Evolutionary Psychology

A Reply to Jobling

Ian Jobling has posted an unfriendly reply to my blog article. It can only be described arrogant, hostile, and condescending — the sort of thing one expects from children who don’t play well with others. The arrogance is especially surprising given that, unlike his adversaries, he has not published even one article related to evolutionary psychology or the theory of kinship in a refereed scientific journal. But worse, it is massively confused on the theory and willfully ignorant of the data.

Here I reiterate and elaborate the main idea: Relationships of friendship and marriage are fundamentally not about altruism but about reciprocity and self-interest. Altruism is a no-go in evolutionary thinking generally because it implies unreciprocated giving. Kin selection is not about altruism because helping relatives at cost is compensated when relatives succeed. So, except in extreme situations like martyrdom or coercion (see below), no one is really talking about altruism.

Jobling’s original article is all about the limits of altruism — that there is a drop off after cousins, and beyond that natural selection could not operate to produce a module for kin altruism. All of his examples — from suicide bombing to giving food — involve giving some resource to kin or others, and then showing that beyond cousins unreciprocated giving can’t evolve.

But that is precisely where I start out —indeed he quotes me as follows: “Because the similarity-detecting mechanisms implied by [Rushton’s genetic similarity theory] assess low levels of genetic relatedness, they would not be expected to produce detectable levels of providing unreciprocated resources to others (altruism).” Exactly. I simply don’t understand how Jobling could disagree with me on this based on his original article. Quite simply, that’s exactly what his article labors to show — without the courtesy of citing me.

We agree on this, but then we draw different conclusions. He decides to completely jettison the evolutionary guts of GST — the data showing that people assort on the basis of genetic similarity and do so for evolutionarily significant reasons. And — most importantly — that preference for genetic similarity in others is heritable.  The finding that there is genetic variation for similarity preference is highly compatible with the proposal that GS mechanisms are an adaptation. Many adaptations show genetic variation, as I have argued in the personality literature (see here and here).

Instead, Jobling proposes a non-evolutionary theory of similarity seeking — Consensual Validation Theory — that your basic anti-evolutionary psychologist (and there are many of them) would love. With evolutionary theorists like Jobling, who needs Boas or Stephen Jay Gould? Minimally, one would have to unpack CVT to propose how this fits with an evolutionary perspective. What are the adaptations? How are they triggered, etc.? How do they relate to fitness in ancestral and contemporary environments?

Fundamentally, Jobling has to show that the heritability data underpinning GST are incorrect — that is, that the degree of preference for genetic similarity is not in fact influenced by genetic variation. (Unlike Jobling’s writing, Rushton published his data in Psychological Science, a top-level mainstream journal in psychology.) Given this growing body of data, it demands a theory of how it fits with evolutionary thinking. I reject the idea that it implies altruism.

Here’s a really simple way to state my argument: Attraction to genetically similar others is no different from any other kind of attraction — e.g., sexual desire, romantic love, or beauty. No one would argue that these attractions imply altruism, and each of them has an obvious evolutionary interpretation and much supporting data that they are indeed adaptations. But when it comes to genetic similarity, the conventional thinking — which is reflected in Jobling’s original article — has always seen genetic similarity as a watered down version of kin selection and then started looking for altruism.

I began from a different perspective — seeing it as a form of attraction to people that must compete with a variety of other attractions in influencing behavior. This view is not bogged down with specious arguments about altruism that Jobling falls into. Jobling writes:

MacDonald’s logic here is plainly invalid: after all, if kin selection can work at the level of the ethny, why shouldn’t it lead to adaptations for altruism among co-ethnics as well as kin? At low levels of relatedness, altruism should be attenuated, but not absent.

First of all, nothing has to evolve — as Jobling notes in his original article. But my reinterpretation was to accept the idea that the genetic relationship is so attenuated that it becomes difficult to image how evolution would be able to engineer genetic benefits when the recipients of unreciprocated benefits are so distantly related. If I make friends with another White person, say, who is slightly more correlated with me genetically than the White average, the amount of altruism toward this person warranted by our genetic overlap would be vanishingly small and it’s difficult to see how natural selection would be able to calibrate this. As Fisher and Hamilton famoulsy wrote, it would make genetic sense to give up having one of my own children in order to help my brother have two. But how much should I give up to a friend who is only slightly more genetically similar to me than the average White person? Maybe buy him a drink? Or decide not to have one of my own  children but help him have 18 more children than he would have otherwise? (Hard to do in a monogamous culture.) Or would 33 be more appropriate? 39?

There is no way that an adaptation would be able to calculate the degree of self-sacrifice warranted by this relationship. And in fact, when you look at these relationships, you see reciprocity. What is the evidence that altruism is involved?

I am arguing that although natural selection would be unlikely to be able to finely calibrate levels of unreciprocated helping appropriate for each relationship in my life, it would be able to select for self-interest in situations where there is a choice among alternatives, keeping in mind that other interests besides genetic relatedness (especially the resource value of alternatives) are involved. That is, if all else is equal (and it often is not), people should make alliances with people who are more genetically similar to themselves and they will do so because of a psychological mechanism that makes genetically similar others more attractive than average.

