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October 16, 2009



Methinks Ms. Proctor has received a disgusting, devious and rather delightful proposal of marriage.

In such a case, Ms Proctor need not be too worried about gentic determinism. Genetic adavantage is about the survivability of mixtures of traits. A deviant outlier - such as Mr Dillow - may have traits that are unlikely to survive unmixed, but still be likely to contribute elements conferring advantage on offspring who would otherwise be no more than ordinarily outstanding.


"If women were free to shag around, they’d only go with the best men and ignore lower-quality ones."

Only true if the best men are willing to shag anything. Some might be, but when it gets to bag-on-head time, it might be hard to get it up.

No, marriage is at least partly about assortative mating - you go with a wife/husband who is about your equal.


The fitness argument assumes a particular kind of genetic fitness, that of maximizing the individual's solo qualities. However, parental investment is itself a genetically determined quantity, at least in part (huge variation by species). Marriage is a social system that helps to select for men with traits that encourage high parental investment, which encourages a child's survival prospects as well as a number of other social traits like cooperation, patience, risk aversion, rate of inter-temporal substitution, and thrift.

Gerard O'Neill

"The more you believe in genetic determinism, the more you should believe that marriage therefore produces lower-quality future generations."

Sort of depends on whose 'qualities' we're talking about don't you think Chris? Statement-of-the-obvious-first: men who have a choice (alphas like your good self) will select women for three primary qualities: looks, physique and skills (in-the-bed variety). Not intelligence, not earnings power, not cooking skills, childcare, nor more else. An odd type of 'fitness' don't you think?

So 'genetic determinism' means that the beautiful will inherit the earth ...

There's one other 'plus' from marriage you forgot to mention: it keeps on delivering its benefits to women long after their looks have gone (which happens to almost all alas, even to the Emily Procters of this world).

By the way, Gilles' thesis has been already well covered by both profound writers (such as F Roger Devlin http://www.thornwalker.com/ditch/devlin_contents.htm) and decidedly profane ones (such as Roissy in DC http://roissy.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/sexual-dystopia-a-glimpse-at-the-future/).


This is one post of yours where the photo of the tottie is not totally gratuitous.

There are blogs devoted to this topic and nothing else. He's a git, but marriage being to the benefit of the alpha male to the (massive) detriment of betas is a recurrent theme.


I read the first two sentences and gave up, in more ways than one. That's not ironically post-feminist, it's just obnoxious. Shape up.


The problem the Tories are trying to address is connected with the perverse incentives connected with the benefit system, which allows the Alpha Males of the council estates to go around fathering children in the knowledge that the state will foot the bill for their upkeep. It may be that these marginal Alphas have the genetic edge on their beta and gamma rivals on the street corners, but, as a social benefit, this is more than offset by the drawbacks of being brought up by a single mother of the Sharon Matthews variety. It is greater responsibility not equality that is called for.

Leigh Caldwell

Gerard: one of the main results of evolutionary biology is that the features we consciously select for (in women: beauty, physique, skill in bed; in men: height, physique, power and wealth) are the SAME as all the ones you would like us to select for - intelligence, earning power, childcare.

Or at least there's a strong correlation between them; or at least there _was_ a strong correlation between them over most of biologically significant timescales. Perhaps now the signals have changed. But the reason we are more attracted to beautiful people is precisely because they are more likely to survive and earn resources to take care of our children.

Although I'm not up on the research, I wouldn't be surprised if preferences had already evolved (biologically or through learning) to prefer men and women with better survival/parenting traits for the modern world. For instance caring, sensitive, intelligent men are supposedly better mates than strong, testosterone-heavy bodybuilders. And while the basic instinct may still be to grab hold of the beefcake, mostly that's overridden when it comes to marriage.


"Emily Procter, for example, doesn‘t know that I’m the right man for her - which is surely the world’s most grievous market failure."

But on the other hand, if there was perfect knowledge, she's know about that line you've written about women and horses and wouldn't, therefore, want to have anything to do with you. Anyway you slice it, you're onto plums there Mr D. Who's Emily Procter anyway?


The theory above seems to only take into account the preferences of women. You suggest that "if women were free to shag around, they’d only go with the best men." Fair enough.

But what about the male perspective? You also say that men get utility from "the human capital of their offspring." If that's true, men should want to have fewer children so as to maximize the quantity of human capital investment he can afford on each one. The best men may have women lining up to shag him, but he'd want to limit his shagging if he truly cares about human capital of his offspring.

And Phil's absolutely right about your second sentence. Show a little respect to the opposite sex.


"Men get to know which children are theirs ... women get someone to help with child-raising"

An earth shattering insight.

"... and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men's carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.

Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body.

Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity."

