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Mini-Review of “J. Phillipe Rushton: A Life History Perspective” by Edward Dutton
JP Rushton was a highly controversial psychologist professor, teaching at the University of Western Ontario for his entire career. In the mid-1980s, he proposed that evolution was “progressive” and that there was a sort of “hierarchy” between the three races that he termed “Mongoloid, Caucasoid, and Negroid” (Rushton, 1985). His theory was then strongly criticized scientists from numerous disciplines (Lynn, 1989; Cain, 1990; Weizmann et al, 1990; Anderson, 1991; Graves, 2002). Rushton responded to these criticisms (Rushton, 1989; Rushton, 1991; Rushton, 1997; though it’s worth noting that Rushton never responded to Graves’ 2002 critiques). (Also see Rushton’s and Graves’ debate.) Copping, Campbell, and Muncer (2014) write 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.”“, which directly contradicts Rushton’s racial r/K proposal.
There is a now a new critique of Rushton’s theory out now, by Edward Dutton, English anthropologist, with a doctorate in religious studies, just published at the end of last month (Dutton, 2018). I ordered the book the day after publication and it took three weeks to get to my residence since it came from the UK. I finally received it on Friday. It’s a small book, 143 pages sans acknowledgments, references and the index, and seems well-written and researched from what I’ve read so far.
Here is the plan of the book:
Accordingly, in this chapter [Chapter One], we will begin by getting to grips with the key concepts of intelligence and personality. This part is primarily aimed at non-specialist readers or those who are sceptical of the two concepts [it’s really barebones; I’m more than ‘sceptical’ and it did absolutely nothing for me]. In Chapter Two, we will explore Rushton’s theory in depth. Readers who are familiar with Life History Theory may wish to fast forward through to the section on the criticisms of Rushton’s model. I intend to be as fair to his theory as possible, in a way so few of the reviewers were when he presented it. I will respond to the many fallacious criticisms of it, all of which indicate non-scientific motives [what about Rushton? Did he have any non-scientific motives?]. However, I will show that Rushton is just as guilty of these kinds of techniques as his opponents. I will also highlight serious problems with his work, including cherry picking, confirmation bias, and simply misleading other researchers. In Chapter Three, we will explore the concept of ‘race’ and show that although Rushton’s critics were wrong to question the concept’s scientific validity, Rushton effectively misuses the concept, cherry-picking such that his concept works. In Chapter Four, we will explore the research that has verified Rushton’s model, including new measures which he didn’t examine. We will then, in Chapter Five, examine the concept of genius and look at how scientific geniuses tend to be highly intelligent r-strategists, though we will see that Rushton differed from accepted scientific geniuses in key ways.
In Chapter Six, we will find that Rushton’s theory itself is problematic, though not in the ways raised by his more prominent critics. It doesn’t work when it comes to a key measure of mental stability as well as to many other measures, specifically preference for oral sex, the desire to adopt non-related children, the desire to have pets, and positive attitudes to the genetically distant. It also doesn’t work if you try to extend it to other races, beyond the three large groups he examined [because more races exist than Rushton allows]. In Chapter Seven, with all the background, we will scrutinize Rushton’s life up until about the age of 30, while in Chapter Eight, we will follow Rushton from the age of 30 until his death. I will demonstrate the extent to which he was a highly intelligent r-strategist and a Narcissist and we will see that Rushton seemingly came from a line of highly intelligent r-strategists. In Chapter Nine, I will argue that for the good of civilization those who strongly disagree with Rushton must learn to tolerate people like Rushton. (Dutton, 2018: 12-13).
On the back of the book, he writes that Rushton had “two illegitimate children including one by a married black woman.” This is intriguing. Could this be part of Rushton’s motivation to formulate his theory (his theory has already been rebutted by numerous people, so speculating on motivations in lieu of new information seems apt)?
Some people, such as PumpkinPerson, may wonder why Dutton is attacking someone “on his team“, but he addresses people who would ask such questions, writing (pg. 15):
“But on this basis, it could be argued that my critique of Rushton simply gives ammunition to emotionally-driven scientists and their friends in the media. However, it could be countered that my critique only goes to show that it is those who are genuinely motivated by the understanding of the world — those who accept empirical evidence, such as with regard to intelligence and race — who are prepared to critique those regarded as being ‘on their side.’ And this is precisely because they are unbiased and thus do not think in terms of ‘teams.’”
Dutton argues that “many of the criticisms leveled against Rushton’s work by mainstream scientists were actually correct” (pg 13). This is a truism. One only need to read the replies to Rushton, especially Anderson (1991) to see that he completely mixed up the theory. He stated ‘Negroids’ were r-strategists and ‘Mongoloids’ were K-strategists, but this reasoning shows that he did not understand the theory—or, if anything, he knowingly attempted to obfuscate the theory in order to lend stronger credence to his own theory (and personal biases).
