Pinker’s Criticism of Group/Multi-level Selection

[F]irst, both Pinker and Haidt are making the enlightenment error of equality of individuals, and of individualism instead of a population of man as a division of intertemporal knowledge and labor. (See my video on the subject.) We evolve first under this inter-temporal distribution of biases, and second under cultural adaptation, and third under everything else. Genders, distribution of gender bias, and the fact that genders are constructed from a female base, guarantee that.

Second, as far as I know, Pinker is making an argument against the evolution by multi-level selection of altruism. This is the purpose of his article. And I agree with him. And in Propertarianism I explain why.

Third, (if you read the comments it’s obvious) is that group and multi-level selection are pretty rigorous mathematically described facts. Pinker isn’t saying that it isn’t. He’s saying that we can’t fantasize that altruism developed because of group selection (I argue that aggression defeats altruism and is currently doing so – high trust westerners are not aggressive enough.)

Fourth, (if you read the comments) the argument is partly a problem of verbalism. And to some degree, pinker is playing too much psychologist and telling us not to think in fuzzy terms, and not so much that multi-level selection doesn’t occur. It’s that it doesn’t occur the way we think it has. Now, it is this point I disagree with since as far as I know, the very great differences between the competing populations is determined by a wide variation in the distribution of only four things: (1) intelligence, (2) aggression, (3) impulsivity, and (4) fear of unfamiliar people. And that list may be in fact reducible to two: impulsivity and intelligence. Just as a wide variety of behavior is reducible to the solipsistic(female bias) and autistic(male bias) spectrum. Great complexity arises from the interaction of only two or three spectra. Emotions are a great example: as far as I know, we have only three, and our rich range of emotional experience is produced by combinations of levels of those emotions. And as I have written extensively, all of these emotions can be explained as reactions to change in state of property-en-toto (reactions to acquisition or loss).

Fifth, and I think this isn’t terribly complicated: norms are sticky and group strategy is sticky, and populations breed to take advantage of status under norms. This is just a mathematically describable problem and as far as I know it’s pretty solid:

Sixth, as far as I know, Haidt’s correct identification of moral intuitions, holds under Propertarianism. So whatever Haidt’s justification for these traits, it is immaterial. In my first few propertarian arguments I made the point that MY CONTRIBUTION was to tie Haidt’s OBSERVATIONS and descriptions, to CAUSALITY. And that Propertarianism correctly describes that causality: acquisitiveness, and the utility of cooperation only in so far as it improved acquisition.


So the debate here is not concrete. Pinker is doing no more than making a cautionary argument against the development of altruism by selfish creatures, as anything other than yet another selfish act. And he is correct.

Everyone else is saying that cultural norms drive reproductive adaptation. And they are correct. And that multi-level selection is the product of cultural biases incorporated in genes.

So this whole argument is a lot of nonsense between geeks as to the effect of their as-yet-imprecise language on the non-scientific community. And it is not so much a debate about facts.

And furthermore, you have to look at these men as part of the REACTION to postmodern lies – they are all engaged in trying to overthrow the deceits of 150 years of postmodern reactionary thought. I am not sure that they have (As I have) joined The Dark

Enlightenment, in trying to overthrow not just the postmoderns and the pseudoscientists, but the enlightenment fallacy of equality and democracy. They are concerned about the consequences of language because they are well aware of the consequences of language.