I am not a Moron

So said Agustin Fuentes on Twitter, a few days ago. He’s the same guy that said “Genes don’t do anything by themselves; epigenetics and complex metabolic and developmental systems are at play in how bodies work. The roundworm C. elegans has about 20,000 genes while humans have about 23,000 genes, yet it is pretty obvious that humans are more than 15-percent more complex than roundworms. So while genes matter, they are only a small part of the whole evolutionary picture. Focusing just on DNA won’t get you anywhere.”

Fuentes was claiming that we don’t really know that, back in prehistory, men did most of the hunting while women gathered. “Men hunted and fought one another and women did not? For the vast majority of human evolution we do not have clear evidence that only men hunted. In fact, for some ancient humans there is strong likelihood that both sexes did participate in hunting. And, importantly, earlier humans were substantially more robust that we are today…that is, a large percentage of females in the past were more robust than many males are today. Plus, depending on what hunting technology you use, size and muscle density might not be critical factors. Also, the evidence of interpersonal violence is pretty minimal for much of human history, insufficient to see if there was a sex-based pattern. When we do start to see more robust evidence for lethal violence (war-like events) the distribution of injuries and evidence of participation is not biased by sex and until quite recently (last 7,000 years or so). There are no clear biases one way or the other in regards to gender representation in hunting and violence until very recently. Not to say that such differences did not exist but to assert they existed and that they were as they are today is not science, it is speculation.”

Someone (Will@Evolving _Moloch) criticized this as a good candidate for the most misleading paragraph ever written. The folly of youth! When you’ve been around as long as I have, sonny, you will realize how hard it is to set records for stupidity.

Fuente’s para is multidimensional crap, of course. People used to hunt animals like red deer, or bison, or eland: sometimes mammoths or rhinos. Big animals. Back in the day, our ancestors used stabbing spears, which go back at least half a million years. Stand-off weapons like atlatls, or bows, or JSOW, are relatively recent. Hunters took big risks & suffered frequent injuries. Men are almost twice as strong as women, particularly in upper-body strength, which is what matters in spear-chucking. They’re also faster, which can be very important which your ambush fails.
So men did the hunting. This isn’t complicated.

Which contemporary hunter-gather societies followed this pattern, had men do almost all of the big-game hunting? All of them.

Pregnancy is not that big a deal for the average predator: females keep hunting successfully when gravid. But for humans it’s a big deal. And human infants are unusually helpless, take a long time before they can do much for themselves. Do you think Cro-Magnon men nursed the rugrats?

The bit about’the evidence of interpersonal violence is pretty minimal for much of human history” is true in a sense: for much of human prehistory, we don’t have much evidence, period. Data is particular sparse for our main direct ancestors, in Africa: we just don’t have many hominid skeletons from there. We have an order of magnitude more Neanderthal skeletons: limestone caves are way better than slightly acidic forest floors for preserving bones, the local farmers and construction crews in Europe are educated and call a prof when they stumble onto something, etc.

We know more from European remains, Neanderthals, homo antecessor at the Atapuerca caves, etc. Cannibals. A strong sign of interpersonal violence, if you ask me.

People used to have much thicker skulls. More than once, an h. erectus skull has been mistaken for a turtle shell. Why? To keep out the rain? Clubs. Why did skulls become gracile? Distance weapons largely replaced clubs, so there was less payoff for thick skulls. Just as guns ended plate armor.

Do our close relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas, kill each other? Sure. All the time.

Low levels of interpersonal violence in the Pleistocene? Crap. Gender equalitarianism in distant prehistory ? Also crap: it never happened. You’d have to be a moron to believe that.

Look, feminists aren’t happy with human nature, the one that actually exists and is the product of long-term evolutionary pressures. Too bad for them. When they say stuff like “It should not simply be assumed that the exclusion of women from hunting rests upon “natural” physiological differences. “, they just sound like fools.. ‘natural physiological differences” exist. They’re as obvious a punch in the kisser.