The fatal flaw for Rushton’s theory is that, if r/K selection theory did apply to human races, that ‘Mongoloids’ would be r-strategists while ‘Negroids’ would be K-strategists. This is because “Rushton’s own suggested agents of natural selection on African populations imply that African populations have had a strong history of K-selection, as well as the r-selection implied by “droughts”” (Anderson, 1991: 59). As for Mongoloids, “Rushton lists many traits of Mongoloid peoples that are thought to represent adaptation to cold. Cold weather acts in a density-independent fashion (adaptations to cold improve survival in cold weather regardless of population density); cold weather is normally an agent of r-selection” (Anderson, 1991: 59). Rushton’s own arguments imply that ‘Negroids’ would have had more time to approach their environmental carrying capacity and experience ‘K-selecting’ pressures.
Thus, Rushton’s claim about the empirical ordering of life history and behavioural traits in the racial groups exactly contradicts general predictions that follow from his own claims about their ancestral ecology and the r/K model (Boyce, 1984; MacArthur, 1972; MacArthur & Wilson, 1967; Pianka, 1970; Ricklefs, 1990, p. 577). (Specific predictions from the model could be made only about individual populations after careful study in their historical habitat, as I have pointed out above). (Anderson, 1991: 59) [And it is not possible, because the populations in question should be living in the environment that the selection is hypothesized to have occurred. That, of course, is not possible today.]
Though, near the end of the book, Dutton writes that (pg 148) that “Rushton was not a scientific genius. As we have discussed, unlike a scientific genius, his models had clear deficiencies, he cherry-picked data to fit his model, and he was biased in favor of his model. However, Rushton was a highly original scientist who developed an extremely original and daring theory: a kind of artistic-scientist genius combination.”
The final paragraph of the book, though, sums up the whole book up well. Dutton talks about when Jared Taylor introduces Rushton at one of his American Renaissance conferences (February 25th, 2006):
‘Well, thank you very much and . . . eh . . . and thank you Jared for . . . erm . . . putting on another wonderful conference.’ Rushton was reserved, yet friendly and avuncular. ‘Eh . . . it’s a great honor to be the after dinner speaker; to be elevated up like this.’ He was certainly elevated up. Taylor had even remarked that ‘in a sane and civilized world’ Rushton’s work would have ‘worldwide acclaim.’ Rushton’s audience admired him, trusted him . . . They weren’t familiar with him at all.
All in all, to conclude this little mini-review, I would recommend picking up this book as it’s a great look into Rushton’s life, the pitfalls of his theory (and for the new work and other variables that Dutton shows showed Rushton’s M>C>N ‘hierarchy’). Rushton’s work, while politically daring, did not hold up to scientific scrutiny, since the model was beginning to be abandoned in the late 70s (Graves, 2002), with most scientists completely dismissing the model in the early 90s. Commenting on r/K selection, Stearns (1992: 206) writes that “This explanation was suggestive and influential but incorrect” (quoted in Reznick et al, 2002), while Reznick et al (2002: 1518) write that “The r- and K-selection paradigm was replaced by new paradigm that focused on age-specific mortality (Stearns 1976, Charlesworth 1980).” Rushton’s model, while it ‘made sense with the data’, was highly flawed. And even then, it doesn’t matter that it ‘made sense’ with the data, since Rushton’s theory is one large just-so story (Gould and Lewontin, 1976; Lloyd, 1999; Richardson, 2007; Nielsen, 2009; see also Pigliucci and Kaplan, 2000 and Kaplan, 2002
Race Differences in Penis Size Revisited: Is Rushton’s r/K Theory of Race Differences in Penis Length Confirmed?
In 1985 JP Rushton, psychology professor at the University of Ontario, published a paper arguing that r/K selection theory (which he termed Differential K theory) explained and predicted outcomes of what he termed the three main races of humanity—Mongoloids, Negroids and Caucasoids (Rushton, 1985; 1997). Since Rushton’s three races differed on a whole suite of traits, he reasoned races that were more K-selected (Caucasoids and Mongoloids) had slower reproduction times, higher time preference, higher IQ etc in comparison to the more r-selected Negroids who had faster reproduction times, lower time preference, lower IQ etc (see Rushton, 1997 for a review; also see Van Lange, Rinderu, and Bushmen, 2017 for a replication of Rushton’s data not theory). Were Rushton’s assertions on race and penis size verified and do they lend credence to his Differential-K claims regarding human races?
