This is a sequel to xxxvi.
Suicide For Sex
The essay on the evolutionary dimensions of civilizations (xxxvi) started by recalling the hot discussion on the relationship between Islam and the West. Regarding this relationship, evolutionary psychology book Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters (2007) by Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa attempts to provide an explanation of Muslim suicide bombings that I wish to discuss presently.
According to Miller and Kanazawa, suicide bombers are 1/ always Muslims, because 2/ Muslim societies are polygynous, which means that some men remain without mates throughout their lives, and 3/ Islam promises virgin mates to the martyrs in the afterlife, which is bound to be appealing to men without mates.
1/ “While suicide missions are not always religiously motivated, when religion is involved, it is always Islam.” (p. 165).
The emphasis on the word “always” is the authors’; they seem to be confident there is no exception. Yet, the statement is incorrect. Even if we dismiss WW2 Japanese kamikazes as a religious phenomenon, although the Japanese government of the time was implementing a policy of State Shintoism that emphasized the divine descent of the Emperor of Japan and thus infused patriotism with a sense of the divine, so much so that one of the first moves made by the Americans after Japanese surrender was to demand that the Emperor publicly declares to his people he was no god, we find “militant” suicides in other religions too.
Albeit the following examples, from Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, are not strictly speaking suicide missions, that is, acts aimed at provoking casualties to an enemy while sacrificing one’s own life in the very act (of which I see no other historical example beside Japanese kamikazes and Muslim Jihadists), those other suicides are similarly intended to promote the cause and interests of a religion in a confrontational context, and nothing in the evolutionary interpretation of suicide missions by Miller and Kanazawa explains per se why the suicide takes the form of a military mission rather than of something else. The promise of haur uljanati, the houris of paradise, is actually made to all male believers and not specifically to human bombs.
Martyrs are well-known characters of the earlier times of Christianity, especially the Roman times, and the suicide-like indifference to death displayed by these people during their ordeals became propaganda for the nascent religion, which certainly contributed to its success. That these martyrs did not die with weapon in hand while Muslim martyrs die with weapon in hand or rather being themselves the weapon (human bombs) is not to account for by polygyny and/or by the promise of houris but rather by the warrior ethics contained in the Quran and Islamic tradition.
This being said, Muslims can also be martyrs in the Christian sense, that is, allowing enemies of the faith to take their lives without resistance rather than in the act of fighting. Some hadiths tell how idolaters used to submit Muslims to the test trying to force them to pay homage to idols, which is against the will of Allah, and that the Muslims who, being firm believers, refused were put to the sword. This is the same as the Biblical (Catholic and Orthodox) story of the Maccabees.
Fundamentally, contemporary suicide missions are only a variant of such past acts of martyrdom. Knowing that allegiance to one’s God will be, with more or less certitude, cause of one’s death at the hands of God’s enemies and accepting it, is a form of suicide that the history of several or all religions can attest. Again, that this allegiance takes the form of a suicide commando mission rather than more passive or acquiescent forms of suicide is accounted for by the warrior ethics that is present in the Quran and Muhammad’s exemple, whereas it is absent from the Gospels and the life of Jesus.
In Hinduism, the jauhar was a form of collective suicide sanctioned by Brahmans; it was especially frequent among Rajputs during their wars with Muslim conquerors. When all chances of victory had vanished, the women first took their own lives, slaughtering their children on the occasion, and the men then went to fight to death on their last battlefield. The custom insured that no prisoner was taken by the enemy. We find a similar episode in the siege of Masada during the first Jewish-Roman war (73-74 AD): According to classical accounts, the besieged Jews eventually committed mass suicide rather than surrendering to the Romans.
Finally, there is the practice of self-immolation in Buddhism, of which recent history provides a few examples, the best-known being the self-immolation through fire by the Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Duc in 1963, in protest against the religious policy of the American-supported South-Vietnamese government. The legend says the monk’s heart did not burn and is now kept as a holy relic in the vaults of the Vietnamese National Bank.
So, although suicide missions as such are only found in current Muslim Jihadism and WW2 Japanese kamikazes (who could well have been performing a religious act), the will to sacrifice one’s life for one’s faith is a feature common to the history of many and perhaps all religions.
2/ “Across all societies, polygyny increases violent crimes, such as murder and rape, even after controlling for such obvious factors like economic development, economic inequality, population density, the level of democracy [“obvious factor”?], and world regions. (…) The first unique feature of Islam, which partially contributes to the prevalence of suicide bombings among its followers, is polygyny, which makes young men violent everywhere.” (p. 166)
The reason polygyny increases violent crime is that it exacerbates male competition for females. As the sex ratio is roughly 50-50, by allowing some men to mate with several women to the exclusion of competitors, polygyny forces some other men to remain without mates.
Miller and Kanazawa go on: “However, polygyny by itself, while it increases violence, is not sufficient to cause suicide bombings. Societies in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean are much more polygynous than the Muslim nations in the Middle East and Northern Africa (…) Accordingly, nations in these regions have very high levels of violence, and sub-Saharan Africa suffers from a long history of continuous civil wars, but not suicide bombings. So polygyny itself is not a sufficient cause of suicide bombings.” (p. 166).
The authors are not dealing with institutional polygyny but with what I call (see xxxvi) cryptic polygyny, that is, the practice of polygyny no matter what legal arrangements regarding matrimonial bonds are. Among the most polygynous nations in the world, as they appear listed in note 31, p. 210, we find, for instance, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti (all these with the “maximum polygyny score of 3.000”). These are countries which populations are largely Christian and where the institutional form of pair-bonding is monogamous marriage and institutional polygamy is outlawed and criminalized. So bear in mind that, although the authors do not make it explicit, it is not institutional polygyny that is at stake. Other forms of polygynous practice, that is, cryptic polygyny is not in the least “unique” to Muslim countries; as Miller and Kanazawa write, “All Humans Societies Are Polygynous” (subtitle p. 91).
