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Defending Minimalist Races: A Response to Joshua Glasgow

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Michael Hardimon published Rethinking Race: The Case for Deflationary Realism last year (Hardimon, 2017). I was awaiting some critical assessment of the book, and it seems that at the end of March, some criticism finally came. The criticism came from another philosopher, Joshua Glasgow, in the journal Mind (Glasgow, 2018). The article is pretty much just arguing against his minimalist race concept and one thing he brings up in his book, the case of a twin earth and what we would call out-and-out clones of ourselves on this twin earth. Glasgow makes some good points, but I think he is largely misguided on Hardimon’s view of race.

Hardimon (2017) is the latest defense for the existence of race—all the while denying the existence of “racialist races”—that there are differences in mores, “intelligence” etc—and taking the racialist view and “stripping it down to its barebones” and shows that race exists, in a minimal way. This is what Hardimon calls “social constructivism” in the pernicious sense—racialist races, in Hardimon’s eyes, are socially constructed in a pernicious sense, arguing that racialist races do not represent any “facts of the matter” and “supports and legalizes domination” (pg 62). The minimalist concept, on the other hand, does not “support and legalize domination”, nor does it assume that there are differences in “intelligence”, mores and other mental characters; it’s only on the basis of superficial physical features. These superficial physical features are distributed across the globe geographically and these groups are real and exist who show these superficial physical features across the globe. Thus, race, in a minimal sense, exists. However, people like Glasgow have a few things to say about that.

Glasgow (2018) begins by praising Hardimon (2017) for “dispatching racialism” in his first chapter, also claiming that “academic writings have decisively shown why racialism is a bad theory” (pg 2). Hardimon argues that to believe in race, on not need believe what the racialist concept pushes; one must only acknowledge and accept that there are:

1) differences in visible physical features which correspond to geographic ancestry; 2) these differences in visible features which correspond to geographic ancestry are exhibited between real groups; 3) these real groups that exhibit these differences in physical features which correspond to geographic ancestry satisfy the conditions of minimalist race; C) therefore race exists.

This is a simple enough argument, but Glasgow disagrees. As a counter, Glasgow brings up the “twin earth” argument. Imagine a twin earth was created. On Twin Earth, everything is exactly the same; there are copies of you, me, copies of companies, animals, history mirrored down to exact minutiae, etc. The main contention here is that Hardimon claims that ancestry is important for our conception of race. But with the twin earth argument, since everything, down to everything, is the same, then the people who live on twin earth look just like us but! do not share ancestry with us, they look like us (share patterns of visible physical features), so what race would we call them? Glasgow thusly states that “sharing ancestry is not necessary for a group to count as a race” (pg 3). But, clearly, sharing ancestry is important for our conception of race. While the thought experiment is a good one it fails since ancestry is very clearly necessary for a group to count as a race, as Hardimon has argued.

Hardimon (2017: 52) addresses this, writing:

Racial Twin Americans might share our concept of race and deny that races have different geographical origins. This is because they might fail to understand that this is a component of their race concept. If, however, their belief that races do not have different geographical origins did not reflect a misunderstanding of their “race concept,” then their “race concept” would not be the same concept as the concept that is the ordinary race concept in our world. Their use of ‘race’ would pick out a different subject matter entirely from ours.

and on page 45 writes:

Glasgow envisages Racial Twin Earth in such a way that, from an empirical (that is, human) point of view, these groups would have distinctive ancestries, even if they did not have distinctive ancestries an sich. But if this is so, the groups [Racial Twin Earthings] do not provide a good example of races that lack distinctive ancestries and so do not constitute a clear counterexample to C(2) [that members of a race are “linked by a common ancestry peculiar to members of that group”].

C(2) (P2 in the simple argument for the existence of race) is fine, and the objections from Glasgow do not show that P(C)2 is false at all. The Racial Twin Earth argument is a good one, it is sound. However, as Hardimon had already noted in his book, Glasgow’s objection to C(2) does not rebut the fact that races share peculiar ancestry unique to them.

Next, Glasgow criticizes Hardimon’s viewpoints on “Hispanics” and Brazilians. These two groups, says Glasgow, shows that two siblings with the same ancestry, though they have different skin colors, would be different races in Brazil. He uses this example to state that “This suggests that race and ancestry can be disconnected” (pg 4). He criticizes Hardimon’s solution to the problem of race and Brazilians, stating that our term “race” and the term in Brazil do not track the same things. “This is jarring. All that anthropological and sociological work done to compare Brazil with the rest of the world (including the USA) would be premised on a translation error” (pg 4). Since Americans and Brazilians, in Glasgow’s eyes, can have a serious conversation about race, this suggests to Glasgow that “our concept of race must not require that races have distinct ancestral groups” (pg 5).

I did cover Brazilians and “Hispanics” as regards the minimalist race concept. Some argue that the “color system” in Brazil is actually a “racial system” (Guimaraes 2012: 1160). While they do denote race as ‘COR’ (Brazilian for ‘color), one can argue that the term used for ‘color’ is ‘race’ and that we would have no problem discussing ‘race’ with Brazilians, since Brazilians and Americans have similar views on what ‘race’ really is. Hardimon (2017: 49) writes:

On the other hand, it is not clear that the Brazilian concept of COR is altogether independent of the phenomenon we Americans designate using ‘race.’ The color that ‘COR’ picks out is racial skin color. The well-known, widespread preference for lighter (whiter) skin in Brazil is at least arguably a racial preference. It seems likely that white skin color is preferred because of its association with the white race. This provides a reason for thinking that the minimalist concept of race may be lurking in the background of Brazilian thinking about race.

Since ‘COR’ picks out racial skin color, it can be safely argued that Brazilians and Americans at least are generally speaking about the same things. Since the color system in Brazil pretty much mirrors what we know as racial systems, demarcating races on the basis of physical features, we are, it can be argued, talking about the same (or similar) things.

Further, the fact that “Latinos” do not fit into Hardimon’s minimalist race concepts is not a problem with Hardimon’s arguments about race, but is a problem with how “Latinos” see themselves and racialize themselves as a group. “Latinos” can count as a socialrace, but they do not—can not—count as a minimalist race (such as the Caucasian minimalist race; the African minimalist race; the Asian minimalist race etc), since they do not share visible physical patterns which correspond to differences in geographic ancestry. Since they do not exhibit characters that demarcate minimalist races, they are not minimalist races. Looking at Cubans compared to, say, Mexicans (on average) is enough to buttress this point.

Glasgow then argues that there are similar problems when you make the claim “that having a distinct geographical origin is required for a group to be a race” (pg 5). He says that we can create “Twin Trump” and “Twin Clinton” might be created from “whole cloth” on two different continents, but we would still call them both “white.” Glasgow then claims that “I worry that visible trait groups are not biological objects because the lines between them are biologically arbitrary” (pg 5). He argues that we need a “dividing line”, for example, to show that skin color is an arbitrary trait to divide races. But if we look at skin color as an adaptation to the climate of the people in question (Jones et al, 2018), then this trait is not “arbitrary”, and the trait is then linked to geographic ancestry.

Glasgow then goes down the old and tired route that “There is no biological reason to mark out one line as dividing the races rather than another, simply based on visible traits” (pg 5). He then goes on to discuss the fact that Hardimon invokes Rosenberg et al (2002) who show that our genes cluster in specific geographic ancestries and that this is biological evidence for the existence of race. Glasgow brings up two objections to the demarcation of races on both physical appearance and genetic analyses: picture the color spectrum, “Now thicken the orange part, and thin out the light red and yellow parts on either side of orange. You’ve just created an orange ‘cluster’” (pg 6), while asking the question:

Does the fact that there are more bits in the orange part mean that drawing a line somewhere to create the categories orange and yellow now marks a scientifically principled line, whereas it didn’t when all three zones on the spectrum were equally sized?

I admit this is a good question, and that this objection would indeed go with the visible trait of skin color in regard to race; but as I said above, since skin color can be conceptualized as a physical adaptation to climate, then that is a good proxy for geographic ancestry, whether or not there is a “smooth variation” of skin colors as you move away from the equator or not, it is evidence that “races” have biological differences and these differences start on the biggest organ in the human body. This is just the classic continuum fallacy in action: that X and Y are two different parts of an extreme; there is no definable point where X becomes Y, therefore there is no difference between X and Y.

As for Glasgow’s other objection, he writes (pg 6):

if we find a large number of individuals in the band below 62.3 inches, and another large grouping in the band above 68.7 inches, with a thinner population in between, does that mean that we have a biological reason for adopting the categories ‘short’ and ‘tall’?

It really depends on what the average height is in regard to “adopting the categories ‘short’ and ‘tall’” (pg 6). The first question was better than the second, alas, they do not do a good job of objecting to Hardimon’s race concept.

In sum, Glasgow’s (2018) review of Hardimon’s (2017) book Rethinking Race: The Case for Deflationary Realism is an alright review; though Glasgow leaves a lot to be desired and I do think that his critique could have been more strongly argued. Minimalist races do exist and are biologically real.

I am of the opinion that what matters regarding the existence of race is not biological science, i.e., testing to see which populations have which differing allele frequencies etc; what matters is the philosophical aspects to race. The debates in the philosophical literature regarding race are extremely interesting (which I will cover in the future), and are based on racial naturalism and racial eliminativism.

(Racial naturalism “signifies the old, biological conception of race“; racial eliminativism “recommends discarding the concept of race entirely“; racial constructivism “races have come into existence and continue to exist through “human culture and human decisions” (Mallon 2007, 94)“; thin constructivism “depicts race as a grouping of humans according to ancestry and genetically insignificant, “superficial properties that are prototypically linked with race,” such as skin tone, hair color and hair texture (Mallon 2006, 534); and racial skepticism “holds that because racial naturalism is false, races of any type do not exist“.) (Also note that Spencer (2018) critiques Hardimon’s viewpoints in his book as well, which will also be covered in the future, along with the back-and-forth debate in the philosophical literature between Quayshawn Spencer (e.g., 2015) and Adam Hochman (e.g., 2014).)


r/K Selection Theory Rebuttals

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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?

Samuel Skinner also says: “So they changed the name and kept some of the components. If the components they dropped are ones AC is using, say so.

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),

That’s meaningless though. You’re using the continuum he grabbed from Pianka (1970). THEREFORE, you’re wrong with your application since Pianka (1970) was rebutted decades ago (Graves, 2002)!

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, 2010Kanazawa, 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, 2015McAdams et al, 2015), and religious people have lower IQs (Zuckerman, Silberman, and Hall, 2013Ritchie, 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

r/K Selection Theory: A Response to Truth-Justice

r/K Selection Theory: A Response to Anonymous Conservative

E.O. Wilson on Rushton’s r/K Theory and More on Endemic Disease

r/K Selection Theory: A Response to Rushton

Also read: r/k selection political theory is rubbish

Dinosaurs, Brains, and ‘Progressive’ Evolution: Part II

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In part I, I showed how Dale Russel’s contention that the troodon would have evolved into a bipedal ‘dinosauroid’ with human locomotion and a human-sized brain was pure fantasy. I ordered the book of his that Rushton cited in his book Race, Evolution, and Behavior and I finally received it last week. When I read the relevant parts, I yawned because it’s the same old stuff that I’ve covered here on this blog numerous times. Since literally the only relevant part in the book about the troodon is the final 7 pages, that’s what I will cover today—along with a few more lines of evidence that large brains lie outside reptilian design (Gould, 1989).

First off, all of Rushton’s contentions in the final pages of his book (Rushton, 1997) need to be rebutted. Rushton (1997: 294) writes that dinosaur brains were ‘progressing’ in size for 140 million years, but neither of Russel’s writings that I have (Russel 1983; 1989) have the statement in them.

In the book Up From Dragons: The Evolution of Human Intelligence neuroscientist, evolutionary psychologist John Skoyles and science writer Dorian Sagan—the son of Carl Sagan—speak briefly about reptilian intelligence and why they wouldn’t have reached our levels of intellect:

But cold-bloodedness is a dead-end for the great story of this book—the evolution of intelligence. Certainly reptiles could evolve huge sizes, as they did over vast sweeps of Earth as dinosaurs. But they never could have evolved our quick-witted and smart brains. Being tied to the sun restricts their behavior: Instead of being free and active, searching and understanding the world, they spend too much time avoiding getting too hot or too cold. (Skoyles and Sagan, 2002: 12)

Hopson (1977: 443) writes:

I would argue, as does Feduccia (44), that the mammalian/avian levels of activity claimed by Bakker for dinosaurs should be correlated with a great increase in motor and sensory control and this should be reflected in increased brain size. Such an increase is not indicated by most dinosaur endocasts.