Rushton’s so-called r/K continuum has a whole suite of traits on it. Ranging from brain size to speed of maturation to reaction time and IQ, these data points supposedly lend credence to Rushton’s Differential-K theory of human differences. Penis size is, of course, important for Rushton’s theory due to what he’s said about it in interviews.
Rushton’s main reasoning for penis size differences between race is “You can’t have both”, and that if you have a larger brain then you must have a smaller penis; if you have a smaller penis you must have a larger brain. He believed there was a “tradeoff” between brain size and penis size. In the book Darwin’s Athletes: How Sport Has Damaged Black America and Preserved the Myth of Race, Hoberman (1997: 312) quotes Rushton: “Even if you take something like athletic ability or sexuality—not to reinforce stereotypes or some such thing—but, you know, it’s a trade-off: more brain or more penis. You can’t have both.” This, though, is false. There is no type of evidence to imply that this so-called ‘trade-off’ exists. In my readings of Rushton’s work over the years, that’s always something I’ve wondered: was Rushton implying that large penises take more energy to have and therefore the trade-off exists due to this supposed relationship?
Andrew Joyce of the Occidental Observer published an article the other day in defense of Richard Lynn. Near the end of his article he writes:
Another tactic is to belittle an entire area of research by picking out a particularly counter-intuitive example that the public can be depended on to regard as ridiculous. A good example is J. Philippe Rushton’s claim, based on data he compiled for his classic Race, Evolution and Behavior, that average penis size varied between races in accord with the predictions of r/K theory. This claim was held up to ridicule by the likes of Richard Lewontin and other crusaders against race realism, and it is regularly presented in articles hostile to the race realist perspective. Richard Lynn’s response, as always, was to gather more data—from 113 populations. And unsurprisingly for those who keep up with this area of research, he found that indeed the data confirmedRushton’s original claim.
The claim was ridiculed because it was ridiculous. This paper by Lynn (2013) titled Rushton’s r-K life history theory of race differences in penis length and circumference examined in 113 populations is the paper that supposedly verifies Rushton’s theory regarding race differences in penis size, along with one of its correlates in Rushton’s theory (testosterone). Lynn (2013) proclaims that East Asians are the most K-evolved, then come Europeans, while Africans are the least K-evolved. This, then, is the cause of the supposed racial differences in penis size.
Lynn (2013) begins by briefly discussing Rushton’s ‘findings’ on racial differences in penis size while also giving an overview of Rushton’s debunked r/K selection theory. He then discusses some of Rushton’s studies (which I will describe briefly below) along with stories from antiquity of the supposed larger penis size of African males.
Our old friend testosterone also makes an appearance in this paper. Lynn (2013: 262) writes:
Testosterone is a determinant of aggression (Book, Starzyk, & Quinsey, 2001; Brooks & Reddon, 1996; Dabbs, 2000). Hence, a reduction of aggression and sexual competitiveness between men in the colder climates would have been achieved by a reduction of testosterone, entailing the race differences in testosterone (Negroids > Caucasoids > Mongoloids) that are given in Lynn (1990). The reduction of testosterone had the effect of reducing penis length, for which evidence is given by Widodsky and Greene (1940).
Phew, there’s a lot to unpack here. (I discuss Lynn 1990 in this article.) Testosterone does not determine aggression; see my most recent article on testosterone (aggression increases testosterone; testosterone does not increase aggression. Book, Starzyk and Quinsey, 2001 show a .14 correlation between testosterone and aggression, whereas Archer, Graham-Kevan, and Davies 2005 show the correlation is .08). This is just a correlation. Sapolsky (1997: 113) writes:
Okay, suppose you note a correlation between levels of aggression and levels of testosterone among these normal males. This could be because (a) testosterone elevates aggression; (b) aggression elevates testosterone secretion; (c) neither causes the other. There’s a huge bias to assume option a while b is the answer. Study after study has shown that when you examine testosterone when males are first placed together in the social group, testosterone levels predict nothing about who is going to be aggressive. The subsequent behavioral differences drive the hormonal changes, not the other way around.
Brooks and Reddon (1996) also only show relationships with testosterone and aggressive acts; they show no causation. This same relationship was noted by Dabbs (2000; another Lynn 2013 citation) in prisoners. More violent prisoners were seen to have higher testosterone, but there is a caveat here too: being aggressive stimulates testosterone production so of course they had higher levels of testosterone; this is not evidence for testosterone causing aggression.
Another problem with that paragraph quoted from Lynn (2013) is that it’s a just-so story. It’s an ad-hoc explanation. You notice something with data you have today and then you imagine a nice-sounding story to attempt to explain your data in an evolutionary context. Nice-sounding stories are cool and all and I’m sure everyone loves a nicely told story, but when it comes to evolutionary theory I’d like theories that can be independently verified of the data they’re trying to explain.