The violence alleged to be caused by polygyny relates to a “polygyny score” that has nothing to do with institutions and legal systems. Were we to examine these polygyny scores by country, we might find that Muslim countries do not stand particularly high. Among the twenty most polygynous countries listed page 210, I find the following to be predominantly or significantly Muslim: Morocco, Nigeria, Niger, Chad (53%). That makes four countries out of twenty.
Besides, Miller and Kanazawa overlook the fact that a good deal of Jihadists do not come from Muslim countries at all. Some of them come from Muslim communities in Western countries; many of these communities have been secularized in the course of acculturation, and the Jihadists had to undergo a sort of reconversion process from a materialist, secularized lifestyle to radicalism. Some others are even autochthonous converts from these Western countries with no previous family or any other links with Islamic traditions. The number of foreign fighters combatting today in the ranks of Daesh would be about 30,000.
Before conversion or radicalization, these people had the same access to women as other men, that is, in an evolutionary perspective, the same access as other men at the same status level. (Given that a lot of Jihadists had a delinquent career, it may even be argued that their access to mates was in fact greater than that of other men from the same city parts, thanks to the fast money such careers allow.) If the number of people from Western countries willing to resort to terrorist violence is great, then, following Miller and Kanazawa’s idea, polygyny in Western countries – by which more men are prevented from mating – must be high. By stressing polygyny as a factor in violence in general and in terrorism in particular, the authors, again, are not saying that institutional polygyny is the cause.
Institutional polygyny might in fact contribute to reduce the prevalence of actual polygyny in a society. The idea has been broached in xxxvi using the concept of reproductive climate along A.S. Amin’s lines. Institutional polygyny is a long-term institution that promotes men’s commitment to their mates and children. So is institutional monogamy, albeit the data (current divorce rates in the West, polygyny scores in Christian Caribbean and African countries) seems to indicate it fails to curb short-term strategies in some regions.
3/ “The other key ingredient is the promise of seventy-two virgins waiting in heaven for any martyr in Islam. This creates a strong motive for any young Muslim men who are excluded from reproductive opportunities on earth to get to heaven as martyrs.” (p. 166).
There is no denying that such a belief can serve as motivation. Even more than the warrior ethics I have invoked in (1/), belief in houris is doctrinal. Hence, whereas polygyny as such is not associated uniquely to Islam (see 2/), the belief in question clearly is, because you cannot rewrite the Quran, can you? Yet, houris, unless I’m mistaken, are no privilege of the martyrs but are promised to all believers, so the reason some Muslims choose death and others acquire sex slaves as war spoils, as allowed, I am told, by Daesh, remains to be explained. Suicide missions suggest that obedience is extreme in these movements, but so it is in any fanatical group.
Religions promising afterlife describe it as everlasting bliss, and although this bliss does not always explicitly entail incarnated virgins available for sexual acts, it can be appealing enough to induce the sacrifice of one’s life for one’s belief.
As far as Hinduism and Buddhism are concerned, the varied existing heavenly abodes where souls may spend some time during the course of their transmigrations are described in picturesque details, some of them being quite erotic, a fact that suggests the existence of a similar motivation in these religions. The way Apsaras, or celestial dancers, for instance, are depicted in ancient art is unmistakable (picture: Curvaceous Apsaras from the well-known Khajuraho temple). They are spouses of the celestial musicians Gandharvas, and it is possible to reincarnate as a Gandharva or as any other minor deity.
Not only these heavenly abodes entail sexual representations, but the very idea of reincarnation may serve sexual motivations. A Buddhist might be willing to commit a suicide attack in order to be reincarnated as a playboy; what would prevent him, as a playboy, from mating with 72 virgins or more? For the time being, Buddhist clerics do not promise next life in the incarnation of a womanizer in exchange of a suicide mission, although they could do so, inside the very frame of their creed, and the reason why it is only Muslim clerics who promise afterlife sexual gratifications as a reward to suicide attacks is not explained by our authors here.
Buddhists are not known to play this card, although some believers certainly aspire to a more gratifying sexual life after their next birth, as some are wearing so-called charm amulets to improve their sex life in the present already. In Thailand these amulets often depict the legendary character Kun Paen in the company of multiple nude women; other charm amulets represent women in acts of bestiality, some others are in the shape of a penis, at times anthropomorphized (penis man). Thai monks routinely bless such talismans.
As to the idea that Jihadists, on the Iraqi theater of operations, kill more Iraqis than they kill Americans because they are “unconsciously trying to eliminate as many of their male sexual rivals (fellow Iraqi men) as possible,” it is far-fetched. As stated above, Daesh counts some 30,000 foreign fighters, for whom Iraqis are no more fellow men than Americans, and that would be half of Daesh’s army. A simpler explanation is that it is more difficult to kill an American than an Iraqi in Iraq – not only because of numbers, but also because American soldiers are certainly better trained and better equipped, and they probably station their Iraqi allies on the most “strategic” positions.
All these elements suggest that Miller and Kanazawa’s explanation is somewhat shallow.
Jihad vs Panda Express
As explained in xxxvi, Jihad is not parochialism but globalism. I define it “Islam as globalism.” If you want to give Barber a better example of parochialism, I suggest you name France to him. He could have titled his book “La France vs McWorld” or “La France vs Jihad,” and that for sure would have been a better illustration of the opposition he makes between parochialism and globalism. Need I expatiate?
