conservative group and high in the most liberal group” (Stankov and Lee, 2016). Further, economic liberals—as a group—tend to be better educated than Republicans—so intelligence is positively correlated with socially and economically liberal views (Carl, 2014).
There is also a ‘conservative baby boom‘ in the US—which, to the Rushtonites, is ‘r-selected behavior’. Furthermore, women who reported that religion was ‘very important to them’ reported having higher fertility than women who said that it was ‘somewhat important’ or ‘not important’ (Hayford and Morgan, 2008). Liberals are more likely to be atheist (Kanazawa, 2010), while, of course, conservatives are more likely to be religious (Morrison, Duncan, and Parton, 2015; McAdams et al, 2015).
All in all, even if we were to allow the use of liberals and conservatives as local populations, like Rushton’s erroneous use of r/K theory for human races, the use of r/K theory to explain the conservative/liberal divide makes no sense. People don’t know anything about ecology, evolution, or neuroscience. People should really educate themselves on the matters they speak about—I mean a full-on reading into whatever it is you believe. Because people like TIJ and AC are clearly idealogues, pushing a discredited ecological theory and applying it to liberals and conservatives, when the theory was never used that way in the first place.
For anyone who would like a look into the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives, Jonathan Haidt has an outstanding book outlining the differences between the two ideologies called The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. I actually just gave it a second read and I highly, highly recommend it. If you want to understand the true differences between the two ideologies then read that book. Try to always remember and look out for your own biases when it comes to your political beliefs and any other matter.
For instance, if you see yourself frantically attempting to gather support for a contention in a debate, then that’s the backfire effect in action (Nyhan and Reifler, 2012), and if you have a knowledge of the cognitive bias, you can better take steps to avoid such a heavy-handed bias. This, obviously, occurred with TIJ. The response above is airtight. If this ‘continuum’ did exist, then it’s completely reversed with liberals having fewer children and generally being more intelligent with the reverse for conservatives. So liberals would be K and conservatives would be r (following Rushton’s interpretation of the theory which is where the use of the continuum comes from).
There are numerous misconceptions about evolution. One of the largest, in my opinion, is that there is some sort of intrinsic ‘progress’ to evolution. This is inferred from the fact that the first life—bacteria—are simpler and less ‘complex’ than so-called ‘higher’ organisms. This notion is still pushed by some, despite the fact that it is a discredited concept.
The concept of scala naturae was first proposed by Aristotle (Hodos, 2009; Werth, 2012; Diogo, Ziermann, and Linde-Medina, 2014). This notion was held until Darwin’s landmark book On the Origin of Species (Darwin, 1859) when Darwin proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection. However, the notion of the scala naturae is still entrenched in modern-day thought, from the layman all the way to educated scientists. This notion is wrong.
Neuroscientist Herculano-Houzel writes on page 94 of her book The Human Advantage A New Understanding of How Our Brain Became Remarkable:
Moreover, evolution is not synonmous with progress, but simply change over time. And humans aren’t even the youngest, most recently evolved species. For example, more than 500 new species of cichlid fish in Lake Victoria, the youngest of the great African Lakes, have appeared since it filled with water some 14,500 years ago.
When people think of ‘progression up this evolutionary tree’ they look at Man as the ultimate culmination of the evolutionary process—as if every event that occurred before the Dawn of Man was setting the stage for us to be here. This, of course, goes back to the scala naturae concept. The ‘lower’ animals are the ones that are less ‘complex’ than the ‘higher’ animals. The notion that there was a ‘march of progress’ towards Man is erroneous (see Gould, 1989: 27-45 for a review).
Indeed, even Darwin himself didn’t believe in some ‘straight line’ to the evolutionary process. In one of his notebooks, he drew a ‘coral of life’ (seen below):
Notice how there are no ‘lower’ or ‘higher’ organisms and each branch branches off to the side, with no way of denoting which organism has ‘progressed’ more?
The scala naturae proposes that inanimate objects, to plants, to animals can all be placed somewhere on this ladder of ‘progress’, which eventually culminate with Man at the top—as if we are the ultimate culmination of evolutionary history and time—like we were preordained to be here. The scala naturae is still with us today. Why should we view humans as ‘higher than’ other organisms? It doesn’t make sense. It’s clearly steeped in a large anthropometric bias.
Indeed, the scala naturae is so entrenched in our minds that modern-day biologists still use terms that would denote ‘higher’ and ‘lower’, the scala naturae. Rigato and Minelli (2013) data mined 67,413 biological articles published between the years 2005 and 2010 looking for signs of pre-evolutionary language (e.g., lower vs. higher vertebrates and lower vs. higher plants). Of the 67,413 article that were mined for data, 1,287 (1.91%) returned positive hits for scala naturae language. Shockingly, the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution had frequent scala naturae language (6.14 %) along with the journal Bioessays (5.6%) and the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics (4.82%). Clearly, misconceptions about the nature of evolution can still persist in the modern-day amongst experts (that doesn’t mean that the notion of the scala naturae is correct since specialists still use some of the terminology, however). In terms of scala naturae thinking by country, Russia topped the list followed by Japan, Germany, Israel, and France.
