Reality Choose

“…when you live in the world of fantasy, reality becomes an opponent…”

Jeff Goldstein, “Rude Awakening: Californians ‘Shocked’ by Premium Increases, Dropped Coverage

Much of the reason we have such a hard time getting through to leftists is that we fail to recognize how fundamentally differently they view the world.  I’ve given my own refutations of feminist notions of “rape culture” here and here that probably make perfect sense to you, but to feminists they simply don’t compute.  Captain Capitalism is just one among many who’ve expressed extreme frustration at how difficult it can be to get the most basic concepts through their thick little skulls.

There are ways to accomplish this rhetorically, but rhetoric can only work as well as your ability to understand what your opponent believes compared to what you believe.  When you’re dealing with a feminist, your disagreements are as fundamental as they can get, and that’s what you’ve got to address.

Conservatives and libertarians differ from lefties on three basic premises*, and it’s through disagreements regarding those premises that all of our other disagreements derive.  We think we’re debating tax policy, sex discrimination, or gun control, but we’re actually debating far deeper, and usually unspoken, assumptions.

Thanks to commenter Mina, I reread this fantastic post by Anonymous Conservative (AC, if you read this, you’ve got a fan in Mina).  At this point I’ll refrain from exploring its rhetorical implications.  (He does so on his own here.  I seem to have instinctively developed many of the strategies he’s discovered scientifically.)

AC claims that “it is inherently clear that this r/K divergence is the origin of our political divide.”  I agree that the r/K divergence is close to the core of our political divide in that most political beliefs flow from basic biological assumptions upon which it rests.  Nonetheless, I find that although these are inherently biological strategies, the “origin of our political divide”, the reason we choose one strategy as opposed to the other, may depend on something else.

States of Nature

AC argues that our political worldviews reflect two divergent reproductive strategies:  r and K:

r/K selection theory describes two environmental extremes, and the strategies a population will produce to exploit each extreme. As a result of these strategies, each of these two environments will produce a very particular psychology in the individuals exposed to them.

r reflects the leftist worldview, the reproductive aspect of what Thomas Sowell would call their vision:

The first environment an organism may face is the presence of freely available resources, which is referred to as an r-selective environment. […]  Just as rabbits do not strip their grassy fields bare due to the predation they endure, the r-strategy is designed to exploit an environment where resources are freely available, everywhere.

In r-selection, those individuals who waste time fighting for food will be out-reproduced by pacifists, who simply focus upon eating, and reproducing. Fighting also entails risks of injury or death – risks which are pointless given the free availability of resources everywhere. Hence this environment will favor a tendency towards conflict avoidance, and tend to cull the aggressive and competitive. It will also evolve tendencies towards mating as early as possible, as often as possible, with as many mates as possible, while investing as little effort as possible rearing offspring. Here, there are unlimited resources just waiting to be utilized, and even the most unfit can acquire them. As a result, it is more advantageous to produce as many offspring as possible, as quickly as possible, regardless of fitness, so as to out-reproduce those who either waste time producing quality offspring or waste time competing with each other.

This reflects the Rousseauian concept of the State of Nature, a world of plenty that was corrupted by the introduction of private property by the first man who put up a fence.  Per this worldview, we live in a world with enough for everybody, and the only reason we don’t all have enough is that certain greedy individuals have deigned to hog for themselves what could easily be shared by all.  Violence is unnecessary, rapists and other criminals are produced by unnatural cultural influences, not an intrinsic (if undesirable) aspect of human nature,  Foreign policy dilemmas can be solved through increased dialogue and understanding; notions like “peace through strength” only poison the well of what could otherwise be an implicit mutual understanding.  The hostile aspects of reality are constructed by individuals of ill-will and could be eliminated if we liquidate re-program them.  AC:

Here in the r-strategy, we see the origins of the Liberal’s tendencies towards conflict avoidance, from oppositions to free-market capitalism, to pacifism, to demands that all citizens disarm so as to avoid any chance of conflict and competition. Even the newer tendencies to support the ”everyone gets a trophy” movement are outgrowths of this competition-averse urge, and desire for free resource availability. Similarly, Liberals are supportive of promiscuity, supportive of efforts to expose children to ever earlier sexual education, and, as the debate over Murphy Brown showed, Liberals are supportive of low-investment, single parenting.