Suppose you wanted to construct a society with effective sexual equality – which is probably just a mistake, but suppose it. The most effective approach would surely entail knowing and taking into account how the world actually ticks. You’d be better off understanding that about 6,000 genes (out of 20,000) show significant expression differences between the sexes, than by pretending that we’re all the same. You would to make it so: by hook or by crook, by state force and genetic engineering.

Similarly, if you want to minimize war, pretending that people aren’t warlike is a poor start – about as sensible as fighting forest fires by pretending that trees aren’t flammable.

My advice to Agustin Fuentes, about not being a moron: show, don’t tell.

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63 Responses to I am not a Moron

  1. John Massey says:

    https://theconversation.com/not-just-about-sex-throughout-our-bodies-thousands-of-genes-act-differently-in-men-and-women-86613

    I hope that Distinguished Professor of Genetics Jenny Graves knows what she has just unleashed on herself. Even physical attacks are not out of the question.

    • amac78 says:

      Thanks for the link. At the start of the article, Prof. Graves notes, “.. a recent paper claims that beyond just genes on X and Y, a full third of our genome is behaving very differently in men and women. These new data pose challenges for science, medicine and maybe even gender equity.”

      The Conversation‘s book-smart readership seems a bit hazy on the difference between a firmly-held belief that bad air causes malaria, and the actual etiology of the disease.

      “These confirmatory data pose challenges for Progressive scientists, woke doctors, and the simplistic notion of gender equality” would be a more accurate version.

      The comments are fun, too. Of the 25 or so contributors, only three appear unsurprised by the news that differences between men and women are other than superficial. My favorite is this Chateau Lewontin wine in a new bottle: “Most research finds greater variability within sexes than between.”

      Such as grip strength. (GNXP post on the subject.)

      • dearieme says:

        “The Conversation‘s book-smart readership seems a bit hazy on the difference between a firmly-held belief that bad air causes malaria, and the actual etiology of the disease”.

        Then they aren’t remotely book-smart. It’s from books one learns such things as the ‘actual etiology of the disease’.

        • I agree. This is book-conversation-smart, which is an entirely different thing. I highly recommend Pierre Bayard’s “How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read.” He cuts so close to the bone that in half the chapters you start wondering if he’s serious.

  2. So while genes matter, they are only a small part of the whole evolutionary picture. Focusing just on DNA won’t get you anywhere.”

    This line is doing the rounds, and is becoming popular. I think it is a way of saying that environmentalists are beginning to accept that DNA accounts for something, but with the consolation prize that it is only a small part, and that the environmental force is still there, not as expected in schools and family habits, but in an epigenetic way on DNA. There is also a naive belief that counting the genes is almost a one-to-one count of the behavioural effects.

    • pyrrhus says:

      Fundamentally, the Blank Slaters are staging a fighting retreat….Sure, the slate isn’t blank, but it’s almost blank, is the new Party Line in academia..

    • dearieme says:

      I have never seen a reference to epigenetics in the newspapers or the web equivalent that wasn’t merely an appeal to magic thinking.

    • Harold says:

      The strange thing about the retreat to epigenetics, is that even if it were true that conditions during one’s lifetime altered one’s offspring’s inherited traits, it wouldn’t, by evolutionary logic, be that poor conditions produce inferior offspring, which is what they seem to want it to buy.

      • Jim says:

        It’s also a very pessimistic doctrine implying that any bad effects of say poverty will continue for many generations long after the actual conditions of poverty have been greatly reduced. This is a remarkable change for the left which not so long ago thought that utopia was just a matter of a few more governmental social programs.

  3. saintonge235 says:

    Particularly stupid, because the entire theory of evolution is about hereditary change over time, and DNA is, as far as we know, the only carrier of information from one generation to the next.

    • Ursiform says:

      Carrier of genetic information. Culture does carry information from one generation to the next.

      • st says:

        True and perhaps important. However, culture allows horizontal transfer. The information carried by culture is also reversible. It can be undone. Culture also can flow backwards – can carry information from child to a parent. All of the above would make culture less influential carrier of intergenerational information.

      • crew says:

        However, we can expect that those who are more genetically prepared will benefit more from that cultural information that caries over from one generation to the next.