This notion of ‘progress’ to evolution—that there is some sort of scala naturae with has ‘primitive’ organisms on the bottom with ‘advanced’ organisms at the top is wrong. When comparing organisms, the comparison isn’t between which organism is more ‘primitive’ or ‘advanced’. The comparison is between ancestral and derived, so the only meaningful comparison is to say that organism A is more like the common ancestor (ancestral) while organism B has derived traits in comparison to the common ancestor (Gregory, 2008).
It is further assumed that earlier organisms are more ‘primitive’ than organisms that are younger. This is false. Once organisms diverge from a common ancestor, they both share a mixture of ancestral and derived traits; ancestral and derived organisms share a mix of ancestral and derived traits from said common ancestor (Crisp and Cook, 2005: 122). Furthermore, ‘early’ does not denote ‘primitiveness’ (Gould, 1997: 36). So to say that, for instance, ‘this organism on this tree did less/no branching than others and is therefore primitive’ is incorrect. It is fallacious to make a comparison between ‘primitive’ and ‘advanced’ organisms. For instance, one may look at a phylogeny and see a straight line and assume that no change has occurred. This is wrong.
The terminology ‘driven’ and ‘passive’ is used to denote trends in complexity. Is the trend driven or passive? Large amounts of research has been done into this matter (Gould, 1996; McShea, 1996) with no clear-cut answer. What is increasing? Complexity? The thing about ‘complexity’ (whatever that is) is that it may be a trend, but it is not an inevitability (Werth, 2012: 2135). Since life began at the left wall—where no organism can get any simpler—there was only one way to go: up. Any organism that arises in between the left and right walls can either become more or less complex depending on what is needed in that particular ecosystem.
Gould (1996) speaks of a drunkard leaving a bar. The drunkard leans on the bar wall (the left wall of complexity) and continuously stumbles toward the gutter (the right wall of complexity). The drunkard may go back and forth, touching the bar wall all the while getting closer to the gutter which each stumble. The drunkard will—eventually—end up in the gutter. Now we can look at the right wall of complexity as us humans and the left wall as bacteria. Any organism caught in the middle of the walls can either get less or more complex, but no simpler than the left wall—where life began. Some may say that this denotes ‘progress’, however, since life began constrained at the left wall, there was no way to go but ‘up’.
McShea (1994: 1761) notes:
If such a trend in primates exists and it is driven, that is, if the trend is a direct result of concerted forces acting on most lineages across the intelligence spectrum, then the inference is justified. But if it is passive, that is, forces act only on lineages at the low-intelligence end, then most lineages will have no increasing tendency. In that case, most primate species—especially those out on the right tail of the distribution like ours—would be just as likely to lose intelligence as to gain it in subsequent evolution (if they change at all).
Are there any instances like this in our genus? Of course there are, with the most famous (and most studied) being Homo floresiensis. I’ve written twice before about how the evolution of floresiensis proves that 1) evolution is not progress and 2) large brains need high-quality energy and without that brain size—and body size—will shrink. Indeed, a new paper on the evolution of floresiensis lends credence to the idea that floresiensis is a derived form of erectus (Diniz-Filho and Raia, 2017). Their analysis lends credence to the support that floresiensis is derived from erectus and not habilis. No matter which hominin floresiensis evolved from, this shows how critical the quality of energy is for maintaining a large brain and body size and, without large amounts of high-quality energy then reductions in brain and body size will persist. This, yet again, lends more credence to my argument of non-progressive evolution.
Now, I must talk about the scala naturae and its involvement in attempting to figure out the evolution of the human brain. Does the supposed increase in brain size denote ‘progress’ in evolution? No, it does not.
Brains are made from metabolically expensive tissue; that is, the larger a brain is the more kcal are needed to power it. Brains and the tissue that compose it (along with other bodily structures) are so expensive that there is a trade-off between elaborate defense mechanisms and brain size—as EQ decreases, defense mechanisms get more elaborate and vice-versa (Stankowich and Romero, 2017). So organisms don’t need intelligence—and [sometimes] the larger brain that comes with it—if they have evolved elaborate defense mechanisms to where they don’t need a large brain to survive.
The increase in brain size over the past few million years in our genus Homo is pointed at as proof that evolution is ‘progressive’, however that is literally only one metric and any wild swings in environment can and will select for smaller brains. The point is that increases in brain size are due to local change, so therefore trends in the opposite direction can and do occur.