On the other hand, K reflects a more Hobbesian state of nature in which resources are scarce, human nature is violent and competitive no matter how nice you try to make us, and children need intense training from both parents to learn how to adapt and survive.  Under K, any prosperity we may have at the moment must be carefully guarded, for life is typically “nasty, brutish, and short” unless we make a concerted effort to prevent it.  AC:

Termed a K-type psychology, or K-Selected Reproductive Strategy, this psychology will embrace competitions between individuals and accept disparities in competitive outcomes as an innate part of the world, that is not to be challenged. Since individuals who do not fight for some portion of the limited resources will starve, this environment will favor an innately competitive, conflict-prone psychology. Study shows, such a psychology will also tend to embrace monogamy, embrace chastity until monogamous adulthood, and favor high-investment, two-parent parenting, with an emphasis upon rearing as successful an offspring as possible. This sexual selectiveness, mate monopolization, and high-investment rearing is all a form of competing to produce fitter offspring than peers. This evolves, because if one’s offspring are fitter than the offspring of peers, they will be likely to acquire resources themselves, and reproduce successfully.

There’s obviously much more to both r and K, and I recommend reading his entire post to find out what.

Strategic Preference

Although Anonymous Conservative doesn’t explore this in detail, there’s another economic implication to the assumptions behind each of the strategies.  Regardless of the actual environmental constraints at hand, r assumes that all resources are plentiful and therefore focuses on the distribution of existing resources.  Under K, one assumes that there isn’t enough, so we’ve got to make it.  Economics is therefore primarily a question of creation.

Which is correct?  Obviously, under certain circumstances we can get away with a degree of r; in an already prosperous society, there’s more wealth to distribute and less of an urgent need to create more goods.  Nonetheless, r can only succeed to the extent that either nature itself has provided ample resources (and no nearby tribes know about it), or our forebears have handed down such resources by being K at some point in the recent past.  “[A]n environment where resources are freely available, everywhere” is largely unreal, even though some environments seem to offer unlimited prosperity to those who don’t look very hard.

Yet we want to be r.  It’s downright unpleasant to assume that our children require two parents, that if we don’t have an army we’ll be attacked, that if we let everybody from everywhere move here that we might be welcoming some people bent on our destruction, indifferent to our national well-being, or with very different ideas as to how to run a country, that $17 trillion of debt might somehow have some sort of negative consequence.

For individuals and their offspring under exceptional circumstances, one could make that case that r might suffice, but in the aggregate, save the occasional isolated tribe, K is the objectively optimal strategy for human development and prosperity.  It makes perfect sense that we’ll tend towards r after a period of successful K, but too much r and we’ll have nothing left to distribute.  However, whether we view it through the prism of the ethical codes presented in Genesis and developed throughout the Bible or hardcore biological reality, K works better than r.  Period.

Biological Constraints

We have a lot of wonderful things in the modern West, but our resources are far from “unlimited”,  two-parent households raise more successful children than single moms, and sometimes the only thing that will keep some other dude from killing you for your jacket is pointing a gun in his face.  If you spend all day every day eating whatever falls off the nearest tree and having sex with whoever wanders by, if a hurricane floats by it’s more likely to kill you.  This is reality.

But it’s not natural to want it to be like this.  Our bodies yearn to eat whatever tastes good, screw whomever strikes our fancy, and leave work the moment we get tired or bored; we’re all hard-wired for r.  Something has to teach us to go against that inclination.

The K environment Anonymous Conservative describes is one in which nature has been hostile, where those who think beyond what comes naturally survive as those who cling to the more naturally pleasant die off (in an r environment, K‘s might not do as well, but at least they’ll live) .  Yet environment can’t be the only determining factor deciding who prefers which strategy.  College towns are filled with folks who hail from small towns and suburbs that emphasized K, but they prefer r and moved to live among others who agree.  Neither red nor blue America have widespread starvation, yet small towns are loaded with K folk, while the relatively impoverished inner cities prefer r alongside their ostensible benefactors among the ultra-rich.

There’s got to be something more at work, for there are too many examples of people who should be either K or r but aren’t.

The Decision

Yes, environment can push us in one direction or the other.  In a legitimately hostile world, you’ll either be K, remain in abject poverty, or die.

Yet in less hostile environments, we have the option to be either, at least until things degenerate so much that there are no more freebies.  Obviously, if both r and K seem like viable options, more people are going to choose r, but lots of people still pick K.  Small town America has plenty of resources, far more than the r-heavy slums of Cleveland, yet rural America largely adopts a “K-type psychology” (albeit less than in prior eras, after all, greater prosperity leads to more margin for error).

Environment and parental influence obviously play a role, but if K reflects the world as it is and r reflects how we want it to be, then some of us choose reality and others fantasy.  Some of us recognize things as they are, that A is A, whereas others prefer to believe that things are how we wish them to be.  All of us sometimes find moral constraints and deferred gratification inconvenient, but some of us aren’t actively seeking reasons to discard them.