Most importantly, if some dinosaurs DID have bird-sized brains, the above contention would still hold. Hopson concludes that, except for coelurosaurs “the range of behaviors that existed in dinosaurs, as inferred from trackways and skeletal morphology, may not have lain much outside the observed range in ectothermic crocodilians” (Hopson, 1977: 444).

Since the conjecture/’thought experiment’ of the troodon was rebutted last week, it’s pretty conclusive that large brains lie outside of reptilian design; they need to spend so much time avoiding getting too hot or cold—as well as hunt and eat—so exploring the world and learning was not possible for them—along with the fact that they didn’t have a primate morphology and thus didn’t have the ability to fully manipulate their environment as we do which would further select for larger brains. However, as Hopson (1977) notes, animals with higher metabolic rates had larger brains; coelurosaurs had high metabolic rates and the largest dinosaur brains (Russel, 1983; 1989)—but that doesn’t mean they would have eventually evolved human-like intelligence, bipedalism or brain size and to say otherwise is fantasy.

Furthermore, there is large variation in encephalization and encephalization is not universal in mammals (Shultz and Dunbar, 2010).

Here is the thing about brain size increases: it is a local level trend. A local level trend is a trend that occurs within one or a few related species. This is exactly what characterized brain evolution; there is large variation depending on what the environment calls for (Boddy et al, 2012; Montgomery et al, 2012; see also island gigantism; Bromham and Cardillo, 2007; Welch, 2009; and also see the deep sea rule; Mcclain, Boyer, and Rosenberg, 2006). So these local trends differ by species—even one population split by, say, 50 miles of water will speciate and become evolve a completely different phenotype due to the environment of time. That is evolution by natural selection; local change, not any inherent or intrinsic ‘progress’ (Gould, 1996).

The same local level trend occurs with parasites. Now think about parasites. The get selected for ‘complexity’ or a decrease in ‘complexity’ depending on what occurs in their host. Now, looking at it from this perspective, the body is the host’s environment while the earth is ours; so my example for an environmental change would be, as usual, the asteroid impact hitting the earth blocking out the sun and decreasing high-quality food all throughout the earth. Surely I don’t need to tell you what would occur…

Russel (1989) writes:

Examples of evolutionary changes that occured at ever-increasing speeds include the initial diversification of animals in the sea 650 and 550 million years ago, the attainment of tree stature in land plants between 410 and 360 million years ago, and the diversification of mammals between 200 million years ago and the present. Changes like this have resulted in increased organismal complexity, which, in combination with a general increase in number of species, has made the biosphere of the modern Earth so much richer than it was several hundred million years ago. It is reasonable to suppose that animals living in a complex environment might find it advantageous to possess complex nervous systems in order to have access to a greater variety of responses. Indeed, the largest proportion of brain weight in an animal has also increased at an ever-increasing rate across geological time. The brain has become evidently larger in animals as diverse as insects, mollusks, and backboned creatures. Relative brain size can be taken as an indication of biotic interactions.

He references time periods that correspond with decimations (mass extinctions). Decimations lead to diversification. Think back to the Cambrian Explosion. During the Cambrian Explosion, many more lifeforms existed than can be currently classified. Therefore, according to the decimation and diversification model, greater diversity of life existed in the past. When decimations (defined as a reduction in the anatomical forms of life from mass extinction) occur, the niches that become extinct quickly become filled.

The time periods that Russel references are when mass extinctions occurred. This is how diversification occurs. What allowed for this ‘organismal complexity’ and increase in the number of species (though body plans are limited due to the Burgess Decimation) is due to the decimations. Decimation and diversification proves that evolution is not progressive.

A ‘trend’ in biology is directional change in a group stat using the mean, median or mode. Any existence of a trend from the mean (‘progress’) tells us nothing about the underlying mechanisms behind it.

To wrap this all up, even if a trend in X were to be discovered, it still wouldn’t tell us a thing about the underlying mechanisms causing it, nor will it tell us about any increasing tendency. 

The analogy of the drunkard’s walk (Gould, 1996) is why ‘progress’ doesn’t make sense. Further, niche construction matters as well. When organisms construct their own niches, change occurs based on those niche constructions. Milk-drinking 8kya in Europe and African farmers diverting water for their crops having mosquitoes come by and gaining a resistance to malaria are two examples of niche construction (Laland et al, 2009). That’s another barrier to progress!

In sum, Dale Russel says nothing I’ve not heard before in regards to ‘progressive’ evolution. He only describes ever-increasing ‘complexity’ which is due to decimations and further diversification by organisms to fill empty niches. Any type of ‘progress’ would have been stymied by mass extinctions.

Further, the fact that species can consciously—in a way—guide their own evolution through the manipulation of the environment once again shows how evolution doesn’t mean progress—it literally only means local change and any type of local change, no matter to what type of environment, will cause concurrent increases/decreases on whichever relevant traits that will give the organism the best chance for survival in that environment.

This is why evolution is not progressive; and even if scientists were to identify one thing, still, a causal mechanism won’t be able to be inferred. Ruseel (1989) describes right and left walls of complexity—nothing more. Dinosaurs didn’t have the body plans to have our brain size, bipedalism and intelligence, nor did they have the right type of blood, nor did they have the time to search and learn about the world due to being constrained to their cold-blooded system—being a slave to the sun, always attempting to avoid overheating or getting too cold (Skoyles and Sagan, 2002). The so-called ‘dinosauroid’ is an impossibility and implies a teleological lean to evolution—as if our morphology (or something similar from an unrelated organism) will always evolve if we replay the tape of life again (Gould, 1989; 1996). This is what Russel is pretty much arguing, and he is 100 percent wrong as noted above.


Bromham, L., & Cardillo, M. (2007). Primates follow the ‘island rule’: implications for interpreting Homo floresiensis. Biology Letters,3(4), 398-400. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2007.0113

Boddy, A. M., Mcgowen, M. R., Sherwood, C. C., Grossman, L. I., Goodman, M., & Wildman, D. E. (2012). Comparative analysis of encephalization in mammals reveals relaxed constraints on anthropoid primate and cetacean brain scaling. Journal of Evolutionary Biology,25(5), 981-994. doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2012.02491.x

Gould, S. J. (1989). Wonderful life: the Burgess Shale and the nature of history. New York: Norton.

Gould, S. J. (1996). Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin. New York: Harmony Books.

Hopson, J. A. (1977). Relative Brain Size and Behavior in Archosaurian Reptiles. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics,8(1), 429-448. doi:10.1146/

Laland, K. N., Odling-Smee, J., Feldman, M. W., & Kendal, J. (2009). Conceptual Barriers to Progress Within Evolutionary Biology. Foundations of Science, 14(3), 195–216.

Mcclain, C. R., Boyer, A. G., & Rosenberg, G. (2006). The island rule and the evolution of body size in the deep sea. Journal of Biogeography,33(9), 1578-1584. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2006.01545.x

Montgomery, S. H., Capellini, I., Barton, R. A., & Mundy, N. I. (2010). Reconstructing the ups and downs of primate brain evolution: implications for adaptive hypotheses and Homo floresiensis. BMC Biology,8(1), 9. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-8-9

Russell, D. A. (1983). Exponential evolution: Implications for intelligent extraterrestrial life. Advances in Space Research,3(9), 95-103. doi:10.1016/0273-1177(83)90045-5

Russell, D. A. (1989). An Odyssey in Time: The Dinosaurs of North America. Minocqua, WI: Published by NorthWord Press in association with National Museum of Natural Sciences.

Rushton J P (1997). Race, Evolution, and Behavior. A Life History Perspective (Transaction, New Brunswick, London).

Shultz, S., & Dunbar, R. (2010). Encephalization is not a universal macroevolutionary phenomenon in mammals but is associated with sociality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,107(50), 21582-21586. doi:10.1073/pnas.1005246107

Skoyles, J. R., & Sagan, D. (2002). Up From Dragons: The Evolution of Human Intelligence. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Welch, J. J. (2009). Testing the island rule: primates as a case study. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,276(1657), 675-682. doi:10.1098/rspb.2008.1180

Evolution Denial Part II

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Why do people deny evolution? Not just evolution from single-celled organisms to multicellular lifeforms, but human evolution as well? Most people who deny evolution don’t have the knowledge to assess it correctly. They fall back on the Bible and say “God did this, the Bible says…. God says…” all the while looking at you as a heathen when you attempt to talk some basic biology or, God forbid, the process of evolution.

I met a woman the other day and I asked her what she was studying in school. She tells me anatomy and physiology (right up my alley). So we start talking about some basic anatomy and physiology before I ask the question: “Do you believe in evolution?” She gave me a blank stare and said no.

“Humans as we know them have always existed in this form,” she said. I just started laughing at her ignorance and then she said “Evolution at the macro level is not possible but it is at the micro level”, repeating the same old and tired Creationist talking points. I said to her that there is no evidence for creation and that the evidence we do have points to evolution. I said that the theory of evolution has so much backing, so much evidence, that to believe otherwise you’d have to purposefully close your mind to the truth, to shut out any and all contradictory information.

One of the funniest things she said to me was that she wants to cure diseases. To that, I said if she wants to do that then she must look at diseases from an evolutionary perspective (Gluckman et al, 2011). She said that she doesn’t need to know how diseases were in the past, just how they are today. I also said that if she is studying anatomy and physiology then she must understand that many of our appendages are derived from our hominin ancestors, which began with Erectus as I’ve covered in my article Man the AthleteDiseases also must be looked at through an evolutionary lens, so if anyone wants to cure diseases, then they must first understand and accept that things are constantly changing and evolving to better survive in that environment.

When I said that there is no evidence for Creation she got really mad. She said that there is no evidence that “we evolved from monkeys” which gave me a good laugh. Even people who believe in evolution still make that mistake of believing that we evolved from monkeys. One of the most common statements from Creationists is “If humans evolved from monkeys then why are monkeys still around?”, wrongly assuming that we literally evolved from monkeys, incorrectly misinterpreting that we share a common ancestor with monkeys 6-12 mya.

About 6mya, there was a chromosomal fusion on chromosome two; two ancestral ape chromosomes fused to make chromosome two (Idjo et al, 1991). That is some nice chromosomal evidence for common descent from our ape cousins. Creationists, however, purport that a gene in chromosome 2, DDX11L2, writing that the “alleged fusion site is not a degenerate fusion sequence but is and, since creation, has been a functional feature in an important gene.” Further, Tomkins’ claim that the fusion site is actually a gene is wrong since the fusion site is more than 1300 bases away from the gene.

The ancestral equivalents of chromosome 2—2p and 2q—fused together in a fusion event some 6mya. This precise fusion site is on chromosome 2 (Hellier et al, 2004). Creationists will say and do anything to attempt to ‘rebut’ this contention. Genetic evidence is the best evidence we have (due to Punctuated Equilibria, which causes the spottiness in the fossil record), and still, these ‘Creationist geneticists’ will do anything they can to attempt to have Evolutionists go on the defensive. However, the onus is on them to disprove the mountains of evidence.

One of the funniest things this woman said to me is that man has always been in this form and that we didn’t evolve from “monkeys”, which is when I said that it’s more complicated than that: we have fish ancestors, named Tiktaalik who had the beginnings of the human arm and hand, along with Pikaia Gracilens—our oldest ancestor. If Pikaia would have died out in the Cambrian explosion some 550 mya, we wouldn’t be here today. We are here today due to the happenstance of numerous accidents of history—contingencies of “just history” to quote Stephen Jay Gould.

Nevertheless, Creationists will always attempt to distort evolutionary science to fit their agendas. Stephen Jay Gould battled Creationists throughout his career. Creationists would quote mine his books to show that Evolutionists do show evidence of “Creation”. One of his most quote mined works is his and Eldredge’s theory of Punctuated Equilibria (1972). Just because a look at the whole fossil record shows species remaining in stasis for most of their history before a short burst of evolutionary change then that must mean that there was a guiding hand involved in the process. Here is a full list of quote mines that Creationists use from Eldredge and Gould.

