Evolutionary Psychology

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


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

The Evolutionary Dominance of Ethnocentric Cooperation

The Evolutionary Dominance of Ethnocentric Cooperation
Max Hartshorn, Artem Kaznatcheev and Thomas Shultz (2013)
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 16 (3) 7


Recent agent-based computer simulations suggest that ethnocentrism, often thought to rely on complex social cognition and learning, may have arisen through biological evolution. From a random start, ethnocentric strategies dominate other possible strategies (selfish, traitorous, and humanitarian) based on cooperation or non-cooperation with in-group and out-group agents. Here we show that ethnocentrism eventually overcomes its closest competitor, humanitarianism, by exploiting humanitarian cooperation across group boundaries as world population saturates. Selfish and traitorous strategies are self-limiting because such agents do not cooperate with agents sharing the same genes. Traitorous strategies fare even worse than selfish ones because traitors are exploited by ethnocentrics across group boundaries in the same manner as humanitarians are, via unreciprocated cooperation. By tracking evolution across time, we find individual differences between evolving worlds in terms of early humanitarian competition with ethnocentrism, including early stages of humanitarian dominance. Our evidence indicates that such variation, in terms of differences between humanitarian and ethnocentric agents, is normally distributed and due to early, rather than later, stochastic differences in immigrant strategies.

Comment: Ethnocentrism among Whites has been pathologized for decades, while humanitarianism among Whites is constantly encouraged by eliciting spasms of guilt about the White past of colonialism, conquest, slavery, etc., as well as by eliciting the closely related emotion of empathy for non-Whites, particularly refugees and immigrants. Since this anti-White war is massively incentivized, there is no shortage of traitors and selfish Whites willing to aid the ethnocentric strategies of others by, e.g., cooperating with the Israel Lobby, being a cuckservative talking head on Fox News, having a well-paid position with a pro-immigration group, or being a university administrator promoting anti-White indoctrination and special programs for non-Whites — among a myriad of others, even though these are losing strategies in the long run for their people.

At the same time, the ethnocentrism of non-Whites is encouraged and is glaringly obvious. It’s not hard to see the end result.

Charleston, cognitive psychology, and media influence

It’s worth thinking about some basic psychology in relation to the Charleston events. Cognitive psychologists study heuristics that people use to make judgments about  the likelihood of events that are complexly determined — things like airplane crashes or shark attacks. A heuristic relevant to Charleston is the availability heuristic, where people make judgments and form attitudes based on their memories of past events. Such memories are greatly influenced by media coverage. From Wikipedia

After seeing news stories about child abductions, people may judge that the likelihood of this event is greater. Media coverage can help fuel a person’s example bias with widespread and extensive coverage of unusual events, such as homicide or airline accidents, and less coverage of more routine, less sensational events, such as common diseases or car accidents. For example, when asked to rate the probability of a variety of causes of death, people tend to rate “newsworthy” events as more likely because they can more readily recall an example from memory. Moreover, unusual and vivid events like homicides, shark attacks, or lightning are more often reported in mass media than common and un-sensational causes of death like common diseases.[9]

For example, many people think that the likelihood of dying from shark attacks is greater than that of dying from being hit by falling airplane parts, when more people actually die from falling airplane parts. When a shark attack occurs, the deaths are widely reported in the media whereas deaths as a result of being hit by falling airplane parts are rarely reported in the media.[10]

The application to Charleston is obvious. There is wall-to-wall media coverage, so people will easily recall what happened there. Such memories will be easily available to influence attitudes and judgments. Whereas Black-on-White crime motivated by racial hatred is vastly more common than the reverse, such events are rarely reported in the national media, and even local media typically ignore racial designations and downplay racial motivation in such attacks. Read more

On the HBD Chick Interview

The following is from an interview of HBD Chick that appeared on the Hoover Hog. I should say that I am an admirer of HBD Chick and follow her on Twitter.