As I’ve said before, r is our default; K must be instilled, either through the harsh facts of life themselves or through the active inculcation of parents, churches, and wise communities.  Yet some of us crave the knowledge of K even when little around us tells us we should, and others reject the values of their parents for the fleeting pleasantries of r.

Some people literally never encounter K, but for the rest of us, which reproductive strategy we favor depends in large part of what we choose, not just our environment.  Some of us decide to be mature and strong enough to see the world how it is, to swallow the ugly realities whole.  Others heed the call of their natural predilections and prefer the fantasy of r, which is admittedly a lot more fun.

The Prison of our Option

Yet Anonymous Conservative is entirely correct that whether or not we select r or determines a massive amount of how we think.  Some of us choose fantasy, to deny that A is A, and in large part this determines who we are.

Which is why reaching a leftist can be so damn difficult.  When arguing politics with a leftist, you’re not just asking them to concede that lower taxes increase prosperity, that “rape awareness programs” won’t accomplish anything other than make betas even more shy, or that gun control won’t reduce crime.  You’re actually attacking a fundamental aspect of who they are.  Their entire psychology is based on the dream of “an environment where resources are freely available, everywhere”, a world in which “war is over, if you want it“, where you can supply everybody with as much access to health care as they could possibly want while decreasing costs, and a caring conversation can turn a predator away from a life of crime.

It takes a great deal of psychological investment to maintain this illusion.  Thus, refuting this fantasy, this intrinsic part of who they are, can inspire such vicious rage.  They don’t want to hear it.  The mildest peacenik will shout you down or cut your throat if given the chance.  They don’t reject violence, for they’ll be infinitely violent if they deem it necessary to maintain the delusion.

When speaking to them individually, I’ve found ways to surpass the triggers that inspire such rage (or diffuse it if it’s been triggered).  Ironically, if I force them to admit that increasing the minimum wage might increase unemployment, I encounter sadness that reminds me of a child learning there’s no Santa Claus.  It hurts to be the way they are, and it hurts even more to let it go.

I’ll fight them with every ounce of strength I’ve got, but in a weird way I almost sympathize.  Things aren’t how they should be, r doesn’t work, there is no Santa Claus (except in the hearts and minds of children everywhere!).

But I didn’t make them fall for the lies, and as much as it hurts, they’d better wake up.

* Conservatives and libertarians (and you could also include reactionaries) typically adopt all three basic premises, yet prioritize them differently.  Again, that’s for another day.

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36 Responses to Reality Choose

  1. Ollie says:

    One of the things that needs to be addressed is the Malthusian streak that keeps surfacing in liberal discourse, i.e. the whole host of “climate change” shenanigans. Here, one would argue, is irrefutable proof that liberals are more focused on the idea of resource constraints.

    My take on the issue is that r-selected thought is not actually interested in the very idea of “climate change” per se (that is, in its direct Malthusian implications), but as a method of bludgeoning and controlling its political opponents.

    Witness the utter hypocrisy of the world’s so-called AGW luminaries, and you quickly realize how little they actually believe what they are pitching.

    As for the rank and file true believers, I suspect they live the “carbon neutral” lifestyle as yet another social signaling mechanism, more than a deliberate acknowledgement of resource scarcity.

    One more piece of the puzzle is the uncanny ability of liberals to avoid cognitive dissonance. Remember, these are the same folks who will support both radical Islamic immigration and the LGBT platform in the very same breath. These are the folks who will donate to a women’s shelter and then go out any buy 50 Shades and a Chris Brown album.

    • Martel says:

      When describing leftism, there will always be contradictions, for leftism itself is self-contradictory. “Global Warming” (I try not to call it “climate change” for reasons elucidated by Deroy Murdock here) betrays a belief in lack, but it also demonstrates a degree of utopianism in that they believe that we can still have our iPhones and washing machines while simultaneously stifling industry.

      Whether or not they focus on resource constraints depends entirely on whether or not such a focus gives them reason to control economic activity. “Global Warming” reflects a (partial) belief in scarcity and the “War on Poverty” on plentitude held back by the greedy, but both require government intervention (or “working together” they would call it) to solve the problem.

      Which agrees with your conclusion but simply arrives there from a different angle. Regarding the shameless hypochrisy of those who want suburban families to give up their minivans as they tool around the world in private jets, and the poor waitress who pays twice as much for environmentally-friendly laundry detergent, I explore both mindsets here. The Anointed may or may not believe in any particular policy, but they always believe in their own superiority even more. The Benighted also engage in a degree of “social signaling”, but they actually really buy into this crap (often for noble reasons).