  4. Zenit says:

    Personally, I never understood why self proclaimed progressives care what people in the Stone Age did and didn’t do. Progress was supposed to lead forward and upward, not back to the cave.

    • protokol2020 says:

      Perhaps they are not after an unbounded progress, but only for so much progress, that everything will be in order again. Just as it used to be, 7000 years ago, when people were equal and whatever.

      • ghazisiz says:

        Yes, and maybe this begins with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who saw our very distant ancestors as happier and better people, but the idea has been picked up by radicals in every subsequent generation, including people like William Godwin, Robert Owen, and Thorstein Veblen. The message of all of these radicals has been that humans are naturally good and happy, but that the wicked institutions of the present cause problems, which can be eliminated by eliminating said wicked institutions.

    • JerryC says:

      Progressives need to believe that human nature is malleable enough for them to bring about the social changes they desire. Coed mammoth hunting parties in the pleistocene would provide some evidence that that’s the case.

  5. Boyd Silken says:

    “Why did skulls become gracile? Distance weapons largely replaced clubs, so there was less payoff for thick skulls.”

    Couldn’t this instead have occurred due to self-domestication?

    • Steve Johnson says:

      Only if the domesticated group could beat a nearby war-like group that used clubs to take their land and women.

      IOW – thin skulls are a net gain in war-making.

      • another fred says:

        “Only if the domesticated group could beat a nearby war-like group that used clubs to take their land and women.”

        The argument is that the more gracile were more intelligent, organized, and cooperative (less reactively violent). A corollary argument is that the more gracile skulls had more room for brains, especially the frontal lobes. Projectile weapons required intelligence and planning.

    • crew says:

      Congratulations. You replaced a mechanism with a buzzword!

  6. mitchellporter says:

    Perhaps Fuentes is referring to the John Mattick idea that the RNA world never really went away, that it lives on as a largely unrecognized regulator of gene expression in the cell, and that it’s the noncoding RNAs which are the real difference between the worm and the human.

  7. SteveDoc22 says:

    This line of thinking – that genes aren’t that important because the number of protein-coding genes in eukaryotes does not correlate with the complexity of the organism – neglects the observation that eukaryote genes are more complex and can code for multiple proteins because of post-translational cutting and splicing. We also still don’t know what the “junk” DNA is doing but it appears to regulate the coding genes. So, yes, DNA is really, really important.

  8. Irate eye rater says:

    which is probably just a mistake

    It’s expensive in many ways, and not just in terms on money, but surely only a mistake if it isn’t budgeted for. Expensive luxury items that one desires greatly are perfectly acceptable to spend resources on if one can afford it and is willing to make sacrifices in other areas to make it happen. It’s just a society level version of the same budgeting.

    Of course, the next progressive I meet with a list of negative effects of feminism and a set of coping strategies to mitigate them will be the first. Even bringing this up mostly seems to make them angry. So perhaps this is a moot point.

  9. Toddy Cat says:

    Progress on the “black slate” problem is slow, but sure. By my calculation, at the rate of current progress, Progressive will accept the truth some time around 2115 AD – assuming that they have not destroyed civilization in the interim…

  10. DDeden says:

    Women & kids noisily drove prey to their spearmen while looking for stashed calves, digging sticks were sharp enough for defense but they were generally prohibited from deliberate killing due to their own taboo: their blood/milk/moon cycle; seafood & little critters being excepted.

    • Patrick L. Boyle says:

      Just a few years ago we were told that the gatherers (women) produced more calories than the hunters (men). Now we’re being told that the women were vital to the hunt too. If the girls were also part of the hunting parties, who’s going to be picking the berries and digging the roots?

      It makes you wonder why nature even bothered with men.

  11. Anonymous says:

    “I am not a Moron”

    Seldom the high point of one’s career.

  12. Primitive men wore three-piece suits. There’s precious little evidence they didn’t.

  13. ironrailsironweights says:

    While modern sport hunting is still a largely male pastime, the percentage of women is growing very rapidly. More and more gunmakers are bringing out women’s models of rifles and shotguns.

