Dumping r/K and Revising Views on the Elves

I have decided to reevaluate my views on the application r/K selection theory to humans as done by Rushton and the Anonymous Conservative (whom I will refer to as AC). The blogger RaceRealist made a fairly good case that Rushton’s application (and by extension AC’s) of r/K selection theory to humans is based on false premises.

Race Realist responded to me in the following comment:

Thanks for being objective. That’s rare to find nowadays.
I’ve spent years researching Rushton’s theory and thinking about how it applies to humans. Then I thought ‘Why only read what I agree with here when I don’t do that for other things?’ Then I found Judith Anderson’s ecology critique and then I went back to read the Graves paper that I just handwaved away.
Rushton’s misapplication of r/K theory was based on Pianka’s (1970) r/K continuum. That’s wrong. Describing behaviors as ‘r’ or ‘K’ is stupid. r and K describe agents of selection. Endemic disease is an agent of K while cold winters are an agent of r—which Rushton completely reversed! He literally arbitrarily put r-selection to Africans and K to Eurasians because it ‘fit with the data’. True—it did.
However where he went wrong was 1) treating human races as local populations (he’d need to look at one population in one ecosystem and compare it to another in a different one. These populations can be on the same continent (Africa) or two different ones (say, Africa and Northern Europe). 2) to apply the theory based on behaviors in modern environments makes no sense. Organisms MUST be studied in the environment that the selection was hypothesized to have occurred. Not doing so means it’s fine to disregard what he says about r/K selection in application to humans. Even omitting the racial comparisons doesn’t save it. 3) Evolutionary biologists and ecologists don’t even use the theory anymore.
I’ve brought this up to PumpkinPerson and he won’t take to it. I’ve explained to him that Rushton reversed r and K for humans (if it were applicable to us) and he still spews Rushton’s garbage. I know that it’s tough to change your beliefs and then the backfire effect occurs (which occurs when you’re presented with new information then do anything you can to find information to back what you originally thought after presented with said new information). That’s one cognitive bias I’ve learned to nip in the bud recently. I’ve also found it much easier to change my view by reading new information myself.
Now I’m at the bookstore every week in the biology section buying new books (I did this anyway) that are the opposite of what I believe to see what I think after. Constantly reevaluating your views is the logical—and intellectually honest—thing to do.
So anyone who pushes this theory is pushing a wrong theory, and applying it to other aspects of our lives also makes no sense. Behaviors are not ‘r’ or ‘K’. Behaviors are responses to the selective agent—whether it is r or K. People like Anonymous Conservative, Stephan Molyneaux and the other guys you brought up then—by proxy—push a wrong theory. Read the papers provided and follow the references to read more in depth about how to apply it—and why it’s not in use anymore.
This, then, leaves use with one troubling conclusion: anything based off of Rushton’s r/K selection theory is wrong by proxy. Rushton didn’t understand evolution and life history theory (r/K selection). I saw one critique of Rushton’s theory saying that ‘only a bad person would push a theory like this’. That’s a flawed retort. Ad hominem attacks in scholarly discussion do not work. Theories like Rushton’s must be deconstructed to show how and why they are wrong, lest other people believe something that is horribly flawed and incorrect.
I’ll most definitely be showing others how and why Rushton is wrong as well. Rushton was wrong about a ton from penis size to testosterone. This is just the nail in the coffin.
Rushton didn’t even reply to Graves or Anderson in print, take that for what you will.

… so now you know the gist of the problem I suppose.

Personally speaking, some of AC’s views have rubbed me the wrong way, largely because of his sometimes neoconservative bent. This is not to say he does not have more praiseworthy and transcendent ideas, he does, but this still does not overshadow larger problems: that r/K selection was not applied in the way it theoretically should have been, and that the theory itself is discredited: see RaceRealist’s recent blog post for details.