So imagine a choice where a woman can marry a genetically similar person or a very wealthy person from another ethnic group. (Elin Woods and Nicole Brown Simpson come to mind.) From a gene’s eye point of view, genetic similarity is one resource among several. The genes may be better off marrying the person from a different ethnic group, and at the proximal level different psychological attractions pull us in different directions. But there is no giving up of anything — no altruism. It’s completely a matter of perceived self-interest. (Elin Woods and Nicole Brown Simpson may well have behaved maladaptively, but no one can foresee the future.) In the same way, someone might weigh the benefits of allying with one’s ethnic group versus a bribe to act against the interests of one’s ethnic group.

Actually, we see a lot of this among White elites these days: Pretty much all of our White, non-Jewish media personalities and political leaders are massively rewarded for betraying their people. From a rational point of view, these people are behaving maladaptively because they are ignoring their ethnic genetic interests — Frank Salter’s argument (see below); the problem is that the emotional attachment to their people is too weak to prevent them from succumbing to the blandishments of fame and fortune.

Whereas calculating genetically appropriate levels of unreciprocated helping for a particular friendship would be next to impossible for natural selection to act on, natural selection could easily act by calibrating genetic similarity as a general attraction to similar others. In my view, this is what the data show. Rushton’s research shows that this attraction to others is heritable, meaning that partly for genetic reasons, some people are attracted to genetically similar others more than other people are. But even for people who are high on attraction to genetically similar others, within the relationship, self-interest and reciprocity are the rule — there is simply a higher cost of defection (see below). In general, people don’t go around being massively altruistic toward their ethnic group — even Jews give less than 2% of their money to charity and even less to ethnic charities. (Their giving would increase if the Jewish community was under threat — as predicted by Social Identity Theory.) But it does make people feel more comfortable with genetically similar others and trust them more (hence Bernie Madoff).

Relationships based on genetic similarity create a cost for defection — just as a relationship based on sexual attraction creates a cost of defection. Someone who is in a relationship with a sexually attractive person may want to defect — for example, if the person is self-centered or a drug addict. But the cost is the loss of a sexually satisfying relationship. Again, where’s the altruism?

In short, my approach aims to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I want to retain a powerful and important set of data and show how taking account of genetic similarity in others could evolve and be an important psychological component of human behavior.

Jobling’s rejoinder seems to grasp that I reject altruism, but he claims that “When one unpacks MacDonald’s arguments, one finds that altruism is implicit in his theory of ethnicity.” Rather than tell us exactly why this is so — difficult to do, since I explicitly reject altruism — Jobling instead states, “MacDonald is saying that, because of the genetic interest they have in each other’s well-being, co-ethnics go on cooperating even when it is in their self-interest to defect. That is, an individual will forego a benefit to himself in order to grant one to his co-ethnic cooperative partner. This is altruism.”

But that’s ridiculous. That is not at all what I am saying. I am saying that if it is one’s interest to defect (see examples above), then defect. We see it all the time. Genetic similarity is not the only game in town — it’s not the only evolved interest mediated by a psychological attraction that people have.

Actually, it’s sad that it’s not the only game in town. White people would not be in such dire straits if it were a stronger force. Our greatest difficulty right now is that all the rewards for attaining high social status, fame, and fortune for Whites lie with those who turn their backs on their people — a point I elaborate in this article.

Jobling continues:

Also, MacDonald thinks that people prefer to cooperate with co-ethnics rather than allo-ethnics because the former are more inclined to trust each other more than the latter are.

This is correct and based on a great deal of data (e.g., De Bruine’s research discussed in my academic article). This would bias one in favor of hiring a co-ethnic all things being equal. But if the job candidate is completely incompetent (hiring an English major to a computer programmer job) so that the firm would be impacted negatively, this is a bad move. Again, I don’t think that natural selection could calibrate how much loss in performance the Black CEO in Jobling’s example should be willing to incur by hiring a Black person over a more competent White person. (In in this particular case, social identity mechanisms may also be involved — the CEO may see a White person in ingroup-outgroup terms which would bias the decision even more in the direction of ethnic preference.) But I do think that all things being equal in terms of talent, he should prefer the Black person. Then if the prosperity for the company leads to biological success in its employees, the Black CEO would benefit genetically more by hiring the co-ethnic.

Perhaps this is why the most flagrant racial favoritism is typically seen in departments that have little impact on the performance of the company — human resources versus research and development. Companies accept a certain amount load because they are being watched like hawks by the affirmative action industry and shakedown artists like Jesse Jackson.

Jobling writes:

Moreover, many other passages in the article are comprehensible only on the assumption that ethnic altruism exists. For example, in defining ethnocentrism, MacDonald quotes a passage from William Graham Sumner that implies the existence of ethnic altruism.

Right. But notice that that passage where I quote Sumner is in my section on social identity theory — not GST. Jobling is oblivious to the whole point of my article — that we need to posit several different psychological mechanisms related to ethnicity and ethnic conflict. I clearly don’t think that GST provides a psychological basis for the phenomenon of ingroup-outgroup conflict or for martyrdom, but I do argue that social identity theory does provide such a theory. (My original argument is presented in Chapter 1 of Separation and Its Discontents where it forms the basis of my theory of anti-Semitism; a more recent (2008) review of the literature on psychological mechanisms of ethnocentrism was published in a top mainstream journal in psychology, Psychological Review. That article also mentions recent research showing racial imprinting — infants preferring their own race, typically as a result of exposure to parents and other family members. This, of course, has led to anxiety among the righteous about racist babies. It is possible that the preferences found in genetic similarity research are mediated by this imprinting process. I can imagine a future where all Whites would be required to expose their babies to non-Whites during this formative period. Orwell would love it.)

Social identity theory fills an obvious gap — one alluded to by Jobling in his original article: Most ethnic conflict is among closely related groups. (Think Israelis and Palestinians.) In my original article I challenged Jobling to state how my argument for an evolutionary basis of social identity mechanisms is incorrect, but he has not responded. He acknowledges he was incorrect in criticizing my comments on martyrdom. But that means he acknowledges that I am correct that there are psychological mechanisms that could lead to martyrdom and intense identification with an ingroup.


Later, MacDonald writes, “Even if all humans were equally opportunistic and fickle in their group affiliations, so that group interest was always contingent on individual self-interest, groups as vehicles of selection would still be required in order to understand the behavior of coordinated groups.”8 Here MacDonald implies that sometimes people may not be motivated by self-interest, and it seems to me that altruism is the only alternative.

This does not follow at all. My view is that explicit processing mechanisms are critical for understanding how humans are able to form effective groups. (My most recent article on this is in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.) Jobling is simply showing that he is unfamiliar with the literature on cultural group selection. Briefly, because of explicit processing, humans are able to form cohesive groups where, for example, self-sacrificing behavior is coerced via social controls or made psychologically attractive by compelling ideologies. Think of a military unit or a group evolutionary strategy (GES). And in the case of a GES, social controls can provide a selective environment ensuring that people who are most committed to group goals and most embody the group’s cultural ideals (e.g., scholarship and religious fanaticism (hyper-ethnocentrism)  among traditional Jewish groups) prosper by leaving more progeny. And that is evolution.


In another passage, MacDonald writes, “For individuals highly predisposed to collectivism, ingroup norms and the duty to cooperate and subordinate individual goals to group goals are paramount.”9 Subordinating individual goals to the goals of the ethnic group would seem an act of ethnic altruism. MacDonald does nothing to reconcile this sentence with his earlier assertion that ethnic altruism does not exist, despite the apparent contradiction. The same is true of the other passages in which ethnic altruism is implied.

False. This is the argument for martyrdom. Since Jobling accepts that argument (see our comments on my original article), I don’t see the problem. Again, my argument is that individualism/collectivism is an individual differences dimension of social identity processes and that people extreme on collectivism do not have an algorithm that balances the costs of group membership with the benefits of leaving the group. One of my ideas about Jewish society is that the most extreme members of the group — the ones like those in medieval Germany who killed their families rather than convert — are the vanguard. These are the Jews who populate the West Bank settler movement and the forces of the racialist right both in Israel and the US.


MacDonald’s confusion is evident in his blog post as well. If MacDonald does not believe in the existence of ethnic altruism, then he must disagree with Frank Salter’s theory of ethnicity, to which the concept of ethnic altruism is central. Salter plainly believes that natural selection has led to the evolution of instincts for ethnic altruism.

Salter is very clear that rational choice mechanisms are required in order to calculate ethnic genetic interests. Read his book — or my review:

A basic theme of the book is that humans cannot rely on their suite of evolved modules to achieve or even perceive their genetic interests in the modern world. Many individuals do not have the same psychological motivation for their ethnic interests that they have, say, for their family. Salter’s reasoning actually reinforces arguments that there are enormous barriers to the evolution of altruism within local groups, since, as noted above, random coethnics have zero ethnic kinship. Presumably this is because our evolved psychology was designed mainly for a world of small groups separated by tiny genetic differences.

To conclude: For all the political biases and other weaknesses of the academic system, it does give one a certain humility in the face of the daunting complexity of human behavior. Perhaps because he has not subjected himself to the peer review process, Jobling lacks this humility and the result is a demeanor filled with arrogance, hostility, and contempt.

The good news is that Jobling is safely ensconced in his own website where no one need take him seriously — least of all anyone who thinks of himself as developing the groundwork for a scientifically based legitimacy for identifying with White people and their interests.

Comments on Ethnic Interests

Given Ian Jobling’s work (which is decidedly odd for someone who claims to be a race realist and defender of the White race) and the recent interest on this list in ethnic genetic interests and genetic similarity theory (GST), I thought I would briefly lay out my views.

My ideas on GST are spelled out here. The data compiled by Phil Rushton and others are very clear that people assort on the basis of genetic similarity — they like genetically similar people more, are more likely to marry them, etc. Any critic of this theory must show where this rather large amount of data is wrong and provide another explanation for why genetic similarity influences behavior. That has not happened. A recent study that is entirely compatible with GST concludes “assortative mating related to genetic ancestry [not social class] persists in Latino populations to the current day, and has impacted on the genomic structure in these populations.”

Contrary to Jobling, my argument is that GST is not about altruism: “Relationships of marriage, friendship, and ethnic group affiliation fundamentally involve reciprocity, and self-interest is an obvious component of all of these relationships: Assortative mating increases relatedness to children, so that one receives a greater genetic payoff for the same parenting effort. Successful alliances and successful friendships have a greater payoff to self if genetically similar others succeed when you succeed.” There is also a higher threshold for defection.