The terms ‘higher and lower’ in regards to the scala naturae have been discredited (Diogo, Ziermann, and Linde-Medina, 2014: 18). Indeed, when we believe that things may go our way when, say, we are testing ourselves compared to other animals we will invoke the scala naturae. But what if we humans are not the ‘best’ at any given task tested? Eleven animal species (including human infants) were tested to analyze color processing speed. First came honeybees, then fish, then birds and lastly human infants. Of course this contradicted the scala naturae concept, and some people even argued that learning speed is not a useful measure of intelligence (Chittka et al, 2012)! This scala naturae thinking would have us believe that we should be on top of the learning speed ‘pyramid’, yet when it’s found that we are not then we say that learning speed is not a useful measure of intelligence? Can you see the huge bias there?
Above is a figure from Mashour and Alkire (2013) which shows the evolution of the brain through the lens of the scala naturae concept on the left and the modern theory on the right. Clearly, with the modern theory, there is no such ‘progress’ or ‘inherent advancement’ from fish culminating to the brain of Man.
Modern theories of the scala naturae include John Bonner’s assertion that animals found in lower strat are ‘lower’ whereas those found in the higher strata are ‘higher’. This erroneous assumption made by Bonner, however, is corrected in subsequent publications (see Randomness in Evolution, Bonner, 2013). He stresses, as can be seen by the title of the book, that evolution is random and possibly non-drive (i.e., passive, see McShea, 1994, Gould, 1996) (Diogo, Ziermann, and Linde-Medina, 2014: 3). Furthermore, there is “no general trend to increase the number of muscles at the nodes leading to hominoids and to modern humans. That is, with respect to the muscles in the regions we have investigated, although modern humans accumulated more evolutionary transitions than the other primates included in our cladistic study, these evolutionary transitions did not result in more muscles, or more muscle components (Diogo & Wood, 2011, 2012a,b; Diogo et al., 2013b)” (Diogo, Ziermann, and Linde-Medina, 2014: 18). So looking at this one facet of hominin evolution (muscles), there is no general increase in the number of muscles at the nodes leading to our genus.
Next, one Dale Russel (who I have written about at length) needs to be addressed again. Russel asserts that had the dinosaurs not gone extinct, that one species of dinosaur, the troodon, would have evolved human-like bipedalism, a large brain among other traits. This is horribly incorrect. In his book (Russel, 1989) he denotes ever-increasing complexity, which, as I have noted, is due to the beginnings of life at the left wall of complexity. The behaviors of most dinosaurs which were inferred from skeletal morphology and trackways “may not have lain much outside the observed range in ectothermic crocodilians” (Hopson, 1977: 444), along with most dinosaur endocasts showing not showing a tendency for increased brain size (Hopson, 1977: 443). Further, since dinosaurs were tied to the sun their behavior was restricted, they needed to avoid getting too hot or cold and couldn’t explore and understand the world, and in turn wouldn’t have been able to evolve large brains—nevermind human-like intelligence (Skoyles and Sagan, 2002: 12). Russell’s contentions are moot.
On that same note, E.O. Wilson, author of the 1975 book Sociobiology asserts that evolution must be progressive (I will cover Wilson’s views on evolutionary progress in depth in the future) since life started prokaryotes with no nucleus, to eukaryotes with nucleus and mitochondria, then multi-cellular organisms with complex organs like eyes and brains and finally the emergence of the human mind (Rushton, 1997: 293). This, too, can be explained by life beginning at the left wall and having nowhere to go ‘but up’.
This finally brings me to JP Rushton who attempted to revive the scala naturae concept by (wrongfully) applying r/K selection theory to human races. Rushton argues that since Mongoloids are the ‘newest’ race that they are then the most ‘progressed’ and thusly are a pinnacle of evolution of Man. However, as anyone who understands evolution knows, evolution through natural selection is local change, not progress.
This notion of evolutionary progress, the scala naturae, and the ‘march up the evolutionary tree’ are all large misconceptions about the nature of evolution. This misconception arises due to only looking at the right tail of the variation. Of course, if you only looked at the right tail, you would assume that evolution is ‘progressive’, that there was a ‘march’ from simple to complex organisms. Why focus only on the complex end of the distribution of life? Because looking at the whole of life, bacteria is the mode (Gould, 1996; 1997). We are currently living in the age of the bacteria. That is the mode of all life, and that is why there is no ‘progress’ to evolution, nor any ‘march up an evolutionary tree’, because evolution through natural selection is local change, not progress.
Saying that evolution is progress doesn’t allow us to appreciate the full house of variation (Gould, 1996). Bacteria rule the earth, and will do so until the Sun explodes. What does that tell you about any ‘progress’ to life? Aboslutely nothing because bacteria have remained the most numerous lifeforms on the planet since life began.