I previously wrote a post on Tolkien’s Elves and r/K selection theory, in which I described Tolkien’s elves as a K-selected ideal in a universal sense. I now reject this idea. However, as I mentioned in my earlier post, the elves have managed to follow an evolutionary strategy which gives them high fitness in their usual habitats. Thier phenotypes are also characteristically Northern European. So I still think of the elf as a biological ideal, but not in a universal sense of being “the measure of all things”. Rather the elves are a particular aristocratic ideal of the Germanic and to a certain degree Insular Celtic peoples who first conceived of them in their mythologies (and yes, just as some elves have dark hair, a minority of Germanic people such as King Halfdan the Black did/do as well).

From a Jungian perspective, the elf is an archetype which is part of the collective unconscious of Northwestern Europeans. It is, in my view, what would normally direct them (or perhaps I should say us given that I am a NW Euro) on a eugenic evolutionary path. This can be completed through selection for biological fitness in one’s environment and through endogamy within a biologically related clade or “subrace” (while excluding 1st – 3rd cousin marriages). The result is a eugenic biological transcendence from the parent race, and species, to form a new aristocratic clade.

As an end note, the current demographic pressures on the NW European gene pool may act as the refining fire from which a new aristocratic clade will emerge. Remember: it is always darkest before the dawn and what does not kill us will only make us stronger.

See Also:

Interesting article on ethnocentrism:

https://notpoliticallycorrect.me/2016/05/16/ethnic-genetic-interests-and-group-selection-does-exist-a-reply-to-jayman-2/

 

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17 thoughts on “Dumping r/K and Revising Views on the Elves

  1. I quite don’t like AnonymousConservative’s reducionist views, but I’m not fond of NotPoliticallyCorrect either. I get the same feeling reading NPC as reading the now-dead Diniekes. Again, a feeling, of “something is not quite right with this”.
    Now, as the Great Elf, what do you think of Deedlit?

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    1. Deedlit is a bit different from the elves of Western culture in that her supernatural abilities are more emphasized, and her physical appearance a bit more of a caricature (but caricature is common in anime). Interesting comparison though; I will look more into it if I have time eventually.

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    1. AnonymousConservative is the guy with reductionist views,
      You’re not, but I get some problems reading some stuff that you write, in a very odd feeling.
      An example of this is:
      https://notpoliticallycorrect.me/2016/07/16/nordicist-fantasies-the-myth-of-the-blonde-haired-blue-eyed-aryans-and-the-origins-of-the-indo-europeans/

      You say many wrong things in the article, I’ll not enter in details because this is Elf’s blog, but for instance, things that you got wrong:
      – The Yamnaya were an admixture of 50%EHG, which were basically +95%WHG + Rest%ANE and 50%CHG.
      – Yamnaya didn’t have dark skin at all, their skin were very light. You’re mistaking them for WHG (SHG and EHG had light skin too)
      – They had Dark Hair and Dark Eyes, but the Yamnaya was only the First wave of Indo-Europeans, and the smallest (expanded to Corded Ware, Afanasievo, Poltavka, Potapovka)
      – Every other subsequent expansion was done by Corded Ware peoples, and they had Light Eyes and Light Skin, and that’s attested in their expansions (Srubnaya, Sintashta and Andronovo also had Light Eyes and Light Skin)
      – The Kalash people of today also is filled with Light Eyed and Light Haired people, even though they probably don’t have post-Yamnaya Steppe admixture, but that very early one.

      You know, sometimes I get that you post stuff only after batting an eye on the information.

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  2. My first encounter with r/K was in Robert MacArthur and E.O. Wilson around 1970. In the next decade or so, the number of interpretations of r/K expanded almost as quickly as did the number of academics using the r/K terminology in their writing and teaching. A decade later, G.D. Parry, “The Meanings of r- and K-selection,” Oecologia. 48:2 (March 1981), 260-264 noted that there was no common agreement about the very definitions of r- and K-selection, leading him to question whether the 1970s researchers weren’t really just talking past each other. They were using the same words, but those words meant dramatically different things to different writers. For example, agents of selection that were taken as r-selectors in one article could and were cited as K-selectors in another article, because the authors had defined r and K in different ways. He questioned whether or not the then sizeable r/K literature had managed to collectively prove pretty much anything commonly held to be true at all.