      And indeed, the cognitive dissonance can be downright hilarious, and we need to exploit the rhetorical gifts this offers us. Every time Chris Matthews accuses one of us of racism, we should bring up where he lives, we need to bring up Muslim views on homosexuality at every opportunity (or black views for that matter, hang out with dudes from the hood and you’ll hear the anti-gay f-word almost as much as the n-word), Al Gore’s carbon footprint, etc.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • Wilson says:

      I don’t think it’s really Malthusian, it appeals to their idea of equal distribution, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, and the suppression of individual activity to maximize “social” ends. Like in your other examples, these beliefs are reality-independent, though evidence or events can give them more traction

  2. Mina says:

    Thanks for the nod I do appreciate it.

    It is so very important to get the word out about AC’s work.

    Thank you for sharing, I hope your readers continue to pay it forward and pass the links along to their friends and readers as well.

  3. Mina says:

    “R focuses on the distribution of existing resources. Under K, one assumes that there isn’t enough, so we’ve got to make it. Economics is therefore primarily a question of creation.”

    WOW!! Spot on, brother.

    I had this very conversation with a new r/K recruit just last night; it was his moment of understanding, the light turning on, etc where he took the concept of “resource plentiful” vs “competing for resources” and extrapolated it into “wealth distribution” vs “productive enterprise”.

    Great tie-in to our current economic situation, isn’t it? Perfect.

    • Shenpen says:

      Again the problem here is that a biological theory is only tested purely on the American context, or let’s say “centre of globalisation, not peripheria of globalisation” context. In the centre, create vs. distribute is a valid dichotomy. In the peripheria, the dichotomy is more like “guard our stuff from external threats” vs. “play nice with the global powers and hope they will be gracious”.

  4. Lee says:

    Something worth pointing out is that you assumed that k was superior in todays world. I would suggest that r presents both the low end and high end extremes of success in todays world. The low end is what you aimed at. But pursuing higher education and technological innovation are both examples of r. This is why we see so many more liberals in academic institutions and Silicon Valley. These kinds of people for the most part avoid conflict, but focus on investing in themselves and so they reach the cutting edge of their field unlike their k brethren who will never reach the cutting edge because they waste resources fighting and suffer injury or “death” along the way. Now it is questionable how much value academics bring but it is easy to see why r might be drawn to it. All of this goes back to the truth that r and k both have evolutionary advantages or one would have died out long ago.

    • Martel says:

      I didn’t exactly assume K is superior, I just didn’t go into detail as to why I thought so. Nonetheless, I didn’t describe why I thought so in my post.

      Acedemia is definitely more r, but not unlike some of the situations I described, there’s a higher education bubble about to burst. After that happens, r fields aren’t going to be quite as prosperous as they are today.

      Silicon Valley and other leftie entrepreneurs are r/K hybrids. They espouse r values but lead quasi-K lives. Hollywood thinks it’s as r as it comes, but the entertainment industry is about as competitive as they come. Besides, once you’ve “won” the competition, you want the competition to stop. That helps solidify your perch atop the hierarchy.

      “All of this goes back to the truth that r and k both have evolutionary advantages or one would have died out long ago.”

      I would argue that r has little “truth” but instead the frequent appearance of truth. When a society lives by r principles, it either switches to K or dies. There are brief windows during which r presents fleeting advantages, but the desire to lead lives of r is anything but brief or fleeting. We therefore tend to over-emphasize the advantages of r, for that’s how we want it to be.

      Actual utility is not the sole determining factor regarding what ideas and strategies survive.

    • Mina says:

      I disagree with your take on the pursuit of higher education. Children today (in the public school system at any rate) are consistently indoctrinated by the R selected throughout their lives … The education field (a produce-nothing, parasitic field) is brimming with Rs who not only themselves avoid any amygdala stimulation but whom also work hard to ensure none of their student charges develop theirs through stimulation, either. This can clearly be seen in the rampant “polical correctness” sweeping the landscape of elementary, high school and college institutions. When those children grow up and leave the established liberal conclave of academia to pursue their careers, those who have the capability of individual thought and ability to move beyond (and thus develop their amygdala sufficiently) will grow to incorporate K selected behaviors, thoughts and mores. In other words, some of yesterdays Liberals become many of todays Conservatives. Humans are intended as a K selected species and that is why we find R selected behavior in them to be so abhorrent. K selection is the superior and correct evolutionary path for human beings.

      How I personally tend to view it: R selected you will find the Prey species rabbits, mice, etc and K selected in the Predator species wolves, big cats, bear, etc I believe that most people of intelligence with the ability to logic and who possess a healthy dose of self-respect can intuitively see that our species can and should identify most closely with the predators; the ones who consistently cannot are those with the most damaged/undeveloped amygdala to whom there is no way to transmit the information without the infliction of grave emotional pain. In order to avoid that pain naturally they will reject the assertion out of hand and thus continue their pursuit of rabbit-dom ad infinitum for themselves whilst simultaneously working hard to stamp it into the rest of us (i.e. beat the Conservatives into Liberal submission.)

