Thursday, September 20, 2012

Oh, My Akin Back!

The Todd Akin “rape statement” was – predictably – touted by the MSM as a death blow to the Romney/Ryan campaign. Apparently there is a bright line connecting Akin's theorizing about rape to Romney and Ryan – a line that only liberals and their media facilitators can see. But hey, elections are all about feelings, and emotion, and impulse anyway – so why not give people something to feel emotional and impulsive about? And as it happens, the statement has not yet been “played” very much by the Democrats – probably because they have so much superior ammo (much of it supplied by the Republicans themselves, I might add). But you can be sure it's being held in reserve, to be whipped out if and when needed.

But what about the statement itself? Whenever you're making a statement – in a political or any other kind of forum – that has scientific and/or medical implications, it's good if you've done your homework... you know, consulted the experts, read a journal article or two, etc. Otherwise you wind up looking, and sounding, like a stage version of Weekly World News. Not to mention which, you get endless mocking and jeering from liberals, who always think of themselves as irreproachably “scientific” and “objective” about just about everything. After all, don't they call that thing they all majored in in college “political science”? So obviously, anything that contradicts liberal dogma is, in fact, “unscientific”, and ranks of “superstition”, “the Dark Ages”, “hate”, “religion”, and other dreadful things.

But the statement (its aftermath reminds me of nothing so much as that old line of poetry, “The moving finger writes...” etc.) is intriguing, because it gets right to some issues that liberals are supposedly fond of, since those issues have everything to do with reproduction (or the lack thereof) and survival, and, yes, evolution. I have always been fascinated, for example, by what I call the “cad, heel, and bounder paradox”. Simply stated, it's the phenomenon of men making women pregnant (by force or persuasion) and then vanishing. Now, regardless of the origins of this behavior – genetic or social – the amazing thing is that it persists, if it is truly maladaptive. Because what the model calls for is, basically, the guy leaves the woman in the lurch, either pregnant or with a newborn. Now, this doesn't seem like such a disaster these days, with our broad and deep social safety net – but it wasn't that long ago that such a situation could spell an early demise of both mother and child... especially if you go back to the primitive “hunting and gathering” times. In some eras it would have resulted in some form of shunning, as witness the old-fashioned iconography of the irate father sending his wayward daughter out into the snow carrying a newborn. (Yes, I'm old enough to remember those images – even if they were only presented to illustrate a stereotype of the “bad old days” of Puritanism.) (The New Puritanism, on the other hand, offers abortion as a ready-made solution for such things.)

So, if the offspring of the roving, predatory male has a lower chance of surviving to adulthood, and the caddish behavior has a genetic component, you'd expect that behavior to decrease over time, and eventually to disappear. We shouldn't see it at all! Ever! -- if you subscribe to strict evolutionary theory. And therein lies the paradox. Even if you subscribe to “collective genetics”, you'd expect a society that tolerated such behaviors to die out over time, since they would be in a competitively weak position compared to societies that didn't. And yet, all that I can gather from social history tells me that there are not only as many cads, heels, and bounders out there as ever, but probably more. So clearly there is something keeping this behavior alive -- “in the gene pool” -- that seems to contradict our conventional concepts of what it takes to survive.

Now, you might say, in any halfway-civilized society ways will be developed for abandoned women and children to at least stay alive, if not to live well. (Recall also that the term "orphan" used to refer to a fatherless, but not necessarily motherless, child.)  But to the extent that's true, it contradicts the hard-core social Darwinism model, which basically boils down to “every man (or woman, or child) for himself.” In other words, societies do things that evolutionary theory tells them they shouldn't do – or at least not to that extent. So that's no way out either. 

I'm going to leave this conundrum unsolved for the moment, while we get back to the more immediate issue of Akin's turd in the Republican punch bowl. Let's move on to a question that, as usual, no one in the media will ask – namely, is there any theoretical (i.e. evolutionary) validity to the notion that a woman ought to be able to decide, after the fact, whether to permit an act of insemination to result in pregnancy? All we have heard since Akin opened his trap is that there is no physiological basis for this, and no statistical evidence. And this may be the case – at least at this point in our study of such things. But leave us not forget that there are plenty of precedents in the animal (especially mammal) kingdom for such things – the female will tend to ovulate when a new, dominant male enters the picture (even, in some cases, when he has killed the offspring she had with the previous mate). And when it comes to the cad/heel/bounder, there is no doubt that he is the dominant male – at least for long enough to get the job done.  So the idea, whether true of humans or not, is not all that far-fetched. 