As you can see, Creationists use any kind of mental gymnastics to disprove evolution. However, no matter how hard you try with Creationists, you can’t educate people into believing in evolution. This is mainly due to the backfire effect which occurs when you show people contradictory information to a dearly held belief and they frantically attempt to gather evidence to shield themselves from contradictory evidence (Nyhan and Reifler, 2010). This cognitive bias holds for more than political debates, though it’s most often seen there. Showing people any kind of contradictory information will have them search and search for anything to shield themselves from the truth. However, no amount of ‘information’ provided by Creationists will disprove evolutionary theory.

Gould and Eldredge aren’t the only Evolutionist that Creationists quote mine–one of the most famous quote mines is from Darwin’s The Descent of Man in which he talks about defending his theory from detractors, mainly the spottiness of the fossil record (which Eldredge and Gould’s Punctuated Equilibria explains). However, this doesn’t stop Creationists—and even some Evolutionists who fall for Creationist trickery—to believe that Darwin was talking about something completely different, in that Darwin was ‘racist’ talking about the ‘superior races’ exterminating the ‘inferior races’. Reading the quote in its entirety, however, shows something completely different. Alas, some people don’t care about facts antruthut and only care about their agenda they attempt to push.

Even setting evolutionary theory aside, basic geology disproves Creationism. The author of the piece, geologist David Montgomery, says that there is a rock outside of his office that proves Creationism wrong. The rock shows that there is more to the geologic record that could be explained by a single grand flood. Now that geologists now have the tools and data to infer that the earth is billions of years old—not thousands as Young Earth Creationists (YECs) claim—YECs change up their interpretation of the Creation story in Genesis to go from literal days to “days in Genesis refer to geological ages”. Clear mental gymnastics in the face of contradictory evidence.

There are five mass extinctions that are accepted in the scientific community (Jablonski, 2001) (though I am reading a book at the moment that talks about nine mass extinction events with Man pushing the tenth, I will return to this in the future). After these contingencies of ‘just history’, we can see that we are incredibly lucky that our ancestors did not die out. From a Pikaia Gracilens surviving the Cambrian radiation, to Tiktaalik and its venturing onto land from the sea and finally the survival of a shrew-like ancestor during the extinction of the dinosaurs, we should thank our lucky stars that these things went our way, because if not, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this at the moment and you would not be reading this. Evolutionary history is littered with these events—events that, if they went the other way would not lead to the evolution of Man again.

In sum, people who do not believe in evolutionary theory clearly are emotionally invested in believing in a story of Creation—sans evidence, only their belief. On the other hand, evolutionists such as we have all the data on our side when it comes to this debate. Creationists have to use any kind of warped logic to not believe the mountains of evidence that have piled up since Darwin wrote On the Origin. However, as everyone knows, reality isn’t what just what you believe. Just because Creationists handwave away the data that people like us provide to them doesn’t mean that evolution isn’t true.


Are There Race Differences in Penis Size? Part II

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I haven’t completely discredited the notion that Rushton and Lynn may be correct on this variable, but I’m highly skeptical. Hormonal data doesn’t show it. Hormones like IGF-1 and androgen don’t show the differences between races that would lead you to believe that Rushton’s Rule applies here.

PP is at it again, citing the same studies, not providing primary sources, and not addressing what I say to him about hormones in regards to penis size. Hormones affect the body in different ways, and different races have different levels of hormones. This is what I will discuss today.

Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is a hormone that, as it’s name implies, is structurally similar to the hormone insulin. IGF-1 is “partly responsible for systemic GH activities although it possesses a wide number of own properties (anabolic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective actions).” Laron and Klinger (1998) showed that children with Laron syndrome who stopped receiving IGF-1 injections showed reductions in penile and testicular size and they returned to pretreatment serum levels. This shows the effects of IGF-1 on sexual organ size.

Knowing this about IGF-1, for Rushton’s theory to be plausible, Blacks would have higher levels, Asians the lowest, and whites in the middle, skewing towards Asians. Platz et al (1999) investigated whether there were racial differences in circulating IGF-1 and insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3). IGFBP-3 binds IGF-1 and 2, with a dysregulation of IGFBP-3 correlating with cancer. IGFBP-3 is the main transporter of IGF-1 and 2 in the blood stream. The researchers tested men whose self-described ancestry (we know that self-describer ancestry is a great proxy for race, having a 99.86 percent success rate) African American (63) a random sample of Asians and Caucasians (75 respectively) aged 45 to 78 years old. Caucasians had the highest levels of IGF-1 (224 ng/ml), Asians (208 ng/ml), and African Americans (205 ng/ml). The IGF-1:IGFBP-3 ratio was greatest in Caucasians and lowest in Asians. This study was carried out to see if IGF-1 had an effect on prostate cancer. The 13 percent difference in IGFBP-3 between blacks and whites may account for the higher levels of prostate cancer, as IGFBP-3 can control IGF-1 bioavailabilty.

PP also cites Ross et al (1986) showing that blacks have “19 percent higher testosterone”, attempting to use this as evidence for the theory in favor of an inverse relationship between brain size and penis size. He seems to think that total testosterone matters, when what matters is free testosterone.It’s also 15 percent circulating testosterone, 13 percent free testosterone in that one study.  Free testosterone is biologically active, and is able to exert its effect by passing through a cell and activating its receptor. Speaking of free testosterone, in this meta-analysis of 23 studies on black-white differences in testosterone, Richard et al (2014) showed a 2.5 to 4.9 percent difference in free testosterone and concluded that that difference was not enough to account for the racial disparity in prostate cancer. So it’s either black Americans have lower levels of IGFBP-3 or diet/environmental factors that cause this racial disparity in prostate cancer, not testosterone.

Rohrmann et al (2007) showed that testosterone differences between blacks (n=363) and whites (n=674) did not noticeably differ (5.29 ng/ml and 5.11 ng/ml respectively). Mexican Americans (n=376) , on the other hand, showed a higher average rate (5.48 ng/ml) over both cohorts. Blacks had higher levels of estradiol than whites (40.80 pg/nl and 35.46 pg/nl respectively). Blacks also had a higher level of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHGB) (36.49 nmol/liter) than whites (34.91 nmol/liter) and Mexican Americans (34.91 nmol/liter). That may account for some of the racial disparity in prostate cancer, but it’s not testosterone (which shows that ‘higher levels of testosterone’ as PP says, isn’t proof of any racial differences in penis size).

The Kinsey data is nonrepresentative and nonrandom. We have comparative sizes for certain ethnies, and the only statistical difference is between Nigerians and Koreans and Czechs. Rushton and Boegart didn’t mention that blacks danced less than white college students, blacks are more prudish regarding nudity, more likely to have a prostitute as a sexual partner and less likely to want large families (Weizmann et al, 1990). A study on certain CAG repeats shows that Africans cluster with East Asians on two measures, contradicting Lynn’s hypothesis. French Army Surgeon, lol (see Weizman et al 1990 from above):

This work is filled with internal contradictions. For example, an average African Negro penis is said to be 7 3/4 to 8 inches long on p. 56, while on p. 242 it is stated that it “generally exceeds” 9 inches. Similarly, while the French Army surgeon announces on p. 56 that he once discovered a 12-inch penis, an organ of that size becomes “far from rare” on p. 243. As one might presume from such a work, there is no indication of the statistical procedures used to compute averages, what terms such as “often” mean, how subjects were selected, how measurements were made, what the sample sizes were, etc.

I think I’ve shown that there are no “””racial””” differences in size with the Veale et al 2014 study and the Orakwe and Ebuh (2007) study. As far as I see, two statistical differences exist between Nigerians and Koreans and Czechs. But there’s not enough “””quality data””” to say “this race bigger than that race”. To believe there are racial differences in penis size or that there is even an inverse relationship between penis size and brain size takes a huge leap of faith to believe.

There are, without a doubt, average differences in a lot of things between races; hormones being one of them. Any differences  between races in IGF-1 have no effect on penis size (IGF-1 is, however, one reason why black girls reach menarche at a younger age than white girls. Will write more on that in the future.). Africans were more similar to Asians that Caucasians on two of the five androgen indicators that Dutton (2015) tested. The Kinsey data is nonrepresentative and nonrandom and that is what PP continuously references. I’m highly skeptical leading towards no based on my knowledge of hormones and how they work in the human body. Testosterone does not explain any racial differences in penis size, and does not explain any differences in prostate cancer acquisition (though, other hormones do).

Are There Racial Differences in Penis Size?

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Do racial differences in penis size exist? The average person may say yes, due to viewing porn and hearing ‘stories’ from their friends, ie anecdotal accounts. But is this true? JP Rushton was at the helm of this resurrected idea, stating that an inverse relationship existed between penis size and brain size. He cites a WHO study on condom size showing that African countries get the biggest condoms, yet I cannot find the paper discussing it. PP wrote an article, Non-black men are so jealous of black penis sizeciting the same study Rushton (1997) cited in his book Race, Evolution, and Behavior. I will discuss PP’s musings on racial differences in penis size.

A pet peeve of mine is that a lot of non-black men in the HBD blogosphere believe everything that professor J. Philippe Rushton said about ethnic differences in IQ and brain size, but when it comes to black men having the largest penis size, they suddenly turn into HBD deniers, ranting and raving about how the research is wrong. Well, I’m sorry but HBD is not here to serve your racist supremacy, HBD is here to celebrate ALL RACES, NOT YOURS ONLY!!!! If the data shows that black men have the largest penis size, then shut up and get over it. What kind of man gets jealous over another man’s penis size anyway? A sick, twisted, perverted sinful one. Healthy well adjusted normal guys don’t even know how large their penis is, and couldn’t care less, because they have other things going for them like a girlfriend, a career, and sports, and their mind’s not in the gutter. The only legitimate reason to care is for science, so here are the FACTS:

Exactly, the only reason to care is for science. And the science shows no differences. What data shows differences in penis size? Something you can directly access right now without relying on a secondhand source to prove your claim?

According to data from the World Health Organization Global Programme on AIDS Specification and Guidelines for Condom Procurement (1991, p 33, Table 5), assuming a normal distribution, I estimate the average white American man has a penis length of 162 mm (SD = 19) , and the average African American man has a penis length of 170 mm (SD = 19). (since 5% of black men are longer that 200 mm, and 2% of white men are, while 27% of white men have penises shorter than 151 mm, while 15% of black men do).

No hyperlink to the study? Why do you rely on a secondhand account? Why didn’t you show the table?

Just found some information on the WHO study he cited. The information from which the WHO data is derived is derived from American blacks and Caucasians, not any subjects from Europe or Africa. He also asked 150 people on a Toronto shopping mall what their penis size was (back to garbage self-reports), and finally, who is this French army surgeon he brings up? So many questions. 

Also, PP, asking the questions and questioning his data and what he wrote isn’t “disagreeing on him on this and agreeing with him on everything else”, as you of all people know how critical o am of Lyn  and Rushton. Yet you seem to eat up everything they write, thinking they can never be wrong. Why is that? 

Rushton (1997) writes on pg 169 of Race, Evolution, and Behavior:

Data provided by the Kinsey Institute have confirmed the black-white difference in penis size (Table 8.2, and items 70-72 of Table 8.4). Alfred Kinsey and his colleagues instructed their respondents on how to measure their penis along the top surface, from belly to tip. The respondents were given cards to fill out and return in preaddressed stamped envelopes. Nobile (1982) published the first averages of these data finding the length and circumferences of the penis for the white samples was smaller than for the black sample. (Flaccid length = 3.86 inches [9.80 cm] vs. 4.34 inches [11.02 cm]; erect length = 6.15 inches [15.62 cm] vs. 6.44 inches [16.36 cm]; erect circumference = 4.83 inches [12.27 cm] vs. 4.96 inches [12.60 cm] respectively.)

Self-reports? Please. Self-reports are notoriously embellished. Moreover, the amount of black Americans in the Kinsey study was in double digits.

I can never find certain papers online, so that really hinders any further discussion on this.