My last problem with that paragraph from Lynn (2013) is his final citation: he cites it as evidence that the reduction of testosterone affects penis length…..but his citation (Widodsky and Green, 1940) is a study on rats… While these studies can give us a wealth of information regarding our physiologic systems (at least showing us which types of avenues to pursue; see my previous article on myostatin), they don’t really mean anything for humans; especially this study on the application of testosterone to the penis of a rat. See, the fatal flaw in these assertions is this: would a, say, 5 percent difference in testosterone lead to a larger penis as if there is a dose-response relationship between testosterone and penis length? It doesn’t make any sense.
Lynn (2013), though, says that Rushton’s theory doesn’t propose that there is a direct causal relationship between “intelligence”‘ and penis length, but just that they co-evolved together, with testosterone reduction occurring when Homo sapiens migrated north out of Africa they needed to cooperate more so selection for lower levels of testosterone subsequently occurred which then shrunk the penises of Rushton’s Caucasian and Mongoloid races.
Lynn (2013) then discusses two “new datasets”, one of which is apparently in Donald Templer’s book Is Size Important (which is on my to-read list, so many books, so little time). Table 1 below is from Lynn reproducing Templer’s ‘work’ in his book.
The second “dataset” is extremely dubious. Lynn (2013) attempts to dress it up, writing that “The information in this website has been collated from data obtained by research centres and reports worldwide.” Ethnicmuse has a good article on the pitfalls of Lynn’s (2013) article. (Also read Scott McGreal’s rebuttal.)
Rushton attempted to link race and penis size for 30 years. In a paper with Bogaert (Rushton and Bogaert, 1987), they attempt to show that blacks had larger penises than whites who h ad longer penises than Asians which then supposedly verified one dimension of Rushton’s theory. Rushton (1988) also discusses race differences in penis size, citing a previous paper by Rushton and Bogaert, where they use data from Alfred Kinsey, but this data is nonrepresentative and nonrandom (see Zuckermann and Brody, 1988 and Weizmann et al, 1990: 8).
Still others may attempt to use supposed differences in IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) as evidence that there is, at least, physiological evidence for the claim that black men have larger penises than white men, though I discussed that back in December of 2016 and found it strongly lacking.
Rushton (1997: 182) shows a table of racial differences in penis size which was supposedly collected by the WHO (World Health Organization). Though a closer look shows this is not true. Ethnicmuse writes:
ANALYSIS: The WHO did not study penis sizes. It relied on three separate studies, two of which were not peer-reviewed and the data was included as “Appendix III” (which should have alerted Rushton that this was not an original study). The first study references Africans in the US (not Africa!) and Europeans in the US (not Europe!), the second Europeans in Australia (not Europe!) and the third, Thais.
So it seems to be bullshit all the way down.
Ajmani et al (1985) showed that 385 healthy Nigerians had an average penile length of 3.21 inches (flaccid). Orakwe and Ebuh (2007) show that while Nigerians had longer penises than other ethnies tested, the only statistical difference was between them and Koreans. Though Veale et al (2014: 983) write that “There are no indications of differences in racial variability in our present study, e.g. the study from Nigeria was not a positive outlier.”
Lynn and Dutton have attempted to use androgen differentials between the races as evidence for racial differences in penis size (this is another attempt at a physiological argument to attempt to show the existence of racial differences in penis size). Edward Dutton attempted to revive the debate on racial differences in penis size during a 2015 presentation where he, again, showed that Negroids have higher levels of testosterone than Caucasoids who have higher levels of androgens than Mongoloids. These claims, though, have been rebutted by Scott McGreal who showed that populations differences in androgen levels are meaningless while they subsequently fail to validate Rushton and Lynn’s claims on racial differences in penis size.
Finally, it was reported the other day that condoms from China were too small in Zimbabwe, per Zimbabwe’s health minister. This led Kevin MacDonald to proclaim that this was “More corroboration of race differences in penis size which was part of the data Philippe Rushton used in his theory of r/K selection (along with brain size, maturation rates, IQ, etc.)” This isn’t “more corroboration” for Rushton’s long-dead theory; nor is this evidence that blacks have longer penises. I don’t understand why people make broad and sweeping generalizations. It’s one country in Africa that complained about smaller condoms from a country in East Asia, therefore this is more corroboration for Rushton’s r/K selection theory? The logic doesn’t follow.
Asians have small condoms. Those condoms go to Africa. They complain condoms from China are too small. Therefore Rushton’s r/K selection theory is corroborated. Flawed logic.
