This is not particularly relevant to Dave's essay but was stimulated by his
questions about physical attraction between genders.  I was puzzled while
watching the Golden Globes (for a few minutes) by the apparent conflict
between the themes of "Me Too" and "Time's Up"(?) and the very provocative
display of women's bodies.  I wonder if Jacques Lacan's insight that "Man's
desire is the desire of the other" is relevant.  In this case: women want
to be desired but not to be possessed or seduced.  Note that their bodies
are on display to who-knows-how-many strangers. A warm, affectionate
relationship with that number of men is not possible.  On the other hand,
maybe it's a question of asserting alphaness among women.  I don't presume
to know whether either speculation is the case.


Frank Wimberly

Phone (505) 670-9918

On Feb 14, 2018 3:42 PM, "Prof David West" <> wrote:

> Until this week I was blissfully unaware of Jordan Petersen. Two hours of
> YouTube research later my beta male mellow has been well and truly harshed.
> Be that as it may, the area of "evolutionary psychology" is interesting and
> I would like to respond to Nick's request to discuss it further.
> I apologize in advance for the length of the post.
> At the outset I would assert that Peterson's assertions have nothing to do
> with evolutionary psychology as I understand it because the 'evolution" in
> question is *biological* evolution. The grounds for this assertion will
> follow a bit of story telling.
> Once upon a time there was a context (we will call it Nature, or Gaia if
> you want some personification) and a homogeneous population  of organisms.
> Nature provided a plethora of distinct and distinctive niches; into which
> the organisms flowed and began to exploit. Most often each niche required
> some kind of particularistic change in the organism occupying that niche
> and voila - adaptation.
> if the niche were static, if Nature was static and unchanging, we would
> have diversity but no evolution. The diversity could mask itself as
> 'evolutionary' just because adjacent niches could marginally idiosyncratic
> requiring marginally idiosyncratic adaptations and we have finches with
> different beaks.
> Evolution requires either: change in the niche or differential efficiency
> among the organisms (otherwise homogeneous) occupying that niche. If the
> rate of change in Nature is slow enough or the efficiency gradient is not
> too steep, the conditions are created for adaptation over time. True the
> finches adaptations occur over time, over generations of finches, but one
> more element is essential for evolution as I understand it — an increase in
> complexity.
> It is this 'adaption over time' along with 'increasing complexity' that
> naive people like me take to be "evolution."
> Our most primitive ancestors were a product of this kind of evolution -
> biological evolution.
> Our most primitive ancestors almost certainly had a "psychology" given
> that the only requirement to develop one is sufficient "self awareness"
> (sorry Nick) to differentiate between 'this' and that' with 'this' very
> rapidly becoming "I" and 'that' becomes anything and everything else.
> Now "I" and 'other' is kind of lonely. and probably not a good adaption or
> evolutionary move, so gradations of 'Other' ensue and we have the
> foundation for "Us" and "Them" and "Other." This allows basic social
> organization and interaction of the sort we still see in primates and would
> have seen in among our most ancient ancestors.
> The closest approximation to what was, would be the few hunter-gatherer
> societies known to cultural anthropologists and the recreations that arose
> when archeological findings were compared to extant hunter-gatherers. It
> would not be unreasonable to assume that the 'psychology' of these
> ancestors was the product of biological evolution as much as the
> physiological evolution.
> So - first test for Petersen: were "alpha males" present in those
> societies? If yes, then he has some, minimal, grounds for asserting
> evolutionary psychological roots for his current claims.
> Unfortunately for him, the answer is no. The closest approximation would
> be 'leadership' roles. But those roles were - as near as we can determine -
> both situational and ephemeral. Herd of bison walking by? The most
> experienced bison hunter assumed leadership and organized the band to run
> them over a cliff. Hunt over? So is the leadership.
> The only person in the group that had lifetime status as a result of
> specialized ability was the shaman and SHE was definitely not an alpha male.
> Shortly after the emergence of the "I" came language and, very
> importantly, story. The ground is set for an alternative, mostly
> complementary, form of evolution — cultural evolution. Instead of waiting
> to evolve fur, like the polar bear, so we could inhabit the arctic,