If anyone can find any of these papers, leave a comment.

Harvey, P. H., & May, R. M. (1989). Out for the sperm count. Nature, 337, 508-9.

Short, R. V. (1979). Sexual selection and its component parts, somatic and genital selection, as illustrated by man and the great apes. In J. S. Rosenblatt, R. A. Hinde, C. Beer, & M-C Busnel (Eds.), Advances in the Study of Behavior, Vol. 9. New York: Academic

When it comes to scrotal circumference, I don’t have exact figures, but Rushton cites scholars showing that Africans exceed Europeans: Short, 1979; Ajmani, Jain & Saxena, 1985.

I found Ajmani et al (1985), they state that in 320 healthy Nigerians, average penile length was 3.21 inches, while scrotal circumference was 8.37 inches. PP says he didn’t have exact figures, but they were in Rushton’s references (which I see he didn’t check). Rushton doesn’t cite data on European scrotal circumference so how is that saying that ‘Africans exceed Europeans’ when only Nigerians were examined? Remember: studies are only applicable to the demographic tested. Extrapolating that data on to the whole of Africa makes no sense. Moreover, any data on Europeans is only for that specific ethny tested. Unless the whole of the European continent is averaged out, you cannot say that these differences exist.

This doesn’t even touch on Lynn’s “data” on penis size:

  Lynn attempts to justify his belief that there are differences between races in penis length on the basis that European and Asian males have lower levels of testosterone than Africans and that the “reduction of  testosterone had the effect of reducing penis length, for which evidence is given by Widodsky and Greene (1940).” Widodsky and Greene (1940) is actually a study of the effects of sex hormones on the penises of rats. This is hardly convincing evidence that there are racial differences in testosterone levels or that a reduction in penis length ever occurred in human history.

Lynn’s claims about differences in penis length between races build on earlier claims by Rushton and Bogaert (1987). The Rushton and Boagert paper is striking for its use of non-scholarly sources (Weizmann, Wiener, Wiesenthal, & Ziegler, 1991). These include a book of semi-pornographic “tall tales” by an anonymous nineteenth century French surgeon that makes wildly inconsistent claims about genital sizes in people of different races. Lynn also refers to this book without mentioning any problems with this as a source of information. Another odd data source cited by Rushton and Bogaert is an article authored by a certain “P. Nobile” published in Forum: International Journal of Human Relations. This publication is better known to the public as “The Penthouse Forum”, a popular men’s magazine. [This is pretty well known and embarrassing that Rushton did that.]

The data sources that Lynn uses in his recent paper are hardly much better. One of them is a book by Donald Templer (another self-professed race realist[1]) called Is Size Important? Templer is not a urologist but a psychologist so why he would claim to be an authority on this subject is unclear.[2] Lynn’s other source is the world penis size website. These are both self-published sources that have not been independently verified. A blogger named Ethnic Muse has carefully examined this site’s references and found that a number of articles listed on the site either do not exist under the name given or do not discuss penis size at all. There are also numerous discrepancies between the values provided by the website and the actual values given by the references.[3] Therefore, the information on this website cannot be trusted and no conclusions should be drawn from it.

Pretty embarrassing for race-realism, to be honest. Looks like the data from “P. Nobile” is from a Penthouse webforum that he ‘published’ his ‘results’ in, instead of a scholarly journal. Rushton did state ‘forum’ (not stating it was the ‘Penthouse forum’, though), but why should we take this as proof of anything?

The sadder one is multiple ‘references’ of Lynn’s that either don’t exist or don’t discuss penis size. Why trust these ‘sources’, when they aren’t controlled scientific studies?

Veale et al (2014) write:

It is not possible from the present meta-analysis to draw any conclusions about any differences in penile size across  different races. Lynn [31] suggest that penis length and girth are greatest in Negroids (sub-Saharan Africans), intermediate in Caucasoids (Europeans, South Asians and North African), and smallest in Mongoloids (East Asians), but this is baseupon studies that did not meet our present inclusion and

The greatest proportion of the participants in the present meta-analysis were Caucasoids. There was only one study of 320 men in Negroids and two studies of 445 men in Mongoloids. There are no indications of differences in

racial variability in our present study, e.g. the study from Nigeria was not a positive outlier. The question of racial variability can only be resolved by the measurements with large enough population being made by practitioners following the same method with other variables that mainfluence penis size (such as height) being kept constant. Future studies should also ensure they accurately report the race of their participants and conduct inter-rater reliability.

This meta-analysis was only done on Caucasians, but from the previous study on 320 Nigerians cited from Rushton (Ajmani et al, 1985) and 445 Mongoloids, no racial differences were found. When an actual study gets carried out on this, I doubt that there would be any differences between races.

Orakwe and Ebuh (2007) again test Nigerians (5.2 inches), then compare them with Italians (4.92 inches), Greeks (4.79 inches), Koreans (3.78), British (5.11 inches), and American Caucasians (4.9 inches). The only statistical difference was between Nigerians and Koreans. They conclude:

There is the possibility of racial differences in penile sizes, but there is no convincing scientific background to support the ascription of bigger penile dimensions to people of the Black race.

I wouldn’t say there is a ‘possibility’ that it’s true, based on a population of Nigerians. We can say that ethnic differences may exist between Koreans and Nigerians, but to extrapolate that to all five races and say that racial differences exist and that it fits neatly into Rushton’s outdated 3-way racial model is incorrect. It wasn’t a  representative sample of Nigerians (and I obviously don’t have access to the methods of the other papers, I will update this in the future when I find more data), and the bigger sample of the two samples that I cited showed a smaller size.


Do racial differences in penis size exist? We can’t really come to a conclusion based on the data we currently have. Using “””data””” from the Penthouse webforum and a self-reported survey online is embarrassing and the data shouldn’t be used in the discussion of whether these differences exist. The only reliable data on Africans, as far as I know, is on Nigerians; the study with the higher n showed a smaller length. The data so far, shows that no difference exist exists (Veale et al, 2014: 983).

“Racial Realities of Southern Europe”: Nordicist Fantasies Redux

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I came across this garbage from the DailyStormer the other day, Racial Realities of Southern Europe that has, of course, huge misconceptions on the genetic history of Southern Europe. This “Sven” guy–like most Nordicists–cherry-picks to prove his idiotic and untrue points, like most Nordicists. I won’t be going through the garbage video on the site (since it’s too boring and his fake voice irritates me) but I’ll go through the comments section.

Italy once contained Rome, but Rome lost its racial purity when it made citizens of all races, only later to be rescued by the invasion of new and vigorous barbarian stocks.

Stupid. No basis in reality–only has a basis in Nordicist fantasies.

The crazies in the comments ramble on and on about “blonde-haired Jesus”, the founding Romans having blonde hair, Spartans and Macedonians had blonde hair (wut?), Iberians were blonde (as if they don’t have a sizeable population that is blonde today). All idiotic garbage that no serious person who has ever read any serious genetic studies takes seriously.

“His Name is YHVH” says:

And I’m not going to debate this. I’ve read meticulous translations of Homer, and Arthur Kemp, and the viking invasion of Greece after the volcanic eruption.

Who in the hell cites March of the Titans seriously for genetics or anything else for that matter? He has such a warped view of history, muh Nordics was Egyptians, muh Nordics was Native Indians, muh Solutrean Hypothesis, muh blonde-haired, blue-eyed Greeks and Romans. Idiocy with no basis in reality. It’s funny. Nordicists get on Afrocentrists for attempting to steal European history, yet Nordicists DO THE SAME THING. Nordicists and Afrocentrists are two sides of the same coin. Yet neither of them realize that. Come on guys, #its2016 don’t cite trash like MotT and expect to get taken seriously by anyone who knows what they’re talking about.

So, you want to be superior to the niggers and the mestizzos and the chinamen but then you don’t want to be inferior to anything above you, thus acknowledging superior and inferior exist on the one hand when it suits you conveniently and then arguing against it when it does not. Now which is it?

These things don’t exist in in evolutionary biology.

This “Sven” guy thinks that the Nordic race originate in North Africa. But what do genetic studies tell us? I’ll quote Razib here:

read this paper: i have blogged extensively on this, i’m not going to repeat myself at length. #becauseIts2016 and the data is out there.

One may say “The Nordic traits are recessive so it’s impossible for us to have been a result of mongrelization”.

one may say that if you are retarded. i can name two “nordic traits,” lactase persistence and skin color, which are not recessive. the former is mostly dominant (h ~ 1) while the latter exhibits midparent parent values closer to light than dark (h > 0.5). others, like eye and hair color are more recessive (h < 0.5). but one can not say that an individual is mostly recessive or dominant, as that is not even wrong.

if you are a “racerealist” you should know these basic facts of human population genetics in 2016. otherwise you are a racemythist.

(of course, anyone who has seen my son would laugh at the idea that “nordic traits” are recessive :-) like ~20% of northern europeans he is a het. on KITLG locus with one loss of function allele)

(oh, and also, nordic traits are recent anyway, so ancestry is less important than you think:

Nordicists et al, it’s #2016, please get up to speed on the latest studies and data. If you won’t get up to speed on the matter, don’t even call yourself a ‘race-realist’, you’d be better off calling yourself a ‘race-mythist’ as Razib says.

“Menhir” says:

No, I believe Aryan originated in central asia, and migrated to Europe.

Nope. Originated in the Caspian steppe.

“Wesley Lysander” says:

“eh this seems like more of the usual genetic science which proves that Italians aren’t Caucasian”

I covered this last year:

Combined data from two large mtDNA studies provides an estimate of non-Caucasoid maternal ancestry in Italians. The first study sampled 411 Italians from all over the country and found five South Asian M and East Asian D sequences (1.2%) and eight sub-Saharan African L sequences (1.9%). The second study sampled 465 Sicilians and detected ten M sequences (2.2%) and three L sequences (0.65%). This makes a total of 3% non-white maternal admixture (1.3% Asian and 1.7% African), which is very low and typical for European populations, since Pliss et al. 2005, e.g., observed 1.8% Asian admixture in Poles and 1.2% African admixture in Germans. (Plaza et al. 2003; Romano et al. 2003)

Similar data from the Y-chromosome reveals Italians’ even lower non-Caucasoid paternal admixture. Both studies obtained samples from all over the mainland and islands. No Asian DNA was detected anywhere, but a single sub-Saharan African E(xE3b) sequence was found in the first study’s sample of 416 (0.2%), and six were observed in the second study’s sample of 746 (0.8%). The total is therefore a minuscule 0.6%, which decreases to 0.4% if only Southern Italians are considered and 0% if only Sicilians are considered.Again, these are normal levels of admixture for European populations (e.g. Austrians were found to have 0.8% E(xE3b) by Brion et al. 2004). (Semino et al. 2004; Cruciani et al. 2004)

An analysis of 10 autosomal allele frequencies in Southern Europeans (including Italians, Sicilians and Sardinians) and various Middle Eastern/North African populations revealed a “line of sharp genetic change [that] runs from Gibraltar to Lebanon,” which has divided the Mediterranean into distinct northern and southern clusters since at least the Neolithic period. The authors conclude that “gene flow [across the sea] was more the exception than the rule,” attributing this result to “a joint product of initial geographic isolation and successive cultural divergence, leading to the origin of cultural barriers to population admixture.” (Simoni et al. 1999)

More Nordicist idiocy with no basis in reality.

“Crowley” says:

Science proves Mediterranean people are exposed to sun radiation more often, and that’s it. Scandinavian people get their pale features from being exposed to colder climates more often. Any pan-Nordic theory that all other Europeans are icky tainted negroes has long been debunked.

So you need science to tell you that Meds are exposed to more sun from being closer to the equator? ….I see.

“Sven” says:

Right at the beginning of the chapter he explains that the only true Mediterraneans left are the Welsh and the Irish.

This guy is such an idiot. I guess the Germans are negro because they have 1.2 percent negro admixture. “Through DNA research”. He doesn’t keep up on the latest studies. Dumb prole. Moreover, Mediterranean peoples stretch from Southern Europe to North Africa to the Middle East; they are all Mediterranean people. Though, people who don’t keep up on the latest studies and only retarded dogma think otherwise.