In sum, Lynn (2013) didn’t verify Rushton’s theory regarding racial differences in penis size and I find it even funnier that Lynn ends his article talking about “falsification’ stating that this aspect of Rushton’s theory has survived two attempts at falsification, therefore, it can be regarded as a “progressive research program“, though obviously, with the highly flawed “data” that was used, one cannot rationally make that statement. Supposed hormonal differences between the races do not cause penis size differences; even if blacks had levels of testosterone significantly higher than whites (the 19 percent that is claimed by Lynn and Rushton off of one highly flawed study in Ross et al, 1986) they still would not have longer penises.
The study of physical differences between populations is important, but sometimes, stereotypes do not tell you anything, especially in this case. Though in this instance, the claim that blacks have the longest penis lies on shaky ground, and with what evidence we do have for the claim, we cannot logically make the inference (especially not from Lynn’s (2013) flimsy data). Richard Lynn did not “confirm” anything with this paper; the only thing he “confirmed” are his own preconceived notions; he did not ‘prove’ what he set out to.
More r/K Selection Theory Rebuttals
I was alerted to a response to my article r/K Selection Theory Rebuttals on Twitter. I enjoy when people write responses to my pieces as I can better build my arguments. It’s also fun defending what I wrote.
This Pastebin is where the response is. He states that he disagrees with AC (Anonymous Conservative) on two things: calling them liberals when he would call then progressives and his clear conservative bias.
First it refers to a criticism of Ruston’s application of r/K to humans:
This article applies r/K selection to differences between races, I don’t see how this is relevant. AC never discusses race and I’m only interested in how r/K selection applies to individuals within a civilization too.
It is very apt when rebutting AC’s ‘theory’. Human races are not local populations therefore it doesn’t apply to human races. To then bring this wrong theory to individual differences is stupid. Hell, I agree more with Rushton’s application than AC’s application and that’s saying something. The point of bringing up Rushton’s r/K theory is that he was the one who repopularized the theory and you have to give credit where it is due (I’m certain he heard of r/K from Rushton; the fact that he doesn’t give him credit there is dishonest, but AC is a dishonest guy so this is no surprise to me).
r/K selection applies to almost all life forms, next to other selection mechanisms. So it goes much deeper than the specific situation a specific race may have lived in. Even if people in races now commonly express more r-selected or K-selected behavior, I’d expect that to change if their children grew up in a different environment.
You only say that because organisms have offspring and at different rates. I won’t even go through the different cites that show that r/K theory is bunk, but I will cite one that shows that it’s been dead for years. Reznick et al, (2002: 1518) write: “The distinguishing feature of the r- and K-selection paradigm was the focus on density-dependent selection as the important agent of selection on organisms’ life histories. This paradigm was challenged as it became clear that other factors, such as age-specific mortality, could provide a more mechanistic causative link between an environment and an optimal life history (Wilbur et al. 1974, Stearns 1976, 1977). The r- and K-selection paradigm was replaced by new paradigm that focused on age-specific mortality (Stearns 1976, Charlesworth 1980).” This is simple. Age-specific mortality replaced r/K theory. People like AC attempt to ‘show’ their ‘hypothesis’ is true. They notice something in this snapshot in time then say oh this this and that make sense therefore this! It doesn’t work like that.
On his point that ‘he’d expect that to change if their children grew up in a different environment’, to say that one race is ‘r’ or ‘K’ over another, you must study the population in question in the location where the adaptations were hypothesized to have occurred (Anderson, 1991).
RR: “It is erroneously assumed that living in colder temperatures is somehow ‘harder’ than it is in Africa”
Yes, there is much less biomass available in colder temperatures. Of course Africans would still compete with each other for resources. The idea is also that there’s more requirement to think ahead, in order to prepare for the winter. Requiring more deferral of gratification.
The idea is dumb. Africa is harsher than Eurasia (Dobzhansky, 1950: 221). Did people in Africa not have to plan ahead? This is the same old rebutted cold winter garbage in terms of ‘selection for higher IQ;.
The article generally asserts that r/K selection is a simple model:
RR: “One of the main reasons that Rushton’s r/K continuum gets pushed is because it’s a ‘simple model’ that so ‘parsimoniously’ explains racial differences … But ecological systems are never simple”:
Where was an implication that any ecological system is simple? I’d say the tropics are way more complicated than cold area’s. The relevant aspect here is that a cold area is more difficult to live in, has less resources and thus supports fewer individuals. Which is a K-selected pressure.
It is a simple model. “Simple models will be successful only if their simplifying assumptions either match reality or are unimportant” (Anderson, 1991: 57). This does neither. It is surely not easy to live in the tropics. This canard that those in Africa had an easy life in comparison to the people who migrated out of Africa doesn’t make any sense. It’s like people think that food just dropped on their laps from the trees, they didn’t have to deal with predators or heat, etc. It’s an extremely simple model which is why it doesn’t work. Africans are ‘K-selected’ if Rushton is to be believed, not r-selected (Anderson, 1991).