      Feminism happens to be an awesome case study example of exactly this – from childhood indoctrination to solidification in higher learning (academia) through their strident, over-bearing, ceaseless brow-beating, hands-over-ears “nah, nah, nah I can’t hear you!” adult behavior. Women in particular seem to have a very hard jump making the leap from Liberal to Conservative, probably because currently our entire society is set up to reward them for avoiding any amygdala development of any kind.

    • Mina says:

      This blog post (thanks, Martel!) does a great job advertising the existence of the theory but without putting too fine a point on it, there’s a ton of material at the link. Trying to distill it into one blog post here doesn’t really do the entirety of the theory justice. If you are interested, diving into the original material is a must 😉 I am no expert myself, just super-enthused with the ideas and data … no need to take anything I say at face value. Go check it out at the link, come to your own conclusions.

      • Martel says:

        Very soon I plan to set aside some time to read his whole spiel on rhetoric. I think I stumbled on a way to disarm hyperactive leftie amygdalas myself, so I’m curious as to the science behind it.

      • Peregrine John says:

        I absolutely agree: It is an enormous area of understanding, bizarrely unknown by a great many, and so far as I can tell, absolute in its potential to be a completely asymmetrical weapon in the war against the Cathedral. We are frankly armored at this point against the usual tactics of r-selection mentality, and more or less immune to a reversal in which they try to give us an amygdala overload. Like Mina, I am very enthusiastic about the possibilities here and would love to know more and learn specific techniques.

        This whole conversation, both the article and the marvelous commentary below it, is something I’ve been thinking about increasingly for a fair while – ever since I first read AC’s series. I’d have commented yesterday but was overwhelmed by the number of things I wanted to say, and unwilling to write an article in someone’s comment thread. But this is good, and I’d cheerfully read many chapters on the subject. As Martel says, it’s fun! But it’s also freaking useful.

    • Anonymous Conservative says:

      First, thank you to Mina and Martel for helping get this out. I do think it is important, as it offers a very logical explanation of why our present course could set civilization back, and why some r’s won’t see what is coming, even though it is what would terrify them the most. Liberals who see it seem horrified initially, but as it sinks in, I think it can at least give them pause. I don’t know if we can turn the tide on the coming collapse, but it is worth trying.

      Martel is right on many being defaulted to r, in part because K involves amygdala development and maturity which must be created through contact with reality. If reality is on hold, there will be no development, and most will tend r. Also, if things are r, those who go that way early get ahead of the pack. But the biology and mechanism of it is probably too complex to characterize individuals. This is better as a broad stroke work, describing the masses.

      On IQ and r/K I have had some conversations with an expert who specializes in just this, and he says there is no apparent link for an interesting reason. In K, intelligence keeps you alive in competition, so it does select for IQ, however IQ can also facilitate conflict avoidance, so it has been selected for in r’s as well. In history, an r who couldn’t fight, could make a nice living specializing in weapons design, staying off the front lines, and just focusing on his task. As time went on, weapons design became farming, which became medicine, which became science and technology, and so on. Finding a niche which rewards cleverness can help one avoid competiiton.

      Where the difference is measurable is in General Intelligence, a sort of practical IQ, and Specialist Intelligence, which is more about learning all about some abstract concept, and which is surprisingly detached from General Intelligence. He said Specialists likely were specializing as a way of avoiding competition, but that their increase in Specialist IQ doesn’t have to bleed over into General IQ, or a practical idea of how things work.

      I suspect General Intelligence is about learning what doesn’t work, and is probably rooted around the amygdala’s functions of flagging and correcting errors, while specialists are more about ignoring the impossible, ignoring the limits they were taught, and looking for the creative solution, all of which isn’t centered around the amygdala, and which might even suffer, if your amygdala keeps telling you “no, not that, that won’t work.”

      When I think of this, I think of Archimedes, who spent his life coming up with brilliant scientific discoveries and weapons designs, and yet who didn’t know that when an angry conquering soldier kicks down his door and gives him a command, he should follow it. Instead he belittled the soldier and returned to his work, and the soldier promptly shot him through the chest with an arrow and killed him. Lots of specialist intelligence, not much common sense, or lots of brain power, not much amygdala. I think we all know Liberals like that.

    • Martel says:

      @ AC: Lots of fascinating stuff here, and fascinating about the IQ correlation. All too often, we only use our intelligence to rationalize the conclusions we’ve come to via completely irrational means. When people say that liberals, I oppose them, vehemently. All too often they’re brilliant, too brilliant to see what’s right in front of their nose. A philosophy professor trying to convince a plumber that he doesn’t exist may well make the plumber look like a fool, but the plumber understands what’s obvious: he exists.