But again, isn't it a risky business to get pregnant by a man who, as the saying goes, “didn't take his hat off”? Can thinking in strict evolutionary terms – hallowed by liberals everywhere – shed light on any of this? To begin with, consider what the (temporarily) dominant male “means” to the female – something new, novel, and exciting... in biological terms, a chance to enhance the gene pool (with her help) and create an at least marginally superior line: her line, not just his. Is this prospect enough to outweigh the risks involved? Plenty of women down through history seem to have thought so – and the persistence of the complementary traits (roving male, risk-taking female) seems to support the notion.  Think, for example, of the number of women in an overrun country who willingly fall into the arms of the "enemy".  (This apparently even happened in Hitler's case, with the result that he wound up with a French son -- Google it if you don't believe me.)  What are these women responding to?  Good, old-fashioned lust and/or deprivation, or something more?  But of course, these are questions that polite people never ask.
Another way of saying this is that if a well-known – nay, notorious – male trait has survived down through countless generations, it must have either been adaptive or, at worst, neural in its impact on survival. (It doesn't have to have been markedly superior, however – as witness the debatable impact of intelligence on survivability. Intelligence persists as a – I fear – recessive trait, but neither increases or decreases in the aggregate.) But the male trait would have been much less effective without the corresponding female trait; even allowing for a certain incidence of “genuine” rape (to call out Akin again), most women were, I suspect, ready, willing, and able (for the reasons given previously).

So to get back to Akin's fictitious female – let's say she is “genuinely” raped. She should, by rights and if she is able (consciously or otherwise), “turn off” her system for long enough to keep that dastardly male's seed from finding fertile ground. But we're talking about evolution now, not feelings – survival, not sentiment. What if, on some deep biological level, the woman's system “welcomes” the intruder, “knowing” that, violated or not, she bears some potential for a superior hybrid strain? Note that when women were raped by invading armies, they didn't automatically run off to the nearest abortionist, or attempt to try it themselves. Call it fatalism or resignation, if you like – but who knows, this kid might turn out to be a high achiever... “advanced placement” material. Better than mating with that already-inbred shlub from the next peasant hut down the road, who was probably also her cousin three times over. Human instincts may be “smarter” than our conscious reasoning. 

By the same token, someone might ask – with indignation – well, if a woman becomes pregnant as the result of rape, are you saying that she wasn't really raped? That it wasn't “genuine”... that the woman wanted it, or was at least willing to tolerate it on some level? Again, I say we're not talking about conscious, rational, reasonable wants, likes, dislikes, feelings, etc. here – just raw biology, the effects of which can be way deeper than any conscious process... as deep, in fact, as nearly any other bodily process, and we don't have to be consciously aware of them, or “will” them, in order for them to work.

So I'm not talking about anything here but pure instinct. I'm not talking about conscious analysis. If reasoned argument were always at the tip of one's tongue in this matter, why is it so clearly lacking in all other matters? No, I say that when people act “unreasonably”, as they often do, there may be a perfectly good biological reason for it – one that acts in gross defiance of morals, sentiment, and higher feelings. This is, I guess, the “animal” part of us refusing to completely buckle under to the (allegedly) human side. But remember, as far as liberals – good Darwinists and evolutionists all – are concerned, there is no “human” side to man; we are all animal, all the time. So they could not possibly have any objection to arguments of this sort. Um... assuming they valued consistency (which they don't).