AC’s book is for the public, not to be the bleeding edge of science. Most people have no idea about these theories. I think it would greatly improve their understanding of reality if they knew about it, it did mine. This seems like the situation with Newton’s theory of gravity. It’s been proven wrong, but we still use it when useful.
I get that, but his premises are wrong which means his theory is false. What ‘reality’? It’s just stories, fables. Whatever sounds good to AC, whatever he thinks will buttress his theory he’ll write. Anything about the ‘rabbits’ or ‘wolves’ (so-called r- and K-selected organisms respectively). r/K has been proven wrong and it’s still not useful so we should not use it.
RR: ‘So “the actual adaptation they have” is to “wear thick clothing“? This is bullshit and you know it’
No it’s not. The clothing is far thicker and thus harder to make with a higher required investment. It requires more quality of the individuals. The writer assumes a binary difference here, where none was asserted. Of course these things are on a spectrum.
Yes it is. Sorry, you didn’t understand what I meant here. The actual adaptation is not ‘to wear thick clothing’. What is ‘more quality’, is that a scientific term? What does that even mean?
RR: “The preparation does work.” (Preparation of anti-malarial remedies as seen in Wilcox and Bodecker, 2004)
Maybe it helps, much of traditional remedy use is based in tradition and superstition. Europeans where slaughtered by all kinds of diseases. It probably depends on the situation. If you can find a cure for the disease, then maybe it is a K-selected pressure.
It’s irrelevant that ‘much of the traditional remedy use is based in tradition and superstition‘, because these remedies are proven to work (Wilcox and Bodecker, 2004). “If you can find a cure for disease, then maybe it is a K-selected pressure“, you’re clueless and don’t know what you’re talking about.
RR: “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”
But age-specific mortality doesn’t apply to humans and doesn’t explain differences between individuals within a species or population.
Are you saying that we can’t apply this theory to humans at all?
Yes it does apply to humans. Why talk about something when you don’t know about it? Should I care that it doesn’t explain differences between individuals within a species or population? Not everything needs to be some grand, overarching theory to explain everything so perfectly.
RR: “We found that high K scores were related to earlier sexual debut and unrelated to either pubertal onset or number of sexual partners.”
In humans that correlation is broken because of advanced society. However, we can still find that correlation in progressive or conservative politics.
Yet Rushton et al assert that Africans are r, for instance, and have more children but as you can see from Copping, Campbell and Muncer, (2014), earlier sexual debuts were seen in the so-called K dimension, completely against Rushtonian r/K theory and against whatever theory AC cooked up in his head.
There are several links to scientific papers, several of which are no longer working, but fails to summarize how they support his position.
They don’t work because sci-hub is down. I need to fix the broken links and I did summarize how they support me which is why I did “claim then (citation)”.
RR: “Individuals WITHIN A SPECIES are not R OR K”
Since environments can change, why would species not be able to adapt to the new situation?
That’s not even what the original theory spoke about. If the liberals environment changed, would they become K (according to AC)? You’re completely missing the r/K dynamic.
A Jelly fish has several reproductive strategies available and chooses based on available resources.
Humans are much more complicated, but we could still have that ability.
This doesn’t mean that r/K selection has any utility.
RR: “Something AC doesn’t get is that using the discredited r/K continuum, conservatives would be r”
I don’t get that either.
Because the continuum comes from Pianka (1970) and Rushton adapted it to show that lower IQ peoples who had more children were r-selected. Therefore, if this did apply to individuals within the human species then conservatives would be r while liberals would be K (they have fewer children and higher IQs).
RR: “women who reported being religious stated that having children was more important to them”
And are in favor of investing in those children through their mother staying home to take care of them. Where progressives are more likely to be in favor of the mother working and putting the children in day-care. Progressives are also in favor of birth control and abortion. Allowing them to maintain the r-selected sexual life style, without having the burden of a child. r/K selection is about the underlying psychology, not surface level attributes like total number of children.
Liberals still have fewer children than conservatives who have more. What you’re saying is largely irrelevant. “r-selected sexual lifestyle”, this is dumb. r/K selection is predicated on number of children which conceived, supposedly, differs on the basis of differential psychology, supposedly, between two human groups. It doesn’t, it’s wrong.
“I’ve already covered that libs are more intelligent than cons (Kanazawa, 2010; Kanazawa, 2014), and that conservative countries have lower IQs”
I don’t think we should expect a correlation between IQ and r or K in modern human societies. What happens is that high IQ people raise their children in abundance, which makes them more likely to be r-selected. Availability of resources is a trigger for r-selected psychology.
