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 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.
Interesting article on ethnocentrism: