Radix Journal

Radix Journal

A radical journal

Author: Edward Dutton

Born Again

Transsexuality, Gender Dysphoria, and Sexual Alienation as an Identity My Friend Alex In October 1999, I began my degree in Theology at Durham University. Durham is a small, Medieval Cathedral…

Transsexuality, Gender Dysphoria, and Sexual Alienation as an Identity

My Friend Alex

In October 1999, I began my degree in Theology at Durham University. Durham is a small, Medieval Cathedral city in the northeast of England. Like Oxford and Cambridge, Durham University (England’s third oldest university) is composed of a number of colleges in which you live. Mine was called the College of St Hild and St Bede. In the first week of term, there were many “getting-to-know-you” events, to make it easier to become friends with people beyond those who lived on your corridor. Somehow, I got talking to a very unusual young man. He was called Alex Waddell.

We had a few things in common. Alex was from Reading, in the southeast of England, not far from London, where I came from. Like me, he had been to a “state school” (in U.S. English, a “public school”), as opposed to a private school, which so many students at the college had attended. Most importantly, Alex was studying Philosophy. This interested me a great deal, and I had toyed with reading a Philosophy degree myself. He’d also had a “Gap Year” in the Czech Republic, teaching English and reviewing cocktails for magazines. This fascinated me because, at the time, I’d only been to France, Spain, and Holland. He also dabbled in writing poetry, as did I. So we had things about which to converse. Making conversation with Alex was rather hard work, however. He spoke in a very idiosyncratic way; a sort of staccato, with pauses in unexpected parts of the sentence. And he tended to deal with everyday statements as though they were philosophical propositions.

“So, are you trying to tell me that you’re going to go to the college bar?”

“Yes, Alex, I am.”

“And you’re asking me if I’d like to come with you to the college bar?”

“That is correct.”

“And when you propose going to the college bar, do you mean that we’re just going to go there and hang out or are you implying that we’re going to go there and have a drink.”

“I’m asking you if you’d like to come with me to the college bar and have a drink, Alex.”

“And do you literally mean a drink, or is that a term for a more indefinite number of drinks? If so, I might have to go to the cash point . . .”

Alex moved around a great deal, unable to sit still, a habit which was very distracting. He told me that this was due to suffering from curvature of the spine. This had been corrected a few years earlier in a lengthy operation in which metal rods had been inserted into his back. He also mentioned some kind of “syndrome” that caused muscle and abdominal pain. I later discovered that suffered from fibromyalgia, which causes not just muscle pain and abdominal problems but also sleeplessness and depression. And Alex was a vegetarian, for philosophical reasons, something that was considered extremely eccentric at the time.

The word “eccentric” really encapsulated Alex. The word “autistic” was not yet widely known, but it seems fairly clear now that this is what he was. He had trouble understanding how others might feel, which led him to be socially clumsy, thoughtless, and generally bizarre, but he was also highly analytical in his thinking, congruous with evidence that “systematizing” and “empathy” (in the sense of “theory of mind”) sit at opposite ends of a spectrum.[1]

In line with this autism diagnosis, Alex was almost child-like in his guilelessness and lack of self-awareness. The small number of us that were his friends—there were two of us at his 21st birthday party in June 2001—euphemistically referred to him as “avant-garde.” This “party” was a plaintive affair. His parents had given him a substantial amount of money to take all of his friends out for a meal. But there were only two of us. Our pleas with him to just let us go to McDonalds and then blow all the dosh on gin were not well-received. His parents would be displeased, he told us, if they knew that the money had not been primarily spent on eating at a restaurant.

As the academic year continued, evidence of Alex’s autism became increasingly clear. He woke up the entire college out-building in which he lived—Hild Gym—at about 4 AM one morning by burning toast in the kitchen and thus setting off the fire alarm. Another time, a girl who lived on his corridor ran herself a bath and then left it, momentarily, to take a phone call. Upon her return, the bathroom door was locked. This was because, while she had been on the phone, Alex had gone to the same bathroom, with the same ablutionary intentions, found that a bath had been run already, and presumably thought to himself, “That’s lucky. Someone must have run the bath and then changed his mind.” He thus locked the door and got in. As the year passed, Alex became withdrawn, stopped washing, grew his hair long, and got shouted down at the Durham Union Society (a debating society) for a laughable and rambling intervention on the subject of prostitution. I remember someone hollering at him, “Sit down, sir!” Every time he tried to speak. The audience clapped, and this continued until he finally gave up and resumed his seat.

The following academic year, we didn’t live in college, as most second years “lived out,” in houses in the city, so I didn’t see Alex as much. Not having any close friends, he was living with a group of students whom he didn’t know. In that academic year (2000-2001), Alex was pursuing an American international student to whom he was attracted. He was also after a girl who studied at the university’s campus in Stockton, a sizable industrial town 34 miles away. The two were, effectively, separate universities, so I don’t know how Alex had made a connection to Stockton—possibly he had done so by using “the Internet,” something we normal students tended to eschew. But it transpired that Alex was going there on the bus, buying cannabis and selling it to students in Durham, where cannabis was more difficult to obtain and thus more expensive.

In the Spring term, Alex became president of the Philosophy Society. These student societies usually took your money at “Fresher’s Fair” and then did very little. But, with philosophy-obsessed Alex at the helm, things were different. He managed, in about October 2001, to persuade the Oxford philosopher of religion Richard Swinburne (b. 1934)—who has been described as “the premier rational defender of Christianity of our time”[2]—to come and speak to the society. Everyone who had done A-Level Religious Studies had read about this giant. His appearance was so wildly popular that Alex hired the Durham Union Society Debating Chamber for it, and it was full to capacity, mostly with people who weren’t members of the Philosophy Society and so had to pay to be there. As Alex introduced Oxford University’s Nolloth Professor of the Christian Religion, so many people must have been asking themselves: Who was this eccentric—by then sporting a tennis-player’s headband—who had managed to achieve this coup? It was the same eccentric that told a group of teenage “locals,” from the window of my ground-floor flat, that all “Geordies” (people from Newcastle Upon Tyne and its environs, including Durham) were stupid, leading to Alex, myself, and two others having to cower in my flat while the offended Geordies threw stones at it. And it was the same eccentric who, the following academic year, did something very eccentric, indeed.

I met up with Alex in early October 2001. I didn’t see him again, other than at the Richard Swinburne meeting, for the rest of the term. It was December 2001, the night of the Christian Union’s Carol Service in Durham Cathedral. The Christian Union was a fundamentalist Christian student society, in which I had many friends. A third of my 15-person out-building in my first year—“Bede Gym,” a corridor over a gym—had been members, and I ended-up living with “God Squad-ers” for the rest of my time at university. Later, I even wrote my doctoral thesis, and first book, about them.[3] At their encouragement, I always attended their Christmas Carol Service, held in the splendor of Durham Cathedral, which has been voted “the best building in Britain.”[4] However, for some reason, the Christmas Party of the university’s LGB (Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual) Society always took place on the same evening as the Christian Union’s Cathedral Carol Service. As the two groups, in many ways, couldn’t be more different (the Christian Union opposed homosexuality, for a start), and because I was young and pretentious, I made a point, in order to be “avant-garde,” of always going to both events: the evangelical carol service, and then the LGB party in the Student Union building.

So this is what I did in December 2001. The tattooed-lesbian, Kerry, who was in charge (tattoos were very rare at the time) was an acquaintance of mine. In the darkened, disco-light-illuminated room, she introduced me to people and, eventually, she led me over to a rather pretty, young girl, whom I was immediately convinced I’d met before. She seemed out of place. She was very feminine. She had long hair, make-up, and an ankle-length skirt. She stood in stark contrast to the “butch” lesbians that constituted the bulk of the other females at the party.

“This is Dreya,” said Kerry. “This is her first time here.”

“Have we met before?” I asked, innocently.

“Um . . . no, I don’t think so,” came the high-pitched reply.

“I’m sure I recognize you.”

“Um . . . no, I don’t think we’ve met.”

There was a long pause and then, genuinely shocked, it came to me.

“Alex! What the fuck is going on?!”

My memories after this are vague. I recall Kerry telling me that I shouldn’t ask what was “going on” because “This is a safe space for Dreya.” I’d never heard of the concept of a “safe space”—meaning “place where your comforting delusions may not be questioned”—that was later to become so ubiquitous. I went upstairs to the bar and told my two friends—one of whom had been at Alex’s 21st and who also studied Philosophy—what was “going on.” I persuaded Alex to come upstairs and explain himself to them. What had happened?

What is Transsexuality?

We’ll return to what happened to Alex later. But, clearly, he was beginning the process of “transitioning” from being a “male” to being a “female.” Cross-dressing, of course, has been perennial throughout human history, usually confined to performative contexts: erotica, satire, theater, camp, or, in some cases, religious and folk rituals. But by the turn of the 21st century, something distinctly new has emerged in the Western world: transgenderism as an identity—one that is demographically significant, legally recognized, and, seemingly, on the rise.

It is difficult to be sure what percentage of Western populations are transgender, not least because the numbers are increasing. In 2016, UCLA’s Williams Institute estimated that 0.6 percent of the U.S. population (1.4 million people) were transgender.[5] Rates were slightly higher in the states of California, New Mexico, and Georgia. Age also plays a factor: while 0.5 percent of adults over 65 are transgender, the rate is noticeably higher about 18- and 24-year-olds. A recent study of school children from Finland, aged 16 to 18, estimated that 3.6 percent of males, though only 2.3 percent of females, displayed some symptoms of Gender Dysphoria.[6]

Moreover, there is also a certain aggressive and assertive character to the “trans” identity that is hard to miss (though, granted, this quality is not unique in today’s political climate). In 2019, a journalist for The Guardian, a biological woman, halted and reversed her “transition” to manhood in order to have a baby, then took up her transition once more afterwards. She demanded that a British registrar falsify history by designating her as the child’s “father” on its birth certificate. When the registrar refused, this “transman” took the authorities to court. Upon losing her case, she remarked on how “not fair” it all was.[7] A similar determination or spitefulness was seen at the Democratic Socialists of America Conference that same year, when a transwoman made a “point of personal privilege” in order to angrily demand that speakers not to use the term “guys” (a typical American colloquialism meaning “everyone”) when referring to delegates, which he condemned as “gendered-language.”[8]

And this spitefulness has, to a large degree, succeeded in changing the academic and legal arenas. Under English Law, despite the fact that no biological change has taken place, if you “transition” in this way, to the extent of having surgery so that you appear (often not very convincingly) to be of the “opposite sex,” then you are, legally, of that opposite sex and can obtain a “Gender Recognition Certificate” to prove it. A court case in December 2019 found that it was not legitimate to refute or undermine such a change. It became legal to fire somebody if they publicly expressed the opinion that a transsexual could not, in good conscience, assert that they were a member of the sex into which they had transitioned. Specifically, a 45-year-old woman, Maya Forstater, was removed from her job at the Centre for Global Development in London for tweeting “Men cannot become women.” She took her employers to a tribunal, claiming that the sacking breached her Human Rights, because she was fired due to her beliefs. She lost the case.[9] The Canadian psychologist and author Jordan Peterson (b.1962) rose to fame largely due to his refusal to abide by state-mandated regime of using the chosen pronouns choice of transsexual students. This small act of defiance made him a conservative hero. Regardless, pronouns themselves have multiplied in recent years—many have adopted the non-binary “they” as first-person singular—and entered public consciousness in a way previously unimaginable.[10] Newspapers’ style-guides have been altered to accommodate transsexuals, and even non-transsexuals have begun defining their pronouns of choice on their social-media pages. Everyone, it seems, is encouraged to rethink themselves and their sexual identity.

This is a major social trend, and I have discussed the ideological and religious perspectives that lie behind it elsewhere.[11] But what I want to focus on here is the causes of transsexuality or, more properly put, Gender Dysphoria. Gender Dysphoria is a condition whereby a person feels profound distress due to what they regard as a mismatch between their biological gender and what they feel like on the inside, or what they feel that their gender should be. They believe that they can alleviate these feelings by, as much as possible, outwardly becoming their desired gender. Other recognized “dysphoria” include anorexia, when a person believes that they are fat, despite the fact that they are dangerously thin; and Mind-Body Integrity Disorder, when someone believes they are physically mutilated, yet they are not, and thus they mutilate their body.

What are we to make of this? What are the root causes of this, for many, baffling phenomenon?

Homosexual Transsexuals

A common conception (or you could say cliché) about transsexuals is that they are people “born in the wrong body.” This begs an important question: “How did they come to believe this?” How could they become convinced—to the point of drastically changing their appearance and lifestyle and even undergoing medical treatment and surgery—that they have, say, a female “soul” and a penis?

Transsexuals could suffer from this conception because they really do have the brain of X and the genitalia of Y. They were, in a way, “born into the wrong body.” However, if transsexuals also suffer from other delusions and personality disorders, then it is probable that there is some underlying factor that explains why they passionately feel this way. This is particularly true if these delusions and disorders manifest in advanced age.

This is what has been proposed by the psychologist Ray Blanchard in his so-called Transsexualism Typology.[12] Blanchard argues that some “transwomen” (male-to-female transsexuals) are homosexual transsexuals. They are highly feminized, and they want to become, as far as possible, heterosexual women. And they show signs of opposite-sex behavior at a very young age. The rest are what he calls autogynephilic transsexuals. These are male fetishists who are sexually aroused, or otherwise profoundly satisfied, by the idea of having a female body, something which correlates with wanting to take action to obtain one, and which becomes an interest for such people during or after adolescence. In other words, autogynephilic transexuals transform their own body into an object of desire—a kind of erotic loop. More recently, Blanchard has averred that his model is also likely to apply to “transmen” (female-to-male transsexuals).[13] Blanchard has estimated that at least 75 percent of transsexuals are autogynephilic and that percentage is growing, as more and more people “discover” that they are trans.[14]

Not surprisingly, trans activists generally find Blanchard’s Typology difficult to deal with and often attempt to suppress discussion of it. As Alice Dreger has summarized in her book Galileo’s Middle Finger (2015):

There’s a critical difference between autogynephilia and most other sexual orientations: Most other orientations aren’t erotically disrupted simply by being labeled. When you call a typical gay man homosexual, you’re not disturbing his sexual hopes and desires. By contrast, autogynephilia is perhaps best understood as a love that would really rather we didn’t speak its name. The ultimate eroticism of autogynephilia lies in the idea of really becoming or being a woman, not in being a natal male who desires to be a woman.[15]

Clearly, my friend Alex was in the autogynephilious category, and this category is the far more common of the two.