      I’ll be delving into your stuff soon and following up with more posts, primarily concerning rhetoric I suppose. Thanks for the insights.

  5. When speaking to them individually, I’ve found ways to surpass the triggers that inspire such rage (or diffuse it if it’s been triggered).

    Spill them, then. If they work, I want to use them right now. We’re running out of time.

    • Mina says:

      They do work, but they are earned, not given. Go to the link & read. Start here:

    • Mina says:

      or, you can start here: The finer points of the amygdala hijack

      “Now as we have written, when you are debating a Liberal, the key is to present several stimuli to them, which will be flagged by their amygdala, and produce the uncomfortable aversive stimulus they are so terrified of. Lock eye contact to load up their amygdala, out-group them with the crowd, diminish their status in the eyes of observers, present to them an image of inevitable defeat, highlight how much better and easier someone else has it, highlight how frustrated they must be at some failure, show how logic boxes them in and makes them look stupid, etc. As you are doing this, you want to be the exact opposite of R. Lee Ermey. You do not want to draw their amygdala’s attention away from these stimuli with big showy displays of emotion, anger, or elaborate physical gestures. You want their full concentration on what you present to them.

      You want to be the hypnotist, calmly giving their amygdala nothing to focus upon, except their amygdala hijack, as you present hijack after hijack. They will instinctually counter this by trying to make you grow emotional. They will yell, and rage. They will say insanely insulting things. They will try to demean you. They will grow ever more agitated. They want you to engage them and get emotional. This may even be a conditioned behavior they developed through experience. Begin the yelling, to precipitate an emotional outburst in their opponent and that will shift their own amygdala’s focus, offering them some relief. I can’t say for certain, I just know they all will do it, and if you get emotional in response, they will immediately look physically relieved.”

      • Martel says:

        This is similar to how I respond to a more hostile lefty. In short, bemused mastery. However, calm indignation can also work quite well.

        But I prefer a softer approach (that often prevents their blowups from occurring in the first place), similar to my post at 21:13.

        It’s important to be able to master either, for being too soft will backfire with some, being too aggressive will backfire with others. That’s why I think it’s important to observe your potential opponent as much as possible before even engaging as well as clearly determine your goal: is it to persuade the person with whom your arguing, or is it to persuade the audience? Will it serve you better to gradually bring your opponent over to your point of view, or to make him look like a fool?

        I look forward to reading more of his stuff.

      • Martel, that’s what I was asking about: your tactics, not AC’s. I read his posts & ruminated on them awhile, and now I’m interested in gathering more real-world data on tactics that either convert or neutralize r idiocy.

      • Martel says:

        I can’t link because I’m typing this on my phone, but do a site search for “the wrong kind of assholes” for an example of how to frame stuff in the aggregate and “an example of a rhetorical technique” for something that works with individuals.

        Part of the problem of having 100+ posts is that you forget a lot of what you’ve already written. More to follow when I get back to a computer.

      • Martel says:

        Also search “bridge to nonsense”. I’m coming my memory for more.

      • Will do. Just added your site to my Feedly app so I can get tied in with the flow a bit better. Cheers.

    • Martel says:

      A general principle I use is to humanize myself while allowing them to feel as human as possible, themselves. I’ll grant that they really care about the poor/the earth/etc. while implicitly demonstrating that I do, too. (I’m aware that they way over-prioritize “caring”, but say they don’t care and get ready for a shouting match.)

      They believe that life can be fair, we don’t. However, because we recognize that sometimes things suck, they jump to the conclusion that we like that they suck, which isn’t true. It’s important to de-conflate this, so I’ll say something like “I agree, that it’s horrible. I really wish it wasn’t like this, but unfortunately, this is how it is.” with a strong emotional emphasis on the first part.

      Once they accept that I’m a human being who doesn’t want to starve the elderly, they’re far more responsive to my descriptions of the world as it it, what can and can’t be done to solve our problems, and why their ideas ultimately make the problems they hate even worse.

      Another way I deflect on of their favorite rhetorical techniques is here, and this is a great way to disarm a lot of their non-verbal frames. I’m not particularly thrilled with that last link, but the principle stands: One of the best ways to neutralize any rhetorical technique is to simply call attention to it.

      • Peregrine John says:

        Huh. That’s an interesting corollary to amygdala hijacking: present things in a way so that they actively follow you to avoid discomfiting their amygdala in the first place. As I was saying, there’s a lot to this, and I think that (like game, charisma, etc.) there will be enormous amounts to discover in both depth (theory) and breadth (application) regarding it. Can’t wait…

  6. bawkz says:

    Kudos to you all for the insight and the willingness to deseminate it.

