The other day Anonymous Conservative (AC) published an article titled Criticism Of r/K Theory In The Comments. I’m not too worried about what he wrote in the main article (I may tackle that later if I feel up to it), but what I am worried about is someone’s critique of my article r/K Selection Theory: A Response to Anonymous Conservative. Since this guy uses AC’s writings who, of course, is influenced by Rushton’s application of r/K to humans, it shows that he’s pretty clueless about 1) the theory as a whole and 2) the theory’s ultimate status in biology. (Also check out Phil’s comments in the AC thread.)
The individual in question, one ‘Samuel Skinner’ calls my critique of AC “genuinely bad” and that he would “cover the most obvious mistakes“, well let’s take a look at my ‘genuinely bad‘ critique to AC.
RR: You don’t get it. Mongoloids being r-selected is straight from Rushton. He asserts that they have cold-adaptations. Cold adaptations are due to cold weather. Cold weather is an agent of r-selection (temperature extreme).
Samuel Skinner: Mongoloids have a variety of genetic adaptions to cold. If you drop one buck naked in the winter, they will still freeze to death. The actual adaption they have is wearing thick clothing covering the entire body, something that is both K and not existent in Africa. Needless to say knowing how to gather materials, make clothing and maintain it is a K selective pressure.
So “the actual adaptation they have” is to “wear thick clothing“? This is bullshit and you know it. I covered human physiological adaptations to the cold last month: Human Physiological Adaptations to Climate. Clothes weren’t made in Africa? “Knowing how to gather materials, make clothing and maintaining it” is not a “K selective pressure“.
RR: Endemic (native) disease is an agent of K-selection. Since the disease is constant, then the population under that agent of K-selection can prepare ahead for disease.
Samuel Skinner: That requires the preparation to actually work; if preparation has less effect on genetic pay offs then having children faster, having children faster wins.
The preparation does work. In the case of malaria (an endemic disease), one-fifth of patients use traditional malarial remedies in malaria-stricken countries (Wilcox and Bodecker, 2004).
Endemic and infectious disease is an agent of K-selection:
(From Anderson, 1991: 53)
RR: Do groups not work together in Africa to reach common goals? In the Pleistocene as well? Citations? Think before you write (and cite), because hunting bands in our species began with Homo erectus.
Samuel Skinner: NPC talks about clannishness and IQ difference in other posts. So he does believe that groups in Africa do not work together to reach common goals. I’m honestly not sure what he is thinking here.
Yes I do. But to say that ‘Africans don’t work together’ is stupid because Africa is a huge continent. Which African ethnies? Etc. And that’s also an incorrect claim.
RR: Density-dependent pressures are things such as endemic disease in Africa—which is necessary for a K-selected history since density-dependent natural selection occurs at or close to the environmental carrying capacity
Samuel Skinner: Yes, if a disease is transmitted through person to person contact and non-discriminatory. Malaria is transmitted through mosquitoes; the amount adding additional people increases its rate is negligible.
“This therefore provides empirical confirmation that sex ratio has an immediate impact on transmission success and that it is density-dependent” (Mitri et al, 2009). Endemic disease (like malaria) work in a density-dependent fashion (Anderson, 1991: 51).
Here is what people like Samuel Skinner and AC don’t get: r/K selection theory WAS discarded; it is no longer in use. Age-specific mortality better explains these trends than r/K selection (Reznick et al, 2002: 1518). I’ve also covered how the so-called ‘unidimensional construct’ or r on one end and K at another is wrong: “It appears that the original HKSS items are best represented as four distinct but related dimensions, and do not represent a unidimensional construct. This conclusion is reinforced by relationships between HKSS total scores and life history measures: The significant correlations that were found were contrary to the predictions made by the Differential K literature (Figueredo et al., 2013; Rushton, 1985). We found that high K scores were related to earlier sexual debut and unrelated to either pubertal onset or number of sexual partners. This suggests that the HKSS does not reflect an underlying “K dimension” (Copping, Campbell and Muncer, 2014).
It truly is tiring rebutting the same old bullshit arguments on r/K theory. I see AC’s bullshit on Twitter when I search ‘r/K Selection Theory’, but the individual who pushes the bullshit will not accept my invitation to come to this blog and discuss it with me.
The most important thing to know here is that the unidimensional construct that Pianka (1970) formulated is wrong. Joseph Graves (2002) reviews some of the literature on the theory, showing that Pianka’s (1970) verbal theory is wrong, and that r/K selection fell out of favor in the late 70s. It’s worth noting that Pianka gave NO experimental rationale (Graves, 2002: 135) to his unidimensional construct (which Copping, Campbell and Muncer, 2014). Do you see how this theory holds no weight in evolutionary biology anymore?
Here is what Reznick et al (2002) write:
Although life-history theory has shifted away from a focus on r- and K-selection, the themes of density-dependent regulation, resource availability, and environmental fluctuations are integral to current demographic theory and are potentially important in any natural system
I see the term density-dependent regulation, which I do not see on AC’s blog (the only thing that comes up if you search that term on his blog are the responses to me… that should tell you something). In regards to resource availability Reznick et al (2002: 1517) write: We have also found a potential role of resource availability, either as a consequence of environmental factors that are correlated with, but otherwise independent of predators, or as a consequence of indirect effects of predation (Reznick et al. 2001)”. If I were you I’d read some of the literature on this before writing more bullshit.