Riiiiight. But you would expect a correlation between other so-called r/K measures in modern societies? You don’t even make sense.
“Conservatives are more likely to be religious”
Yes because religions like Christianity are viewed as tradition. And progressives oppose tradition where conservatives favor it.
Right, and they have more children than liberals, which is r-selected behavior (supposedly).
This guy tried, but clearly, this wasn’t good enough. r/K is dead when speaking about race and the differences between human individuals. For anyone who believes AC’s bullshit, where did liberals and conservatives evolve these different behaviors? Are they local populations? People like AC ignoring the continuum by Pianka, yet use that same hierarchy are dishonest. They’re using a discredited continuum and attempt to prove their political biases. “The other team has X, Y, and Z bad while we have A, B, and C good! The other side does X and Y while we do A and B, therefore, we are better!” AC has a huge bias; he will never admit he’s wrong because he has a book to sell that pushes this discredited garbage. (Don’t worry, I’ll review it and pick it apart soon enough.)
To conclude, people really need to stop letting their biases get in the way of rational thought. If they did, they’d be able to look at these dumb theories for what they are: pseudoscience, cherry-picking and pigeon-holing the other group, the “enemy” with all of the bad qualities while their side has all of the good ones. However, as I’ve shown countless times, real life is completely different from the fantasy world AC and his followers live in.
r/K Selection Theory Rebuttals
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, 2010; Kanazawa, 2014), and that conservative countries have lower IQs (and are non-white and third world) in comparison to liberal countries (which are majority white…). Conservatives are more likely to be religious (Morrison, Duncan, and Parton, 2015; McAdams et al, 2015), and religious people have lower IQs (Zuckerman, Silberman, and Hall, 2013; Ritchie, Gow, and Deary, 2014; Pennycook et al, 2016; Dutton and Linden, 2017). Intelligence is also associated with social and economic liberal views (Carl, 2014). Lastly, research into the psychology of continents shows that liberal continents are more intelligent than conservative continents (African countries conservative, European countries liberal… what’s that tell you?) (Stankov and Lee, 2016). So, using Rushton’s/Pianka’s continuum, who looks r and K now?
This, as usual, is the perfect example of implicit bias. My team is best and has the good traits, the other team is worse and has the bad traits. It’s dumb, it doesn’t make sense. AC will try to get ‘the truth’ about this theory out to people, well he has a foil in myself. I enjoy talking about this and debating it, but it seems like most people don’t understand the ecology behind the theory. They have their biases and will search for anything to confirm them. That’s not science.
Stop pushing r/K theory. It’s long dead. Just because some non-specialist idealogue pushes something and warps studies to fit his views while ignoring contrary evidence, DOES NOT mean that the theory is ‘back’ in style or anything to that effect. One biased person picked up the dead body of the (discredited) r/K continuum and attempted to revive it. Well I’ve shot it back down. It’s dead. Let it rest in peace and stop attempting to revive it.
Also see my other articles on r/K Selection Theory
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
E.O. Wilson on Rushton’s r/K Theory and More on Endemic Disease
I thought I’d address what E.O. Wilson’s thoughts on Rushton’s theory and clarify some things on endemic disease and cold winter and how they relate to this r/K paradigm. Proponents of Rushton may look to it and say ‘Well, E.O. Wilson said X, so therefore the reason why it’s not accepted is Y!” However, this comes from a faulty misunderstanding of what Wilson said.
I think Phil is an honest and capable researcher. The basic reasoning by Rushton is solid evolutionary reasoning; that is, it is logically sound. If he had seen some apparent geographic variation for a non-human species – a species of sparrow or sparrow hawk, for example – no one would have batted an eye. … when it comes to [human] racial differences, especially in the inflamed situation in this country, special safeguards and conventions need to be developed.
This little blurb does not address anything, really. Yes, it does address the fact that people attacked Rushton for his research on human racial differences. What it does not address is Rushton’s incorrect application of the theory, as covered yesterday. So, bringing up Wilson’s thoughts on Rushton and the controversy surrounding his theory is a moot point.
I don’t understand why people cannot just accept that Rushton was wrong with his misuse of the theory. Notice how I never said anything about his data—I only talked about his misuse of the theory. People act as if both his data and theory need to be correct, well, why can’t one be right and the other wrong (the data and the theory)? Because that’s how it is in reality.
Rushton’s data was largely correct, however, his misapplication of r/K theory shows that he just saw, for instance, current TFRs (total fertility rates) and just arbitrarily placed Africans as r and Eurasians as K, when looking at what Rushton said about both environments—tropical and cold—would lead to K selection for the tropics, since Rushton asserts that endemic and infectious disease is a selective agent (with no references) while Asia was ‘unbearably cold (also with no reference). This characterization of Pleiositicine environments as ‘hot and endemic disease’ and ‘unbearably cold’ has literally no basis in reality.