Islam is a global power. Some people deny the existence of “Panislamism,” arguing Islam’s diversity. They do not seem to notice the current movement toward homogenization at work throughout the Muslim world, albeit they know the movement’s name as they appropriately call it Wahhabism or Salafism or fundamentalism.
Islam is a global power. They’ve got human bombs. They’ve got petrodollars and sovereign funds. They’ve got migrant communities throughout the Western world and beyond. They’ve got sympathy among scholars and intellectuals round the world. About this last point, let me tell you the story of Professor Subramanian Swamy from Harvard Summer School.
Prof. Subramanian Swamy taught Quantitative Methods in Economics and Business at Harvard Summer School from 2001 to 2011. As an economist he wrote papers together with Nobel Prize Paul Samuelson. He is also involved in Indian politics and was India’s minister of commerce and industry from 1990 to 1991. He was president of the Janata Party from 1990 to 2013, until the party merged on with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The party is labelled Hindu nationalist.
After the 2011 Jihadist bombings in Mumbai, Swamy wrote an article in an Indian paper that was deemed Islamophobic by a few readers. After a campaign of denigration, he was dismissed from Harvard Summer School, in America, the same year. It turns out I took his class in Summer 2004. I did not know his credentials at the time and I can testify that, as a professor, he never talked about these issues, so I would never have guessed the truth about him had I not discovered it by chance years later on the Web. I disapprove of his dismissal.
Swamy and other Indian politicians are for example accused, including in the West, of demonizing Mughal rule. There is one funny argument in the views of those who defend the Mughals as tolerant rulers. They say Mughals promoted intercommunity marriages, but Hindus claim these marriages amounted to sequestering Hindu women, their war booty, inside Muslim harems. If the latter are correct, then Mughals’ defenders would be praising as enlightened tolerance and benevolent wisdom the age-old practice of all ruthless conquerors throughout history.
Here is how Swamy envisions India’s relationship with the country having the largest Muslim population in the world, namely Indonesia: “Over 90 per cent of the economic world powers’ commercial sea-traffic passes through the narrow (90 miles) Malacca Strait. If we can develop naval power to the point where we can police this strait, it will give India enormous power and leverage to influence international events. This has diplomatic implications. It is obvious, for example, that we cannot control the Malacca strait without the active cooperation of Indonesia. However through proper diplomatic moves we can obtain Indonesia’s cooperation and forge a strategic relationship with that country because we have long historical links with these islands through our cultural links of the past.” (Hindus Under Siege: The Way Out, 2007, p. 97).
Swamy is perhaps overconfident, because Indonesia, albeit often advertised as a model of tolerant Islam (Islam warna-warni, or “multicolored Islam,” as the phrase goes), is undergoing the same process of homogenization through radicalization at work round the Muslim world. One example will suffice to buttress this contention.
The following passage deals with the current situation in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces, whose population is prominently Muslim (>80%), in an otherwise overwhelmingly Buddhist country (92%). “As of September 10, 2008, there were forty-one beheadings according to the Bangkok Post. Terrorism experts argue that the style of many of these southern Thai beheadings is influenced by Muslim militant actions in the Middle East. However, there is more evidence to suggest that Thais are being trained in Indonesia or that the expertise comes from Indonesian-trained Thais who have stronger regional and local connections than countries in the Middle East. According to the Thai newspaper Isrā, in one instance a Thai ustaz (Islamic teacher) who teaches Islam in Yala Province had trained as a commando and studied Islam in Aceh, Indonesia. Among the Thai ustaz’s commando training were techniques for beheading people.” (M.K. Jerryson, Buddhist Fury: Religion and Violence in Southern Thailand, 2011, p. 92).
What is striking in this piece of information, besides the gruesome facts and the trial for incompetence the author is making against “terrorism experts,” is that Thai Jihadists do not train in Malaysia but in Indonesia, although (i) Malaysia is the closest neighboring Muslim country, (ii) whose policy is more Islam-oriented than Indonesia’s. It seems Jihadists find a safer shelter and/or better logistic support in Indonesia, which hints at the latter truly being the soft underbelly of the region with respect to fundamentalist plans, in spite of the showcase of Muslim tolerance. Indonesia is a poor country, ranking 100th as to GDP per capita (at purchasing power parity) (10,517 INT$), compared to 44th for Malaysia (25,639 INT$) (World Bank 2014). In 2002 Indonesian government allowed Aceh province to enforce Sharia law and is now under pressure from other provinces to extend this policy. To summarize, it is in tolerant Indonesia that Thai (Patani) Jihadists learn beheading techniques.
Savanna Park Virtual
As my friend X says, “A life among people who fancy themselves in the savanna is not worth living.” He means that people live in a virtual savanna; they believe in the reality of an environment of evolutionary adaptedness (EEA) that is no more. To discuss the present point, let us return to Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters by Miller and Kanazawa.
“Since the advent of agriculture about ten thousand years ago and the birth of human civilization which followed, humans have not had a stable environment against which natural selection can operate.” (p. 26). This is why intelligence, that is, as the same Kanazawa defines it in his book The Intelligence Paradox (2012) (discussed in xxxv), the capacity to deal with “novel and nonrecurrent adaptive problems,” has become important in human societies: Human civilization, our man-made environment is unstable and requires dealing with novel problems on a much more frequent basis, almost on a daily basis. Yet, our instincts often stand in the way and prevent us (the less intelligent of us) from dealing adequately with our current environment. For instance, abusing one’s mate is an instinctually adequate behavior to intimidate her into complying and shying away from close contacts with other men that would jeopardize the man’s position; yet, this behavior is criminal and may result in incarceration, ruining entirely the position that the man intended to secure (p. 24).