    Why bother engaging, though? Easier to let them make their own beds and let those who want to wake from the slumber seek answers on their own.

    Along those lines, is it not paradoxical for the K to aware the r of natural order? In this Donner party of escaping the urbanized fiat dollar jungle, wouldn’t it behoove the K to keep the supply of frantic herbivores plentiful?

    • Martel says:

      I can’t speak for others, but the reason I engage with them is that I find it fun.

      For others, not so much, I’m well aware. However, my problem with your strategy is that although individual herbivores are harmless, millions of them aren’t. Another aspect of leftism I didn’t touch on as much in this post is the quest for power. For all they’re peace-loving flag-burning declarations of “peace and love”, a lot of them will unhesitatingly shoot you in the back of the head if they think they can get away with it and really think you’re standing in their way (for the greater good, of course). Also, they may not be very good at creating wealth, but they’re damn good at stealing it, with or without the help of the government. Our police departments are becoming militarized, and the military is purging the supposed “extremist elements” from its ranks.

      I’d rather use words effectively before that becomes too much of a problem.

      • Mina says:

        I’m with you; I am a programmer in the database world, chunking over many 100s of GB worth of data most times. So I get an inordinate amount of “time to kill” while at my computer during the work day while I am waiting for things to process. I use that time to troll the Liberal online enclaves to bait them and practice. And yes, I mostly do it because it’s fun.

        But it also loads me up with good data to bring back to my pals on the 2A support sites that I frequent (TTAG, mostly) so that they have good strategies for fighting against the Moms Against Scary Black Guns and their ilk. I am a huge 2A person and one of a very few women in the fight for our rights … being able to bring something valuable like ACs work and concepts makes me feel like I am really contributing something above and beyond. I do some work in person, too but the online efforts are easy for me given the spare time I find myself with during the work day on some days.

        The manosphere likes to call itself the “red pill” but as I see it, what happens in male/female relations that causes us to need a “red pill” is really just a symptom of a much bigger societal problem. I was sure there was “something more” to the man/woman personal relationship quandry for a while and knew it somehow has to be a result of resource excess (see: financial system.) Especially since I have been involved in working against gun control; the issues that are discussed in the manosphere vis a vis the man/woman relationship I saw mirrored completely in the fight against gun control in the 2A supporter/mothers against guns crowd. The day I found AC and his tie-in between evolutionary psyhcology and politics I knew immediately that r/K selection theory was the root cause of it all.

        Don’t know where I was going with all this, but you get the drift. Practicing is important, but understanding the theories is critical for all aspects of life where we are forced to meet the lefties head on and prevent them from leading us all down the wrong path to ruin.

      • Martel says:

        One of our problems is that we’re so unaware of how the other side thinks. We’re right about them being wrong, but they’re wrong in ways that make no sense to us. So we ignore them and render ourselves powerless to persuade them.

        I guess Sean Hannity said in his Playboy interview that he never reads anything lefties write, and you can tell. His audience is the choir, and nothing but the choir, for he’s utterly unable to make any sort of connection with somebody who doesn’t agree with him. We need more folks like you who actually try to understand.

        The manosphere likes to call itself the “red pill” but as I see it, what happens in male/female relations that causes us to need a “red pill” is really just a symptom of a much bigger societal problem.

        You’re definintely onto something here. The Red Pill is the acceptance of reality in inter-sexual relations, the acknowledgement that A is A (what I abbreviate as A), and the rejection of A in one area makes it easier to do so in others. Idiotic debt-increasing fiscal and monetary policies help sustain the illusions that “there is such a thing as a free lunch” and “you can have your cake and eat it, too”. Those illusions give us extra yet imaginary margin for error in how we run our families and schools. It creates a bigger chasm between the values that gave us such prosperity and their material manifestations.

        The dollar won’t be the world’s reserve currency forever.

      • Mina says:

        “The dollar won’t be the world’s reserve currency forever.” – another great conversation I will look forward to participating in here in the future.

    • “Easier to let them make their own beds and let those who want to wake from the slumber seek answers on their own.”

      Easier but not helpful. As a former uber liberal (straight up Marxist) and someone that even still leans left I have found my open conversations with my Conservative and Libertarian friends invaluable to me. It’s easy to dehumanize us but it’s not useful. I’m not saying beat them over the head but engaging in actual conversation can actually move mental mountains.

      • Martel says:

        Very important point, Margery. I save my de-humanizing techniques for those who personally de-humanize me first, and only after ensuring that everybody watching knows that I have a right to be pissed. Fortunately, it doesn’t come to that very often.