    Over the next couple of decades, writers demonstrated that several of the most respected early pieces on r/K were conceptually incomplete, self-contradictory, or could even be shown to be falsified in specific studies of various species. At the same time, the Academy was generally transformed by Political Correctness. A new generation abandoned the language of r/K while retaining much of its content and concerns in life history theory’s emphases on number of offspring and level of parental investment or Winemiller and Rose’s “opportunistic, periodic, and equilibrium” typology of life history strategies.

    Rushton bucked the trend of folding r/K into life history theory, bringing r/K to the forefront by using what he coined the “K factor” as a way of emplaining a multitude of “life-history traits”. Conceptually that interested several others in the Academy, but there was that other thing… You see, his species of choice was (gulp) PEOPLE and rather than frantically denying that races existed in humans and that all human differences are cultural, he dove into questions of racial biological differences as the focus of his work. He generated falsifiable claims about racial differences in intelligence, criminality, frequency of twins… even penis size! Once the American press caught wind of THAT, everything changed in the reception of Rushton’s r/K work.

    Much of what I’ve recently read as a refutation of Rushton’s version of r/K can be summarized as:

    1. Rushton’s accounts of r/K deviated from early 1970s formulations of the theory. Right, that’s what makes his work an original contribution to the literature rather than being a summary of the work of others. An analogy: When John Stuart Mill developed utilitarianism as the moral foundation for liberalism, his “Principles of Political Economy” initially advocated for free speech, free markets, free trade, against progressive taxes, etc.. Later editions reversed all those positions, even arguing that the wage system be abolished in favour of a co-operative system. In the course of his life, Mill inverted virtually every policy associated with hitherto existing classical liberalism, yet still considered himself a liberal. Mill didn’t destroy or misunderstand liberalism, he changed it. Rushton didn’t misunderstand or misapply r/K concepts, he reformulated them.

    2. Some of Rushton’s testable predictions appear to be dubious or even false in the light of recent attempts at replication. Hey, welcome to science. Over time, identified errors lead to corrections and refinement of theories. Even in his heyday, Rushton was pretty close to a one man show and hope of any progress in his work effectively died with him. With no defenders in sight, dumping on his work nowadays is the intellectual equivalent of beating a dead horse.

    3. Some of Rushton’s topics of interest seem comical (penis size, really?) or perhaps just embarrassing or trivial or research dead ends, not leading to any further research programmes. Yes, constrained by the scarcity of funding for politically forbidden topics, time demands of defending his work and reputation from cascades of criticism, and the thinly populated peer-reviewed body of research on biology of race since 1940, it is easy to find fault with the thousands of pages Rushton wrote in both scholarly and popular pieces, not to mention his extensive personal correspondence. Science is furthered, refined, and enriched by participating in a large, well financed, and intellectually involved academic research community and Rushton was effectively marginalized, both personally and professionally, long before his death.

    BTW, for a couple of decades now, ideas which seem very r/K-esque to me have been discussed in system theory, all without directly using the r/K vocabulary or referencing its use elsewhere. My seat-of-my-pants guess is that it wasn’t that big a conceptual leap from evolutionary game theory to systems theory. r/K, it’s not just for biological entities any more. So, in spite of repeated claims of its definitive refutation, r/K keeps cropping up, like some sort of theory-heavy game of whack-a-mole. I wouldn’t count it out yet, my friend.

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      1. Stefan Molyneux interviews Jim Penman, the guy from the book and lab.

        This video is the last one of Stefan’s r/K playlist. It doesn’t answer many questions, but at least this “C” seems to be much more empirically backed.

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    1. “Mill inverted virtually every policy associated with hitherto existing classical liberalism, yet still considered himself a liberal. Mill didn’t destroy or misunderstand liberalism, he changed it. Rushton didn’t misunderstand or misapply r/K concepts, he reformulated them”

      If I say that the grass is blue and the sky is green all the while giving new definitions of the words, does that make me right? I ‘reformulated them’, right? That’s what Rushton did. Rushton completely misunderstood r/K theory—Anderson’s and Graves’ critiques attest to that.