Therefore, intelligence can be construed as a non-emotional path to knowledge, because our emotions have been shaped in the stable environment of the ancestral savanna in order to make us behave in the ways adaptive to that environment. In spite of some scholarly attempts to discard the dichotomy reason-emotion, no matter how you take it emotions are in the way when you try to solve an equation. This is why for all abstract problems machines will do a better job than humans in the future.
Machines would already have replaced human toil and work if humans were not intent on preventing this evolution as much as they can, out of emotions designed in the vanished savanna. In 1941 already, James Burnham contended: “Using the inventions and methods available would, it is correctly understood, smash up the capitalist venture. ‘Technological unemployment’ is present in recent capitalism; but it is hardly anything compared to what technological unemployment would be if capitalism made use of its available technology.” (The Managerial Revolution). Given the pronounced tendencies toward crime attested by the current, already massive, permanently unemployed “underclass,” decision-makers are doing their best to have low-productivity industries and services subsidized in exchange of the latter maintaining the highest possible figures of human toil, which, from the advent of division of labor through the assembly line and bureaucratic procedure in organizations on, has become unbearably monotonous and machinelike.
It would be unbearable too, in the service sector, to interact as customers with humans playing the role of machines if that would not satisfy some inner savagery and cruelty keen on seeing other people degraded and at one’s mercy – a savanna emotion. The usual person, placed in such a situation as a waiter or shopkeeper, talks back to customers, whereas machines are always well-behaved. Do not bring savanna apes to confrontation when you can have these functional operations processed by machines.
The managerial revolution that has taken place and is the real engine of our affluence has nothing to do with old-days capitalism. Entrepreneurs are gone or they stand in the way. For aught I know, the entrepreneur today is the cleaning lady I pay. The engine of economy is elsewhere, amidst organizations contracting with the state, organizations offered foreign contracts through diplomats’ bargaining, oligopolistic markets, contractors entirely dependent on organizations, organizations that are shareholders, organizations filled with interchangeable organization men whose personal value is nil as measured by their departure or removal or passing away having no effect whatsoever on the company’s market value… The human factor there is the problem – what can make the machine go awry some day or the other. So-called experts sustain the myths of capitalism, but that is spin.
Spin is the word for politics too. The spoils system is over, ended by the Civil Service Reform (USA) and the “rise of the technician bureaucracy” (Aufstieg des fachgeschulten Beamtentums) (Max Weber). Recalling the so-called “Monicagate” in their light-hearted fashion, Miller and Kanazawa explain that other politicians (men) have affairs too. Do they? “It would be a Darwinian puzzle if they did not.” (p. 144). I suggest another “Darwinian puzzle”: Why does not “the most powerful man in the world” (p. 143), as some journalists, and a few light-hearted scholars, like to call the president of the United States, have the largest harem on earth? It looks like the most powerful man is a nice and decent functionary who’s doing as he’s told. He’s there for the cameras, making believe, by his presence, in the savanna tribe. This is monkey dance. Entertainment for the savanna brain.
The profound meaning of democracy, as most high civil servants do not come and go with elections (which is spoils system) but serve any elected person and apply, each in his or her sphere of competence, any program that comes out of the ballot box, is either that bureaucrats, because they put themselves at the service of others’ ideas, live an ignoble life (construing living for one’s ideas as noble), or that ideas don’t matter in the least and our societies follow an inevitable course.
When the once most powerful man in the world named Bill was faced with impeachment proceedings for his whoopees in the White House and his lies, he said please not to make him waste his time, ‘cause he’s got a job to do. May I ask who appointed him to the job? It’s no job at all. At most we’ll have to call it an office, and one is not appointed there by competent persons for one’s competence but by the people as a good monkey dancer or a good person, depending on how you see things.
Do journalists investigate politicians’ private lives or not? If they do, do our authors mean that most affairs escape these investigators’ attention? Well, well… Why not assume that journalists are good investigators, when this assumption, precisely, is made about them in other fields? Because the scarcity of affairs would be a Darwinian puzzle…
According to Dr Satoshi Kanazawa (London School of Economics) in his book The Intelligence Paradox: why the intelligent choice isn’t always the smart one (2012), general intelligence is, in evolutionary terms, the faculty to deal with “novel and nonrecurrent adaptive problems.” He argues that in the African savanna where humanity’s ancestors evolved till the relatively recent (at evolution scale) advent of agriculture, the use of general intelligence was limited to such one-off, isolated problems, and consequently selection pressure upon the development of intelligence did not exist in the environment of evolutionary adaptedness (EEA). He further contends that in our modern man-made environments the capacity to deal with novel and nonrecurrent problems has become of utmost importance, yet this capacity, i.e. general intelligence, is not the best way to solve the general adaptive problems mankind still faces. The most important of these general adaptive problems is optimizing one’s fitness via mating, the coping with which relies on specific regions of the brain different from those in charge of intellect: namely, those in charge of emotions, or instincts.
There is something quite intuitive in the idea. Often enough people perceived as extremely intelligent tend to be derided by their peers as geeks or eggheads. Culture and mass culture frequently display funny characters who are very intellectual and at the same time awkward in many respects, such as Murray in the TV series Riptide; among my circle of school friends, to call someone “Murray,” based on the series, was one way to mock, though not with an altogether spiteful intent, an awkward guy, especially one who would fail to achieve anything outside the classroom.