Hoover Hog: I think it’s fair to say that one of the most polarizing figures in the HBD-o-sphere is Kevin MacDonald, whose work is mostly concerned with the evolutionary psychology of Judaism. I remember reading his book, A People That Shall Dwell Alone (long before that Cochran/Harpending/Hardy paper), and thinking that he made a fairly plausible case that Jewish identity could be understood as an evolutionary outcome. But when I got around to reading The Culture of Critique – a genuinely captivating book, whatever its merits – I came away with the impression that it was ultimately more of a polemic than a scientific treatise. Do you see value in MacDonald’s work, or is he off the reservation? More generally – and I could just as easily cite the work of Richard Lynn or Frank Salter in this context – how do you approach scholarly work that seems to be politically motivated?

HBD-Chick: Before I answer any of those questions, I’m just going to come right out and say that I admire Kevin MacDonald (and Richard Lynn and Frank Salter) very much.  Anyone who stands their ground in the face of sometimes truly vitriolic political correctness deserves respect as far as I am concerned. I mean, as far as I can tell (and I haven’t read all of his books), MacDonald has compiled plenty of historical evidence in support of his theories. His theories may be wrong, or you may disagree with his theories or his approach, but he’s not making stuff up off the top of his head. (If he were, that’d be a different story.) If people object to what he has to say, they simply need to refute his evidence and/or argumentation. It’s really that simple. There’s no need for protests in his classroom or personal attacks in newspapers, etc., etc.

I don’t think MacDonald’s work is off the reservation at all – or if it is, so, too, is the work of people like Stephen Jay Gould and Jared Diamond (and many others!). I’ve only read A People that Shall Dwell Alone and three chapters from The Culture of Critique that happen to be floating around online – the one on Boasian anthropology, the one on the Frankfurt School, and the one on Jewish involvement in shaping U.S. immigration policy. I haven’t read Separation and Its Discontents at all. I don’t recall thinking that The Culture of Critique was very polemical, but perhaps that comes out more in the conclusion/other chapters (?).

KM: I am surprised that anyone would think CofC was polemical (I discuss why CofC had not gotten much traction for people like Hoover Hog here). A polemic on that topic could never have been published by an academic press.

I wouldn’t hesitate in reading MacDonald’s books even if he does have an ulterior political motive for writing them for the same reason that I still read Jared Diamond’s and other leftist academics’ books:  because there’s often a lot to be learned from them! And now I’m talking about simply acquiring knowledge – getting my hands on new info or data – although I suppose one could also learn something about what motivates people to write academic books in the manner that they do.  (~_^)  Maybe MacDonald does primarily want to convey his social/political message in his books. So what? And Gould didn’t? It’s not the way I’d like it to work, but as one of my high school teachers once said – she was a nun, by the way – books are for inspiring thought, not dictating it.

KM: For the record, I started out on the left during the 1960s madness and only came to my present views after a lot of reading. Because I was intellectually on the left, the whole thrust of my work beginning in the 1980s was on thinking about culture from an evolutionary perspective and how culture could trump evolution. My first interest was in understanding European family patterns, particularly what Richard Alexander called socially imposed monogamy, where the emphasis was on how the mating patterns of wealthy, powerful males were regulated by social pressures emanating from powerful institutions and lower status males. (This work eventually emphasized both culture and our unique biological heritage.)  Evolutionary psychology tends to theorize in a vacuum in which sexual behavior is determined by evolved modules, with no consideration of how social/cultural processes involving conflicts of interest over mating can affect the actual mating behavior of even very powerful individuals (like European monarchs).   Because of this interest in the social regulation of mating, it was a short step to the idea that groups could regulate themselves — whence the idea of cultural group selection which forms the basis of A People That Shall Dwell Alone. Much of PTSDA describes how traditional Jewish groups regulated behavior within Jewish groups and between Jews and non-Jews. I chose Judaism as the case study because it is so well documented and only much later became a critic of Jewish behavior because, quite frankly, I came to realize that there are and have always been conflicts of interest between Jews and non-Jews. These conflicts assume center stage in Separation and Its Discontents and, of course, The Culture of Critique. No evolutionist should be surprised that ethnic groups often have conflicting interests — or that conflicts of interest can range from territorial struggles to the ivied halls of elite academic institutions. The tragedy of evolutionary science is that, apart from Frank Salter and me, the vast majority of evolutionists completely ignore selection against their own people that is occurring throughout the West.  Read more