So let us make sense of the more unusual category first: those who display gender dysphoria from a very early age. The earlier a condition manifests itself, the more likely it is to be primarily an expression of genetics, or an epigenetic phenomenon, which has occurred early in development, especially in utero. In this regard, the heritability of Gender Dysphoria is relatively low. A review concluded that Gender Dysphoria is about 0.5 heritable in males and 0.4 heritable in females.[16] Another review found that Gender Dysphoria was approximately 0.3 heritable among adults. The authors reviewed three studies of child samples, one of which contradicted the other two. Two of the studies found a heritability of about 0.3.[17] Thus, the common belief that some people are “born into the wrong body” is, broadly-speaking, inaccurate. Gender Dysphoria is as much environmental as it is genetic, if not more so, in males; in females, it is certainly more so.

There is a convincing case for arguing that homosexual transsexuality is a direct result of “developmental instability.” “Developmental Instability” refers to development occurring in a suboptimal fashion. An example of this would be a person growing up to have an asymmetrical face. Developmental instability is caused by a combination of environmental pressures—if you are fighting off disease then you don’t have the bio-energetic resources left over to grow a fully symmetrical face—and also by mutant genes. If you have lots of mutant genes—a condition known as “high mutational load”—then you have a poor immune system and must use proportionately more of your resources in fighting off disease, leading to a less symmetrical face. You may also have inherited mutant genes relating to the face. Homosexual transsexuality—and, less directly, Gender Dysphoria in general—appears to be a manifestation of developmental instability.

One indication of developmental instability is left-handedness. Humans are generally right-handed, and, if their brain has developed symmetrically, then that is what they will tend to be. Accordingly, left-handedness betokens an asymmetrical brain and, thus, developmental instability, and correlates with many neurological and auto-immune problems, including asthma and allergies.[18] Blanchard reports that there are elevated levels of non-right-handedness among both homosexual and autogynephilous transsexuals. He also shows that there is elevated left-handedness among homosexuals, pedophiles, and many others whose object of sexual arousal is atypical. Blanchard proposes that these may all be explicable, in part, by developmental instability. Specifically, in the case of a male homosexual, a pregnant female will react to male hormones, emitted by a male fetus, by releasing female hormones. If she releases too many of these, or if the fetus’ immune system cannot protect itself against them—which, in both cases, may be due to mutation—the result may be a highly feminized child, such as a homosexual. In this regard, it has been found that homosexual males, on average, are more physically and mentally feminized than are heterosexual males, yet they still regard themselves as male. An important piece of evidence in favor of this model is that there is a clear birth order effect on male homosexuality. Every older brother a male has increases his odds of being homosexual by 0.3. This is partly because the mother’s immune system will react more strongly with every male pregnancy, and there might be group-level evolutionary benefits, as well: if there are already a large number of boys, then a homosexual boy will not elevate inter-male conflict any further.[19] Blanchard’s model of the causes of homosexuality has been applied to people suffering from Gender Dysphoria. There is a clear birth order effect: male homosexual transsexuals fall into a significantly later birth order than do autogynepilious transsexuals.[20] Consistent with this, it has been shown that the brains of homosexual transsexuals (whether transmen or transwomen) differ significantly from those of the same gender who are not homosexual transsexuals:

Cortical thickness and diffusion tensor imaging studies suggest that the brain of [Males-to-Females] presents complex mixtures of masculine, feminine, and demasculinized regions, while [Females-to-Males] show feminine, masculine, and defeminized regions.[21]

These data would indicate that the minority of transsexuals who are “homosexual transsexuals” are, to a certain degree, “born into the wrong body.” This is principally due to epigenetic processes that occur in utero. Homosexual transsexuals are likely to be marked out by the way in which they will have intense difficulty conforming to the expectations of their biological sex from an extremely young age.

Further evidence of both forms of transsexuality being manifestations of developmental instability can be seen in the health of transsexuals. Their physical and mental health is far worse than is that of so-called “cis-gender” people. Transwomen, compared to males, report markedly elevated levels of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, vision problems, hearing problems, chronic pain, arthritis, digestive problems, lung problems, kidney complaints, diabetes, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and anxiety. They are also more likely to abuse alcohol, and even hard drugs such as heroin and crack, and engage in commercial sex work. Transmen are elevated in terms of obesity, smoking, asthma, depression, schizophrenia, sexually transmitted diseases, pubic lice, inflammatory conditions, previous menstrual irregularities, and premature or delayed menarche. They are also elevated in hyperandrogenism and, therefore, in a series of complications associated with elevated testosterone in females, including adrenal hyperplasia, polycystic ovary syndrome, and hypogonadism.[22] Transmen also have elevated rates of fibromyalgia (the condition Alex suffered from), though this is not significantly higher in transwomen than it is among the general population.[23] Some of these conditions help to explain why the sufferers are transsexual (as we will see below) or reflect the stresses inherent in being transsexual. But others, such as hearing problems, are likely to simply reflect the underlying factor of high mutational load and developmental instability.

Transsexuality and Fetishism

For Blanchard, the kind of transsexual who most attracts public attention—and who are behind the prominence of transgenderism in contemporary public discourse—is the kind who suffers from autogynephilia. This is a fetish, or paraphilia, whereby a man, for example, is “sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female.”[24] Autogynephilia ranges in its severity from mere transvestitism, where a man is deeply satisfied by dressing as a female, to, in its most extreme cases, transsexualism, where a male wants to alter his body such that it is more female-like. Perhaps it could be argued that demanding that society accept them as “real women” with precisely the same rights as “biological females” is an even more extreme manifestation of this paraphilia. Remaining a “she-male” would merely be a partial manifestation of this paraphilia.[25] It can be argued, however, that autogynephilia is more than simply a paraphilia, as there is a strong element of delusion involved in autogynephilia, which is not found in other paraphilia. In this sense, as discussed above, autogynephilia is as much an example of dysphoria as it is an example of a paraphilia.

If it is reasonable to conceptualize transsexuality as a paraphilia, then the correlates of transsexuality and other paraphilia should be very similar. The same should be the case with the correlates of other dysphoria. So, what is associated with more widely experienced fetishes—such as masochism, sexual sadism, or paedophilia? Reviews have consistently found that paraphilia is comorbid with hypersexuality, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and Psychopathic Personality Disorder.[26]

Hyper-Sexuality

Paraphilia experience is placed on a spectrum ranging from no arousal to extreme and exclusive arousal by the paraphilia in question. It has been found that paraphilics have low cerebral serotonin levels, something which leads to high testosterone levels and thus a high sex drive. They report higher levels of sexual arousal, meaning that they might associate non-sexual targets, such as objects, with arousal because they are so easily sexually aroused. They report more diverse sexual interests, greater sexual orientation fluidity, more sexual activity, and a higher number of lifetime sexual partners than do non-paraphilics. These findings are very interesting in evolutionary terms, because they would potentially help to explain how paraphilia remains in populations.[27] In line with the predictions made by Blanchard’s model, it has been found that transsexuality is comorbid with hypersexuality.[28] Hypersexuality, and other sexual dysfunctions, also correlate with anorexia.[29]

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as already discussed, is associated with deficiencies in empathy and a concomitant propensity towards extreme analytical thinking. It has been conceptualized as the “Extreme Male Brain,” and autistic people tend to be physically masculinized, displaying various markers associated with high levels of male hormones.[30] Congruous with this, autistics tend to attach meaning to concrete visual representations: they are interested in “things,” rather than people, disliking the unpredictable and unscripted nature of human interaction. You probably know someone who seems highly detached socially, overly logical, and is obsessed with his job, hobby, or some arcane, whether it be video games, online gambling, or evolutionary psychology.

Paraphilia crosses over with autism in the sense that paraphilia involves strong attachment to an object (usually a visual stimulus) and is highly scripted, in the sense that specific situations involving this stimulus can be particularly sexually arousing. It has been found that High Functioning (intellectually normal) autistics, particularly those who are male, are more likely to have paraphilic interests than are the general population.[31] Consistent with Blanchard’s model, it is quite clear that transsexuality is associated with autism. Gunter Heylens and his colleagues found that transgender persons were six times more likely than the general population to suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder, with transwomen being more likely to have an Autism Spectrum Disorder than transmen.[32] Anna Van der Miesen and colleagues, who conducted a systematic literature review, found that children with Gender Dysphoria score higher on all subdomains of Autism Spectrum Disorder than do controls.[33] It is therefore a reasonable conclusion that transsexuality is associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Anorexia, a prominent example of a dysphoria, is also robustly associated with ASD, according to a systematic review of eight studies.[34]

Borderline Personality Disorder

Autism is associated with Borderline Personality Disorder and is characterized by a weak sense of self. Autistics lack the feeling that they are the same person across time and lack the feeling that they are in control of their thoughts and actions, possibly because, lacking empathy, they find that they cannot predict the consequences of their actions and, hypersensitive to stimuli, they easily become overwhelmed by the world. The result is a chaotic and frightening void, which can result in a coping mechanism whereby you create an extreme and certain identity. However, eventually, chronic self-doubt results in the collapse of this identity and the adoption of another, sometimes very different one. This, in turn, is the essence of Borderline Personality Disorder, which is elevated in both paraphilics and autistics.[35] BPD is characterized by difficulties regulating emotion, feeling intense emotions, and having problems returning to a stable baseline, frequent mood swings, a fear of abandonment, and a disturbed sense of self. Specifically: “The self is impoverished, poorly developed, or there is an unstable self-image, which is often associated with excessive self-criticism; chronic feelings of emptiness; and dissociative states under stress.” Such a person has difficulty developing a sense of self that is stable in terms of beliefs, and life goals over time. He can have extreme and polarized self-conceptions, sometimes to the extent of developing multiple personalities; he can lack a coherent image of who he is; he can undergo “explosive shifts into states where the perception of self is distorted and shows weak correspondence with external reality”; and he may lack a capacity to flexibly adapt to change. Sufferers experience discontinuity in their development of self, rapidly alter their roles and relationships, and “identify only with their present affective states and have no sense of their continuity over time.”[36]

It has been found that sexual masochism is 10 times higher in women with Borderline Personality Disorder than it is among controls.[37] Many other studies, also of men, have found a robust association between paraphilic sexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder.[38] It is also associated with Gender Dysphoria. At least two separate studies have found that 80 percent of transgender people display symptoms of Borderline Personality or related disorders.[39] Anorexia, as another example of a dysphoria, is also associated with Borderline Personality Disorder.[40]

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

In terms of a strongly distorted sense of self, Borderline Personality Disorder crosses over with the related condition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Indeed, in some respects, Narcissism can be understood as an example of Borderline Personality Disorder, though it is more common among males than females. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by:

  1. Grandiosity, with expectations of superior treatment from other people;
  2. Fixation on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, or attractiveness;
  3. Self-perception of being unique, superior, and associated with high-status people and institutions;
  4. Needing continual admiration from others;
  5. A sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others;
  6. Being exploitative of others to achieve personal gain;
  7. Unwilling to empathize with the feelings, wishes, and needs of other people;
  8. Being intensely envious of others, and believing that others are equally envious of them;
  9. A pompous and arrogant demeanour.[41]

Narcissistic Personality Disorder has also been found to be a key predictor of paraphilic sexuality.[42] It is also associated with Gender Dysphoria. One study found that, of a male and female sample of people suffering from Gender Dysphoria, 57 percent fit the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder and 81 percent fit the criteria for some kind of personality disorder, mainly Borderline Personality Disorder.[43] A review has found other studies that have highlighted this relationship between Transsexuality and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.[44] It has been found that Anorexia is associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, specifically with the “vulnerable Narcissism” sub-type.[45] Such people display all of the symptoms of standard Narcissistic Personality Disorder except “grandiosity.” This is replaced by “vulnerability,” characterized by a constant need for reassurance that one is exceptional, by introversion and by being self-absorbed, high in Neuroticism (feeling negative feelings strongly) and hyper-sensitive to criticism. In all of these senses, the Vulnerable Narcissist is the opposite of the Grandiose Narcissist, for the latter will be confident that he is exceptional, will be extraverted, and will appear relatively impervious to criticism.[46]

Thus, we can see why Narcissism would be associated with transsexuality. The autistic is prone to sexual arousal by objects (fetishes), to a weak sense of self (fundamentally questioning who and what he is), and to Narcissism (as a means of coping with his fundamental sense of fear and chaos). These would come together in his being sexually aroused by the ideal of himself as the perfect female. Those who questioned his femaleness would, therefore, risk destroying his necessary coping-mechanism, resulting in “Narcissistic Rage.” It has been suggested that this makes sense of the often aggressive and furious way in which trans activists seem to respond to those who dare to disagree with them.[47]

Psychopathic Personality Disorder

Psychopathic Personality Disorder, now officially known as “Anti-Social Behavioral Disorder,” is characterized by,

  1. Inability to sustain consistent work behavior;
  2. Non-conformity, irritability and aggression;
  3. Failure to honor financial obligations;
  4. Frequent lying, failure to plan ahead and impulsivity;
  5. Reckless behavior;
  6. Inability to function as a responsible parent;
  7. Failure to maintain long-term monogamous relationships;
  8. Lack of remorse;
  9. Conduct disorder in childhood.[48]

Psychopathic traits are associated with paraphilia, possibly because of the way in which psychopaths are highly interested in power and control, causing them to be aroused by voyeurism and sadism, in the case of males.[49] However, it may simply be that psychopathic personality and paraphilia are both expressions of developmental instability. As we would predict, there are elevated levels of psychopathology among transsexuals.[50]

In summary, it can be seen that people who suffer from Gender Dysphoria display all of the key psychological traits that are associated with paraphilics. And like paraphilics, they are more likely than controls to be hyper-sexual, to suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder, to be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and to display evidence of Psychopathic Personality Disorder. In addition, we have noted that all of these characteristics are found, to an elevated degree, among those who display another well-researched dysphoria—namely anorexia nervosa.