Tropical environments are more challenging than cold/temperate ones (Dobzhansky, 1950: 221). Knowing this, Rushton’s assertion of cold winters selecting for higher levels of intelligence in Eurasians compared to Africans is wrong since life is easy nowhere. This characterization of life being ‘easy’ in tropical environments has no basis in reality. It’s like people assume that in the tropics you can just laze around all day while fruits fall onto your lap and you have to do nothing that’s cognitively demanding. This is not true at all. Just look at how a savanna looks, does that look ‘easy’ to live in?
There are also a few more things I’d like to talk about in regards to Rushton’s theory, mainly on endemic disease and why it is an agent of K-selection; not r. Even then, r characteristics probably wouldn’t be able to evolve in the savanna (Miller, 1991: 670). The thing is, populations that evolve in disease-ridden places are expected to select for high population growth—increasing r. However, populations in other areas would increase K as they would be selected for survival and not disease resistance. So if disease was a main difference in so-called r/K differences between populations, r-selected people would be more disease resistant AND they would live longer lives (Miller, 1991: 672).
Case closed, right? Wrong. Miller (1991) writes: “If differences in disease rates do prove to be part of the explanation, the theory would not be an r vs K selection theory, because resistance to disease and a long life span are considered K characteristics, rather than r characteristics” (pg: 672). It is also doubtful that conditions in Africa are much more variable in comparison to other continents.
Furthermore, if an alien observed us with no prior knowledge of our species and only had Pianka’s (1970) paper to go off of, he would conclude that Mongoloids would be r-selected due to the cold winter temperatures which bring a high mortality rate. This is the direct opposite of what Rushton claimed.
Miller states at the end of the article that these differences between populations clearly need explaining. However, the explanation is not r vs. K selection, as Afrosapiens and I showed yesterday, Rushton reversed r and K for the three races, making Africans r when they really would be K and making Mongoloids K, when in reality they would be r. Miller addresses other possibilities, such as testosterone, citing Ellis and Nyborg (1992) for racial differences in testosterone, however, he notes that the difference is only 3 percent which wouldn’t account for racial differences in behavior. (Also recall my critique of having no measure of central adiposity.) I’ve definitively shown that even if the races did differ largely in testosterone that it would not account for disease acquisition nor higher rates of crime.
from Anderson (1991: 53)
Above are the agents of selection, their defining characteristics, and independent and dependent variables. Notice how for r-selection the typical agents of selection are temperature extremes, drought, and natural disaster. For K-selection, the usual agents of selection are limited food supply, endemic infectious disease, and predation. Alpha-selection selects for competitive ability and is thus closer to K than r. Limited resources that can be collected or guarded such as shelter or food are agents of selection.
Clearly, as you can see, if this theory did apply to the human races, Mongoloids would be r and Africans would be K. Endemic disease is an agent of K-selection, not r. This is because endemic disease usually imposes density-dependent selection while cold winters impose density-independent selection. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, intelligence can be selected for due to agents of r- or K-selection! Rushton had no reason to add intelligence as a ‘K trait’, as Pianka did not even add it to his continuum. Further, Pianka gave no experimental rationale as to why he placed those traits on r or K (Graves, 2002: 135)! So due to this, Rushton’s claims are wrong and people should stop pushing his r/K theory.
Clearly, Rushton reversed r and K selection and wrongly applied them to the races of man. The three races he describes are NOT local populations, so any inferences made off of any so-called evolutionary environment are not warranted because he did not use the right variable (r or K) for Africans or Eurasians. However, some people may not want to admit that Rushton—and by extension, them—were wrong so they will attempt whatever kind of mental gymnastics possible to attempt to prove that Rushton was ‘right’. As I’ve already said, I don’t have a problem with Rushton’s data; I have a problem with his misapplication of r/K to humans—which I’ve made a strong case that he was wrong and didn’t know what he was talking about in terms of ecology and evolution.
Rushton’s theory was no longer viable 3 years after it was proposed when Judith Anderson got her hands on it, writing the paper Rushton’s Racial Comparisons: An Ecological Critique of Theory and Method. There is literally no saving his application of r and K to humans because he used it wrong! I don’t care what E.O. Wilson said, because he didn’t address Rushton’s application of r/K to human races. He only said if he noticed this variation between another species that no one would have batted an eye. That says absolutely nothing about Rushton’s erroneous application of r/K selection to the races of man.
I hope any HBDers reading this will stop and think for a moment before stating that Eurasians are K and Africans are r. This canard needs to stop in this sphere and I hope I set the wheels in motion to end it.