Yet, no matter how intuitive, such a view runs counter to one tenet of evolutionary psychology (EP) – a field to which Kanazawa’s book belongs –, namely that high-status males are more reproductively successful than other males. In the view of EP, the Murrays of the world are the greatest womanizers, because it is general intelligence that has become the principal highway to status in our modern man-made environments. (For a broader discussion of EP findings on reproductive inequalities, see xxxii and xxxiii, or better all my posts from xxvii on.)
By presenting Kanazawa’s intelligence paradox in the terms above, I don’t do him justice, although that would render rather well his book’s subtitle “why the intelligent choice isn’t always the smart one,” but I have found myself in a quandary since I have wished to discuss his book, because of several inconsistencies.
The intelligence paradox is based on what Kanazawa calls “the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis,” that reads as follows: “Less intelligent individuals have greater difficulty comprehending and dealing with evolutionarily novel entities and situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment than more intelligent individuals. In contrast, general intelligence does not affect individuals’ ability to comprehend and deal with evolutionarily familiar entities and situations that existed in the ancestral environment.” (p. 56)
Given this hypothesis, the intelligent choice is out of reach of the smart brain whereas neither the smart nor, by definition, the intelligent choice is out of reach of the intelligent brain, although the intelligent brain may or may not make smart choices (smart is defined as the way to cope successfully with “evolutionary familiar situations”). So far, so good. But the negative relationship I have being talking about (that intelligent people are geeks wanting in smartness) is clearly alluded to in the title of chapter 12: “Why Intelligent People are the Ultimate Losers in Life.” Relying on the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis, intelligent people should not be the ultimate losers, since their intelligence “does not affect their ability to comprehend and deal with evolutionarily familiar entities.” Moreover, if the hypothesis is true there should be no “intelligence paradox” at all, because smartness and intelligence would then be two uncorrelated abilities, whereas both the notion of a paradox and the idea that intelligent people are the ultimate losers in life imply a negative relationship. Let us look at some of Kanazawa’s contentions in more detail.
According to Kanazawa, the intelligence paradox predicts that more intelligent people are more homosexual than the general population because homosexuality is not natural, it is not common among animals nor among contemporary tribes of hunter-gatherers: “Even though some form of homosexuality is observed in many species, the basic biological design of all mammalian species is heterosexual reproduction, and exclusive or predominant homosexuality is rare in nature.” (p. 127) Kanazawa then says the data shows homosexuals are more intelligent.
He does not say, unless I’m mistaken, that it is the exclusive homosexuals that are more intelligent, which is in fact what the paradox predicts, not that occasional homosexuals, or bisexuals, are more intelligent, because such behaviors being observed in many species, as Kanazawa acknowledges, one may argue they’re natural. This is what Robin Baker says: Homosexual behaviors are quite common among animals. Moreover, most homosexuals, Baker argues, are bisexual, only a minority of them are exclusive homosexuals (see xxviii). The reason why exclusive homosexuality even exists is the same as why schizophrenia (according to Baker) exists, both at about 1% of the population: Both occur, namely, inside a process of mutation-selection balance. A gene mutation occurs that makes people exclusive homosexuals or schizophrenics and, as most of these individuals do not reproduce, selection prevents the mutation being forwarded.
Other than exclusive forms of homosexuality are in fact strategic, they are a way to deal with familiar adaptive situations, and one finds these behaviors among animal species quite frequently, so the intelligence paradox would not predict that people engaged in such behaviors are more intelligent. In fact, the intelligence paradox cannot even predict that exclusive homosexuals are more intelligent if it does not predict at the same time that schizophrenics are more intelligent, nor that any people affected by severe genetic mutations that would make them unfit for the ancestral savanna are more intelligent.
Certainly Kanazawa’s most astonishing contention is that the intelligence paradox predicts that intelligent people consume more drugs, alcohol and cigarettes because such consumption is not natural. On this score, he finds the results “somewhat equivocal” (p. 176), still he is inclined to consider the prediction realized. On this particular point, I would first like to quote one of Kanazawa’s mentors (named twice in the book’s acknowledgments), Dr Richard Lynn, in his book Dysgenics (2011): “Cigarette smoking (…) is, like alcohol consumption, an expression of weak self-control over immediate impulse gratification.” As I explain in xxx, the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment shows that children with self-control are more intelligent for they get higher status later in life and intelligence is the principal highway to high status today. So, if the intelligence paradox predicts that intelligent people drink, smoke and take drugs more than others, it can safely be dumped.
However, does the paradox really predict such a thing? According to Kanazawa, smoking did not exist before the culture of tobacco, nor drinking before the advent of brewery and distillation, nor taking drugs before the development of refining techniques, in a word they could not exist before agriculture and were nonexistent in the African savanna. Yet, many tribes of hunter-gatherers are familiar with psychotropic substances they encounter in the course of their foraging activities, such as hallucinogenic mushrooms, so the dependence on agriculture seems erroneous. I am not categorical that our ancestors in the savanna knew such substances and consumed them; I am merely doing what EP scholars do when they try to describe the life of our ancestors, taking contemporary tribes of hunter-gatherers as the closest approximation.
The vocabulary of psychotropic and stimulating substances used by hunter-gatherers is quite extensive. In the Spanish language alone, I know the following terms, most of them being taken from the vernacular languages of Amerindian tribes: achuma, ayahuasa or ayahuasca, bacuey or macuey (aphrodisiac), chamairo, chamico, cochizpacle, cocoyome, cojoba, colorín, curupa, frijolito (“little bean”), gasparito, jabí, jícore, masacoate (name of a Mexican boa which flesh was consumed by Indians as an aphrodisiac), ñorbito (aphrodisiac), paricá, peyote, pillunchuca, sumarique, señí, tacualispacle or clacualispacle (aphrodisiac), xtabentún, yagé. For more details on some of these words, see my glossary of Aztequismos (here) and Americanismos I (here) and II (here) (Spanish and French).