The same argument can obviously be extended to larger kinship groups. Again, it’s not about altruism but about self-interest. Indeed, as I note, genetic similarity must compete with other interests. For example, in marriage, genetic similarity must compete with the resource value (health, age, beauty, wealth) of a prospective mate. As I also note, GST is not adequate as an underpinning of an evolutionary psychology of groups — of the deep attachment that people often have to their ingroups. Nevertheless, GST mechanisms are doubtless responsible for what I term “implicit Whiteness” — the primal attraction that Whites have for each other in an increasingly multi-racial societies they live in now. Clearly, this has nothing to do with altruism.

Jobling mentions my comment on Jews preferring martyrdom over conversion to Christianity as an example of bad thinking. My argument is not based on GST, but on social identity (SI) and individualism/collectivism mechanisms. In the article referred to above, I provide a number of arguments for why SI mechanisms are an evolutionary adaptation to between-group conflict. These must be answered by any competent critique. I also provide an argument for individual and group differences in social identity processes based on research on individualism/collectivism. Again, it’s not about altruism. The argument is that at the collectivist extreme, people lack an algorithm to calculate the relative benefits of defection versus continued group membership. Any reasonable critique must address my specific argument and provide an alternative explanation of martyrdom. I also argue that in many parts of the world people have lived in group-structured populations for evolutionarily significant periods. This in turn leads into one of the major areas of my thinking briefly discussed in the article— that European peoples are significantly more individualistic than collectivist peoples, prototypically the Jews. European tendencies toward individualism figure in much of my recent writing. (See here and here.)

Finally, I argue that rational choice mechanisms are critical for developing adaptive strategies for humans. For humans, the evolutionary game is played out in conflicts over the construction of culture — hence my book, The Culture of Critique. This argument first appeared in my books on Judaism, since I repeatedly noted that Jews were flexible strategizers, not preprogrammed robots. (Whatever else one might say, an effective lobbying group like AIPAC is using rational mechanisms, not evolved modules in figuring out how to influence US foreign policy.) In the academic journal literature, I presented it here, and I expanded on it here recently.)

It is true that these mechanisms do not have an affective component — they don’t produce an emotional allegiance to one’s race or ethnic group, and they are therefore insufficient to build a mass movement. But rational choice mechanisms do show why it is entirely rational to have allegiance to one’s ethnic group. Implicit Whiteness based on genetic similarity is insufficient as a basis for a successful White movement. I think that ultimately a White mass movement will rely on social identity mechanisms because they do have an emotional component. As Whites become a minority and as the political fault lines are more and more centered on race, these mechanisms will naturally be triggered. This is a recent comment along these lines.

Acting on and strategizing about genetic differences is the very essence of evolution, and there is no doubt that genetic differences between human groups are meaningful and have important effects on behavior. Quite simply, societies composed entirely of sub-Saharan African groups are going to be very different from societies composed entirely of Jews, Chinese, or Europeans.

Humans, like all living things, have genetic interests because we are not clones. People who deny there are genetic differences and behave as if there are no meaningful genetic differences will simply lose the evolutionary game — much like a pacifist male elephant seal who refuses to fight other males in order to be able to mate. Salter’s work is absolutely bedrock sound. Jobling repeats several arguments that have long been refuted (see this paper for a more detailed discussion). As Salter notes no matter what the level of genetic commonality among humans, if this commonality negates the adaptiveness of favoring one’s ethnic group or race, then it must also negate the adaptiveness of parental love. This is absurd, both intuitively and theoretically. But you cannot have it both ways: if preserving genes in your children is adaptive, doing so with any concentration of your genes must be adaptive.

There is no doubt that we have evolved modules that reliably promoted adaptive behavior in past environments, but as humans we are able to make plans and strategies that don’t depend on these modules but are responsive to current contingencies. For example, one idea that has been proposed is to establish a White homeland in the US. Such a proposal should be evaluated by rational choice mechanisms: What are the costs and benefits — genetically, psychologically, financially, economically, and in terms of defensibility, etc.? How exactly would White be defined? These questions can only be answered by rational choice mechanisms — what psychologists term explicit processing.

If we don’t act on our knowledge and understanding of genetic differences we will be like the pacifist elephant seal — a genetic dead end. Our tombstone could read: “Here lies the White race. It went out and conquered the world. It then committed suicide because it decided the game wasn’t worth playing.” This is definitely not an ideology that seems to appeal to others around the world, as in Israel where immigration and marriage are tightly linked to genetic ancestry.

The peoples who appear to be on course to inherit the earth will doubtless enjoy attending museums dedicated to exhibits of this peculiar people. It is perhaps fitting that after the hatred that so many now bear toward Whites for their previous dominance has subsided, our demise would be seen as a mere evolutionary curiosity — the first group to voluntarily exit history.

Ted Sallis: Ethnic Nepotism: A Prescription for Fitness

Ted Sallis: In the comments section on my previous blog on Jewish genetics, Hunter Wallace pointed out this screed by Ian Jobling — a leading proponent of the Philo-Semitic Branch (PSB) of pro-White activism.  While I hope that the academics whose work was unfairly attacked in that essay will directly respond on their own sites, I would like to reproduce a heavily edited version of something I had previously written. 