      “Some of Rushton’s testable predictions appear to be dubious or even false in the light of recent attempts at replication. Hey, welcome to science. Over time, identified errors lead to corrections and refinement of theories. Even in his heyday, Rushton was pretty close to a one man show and hope of any progress in his work effectively died with him. With no defenders in sight, dumping on his work nowadays is the intellectual equivalent of beating a dead horse.”

      Right. However, his ‘predictions’ were predicated on false premises. To ‘save’ Rushton’s theory, it’d need to be acknowledged that he reversed r and K in regards to the races of Man. Rushton’s errors were pointed out, yet he still persisted in pushing an outdated theory when he knew he was wrong.

      “Some of Rushton’s topics of interest seem comical (penis size, really?) or perhaps just embarrassing or trivial or research dead ends, not leading to any further research programmes. Yes, constrained by the scarcity of funding for politically forbidden topics, time demands of defending his work and reputation from cascades of criticism, and the thinly populated peer-reviewed body of research on biology of race since 1940, it is easy to find fault with the thousands of pages Rushton wrote in both scholarly and popular pieces, not to mention his extensive personal correspondence. Science is furthered, refined, and enriched by participating in a large, well financed, and intellectually involved academic research community and Rushton was effectively marginalized, both personally and professionally, long before his death.”

      He was wrong on penis size and testosterone too. I don’t really have any problems with Rushton’s data (except for his claims on testosterone and penis size), but to continue to push his theory when it’s been definitively rebutted is dumb.

      Furthermore, even if he were correct with his application of r/K to the human races, it’d fall apart without the so-called 19 percent higher testosterone as cited from Ross et al (1986). There is no difference or it is small (between 2.5 to 4.9 percent as seen in multiple studies). Testosterone does not cause aggression (testosterone has a .08 correlation with aggression) and it doesn’t cause crime (testosterone is highest at 8 am and lowest at 8 pm; kids under 18 commit the most crime at 3 pm while adults commit the most crime at 10 pm) nor prostate cancer (exogenous testosterone can be administered without exacerbating the disease; references provided upon request). Without that, the theory falls apart. He also has huge misconceptions on the hormone.

      “BTW, for a couple of decades now, ideas which seem very r/K-esque to me have been discussed in system theory, all without directly using the r/K vocabulary or referencing its use elsewhere. My seat-of-my-pants guess is that it wasn’t that big a conceptual leap from evolutionary game theory to systems theory. r/K, it’s not just for biological entities any more. So, in spite of repeated claims of its definitive refutation, r/K keeps cropping up, like some sort of theory-heavy game of whack-a-mole. I wouldn’t count it out yet, my friend.”

      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).

      http://www2.hawaii.edu/~taylor/z652/Reznicketal.pdf

      I would count it out. People don’t understand agents of selection, nor how r/K selection is density-dependent selection. Rushton never mentioned density-dependence, population dynamics, or environmental carrying capacity (K). So it’s clear that Rushton didn’t truly understand r/K selection theory, so to use r/K selection—Rushton’s application to human races—you’d be wrong since he reversed them. Africans are K, Mongoloids are r.

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      1. The distinguishing feature of r/K is the difference between r and K. The r-selected survival strategy is to have many offspring, playing the odds that at least some of them will survive long enough to reproduce. The K-selected survival strategy is to have few offspring, but devoting parental resources to equip their offspring with a high likelihood of surviving long enough to reproduce.

        Both strategies seem legitimate in a Darwinian sense of promulgating the species, so why does one strategy dominate over the other in any given historical moment? Robert MacArthur and E.O. Wilson posited that the choice of strategies is density-dependent, that is, species living at or near the carrying capacity of their environmental niches would be K-selected because higher parental investment would advantage their offspring in the fierce competition for scarce resources. In less competitive situations, r-strategists would be advantaged in reproductive success.

        This density-dependent selection device allowed writers to elaborate on the differences between the r- and K-selected. The r-selected would thrive with little competition and their numbers would explode until a Malthusian limit led to intense competition and a demographic crash, at which time the boom-bust cycle would repeat. Resources would be marshaled for rapid reproductive maturity and high reproductive drives, selecting for small body size, early reproduction, and short lifespans. Time between generations would be short, with few resources devoted to maintaining offspring.