Gender Dysphoria and Masculinization

We are confronted with additional question. Are late-onset transsexuals suffering from a delusion about themselves? Or are they correct in their assertion that they were “born into the wrong body” but have, for some reason, only recognized this as adolescents or adults? If it is the former (that is, they are delusional), then sufferers from Gender Dysphoria should display the same, or similar, correlates to those who suffer from other mind-body dysphoria, such as anorexics. Specifically, they should display evidence of masculinization, and it is masculine traits that are associated with other dysphoria, including anorexia, which is generally a dysphoria from which females suffer.

A study led by Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino has tested this possibility. The authors conducted a series of systematic reviews on original studies in order to test the relationship between Gender Dysphoria and at least one correlate of androgens (male hormones) out of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Left-handedness, 2D:4D Ratio (the shape of the hands[51], being male, and male heterosexuality. They found that people with Gender Dysphoria did, indeed, tend to display these signs of masculinization. They were more likely to be left-handed, suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder, have a low (masculinized) 2D:4D ratio, be male, and want to have sex with females, even if they were male-to-female transsexuals. The authors found studies indicating that 65 percent of gender transitions in the U.S between 2002 and 2013 were male-to-female. They also found research from Finland, from 2019, which found that 3.6 percent of male children—but only 2.3 percent of female children—displayed some symptoms of Gender Dysphoria.[52] They also pointed out that a 2015 survey of 3,000 transwomen reported that at least 60 percent claimed to be gynephilious (sexually attracted to women) in their new gender; 27 percent were exclusively gynephilious; and 19 percent exclusively androphilious (sexually attracted to men). For what it’s worth, the most famous transwoman of them all, Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner), is reportedly in a relationship with another transwoman.[53] Among transmen, in contrast, only 12 percent were exclusively gynephilious, while 23 percent were exclusively androphilious, but the proportions of those who were non-exclusively attracted to either sex were not reported. They observed that 2 percent of the British population claim to be lesbian, gay or bisexual; so, clearly, transwomen, as the authors would predict, overwhelmingly retain male sexual interests. And even among transmen, what is effectively lesbianism, which is associated with masculinization, is strongly over-represented.[54]

The authors also found that other dysphoria display similar correlates. Female anorexics, compared to controls, are not only higher in autism but also have a lower 2D:4D ratio: their hands are more masculinized than is generally the case with females. The authors hypothesized that autism may be key to understanding the development of dysphoria. Dysphoria are also comorbid. Thus, transsexuals have elevated levels of anorexia.[55] The authors argue that autistics tend to have a weak sense of self, making them more prone to the disturbed sense of identity, and of reality, that is inherent in all dysphoria; in other words, you believe that you are something that you are not. Autistics would also be more likely to develop fetishes, and it is in its paraphilic nature where gender dysphoria diverges from other dysphoria. This is consistent with Gender Dysphoria being characterized as a paraphilia of “erotic target identity inversion,” whereby people attempt to become the object by which they are sexually aroused.[56] Accordingly, it appears that transsexuality should be characterized both as a paraphilia and as a dysphoria and, moreover, that there is considerable crossover between these two concepts in terms of their correlates. Autism itself, for example, has been found to be a manifestation of developmental instability. Not only is it associated with numerous markers of developmental instability, such as sinistrality, but it is robustly correlated with paternal age. This is because, as men age, their semen includes more de novo mutations, including those which lead to the development of autism.[57]

What are the Environmental Causes of Transgenderism?

So, having established that there is a sound theoretical case for understanding transsexuality both as a paraphilia and as a dysphoria, we now need to make sense of its environmental causes. This is crucial because, as we have seen, it is significantly a function, in the case of autogynephilious transsexuals, of environmental factors, although many of these may be confounded by genetics. That transsexuality is strongly environmental is consistent with evidence that it develops in adolescence, as the later a phenomenon develops, the less strongly genetic it is likely to be, generally speaking. Indeed, the persistence of Gender Dysphoria is predicted by how young a person is when they first display symptoms: and the younger it develops, the more persistent it is.[58] A primarily environmental explanation would be congruous with a growing body of evidence that many transsexuals wish to revert back, such that they physically resemble their biological sex, some years after transitioning.[59] Indeed, this would be congruous with transsexuality being a paraphilia that becomes more or less intense due to environmental variables.

Gynaecologist Lisa Littman has referred to what she calls “rapid-onset Gender Dysphoria,” in which adolescents with no previous indication of gender confusion appear to very suddenly declare themselves “non-binary” or transgender. Littman avers that this may be the expression of a “social coping mechanism” for other issues, such as adolescent homosexual phases. This is rendered increasingly common by “social contagion.” Indeed, Littman notes that:

Parents describe that the onset of gender dysphoria seemed to occur in the context of belonging to a peer group where one, multiple, or even all of the friends have become gender dysphoric and transgender-identified during the same timeframe. Parents also report that their children exhibited an increase in social media/internet use prior to disclosure of a transgender identity.[60]

Unlike with most cases of late-onset transsexuality, this is a predominantly female phenomenon: 82 percent of a sample of parents who reported having an adolescent child who experienced rapid-onset Gender Dysphoria were referring to a daughter, 41 percent of these had expressed interest in a non-heterosexual orientation prior to declaring their Gender Dysphoria, 62 percent had a history of mental illness, and 38 percent belonged to a peer group who had all declared themselves “non-binary” or “trans” at around the same time. In these respects, Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria is highly comparable to anorexia. This also seems to occur, in a socially contagious fashion, among adolescent female peer-groups and, as we have discussed, it has the same corollaries as Gender Dysphoria and also correlates with it.[61] It is thus not without good reason that a number of commentators have asked “Is Transgender the New Anorexia?”[62] This is a perfectly reasonable question to ask, at least with regard to Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria.

Due to the relative rarity of transsexuality, the studies on its environmental causes are generally clinical studies with small sample sizes, meaning that it behoves us to be cautious of their results. With that caveat, it has been observed that boys who later suffer from Gender Dysphoria tend to be raised in suboptimal environments, in which the parents frequently fight with each other and in which the fathers have low self-esteem and are emotionally distant, while the mothers are high on psychopathology, leading to the boy having an unclear sense of self-value and a high level of anxiety. It has been averred that these conditions may result in sexual identity problems, and that Gender Dysphoria thus has a significant environmental component. Clinical observation of girls with Gender Dysphoria indicates that they tend to have emotionally distant mothers, with whom they are often in conflict and fathers who abuse their mothers, possibly leading the girl to identify as a boy.[63] Another study found elevated levels of Borderline Personality Disorder among the mothers of boys who suffer from Gender Dysphoria.[64] A study in Taiwan found that students with Gender Dysphoria are more likely to have unaffectionate parents.[65] There is evidence that girls with anorexia tend to have emotionally distant mothers as well. Their mothers are more likely to suffer from Alexithymia, that is, having difficulties verbalizing and otherwise expressing emotions.[66] Females with Gender Dysphoria tend not merely to exhibit Autism Spectrum Disorder symptoms but also evidence being higher on measures of psychopathology.[67]

The problem with all of these studies, in terms of understanding the environmental causes of dysphoria, including Gender Dysphoria, is that they are heavily genetically confounded. If the mothers of transgender boys are high on psychopathology, then it may be that being raised by such a mother elevates the likelihood of Gender Dysphoria. But it may also be that such a mother is highly masculinized, or otherwise high in mutational load, and it is this that has led to in utero developmental instability, eventually manifesting in a transsexual son, who is also likely to have inherited, to some extent, his mother’s psychopathic personality traits. The same is true with regard to Borderline Personality Disorder, which is elevated among both transsexuals and their mothers. So, it is extremely difficult to tease out the environmental causes of Gender Dysphoria. It is possible that there is a symbiotic relationship between genetics, in utero developmental instability, and childhood environment, whereby the son of a mother with Borderline Personality Disorder is more likely to manifest this, and thus potentially Gender Dysphoria, due to genetic tendencies, developmental instability due to high mutational load in both himself and his mother leading to developmental instability in utero, and the unstable childhood environment created by his mother. But this hypothesis, while plausible, needs to be formally tested.

The Breakdown of Selection and Gender Dysphoria

This leaves us with a further question: Why has there been a rise, in recent years, in the prominence of transgenderism? This may be partly explicable in terms of the Social Epistasis Amplification Model, which has been presented by Michael Woodley of Menie and his colleagues.[68] They note that Darwinian selection has relaxed considerably since 1800 in advanced Western countries. In 1800, the child mortality rate was 40 percent; it is now 1 percent.[69] Before the Industrial Revolution, those who had mutations (which are almost always detrimental to mental and physical health) were purged from the population every generation. These mutations of the body, which led to a poor immune system and dying from childhood diseases, for example, were comorbid with mutations of the mind, such as inclinations towards maladaptive sexuality or any form of behavior that would likely reduce fertility. This is because the mind is 84 percent of the genome. This renders it a massive target for mutation, meaning that if you have mutant genes of the body, you will almost certainly have mutant genes of the mind.[70]

This dramatic change in infant mortality would have a number of related effects. Firstly, there would be more people with maladaptive mutations of the mind, such as deviant sexuality or even a propensity towards Gender Dysphoria. Secondly, these people would be more likely to be maladaptively influenced by hormones in utero. Thirdly, society would be influenced, in a maladaptive way, by these maladapted people—thus the term “spiteful mutants,” coined by Woodley of Menie and his team—which would interfere with the development of some non-mutants. Indeed, some of these “spiteful mutants” might actively encourage easily influenced young people to experiment with the idea that they are “non-binary,” to believe that this was “normal,” or to believe that it was a social good to be non-binary or transsexual.

Moreover, such “spiteful mutants” would act to undermine institutions and ideas that promoted the development of adaptive behavior and ways of thinking, such as religiousness. In modern societies, religiousness is associated with mental and physical health, as well as fertility.[71] This would be consistent with evidence that significantly genetic conditions, such as depression, can be socially contagious.[72] If you, as a genetically healthy person, spend time with a “spiteful mutant,” he can render you maladaptively inclined.[73] And we would expect the process to occur relatively quickly. Religiousness would hold maladaptive ideas at bay until a tipping point was reached, after which a society would switch relatively promptly to maladaptive behaviors. It seems that once approximately 25 percent of the population holds a particular counter-cultural view, then the society loses confidence in the dominant viewpoint and starts to move, quite rapidly, towards the counter-cultural one.[74] This would explain the relative rapidity with which traditional religious ideas, including religion-inspired sexual taboos, have collapsed in many Western countries since the 1960s.

In the 1950s, in Western countries, a person would be less likely to know about the existence of transsexuals. If he happened to suffer from Gender Dysphoria himself, he would likely do he could to repress this, knowing that he would be shunned if he did not. He might, possibly, even believe that such behavior would anger his god. This ability, to force yourself to think in a socially adaptive manner, is known as “effortful control.”[75] In the following decade, these social controls that militated against maladaptive thinking and behavior, such as religion, began to collapse. At the time of writing, it might be argued that it is “socially adaptive” to force yourself to believe that much in the above discussion must be false, despite the fact that it is based on careful scientific studies, with the results often being widely replicated. This is best exemplified in the firing of Maya Forstater, mentioned above, for stating a scientific fact. As we noted, she lost her Employment Tribunal in which she challenged her firing. Judge James Taylor, presiding over the tribunal, made the following ruling:

If a person has transitioned from male to female and has a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), that person is legally a woman. That is not something [Miss Forstater] is entitled to ignore. [Miss Forstater’s] position is that even if a trans woman has a GRC, she cannot honestly describe herself as a woman. That belief is not worthy of respect in a democratic society. Even paying due regard to the qualified right to freedom of expression, people cannot expect to be protected if their core belief involves violating others’ dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for them.[76]

In other words, believing in the empirical truth, and asserting that you believe in the empirical truth, is a stance that is not, in itself, “worthy of respect in a democratic society.” There should be no legal protection for those who construct a worldview based on science, reason, and empirical evidence, if aspects of this worldview lead to negative emotions in some people, specifically people who have mind-body dysphoria. Such a ruling might be seen to strongly incentivize “effortful control” in order to convince oneself that “Black is White.”

A Cuckoo in the Nest

As transsexuality have become increasingly prominent, it’s only natural that many have grown suspicious that transsexuals are taking on these new identities mendaciously—that is, they are swapping genders as a way of gaining attention or even advantage. It could be argued that if you are a narcissist—and thus strongly desire validation, admiration, and sympathy—then you might be able to convince yourself that you are born in the wrong body. In a society in which being a member of a supposedly victimized group is valued—a reversal of what was previously the case—then unscrupulous people are incentivized to reinvent themselves on occasion.

