Sunday, August 09, 2009

A Subversive Thought, Addressed

Regarding the question from my last post, here, with assists from my commenters, is an effort to resolve the apparent incongruity.

  • The premise of the question is flawed. It's not really HBD full-stop vs. root-causes. Rather, HBD is a tool of analysis applied to both cases. For instance, nothing about Human Bio-Diversity requires us to deny that broad social trends -- high immigration, lax social mores, the death of the manufacturing sector -- have worked against the ability of American blacks to find an economically and socially useful role in society. On the contrary, we've been pointing this out for years. But acknowledging HBD does undermine the premise of the political Left: some variant of how racist white folks oppress blacks and make them dysfunctional. (This is in contrast to the radical Left, which asserts that it isn't really dysfunction.) But what was plausible 40 years ago is remarkably less plausible today.

  • Likewise, HBD gives us a key for understanding female mate choice and its long-run consequences. The "alpha-beta theory" is often characterized by its adversaries as saying, in the words of Trumwill:

    [M]en who mistreat women are "alpha" types with dominant personalities and a lot of romantic options and that women could avoid being mistreated by coupling with beta types, who have fewer romantic options and more passive personalities.

    Now admittedly, I really do think that something like this is true, on average. But, first, I will acknowledge that actually following this advice would involve real trade-offs, and second, I don't think that women will follow this advice merely because the advice is offered. I think the natural female tendency toward hypergamy was for many thousand years constrained by culture and economics. These impediments have eased, and we are seeing what we are now seeing. I think this is bad, because I think a free society cannot long survive it.

  • Similarly flawed is the assumption that HBD, in itself, is being offered as a solution; rather, it's a tool of analysis that helps us sift through policy alternatives. Again, after 40 years of Leftist social policy designed to "fight racism", we've succeeded at almost nothing except perhaps creating a class of resentful, paranoid affirmative-action beneficiaries typified by Michele Obama. Meanwhile, Steve Sailer doesn't say "man the barricades" in response to black poverty. He recommends changing the value of low-skill labor on both the supply side (by reversing the flow of unskilled labor into the U.S.) and the demand side (by using trade policy to revitalize our manufacturing sector).

    Likewise, an understanding of HBD recommends two different but not necessarily contradictory approaches to the problem of beta sexual impoverishment:

    • On the micro level, betas should learn game (the PUA community); and

    • On the macro level, we must reverse the social policies of the last 40 years (social conservatives).

    Personally, I recommend both. I appreciate the criticism that the social conservative program is unlikely, but at least legally and socially enforced monogamy has the advantage of having worked at widely distributing sexual access and, yeah, also sustaining civilization.

  • As commenter Justin suggested, the problems have different levels of containability. If by "manning the barricades" you mean agressive policing, stiff sentencing, de-facto segregation, widespread firearm ownership and the Castle Doctrine, we have, in fact, done these things, and we have been rewarded with a drop in black-on-white crime to manageable levels, Lily Burke notwithstanding. So long as we stop doing dumb policies, like enforced integration, or inventing "rights" to vagrancy, we will probably be okay.

    But what can we contain George Sodini? The fact is that we need beta computer and engineering nerds doing what we do if we want our society to function; thus, society needs to socially reward our work, including giving us the opportunity to marry and have families. But while my impression is that most women begin appreciating our virtues by the time they reach their 30s, the fear is that our continued slide into hypergamy will push that age upward and multiply the Sodinis of the world. But other than whine about "misogyny" and guns, I haven't seen a single feminist solution to this problem.

    The world worked in the pre-feminist era. Yes, many women found "Marriage 1.0" oppresive, but it did offer something for everyone and assured maximum buy-in by the majority of males. It may be true that the road home is not politically realizable, but its existence is not fanciful. The same cannot be said with respect to race. There was never, anywhere, at any time, a utopia of racial equality. Nor can there ever be, saith HBD.

  • On a more personal level, I think commenter Peter put it well: "Many men in the blogosphere, perhaps especially in the HBD segment, see Sodini as different from themselves in degree rather than in kind." Quite true. I can see myself in Sodini, not in his violence, but in his suffering and disillusion. Those of us who grew up before the age of the internet, and who therefore relied on our mothers for advice about girls, believed that intelligence, conscientiousness, and Gal. 5:22 were qualities that would gain us the favor of women in general and help us secure wives and families in particular. And then, eventually, reality bites.

    This may not have anything to do with HBD directly. I think the personality type of those of us willing to swallow The Red Pill of HBD is also the personality type likely to have endured the disillusion of what really attracts women. Our relations (or lack thereof) with women give us a lower investment in parroting politically correct opinions. Call us highly analytical with a social-skills deficit.

  • As commenter PeterW and others pointed out, we didn't conjure the meta-narrative ex nihlo. Sodini himself left a reasonably articulate account of why he would do what he did. Granted, the justification offered by criminals for their crimes is usually more self-serving than objective, but in the case of Sodini, we seem unable to uncover any reason not to accept his claims. Had Sodini been fat, or poor, or stupid, or abusive, his life would not be receiving nearly the sympathy that it has. But Sodini was none of these things. He was a well-compensated professional. He was in excellent physical condition for a man his age. His claim to "nice guy" status was verified by all who knew him. He was exactly what an earlier generation of women would have considered a "good catch". And yet to this generation, he couldn't make himself desirable.