Jobling confuses descriptive and prescriptive arguments about ethnic nepotism. As we shall see, he is not the only one who makes such an elementary error.  There has in fact been a lot of “squid ink” squirted around this issue by individuals who really should know better, if they were not so blinded by ideological concerns.

For example, a favorite quote from Richard Dawkins (for Asian supremacists and their followers) is as follows, this from The Selfish Gene

Kin selection is emphatically not a special case of group selection. … If an altruistic animal has a cake to give to relatives; there is no reason at all for it to give every relative a slice, the size of the slices being determined by the closeness of relatedness. Indeed this would lead to absurdity since all members of the species, not to mention other species, are at least distant relatives who could therefore each claim a carefully measured crumb! To the contrary, if there is a close relative in the vicinity, there is no reason to give a distant relative any cake at all. Subject to other complications like laws of diminishing returns, the whole cake should be given to the closest relative available. (p. 290) 

There are problems with this cake analogy. The pursuit of ethnic genetic interests (EGI) is not about parceling out “goodies” (“cake”) to co-ethnics in an indiscriminate fashion. It’s about making relevant and contextual choices to maximize your proportion of distinctive genetic information in the next generation. 

It’s also not about the “evolution” of anything. As discussed more fully with respect to Brigandt’s article below, there is no reason why a specific behavior that would enhance EGI needed to have “evolved.” We are talking about rational thought mechanisms able to make an adaptive decision about what is prescriptively adaptive — not instinct. 

A problem with the cake analogy is that the “cake” in question may be a collective good or some form of action or sociopolitical ideology which is suited for application on a large, population scale, and is not relevant to “close kin.” All things being equal, it would be more adaptive to “spread the cake” of immigration to America to your close kin overseas rather to non-related co-ethnics. When it comes to immigration policy, we are not talking about making a choice between your uncle Joe immigrating or some random co-ethnic. We are instead asking whether (large) numbers of genetically distant peoples should be allowed to migrate to your territory; we are making a choice of whether the future demography of your nation will consist of co-ethnics or aliens. If the “cake” in question is access to the carrying capacity of an entire nation, then obviously, the “cake” cannot be reserved for “close kin.” No person that I know of has an immediate family that numbers in the millions or tens or hundreds of millions. Only ethnies fill the bill for certain rather large “pieces of cake.”

Therefore, certain types of “cake” are not scalable down to individuals and extended families

Of course, the thing about this is that the “cake” goes in both directions: By giving co-ethnics the “large cake” by successfully influencing immigration policy, you are getting the “small cake” of your own genetic interests being maximized. Note also that Dawkins says that when a closer relative is in the “vicinity,” then that is who should get “the cake.” 

In other words, he is suggesting a relative, contextual metric, despite earlier stating that we should not give out “cake” based on relative genetic distance. If the close relative is at hand, give the cake to him; this implies that if the closer relative is not at hand, give it to the more distant relative. Indeed, then, looking at “cake” which is scaled to populations, one favors the “close relative” of co-ethnics over others when given the choice. Even at the individual level, in circumstances in which favoring family is not possible, the “close relative” of co-ethnics, “when in the vicinity,” takes the “cake” over the “distant relative” of non-ethnics. 

Of interest to this issue is Brigandt’s confused article (“The homeopathy of kin selection: an evaluation of van den Berghe’s sociobiological approach to ethnicity,” Politics and the Life Sciences 20: 203–215, 2001). There he attempts to explain why ethnic nepotism is not “adaptive.” The problem is that the argument  boils down to Brigandt’s definition of a behavior being adaptive only if it has evolved. He asserts that ethnic nepotism could not have evolved because various population groups were isolated from each other during their evolution; hence, there was no selective pressure for ethnic nepotism. As a result, ethnic nepotism could not have evolved and therefore it makes no sense to say it is adaptive. 

Putting aside the argument of whether ethnic nepotism could have evolved (see Notes 1,2), the problem here is the semantic one of defining ‘adaptive.’ If we wish to define ‘adaptive’ in the sense that Brigandt does, then he may be correct, given that caveat of the notes below. However, let’s look at this crucial quote by Brigandt from the same paper (emphasis added): 

True enough, it is an evolutionarily better strategy to spend beneficial behavior towards fellow ethnics than towards outsiders, because you are more closely related to them. 

Well, yes. That, in one sentence, is a reasonable summary of Salter’s entire prescriptive argument — which is different from Brigandt’s descriptive argument about the likelihood that ethnic nepotism could have evolved. Indeed, herein lies the problem, in that Salter (and I) would define adaptive as “an evolutionarily better strategy.” In this sense of adaptive, whether a strategy is adaptive is independent of whether or not is has evolved

Most people would define adaptive in the sense that Salter and I use it, and not as Brigandt uses it. (See also Kevin MacDonald’s comments here and here on how rational choice mechanisms are capable of adaptively attaining evolutionary goals in novel environments — including the multi-racial environments of the contemporary world.) In other words, for most people, adaptive means “an evolutionarily better strategy” — a strategy that succeeds better than alternatives in maximizing fitness in future generations. 

How about a more specific example?  Let us assume that an Irishman has no evolved tendency to favor Irish over Nigerians. Is it, or is it not, adaptive for him to invest in preventing Ireland from being over-run with Nigerians, and the Irish being displaced?   This is the important question here.  Does an Irishman have any genetic interests beyond that of his immediate family?  Or, once beyond that family, do all human magically become genetically identical from the interests of our specific Irishman?  