You forgot to mention the other historical alternative to marriage, namely "winner-takes-all" - but in societies where that's common you don't find women actually get to do much choosing.

For a long-term historical view of the whole mating shebang, try Professor Roy Baumeister.

"The first big, basic difference has to do with what I consider to be the most underappreciated fact about gender. Consider this question: What percent of our ancestors were women?

It’s not a trick question, and it’s not 50%. True, about half the people who ever lived were women, but that’s not the question. We’re asking about all the people who ever lived who have a descendant living today. Or, put another way, yes, every baby has both a mother and a father, but some of those parents had multiple children.

Recent research using DNA analysis answered this question about two years ago. Today’s human population is descended from twice as many women as men.

I think this difference is the single most underappreciated fact about gender. To get that kind of difference, you had to have something like, throughout the entire history of the human race, maybe 80% of women but only 40% of men reproduced."


link - bloody Typepad




Phil and David are quite right. Chris, don't the opposite sex what we really think of them. Keep it quiet, man or they'll never fuck any of us again! (For once, I agree with Shuggy. I second his question too.)

David said, "If that's true, men should want to have fewer children so as to maximize the quantity of human capital investment he can afford on each one." But surely we've seen exactly that since infant and child mortality became relatively rare and contraception became safe, cheap, and not unpleasant? Families in the West have shrunk, and the reason for that is probably the one you give.

Gerard said, "Statement-of-the-obvious-first: men who have a choice (alphas like your good self) will select women for three primary qualities: looks, physique and skills (in-the-bed variety). Not intelligence, not earnings power, not cooking skills, childcare, ..." I think there are a few things wrong here. There are very few such men, and there are a lot of good-looking women. Or rather, there are enough very good-looking women that any man who is remotely discriminating would have to select on other qualities. I'm sure Ted Turner would not have married Jane Fonda had she not been good-looking and that goes for Sarkozy and Carla Bruni, but they're also very accomplished women. And this isn't even taking into account that women have a choice in this too, and that sociability and character matter a great deal too.


It rather depends one one's view of what is the best type of man. If a lady has sufficient means to raise her children to maturity in the style to which she is accustommed she probably assumes that most women are in the same position. In this case I would expect her to go for the most physically attractive man, and expect that if it is a son he will be like his dad and spread his (and hence her) seed amongst the daughters of her acquantances.
If not, then she needs help raising the offspring, and will need to look for more than physical attractiveness- she'll want a man with the means to support her and a track record to show that he actually will.
Thus women of independant means, be they heiresses with loads of money of their own, or Tracy towerblocks accustomed to being poor and entitled to child support, will go for a handsome charmer- women without independant means, including those acustomed to a higher standard of living than is affordable on benefits, will be more inclined to steady Eddy. Of course all women ideally want both- but these are rare.
Similarly, in a world where bastards generally starved to death a man couldn't procreate without supporting a woman- so he had a greater incentive to be reliable.


Almost nobody picked on the real point here - about inequality. I think most of the points made by Chris are fairly uncontroversial.

But Chris, in case nobody else points it out, helping out the beta men helps to keep society more peaceful, reducing the chances that expensively raised children meet a premature violent end (compare what happens when male lions take over a pride for instance). It could well be selected for.


"If women were free to shag around, they’d only go with the best men and ignore lower-quality ones."

Are you serious? What criteria are your hypothetical females using to quickly assess each product on display? Do you really think it's possible to take a shopping mentality to relationships?


from a woman's perspective, i find your thoughts amusing but assanine. chances are most women don't want you around either :)

Maynard Handley

"from a woman's perspective, i find your thoughts amusing but assanine. chances are most women don't want you around either :)"

So women, in your world, have no sense of humor, and are not interested in guys who are obviously intelligent, amusing, and have a skewed outlook on life?

Thank god that's not true in my world.

On a lightly different topic, let me just point out to all the amateur Darwinists here that

(a) You are most of you committing the most obvious error of evolutionary psychology in your claims that various traits are "adaptive". Even assuming the traits are inherent biology, they would be adaptive to the world in which humanity evolved, not necessarily to the world as it exists now. So, for example, to state ala Candice that men selecting for beauty is equivalent to me selecting for health, intelligence, etc, is nonsense. There's no guarantee that the choices bred into men on the African savannah automatically translate into choices that will give rise to happy marriages, socially-well-adjusted kids, or whatever the goal is.

(b) Secondly regardless of biology, we are rational animals; and simply saying "we evolved to do that" is not much of an excuse for doing so. We can do things very differently, and if there's no good reason not to do so, why not do things better than what we were given by evolution? Sure, some things may be too much to change --- but the diversity of marriage customs around the world implies marriage is not one of them.

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This is one post of yours where the photo of the tottie is not totally gratuitous.

Emily Procter

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