“Eric Stryker” says:

Another weird thing is that Stoddard himself looks almost textbook Mediterranean.

Then “Sven” says:

What he looks like bears no relevance to his work at all.

I see you are now reduced to ad hominem equivalent in your quest to discredit his work.

This is GOLD coming from someone like him. I wouldn’t doubt that this guy is one of those people to throw away a source because it comes from a leftist magazine or throw something away and disregard it because a Jew wrote it. Such hypocrisy.

“Sven” then says:

We dont all seek to bend the truth to try and make it suit ourselves.

I can’t stop laughing! This is coming from the prole moron who says all of these lies SEEKING TO BEND THE TRUTH TO TRY AND MAKE IT SUIT HIMSELF. People’s idiocy and lack of introspection into their views never ceases to amaze me.

Soooooo why should any other sources be thrown away for where they come from? People say “H-he’s a Jew don’t listen!!!” But that has “no relevance to his work at all.”

“Eric Stryker” says:

Obviously Sven, you are a person with a very low IQ, so I think continuing to debate your Biblically Nordic Spartans is a waste of time. Good luck in your self-esteem rehabilitation and guidance from vile trecherous little Jew rats like Josephus, Sven Jones. I can’t get angry at you, you’re too stupid to hate.

Truest thing said in that thread. Biblical Nordic Spartans? Who the hell believes this garbage?

“Sven” says:

Just like a Jew you try to smear White racial researchers like Stoddard and claim Josephus as one of yours.

Hey, let’s go of some old book and not modern-day genetic studies! You’re a Jew because you disagreed with me.

This Sven moron thinks that Nords originated in North Africa!! My sides!!!

Anyone reading this, to see the true origin of the Nords, read this.

“Sven” says:

Nordics were not in pre-historic Germania in large numbers when Rome was being built, they were mainly in the Levant, North Africa and southern Europe.

I am convinced that this guy is retarded. Nordics came from North Africa, the Levant and Southern Europe? CITATION NEEDED. I already showed that Nordic traits are recent, so how the hell could they originate in MENA countries and South Europe?

“Sven” then says:

I guess you must think Nordics were sitting in the ice, freezing their asses off doing nothing and leaving no trace until they suddenly discovered civilisation in Europe in the first millennium.

This is one of the only things he said that’s true in this thread. That’s pretty much how it went down. What’s funny is that your ideological brethre–the Afrocentrists– call whites “cave beasts”. Who were these “cave beasts”? Nords! They were “living in caves” before Rome cultured and civilized them. Both the Romans and Greeks had pretty unkind words for the barbarians to the North.

Then “Sven” cites all of his garbage “Radio Stormer” podcasts as proof. Where are the genetic studies from Pubmed and PLOS Genetics? The fact that this guy had to link to his garbage and untrue radio show speaks volumes.

“Sven” then says that Copts and Berbers were Nordic. Ha! These Nordicists, man. They’ll say anything to grab others’ history, just like their cousins the Afrocentrists.

“His Name Is YHVH” comes back and says:

Correction, my uneducated friend, Nordics DID build Rome. They also built the pyramids, or didn’t you know, didn’t you see the blond hair mummies?
Why don’t you go read March of the Titans and learn about it?

“Go read MotT bro!! It’s the truth of European history and the white race!!” No serious person takes that book seriously. Hey didn’t you see the blonde hair mummies!!?? It’s not like the racial phenotypes we code aren’t recent or anything!!

I LOVE how these morons link to backwater websites and not Pubmed or PLOS Genetics for their information. Shows what they read!!!

“Sven” says:

The Bible itself tells you Jesus ancestors were White, fair, ruddy and blue eyed. It also tells you that the Spartans were descended from Judah in the book of Maccabees and Flavius Josephus Histories.

“Believe the Bible about genetics.” I wonder if these people read what Biblical scholars say on interpretations of the Bible. You know they don’t so, like their cousins the Afrocentrists and “black Israelites”, they take Bible verses and warp them to suit their needs. Isn’t it funny how these groups all hate each other but they’re cut from the same ideological cloth?

People like this guy just push anything that affirms their ideology. It’s not based in science–it’s based in fantasy. To see the true origin of the Nordics, see herehere, and here. Most of what Nordicists say–just like their ideological cousins the Afrocentrists–is not based in reality but based in fantasies.

This article from the Unz Review, What Race Were the Greek and Romans? harps on and on about the same things that “Sven” does. However, the author gets summarily dismantled in the comments.

“Progressive” Evolution: Part III

1950 words

PumpkinPerson seems to be making his blog “more politically correct“. So he seems to be removing his posts that he may deem “insensitive” to certain people. You run a (mostly) HBD blog. People who go to a HBD blog must know that they may come across certain truths that they may find uncomfortable–and even ‘offensive’. This seems like it’ll be my last reply to PP on this matter as he has removed the thread we were conversing about this matter in. Now that PP is becoming more ‘PC’, is he going to disavow his views on “progressive” evolution, “superiority and inferiority” when speaking about organisms and human races and “the concept of ‘more evolved'”?

RR: You’ve stated numerous times that evolution is progressive. Which is why I assume you’re equating “progress” with “more evolved”. Do you believe that more evolved implies progress or that progress implies more evolved?

PP: I PERSONALLY believe more evolved life is on average, superior to less evolved life, but there is nothing intrinsically progressive about being more evolved, and there’s no reasons for opponents of progress to avoid the term. In some cases, the more evolved form is clearly inferior such as when a dog evolved into a cancer.

That’s the point. The ‘more evolved’ organism is more often than not ‘inferior’ compared to its predecessor. This shows that there is no ‘progress’ to evolution. And the “more evolved” form became “inferior” to its predecessor due to changes in environment. If those environmental pressures were different, a whole slew of phenotypic changes would have occurred to have the “less evolved, inferior” organism be “superior” to its predecessor. This line of reasoning shows how idiotic of a concept “progress” in evolution is.

RR: Moreover, ancestral state reconstructions of absolute brain mass, body mass and EQ revealed patterns of increase and decrease in EQ within anthropoid primates and cetaceans.

PP: But the OVERALL pattern has been one of increase. The average brain size of ALL living mammals has TRIPPLED in 65 million years.

I just showed that there are increases AND decreases in the fossil record. No one denies that there has been an upward trend in brain size. However, as I’ve said to you previously, our brains have been shrinking for 20ky, with there being evidence that it’s been decreasing for 20ky. Sure, the trend over the past few million years shows an increase, but the trends for the past 30k years or so show a decrease and this is due to agriculture.

RR: Just showed this is wrong. (On morphology being an indicator of speciation)

PP: No you just cited a paper that agrees with your definition of species. That’s not an argument.

I cited this paper by Ernst May, What is a Species, and What is Not? where he says:

I analyze a number of widespread misconceptions concerning species. The species category, defined by a concept, denotes the rank of a species taxon in the Linnaean hierarchy. Biological species are reproducing isolated from each other, which protects the integrity of their genotypes. Degree of morphological difference is not an appropriate species definition. Unequal rates of evolution of different characters and lack of information on the mating potential of isolated populations are the major difficulties in the demarcation of species taxa.

Just because you believe that speciation is based on morphology doesn’t make it true, PP.

RR: Sure they are CORRELATED, but it doesn’t imply a cause. A relationship is not a cause. I just showed you a paper that shows you’re wrong but whatever.

PP: But a correlation is enough to show that evolution is progressive. Evolution correlates with progress = evolution is progressive.

Now he explicitly says that evolution is progressive. No matter how many times I point this out to him, he still wants to believe this idiotic notion that has no basis in evolutionary biology.

RR: How would this be gauged? Would you say to look at the LCA and gauge morphological changes?

PP: That’s one way.

Well, now the onus on you is to provide evidence for your claim that there was no–or ‘hardly’–any morphological changes in equatorial populations. You have to prove that they stayed similar to the LCA. Good luck!

PP: No I’m arguing that FEWER changes occurred in Africa because there were fewer splits in the African branch (at least as conceptualized by Cavalli-Sforza)”

This is MEANINGLESS. This is a HUGE intuitive misconception on how people read phylogenies. Just because Africans didn’t ‘split’ based on phylogenies DOESN’T MEAN that they had little to  no morphological changes. The racial phenotypes we code are recent, so this throws a wrench into your intuitive misconceptions on phylogenies.

RR: Prove it!

PP: The proof is that those humans who scientists believe have preserved the phenotype of the earliest modern humans (i.e. Andaman islanders, Papua New Guineans) all look very Negroid, as do those forensic reconstructions of ancient skulls you reject.

This isn’t proof. Just because scientists (like who?) ‘believe’ that Andaman Islanders and Papuans (no, no and no!!) “preserved the phenotypes of ancient humans” doesn’t mean that they are in any way, shape, or form SIMILAR to the original populations who migrated out of Africa 70kya!!!

Ancient skull reconstructions are meaningless. You cannot infer what type of lips an ancient human had. There are numerous problems with facial reconstructions, most specifically for this conversation, you cannot gauge certain things JUST from a skull:

The finished product only approximates actual appearance because the cranium does not reflect soft-tissue details (eye, hair, and skin color; facial hair; the shape of the lips; or how much fat tissue covers the bone). Yet a facial reconstruction can put a name on an unidentified body in a modern forensic case—or, in an archaeological investigation, a face on history.

It can ‘put a face to history’, however this reconstruction of, for instance, Mitochondrial Eve DOES NOT show what she actually looked like, specifically her lips, as seen above.

RR: I fully understand what you’re saying. Except I’ve shown how it’s wrong! You can’t say one branch means morphological change AND EVEN THEN, morphological change does not equal speciation as shown in the Mayr paper.

PP: You can say that if one branch has lots of splits, it implies environmental changes and pressures (since generally speaking, that’s what causes splits) and environmental changes generally cause morphological changes, which is one definition of species.

But this definition of species is wrong as I’ve just shown. Ernst Mayr shows, in the paper of his linked above, that morphology is not enough to denote speciation.

RR:Do you know better than people who do this for a living? There are multiple papers on misconceptions of cladograms and the like. I get its original nd I respect that. You’re a smart mother fucker pp. But that doesn’t mean you’re right here.

PP: I understand why you think I’m reading the trees wrong. I used to think the exact same way as you, and the sources you cite. Laymen shouldn’t make the simplistic assumption that higher branches = more evolved and that’s why scientists try to dispel that notion. Because the tree is just there to show relatedness, and evolution can happen or not happen at any point in the tree, no matter how many splits or non-splits occur.

Now you’re getting it!

PP: However once we understand all that, we have to ask ourselves, even though IN THEORY, any branch on the tree can evolve in any direction, and there’s nothing about the tree that implies a hierarchy, IN REALITY, is there a correlation between tree position and brain size and other measures of “progress”? I’ve provided evidence that there is. You can either ignore the evidence because it doesn’t fit the theory that branch placement is irrelevant, or you can realize that evolution is a little more nuanced than some simplistic introductory Berkeley paper implied.

Now you’re not. First off, the Berkely paper is not ‘simplistic’, nor is one of the papers that the Berkely papers cites, Understanding Evolutionary Trees by Gregory (2008). He shows the most common misconceptions one has on reading phylogenies. And most–if not all–of your misconceptions on phylogenies are brought up in the paper with great detail into the misconceptions as well as how to correct the misconceptions that one has while reading phylogenies. I’ve said to you, time and time again, that brain size is PREDICATED on the amount of kcal that one consumes. If were to eat 1000 kcal a day for, say, 2000 years, what would happen to our brain size as well as our body size? Would they stay the same, grow bigger or get smaller? Adequate kcal–as well as adequate nutrients–are the driver of brain size. Without those two variables, brain size wouldn’t have been increasing. Moreover, as I’ve documented two weeks ago, H. floresiensis showed a decrease in brain size as well as body size, having evolved from either H. erectus or H. habilis. This directly shows that brain size is dependent on the surrounding environment as well as the quality and quantity of the food that the organism consumes. Branch placement IS irrelevant. You can rotate the branches all around and that would throw your theory out the window. This is what you don’t understand.