Rachel Dolezal is the most notorious example of this kind of behavior. A biologically White woman raised in Montana, Dolezal adopted typically African-American dress, hair, and speech patterns and, at a relatively young age, became President of the NAACP chapter of Spokane, Washington—a high-status position that, presumably, would not have been open to a White. When Dolezal’s deception was revealed, she was excoriated int he media as a liar or con artist—or even, ironically, as the ultimate expression of “whiteness”[77]; but there is reason to believe that Dolezal genuinely felt that she was part of the Black experience, either through effortful control or, perhaps, childhood trauma.[78] More recently, Dr. Jessica Krug, formerly of George Washington University, did something similar, posing as Black for many years and apparently taking advantage of the “diversity” regime currently dominant in Western academia.[79]

So, if you are a White, heterosexual male—and excluded from the new victimhood nobility—you may find yourself drawn towards transgenderism, particularly if you already suffer from the array of psychological problems associated with it, which we discussed above. There has been some notable pushback to transwomen entering women’s domains, particularly women’s sports.[80] But the trend is well underway and seemingly unstoppable. In 2019, CeCe Telfer became the first transsexual athlete to win an N.C.A.A. track-and-field championship (in the 400-meter hurdles), and across all sports, transwomen are competing as women and, not surprisingly, finding success. Sports are segregated by sex for a reason, and biological males have obvious advantages in the areas of strength, quickness, and aggression in intersexual competition; this rule holds even for biological men who have undergone hormonal therapy after transitioning.[81]

Regarding the “consciousness” of transexuals, we should remember that deception—and even self-deception—can sometimes be an evolutionary strategy. The cuckoo bird, for instance, engages in what is known as “nest parasitism”: the cuckoo mother lays an egg in the nest of another species, usually after kicking out one of the eggs already there. The cuckoo hatchling then proceeds, instinctively, to banish other competing hatchlings from its new nest, becoming its adoptive mother’s sole focus. Whether or not the hatchling is “conscious” of its ruthless subterfuge is of academic concern. The fact is, it acts in a way that increases its well-being and ability to survive. If society is structured to incentivize and valorize transsexuals, then we should not be surprised that it produces more transsexuals—along with a myriad of new ethical and identitarian dilemmas.

Returning to Alex

So, we have substantially made sense of transgenderism, which is best understood as both a dysphoria and as a paraphilia. In this regard, it has the key correlates of both, including severe disturbances of personality. This would perhaps explain the aggressive narcissism which many people have observed in transsexuals, with autism (and thus masculinization) possibly being the factor that connects everything together.

This brings us back to Alex, my friend from Durham University. There was an irrational and bombastic side to Alex. He attended left-wing protests, where he could be rather rambunctious. His Master’s thesis, Logic in Context: Some Considerations Concerning the Philosophy, Sociology and History of Logic (2006), begins with a quote from the English philosopher A. A. Luce (1882-1977), beneath which Alex wrote: “I will remark without hesitation that I regard the contents of this quote as arrant and polemical nonsense.” Part of the quote is further referred to as “gibberish.”[82] In the student bar that night back 2001, Alex’s logical abilities rather broke down in the face of a student of Arabic, who asked Alex what he hoped to achieve by what he was doing. Alex commented that what he was doing was only logical to other transgender people, to which it was retorted that there’s no such thing as subjective logic—something Alex well knew. Indeed, Alex could be rather dogmatic. This led him, for example, to present the fallacious argument, in the pages of Philosophy Now magazine, that “race” is a purely social construct, simply because “races” have some genes in common.[83] This position, manifestly, fails due to the fact that races, as examples of humans, will, by definition, have some genes in common. This, however, was the same person who set up a talk at the Durham University Philosophy Society entitled, “Is Feminist Philosophy a Contradiction in Terms?” This event was advertised on a poster featuring Pamela Anderson in black underwear.

My friends and I were dumbfounded by what we discovered about Alex back in December 2001. One of my classmates, who was also at Alex’s 21st, later remarked that such behavior was simply a manifestation of Alex’s “avant-garde genius”:

He’s going to do it. He’s actually going to mutilate his body. Maybe he’s not mentally ill at all. Why would anybody who was a man want to become a girl? Most men wouldn’t even entertain something so fucking insane. But not Alex. No way! He’s too avant-garde! That guy is a fucking avant-garde genius. I can only conclude that this is some sort of ultimate act of violent, avant-garde artistic sarcasm.

Interestingly, in 2008, there was an essay competition in the magazine Philosophy Now, where you had to answer the question: “Who is the Best Philosopher?” Rather than advocate for Heraclitus or David Hume, “Andrea” argued that she was. This breathtakingly original tactic meant that she was one of the winners. Her essay was entitled: “The answer is: Me!”[84]

I didn’t see Alex, or Dreya, much in the Spring term. But in my final term at university, the same comical situation kept recurring. I would walk up the road of Victorian houses to the university library and a slender, pretty blonde girl would smile at me and wave from the other side of the road. “This is my lucky day!” I would think to myself . . . before realizing that it was Alex.

I last saw Alex (or Dreya) in September 2002, when we met up in Bristol in the southwest of England. Just back from a holiday in Malta with his parents, Alex was planning to do a Master’s degree in Political Philosophy at the University of Sussex in Brighton, a seaside town in southern England, known for its gay scene. We lost touch.

In October 2009, I was scrolling through the Mail Online, when my attention was drawn to a photograph of a pretty girl wearing a mortar board and graduation robes. I knew her from somewhere. Who was she? You guessed it: it was Alex. So much had happened in the meantime. He had been working as a prostitute in Brighton, operating out of his own home. And he had been found dead, and the flat, set on fire. The report said nothing about his transsexuality. Once I got over the shock, I knew immediately what must have happened. I could imagine it vividly. Some middle-aged, single man, probably uneducated, a laborer or something, pays Alex for sex. He comments on how amazingly neat Alex’s vagina is or how uncommonly perfect his breasts are. Alex, in his autistic innocence, replies, “Yes. Well, they are very perfect, unnaturally perfect, but that’s because I was actually born male, so, like, that would explain their near-perfect shape.” The manly builder, who prides himself on his manliness, realizes that he’s had sex with a man. He completely loses all self-control. He strangles Alex and then he sets fire to the flat in the hope of avoiding detection.

I was sure that this was what had happened. I was so sure that I telephoned the newspaper to tell them so. The News Desk journalist was incredulous at being informed that “Andrea Joanna Waddell” (as was now the name) was once “Alexander John Waddell.” He didn’t believe me. He asked if anyone could corroborate what I was saying, so I gave him the phone number of a friend from university who did just that. It turned out that my instinct was shared even by the prosecution when the case came to trial in May 2010. The murderer, a 42-year-old Sky TV fitter called Neil McMillan, pleaded “not guilty,” but was convicted due to forensic and CCTV evidence. He had paid Alex £140 for sex but, at some point, also being very drunk, he lost his temper, punched Alex in the face, and strangled him. Alex fought back, leading to scratches and cuts on McMillan, but to no avail. We’ll probably never know why McMillan strangled Alex, but the prosecution was convinced that it was likely because McMillan discovered that Alex was transsexual. The prosecuting barrister, Mr. Russell-Flint, said “McMillan may have attacked her in anger and in drink after discovering she had once been a man.”[85]

As the trial progressed, Alex’s naivety became ever clearer. He kept £37,000 in cash at his flat in a filing cabinet in the sitting room. He advertised his services on websites such as one called “Adult Works.” Alex had even contacted the “National Union of Prostitutes” to ask how he could go about paying tax on his earnings.[86] In June 2010, McMillan was handed a life sentence, with the judge instructing that he serve a minimum of 22 years.[87] Then in November, McMillan was found guilty of having raped a woman in a hotel room in September 2009, just a few weeks before he had murdered Alex. He was sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.[88] After the original trial, Alex’s family revealed yet more tragic information about him:

Her life reads like a catalogue of disasters. She was bullied at school, knocked down by a car in Battersea, mugged in Prague, and once attacked by a gang of young thugs in Reading. While completing her second degree she developed acute ulcerative colitis which was nearly fatal, but she underwent successfully surgery resulting in an ileostomy, which was later reversed.[89]

The family had said, in 2009: “Andrea was often incapacitated by pain and unable to work, and we know she was concerned about how to make a living and be independent. If her decision on how to achieve this took her down unusual paths, who are we to judge?”[90]

I am not so much interested in judging Alex, either. But we should try to understanding him and people like him. This is especially important now that such people are increasingly socially prominent—and particularly now that you can lose your job if you fail to accept their assertions about gender and identity as unconditional facts. In January 2020, Rachel Levine was appointed by U.S. President Joe Biden as assistant health secretary, making “her” the first openly transgender federal official.[91]

Alex suffered from Gender Dysphoria and Paraphilia. Consistent with these being manifestations of dysphoria and paraphilia, Alex was autistic and seriously physically and mentally ill, points also congruous with these traits being products of developmental instability and high mutational load. Even his left-wing viewpoints have been shown to be associated with evidence of mutational load, which makes sense, as they tend to correlate with not having children, meaning that those who hold them are maladaptive.

Of course, saying this may be regarded as a “judgment” upon Alex (albeit one empirically based). But if more people had “judged” Alex, and helped him through his mental illness—rather than encouraged him to make a virtue out of it—he may well have been alive today, perhaps writing poetry, reviewing cutting-edge cocktails, and leading his local Philosophy Society.

 


 

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  31. Daniel Schöttle, Peer Birken, Oliver Tuescher and Daniel Turner, “Sexuality in Autism: Hypersexual and Paraphilic Behavior in Women and Men With High-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 19 (2017): 381-393. ↩︎
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  34. Heather Westwood and Kate Tchanturia, “Autism Spectrum Disorder in Anorexia Nervosa: An Updated Literature Review,” Current Psychiatry Reports, 19 (2017): 41. ↩︎
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  44. Anne Lawrence, “Shame and Narcissistic Rage in Autogynephilic Transsexualism,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37 (2008): 457-461. ↩︎
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  49. Rob van Bommel, Kasia Uzieblo, Stefan Bogaerts and Carlo Garofalo, “Psychopathic Traits and Deviant Sexual Interests: The Moderating Role of Gender,” International Journal of Forensic Mental Health, 17 (2018): 256-271. ↩︎
  50. Cecilia Dhejne, Roy Van Vlerken, Gunter Heylens , and Jon Arcelus, “Mental Health and Gender Dysphoria: A Review of the Literature,” International Review of Psychiatry, 28 (2016): 44-57. ↩︎
  51. Males tend to display relatively little difference in finger length compared to females. ↩︎
  52. Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino, Marja Työläjärvi, and Nina Lindberg, “Gender Dysphoria in Adolescent Population: A 5-year Replication Study,” Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, (2019), doi.org/10.1177/1359104519838593. ↩︎
  53. Owen Tonks, “Love Is In The Air: Who is Caitlyn Jenner’s Partner Sophia Hutchins and How Long Have They Been Dating?” The Sun, November 26, 2019, https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/6773717/caitlyn-jenner-girlfriend-sophia-hutchins-age-married/ (accessed January 15, 2021). ↩︎
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  58. Thomas D. Steensma, Jenifer K. McGuire, Baudewijntje Kreukels, et al., “Factors Associated With Desistence and Persistence of Childhood Gender Dysphoria: A Quantitative Follow-up Study,” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 52 (2013): 582-590. ↩︎
  59. Jack L. Turban and Alex S. Keuroghlian, “Dynamic Gender Presentations: Understanding Transition and “De-Transition” Among Transgender Youth,” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 57 (2018): 451–453; S. Danker, S.K. Narayan, R. Bluebond-Langner, “A Survey Study of Surgeons’ Experience with Regret and/or Reversal of Gender-Confirmation Surgeries,” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – Global Open, 6 (2018): 189. doi:10.1097/01.GOX.0000547077.23299.00. ↩︎
  60. Lisa Littman, “Parent Reports of Adolescents and Young Adults Perceived to Show Signs of a Rapid Onset of Gender Dysphoria,” PLoS ONE, 13 (2018): e0202330, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0202330 (accessed January 15, 2021). ↩︎
  61. Stephen Allison, Megan Warin, and Tarun Bastianpillai, “Anorexia Nervosa and Social Contagion: Clinical Implications,” Australia and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 48 (2014): 116-120. ↩︎
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  63. Kenneth J. Zucker, Susan J. Bradley, Dahlia N. Ben-Dat, et al., “Psychopathology in the Parents of Boys With Gender Identity Disorder,” Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 42 (2003): 2-4. ↩︎
  64. S. Marantz and S. Coates, “Mothers of boys with gender identity disorder: a comparison of matched controls,” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 30 (1991): 310-315. ↩︎
  65. Meng-Chuan Lai, Yen-Nan Chiu, Kenneth D. Gadow, Susan Shur-Fen Gau and Hai-Gwo Hwu, “Correlates of Gender Dysphoria in Taiwanese University Students,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39 (2010): 1415-1428. ↩︎
  66. L. Balottin, R. Nacinovich, M. Bomba and S. Mannarini, “Alexithymia in parents and adolescent anorexic daughters: comparing the responses to TSIA and TAS-20 scales” Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 10 (2014): 1941-1951. ↩︎
  67. R. Kaltiala-Heino, M. Sumia, M. Työläjärvi, and N. Lindberg, et al., “Two years of gender identity service for minors: overrepresentation of natal girls with severe problems in adolescent development,” Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 9:9. ↩︎
  68. Woodley of Menie, Sarraf, Pestow, and Fernandes, “Social Epistasis Amplifies the Fitness Costs of Deleterious Mutations, Engendering Rapid Fitness Decline Among Modernized Populations,” op cit. ↩︎
  69. Anthony Volk, and Jeremy Atkinson, “Is Child Death the Crucible of Human Evolution?” Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 2 (2008): 103-116. ↩︎
  70. Woodley of Menie, Sarraf, Pestow, and Fernandes, “Social Epistasis Amplifies the Fitness Costs of Deleterious Mutations, Engendering Rapid Fitness Decline Among Modernized Populations,” op cit.. ↩︎
  71. Edward Dutton, Guy Madison and Curtis Dunkel, “The Mutant Says in His Heart, ‘There Is No God’: The Rejection of Collective Religiosity Centred Around the Worship of Moral Gods is Associated with High Mutational Load,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, 4 (2018): 233-244. ↩︎
  72. Joiner, “Contagious Depression,” op cit. ↩︎
  73. See Matthew Sarraf, Michael A. Woodley of Menie, and Colin Feltham, Modernity and Cultural Decline: A Biobehavioral Perspective (Basingstoke, Hants: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). ↩︎
  74. Damon Centola, Joshua Becker, Devon Brackbill, and Andrea Baronchelli, “Experimental Evidence for Tipping Points in Social Convention,” Science, 360 (2018): 1116-1119. ↩︎
  75. Kevin MacDonald, “Effortful Control, Explicit Processing, and the Regulation of Human Evolved Predispositions,” Psychological Review, 115 (2008): 1012-1031. ↩︎
  76. Forstater v. CGD Europe & Anor (Religious or Belief Discrimination), United Kingdom Employment Tribunal, December 18, 2019. ↩︎
  77. See Ijeoma Oluo, “The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black,” The Stranger, April 19, 2017, https://www.thestranger.com/features/2017/04/19/25082450/the-heart-of-whiteness-ijeoma-oluo-interviews-rachel-dolezal-the-white-woman-who-identifies-as-black (accessed January 15, 2021). ↩︎
  78. Richard Spencer, “Black Like Her,” Radix Journal, June 18, 2015, https://radixjournal.com/2015/06/2015-6-18-rachel-dolezal-and-the-quest-for-identity/ (accessed January 15, 2021). ↩︎
  79. Guardian Staff, “Jessica Krug: White Professor Who Pretended to be Black Resigns From University Post,” The Guardian, September 10, 2020), https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/09/jessica-krug-professor-resigns-george-washington (accessed January 15, 2021). ↩︎
  80. See Martina Navratilova, “The Rules on Trans Athletes Reward Cheats and Punish the Innocent,” The Times (London), February 17, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-rules-on-trans-athletes-reward-cheats-and-punish-the-innocent-klsrq6h3x (accessed January 15, 2021). ↩︎
  81. Gillian R. Brassil and Jeré Longman, “Who Should Compete in Women’s Sports? There Are ‘Two Almost Irreconcilable Positions,’” New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/18/sports/transgender-athletes-womens-sports-idaho.html (accessed January 15, 2021). ↩︎
  82. Andrea Waddell, Logic in Context: Some Considerations Concerning the Philosophy, Sociology and History of Logic (Master’s Thesis, University of Sussex: 2006), 2; OrnaVerum, Andrea Joanna Waddell (1980–2009), http://www.ornaverum.org/family/waddell-andrea.html (accessed January 15, 2021). ↩︎
  83. Andrea Waddell, “Race and Science,” Philosophy Now, February/March 2006, https://philosophynow.org/issues/54/Letters (accessed January 15, 2021). ↩︎
  84. Andrea Waddell, “The Answer Is: Me!” Philosophy Today November/December 2008, https://philosophynow.org/issues/70/Who_Is_The_Best_Philosopher (accessed January 15, 2021. ↩︎
  85. Get Reading, “Andrea Waddell ‘Strangled by Her Client,’” May 12, 2010, https://www.getreading.co.uk/news/local-news/andrea-waddell-strangled-client-4226743 (accessed January 15, 2021. ↩︎
  86. Alison Cridland, “£37,000 Found at Murdered Prostitute’s Brighton Flat,” The Argus May 14, 2010, https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/8164339.37000-found-at-murdered-prostitutes-brighton-flat/ (accessed January 15, 2021). ↩︎
  87. Metro, “Neil McMillan Jailed For 22 Years For Andrea Waddell Murder,” June 4, 2010, https://metro.co.uk/2010/06/04/neil-mcmillan-jailed-for-22-years-for-murdering-transgender-prostitute-356623/?ito=cbshare (accessed January 15, 2021). ↩︎
  88. Get Reading, “Andrea Waddell Murderer Sentenced For Rape,” November 22, 2010, https://www.getreading.co.uk/news/local-news/andrea-waddell-murderer-sentenced-rape-4220359 (accessed January 15, 2021). ↩︎
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  90. Laura Miller, “We Will Never Stop Loving Andrea Waddell,” Get Reading, October 21, 2009, https://www.getreading.co.uk/news/local-news/never-stop-loving-andrea-waddell-4233931 (accessed January 15, 2021). ↩︎
  91. Samantha Schmidt, John Wagner, and Teo Armus, “Biden Selects Transgender Doctor Rachel Levine as Assistant Health Secretary,” January 19, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/01/19/rachel-levine-transgender-biden-hhs-pick/ (accessed January 25, 2021). ↩︎