(I might add that it is this very unreasonableness that makes the population-control advocate's life so frustration-prone. The people who agree with him – ZPG members, academicians, artistes, etc. -- typically have no interest in reproducing anyway, whereas the people he is trying to “reach” with his enlightened propaganda – the “minorities” -- couldn't care less. They go on happily reproducing and outnumbering -- more every day -- the liberal elite. Even the abortion industry can't stop them, try as it might. It is a good trick of nature that the people who liberals fear and/or despise the most are the best at out-reproducing them. This might, in itself, be an illustration of natural selection at work on the macro level.)

But let's get back to our mystery woman, who we have already, undoubtedly, worn out with our theorizing. She might not “mind” (again, on some deep level) getting some new hues added to her biological palette... or, on the other hand, natural xenophobia combined with the risk factor might convince her (i.e. her body) to do what Akin suggests. After all, if a stranger is born in the midst of a closely-knit tribe, that can cause trouble as well. Being the only blond in a village of black-haired people, or vice versa, might be an evolutionary – i.e. reproductive – disadvantage. Or the novelty factor might... see what I'm getting act? As rock-solid and iron-cored as evolutionary theory is claimed to be, it doesn't have answers for everything; arguments can be made on both sides. Sometimes the best strategy is to just wait and see – but this is, admittedly, a tall order when one is talking about evolution.

I just found it amusing that the liberals' heads exploded when they heard about Akin's statement, when the reasonable thing to do – as a few people eventually did, to their credit – was to ask, is there any scientific evidence for this? And then, regardless of the answer to that question (even if politically incorrect), wouldn't it be interesting to ask, well, what if it were true? What would it represent from the evolutionary point of view (since, to liberals, there is no other)? Or if not true, what would that represent? If a woman's body doesn't “care” who inseminated it, that – it seems to me – is an interesting finding, since it's by no means obvious (again, going by evidence from elsewhere in nature). Maybe rape doesn't have the baleful effect on survivability that it “ought” to have (from a moralistic point of view) – which means, ta-da! - that maybe the child fathered by the cad/heel/bounder is not at a significant disadvantage after all (“Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, etc.). Maybe the “social safety net” was not invented as recently as the New Deal. Plus there is always the non-alpha male who comes along and forms a more permanent relationship with the seduced and abandoned woman; yes, I think this happens as well. (But then how are his genes passed on? The answer is that the competition from the cads/heels/bounders drops off sharply when the woman already has a child. Yes, it's harsh, but that's the way it is. I'll bet human history is full of first-born (to the woman) children who were “adopted” by the nice guy next door... who then proceeded to have a few additional kids by the same woman. So who “won” in that case? Maybe everyone did to some extent.)

(And BTW, when and if the roving, predatory male finally settles down – and yes, some of them do, eventually – do they necessarily settle down with one of their counterparts, i.e. an “adventurous” female? No. In fact, my guess is that they more typically settle down with a more domestic, “homebody” type, not because they are determined to mend their ways as much as they are just plain tired, and yearn for a secure home base at long last.)

Now, from the moral point of view, we're likely to say that, no, it shouldn't be this way – that something ought be done... that “there oughta be a law” (there used to be, actually, but it didn't help). And after all, isn't there such a thing as Natural Law, that provides a counterforce to concupiscence and bad behavior? And how about karma? Yes, but we are a fallen race living in a fallen condition – and it seems that this can even revert back to the “purely” biological at times. Our fallen-ness infects us as individuals, then radiates out into the family, the tribe, the society... and then even into nature itself. Or so it seems. So if we occasionally see, or imagine, a conflict between Nature and our better nature, there may be a reason for it. People see perverse or maladaptive behavior and identify it as “only doing what comes naturally”. And we laugh at such foolishness, but they may be on to something if they're talking about nature that has been distorted through the willful acts of man.


Anonymous said...


Very, very nice. This tracked extremely well, and the wit was beyond Witterish...dull sorts, many of them.

Of course, you left me in the last paragraph. But it was a small price to pay for a lovely read.

Cousin Bob

Dave Witter said...

Well I have to "preach" a bit, you know. But yes, thanks for reading (and enjoying). (Check out the one I just posted today.) (Bring a lunch.)

Dave Witter said...

Speaking of "Witterish" -- the line "didn't take his hat off" is actually taken from a joke that Uncle Les used to tell.