> cultural evolution led us to wearing the polar bear's fur instead.
> Here Petersen might, but I doubt it, find some antecedents for his
> absurdities. E.g.,
>   -- unless it has happened in the last decade no one has ever been able
> to explain why 'men hunt and women gather', a pretty universal division of
> labor in hunter-gatherer and antecedent cultures.
>  -- why have all cultures (excepting one small group on the south of the
> Black Sea a few thousand years ago) been patriarchal? (There are lots of
> matrilineal cultures, but that is different.)
> -- why, according to anthropologist Maria Lepowski, is there only one
> culture, in historical times, based on sex/gender equality. (The pre-WWII
> Vanuatu.)
>   -- why, statistically speaking, are men attracted to women having the
> appearance of fecundity (physical symmetry, developed breasts, width of
> pelvic girdle, hence hips) and women are attracted to men with the
> appearance of power (fame, money, social position, all being secondary
> indicators).
> Don't shoot the messenger for the last one. Merely reporting what was
> learned in a year long university course in sex and gender across cultures
> - historic and prehistoric.
> davew
> On Wed, Feb 14, 2018, at 9:20 AM, Pieter Steenekamp wrote:
> It may be difficult to quantify evolutionary psychology, but that does not
> mean it is pseudoscience. Like string theory that's also difficult to
> quantify, the scientific method is also applicable to evolutionary
> psychology.
> I support the view as expressed in
> Evolutionary_psychology:
> "Just as Darwin's theory of natural selection was almost immediately
> perverted to justify cruel bigotry (Social Darwinism, eugenics), so
> evolutionary psychology is readily twisted to buttress prejudice. This does
> not make evolutionary psychology wrong, any more than the brutality of
> Social Darwinism made evolutionary theory wrong, but it does suggest that
> claims rooted in it should be assessed very carefully, both by those
> reading them and those writing them."
> On 13 February 2018 at 23:07, uǝlƃ ☣ <> wrote:
> I remain fascinated by the neoreactionaries (most of whom have ceded their
> soap boxes to their alt-right offspring).  And Google's tendency to promote
> fringe garbage (
> oogle-autocomplete-vile-suggestions/) landed Jordan Peterson in my
> Youtube recommendations awhile back.  Based on the videos Youtube
> recommended, he sounded like a typical right-wing pseudo-intellectual.  But
> when I noticed Sam Harris taking him seriously, I thought I'd look a little
> closer.  Sure enough, the majority of his online lectures spout fairly
> reasonable (albeit justificationist) rhetoric ... a lot like Harris and
> fellow right-wing flirt Jonathan Haidt, both of whom appeal to our
> xenophobic friends for differing reasons.
> I'm reminded of the argument I made on this list some time ago that,
> although I believe open source is necessary for pretty much all things, it
> *facilitates* nefarious action by obscurity.  Because your library (e.g.
> RSA backdoors or JavaScript cryptocurrency miners) has so much code in it,
> and is just one library in a gamut of libraries you invoke, there's
> absolutely no way you can *trust* that stack ... even if it's FOSS and gets
> lots of eyeballs.
> Peterson, Harris, and Haidt, rely on the overt reasonability of 90% of
> what they say in order to Trojan Horse the racist or otherwise questionable
> content of the other 10%.  Sure, they make a *technical* effort to weight
> their assertions.  And that's laudable.  (Slate Star Codex and Alexander's
> ilk do this well with their "epistemic status" rating, displayed fairly
> prominently most of the time.)  But this raises the reason I'm posting this
> to FriAM.  The quote from the Alternet article is (should be) provocative:
> ew-intellectual-has-some-truly-pitiable-ideas-about-masculinity
> "Devotees of the pseudoscience of evolutionary psychology are fond of this
> particular maneuver: locate some behavior in the more ancient branches of
> the tree of life and project it forward across eons to explain little
> Johnny pulling little Susie’s pigtails, or the collapse of Lehman Brothers,
> or the Holocaust, or whatever. In any case, I like to imagine the
> diaphanous, energy-based extraterrestrials in their invisible starships, so
> unutterably alien that they gaze upon man and lobster and can’t tell them
> apart."
> In particular re: Peterson, I've actually *used* (although mostly
> jokingly) the alpha- beta-male (false) dichotomy at cocktail parties ... to
> justify why I, as a proud beta male, am a wallflower.  But now, I'm worried
> that (like the many memes I learned from my libertarian friends) it's not
> merely a useful fiction, but complete garbage:
> --
> ☣ uǝlƃ
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