If groups are not genetically identical — as alleged “race realists” should know — then interests differ depending upon, as Brigandt admits, how closely related you are to people.  The extent of these interests depends on numbers and more important on relative genetic distance.  From an Irish perspective, a Nigerian immigrant does more genetic damage that a Chinese, who in turn does more damage than a Pakistani, who does more than a Syrian, who does more than a Greek, who does more than an Italian, who does more than an Austrian, who does more than an Englishman, who does more than a random Irish unrelated co-ethnic.  

Context is crucially important.  In many cases, there is no advantage to the Irishman to engage in ethnic nepotism.  If the Irish were demographically secure, if no non-Irish were in Ireland, if there was no ethnic competition, then the Irishman should concentrate on helping immediate kin against the non-familial Irish competition.  However, in cases in which Irish interests are faced with non-Irish interests, particularly on issues on a scale beyond normal familial interests, then ethnic nepotism can be adaptive. 

On the other hand, in some cases, “humanism” is adaptive — joining humanity to fight an alien invader, or to avert some global ecological catastrophe.  Alternatively, in some cases, a narrow struggle as between the Irish and English is adaptive.  

Given the world-wide racial crisis for European peoples, sometimes an intermediate racial nepotism may be adaptive.  Context always matters.  Relative interests always matter.  There is no set-in-stone rulebook which says one must always engage in indiscriminate ethnic or racial nepotism — that’s a straw man that no one is advocating, and that’s not part of Salter’s prescription.  Instead he advocates a nuanced, nested view of genetic interests in which a person normally invests mostly in self and family, but, at times, may also need to invest in the ethny, dependent upon circumstances.  

Context may change.  Regardless of the past, the English vs. the Irish are hardly the major threat each group faces today, given Third World immigration and racial displacement in each nation.  In the past, persons of Irish and Italian ancestry engaged in conflict in East Coast American cities, due to competition over urban ecological niches.  Today, after decades of extensive intermarriage between those groups, assimilation, as well as the emerging colored threat in the cities, that ethnic hostility as in large part completely disappeared.  

Where to invest in genetic interests, and when to do so, will always be legitimate questions that depend upon context.  EGI is fluid, not completely fixed.  However, what is beyond question is that EGI exists, since genetic differences between groups exist and to quote Brigandt: “it is an evolutionarily better strategy to spend beneficial behavior towards fellow ethnics than towards outsiders, because you are more closely related to them.”   

It is curious — quite curious — that an anti-racist academic can admit this, but an alleged “pro-White race realist” like Jobling attempts to deny it.  Cui bono?   It would be one thing if what he’s saying in these essays was correct — after all, there is the long Western tradition of valuing truth-telling over political convenience. 

But it is not correct – and he’s making himself look foolish defending the narrow interests of a group that has heretofore opposed all manifestations of race realism — moderate or otherwise. 

What about arguments such as “don’t people have genetic similarities to mice?  We should avoid killing mice!”  

The whole point of EGI is differences in distinctive genes (or as I would put it, distinctive genetic information).  Harpending makes this point in the article reproduced in the appendix to On Genetic Interests (OGI), when he refers to the fact that people share many genes with an onion. But what is important is genetic similarity beyond that of random gene sharing.  After all, evolution ultimately works on the differences in genetic information within and between populations.  

It is quite clear that if all organisms were perfect genetic clones of each other, then there would be no basis for the natural selection of those types best “fit” for a particular environment.  Selection works on differences; kinship is based upon relative differences.  An Irishman and his brother share many genes with a random, unrelated Irishman.  What’s important for distinguishing the familial interests of the brothers from that of an unrelated co-ethnic is the genetic information shared by the brothers that the unrelated stranger lacks.   

From the perspective of a human, the relationship between humans and mice, from a purely reductionist genetic standpoint, are the genes and gene sequences shared by humans that are distinct from mice.  Random gene sharing does not require humans to place murine interests above their own.  Random gene sharing does not require one human population to favor another if the two are in conflict. 

This mouse-human example also ignores the issue of relative interests and context as described above for our Irish case.  Killing a mouse does not reasonably harm the genetic interests of any individual human in comparison to another person not killing the mouse.  Indeed, if the mouse carries harmful germs, eliminating that rodent can be adaptive; there are no counter-balancing relative interests imposing genetic costs.  That is contrasted to ethnic activism in favor of your ethny, and against an alien ethny which, for example, promotes mass immigration, racial integration and miscegenation, and “civil rights” for other alien ethnics. 

The mouse “argument” also importantly ignores genetic structure. We may share X% of gene sequences with a mouse, but a mouse is structurally different genetically than a human, so that an infinite number of mice do not, and can not, ever constitute an interest to a human greater than one other human. (Note: one cannot completely blame Jobling for this point, since I am not satisfied with how this was handled in OGI).  

Likewise, from the standpoint of an Englishman, any number of English-Bantu hybrids will never exhibit the genetic information characterizing a genetic structure (e.g., coinheritance of genome-wide units of distinctive genetic information) typical of a single given Englishman.  Genetic interests are ultimately about genetic information, not merely the numbers of copies of individual genes or gene sequences.  This flaw in the original EGI concept is one that I hope will be corrected in future editions of OGI.  