If taking such drugs predates agriculture and was familiar in the EEA, the intelligence paradox cannot predict what Kanazawa says it does.
Kanazawa predicts that “more intelligent men (but not more intelligent women) value sexual exclusivity” (p. 97) – “having one sexual partner in a committed relationship” (p. 101) –, and the data proves him right. More intelligent men value sexual exclusivity because it’s not natural, since polygyny was rampant in the savanna, whereas for a woman, sharing her man with other women or not, she was supposed sexually exclusive to that man. Intelligent men are decent Murrays. So far, so good.
Yet, Kanazawa also finds that more intelligent men have more extramarital affairs (figure 7.2, p. 108), and here is his explanation: “Note that the Intelligence Paradox is about individual preferences and values, what people desire and want in their heads; it’s not necessarily about what people actually do. If people have complete choice over their behavior, they are expected to pursue what they desire and want, but they do not always have such complete choice. And, when it comes to sex and mating, men have very little choice.” (p. 109) In other words, Dr. Kanazawa is telling us intelligent men desire to be monogynous but women force them to be polygynous.
He means that a man “has no realistic choice to say no” to a woman (p. 105). This is a rather audacious step from the finding of evolutionary biology regarding the differential biological costs of reproduction which imply males’ somewhat indiscriminate sexual outlook compared to females’ choosiness. I say it’s audacious because evolutionary biology also posits that males are urgent and females coy, which is not altogether the same proposition. In biological terms, if a male is not urgent – not proactive – no female will choose him. A man, thus, may be thought to always have the choice either to enter the arena (the lek) in the hope of being chosen or remain outside and attract no attention at all. Still, a man can desire to be monogynous, i.e. faithful, yet be induced into temptation and succumb to it in the course of his social interactions with many persons of the other sex, occasions allowing for the succumbing, without our being justified to call his behavior proactive in the proper sense. That would be, then, the lot of intelligent men, namely to be seduced by women, to be chosen by women without wanting to be chosen, and succumb because of males’ universal urgency.
So the question is: Are more intelligent men, although they desire to be monogynous and as a consequence are not urgent with women once they have got a partner, more likely to be chosen and induced into sex by women? According to Kanazawa, the answer is yes. As to this, I repeat here what I have said under the head of addictions, that more intelligent men also have more self-control, so if to begin with they desire to be monogynous although it’s not natural, they also are in a better position to resist succumbing, albeit that, too, is not natural.
But a more important question perhaps is about the attractiveness of intelligent men. According to Kanazawa, they are more attractive: “More intelligent individuals – both men and women – are on average physically more attractive than less intelligent individuals.” (p. 106). The source of this assertion is Kanazawa (2011) and Kanazawa & Kovar (2004), that is, papers from the same. As a complement, “more intelligent individuals – both men and women – are significantly taller than less intelligent individuals. And, once again, women prefer taller men as mates.” (p. 107) (Note that Kanazawa elsewhere says Asians are “slightly more intelligent than other races.” (p. 124). As Asians are also shorter than other races, his findings on the relationship between height and intelligence must apply inside one race and not across races.)
As to intelligent women’s attractiveness, here is another distinct statement by Kanazawa, which he does not relate to the previous assertions even though they likely bear on the discussion: “modern British people are not very endogamous on intelligence [the talk is about the British because one of the three studies used by the author is the British National Child Development Study (NCDS), the other two being from US; these studies sometimes contradict one another, like in the case of correlations between IQ and smoking already mentioned]. More intelligent men do not appear to marry more intelligent women in the contemporary United Kingdom.” Given the fact that more intelligent men are supposed to be more attractive and that at least their status is no obstacle to attracting a partner (when it’s not the very reason that attracted the partner in the first place) because it is more likely to be high than not, one is entitled to conclude from this study that intelligent women are not physically attractive on the whole, contrary to quote p. 106 from the previous paragraph.
As to men’s attractiveness, I invite the reader to read my essay xxxii. I add two remarks. 1/ Kanazawa et al.’s papers on attractiveness are based on judgments on photographs, “by two different judges.” I suggest that such minimal tests may not be very convincing, especially since it is known that women’s appreciation of men’s attractiveness varies during the course of their menstrual cycle. Thornhill and Palmer write in their Natural History of Rape (2000): “Perret et al. (1998) report that women in their study found men’s faces that were slightly feminized more attractive than men’s faces that were highly masculine. Highly masculine faces show greater effects of testosterone. This is interpreted by the researchers as a female preference for men who will invest in women. However, the same research group found that women who are not on the pill (i.e., are having ovulatory cycles) and are at the fertile point of their cycle prefer the most masculinized faces.” (pp. 203-4). The study alluded to posits a cyclic variation of individual women’s preferences through time.
2/ Kanazawa finds more evidence for his stance in the following: “The evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey F. Miller has consistently argued that women preferentially select men with higher levels of intelligence to mate with. … There appears to be some evidence for this suggestion. … more intelligent men are significantly more likely to have ever been married and to be currently married at age 47 than less intelligent men.” (pp. 184-5) This overlooks the irrelevance of marriage (or any other form of pair-bonding) to assess women’s sexual preferences, according to the springboard model (see xxxii) and the phenomenon of cuckoldry. Among Darwinian scholars, I have found so far that only Robin Baker does not overlook the predictable consequences of human sperm competition and female sexuality. Especially when intelligent men “are not very endogamous on intelligence” are they likely to be cuckolded by their partners because, as we shall see next, intelligent women are less eager to want children, consequently less eager to look for sexy sons’ genes outside their pair.