    In contrast, the typical urban criminal brings little but base motives to his work. If you've ever watched the show The First 48, you quickly learned that urban murderers aren't very interesting. They are stupid and depressing. Such ex post root-cause explanations for their actions, whatever their merits, are proferred by pointy-heads in ivory towers, far removed from the reality.

That's my effort to resolve the issue.


Trumwill said...

This makes a lot of assumptions. I'm not saying that these assumptions are wrong, but they at least get to the heart of why feminists are not "acknowledging the issue".

1. Sodini needs to be addressed because there are going to be more of them -- Few choose the route that Sodini did. Very, very few. The notion that this is going to be an increasing problem requires something of a leap of faith. Sodini is famous because what he did was so unusual.

2. Accepts hypergamy as a given -- This is a whole whopping load of assumptions that I don't have time to even whack a chink into.

3. We will face a shortage of software engineers if they can't get married -- The vast majority of software developers and computer folks I know - and I know a lot - are married by the time they hit 30. The bigger threat to geek reproduction is lacking a desire to reproduce. Half of the guys I worked with at my last job were married but intentionally childless.

4. Software programmers are skewed heavily towards pathological introversion, high levels of geekdom, and so on -- Sure, more than average. But the way that software developers are discussed and the ones I've actually met are two completely different groups of people.

5. George Sodini was a nice guy without creepy qualities that put women on-edge -- A few neighbors had some nice things to say about him, but his church kicked him out, seemed bereft of good friends, may have previously had a problem with alcohol, had romantic preferences that are typically classified as inappropriate or at best unlikely, may or may not have been a single father, and did not graduate from college until later in life. All of these things could (and individually usually) mean nothing, but we really don't know who he was. There are substantial black holes in his life and you're assuming the best. I see a whole lot of reasons why I would not feel comfortable with a daughter, aunt, or friend of mine dating this guy. Even if he does have a job and is considered nice by his neighbors.

I have a post going up on this tomorrow, so I probably shouldn't go on.

Φ said...

Trumwill: This is an excellent critique, and I look forward to your post on the subject. Let me make a few clarifications.

Looking back at it, I realize that I gave a too-prominent role to the possibility of an increase in Sodini-style exits. And I didn't mean to imply that we need software engineers breeding more software engineers. As other writers have said, the greater probability is that, absent social rewards, many more high-intelligence-low-extraversion men will simply drop off the hamster wheel.

I'm not sure if I am assuming positive qualities into Sodini's blank spaces or merely declining to assume bad ones. My initial guess was that something about him was putting women off, but hard (as opposed to circumstantial) evidence for that something has conspicuously failed to materialize. I, and probably others, would revise our estimate of his situation if the media could get some of his former romantic prospects to testify specifically about what was wrong with him. Or even non-specifically: why can't we find a woman who says, "Yeah, I knew George socially. That guy totally creeped me out." Or something.

You are correct that Sodini may have been fixated on women substantially younger than himself. (For this we have only the evidence of a book in his possession.) So yeah, given his station in life, his celibacy may have been effectively self-imposed.

On the subject of female hypergamy, and the related issue of the age at which their horizons sufficiently broaden as to consider software engineer types, it is true that we are projecting present trends way out into the future. It is certainly true that society might find a stable end-state well short of the dystopian nightmare of your local singles bar. But it's not guaranteed.

Trumwill said...

Man, I wish I could copy and paste into this field.

Out of curiosity, why do you discount the stories of the church kicking him out? Do you believe that the church leaders are lying? That the women that complained were being irrational and discriminatory? Are you not familiar with it (I wasn't until I did some legwork for my post)?

I mentioned this on a comment on HC, but for those that don't read it: I don't consider Sodini's career to be a particularly valuable identifier. He seems different from most software engineers that I know. Both from the standpoint that software engineers are not the social freaks that they're made out to be and also from the fact that he seems a slightly different sort of social freak than those software engineers I know that are social freaks.

Lastly, the "attracted to young women" was in reference to a help column thing Sodini wrote that Half Sigma linked to as well as the book. Even with these things, I don't mean to suggest that I think young women were all he was interested in, but (a) he may have wasted significant attention in pursuit of that unlikely goal, (b) may have judged potential mates by the standards set by younger women, and (c) may have been insufficiently discreet about a preference that is extremely off-putting to potential mates (I know from first-hand experience it can be an extremely touchy subject even for women in their lower-mid-twenties).

Φ said...

Sorry you're having cut-and-paste problems. I don't seem to have the same trouble.

I kept meaning to say that I did not have the details on how his church membership ended. Could you send me a link?

Trumwill said...

Google: Tom Yerace George Sodini church

I would have linked to it, but linking is a real chore without C&P. What browser do you use? When I was using Safari it didn't seem to be a problem, but now I'm back on Firefox and it is again. No copy and paste and the arrow buttons don't work.

Φ said...

I'm using IE7.

From this article:

Other church leaders did not recognize Mr. Sodini, even though he was asked to leave the assembly in 2004. Church officials had learned that Mr. Sodini was "bothering" a woman in the congregation, and the board of seven deacons removed him from the ministry.

"It wasn't that he was trying rape her or breaking into her home, he was bothering her," said Charles Matone, chairman of the board of deacons. Mr. Matone hand-delivered a letter to Mr. Sodini asking him to leave but still didn't recognize the face that flashed on television screens after the shootings.

"I think he knew he was bothering her to an extreme extent," he said, "When it finally came down, I don't think he was shocked at all."

Not very specific, but surely obsessive. Plus, his photogenicity appears to be highly variable.