Skinner also writes: “Again, not following. The link between fertility and disease is pretty clear- after a die off the population rebounds. If a population is near carrying capacity and suffers a die off, the growth rate of the survivors increases.” Except African populations have had much more time to reach their environmental carrying capacity and to experience the K-selected agents of natural selection, like endemic disease (Anderson, 1991: 59).
Then AC jumps in and writes: “You cannot take a Biology 101 class without learning about r/K. It is in the textbooks, and it is seen as an excellent theory, akin to Newtonian Physics. Sure relativity and Quantum Mechanics came along and showed that Newtonian physics wasn’t the entire ball of wax. But you still learn Newtonian Physics, because it is fundamental to understanding everything else.” This, again, is bullshit. AC, have you taken a Bio 101 class? I took one. Not one mention of this discredited theory, I have an in use biology textbook (Understanding Biology, 2nd edition, Mason et al, 2017; check pages 905-908 in the textbook to verify this) and in the section on reproductive strategies (which is what r/K selection theory is, at its core) r/K selection is not mentioned once. Why make claims that you know you cannot verify?
AC: “What we are doing here is not something where you can point to a single old study, and say, here it all is, in one place. Bringing all this together is new, even if what is being brought together is well established.“
That doesn’t mean it’s right.
AC: The issue is, you have one area of study of humans (political science) where it is long established that humans spontaneously diverge into two groups, which the literature has recognized are so divergent that they call them Left and Right, as in each points in the opposite direction.
So stop dodging me and answer this question: Are liberals and conservatives local populations? If so, where did they evolve?
AC: “Now I know you didn’t read the book because you are hung up on the use of the phrase “r/K Theory.” In the book there is a chapter devoted to that. I use the meme of r/K Theory for the same reason it is taught in biology – it is a quick way to bring people up to speed on the purposes of these traits, and how they affect reproduction/survival under different conditions.”
Don’t worry; I’ll read your book soon enough and will probably have tons of material to rebut. Anyway, using discredited bio theories isn’t a good way to push something.
AC: “If it is done right, this will ultimately be a massive field of study with thousands of biologists and political scientists taking it apart and trying to figure how aggressive stimuli affect people’s r/K traits, vs sexual stimuli, vs pleasureable things like food, vs quick blips of K followed by long periods of r, vs long constant K, vs disease mortality that is totally random, and on and on.”
You have some strange dreams. It won’t happen. Individuals WITHIN A SPECIES are not R OR K. R AND K ARE NOT ADJECTIVES (Anderson, 1991: 57).
AC: “On Rushton, unless he ever mentioned politics (he didn’t),“
AC: “You have married black conservatives and married white conservatives and married Asian conservatives. They all have more in common psychologically than the leftists of their fellow races. Mixing them along racial lines only muddies the waters, and hides that all races have been exposed to harshness and ease, and have adapted the requisite psychologies to function and persist under either.“
No it doesn’t ‘muddy the waters’. I believe now you’ll point to black Trump supporters going against BLM or white Leftists going against their interests. SO WHAT. You can create any just-so story you’d like, you won’t be right.
Something AC doesn’t get is that using the discredited r/K continuum, conservatives would be r (lower IQ, more children; women who reported being religious stated that having children was more important to them; Hayford and Morgan, 2008) in comparison to liberals who would be K (fewer children, higher IQs). Of course, he just immediately states that cons are K and libs are r, since the verbal theory from Pianka (1970) had the ‘good traits’ on K and ‘bad traits’ on r. (Read r/K theory: Conservatives = r, liberals = K (reminder to the ignorant)). I’ve already covered that libs are more intelligent than cons (Kanazawa, 2010; Kanazawa, 2014), and that conservative countries have lower IQs (and are non-white and third world) in comparison to liberal countries (which are majority white…). Conservatives are more likely to be religious (Morrison, Duncan, and Parton, 2015; McAdams et al, 2015), and religious people have lower IQs (Zuckerman, Silberman, and Hall, 2013; Ritchie, Gow, and Deary, 2014; Pennycook et al, 2016; Dutton and Linden, 2017). Intelligence is also associated with social and economic liberal views (Carl, 2014). Lastly, research into the psychology of continents shows that liberal continents are more intelligent than conservative continents (African countries conservative, European countries liberal… what’s that tell you?) (Stankov and Lee, 2016). So, using Rushton’s/Pianka’s continuum, who looks r and K now?
This, as usual, is the perfect example of implicit bias. My team is best and has the good traits, the other team is worse and has the bad traits. It’s dumb, it doesn’t make sense. AC will try to get ‘the truth’ about this theory out to people, well he has a foil in myself. I enjoy talking about this and debating it, but it seems like most people don’t understand the ecology behind the theory. They have their biases and will search for anything to confirm them. That’s not science.
Stop pushing r/K theory. It’s long dead. Just because some non-specialist idealogue pushes something and warps studies to fit his views while ignoring contrary evidence, DOES NOT mean that the theory is ‘back’ in style or anything to that effect. One biased person picked up the dead body of the (discredited) r/K continuum and attempted to revive it. Well I’ve shot it back down. It’s dead. Let it rest in peace and stop attempting to revive it.
Also see my other articles on r/K Selection Theory
Also read: r/k selection political theory is rubbish