In this discussion, Kanazawa surmises that more intelligent men value sexual exclusivity because it’s not natural, but I think it depends more on how a male fares in sperm competition. If a male is uncompetitive, he would waste his time and energy in affairs, so he’d better invest in mate-guarding and parenting, like the good Murray he is. The fact that more intelligent men value sexual exclusivity proves my point right, that more intelligent men are meagerly endowed, virilely speaking.
Incidentally, when EP scholars talk of high-status men in the past, they show us an emperor with his harem, in the present for aught I know they may be talking of a restaurant manager, who is perhaps more likely to cuckold his employees than the reverse. Perhaps, then, one should not equate high status with elites; these would be two radically distinct concepts. In the classic of sociology The Children of Sanchez by Oscar Lewis, we have the example of a “high-status man,” Sanchez, whose job is to buy food for a restaurant in Mexico City. Hardly a high-status job, yet this man provides resources to three women living in different places of the same squalid barrio.
The overlooking of elite men’s poor virile endowments by most EP scholars so far may be due to some kind of sycophancy, the will (probably unconscious) to avoid presenting elite people in an evolutionarily unpleasant light. The sycophancy derives from certain notions about virility and manliness. If a high-status man fails to take advantage of his high status by inseminating many women, why care about status to begin with? Why be rich rather than poor, since it’s so much more trouble earning money than feeding on charity or welfare? The “unpleasant” is that high-status men are not emperors with harems like in the past; a good deal of them are (but sometimes I’ve got my doubts, especially after reading EP books) quite decent fellows, and that’s the shame, you see. By the same token, they may be suspected to be weak. Are weak elites true?
As to the question of why be rich rather than poor, I think the intelligence paradox predicts that, all men on the savanna having to hunt and forage, intelligent men are slackers.
As we have already seen, more intelligent individuals have more homosexual partners than less intelligent individuals (although I have contended this is not predicted by the intelligence paradox). They also have, on a declarative basis, more heterosexual partners (p. 137). The figures are: very bright Americans (IQ > 125) (5% of the US population) have had 9.98 heterosexual partners; bright (110 < IQ < 125) (20% of the US population) 9.79; normal (90 < IQ < 110) (50% of the US population) 8.9; dull (75 < IQ < 90) (20% of the US population) 7.92; very dull (75 < IQ) (5% of the US population) 7.10. Murray Bozinsky is a myth. You may call him a geek, or any person who looks like him a “Murray,” but he cuckolds you in your back. There are the haves and the have-horns!
Yet, as the figures here are based on individual statements, some of the statements may be deceptive. I should think the dull and very dull especially may have a tendency to under-declare their numbers of mates, because, as Kanazawa explains in chapter 5, they tend to be more conservative in politics, so under-declaring would be a way for some of them to display greater consistency between conservative ideas and their behavior. Same thing, perhaps, for intelligent people, who would think they would appear as lacking consistency if they did not over-declare their numbers of mates.
Male urgency patterns also depend on one’s time allocation. Men who work more have less time to court women (outside work, that is; please let me know if the workplace is the greatest sex club available, I need to know for productivity choices). Who works more: organization men or the leisure underclass?
A Parenthesis on the Clark-Hatfield Experiment
The Clark-Hatfield experiment is dealt with by Kanazawa (pp. 102-4) to explain female choice and men’s taking it as it is. It shows that 75% of male college students approached by an unknown attractive woman (a confederate in the experiment) who ask them if they would like to have sex with her the same night respond “yes,” comparing to 0% of female students approached by an unknown attractive man making the same proposal. I find the experiment silly. Men with a little knowledge of life, a little knowledge of women and courtship would have much reason to suspect the woman’s motivations. Some of the guys surely thought it was a hidden camera TV show. Some others may have been thinking the woman was a prostitute (I know a couple of streets in my city where unknown women ask you to get laid with them), some others that she was a schizophrenic intent on killing them, some others that it was a third-type encounter with an extraterrestrial, and all these were the least nincompoops of the batch. Apparently, none of the guys tried to embrace or kiss the woman on the spot, whereas she, if deemed sincere, would have been eager to respond.
Intelligent people are the “ultimate losers in life” because they fail more often to have “as many children as one can potentially raise to sexual maturity so that the children themselves can reproduce,” (p. 178), which is the definition of optimizing one’s fitness, “an evolutionary familiar goal.” In the discussion, Kanazawa only deals with data of children raised by the respondents, so all children begot by men outside their bonds are ignored, which is by itself problematic since it has been argued that more intelligent men have more affairs and presumably beget more children outside wedlock.
The picture below shows figures 12.3 and 12.4 (pp. 182-3).
Before dealing with the intelligence component in these tables, some general considerations on fertility. According to Baker (Baby Wars), in industrial countries about 10% of people are infertile, roughly the same number of men and women. I’m not sure if this includes people who could have children but decide not to; the present figures show a greater number of childless people, so the sample must be warped or Baker’s figures must be wrong — or alternatively the number of people who remain deliberately childless, if not included in the 10%, must be high.
As a matter of fact, on these tables 444 women out of a sample of (444 + 2210) = 2,654 have not had children at age 47 (which means, for all practical purposes, that they will never have: “99.7% of women and 96.5% of men complete their lifetime reproduction by the time they are 45” p. 181). Cross-calculation gives the proportion of 16.7% of women being childless. For men, the figures are 475 men out of 2,319, which gives us 20.4% (same remark as for women). One woman out of six, one man out of five remain childless.
