Evolutionary Psychology

When White Liberal Prophecy Fails: Cognitive Dissonance and the Liberal Mind

Cognitive Dissonance theory might be more important in explaining the Left’s mindset than we appreciate. Although frequently invoked by mainstream conservatives to superficially skewer liberals’ incoherence and hypocrisy, cognitive dissonance should be applied more broadly and explored more deeply. According to psychologists, the dissonance produced in the mind when holding mutually exclusive beliefs is actually nothing short of a form of mental trauma. Facts and opinions which challenge, for instance, one’s self-identity or long-held conventional wisdom can, say experts, result in agony for the afflicted, producing a feeling of desperation akin to starvation or intense thirst. Unsurprisingly then, the resulting discomfort can push the sufferer to great lengths of irrational and extreme behavior in order to obtain relief[1] (Margaret Heffernan, Willful Blindness, pdf here).Understanding cognitive dissonance, therefore, may go far in explaining our opponents’ aggressiveness and, given the growing unreality of today’s society, their increasingly toxic and desperate behavior.

A basic theme in cognitive dissonance literature is that the brain cannot stand conflict. So hard does the brain work towards resolving it, it’s neural circuitry will actually employ faulty reasoning in order to shut down distress.[2] When presented with contradictory positions, it will, in effect, blind itself to them, for instance, by eliminating the new conflicting belief and clinging to the challenged one. Referring to this characteristic of the mind as our “totalitarian ego”, Psychologist Anthony Greenwald says, much like the thought-control and propaganda devices depicted in George Orwell’s 1984, the mind’s biases are firmly enslaved to the ego’s greater central design (for instance, one’s self-image as a humanitarian and morally righteous person, etc.[3] This would explain much of liberals’ hyper-defensive reaction to evidence regarding racial differences, for instance, and their aggression toward purveyors of such evidence.

Political psychology professor Drew Weston has found that the same brain circuits activating biased reasoning are actually the same ones activated in drug-addicts when getting a fix. Like drug-addicts, the cognitively conflicted will do anything to return to a state of comfort and euphoria.[4] The minds of the conflicted can employ numerous stress responses when, for instance, one’s long-held belief or self-image is challenged, such as avoiding the conflicting evidence in question (and any possible sources of such evidence); resorting to self-denial and magical-thinking[5]; even intentionally misremembering or suppressing past experiences i.e. previous episodes of ethnic tension, etc.[6] And when confronted by ideological opponents, the afflicted can resort to convoluted, fantastical arguments as well as hostile or nakedly diversionary ones, such as making dismissive, personal attacks on the opponent’s motives.[7] No doubt many readers have experienced such episodes from liberals before, even to the point of visible neurosis, hysterical anger, or even threatened or actual violence.[8] As Cognitive Dissonance expert Margaret Heffernan says, “we are prepared to pay a very high price to preserve our most cherished ideas.”[9] Read more

Darwin on the Rise and Fall of Human Races, Part 2 of 2

Go to Part 1.

On the Human Races

According to Darwin, human races have emerged as a natural consequence of their spreading across the globe, leading to their separate evolution in relative reproductive isolation. As a result of their prolonged separation in different environmental and socio-cultural conditions, humans show differences on a variety of traits; these differences were also shaped through the constant culling of individuals and societies in perpetual tribal warfare. It follows that races are expected to differ. Darwin took the heredity of mental traits and mental differences between races as inseparably entailing one another: “Except through the principle of the transmission of moral tendencies, we cannot understand the differences believed to exist in this respect between the various races of mankind” (148).

In The Descent of Man, Darwin is primarily dedicated to proving that human beings are descended from lower, animal forms of life: “It is only our natural prejudice, and that arrogance which made our forefathers declare that they were descended from demi-gods, which leads us to demur to this conclusion” (43). Darwin is only quite secondarily interested in discussing the differences between human races. He nonetheless endorsed the racial science of his day, observing that “the differences between the several races” was “an enormous subject which has been fully discussed in many valuable works” (18).

Darwin takes for granted the existence of physical and psychological differences between both men and women and between human races: “Man differs from woman in size, bodily strength, hairiness, &c., as well as in mind, in the same manner as do the two sexes of many mammals” (25). Darwin lists numerous areas in which human races differ. The “civilised races” have an inferior sense of smell, inferior eyesight, and smaller wisdom teeth than do “dark races” and “savages” (35, 37, 52). Human races differ in the presence of earlobes (32), hairiness (36), skull length (44), and prognathism (58).