        A research bevy battered the idea of density-dependent selection, as RaceRealist noted. Tellingly, traits posited as r were often shown to be characteristic of K-selected species and vice versa. Writers largely abandoned density-dependent selection for age-specific mortality as the mechanism to link environment and optimal Darwinian strategy, reinvigorating what was known as “life history theory”. Life history writers have dropped the r/K terminology. Rather, they refer to species that experience high mortality rates among their young, so parents emphasize rapid reproduction and devote few resources to their offspring. To me, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, whatever you want to call it, it’s still a common water fowl.

        Rushton took a different approach. Rather than discard r/K in its entirety, he posited a different mechanism of selection. Instead of density-dependence, he posited the importance of environmental variability/predictability. Keeping the old terms, he labeled highly variable/unpredictable environments as r-selecting and stable/predictable environments as K-selecting. With a different mechanism of selection, the traits associated with r and K changed enough that RaceRealist can claim that “If I say that the grass is blue and the sky is green all the while giving new definitions of the words, does that make me right? I ‘reformulated them’, right? That’s what Rushton did. Rushton completely misunderstood r/K theory…”. Yes, in much the same way that Martin Luther completely misunderstood Christianity.

        (BTW, the replacement of density-dependence to stable/predictable is why Africans went from being K-selected to r-selected and Eurasians went from bring r-selected to being K-selected under Rushton. My problem is not with Rushton’s reformulation — yes, I’m sticking with that word — but with his belief that both climates and disease biomes were much more consistent for longer periods of time than current research holds to be true.)

        Rushton chose to study humans to explore, test, and refine his theories, using racial differentiation as the focal point of his research. This marginalized him, restricting peer review and development, limited access to research grants, and subjected him to personal and professional attacks. It also made r/K differentiation problematic; human races are recently developed and differences are even more subtle than Darwin’s finches. He mined almost forgotten 19th century writers, public documents, and small scale studies to identify racially distinctive traits, especially those he could link to patterns of reproduction. Race, sexuality, climate, diseases, criminality, intelligence… I think the scientific descriptor is “shit storm”.

        Subsequent testing has actually generally vindicated Rushton on most of the racial differences he discerned, but the magnitude of the differences turns out to be smaller than he believed. There are even statistically significant differences in sweat glands and penis size, for goodness sake, although the differences are minor. Writing before the genomics revolution, Rushton posited hormonal differences as the mechanism of much of racial biological differentiation. RaceRealist notes several shortcomings* of testosterone differences as an explanatory device.

        (Personally, I wonder if considering estrogen and a life history inquiry as to testosterone differences at different ages might have been more fruitful. In our genomics era, I wonder if he might have become more devoted to DNA-based mechanisms, rather than hormones. I would also have liked to see Rushton devote more attention to how humans develop, use, and change cultures/Jacques Ellul-esque technologies to cope with racial differences in diverse environments*. Hey, but that’s just me thinking out loud.)

        Please forgive me for blathering on, but RaceRealist’s very gracious reply led me to believe my initial comments were unclear. If I am still unclear — or just wrong — thanks for reading; this is the best I can do. Thanks for your patience and indulgence, Elf.

        * I’m not convinced of your reading of time-of-day differences in testosterone levels and criminal activity. Water pressure at the base of a dam is much greater than it is at the top of the dam, but if there’s a hole at the top, that’s where the water will squirt out. Minors are rarely free of adult supervision and control before 3.00 pm (school) or much later (family), leaving the crack of opportunity for anti-social behavior a very narrow time frame. Adults, being much more sophisticated and practiced, select their time frame based on the vulnerability of their prey, the night.

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      2. You are welcome, however, given my tendency to suspend judgement with science, it may take me some time to decide who is correct here. The main point of this post was to establish that I am no longer using r/K selection theory in the same sense that I was earlier, not to reject any and all inquiry into the subject.

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