If we follow evolutionary psychologist David Buss, the difference in figures between childless women and childless men should be greater, with much more childless men than childless women: “The primary reason men are so much more given to violence, and specifically to the violence of murder, is that the stakes of the mating game are so much higher for men than for women, because there is much more variability among men than among women in reproductive success.” (The Murderer Next Door, 2005). The present figures do not seem to support this statement, because if the variability does not depend on the number of childless people, men and women as pairs, taken broadly, have the same numbers of children respectively: If a woman has two kids, the man has two kids. If variability does not depend on childless individuals, it depends on putative fathers who are not the biological fathers of the children they raise (10-15%), on the number of single mothers (X), and on the number of men who remarry and make more children (X). I don’t know if these latter phenomena can account for a much greater variability among men than among women in our societies. In any case, there (still) is more variability among men.
Two other tables (pp. 179-80) show answers to the question “Do you ever want children?” (asked at age 23). According to these tables, 10.6% of women and 10.95% of men say they do not want to have children. Seemingly, physiological causes of infertility (infections etc.) and failure to attract mates account, thus, for only half cases of childless men.
Among the individuals who say at age 23 they do not want to have children, more intelligent individuals, both men and women, are in relatively greater numbers. Kanazawa shows that intelligent men change their minds before they reach 45 and make as many children as other men (so they’re not “ultimate losers” after all), but intelligent women don’t change their minds (or they do but men don’t want them!).
The reason more intelligent men do not, at age 23, desire to have children may be due to the high costs of parenting I exposed in my essay xxxiii (How To Make Successful Children Without Parenting) and the reason they change their minds, whereas intelligent women do not, perhaps is because men don’t want status to get a mate (and children) but rather they want a mate (and children) to get status – they fear ostracism (see the Cyberball experiment: no matter how trivial the context, how low the stakes, ostracism generates great stress).
In the case of intelligent women, if it’s not only that men, no matter how intelligent, are not particularly interested in them (and we have seen that men may not be endogamous on intelligence), it might be due to some particularity of female sexuality. No matter how you take it, the burden of parenting is greater on women (although it has become absurdly heavy on men these days – but then, again, men will accept the burden if they think it can help them avoid ostracism). Now, something evolutionarily advantageous (or required) is pleasurable. Sex is. People derive enjoyment from sex in order for their genes to replicate (routine sex is hardly pleasurable because it is a by-product of sperm competition), but reproduction (gene replication) can be thwarted by contraception. If having children and having to have routine sex is viewed by a hedonistic intelligent woman as likely to prevent her from enjoying sex, she will not have children. Intelligent women are not reproductively successful because they’re more polyandrous. Studies show they’re indeed more testosteronized (cf. Nyborg). There is truth in the conservative view that a life of pleasure alienates the individual from family life. This being said, many other considerations beside sexual “emancipation” may conduce one to deliberately avoiding parenting, and, considering the above figures, it seems that such a deliberate choice is not so rare.
All in all, I do not think Kanazawa is justified, because a few intelligent women remain deliberately childless, to end his book by the question: “Why is the tendency [intelligence] to commit the greatest crime against nature [voluntary childlessness] the ultimate gauge of human worth?” He has not shown with sufficient clarity that such a breach against nature is really the crime of the intelligent; he has even brought forth data to the contrary. As to his questioning the value people place on intelligence, it is all the more irrelevant given that intelligence has become the main highway to social status.
Intelligence has become the main highway to social status – to a point. Very intelligent people may easily be barred from every opportunity by coalitions of less bright people as it is more difficult for them, due to sparse numbers, to form coalitions with as intelligent people as them.
Pure science does not pay as much as applied science, so the applied scientist must be more intelligent than the pure scientist because the former’s status is higher.
In conclusion, Dr Kanazawa’s is a stimulating book and I recommend it.
About My Friend Deirdre Barrett
Another stimulating book that I recommend is Waistland: The (R)Evolutionary Science behind our Weight and Fitness Crisis (2007) by my friend Dr Deirdre Barrett from Harvard Medical School. (I call her my friend because I wish her well.) I am not going to discuss the book’s content, though; I just want to show its jacket (picture).
On this jacket you can see a prehistoric man standing on a big, bright-colored double cheeseburger. The book deals with the fact that we are not prepared to cope with an environment of abundantly available fatty foods and that this has provoked a major fitness crisis. The picture of the prehistoric man on the burger appears both on the front cover and the spine, so you can’t put the book in your library without seeing the flashy burger, even if only peripherally, when you look at your library unless you drop the jacket before.
This troubles me a lot because Deirdre writes: “Even more analogous to Tinbergen’s dummies, the exaggeration of visual elements in addictive foods often plays a role in hooking us” (p. 33) and “Food ads increase both immediate and long-term consumption of junk food.” (p. 90).
As I have repeatedly said in my series on advertising, advertisers today rely heavily on the effects associated with peripheral vision, in which peripheral stimuli are not treated by regions of the brain involved in conscious processes, so even if you think you never look at the burger in your library it will not escape your peripheral attention when you look in the direction of your library, and you’ll be the more easily hooked that you will not be mobilizing rational defenses.
At the same time that Deirdre warns against exaggerate visual elements and visual food ads that make us addict to junk food, she flashes gaudy burgers at her readers in this fashion! How is this possible? How can publishers treat their authors with such disregard and contempt? How can authors accept it and let their message be drawn in the dirt by publishing houses’ marketers? I am dissatisfied with my friend because she now looks like a fool.