    Peter

    • Anuseed says:

      More and more gunmakers are bringing out women’s models of rifles and shotguns.

      Are they normal guns that have just been painted pink?

      • ironrailsironweights says:

        Pink guns actually do exist, more as a joke than anything else, but the women’s models of hunting rifles and shotguns are built differently to make them easier for women to handle. Typically the length of pull (the distance from the trigger to the buttplate) is shorter, to make it easier for women to handle with their typically shorter arms. This actually is not anything new, as for years there have been youth models of many firearms with shorter lengths of pull. The main new changes are narrower grips, to accommodate women’s smaller hands, and a higher comb (the top of the stock) for women’s proportionately longer necks. Sometimes the bottom of the buttstock is angled inward so it is less likely to press against breast tissue.

        Women’s models tend to be offered in lighter calibers popular with women, such as 243 and 7mm-08, though some are available in hard kickers like the 30-06.

        Peter

  14. sprfls says:

    “Do you think Cro-Magnon men nursed the rugrats?”

    I pictured a caveman hunched over a fire diligently measuring out baby formula into a bottle and nearly spit out my tea.

  15. Sterling Sorbet says:

    Disparate expression. Wondering how it impacts various racial groups.

  16. IC says:

    He should use lion pack as example, lol.

  17. Anuseed says:

    WIMMIN STRONK

  18. Yudi says:

    “I am not a crook.”

    –Richard Nixon

  19. j says:

    A more charitable interpretation of Dr Fuentes’s “I am not a moron” is that he is fighting for survival as a Darwinist among bloodthirsty Lysenkoists. He has done good scientific work with macaques and humans. I translate “I am not a moron” as “Please understand that I have to say those things. If I don’t sacrifice to the God Emperor I’ll be thrown into the arena to be devored by the lions.”

    • gcochran9 says:

      More charitable, but less accurate. Fuentes is willing to argue that greater upper-body strength isn’t an advantage in personal combat. I don’t think he’s thinking about Sam Colt: we’re talking fairly deep prehistory.

      • j says:

        Formulated this way, I too think that greater body strength isn’t an advantage in personal combat among a man and a woman. Women are programmed to black out and tend to freeze when “attacked” by a male, even a determined dwarf can rape an Amazon. Yes, I know Fuentes was not talking about that.

      • dearieme says:

        Not a rugby player, then.

        • j says:

          Women teams do not play against male teams. New Zealand is no.1 in Women’s Rugby. They perform the Haka leaving out the sexual intimidation part.

      • helenahankart says:

        Fuentes is undoubtedly a goofball and one with lots in common with the royal society alas (they just gave a prize to Cordelia Fine and she thinks humans are hermaphrodites). BTW his name doesnt have a “U” as second letter (its “Agustin ‘I am not a moron’ Fuentes” rather than “Augustin ‘I am not a moron’ Fuentes”).

      • DDeden says:

        If lower body strength is decreased relative to increase of upper body strength, he’s right, for a ground-based biped.

  20. MawBTS says:

    In The 10,000 Year Explosion you suggest that technology allowed the evolution of more gracile peoples, because technology makes raw strength matter less (the example given was bows enabling bushmen).

    Does this suggest that early man was more sexually dysmorphic than we are today? And that in the future, we will evolve to be even less sexually dysmorphic?

    Fuentes could be one of those time travellers, writing articles about a world that won’t exist for a few hundred thousand years.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I was also thinking about poisoned arrows. I suspect that man ~100,000 years ago had somewhat greater sexual dimorphism but I don’t have a quick reference.

      There’s racial variation in sexual dimorphism today.

  21. dearieme says:

    It probably doesn’t matter, in the big picture, if the US wishes to indulge itself with such stupidities. Enough other countries will refrain from adopting them that empirical knowledge will still be advanced. Not necessarily to the advantage of the US, of course.