        De-humanizing “the other” is effective at 1) charging up your own side for a fight, and 2) bringing the weak-minded over to your side because they’ve an instinctive attraction for the “strong horse”. The downside to 1) is that it often has the same effect on your opponents, and to 2) it creates a very weak affiliation that can easily be overturned by the other guys out-alphaing you or any number of rhetorical strategies.

        And it poisons any attempts to persuade. Almost always, to bring somebody over to your side in any permanent sense, one needs to use rhetoric to set the stage for a dialectic conversion.

        One thing that distinguishes me from lots of other conservatives/libertarians is that I recognize the sincerity and goodness of lots of my political opponents (NOT all of them, of course). It’s GOOD to care about the poor, want peace, etc., but I see how leftism warps those positive hopes and instead makes most of those problems worse.

        Sometimes when talking to the other side, you’re dealing with a monster, but sometimes you’re not. You may still lean left, but I can tell you’re a fairly decent person. Handling you the same way I’d handle Alan Grayson would do far more harm than good.

  7. Shenpen says:

    The problem with your views and those of AC is that you take a biological idea, but instead of testing it on the whole of mankind, you test it only on contemporary America.

    Plain simply left and right does not work the same way in other parts of the work. For example in my Hungary, right largely means nationalist, but because the international business is largely controlled by the larger countries, they tend towards the anti-market, pro-government stance, not out of egalitarianism but more like out of an economic and cultural kinds of patriotism. Similarly, here the left is largely pro-business, their attitude being largely servile: they think if we suck up to Wall Street and other international centers of money they will graciously share some wealth with us.

    Ultimately, right is masculine and left is feminine, right is warrior and left is talker, right is challenging and competing and left is coordinating and following etc. but in different parts of the world it means very, very, very different policies and ideas.

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  9. Brent says:

    “Neither red nor blue America have widespread starvation, yet small towns are loaded with K folk, while the relatively impoverished inner cities prefer r alongside their ostensible benefactors among the ultra-rich.”

    The ultra rich may preach r-Selection, but they certainly do not practice it. Yes, the men may have affairs, but their women are loyal, feminine, and monogomous. Generally, divorce rates are extremely low (save Hollywood and NFL athletes) in the upper-class. They, although ideologically liberal, practice conservatice social values. Also, when they do practice promiscuity, they effectively use birth control.
    Here is the important point: They have children within wedlock, where the poor do not, regardless of race. Bastardy is prevalent among the poor.

    Your poor country-folk may preach K-selection, but they practice r-Selection. Hence your barefoot and pregnant cliche.

    Take a look at this book: Charles Murray, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.” He points to the fact that there is a huge moral value divide between the upper-middle and upper classes and the poor-to-lower middle class.

    In essence, what you see today is present-orientation and consumption among people who have the least resources to expend. You would think that the rich would be r and the poor would be K, but this is not the case. AC’s commentary is therefore lacking. Interesting, but lacking. The parallels are not close to comprehensive.

    Moreover, think about these issues:

    How does abortion and birth control fit in r-Selection politics? These make sense with a resource-scarce mentality and K-strategy, believe it or not.

    Why do religious conservatives emphasize the value of all life and embrace children with Down’s or autism? These are not “fit” children, and consume resources that could be used for healthy, fit offspring.

    Be careful of someone who calls a fish on PBS documentary dishonorable. Crafty, yes. Honor in a creature with no sense of morality? Come on.

    • Martel says:

      Although you’re definitely correct to point out r-hypocrisy (after all, these folks are socialist only insofar as other people’s goods get distributed), I think you over-estimate the fidelity of the females. I’ve run in some pretty wealthy circles before, and them girls weren’t exactly loyal.

      “Here is the important point: They have children within wedlock, where the poor do not, regardless of race. Bastardy is prevalent among the poor. ”

      Very true.

      “Your poor country-folk may preach K-selection, but they practice r-Selection. Hence your barefoot and pregnant cliche.”

      This is partially true, and more true than it used to be, but there’s still a lot of country folk that practice a good deal of what they preach. There are substantial differences between the small town middle class types and those who exemplify the behavior you describe. My rural experience in the north has seemed more moral than here in the south, but I haven’t spent enough time in either environment to make my experiences into a general rule.

      “How does abortion and birth control fit in r-Selection politics? These make sense with a resource-scarce mentality and K-strategy, believe it or not. ”

      I’d say these behaviors are r’s way of perpetuating the illusion that actions don’t have consequences.

      “Why do religious conservatives emphasize the value of all life and embrace children with Down’s or autism? These are not “fit” children, and consume resources that could be used for healthy, fit offspring.”

      Yet it does correspond with K’s emphasis in moral responsibility and community. The moral foundations may or may not be based in reproductive strategies, but they’ve taken on a life of their own that often transcend the purely biological.

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