 

1 Comment on Born Again

Ethnogenesis in America

Interracial marriage in the United States foretells, not so much a post-racial society, as the birth of new peoples. This essay is drawn from the new book Making Sense of…

Interracial marriage in the United States foretells, not so much a post-racial society, as the birth of new peoples.

This essay is drawn from the new book Making Sense of Race, which can be purchased here.

When we hear the word “ethnicity,” we tend to think of peoples, like the Irish or Han Chinese, that trace their ancestry and history back millennia. But, of course, race and ethnicity are dynamic and evolving. Ethnic groups that have a “timeless” conception of themselves have, in fact, experienced more genetic change and engaged in more interbreeding than they might want to admit. Furthermore, there is no reason why we wouldn’t expect new and different ethnicities to emerge in the future.

Race is best understood as a subspecies of mankind; and ethnicity, a kind of “sub-sub-species” or hybrid cline. In other words, sometimes an ethnicity is a subgroup of a race, which has been relatively isolated for some reason or another; other times, ethnicities emerge through the combination of two or more races. Over the past 50 years, the world, and particularly the Western world, has become increasingly multicultural and multiracial, due to immigration and the tremendous advancements in transportation and communication. This has led, unsurprisingly, to increased interbreeding between races and ethnicities—and interbreeding between groups that, before the age of globalization, would have scarce contact with one another. There comes a point at which a hybrid between two groups merits being understood as an ethnicity all of its own. This process of ethnogenesis—literally, the generation of a new ethnicity—takes centuries, but we can look at current trends in mating and dating and at least speculate about the ethnicities of the future.

The United States has emerged as a kind of laboratory in this regard. As of this writing, (non-Hispanic) Whites compose roughly 60 percent of a population of 330 million; African-Americans, 13 percent; Hispanics, 20; Asians 6; and American Indians, just over 1. According to current projections, America will become a “majority-minority” nation in the next 25 years; that is, no one race will hold sway demographically. Even in such an environment, marriages are still overwhelmingly intra-racial.1 If love were truly blind, that would not be the case. At the turn of the century, Americans were 75 percent less likely to know a person of another race “with whom they discuss important matters” than would happen by chance.2

It is important to point out, however, that the number of mixed- marriages has more than tripled since the overturning of anti- miscegenation laws in 1967. The Pew Research Center reports that, as of 2015, “intermarriage” occurred among around 17 percent of newlyweds (people married in the past year). The intermarriage rate is slightly higher in metropolitan areas, where Americans are more likely to encounter people of other races.3

Among 2015 newlyweds, White people chose a spouse of another race just over 10 percent of the time. Rates of intermarriage are significantly higher among other races: African-Americans, 18 percent; Hispanics, 27 percent; and Asians, 29 percent.4 While Asians are intermarrying slightly less often than 40 years ago (from 33 to 29 percent), the rate at which Blacks intermarry has tripled in the same period of time (from 5 to 18 percent).

Table 1: Percentage of U.S. Newlyweds Who Are Intermarried

1980 2015
Asian 33 29
Blacks 5 18
Hispanics 26 27
Whites 4 17
Total 7 17

There are significant racial and sexual differences in intermarriage. While White and Hispanic men and women intermarry at largely the same rate, Blacks and Asians do not. Twice as many Black men (24 percent) intermarry as Black women (12 percent). With Asians, something like the reverse is true: more than a third of Asian women intermarry, while 21 percent of Asian men do.

Table 2: Percentage of 2014-15 U.S. Newlyweds Who Are Intermarried, Broken Down By Sex

Men Women
Whites 12% 10%
Hispanics 26% 28%
Blacks 24% 12%
Asians 21% 36%

The most common form of intermarriage by far is between Whites and Hispanics, which makes up 42 percent of the total, followed by White and Asian partnering (15 percent) and White and Black marriages (11 percent).

Table 3: Percentage of 2014-15 Opposite-Sex Newlywed Couples

Coupling % all intermarried couples
White/Hispanic 42%
White/Asian 15%
White/Multiracial 12%
White/Black 11%
Hispanic/Black 5%
White/American Indian 3%
Hispanic/Asian 3%
Hispanic/Multiracial 3%

Male and female Whites and Hispanics marry each other, more or less, at the same frequency. But from there, significant disparities emerge. As mentioned, Asians are the most likely race to “marry out,” and when they do, 75 percent of them marry Whites. The number of couples with a White husband and Asian wife is almost three times the size of a pairing of an Asian husband and White wife. Similarly, couples with a Black husband and White wife are more than twice as common as ones with a White husband and Black wife.

Table 4. Percentage of opposite-sex Newlywed Couples, Broken Down By Husband and Wife Pairing

Couplin Share of intermarried
White Husband/Hispanic Wife 22%
Hispanic Husband/White Wife 20%
White Husband/Asian Wife 11%
Asian Husband/White Wife 4%
White Husband/Black Wife 3%
Black Husband/White Wife 7%
Hispanic Husband/Black Wife 1%
Black Husband/Hispanic Wife 4%

In many ways, the Pew Research Center’s Report from a half- decade earlier provides more detail than the one which employs data from 2015.5 According to this data, in 2008, when Whites males who had married someone of a different ethnicity in the last 12 months were asked what ethnicity it was, 46.1 percent said “Hispanic” and 26.9 percent said “Asian,” the second highest category. Only 6.9 percent said “Black.” For White women, only 9.4 percent said “Asian,” whereas 51.4 percent said “Hispanic” and 20.1 percent said “Black.”

A White-Hispanic partnering, the most common intermarriage in America, does not foretell ethnogenesis. The term “Hispanic” has always been ambiguous, because it is a linguistic, not an ethnic, category. Genetically speaking, “Hispanic” connotes people of mixed European and Amerindian backgrounds—which is not being fundamentally affected through these intermarriages. Their offspring will simply be regarded as Hispanic or White, depending on the case. It’s worth pointing out, however, that this identity choice will have a small, though significant, effect on overall demographics as it is calculated by the U.S. Census.

More noteworthy is the next most common interracial pairing: Whites and Asians (again, usually East Asians), which accounts for 15 percent of the total. This is a new cline. Just as breeding between White males and Amerindian females produced Hispanics—who then went on to intermarry—there is an on-going process whereby White American males forming unions with East Asian American females might become an example of ethnogenesis.

This high rate of out-marriage among Asians likely reflects the relatively low number of Asians in the U.S.; indeed, as their population has grown, Asian “marrying out” has become slightly less common, falling by some 12 percent between 1980 and 2015. It may also reflect the way that females in particular would be predicted to wish to marry hypergamously and thus, potentially, to someone of another race, and especially to a White man, if being White is associated with status.

Consistent with this, according to 2008 data, 39.5 percent of Asian American women marry people of a different race—76 percent of these to Whites—compared to 19.5 percent of Asian American males who do so. Among African-Americans, this relationship is reversed: 22 percent of Black males marry someone of a different race (in 57 percent of cases to White women), compared to 8.9 percent of African-American women (58 percent of these cases to White men).

We see this “inequality of attraction” in dating as well. In 2009 and 2014, the popular dating site OkCupid released meta-data on race and gender generated by its tens of millions of users. It was analyzed by the site’s co-founder, Christian Rudder—who subsequently deleted his post. As New York magazine lamented, “the results did not quite suggest a colorblind utopia of post-racial love.

Most races preferred to date within their own race. Asian men and black men received fewer messages than white men, while black women received the fewest messages of all users.6

One of the most salient analyses was based on “QuickMatch” scores, in which the user is asked to rate a photo of a potential date between 1 and 5. The scores below are separated out by race and sex and show the percentage compared to the average; for example, Asian men rate Asian women 15 percent above the average woman, but rate Black women 20 percent below the average. We find that women strongly prefer men of the same race, somewhere between 18 to 24 percent above the average. The same, however, is not true for men. Both Black and White men seem to prefer Asian women slightly more than women of their own races. Black men are the least picky in terms of the race of the women they seek to date, as revealed by the small range of their responses. And overall, Black women and Asian men receive the lowest scores from other races.

Asian Women Black Women Latina Women White Women
Asian men rating… 15% -20% 2% 3%
Black men rating 2% 1% 2% -6%
Latino men rating… 4% -18% 10% 4%
White men rating… 9% -17% 3% 6%

 

Asian men Black men Latino men White men
Asian women rating… 24% -27% -15% 18%
Black women rating… -13% 23% -3% -6%
Latina women rating… -14% -16% 18% 12%
White women rating… -12% -8% 1% 19%

These differences would be explicable in terms of three strands of research. On the one hand, when White women are shown photos of male Black, White, and East Asian people, they tend to regard Blacks as the most attractive, probably because they are the most masculinized, and East Asian males as the least. This is reversed in White males, because East Asian females have typically ultra-feminine and neotenous features (rendering them “cute”), whereas Black females typically have the least feminine features, as researchers on race and attractiveness have pointed out.7 This would also help to explain why Black women are particularly unlikely to “marry out.” Males, as we have discussed, mainly select for youth and beauty and are less interested in status. Traditionally, being Black is regarded as low status; and, more importantly, Black females are low in neoteny.