Evolution IS NOT PROGRESSIVE. However, this scala naturae belief is still with us today, as documented by Rigatto and Minelli (2013). They say:


Professional papers in evolutionary biology continue to host expressions in agreement with the pre-evolutionary metaphor of the scala naturae (the great chain of being), when contrasting ‘lower’ to ‘higher’ representatives of a given branch of the tree of life. How pervasive is the persistence of progressionist, pre-evolutionary language in contemporary papers?


We document here the prevalence of this unexpected linguistic survival in papers published between 2005 and 2010 by 16 top scientific journals, including generalist magazines and specialist journals in evolutionary biology. Out of a total of 67,413 papers, the unexpectedly high figure of 1,287 (1.91%) returned positive hits from our search for scala naturae language.


A quantitative appreciation of the survival of progressionist language in scientific papers is the first step towards its eradication. This will obtain by improving skills in tree thinking as well as by more careful editorial policy.

Wow! 1.91 percent, 1,287 papers returned positive hits for ‘great chain of being’ language. These terms need to be removed from evolutionary biology as they don’t allow the appreciation of the randomness in the evolutionary processes.

Evolution is a random process. It’s an unconscious, non-linear event as I have documented extensively over the past month.

I’ll end with a quote from Ernst May’s book What Evolution Is:

Another widespread erroneous view of natural selection must also be refuted: Selection is not teleological (goal-directed). Indeed, how could an elimination process be teleological? Selection does not have a long-term goal. It is a process repeated anew in every generation. The frequency of extinction of evolutionary lineages, as well as frequent changes in direction, is inconsistent with the mistaken claim that evolution is a teleological process. Also, there is no known genetic mechanism that could produce goal-directed evolutionary processes. Orthogenesis and other proposed teleological processes have been thoroughly refuted (see Chapter 4).

To say it in other words, evolution is not deterministic. The evolutionary process consists of a large number of interactions. Different genotypes within a single population may respond differently to the same change of the environment. These changes, in turn, are unpredictable, particularly when caused by the arrival at a locality of a new predator or competitor. Survival during a mass extinction may strongly be affected by chance. (Mayr, 1964: 121)

Evolution is *NOT* Progressive: Part Two

3800 words

Previous articles here, here, here, here, and here.

PP is moderating my comments again, posting response here.

When exploring such intuitive reasoning, it’s important to note first that the idea of evolutionary “advancement” is not a particularly scientific idea. It is tempting to view organisms that are more similar to humans as more “advanced”; however, this is a biased and invalid perspective. There is no universal scale for “advancement” that favors human-like traits over spider-like, whale-like, or fir-like traits.

“Postmodernist egalitarian propaganda has even spread to zoology.”


You damn well know my politics, so you can’t say that I hold this view because I’m a postmodernist egalitarian spreading this to zoology.

Good comeback.

You can use those words all you want, that doesn’t say anything to what is written. You’re just politicizing this conversation when I’ve brought no politics into it.

I guess Darwin was one of those too since he wrote a note to himself to never call species “higher” or “lower” than one another; but what does he know?

“When you’re comparing life forms of equivalent taxa, you can not arbitrary reorient the tree. You have a common ancestor A. A splits into branches B and C. If B does not split, but C splits into D and E, then D and E are typically more evolved than B, because each split typically (not always) represents an evolutionary development like speciation.”

Still repeating the same garbage.

This is so funny and so wrong. An organism may have “more advanced” (whatever arbitrary trait you want to use) than another and be “lower” on the tree.

A population splitting off from another and becoming a founder population for a new species don’t mean that the new species is “more evolved”; it just means a gross misunderstanding of reading evolutionary trees and thinking about evolution.

The tree doesn’t equal “A < B < C < D”. This is what you don’t understand.

“I thought you said there was no such thing as “more evolved”. So you now admit you were wrong.”

No no. I still used “quotes” for “more evolved”. Just showing what the article said. Of course popular science articles use shitty, attention-grabbing titles; that’s how they get clicks.

“Your Berkeley quotes are way too sophomoric for a blog as advanced as this one. You need to step your game big time if you wan to continue this discussion.”

I laughed. I love your blog and there’s great conversation and you have good ideas, but you’re wrong on somethings and progressive evolution is one of them. You can say I “need to step my game up if I want to continue discussion”, but I’m bringing up good points. I’m directly showing how you’re wrong in reading these trees. Read the papers they cite, surveys were taken on how people read these trees and many people, like you, read them the completely wrong way. The biologists corrected it. You calling it postmodernist egalitarian propaganda is meaningless because I’m not pushing an egalitarian argument, I don’t believe in egalitarianism at all. I believe each organism is “good enough” for its environment and when the environment changes for good, it will change and develop new phenotypic traits. That doesn’t mean that the new species is “more evolved”, it means that evolution occurred to better survive. That’s it. Any reading into trees like you do is wrong and has been pointed out. You’re just repeating the same tired things that have been rebutted. But I need to step my game up. OK.

“Chimps could be more evolved than humans but it’s pretty unlikely, given their inferiority. I would have to examine their taxonomical history to be sure though, to see which lineage has travelled through more equivalent level taxa.”

Chimps are suited to their environment. That’s not an ‘egalitarian statement”, that’s the truth. The term has no biological basis. It’s ‘good enough’ for its environment. You’re just rehashing the great chain of being which is garbage.

“We hate things we can’t understand.”

I completely understand it. I’ve shown there’s no unidirectional trends in evolution due to the frequency of environmental change, the multitude of factors underlying fitness, the possibility of frequency-dependant epistatic interactions amongst features, and selection occurring within population. But I don’t “understand” it.

“Actually it’s brilliant conjecture. I’m sorry if it’s just too subtle for you.”

Too subtle? I just showed you how to read it and you’re saying it’s “too subtle” for me? You’re the one with fantasies of evolution being progressive and “more evolved” organisms. This has no evolutionary basis. I’ve established that. Rushton=psychologist. Not evolutionary biologist. I love Rushton, but of course by going outside of his field he’d make wrong conjectures. Do you believe everything that Rushton ever wrote? Do you think he was wrong on anything?

“Duh! But the concept you can’t seem to grasp is equal time evolving != equal amount of evolving.”

No way to quantify this. Any traits chosen will be arbitrary. This is what you don’t seem to grasp. Which of Darwin’s Finches are ‘more evolved’? You read trees so horribly wrong. Please go tell Razib how you read these trees. I want to see what he says.

“It’s like saying, Usain Bolt and I both spent an hour running. We must have travelled the same amount of distance. Don’t be stupid, RaceRealist!”

Wow, you win. sarcasm

Read up on muscle fiber typing and get back to me.

“he runs faster than me for a short amount of time; this proves that there are ‘more evolved’ organisms than others”. How stupid does that sound? Don’t be stupid, PumpkinPerson!

“Good comeback.”

I showed how you’re wrong the evolutionary tree.

An organisms placement on the tree is arbitrary, the trees branches can be rotated, blah blah blah. There’s so much information for you to read about this out there. Here.

Let me Google that for you, PP.

“You continue to miss the point. See my Usain Bolt analogy above. Two people can run for the same amount of time but when can have traveled through more spatial distance. Similarly, two lineages can evolve for an equal amount of time, but one has evolved through more taxonomical distance.”

I do not miss the point. Your Usain Bolt analogy is garbage. Just because one “evolves through more taxonomical distance” doesn’t mean that it’s “more evolved”. Email any evolutionary biologist or stop by Razib and tell him what you think on this matter.

There is one species. One small subset of that one species diverges 500 miles away into a completely different environment. Selection only occurs on heritable alleles. Over time since this species isn’t adapted to that environment, those who can’t survive die. Those who survived incurred mutations to help them survive and through natural selection they passed on the heritable gene variants to help them survive. They turn into a new species. The same thing happens again. The third species is not “more evolved” than the two previous ones. It went through different selection pressures and thus different heritable phenotypic traits occurred in that organism so it could survive. Just because an organism goes through different selection pressures doesn’t mean it’s “more evolved” because of differing selection pressures.

Let’s say that whites and East Asians died out one day, only leaving the equatorial races. Are they still “more evolved”. Do you see how retarded that is now?

“More evolved only means superior or more complex if you believe evolution is progressive, the very assertion you deny.”

I do deny. I said that as “more evolved means superior or more complex” because they would logically follow. That’s the logical progression. As I’ve said, you’re rehashing the great chain of being.

“But without the assumption of progress, more evolved simply means having undergone more evolutionary change.”

Not quantifiable. I’ve written at least 20,000 words on this on why you’re wrong.

The ‘more evolutionary change’ occurred due to a different environment. ‘More change’ isn’t ‘more time’ evolving. This isn’t scientifically quantifiable.

“No you’ve misunderstood my argument. If H floresiens evolved from H erectus, then by definition it is more evolved because it has evolved into one extra taxa then its ancestor.”

This is baseless in biology. It’s ‘more evolved’ yet smaller in stature and with a smaller brain; the thing that “more evolved” organisms don’t have. You just said that brain size and intelligence correlate with the tree branches, which is implying brain size and intelligence to be the traits you’ve chosen. Well, I choose the ability to breath underwater naturally. Who’s ‘most evolved’ then? Ask any biologist about this, see what they say.

“My argument is (1) some extant organisms are more evolved than others”

This is a premise, not an argument.

“More evolved organisms are ON AVERAGE superior to less evolved organisms, but there are lots of exceptions to this general trend.”

This is a premise, not an argument.

“You keep conflating argument 1 with argument 2. Please read more carefully before belabouring this point.”

Those are premises, not arguments. Please learn the difference between premises and arguments. They are wrong.

“Yes, I’m well aware of that theory.”

This is one reason why it occurred, the ‘devolution’ of H. floresiensis, AKA evolving to adapt to its environment.

“My definition is having undergone more evolution, full stop. So a monkey that evolves into a human and then evolves back into a monkey is more evolved than a monkey that merely evolves into a human. But as far as I know, examples of backwards evolution are relatively rare (homo florensis is the only documented case among primates, and even it is extremely controversial) but Mugabe has implied it’s common in simpler organisms. But perhaps once you get beyond a basic threshold of complexity, it becomes very unlikely to go backwards.”

Monkeys don’t “evolve” into humans!!! You have a Pokemon-like understanding of evolution. It’s pretty concrete. They had to have come from somewhere and I documented great evidence that shows it’s true. It is ‘common’ in ‘simpler organisms’. And it’d be common for humans too, the ‘most evolved’ ‘most adaptable’ species. We will respond to our environment.

An asteroid crashes into earth and blocks out the sun. Then what? We’d evolve differently. We wouldn’t be ‘more evolved’ if we changed into a new species if that pressure was long enough. ‘Complexity’ is not definable!

“The latter. If an organism has to evolve into a new species to adapt to its environment, then obviously the original species was not very adaptable. Humans are arguably the most adaptable organism precisely because we’re one of the few organisms that doesn’t have to evolve in order to adapt. We don’t need to change our genes because we can change our behavior, and now we’ve even learned how to change our behavior to change our genes.”

What do you mean? The founding population of the new species was the same as the old species. But through natural selection (and even when NS is weak as I’ve shown), changes occur. But that doesn’t mean “more evolved” or “more adaptable”. It means an organism survived because it was “good enough”.

When humans die out for good and other organisms are still here, will we still be ‘more evolved’?

I’ve shown 6 million times that we aren’t as ‘complex’ as you think we are.

He approved it, replied, and I gave him this reply.

The people you are citing are brainwashed by postmodernist views and you accept their interpretations uncritically.

Not an argument. I can say that Rushton is brain washed. Where does that get us?

Of course. But generally speaking, the more splits on the evolutionary tree you’re descended from, the more evolved you are.

Not quantifiable. Any trait chosen is arbitrary.

Of course. But generally speaking, the more splits on the evolutionary tree you’re descended from, the more evolved you are.

No one looks, except laymen, look at a tree like that and see what you’re seeing. Email Cavalli about that.

Of course it does. More evolved means having undergone more evolution. How do you know when you’ve undergone more evolution? When you’ve evolved into something new.

RaceRealist is saying “just because we ran a mile, and you split off and ran another mile, doesn’t mean you’ve run more miles than me!”

Yes it does.

Evolving into something new, speciation, occurs due to pressures from the environment. You’re trying to throw a mask of evolutionary progress there, but it doesn’t work like that.

Splitting off means nothing.