  22. RaceRealist says:

    “Genes don’t do anything by themselves; epigenetics and complex metabolic and developmental systems are at play in how bodies work. The roundworm C. elegans has about 20,000 genes while humans have about 23,000 genes, yet it is pretty obvious that humans are more than 15-percent more complex than roundworms. So while genes matter, they are only a small part of the whole evolutionary picture. Focusing just on DNA won’t get you anywhere”

    He’s right. Nothing he said here was incorrect.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Since DNA is the enduring part, the part that gets transmitted from one generation to the next, the part that contains the instructions/program that determine development and specify everything – he’s wrong. Stupid, like you. Well, to be fair, ignorant as well: there are technical aspects of genetics that Agustin Fuentes is unlikely to know anything about, things that are almost never covered in the typical education of an anthropologist. I doubt if he knows what a Fisher wave is, or anything about selfish genetic elements, or coalescent theory, or for that matter the breeder’s equation.

      There are a number of complex technical subjects, things that at least some people understand: those people can do stuff that the man in the street can’t. In most cases, amateurs don’t jump in and pretend to know what’s going on. For example you don’t hear much concerning amateur opinions concerning detonation physics or group theory. But they’re happy to have opinions about natural selection, even though they know fuck-all about it.

      • RaceRealist says:

        “Since DNA is the enduring part, the part that gets transmitted from one generation to the next, the part that contains the instructions/program that determine development and specify everything”

        The ‘enduring’ part of DNA is malleable by the environment through epigenetic pathways. Environmental effects can change the expression of genes without changing the genome—this is also seen in the gut microbiome that can turn genes on and off.

        You’re implying that the DNA is 1) the only unit of selection (wrong) and 2) that the DNA has the information for the form (anatomy) and function (physiology) of that organism in the DNA itself. That’s wrong. DNA does not, on its own, ‘determine development’, it does not contain the ‘instructions/program’. You’re using an outdated version of the word gene (which is under constant revision). A more apt description of the genome—instead of saying that it ‘contains the instructions/program that determine development and specify everything’—is that it’s a read-write data storage system. Genes on their own are not causes. The only causality that can be ascribed to genes is one of passiveness because on their own they do not cause anything. They are caused to give their information to and by the system that activates them. Kind of like how a computer program reads databases.

        You need to understand intelligent cells and how they respond to the environment which then also causes morphological change. DNA is not the only unit of selection, nor is it the only unit of heredity.

        Unfortunately, the rest of your comment is irrelevant. I expect much better than your sophomoric insults; especially from a man of your stature.

        • gcochran9 says:

          You’re wrong. And uninteresting. DNA is of course the only unit of selection. If you think that there’s another, name it.

          If you think that the environment changes DNA in a way that get passed to the next generation, you’re wrong, unless you’re talking exposure to some mutagen (which makes random changes), or once in blue moon, a retrovirus.

          Do you have some esoteric understanding of molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, and development denied to the common herd? I don’t think so. I think you’re just an idiot.

          • RaceRealist says:

            “DNA is of course the only unit of selection. If you think that there’s another, name it.”

            Epigenetic, DNA, etc. DNA is not the only unit of selection.

            “If you think that the environment changes DNA in a way that get passed to the next generation, you’re wrong”

            No I’m not. To be clear, we’re talking just evolution right, and not something specific in say, humans? If that’s the case, look into the research on C. elegans.

            “Do you have some esoteric understanding of molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, and development denied to the common herd? I don’t think so. I think you’re just an idiot.”

            Unfortunately, again, you’re being nonsensical. Your name-calling is very telling Mr. Cochran.

            Here are some references for you:

            Shapiro, J. A. (2013). How life changes itself: The Read–Write (RW) genome. Physics of Life Reviews, 10(3), 287-323. doi:10.1016/j.plrev.2013.07.001

            Noble D. 2008 Genes and causation. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 366, 3001–3015. doi:10.1098/rsta.2008.0086

            Jablonka, E. (2017). The evolutionary implications of epigenetic inheritance. Interface Focus, 7(5), 20160135. doi:10.1098/rsfs.2016.0135

  23. Pingback: Lamarckism vs Darwinism | Pumpkin Person

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