There is . . . no doubt that the various races, when carefully compared and measured, differ much from each other, — as in the texture of the hair, the relative proportions of all parts of the body, the capacity of the lungs, the form and capacity of the skull, and even in the convolutions of the brain.[1] But it would be an endless task to specify the numerous points of difference. The races differ also in constitutions, in acclimatisation and in liability to certain diseases. Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in their intellectual faculties. Every one who has had the opportunity of comparison, must have been struck with the contrast between the taciturn, even morose, aborigines of S. America and the light-hearted, talkative negroes. There is a nearly similar contrast between the Malays and the Papuans, who live under these same physical conditions, and are separated from each other only by a narrow space of sea. (196)

Darwin praises “the old Greeks” in particular as an exceptionally gifted people “which stood some grades higher in intellect than any race that has ever existed” (166). Read more

Darwin on the Rise and Fall of Human Races, Part 1 of 2

Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (London: Penguin, 2004 [reprint of second edition, London: John Murray, 1879]).

Western intellectual life today is characterized by a marked schizophrenia. On the one hand, virtually everyone accepts the scientific theory of Charles Darwin concerning the emergence and evolution of the various species in the world, including humanity, through the process natural selection. The only exceptions to this rule are a few Creationist hold-outs. On the other hand, our culture denies the biological reality of race and the relevance of hereditarian thinking to human societies. Our egalitarian culture rejects heredity’s implications in toto — both the descriptive (in-born human differences between individuals and races) and prescriptive (e.g. eugenics). Given how taboo racialist thinking still is, it is then useful — in order to think freely — to go back to the roots of evolutionary thinking by looking at what Darwin himself had to say about human evolution and racial differences.

The concept of race or lineage is central to Darwin’s evolutionary thinking. His classic The Origin of Species is indeed subtitled By Means of Natural Selection of the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. In one place, Darwin defines a race as the “successive generations” of a particular population (102). Darwin’s model for evolutionary change is simple and powerful: every species will tend to bear too many offspring, leading to overpopulation, a huge percentage of these will die before reaching maturity or in competition with others (whether of the same species or not), those who survive this struggle will be those with the traits best suited for their particular environment. The constant generation and culling of “races,” that is to say new of populations with different traits, is then central to his system, which also applies to human evolution.

The foundation of Darwin’s entire system is the reality of heredity — that the offspring of plants, animals, and humans tend to inherit the physical and/or mental characteristics of their parents. Concerning humans, Darwin follows the observations of the ancient philosophers in asserting that man’s specificity is in being both a social and rational creature.[1] This, along with his free hands, have enabled humanity’s remarkable conquest of the Earth: our intelligence and dexterity allowed our prehistoric forbears to fashion tools, our social instincts enabled us to work together to bring down much larger animals, and the combination gave us a unique ability to adapt to the most varied environments. Darwin says concerning intelligence and sociability: “The supreme importance of these characters has been proved by the final arbitrament of the battle for life” (68). Our hands and brains were incidentally developed at considerable cost: we are awkward bipeds and the tension between enormous heads and narrow hips means that childbirth is quite dangerous to our women. Read more

Judging by Appearances

How to Judge People by What They Look Like
Edward Dutton
Self-published, 2018
107 pages, $14.19 paperback, free in Kindle

Anthropologist Ed Dutton will be familiar to some readers for his work with Richard Lynn (including the book Race and Sport) and as an occasional contributor to The Occidental Quarterly. He has just published a short book on physiognomy, i.e., the relation between physical features and behavioral tendencies.

We often hear that it is not possible to judge others from appearance, but there is plenty of evidence that we all do so, and not only in the context of mate-seeking. Dutton draws our attention to the General Prologue to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, where the poet carefully describes the physical appearance of each of the pilgrims, matching these with their personalities as revealed in their behavior and the stories they tell. The Reeve’s thinness of build is supposed to suit his irritability and quickness to anger. The Wife of Bath has a gap between her front teeth to suggest her sexual aggressiveness. There was a whole body of physiognomic teaching in Medieval Europe, where the subject was taught in universities until the sixteenth century. Unfortunately, much of medieval physiognomic lore had an astrological basis, limiting its scientific usefulness.

Might it not be time to reopen the question?