But ‘progress to adapt’ doesn’t always mean ‘gets better’, in the grand, anthropomorphic scheme of things. Cave animals for example have evolved to lose their sense of sight (because mutations that negatively disrupted vision were not detrimental, and actually allowed them to save energy that otherwise would be spent towards maintaining vision systems). They’re better fit for living in caves, but I think one could easily argue that that adaptation significantly reduced their ability to survive elsewhere. Similarly, a polar bear putting on extra padding and thicker fur makes it better suited for the arctic, but strikingly less suited for further south ranges, and not surprisingly, you don’t see polar bears in the US.

Evolution pressures organisms to become better fit to the environment they’re currently in, because those organisms that are better suited than their competitors are the one’s that produce yet more competitive progeny to continue the process. Evolution doesn’t care about more evolved Zorn progress, or your masked great chain of being. It’s an ongoing process, whether there is speciation or not. That’s what you don’t understand.

No, RaceRealist, I’m not merely reading from left to right. What I’m saying is A < B = C < D = E

Splits on a tree typically indicate speciation. So whatever species is descended from the greatest number of splits, typically has the most species in its ancestry. Since evolving into a new species reflects evolutionary change, whoever is the descendent of the most species (within a given taxa) has experienced the most evolutionary change. Most evolutionary changed = most evolved.

Trees are read in terms of most recent common ancestors. The ancestor before is not more or less evolved. And when you bring this argument to human races you’re most definitely applying superiority here which I’ve shown doesn’t exist in biology. You’ve basically just read left to right. You’re saying a is better than b who’s better than c who’s better than d who’s better than e. Each one is set for their environment. Saying one is more evolved is a stealth way to say “superior” and “progressive” evolution.

When the biologist say it doesn’t matter which species is on the left or right of the tree, they are correct. However my point is that whichever species is descended from the most SPLITS on the tree is TYPCALLY the most evolved. If you don’t like the term most evolved, then can we at least agree they’ve generally undergone the most evolutionary change?

And other times you’d be wrong. Because trees aren’t just not typically read like that, they are never read kkk that. It’s in terms of common ancestors.

Yes actually that’s exactly what it means. Undergoing more evolutionary change makes you more evolved. It doesn’t matter WHY you’re more evolved.

This is such a 5th grade understanding of an ultra complex concept. Evolution is an ongoing process. So one species isn’t more evolved than its predecessor. This is where your misconceptions are huge.

If they’ve been rebutted, explain the high correlation between number of splits each of these populations is descended from, and brain size/IQ. If number of splits is completely meaningless, no such correlation should exist:

This is an utterly ridiculous claim, because ‘number of splits’ has literally nothing to do with ‘duration of separation’, and everything to do with A ) resolution used to depict the tree, and B ) number of offshoots. For example, monotremes are one of the three original mammal offshoots, and there have been very few offshoots from that lineage relative to marsupials or eutherians. Explain the high correlation? Because those groups went to colder climates. Simple.

More evolved is quantified by the number of taxa you’re descended from within a given taxa. The traits favoured are not arbitrary, they’re decided by examining the most evolved specimens.

But they would be arbitrary. Because organisms survive with the traits they have. Natural selection selects from the current heritable variations already in that species. Therefore any traits you choose will be arbitrary. You can’t say E is more evolved than A because it comes from more splits. Please ask Razib Khan if that’s correct. Or email a biologist. I’d love to see the response.

Yes they are, until the equatorial races catch up to where the Eurasians left off.

Evolution is not a linear line. It won’t happen the same for others. What do t you get about that? Evolution isn’t linear.

Correlation != PERFECT correlation

If it happened once it’ll happen again. The fact that it happened to H. erectus, one with a bigger brain, it throws a wrench in your theory. Island dwarfism is also another reason why they changed that abruptly. That doesn’t mean more evolved. It mean different selection pressure.

But according to you evolution is not progressive so why would more evolved imply superior? If evolution is completely directionless as you imply, then more evolved organisms would be just as likely to be inferior as inferior.

RaceRealist logic: “people don’t walk in any direction, but the people who’ve walked most have walked most North”

“More evolved” implies “superior”. If the “more evolved” organism is “more evolved” than the “less evolved” organism, that means its “higher” than the other organism. That’s “superiority”. It doesn’t exist in biology. Yes more “evolved organisms” are just as likely to be “inferior” than “less evolved” organisms. Because evolution has no direction. No organism is worse or better than another. No organism is “more or less evolved” than another.

Whoever has gone through the most evolutionary change since the shared common ancestor.

Whoever goes through evolutionary change has to to to survive. Evolutionary trees are read in terms of most common ancestors. That’s it.

You have a concrete definition of a monkey. Broadly speaking, a monkey is any sub-human higher primate, including the anthropoid apes


They still don’t evolve into humans.

Under extreme cases we’d evolve drastically, but unlike other animals, we went from sub-Saharan Africa to the arctic without evolving into a new species. That’s an incredible accomplishment.

Sewall Wright believed the Fst value to be great enough between the races to call them separate species. He would know because he kinda invented the concept. Of course we’d evolve drastically, because we’d have a new change to the environment. That’s what happens. It doesn’t mean more evolved. That more evolved organism will die in an environment where its no suited. It’s that simple.

Yes we would because in order to evolve into something new, you have to do MORE EVOLVING!

In order to evolve into a new species, new selection pressures are needed. Why you’re using these terms, I don’t know why.

Sure it is. Most people would agree that angiosperms are more complex than slime molds and that multicellular organisms are more complex that prokaryotes with no nucleus, and that the human mind is more complex than a snake’s brain.

Who is “most people”? Average Joe and Jane? Why should I care what a layperson thinks? Read the paper I linked and get back to me.

If the founding population were able to adapt as it was, changes would not have needed to occur.

Where do you get these ideas about evolution?

The founding population adapted genotypically which obviously after that occurs the phenotype is affected. Then speciation occurs after long enough. Remember Punctuated Equilibria. Long time in stasis, quick jump to a new species. Most fossils have been in stasis. When an organism moves into an area, it either adapts or dies. Those traits are already in the population, natural selection selects for alleles that are beneficial to that organism. If the founding population can’t adapt, it wouldn’t have turned into the new species anyway. This is where you’re confused.

Yes, but maybe in another few million years, something else will have experienced even more evolution than we have.

Why should I care about “maybe”? I care about what’s quantifiable. From what I’m seeing, you’re attempting to revive the great chain of being. It’s a junk argument. Time matters, not amount of splits, for evolution. You looking at a tree, seeing more splits and saying aha!! More evolved! Shows a rudimentary understanding of evolution.

The human mind is the most complex known object in the universe.

The universe is the most complex known object in the universe

Why PP doesn’t grasp this yet is beyond me. Maybe it’s Rushton hero worship. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to be wrong on something he’s so invested in. Whatever the case may be, he’s persistence in repeating the same things that have been shown to be false is pretty damn annoying. It shows he doesn’t care about the actual data and how trees are read, for one, and call it Marxist propaganda that I’m pushing on zoology. As if I’m a Marxist. I’m the direct antithesis of Marxist. His strawmen don’t mean anything, I’ve more than made a good enough case that what he’s saying has no basis in evolutionary biology but he continues to push it. Hopefully one day he understands how wrong he is here.

Most people become blind and have tunnel vision with their beliefs. No matter how many times they’re shown that they’re wrong and here is why they still hold on to their beliefs. People don’t like to hear that they are wrong. When people are presented with contrary information, they gather support for their beliefs with “paradoxical enthusiasm”.This is because people have become so invested in their worldview that when provided contradictory evidence they lack the self-esteem to admit they were wrong and change their view. There is also something called “the backfire effect“, in which correcting of a wrong perception actually increases misperceptions. The tunnel vision that people with huge misconceptions have, in this case progressive evolution and “more evolved” organisms, leads to them attempting to find anything they can to substantiate their claims, even if they’re objectively false. This is the perfect example of that in effect in action. People don’t want know that their worldview is wrong. They don’t want to alter it, even when shown factual information that directly refutes what they say.

Hopefully one day PP can set aside his bias, join us in the real world, and objectively look at the data and see how wrong he truly is.

Misconceptions on Evolutionary Trees and More on Evolutionary “Progress” 

3300 words

There are numerous misconceptions on evolutionary trees, and they all, of course, go back to this notion of “progressive” evolution and people may believe these trees show that one organism is “more evolved”. However, these false notions from looking at evolutionary trees intuitively show how one may misinterpret these evolutionary trees. I’ve shown PumpkinPerson numerous times that he’s reading the trees wrong and interpreting it to fit Rushton’s 3-way race model. He, however, doesn’t want to listen to the data and continuously attempts to salvage his position that have been continuously broken apart.
These notions that PP is espousing are common misconceptions on evolutionary trees.  He doesn’t realize that he’s not scientifically reading the trees correctly and is using his intuition on what the trees mean (where he’s extremely wrong).

Intuitive Interpretation: Taxa (diferent groups of living thinigs) are organized into a Great Chain of Being, which some taxa (e.g., humans) are higher or more advanced than others. 1, 2, 3, 4

Scientific Interpretation: The relationships among taxa are best represented by a branching tree-like structure (a phylogeny), in white taxa appear at the tips of the phylogeny, visually reinforcing the idea that no taxon has a higher or lower status than  others.

The way that PP reads these trees is, in a way, attempting to interpret it as a “great chain of being”, which evolutionary biologists do not believe anymore. I’ve said numerous times that evolution is a branching tree, not a linear line. A branching tree makes more sense than slow and gradual change; basically the difference between Punctuated Equilibria and phyletic gradualism. And here is Berkeley’s explanation for how to really read it:

Explanation: The idea of “higher” and “lower” organisms is intuitively appealing and has many antedents in the history of science; however, this idea refelcts a human-centered, biased perspective on the biological world in which other organisms are measured by their similarity to humans. Taking an unbiased view, it is clear there is no universal yardstick against which we can measure species. For example, we could focuse on photosynthetic ability (which would make plants the “higher” beings), sheer number of indviduals (which would pick out bacteria and microorganisms as special),or any number of other traits. Each trait would suggest a very different group of “higher” organisms. Diagrams that represent relationships using a central trunk with side branches reinforce the incorrect idea that evolution is directional and progressive. Phylogenetic trees are preffered because they convey information about evolutionary relationships without reinforcing intuitive ideas about evolutionary progress by placing some taxa above or below others. A similar intuitive idea is that some living species are more evolved than others; this idea is explored in the section about time.

Perfectly comprehensible that it doesn’t mean that one organism is “more evolved” than another.

I don’t even know any serious evolutionary biologist who would read a tree like that. It’s ridiculous and it in no way fits the data on how an actual tree will be read.

These differing trees show that it’s easy to see how one may say that there is a sort of “progression” to evolution, however there is no “progress” to evolution so in reading the tree in this way, one would have these misconceptions that PP has.

Another popular intuitive way to reduce a tree is stating that a branch that’s further away from the beginning of the lineage is “more evolved” or has “progressed more” than the common ancestor. However, a taxon’s relationship on phylogeny is a function of its relationship to other taxa and how the branches are rotated. The position of an organism on the tree is not any type of specialization, adaptation or any extreme traits in comparison to other organisms “lower” on the tree.  Thusly, an organism’s placement on the tree is meaningless.

One of the biggest misconceptions PP has is not just on evolutionary trees, but the fact that organism have been “evolving” more than other organisms.

The above graph shows that since all species alive today share a common ancestor, that they all have had the same time evolving.

In most evolutionary trees, branch length doesn’t indicate anything about amount of evolutionary change. All though, when branch length is used to depict evolutionary change, branch length is then used. But this doesn’t mean that the organism at the end of that branch is ‘more evolved’ or has ‘progressed’ more than another; it just shows that more selective pressures had species adapt genotypically, which led to phenotypic changes over time to better survive in that environment. That’s it.

Now, here is the kicker (which goes with the previous picture from Berkely) and this is what directly refutes his rudimentary understanding of phylogenetic trees:

Intuitive Interpretation: Some living (i.e., extant) species have longer evolutionary histories than others (i.e., have been evolving for a longer time), and so some species are more or less “evolved” than other extant species.