Nevertheless, the point is obvious.  How could “kin selection” for our vaunted “family kin members” have evolved anyway?  After all, don’t numbers of non-familial ethnics, non-ethnics, and even mice contain more copies of particular genes than our immediate kin?   The same ridiculous “argument” about “gene sharing” used against ethnic nepotism can be used against familial nepotism.  Jobling no doubt shares more total gene copies with the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team than with a single member of his own immediate family.  Should he invest all his resources in buying new sneakers for the globetrotters?  Or, perhaps, in feeding a nest of house mice? 

Further, genetic identity (e.g., population genetics, forensics, paternity) is not based on the numbers of gene sequences, but the patterns of gene sequences within individuals and within groups.  Ultimately, evolution is working on differences in gene (sequence) frequencies in organisms and populations, not those scattered randomly throughout the biosphere.  Genetic structure is important, and recent published work has begun the process of quantifying it. 

In conclusion, I have to tell Hunter Wallace: you are right and my “fence-sitting” about the PSB was wrong.  Even after all the destructive memes that have been emanating from the PSB: a multiracial White separatist (sic) state, racial preservation for its own sake is “insane”; Whites needs to surrender to the racial status quo, and all the rest. 

I naively held out hope that an accommodation could be found between the PSB and traditional “pro-White” factions.  I hoped that the only real differences between the PSB and traditional racial nationalists was merely that the former wanted inclusion of Jews, and that something — perhaps Svigor’s assimilation idea – could be a long-range solution for bridging that gap. 

But, this was mistaken.  There are fundamental differences that set the PSB apart — their ultimate interests are different from ours.  I am concerned — as I believe Hunter Wallace is — that the PSB may attempt to subvert racialism in the same manner that the neoconservatives subverted traditional American conservatism.  If this occurs, racial nationalism (for European-derived peoples) will be replaced by some sort of anti-EGI, aracial culturalism that defends White values rather than White people.  We’ll be told to accept “Asians and others” and to distinguish between the bad “NAMs” (a concept meant to condition us to accept “high-IQ, law-abiding” non-Whites) and the good “AMs.”  As genetic studies continue to emphasize the differences between Jews and Europeans, the PSB can be expected to further critique and attempt to delegitimize EGI and ethnic nepotism.  

Whatever the PSB strives for with their activism, their vision and goals are not ours. 


1. Given that selective pressures on humans have continued up to the present, and may be accelerating, it is quite possible that selection for ethnocentric behavior could have taken place during periods in which different ethnies were in close proximity (e.g., in historical times). It may even be taking place today, as non-ethnocentric ethnies are being demographically displaced by those who place a higher value on such behaviors. And, of course, brain scans show that Whites have a stronger (negative) response to Black faces than to those of Whites, which suggests an evolved heightened “danger” response to the phenotypically alien. 

Although this does not in any way alter the irrelevancy of Brigandt’s argument, it is worth noting that the argument itself may just be plain wrong. We also need to follow through on the implications of Brigandt’s argument. Let us say he is right in that the bulk of behavioral evolution took place within homogeneous groups/societies and, thus, selection for ethnic nepotistic altruism could not have evolved. 

The problem is that the Whites of today, most of them, live within multiracial, multicultural societies quite different from that in which their “instincts” evolved. And the overall “small world” globalist environment means that peoples in general are being exposed to things for which their mental/behavioral modules have not been “evolved” to handle (again, this is assuming Brigandt is correct). Therefore, “evolved behavior” cannot be deemed as “appropriate” — i.e., it cannot be truly adaptive in the modern world, can it? 

You cannot have it both ways. If ethnic nepotism cannot have evolved because human behavioral evolution took place in “racial isolation,” then one cannot assert that behaviors that evolved in such isolation can “protect” the adaptive interests of individuals in radically different environments today.  We have now introduced a factor that simply did not exist in the “environment of evolutionary adaptiveness” — group competition between the co-ethnics and non-ethnics. Broader genetic interest didn’t exist before, as the only group in the environment was co-ethnics, and the only genetic distinctiveness was at the individual and familial level. 

Sorry — that doesn’t apply anymore in multiculturalism or in the “global economy” as a whole. There is now the whole issue of group genetic interests. If Brigandt is correct, “evolved behavior” took place in isolation; hence, such behavior cannot handle the modern realities. Rational thought processes are needed for adaptive behavior today, just as Salter has argued. 

2. See here for a view that competition between groups can create conditions suitable for intra-group cooperation. Given that human evolution has been accelerating, perhaps the argument that ethnic nepotism could not have evolved is wrong.  Again, if certain human traits have been selected for since the Neolithic, and, indeed, during historical times, then human behavioral evolution has been occurring during the period in which different ethnies have been in contact and in conflict.  In those circumstances, ethnic nepotism may have evolved, and in the context given, they may well have been adaptive.  As explained above, there are circumstances in which the “cake” can only be distributed between large population groups, and is not scalable to familial kin.  In those cases, ethnic conflict can select for ethnic nepotism without any conflict to narrower spheres of genetic interest.  However, in the last analysis, whether ethnic nepotism “evolved” is not required for it to be the “evolutionarily better strategy.”