In addition, with regard to the racial marriage patterns noted, Genetic Similarity Theory would predict that Whites and Hispanics would be attracted to each other, due to their relative genetic similarity. Finally, there is some evidence that U.S. inter-racial marriages involve a trade-off of desirable traits, especially in Black male/White female unions. In these unions, the Black male tends to be of relatively high educational status compared to the woman, meaning that the female marries hypergamously in terms of education. It is proposed that this compensates for the fact that the female is marrying hypogamously (that is, socially downwards) in terms of racial status. In other words, she has engaged in status exchange.8

Regardless, we can see that a process of ethnogenesis is occurring in the U.S., primarily based around unions between White males and East Asian females. This has long been occurring in Hawaii, due to the established Japanese minority there, and the products of these unions are known by the Hawaiian word “Hapa,” which refers to a person of mixed ethnicity. Young people throughout the U.S. who are part White and part East Asian have increasingly embraced Hapa as a marker of their identity, though some Hawaiian activists have criticized this as an example of “cultural appropriation.”9 It is worth noting that Black-White biracials in the U.S. likely have a White mother, whereas Asian-White biracials are likely to have a White father. It is possible that this may lead to some effects in terms of which traits are inherited, but with the current state of research, this can only be speculated upon. According to Pew’s research, contracting a mixed-race marriage is positively correlated with education level. This may be due to the relationship between educational attainment and intelligence, something which is in turn associated with Openness. It may also be because of “exposure”: as Blacks, in particular, become more educated, they are more likely to live in areas where there are many Whites.10 However, there remains only a very weak relationship with education level.

What is clear is that the American nation is changing dramatically. To understand this, one can look to Silicon Valley, California—America’s avant-garde region in terms of technology, culture, finance, and, increasingly, demographics. As of 2017, “Asians”—mostly from China and India—made up the largest majority (34 percent) in Silicon Valley, a collection of counties of 3.1 million. Among the share of highly skilled and educated workers, some 14 percent alone were from China, which rivaled the numbers from the state of California (17 percent) and the U.S. at large (16 percent). India outnumbered them all, making up 26 percent of high-skilled tech workers.11

A situation like this will not render race “irrelevant” so much as it will generate a new people—or, more likely, peoples. We shouldn’t expect Peoria, Illinois, to resemble Silicon Valley anytime soon; however, the dramatic transformation that America is currently undergoing will unquestionably transform its collective feeling of nationalism—and xenophobia—in the not-too-distant future.


  1. Del Thiessen and Barbara Bregg, “Human Assortative Mating and Genetic Equilibrium: An Evolutionary Perspective,” Ethology and Sociobiology, 1 (1980): 111-140. ↩︎
  2. Miller McPherson, Lynn Smith-Lovin, and James M Cook, “Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks,” Annual Review of Sociology, 27 (2001): 415-444. ↩︎
  3. Gretchen Livingston and Anna Brown, “Intermarriage in the U.S. 50 Years After Loving v. Virginia,” Pew Research, May 18, 2017, https://www. pewsocialtrends.org/2017/05/18/intermarriage-in-the-u-s-50-years-after-loving-v- virginia/ (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  4. “Asian” in a U.S. context appears to refer mainly to East Asians, while in Britain it refers to South Asians. In the following discussion, I use “Asian” in the U.S. sense. ↩︎
  5. Paul Taylor, Jeffrey Passell, Wendy Wang, et al., “Marrying Out: One-in- Seven New U.S. Marriages in Interracial or Interethnic,” Pew Research, June 4, 2010, https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/reports/2010/06/04/ marrying-out-oneinseven-new-us-marriages-is-interracial-or-interethnic (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  6. Allison P. Davis, “New OkCupid Data on Race Is Pretty Depressing,” New York, September 11, 2014, https://www.thecut.com/2014/09/new-okcupid-data- on-race-is-pretty-depressing.html. ↩︎
  7. Michael Lewis. “A Facial Attractiveness Account of Gender Asymmetries in Interracial Marriage,” PLoS ONE, 7 (2, 2012): e31703, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031703 (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  8. Aaron Gullickson, “Education and Black/White Interracial Marriage,” Demography, 43 (2006): 673-689. ↩︎
  9. Ameki Johnson, “Who Gets to be ‘Hapa?’” National Public Radio, August 8, 2016, https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/08/08/487821049/who-gets-to-be-hapa?t=1596013424206 (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  10. Gullickson, “Education and Black/White Interracial Marriage,” op cit.. ↩︎
  11. Joint Venture Silicon Valley, “2019 Silicon Valley Index,” Institute for Regional Studies, https://jointventure.org/images/stories/pdf/index2019.pdf (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
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The Arguments Against “Race”

“Race” is a coherent biological category, as much as is “species,” and the cases against it simply don’t add up. This essay is drawn from the book Making Sense of…

“Race” is a coherent biological category, as much as is “species,” and the cases against it simply don’t add up.

This essay is drawn from the book Making Sense of Race, which can be purchased here.

 


 

Is “race” an outmoded, morally dubious idea that was deservedly cast into the dustbin of history, along with Stalinism, astrology, and blood-letting? Many say so. Indeed, there is a vociferous movement in anthropology, as well as in the mass media, opposed to the use of race as a biological category. Their opposition functions through a series of “memes” or “variations on themes,” which recur again and again. It is to these arguments that we now turn an informed and critical eye.

How Can You Draw a Line Between Different Races?

A chapter summary in Race and Intelligence includes the lines:

There are no biological races. Human physical appearance varies gradually around the planet, with the most geographically distant peoples generally appearing the most different from one another.1

In other words: there is no clear way to divide different races. They merge into each other, with great variation in-between. A version of this argument is that there is no specific gene that is found only in one specific race. It can be countered that races are, of course, not entirely discrete categories because, if they were, they would be more like species, or perhaps genera, families, or orders on up the taxonomic scale.

Even if it were true that no unambiguous line can be drawn between races, this does not undermine the utility of race. The line between Grizzly bears and Brown bears is blurry, too—but you still know one when you see one and making distinctions between these subspecies is meaningful. Moreover, even if we were to accept that a species varies in small ways due to slightly different environments, then those at the extremes would differ so much, and in consistent ways, that it would become useful to distinguish between them.

Ultimately, it seems like people who make this argument are flirting with a kind of “tactical nihilism.” After all, no concept about the real world is mathematically pure. If “race” is “problematic” because it has blurry borders, then the concept of “history” is equally “problematic”—indeed, the term “problematic” is “problematic.” We use categories to divide our world into manageable chunks and thus negotiate it successfully. If we could not do that, we’d die. So the “blurry borders” argument fails the philosophical test of pragmatism. There exist population clusters that differ profoundly due to varying degrees of evolutionary isolation. These allow correct predictions to be made. That is all that is being argued.

Race is a “Western” Concept

Some say that race is illegitimate or immoral because it is steeped in Western history (and thus things like slavery and oppression), as well as the supposedly myopic and suffocating outlook of “Western science.” But this same argument could be made about almost any concept—including the ones that supposedly undermine or overcome Western hegemony. At some point, we have to accept a basic framing.

And the central question is whether race is a predictive category or not. If race is “problematic” because it’s Western, then, presumably, we cannot use Western concepts at all to analyze anything non-Western. Following this logic, we shouldn’t even talk about anything that is non-Western using a Western tongue. Such argument may sound profound, but under inspection, they’re rather shallow. And for what it’s worth, non-Western cultures clearly have words and concepts that track with the Western notion of “race.”

Race Has Meant Different Things

It has been noted that the word “race” can mean different things. Historically, it has been used in ways that “culture,” “ethnic group,” “nation,” or even “family” are now employed. Lord Acton’s Cambridge Modern History, for instance, referred to the “Habsburg race” in reference to the dynastic line.2 While the history of words is interesting, the fact that the meaning of words change over time is simply irrelevant to our purposes here. We are clear that by “race” we mean breeding populations separated in prehistory and adapted to different environments. If anyone uses race to mean anything else, then our use of race and his are merely homonyms. For what it’s worth, the word “mean” has meant different things historically. In Middle English, it meant “to intend.” Only by 1834 was “mean” widely being used in the way in which it is above.3 Does that “mean” that we cannot use the concept of “meaning”?

Studying Race Leads to Bad Things

Another supposed problem with race is that developing the concept leads to bad consequences. It legitimizes “racist groups,” “inspires hatred,” and so forth. That it might do this is clearly of no relevance to whether or not it is a scientifically justifiable and predictive category. This argument commits the fallacy of an “appeal to consequences” and, depending on how the consequences are described, an “appeal to emotion.” Firstly, it’s obvious that concepts of all kinds can have bad effects. Ecology—as well as awareness about pollution and natural degradation—has, on some level, “inspired” eco-terrorism and murder. Does that mean that research into cleaning the oceans and preserving their ecosystems should cease because it has led, in some way, to violence? To ask the question is to answer it.

Beyond that, it can be convincingly argued that suppressing the concept of race leads to very bad consequences. If a South Asian person has a kidney transplant and is given the kidney of a White person, then his body will likely reject it, elevating the possibility that the patient will die of kidney failure. This scenario is the reason why Britain’s National Health Service regularly appeals for more Black and South Asian organ donors.4 During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, it was found that mortality was particularly high among Blacks and South Asians living in Northern Europe, something that was argued to be for genetic reasons. Specifically, Vitamin D deficiency rendered one more susceptible to serious complications from Covid-19, and non- Europeans were much more likely to be deficient due to their darker skin, leaving them less able to absorb Vitamin D from the sun.5

There are consistent genetic racial differences in the prevalence of many serious medical conditions. Sometimes these stay in populations because a single inherited allele had positive consequences in ancestral environments, overwhelming the negatives consequences for individual carriers of two alleles. An example is sickle cell anaemia, a condition associated with Sub-Saharan Africans. If you carry two copies of the mutant allele, then you develop this debilitating condition. If, however, you carry one copy, then you will likely be immune to malaria.6 Cystic Fibrosis, a congenital disease among Northern European, is similar.7 It only appears when two carriers of the faulty allele have a child, there being a 50 percent chance that such a child will have Cystic Fibrosis. Various hypotheses have been advanced to explain why Cystic Fibrosis has remained in European populations. One states that carrying a single copy of the faulty allele causes carriers to be better able to fight off tuberculosis.8

In some cases, something is adaptive under Darwinian conditions but is maladaptive under modern conditions. For example, South Asians are particularly good at storing fat, and this is useful in the context of food scarcity, for obvious reasons. But with food abundance brought on by the Industrial Revolution and the use of fossil fuels, South Asians become diabetic more easily than Europeans.9 Helping South Asians deal with these problems can only occur with a proper understanding of their nature.

There is evidence that Northeast Asians are less well-adapted to flu-like viruses than either Europeans or Sub-Saharan Africans. This may be because flu thrives in cold and wet or hot and wet ecologies, meaning that Europeans and Sub-Saharan Africans would be more strongly selected to be resistant to flu.10 Moreover, races that never developed complex agriculture—such as the Inuit, the Australian Aborigines, the Pacific Islanders, and many Native American groups—have low resistance to flu because animal husbandry often causes viruses to jump the species barrier, and races that evolved in such a context developed better adapted immune systems.11 This would imply that, during an influenza pandemic, East Asians in Western countries should get special protection from the flu. Denying that race exists would simply put people in danger. All of these are poignant illustrations of why race is definitely not a “social construct” and a proper understanding of it is literally a matter of life and death.

Lewontin’s Fallacy

A more scientifically informed criticism of race can be found in the common criticism, “There are more differences within races than there are between them.” This is wheeled out with great profundity by biased scientists when interviewed in biased newspapers, without any references. It has come to be known as “Lewontin’s Fallacy,” named after biologist Richard Lewontin (b.1929), who argued that 85 percent of human genetic differences are due to individual variation, and only 15 percent due to differences between populations and ethnic groups; ergo, “there are more difference within races than between them.”

This fallacy can be easily dispatched. The sheer number of differences is less important than the direction of the differences. If a variety of small differences all push in the same direction—which they will in the case of subspecies evolved to different ecologies— then this can add up to significant overall differences between average members of different races.12

British biologist A.W.F. Edwards presented a systematic critique of Lewontin’s argument (along the way, coining the phrase “Lewontin’s Fallacy”).13 He noted that Lewontin simply looked at a small number of genetic loci and found that, indeed, 85 percent of human variation was due to individual differences. However, argues Edwards, if you look at lots of loci, then you will find these loci correlate differently in different groups, due to gene frequency differences, leading to very different results. Indeed, this leads to races being very different in numerous predictable ways, rendering “race” a scientific category. Edwards pointed out that, using Lewontin’s logic, we wouldn’t be able to distinguish between different tree structures, because these differences are hidden in the correlational data, just as race differences are. But using only genetic data, scientists were able to correctly highlight 15 forms of tree structure. As Edwards notes, Lewontin’s argument could only work if each of the genetic loci highlighted were randomly distributed between races, but it is in the very nature of races—being adaptations to different ecologies—that genes are not randomly distributed. Thus, Lewontin presents us—albeit wrapped up in abstruse scientific language—with nothing more than a circular argument.

To make matters worse, the loci which Lewontin used do not vary substantially between races. He used markers such as blood-type, and, as anthropologist Peter Frost has noted, these are “not particularly selectively important. . . . [W]hen genes vary within a population, despite similar selection pressures, it’s usually because they have little or no selective value.”14 When methods were used with markers that do vary between races, such as craniometric variation and skin color, it was found that 81 percent of the variation is between races.15 Lewontin, therefore, only uncovered the findings he did by using genetic loci that aren’t especially relevant to regional evolution—despite evolution to different regions being the essence of race. So, Lewontin’s argument is a kind of sleight of hand.16 What he is actually proclaiming is this: When you use genetic loci that are distributed very similarly in all races, and in which there is much variation within races due to these loci not being very important to selection to different ecologies, then there are, indeed, more differences within races than between them. He hardly disproved the reality of race.