Scientific Interpretation: Since all extant species are alive today and share a common ancestor (one that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago!), all extant species have been evolving the same amount of time.

Explanation: Some living organisms such as mosses and sharks represent clades that appear early in the geological record. Others (such as grasses and birds) represent clades that appear more recently. It is tempting to think of living members of a clade that appeared 160 million years ago (such as the mammals) as having a shorter history than members of a clade that appeared 440 million years ago (such as the cartilaginous fishes, sharks and rays). However, this intuition does not apply because of all living clades trace their evolutionary history back to shared ancestors among the earliest forms of life. For example, the fact that the clade that includes sharks appears early in the fossil record does not mean that modern sharks have had a longer evolutionary history than any other modern species.

What is really so hard to grasp about this?

While on this subject, PP has moderated my comments on his blog since “I’m repeating arguements he’s already responded to”, so I’ll post it here:

“You haven’t shown anything. As the above tree shows, among members of the same taxonomical level, there’s a high correlation between the degree of branching and (1) brain size, and (2) intelligence. I’ve demonstrated at least one measure of evolutionary progress that can be empirically tested.”

Haha. And now brain size is decreasing. Even then, as I said last night, there is no accepted definition and there is no accepted of these traits, and even terms like progression through fitness and the like don’t have an accepted definition, because, as I’ve shown again, the environment is ever changing. I’m sorry this is hard for you to grasp. There is no way to quantify more evolved superior and progressive evolution. I don’t know how to make you get it.

PP do me a favor. Go to Razib’s blog and post on his open thread and ask him how to read an evolutionary tree and then tell him how you read it. I would love to see his response.

“Politically correct platitudes are not science. Calling something primitive is not a value judgement, it’s a description. Replacing it with the more politically correct term “ancestral” doesn’t change anything, it’s just playing word games.”

You’re the one playing word games. You don’t have to agree that primitive and advanced mean nothing in evolutionary terms, you’d be extremely wrong though. You’re the one playing word games. I showed that there is no unidirectional line of progress and you’re still going on with this:

Because of the frequency of environmental change, the multiplicity of factors underlying fitness, the possibility of frequency-dependent and epistatic interactions among features, and the consequent possibility of nontransitive fitness relations between phenotypes, selection acting within populations frequently, though not inevitably, fails to produce unidirectional trends. The extent to which unidirectional trends dominate, or fail to dominate, the fossil record is therefore not a measure of the adequacy of neo-Darwinian mechanisms as causes of large-scale patterns in evolution.”

Progress in Organismal Design

Simple enough to grasp. Directly refutes your notion too.

Saying that an organism is more advanced is not quantifiable. Each one is adapted to its environment. You’re the one playing word games to show your crackpot hypothesis, continually quoting pages 292 to 294 of Race, Evolution, and Behavior. But that doesn’t make it true. It’s not true.

“Yawn. I’ve debunked this stupid quote back in 2014. Splits on an evolutionary tree typically reflect periods of evolutionary growth after long periods of stasis. So if you’re a descendent of many splits, you’re typically a descendent of more evolution.”

You’ve debunked nothing. Ask Razib how to read an evolutionary tree then tell him how do and come back and show me his reaction. Please do this. I know what he’ll say. I directly proves your misconception wrong and you’re still going with it. It is true that when people are shown they’re wrong they attempt to gather any information to try to fix their shattered worldview. PP you’re just rehashing the great chain of being garbage and evolutionary theorists have abandoned that archaic notion. Join us in the year 2016, and ask actual experts how to read those trees instead of your misunderstanding. And a blog writing one sentence means…. What exact? It means nothing. I’ve shown my argument is stronger than yours and that you are reading evolutionary trees wrong, provided exact quotations from a respected authority and you still say it’s wrong. Too funny. Rushton isn’t the be all end all of evolution. He was wrong on a lot he was not perfect. And even then, he only implied this. The fact that he cited Aristotle and the great chain of being is laughable as people don’t even believe that anymore.

Please join us in the present PP, and stop living in the past.

Since PP is using Rushton as a reference, I’ll directly quote Race, Evolution, and Behavior (pg. 292-4) for Rushton’s exact words:

Progress in Evolution?

In their reviews, Lynn (1996a) and Peters (1995) both referred to my ranking of species on evolutionary scales. For Peters, this was a highly contentious idea but in Lynn’s positive review, he described me as proposing that the K-strategy was “evolutionarily more advanced” and that the Oriental race was “the most evolved.” In fact, I did not use either of these phrases in the book, although I had alluded to similar ideas in previous writing. Regardless, the topic of evolutionary progress provides an intellectual challenge of the first order and needs to be addressed. Figure 10.2 (p. 202) does imply a move from simple r-type animals producing thousands of eggs but providing no parental care to more complex K-type animals producing very few offspring.

The question of progress in nature has fascinated since Aristotle. Aristotle suggested that organisms could be hierarchically graded along ascala naturae marked by minute continuous steps from the inanimate, through plants, to the animals. He offered overlapping criteria for ranking along this scale including “perfectibility” (closeness to a Platonic God), “soul” (capacity for rational discourse), and method of reproduction. For example, regarding reproduction, he wrote in the History of Animals:

“Now some simply like plants accomplish their own reproduction according to the seasons; others take trouble as well to complete the nourishing of their young, but once accomplished they separate from them and have no further association; but those that have more understanding and possess some memory continue the association, and have a more social relationship with their offspring.”

The Greek philosopher’s biology is remarkably current. Based on detailed observation, Aristotle noted many of the principles that lie at the heart of the r-K analysis undertaken in this book including the inverse relations between seed output, parental care, and intelligence. The historian Arthur Lovejoy, in his 1936 book The Great Chain of Being, concluded that Aristotle’s arrangement of all things in a single order of magnitude was one of the most important ideas in Western thought.

Darwin (1859) referred frequently to evolutionary progress in the Origin of Species. This was necessary not only to refute concepts of a steady-state world but also to counter a newly developed school that denied any difference in perfection between the simplest and the most complex organisms, which would be an implicit denial of improvement through natural selection. In his book Sociobiology (1975), E. O. Wilson also promoted the idea of biological progression, outlining four pinnacles in the history of life on Earth: first, the beginning of life itself in the form of primitive prokaryotes, with no nucleus; then the origin of eukaryotes, with nucleus and mitochondria; next the evolution of large, multicellular organisms, which could evolve complex organs such as eyes and brains; and finally the beginnings of the human mind.

John Bonner (1980), in his book The Evolution of Culture in Animals, showed that the later an animal emerged in earth history the larger was its brain and the greater was its culture. Pursuing the issue in a subsequent book, The Evolution of Complexity (1988), he asked “Why has there been an evolution from the primitive bacteria of billions of years ago to the large and complex organisms of today?” Bonner held that it was quite permissible for paleontologists to refer to strata as upper and lower, for they are literally above and below each other and, because the fossils in the lower strata will, in general, be more primitive in structure as well as belong to a fauna or flora of earlier times, so “lower” and “higher” were acceptable terms. Bonner (1988: 6) noted that it was even acceptable to refer to lower and higher plants, slime molds versus angiosperms for example. It only became a “sin” when a worm was classified as a lower animal and a vertebrate a higher one, even though their fossils too will be found in lower and higher strata.

Paleontologist Dale Russell (1983,1989) quantified increasing neurological complexity through 700 million years of Earth history in invertebrates and vertebrates alike. The trend was increasing encephalization among the dinosaurs that existed for 140 million years and vanished 65 million years ago. Russell (1989) proposed that if they had not gone extinct, dinosaurs would have progressed to a large-brained, bipedal descendent. For living mammals he set the mean encephalization, the ratio of brain size to body size, at 1.00, and calculated that 65 million years ago it was only about 0.30. Encephalization quotients for living molluscs vary between 0.043 and 0.31, and for living insects between 0.008 and 0.045 but in these groups the less encephalized living species resemble forms that appeared relatively early in the geologic record, and the more encephalized species resemble those that appeared later.

The hominid brain has nearly tripled in size over the last 4 million years. Australopithecenes averaged a brain size of about 500 cm3 , the size of a chimpanzee. Homo habilis averaged about 800 cm3 , Homo erectus about 1,000 cm3 , and modern Homo sapiens about 1,350 cm3 . In Figure 10.3 of this book (p. 205) Homo sapiens is to be found at the end of a scala naturae of characteristics. The once traditional view that man is the “most developed” of species, gains novel support from the perspective of an r-K dimension. As E. O. Wilson (1975) put it: “In general, higher forms of social evolution should be favored by K selection” (p. 101)

Darwin had contradictory notions on the concept of ‘progress’ in evolution:


Gould’s second riddle asks why Darwin never used the word “evolution”. In short, it is because “evolution” means progress and Darwin’s theory was uniquely non-progressive. Darwin was well aware that natural selection as a mechanism describes only adaptation within local environments. He wrote a marginal note to himself “Never say higher or lower in referring to organisms”.

So why do we call the process evolution? Herbert Spencer, an eminent Victorian, was tremendously influential in Darwin’s age. His writings were explicitly progressive, not only with regard to biological change, but economic, artistic, human, ad infinitum.

Gould notes “Since 19th century thinkers wouldn’t accept Darwin’s radicalism anymore than we would today, they were very comfortable with Spencer’s notion that you ought to use a word that means inherent progress…because that’s how they wanted to see it.”

Wow! He wrote a note to himself to “never say higher or lower in referring to organism”. What does that mean….? It seems to mean that he didn’t take to “progressive” evolution and he didn’t think that organisms were “higher” or “lower” than others.

On E.O. Wilson’s prokaryote argument: he’s just describing different lifeforms, not that they’re “more evolved” than any organisms that came previously. This notion, as I’ve documented over the past month here, is baseless in evolutionary biology and these terms don’t let us see evolution for what it really is: ongoing change, not progress. With our notion of “progress” we may think that things are “reversing”, but that’s just our perception and evolution through natural selection just happens, with no end goal in sight.

On what Rushton says about dinosaurs possibly developing an intelligence similar to our own: evolution isn’t linear, as I’ve been saying for months now. Let’s say that one thing was different in a rewind of life on earth, and everything else that led up to us arriving here occurred as is. That ONE difference may possibly have us not be here. That’s not too hard to grasp.

On his citing Bonner: a worm isn’t “lower” than flora or fauna; it’s just adapted to its specific niche. This, once again, is basic evolutionary biology.

Homo erectus and others were adapted to their environment and still persisted after Homo sapiens appeared on the scene.

On John Bonner:

Dr. John Bonner, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University and author of “The Evolution of Complexity” (Princeton University Press), said the newest findings were perfectly in line with the idea that he has continued to press that increases in complexity need not be explained as the result of any drive or force in any particular direction.

“Bacteria still exist today,” he said. “There hasn’t been a trend just toward more complex things, there’s been that trend but others have gotten simpler and less complex and smaller. But if things keep getting both more and less complex, the upper limit is going to keep rising.”

According to Dr. McShea, the perception of drives toward complexity may be more a reflection of scientists’ desires to see some sort of progress in evolution rather than a reflection of any biological reality. As Dr. Maynard Smith, explained: “If there’s going to be any change, there will have to be increases in complexity. Moreover, there will also be some decreases. It’s inevitable. There’s a poem by a chap that goes: ‘Nowhere to go but out, Nowhere to come but back.’”

I’ve cited Daniel McShea in these series of articles. What he’s saying is correct; we just look for notions of so-called “progress”. We have an implicit bias that we are the so-called “top of the ladder” in this “Great Chain of Being”. However, this term was discontinued by biologists in the 19th century.

PP is living in the past. He should join us in current year, because what he’s saying is old and debunked. Moreover, he really should learn how to read an evolutionary tree properly, because every single misconception that he has on the trees is included in the Berkely link above. This information is freely accessible to anyone; you’d just have to be willingly ignorant to a) not read it or b) read it and still hold these views. Moreover, the Great Chain of Being nonsense hasn’t been taken serious by evolutionary biologists since the 19th century. Yet PP still holds on to these notions. Saying that one is “more complex” than another is still a holdover from the GCoB days.

Evolution is NOT progressive, and PLEASE learn how to read phylogenetic trees correctly! That, or ask Razib how to read them then tell him how you read them. I’d love to see his reaction.