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Evolutionary Psychology: The Really Dangerous Idea Is That It’s Wrong

Sharon Begley is at it again, flailing away at evolutionary psychology because it doesn’t fit well with her feminist, liberal agenda. This is ironic because evolutionary psychology owes its very existence to political correctness.

I remember the excitement when, as a graduate student, E. O. Wilson’s Sociobiology came on the scene. People talked about nothing else. Because of my background in philosophy and in leftist politics, I was a skeptical of sociobiology. But I was converted finally by Robert Trivers’ evolutionary theory of sex. The basic idea is that reproduction is very costly for women because of the huge amount of time and energy involved in pregnancy, lactation, and child care. On the other hand, the basic act of reproduction for males is quite inexpensive, requiring only a small amount of time and energy. This means that in the same time period that a female could raise one child, a male could sire a huge number of offspring. Males benefit from having multiple mates because that raises the probability of their leaving many offspring, i.e., of having reproductive success.

E. O. Wilson

It follows, theoretically, that a principal male motive for seeking wealth and power is gaining access to multiple sexual partners. And this has indeed been the pattern throughout the world.  From Chinese emperors to African chieftains, males at the top of the social hierarchy were able to mate with many females. Most famously, Sultan Moulay Ismail (the Bloodthirsty) of Morocco sired 888 children with his many wives and concubines. This is an enormously powerful theory, and it continues to be the workhorse in the field of  evolutionary psychology.

Once one starts to see the world as shaped by our evolutionary history, it’s impossible to go back. And it was impossible not to notice that sociobiology was being viciously attacked by academics like Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin, both of whom were Harvard professors associated with the far left and both of whom, as I later thought significant, were Jewish.

The Book That Changed It All

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.

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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 alike because we all evolved in the same environment. This takes issues like race differences completely off the table.

And since we were all the same, the only source of differences between humans was that people were exposed to different environmental contexts. 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 — 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.

Evolutionary psychology also posited the “massively modular” mind — the idea that the mind was nothing more than a set of mechanisms each designed to solve a specific problem in our evolutionary past: a mechanism for falling in love, a mechanism for finding someone sexually attractive, one for fearing snakes, etc.

This neatly avoids talking about IQ — the one measure that is most feared by the left. That’s because differences in IQ are powerfully associated with success in modern societies, because IQ is strongly genetically influenced,  and, most importantly, because we don’t have any environmental interventions capable of getting rid of race differences in IQ in developed societies. IQ doesn’t fit well with evolutionary psychology because intelligence was not designed to solve any particular problem from our evolutionary past. Rather, it was designed to integrate information from a wide range of areas and use this information to solve novel problems. Humans can solve a whole lot of problems that were not around in the environments we evolved in. That’s why it’s important  for success in school — and modern life.

But despite doing its best to stay in the good graces of the  left, evolutionary psych never quite succeeded. For the left, any hint of biological influence must be resisted at all costs. Hence people like Begley.

The real irony is that taking the power of culture seriously is something that is a double-edged sword for the left. The reason is that if culture can control human behavior, then becomes important for biological fitness. And then we must begin ask ourselves how the culture of the left affects the biological fitness of different groups of people — such as White people in America.

For example, in thinking about the history of sociobiology, we would ask questions like the following:

  • How did the Jewish leftist background of Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin figure into their critique of sociobiology? Did they think of themselves as Jews and see their work as advancing the interests of Jews?
  • Was the demise of Darwinism in the social sciences the result of Jewish intellectual activists like Frank Boas who saw themselves as Jews and thought that destroying Darwinism would be good for Jews?
  • How did the triumph of the culture of the left leave Western societies defenseless against massive non-White immigration so that in the long run Whites will suffer an enormous loss of biological fitness?
  • How does leftist control of the media make White people feel guilty for having positive attitudes about their own group and negative attitudes about non-Whites? Do Jews have any particular influence on the media that conflicts with the interests of European-derived people?
  • Is ethnic conflict over the construction of culture between Jews and formerly dominant Anglo-Saxons the key to understanding the decline of Whites in America?

This, of course, is the direction that I have taken, most notably with my book The Culture of Critique, but also more recently with my academic papers on the theory of cultural control at the psychological level and with elaborating my conflict  theory of culture.

Obviously, it is massively ironic that I am  being hounded as a “racist” by organizations such as the $PLC and the ADL. My background as a cultural leftist led me to interpret human behavior as very much influenced by culture. My early work showed how culture could shape the behavior of men in ways that contradicted the predictions of the evolutionary theory of sex. And if culture can contribute to making men monogamous (or nearly so), it can also cement humans together into cohesive groups. A group evolutionary strategy,  such as Judaism in historical societies, is only possible because people can monitor other group members and punish those who violate group norms (such as marrying outside the group) — and that’s culture, not biology. A viable group strategy requires a belief system in which the aims and practices of the group are rationalized — Judaism as the Chosen People, the Light Unto the Nations, etc.

That’s fairly innocuous and unlikely to get people riled up. But the more I read about Judaism, the more I realized the Jewish role in developing cultural movements that have been so influential in controlling human behavior in recent times and for the decline of Whites throughout the Western world: ideology and culture as ethnic competition. And that is a very dangerous idea indeed.

Kevin MacDonald is a professor of psychology at California State University–Long Beach.  Email him.