We’re All 99% The Same

In recent years, an argument against race has arisen that is much like the Lewontin fallacy: “Science has proven that every individual is more than 99 percent identical to every other.” This meme of “99%” was introduced at the turn of the century by none other than the Human Genome Project.17

On the individual level, tiny genetic differences (humans only differ by 0.0012 percent on average) have important consequences, and it is highly misleading to downplay them. The genetic differences in heritable musical ability between a professional musician and Mozart are probably rather small, but they are obviously profound. Moreover, on the level of species, humans share a remarkable amount of genetic similarity (upwards of 98 percent) with our closest evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee. We even share much in common with other animals, like pigs and dogs. Clearly, small differences can have dramatic physical, psychological, and behavioral effects. And no one is willing to assert that since humans and chimpanzees are “98% the same,” we should not make distinctions between the two.

The Concept of Race Makes Me Uncomfortable

Another argument—and there are many versions of it—amounts to an appeal to emotion, in which a person essentially argues that “race” makes him feel unhappy. All that can be said is that this is manifestly fallacious and thus should be dismissed out of hand. How you feel is irrelevant to whether or not something is true. If being told that you have a rare blood disorder makes you feel unhappy, does that mean that it is not true or that you shouldn’t be told about it?

On a deeper level, we should understand that science is fundamentally amoral. It is about the relentless search for the objective truth. New scientific discoveries almost always offended some vested interest or other. This is why the kind of scientists who tend to make really important discoveries—so-called “geniuses”— seem to combine outlier high IQ with moderately low Agreeableness (altruism and empathy) and moderately low Conscientiousness (impulse control, rule following). This means that they can “think outside the box,” not bound by conventional rules—maybe they even take pleasure in slaughtering sacred cows. It also means that they either don’t care about offending people or they are sufficiently high on the “autism spectrum” that they wouldn’t be able to anticipate offending people even if they did care.18

If You Are Interested in “Race,” Then You Are Probably “Racist”

This criticism—that discussing race is “racist”—amounts to a so-called “fact-value conflation.” That a person presents something as being a “fact” has no bearing at all on his “values.” Facts are value-neutral. If a doctor tells you that you only have a week to live, does that mean he wants you to die? Furthermore, we should probably be, at the very least, suspicious of those who regularly employ the word “racist.” The first recorded use of the word “racist” was in 1932, with “racism” first observed in 1928. These terms gradually came to replace “racialist,” which was first recorded in 1910, and “racialism,” first noted in 1882.19 In 1928, “racism” meant the belief that each “race” (meaning “ethnic group”) should have their own state and that civic society was optimal if states were racially based.20 “Racialism” referred to prejudices against other races and the belief that one’s own race was superior.

In the wake of World War II, “racist” gradually came to mean what “racialist” had once meant.21 However, the term “racist” has been extended far beyond this, to refer to anybody who is seen to deviate from ideological orthodoxy with regard to the issue of race. Terming such a person the “racist” associates him with that which is accepted as somehow evil and immoral. As this association is damaging, the term “racist” is an emotionally manipulative means of keeping people on the “correct” ideological path. In other words, it is an ad hominem criticism. The essence of the accusation is that the subject has strayed sufficiently far from orthodoxy that he is immoral; he is a heretic. There are many terms of this kind. As English historian Alexandra Walsham summarizes, in her analysis of Early Modern religious non-conformity in England, the accusation of “atheist” was “available for the expression and repression of disquiet about ‘aberrant’ mental and behavioral tendencies—for the reinforcement and restatement of theoretical norms.” Both “atheist” and “papist” were “categories of deviance to which individuals who were even marginally departed from the prescribed ideals might be assimilated and thereby reproved.”22

There is simply no logical reason to reject the concept of race, and there are very persuasive reasons to accept it as what it is—a scientific category. On this basis, one should be rather guarded about the motives of those who refuse to accept it, who resort to name-calling and obfuscation, or who are mired in the contradictions and incoherence.


References

  1. Jefferson M. Fish, ed., Race and Intelligence (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2011) ↩︎
  2. Lord Acton, Stanley Mordaunt Leathes, Sir Adolphus William Ward, and G. W. Prothero, eds., Cambridge Modern History, vol. 2 (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1902). ↩︎
  3. Online Etymology Dictionary (2019), “Mean,” https://www.etymonline.com/ word/mean (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  4. Sandish Shoker, “The Health System’s Struggle to Get More Black and Asian Donors,” BBC News, July 4, 2015, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england- nottinghamshire-33101610 (accessed May 15, 2020) ↩︎
  5. Susanne Bejerot and Mats Humble, “Inhabitants of Swedish-Somali Origin Are at Great Risk for Covid-19,” British Medical Journal, 368 (2020): m1101. ↩︎
  6. Lucio Luzatto, “Sickle Cell Anaemia and Malaria,” Mediterranean Journal of Hematology and Infectious Diseases, 4(1) (2012): e2012065. ↩︎
  7. Brian P. O’Sullivan and Steven D. Freedman, “Cystic Fibrosis,” Lancet, 373 (2009): 1891–1904. ↩︎
  8. Joanne K. Tobacman, “Does Deficiency of Arylsulfatase B Have a Role in Cystic Fibrosis?” Chest, 123 (2003): 2130–2139. ↩︎
  9. Emma Pomeroy, Veena Mushrif-Tripathy, Tim J. Cole, et al., “Ancient Origins of Low Lean Mass Among South Asians and Implications for Modern Type 2 Diabetes Susceptibility,” Scientific Reports, 9 (2019): 10515. ↩︎
  10. Office of the Ministry of Health, Monthly Bulletin of the Ministry of Health (1954), 173. ↩︎
  11. C. L. Chen, Li Xiao, Y-P. Zhou, et al., “Ethnic Differences in Susceptibilities to A(H1N1) Flu: An Epidemic Parameter Indicating a Weak Viral Virulence,” African Journal of Biotechnology, 8 (2009): 25. ↩︎
  12. Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending, The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution (New York: Basic Books, 2009). ↩︎
  13. A.W.F. Edwards, “Human Genetic Diversity: Lewontin’s Fallacy,” BioEssays, 25 (2003): 798-801. ↩︎
  14. Peter Frost, “Lewontin’s Fallacy?” Evo and Proud, July 31, 2008, http:// evoandproud.blogspot.com/2008/06/lewontins-fallacy.html (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  15. John H. Relethford, “Apportionment of Global Human Genetic Diversity Based on Craniometrics and Skin Color,” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 118 (2002): 393-398. ↩︎
  16. Nathan Cofnas, “Science Is Not Always ‘Self-Correcting’: Fact–Value Conflation and the Study of Intelligence.” Foundational Science, 21 (2015): 477-492. ↩︎
  17. Eric S. Lander, John Sulston, Robert H. Waterston, et al., “Initial Sequencing and Analysis of the Human Genome,” Nature, 4 (2001): 860–921. ↩︎
  18. Dean K. Simonton, “Varieties of (Scientific) Creativity: A Hierarchical Model of Domain-Specific Disposition, Development, and Achievement.” Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4 (2009): 5. ↩︎
  19. Online Etymological Dictionary, “Racist,” https://www.etymonline.com/word/ racist (accessed May 15, 2020). ↩︎
  20. Ibid. ↩︎
  21. Robert Miles, Racism (London: Routledge, 1989). ↩︎
  22. Alexandra Walsham, Church Papists: Catholicism, Conformity, and Confessional Polemic in Early Modern England (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999), 108. ↩︎
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Trusting The Plan

QAnon is a religious revival for the age of political polarization, and one which will likely outlast Donald Trump. Introduction A religious revival is sweeping the United States. It’s already…

QAnon is a religious revival for the age of political polarization, and one which will likely outlast Donald Trump.


Introduction

A religious revival is sweeping the United States. It’s already expanded as far afield as Europe, and its devotees number in the millions.1 With an esoteric, and eccentric, though uniquely American creed; it is perhaps best understood as a new stage of Christianity. It revolves around nothing less than a metaphysical battle between Good and Evil, which plays out at the highest levels of government, media, and finance. The future of the country—and safety of the world’s children—is at stake. Wickedness abounds, but devotees have faith that a messiah is rising, one who will “make America great again.” This new religion is regarded as so inflammatory—and perhaps threatening to public order—that major social media companies have purged all content related to its doctrines.2

It’s called “QAnon.”

The rise of QAnon has startled and flummoxed most mainstream media commentators. They dismiss, ridicule, and denounce this online “conspiracy theory” as it continues to grow ever more popular, powerful, and influential. According to polling in October 2020, some 15 percent of President Donald Trump’s supporters are committed followers of “Q.” An additional 22 percent are “fellow travelers”: they believe some of Q’s claims but worry that the movement might “go too far.”3 A full half of Trump supporters believe that the Democrats are engaged in child-trafficking and that Trump is trying to put an end to it—an opinion clearly derived from the Q cult, as we will see. Even if we take surveys like this with a grain of salt, they reveal the intense popularity—and likely staying power—of the Q narrative within the American Right, and beyond.

This Trump-era Internet phenomenon makes a great deal of sense if we conceive of it as a religious revival, and not simply as a popular conspiracy theory (like those surrounding the JFK assassination or the moon landing). Many of the key components of a religion are obvious: Q has its “angels,” “demons,” “saviors,” and promises of “redemption.” And for its adherents, QAnon serves many other vital functions of religions of the past. Furthermore, this re-conception of Q raises some bigger questions. Why do religious revivals—periodic outbursts of intense devotion—occur in the first place? And if we accept that QAnon is a creed for our time, why has it taken this superficially bizarre guise, and shed the trappings of traditional religion?

To answer these questions, we will turn to modern history and specifically the impact it had on human evolution. The Industrial Revolution weakened Darwinian selection pressures on Western societies, leading to, among other things, a collapse in child mortality and a collapse in selection pressures for intelligence, traditional religiousness, and highly ethnocentric groups, all of which it is clear were being selected for until that point. Due to an inter-related sequence of consequences, this has resulted in an increasingly genetically diverse—and thus culturally and politically polarized—society. The bundle of inclinations that constitute “religion” have broken apart. As a result, where once a global plague might have led to a Christian revival, in 2020 it led to, or brought to prominence, two distinct quasi-religious movements: Black Lives Matter4 and QAnon. Furthermore, I will proffer that, despite QAnon’s ostensible wackiness, it is far more group-fitness promoting than BLM, not least due to its traditionally religious dimensions. And perhaps most shocking of all, there may be some kernels of truth within its most outlandish claims.


1. The Rise of Q

The exact origins of Q—as well as those behind the cult and profiting from it—are murky and disputed, and beyond the scope of this essay. Suffice it to say, in the autumn of 2017, someone supposedly working for the National Security Administration—boasting “Q-level” clearance and calling himself “Q”—began posting on the anonymous message and image board “4chan.”5 His first missive, on October 28, 2017, announced the imminent arrest of Hillary Clinton:

HRC extradition already in motion effective yesterday with several countries in case of cross border run. Passport approved to be flagged effective 10/30 @ 12:01am. Expect massive riots organized in defiance and others fleeing the US to occur.6

Years have passed, and Clinton has not been locked up, but inaccurate predictions never affected the growth of Q’s prestige. In his second post, later that day, he began to outline his broader message:

Mockingbird
HRC detained, not arrested (yet). […]
POTUS knew removing criminal rogue elements as a first step was essential to free and pass legislation.
Who has access to everything classified?
Do you believe HRC, Soros, Obama etc. have more power than Trump? Fantasy.
Whoever controls the office of the Presidency controls this great land.
They never believed for a moment they (Democrats and Republicans) would lose control.
This is not a R v D battle.
Why did Soros donate all his money recently?
Why would he place all his funds in a RC?
Mockingbird 10.30.17
God bless fellow Patriots.7

Even at this early stage, Q’s style is established. Missives are released as a series of aphorisms and provocations, and Q asks more questions than Socrates. The cryptic, oracular suggestions nudge followers into perceiving politics in new ways. Indeed, Q’s message is highly counter-intuitive and revisionary, especially for conservatives. The NSA is not a shadow government engaged in surveillance and invasions of privacy—it’s the headquarters of the “good guys.” Donald Trump is not a buffoonish womanizer and jet-setter—he’s the enemy of the globalist class. And Robert Mueller was not investigating Trump for possible impeachment proceedings—he was working alongside him to “drain the swamp.” Nothing is as it seems. And in this topsy-turvy world, traditional political reporting must be distrusted and dismissed (“fake news”). The evocative call sign “Mockingbird,” in fact, seems to reference an alleged CIA program during the Cold War aimed at manipulating the media. Interestingly, Q’s unique brand of contrarianism can be translated for audiences outside the U.S. One German Q supporter exclaimed, regarding the American forces occupying his country, “these are troops that will free the German people from Merkel.”8

Each day, Q’s followers are tasked with exegesis and elaboration of his latest “Q drops” (anonymous posting on 4chan, certified by his handle “BQ7V3bcW”). Much like Jesus, the religion of Q was formed, not by the man himself—who always speaks elliptically and poetically—but by his devotees, who wrote the Gospels and formed the movement. Q’s crypsis re-enforces his central message: Trust the Plan. You can’t know, and maybe wouldn’t believe, what is happening behind the scenes. But you must hold fast and have faith that “good” will triumph in the end.

The Q drops birthed a Reddit community of 70,000 members at its height, and the movement gained serious attention when it was discussed by Sean Hannity, Roseanne Barr, and Alex Jones—the latter claiming to have direct contact with the man himself. Q memes were re-tweeted by Republican Party activists.9 And over the course of 2018-20, there arose what could be called “Q-adjacent” politicians, pundits, and celebrities, who might not address Q directly, and might not have any direct connection with the movement, but who speak in a language that resonated with the scene.