In 1966 psychologists at the University of Michigan conducted an experiment on 84 undergraduates who had never met. They had to sit in complete silence with each other for 15 minutes and rate each other on personality traits, simply by appearance. Each participant also sat a personality test. For three traits — Extraversion, Conscientiousness and Openness — the students‟ appearance-based judgements significantly positively correlated with the actual personality scores (Passini & Warren, 1966).

A later follow up study replicated the results for Extraversion and Conscientiousness using only mugshots. Read more

John Tooby on Coalitional Politics in Science

John Tooby is a professor of anthropology at UC-Santa Barbara and, along with his wife Leda Cosmides, prominent in the field of evolutionary psychology. For a whole lot of reasons, we do not see eye-to-eye on pretty much anything related to evolutionary psychology, but Tooby has also criticized me for my work on Judaism and for around ten years they had a note on their website that they were going to refute me—since removed. But I am happy to say that I finally agree with him about something. But first a little background.

Our differences long predate my study of Judaism and go to the heart of how to conceptualize evolutionary psychology. At a time when E. O. Wilson’s sociobiology was still under fire from the left, Tooby and Cosmides designed an evolutionary psychology that would fly under the radar of political correctness. The vicious assault on sociobiology by the left was a sight to behold—culminating in a woman pouring a pitcher of ice water over Wilson’s head at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

But the left succeeded. Evolutionary psychology became ensconced as the heir of sociobiology. The word ‘sociobiology’ was virtually expunged from the lexicon, and the most important academic journal in the field changed its name from Ethology and Sociobiology to Evolution and Human Behavior. I heard it on good authority that Wilson described those who carried out this coup as acting like “beaten dogs.”

Without the baggage of the term ‘sociobiology,’ the field was free to reinvent itself.  The trick was to loudly proclaim the idea that evolution did indeed sculpt the mind, but that all humans were essentially alike because we all evolved in the same Pleistocene environment. This takes issues like race differences completely off the table, and individual differences, as in personality and intelligence, become mere “noise.”

And since we were all the same, the only interesting source of differences between humans was that people were exposed to different environmental contexts in their lifetime. Why is one person more aggressive than another? The evolutionary psych answer is that some people are exposed to contexts that bring out aggression, such as poverty and low social status, or their muscular build makes aggression have greater payoffs — explanations that fit well with a leftist zeitgeist. The  fact that some people have genes that predispose them to be more aggressive than others was out of bounds. Read more

Trump’s lewd video: An evolutionary comment

What Trump said:

“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.

“Grab them by the p—y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

So now we have a media frenzy, the theme of which is that Trump has shown himself to be a horrible sexist and abuser of women. “Rape culture in a nutshell” as a writer in the Huffington Post would have it.

As usual, it’s a moral indictment. Of course, moral indictments of Trump have been routine ever since he entered the race, often centered on race and immigration. But now the chorus is deafening. So much so that quite a few Republicans (mainly those who never supported him or did so only reluctantly — i.e., the GOP establishment cuckservatives) are now (surprise!) deserting him.

The implicit assumption here is that the women involved are passive, helpless creatures who are being assaulted by the big bad hairy ape. Heaven forfend! Fainting couch feminism at its finest.

Spare me. Read more

Mechanisms for Cuckservatives and Other Misguided White People

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The cuckservative meme is beautifully derisive, connoting a man who is cuckholded by his wife and thus perhaps raising another man’s children. The term, or the more generic ‘cuck’ (which could also apply to White liberals), is quite appropriate for Whites across the mainstream political spectrum who are aiding and abetting the process of White dispossession, whether by legal or illegal immigration. (A poll of 100 House Republican “conservatives” found that only 1 favored decreases in legal immigration, so we can conclude that pretty much the entire mainstream Republican party are cuckservatives.) Donald Trump is indeed a breath of fresh air.

The cuckservative idea implies parasitism, and in fact the word ‘cuckold’ comes from a classic parasite, the cuckoo bird. There’s a terrific video of cuckoo birds eliciting feeding from their cuckolded parents after pushing the eggs of the hosts out of the  nest; especially striking are the much smaller warblers feeding their parasites.

Parasites know how to push the buttons of the host. Many animals are basically reflex machines where a particular stimulus automatically results in a preprogrammed response. The cuckoo opens its mouth to be fed and it doubtless looks just like the reed warbler chick’s mouth, so the warbler’s reflex to feed it kicks in. Like your knee joint responding when the doctor hits it with the rubber hammer. Read more