We’ll probably never know Q’s identity, or whether he—or she or they—desired to launch a crusade when it all first began. He might have merely been “shit posting” on 4chan, a website notorious for conspiracy theories, pornography, and outrageous right-wing opinions. But at least by 2018, Q was aware that he was part of something much bigger than himself and was consciously cultivating his movement, with heavy doses of moralizing. This impulse is apparent in his posting leading up to the 2020 election:

One party discusses God.
One party discusses Darkness.
One party promotes God.
One party eliminates God.
Symbolism will be their downfall.
The Great Deceiver(s). […]
Have Faith in Humanity.
Have Faith in Yourself.
UNITED WE STAND.
GOD WINS.
Q10


2. A Conspiracy So Immense . . .

Throughout the 20th century, sociologists studied the development, in America and most Western countries, of “public opinion.” This is a mostly unified understanding of important events (“the news”), as well as communally shared values, habits, and actions: “watch the news at 5,” “vote on Tuesday,” “church on Sunday,” and so on.11 “Public opinion” must be fostered and managed; it was a critical component of administering a technological, “democratic” society. Over the course of the past 25 years, such unity has been fragmenting: we don’t listen to the same music or watch the same movies and shows, nor do we consider ourselves part of a collective political community. The birth of the Web may have accelerated this trend; social networking and alternative media shifted it into overdrive.

Republicans, and especially Q followers, consider themselves “real Americans,” but in contradistinction to the “liberal elites,” who are, at best, hypocritical and selfish and, at worst, downright evil. The liberals, in turn, mirror this view: conservative Trump voters are deluded or racist reactionaries, out of touch with their country’s true national purpose. Political polarization derives from this “culture of suspicion.” Q supporters don’t merely distrust the mainstream media; they reject it because it’s the mainstream media. Authenticity and truth are to be found elsewhere. For some time, right-wing outlets such as Fox News and talk radio served this purpose, but these are quickly being replaced by websites like Breitbart, Facebook groups, “citizen journalists,” and, yes, QAnon. 4Chan itself acts as a kind of chaotic “Id” brain of the online Right. The anonymous poster possessing esoteric knowledge is the most anti-mainstream—and thus the most credible—source there is.

Q integrates a number of inter-related sets of conspiratorial beliefs. According to its gospel, throughout the 20th century, the world was gradually taken over by “wicked” people, who were prepared to do anything they could to enrich themselves and become ever-more powerful. Those who are not part of this criminal organization are, generally, “good” people, though many are turned “evil” by their evil masters. This vicious elite constitutes a shadowy “Deep State,” which runs the world behind the scenes. A criminal ruling class—which includes the Clintons, every president after Reagan, Bill Gates, and the leaders of every dimension of Western societies that have any influence—can be blamed for everything: financial collapses, pandemics, and even child-abuse rings. To turn us into cooperative drones to be exploited, they undermine the cornerstones of Western civilization, such as family and national solidarity, and direct external invasions and drug epidemics. Even childhood vaccinations are part of their dastardly scheme.

Some “good” people still hold positions of power, and they are able to use the digital footprint (emails and other communications) left by “The Cabal” to start to challenge it. These “good guys” are working for the NSA and some other branches of government. Not too long ago, they devised a plan to take the world back and eventually arrest The Cabal’s leaders and henchmen. These patriots asked Trump to run for president so that they could enact their, as it were, “counter-conspiracy.” The Cabal struck back and did all it could to overthrow Trump—but he just kept on winning.

Part of the success of QAnon is the way in which it, parsimoniously, brings together and provides an overarching rationale for so many “alternative histories” that have been popular in America for decades. For example, The Cabal killed JFK because he threatened to undermine it, and they shot Ronald Regan to dissuade him from challenging it. The 9/11 attacks were an “inside job,” at the hands of The Cabal, in order to grab power and further erode the freedoms enjoyed by good citizens. Similarly, Covid-19 is a hoax deployed by this Deep State to control the populace and render them despondent.

Relatively recent revelations about high-level sexual abusers and pedophiles, such as Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein (1953-2019)—who supposed killed himself on suicide watch before he could face trial—are drawn into the web.12 Q followers have theorized that John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his death in 1999 in order to avoid being assassinated by The Cabal. He lives on as a Trump supporter in Pennsylvania; some think he might be Q himself.13 Some QAnon supporters accept the 2016 “Pizzagate” conspiracy, where a Washington, DC pizzeria was the headquarters of this diabolical child-abuse ring, with Bill Clinton’s chief of staff John Podesta, convicted sex offender and former Democrat congressman Anthony Weiner, and Hillary Clinton all being involved.

Yet another strand of QAnon thought focuses on the significance of Jewish financial interests in controlling The Cabal. According to this theory, the Satanic, child-stealing, baby-murdering Khazar Empire from Babylon was defeated by Russian Tzars and driven underground. They gradually infiltrated the world banking sector and even the British monarchy; the Rothschilds are actually Khazars, who control some of the world’s most powerful Satanists. As Q “dropped”: “Realize Soros, Clintons, Obama, Putin, etc. are all controlled by 3 families.”14 Q lists these three families in some posts: The House of Saud, George Soros himself, and the Rothschilds. In another post, Q asks: “What happened to Diana? What did she find out? Why was she running?” and invoked the idea of a secret British government, propped up by MI6.15 The rabbit hold runs deep . . .


3. That New Time Religion

What can we make of all this? America is notorious for its love of conspiracy theories, and these often seem to act much like “replacement religions.” Groups battle with each other and the victors pass on more of their genes. This is known as “group-selection.” Groups are more likely to win if they regard themselves as superior and the other group as evil. Religions tend to promote this adaptive way of thinking: We are the people of God; they worship the Devil. As a frontier and settler society at its inception, the American population has been subject to strong group-selection to be an intensely religious people, and a central aspect of religion is “over-detecting agency”—perceiving agents behind the world itself. It should thus be little surprise that in our “secular age,” America has become a land of believers in the supernatural, alien abductions, Satanic cabals, and bizarre creeds of all sorts.16 This has become particularly prominent from the 1960s onwards, as traditional religions have lost social power and prestige.17

Some Q followers have fully integrated his conspiracy theory into their religious practice; they, in fact, call themselves “Qvangelicals.”18 In this way, their daily news feed takes on religious significance. Q himself states: “We are living in Biblical times. Children of light vs children of darkness. United against the Invisible Enemy of all humanity.”19 Trump, in his way, is imagined as a fallen Messiah.

According to this strand of Q theology, the world is controlled by a Satan-worshipping pedophile ring that sexually abuses and kills children—and even drinks their blood—in order to achieve immortality. In many ways, Q followers might be compared to the Gnostics in the Early Church. This was a highly diverse movement, theologically speaking, united by core ideas. In particular, Gnostics believed that the universe was dualistic, reflecting an eternal battle between a higher god and the evil god of this world. This evil god was responsible for all of the world’s woes, and one could be “saved” by attaining direct knowledge of the higher god, knowledge which the evil god attempted to hide from you, via mystical practices.20

QAnon possesses not just a fledgling theology but an eschatology as well, a vision of the imminent End Times, both apocalyptic and triumphant. We are living through “The Awakening,” the point when the good people in government have begun communicating with and enlightening the broader public. Trump’s assumed re-election in November was said to herald “The Storm,” in which The Cabal was to be overthrown and America, restored. This November’s election has been tempestuous, indeed: both sides claimed victory; the Republicans cried “voter fraud”; and the Democrats suspected a potential coup. Q himself has gone mostly silent. On November 13—more than a week after Biden was deemed President Elect—Q announced: “Nothing can stop what is coming. Nothing!”21 But overall, Q has not given his millions of followers much guidance for how they should process what is unfolding.

Nevertheless, liberals will be disappointed if they expect that Biden’s inauguration will put a swift end to the QAnon phenomenon. The movement has deeper causes than Trump’s mercurial political career, and either outcome (a new Biden administration or Trump’s unlikely return to power) can be rationalized as The Cabal’s counter-strike or else as all part of The Plan. Put simply, QAnon and movements like it are here to stay. Remove Trump from office and watch the cult become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.


4. The Times They Are A Changin’

Historically, religious revivals tend to take place during periods of dramatic change, especially during those that involve an elevated awareness of death: war, famine, plague, political instability, and the seeming end of the world.22 This makes sense because experimental research has found that individuals become more religious—more prone to strongly believing in God—in precisely these dire contexts.23 In the wake of World War I and the Spanish Flu Pandemic, there were notable religious revivals in eastern England and in northeast Scotland.24 After World War II and the end of post-War restrictions, there was a huge religious revival in the U.S. and in the UK led by pastor Billy Graham (1918-2018), based around emotional rallies each attended by many thousands.25

By 2020, Covid-19 burst on the scene and led to hundreds of thousands of deaths around the world, creating a period of deep anxiety, in which it seemed very possible that the death toll could be enormous. In turn, the “lockdowns,” which governments instituted as a means of containing the plague, marked unprecedented disruptions to normal life. We have also had the sudden and heightened trauma of the Black Lives Matter Movement, resurrected in a newer, more intense form after the death of George Floyd. As I have argued, BLM can be considered a religious revival of its own.26 Regardless, the protests of this past summer eventuated in a collapse of public order in parts of the U.S. and UK: an orgy of inter-racial strife, violence, and self-righteous displays, which the political and legal Establishment was unable or unwilling to suppress. This was accompanied by the sapping of White morale through the removal of historical statues and other links with the “certainties” of the past.

With this background, we would expect there to be a religious revival in Western countries—and specifically one that might counter BLM. For various reasons, however, it could not be as overtly religious, as was Billy Graham’s movement, which developed in a context in which traditional Christianity was still dominant. Since then, we have witnessed the collapse of traditional society,27 a significant fall in the influence of Christianity, and deviations from traditional religious norms in many directions, with many people creating their own ersatz religion from various sources.28 Put simply, we’re lived through the fallout of the “death of God.”

For at least the past 100 years, a secularization thesis has informed, sometimes unconsciously, the minds of scholars, public intellectuals, and policy-makers. Briefly, people and institutions are becoming less religious; those religions that do persist are largely relegated to the private sphere: they are “tolerant” and more like lifestyles than ways of life. In reality, the situation is far more complicated. Society is increasingly divided between “Individualists” and those who are high in “Binding Values” (putting the group ahead of the individual). “Individualist” ideas have gradually become dominant across time. And extreme Individualists have ascended to the heights of the social ladder and pushed the broader society in their direction. While this has been happening, however, those who are highest in Binding Values—and especially those prone to intense religiosity—have been having the most children. The result is that America—and, in fact, nations around the world29—are undergoing radical polarization. Social trust has collapsed, as each side is increasingly alienated from the other, culturally and morally. Moreover, in “meritocratic” societies, education, IQ, and being “politically correct” are all inter-related, as we will see in more detail below. This has led to even greater social and economic distance between the two polarized groups.

It is against this background that QAnon’s rise must be understood, as the religion provides a means of making sense of a world that its adherents increasingly don’t understand. If Americans’ moral foundations veer more towards those of a traditional kind, they will be profoundly concerned with a structured and ordered society, with rescuing and promoting their group, and with destroying that which fills them with disgust—sexual disgust, in particular. QAnon is attractive to such people because it provides order out of chaos; it offers a rescue plan for the group as a whole; and it is partly focused on destroying sexual deviants and those disloyal to the group—those that want to create chaos.

There are certainly ways that the Q cult can encourage unhealthy obsessions and anti-social behavior among its believers. It’s worth remember that on December 4, 2016, a North Carolina man, brandishing a rifle, entered the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Northern Virginia and threatened employees before being arrested. He claimed to be “investigating” the Pizzagate affair, discussed above.30 It might be only a matter of time before something similar, or worse, takes place involving a deranged Q advocate.

That said, we would be remiss if we ignored the ways that the Q cult can be “adaptive,” in an evolutionary sense, and bring along many of the benefits of older religions. First, Q offers the promise that, once the evil-doers are dispatched, America will experience a revival of traditional values, which used to be central to American life (including ethnocentrism and pro-natalism). Additionally, in that Q presents itself as a moral crusade, it can also inspire self-sacrificing, group-selected, and ultimately pro-social behavior. And, as we will see as we turn to the scientific theories of religion, it is the more tightly bonded groups that tend to triumph in the end.


5. The Evolution of Religion in the 21st Century

“Religion,” in the widely accepted sense of the word, involves all of the key components of an evolutionary adaptation. It is around 0.4 genetic; traditional religiousness (specifically the collective worship of a moral god) is associated with physical and mental health, partly at the genetic level;31 it correlates with fertility; and specific parts of the brain are associated with it.32 Accordingly, religiousness was selected for under the conditions of harsh Darwinian selection that were prevalent until the breakthroughs of the Industrial Revolution.

There are likely a number of non-exclusive reasons why religiousness evolved. One is that it promoted pro-social behavior. Those who believed in a god who told them to behave in a pro-social way were less likely to be cast out or killed by the pre-historic band and were, therefore, more likely to pass on their genes. A related possibility is that it reduced stress when we, as advanced rational beings, recognized our own mortality. Those who felt that their lives had eternal meaning and that a god was constantly looking after them would be less likely to become depressed and anxious and more likely to pass on their genes.33 Consistent with this, not only do people tend to become more religious at times of stress, they are more likely to have dramatic religious experiences in which they do not merely vaguely feel that God is present but, as far as they are concerned, see Him and hear His reassuring voice.34 In general, it seems reasonable to argue that religiousness would have been selected for because it promoted mental health, with the result that mental health and religiosity have become genetically related, due to both being simultaneously selected over a lengthy period of time.35

Religion also would have been kin-selected for, too. You can pass on your genes indirectly by aiding your kin: your children share 50 percent of your genes and more distant kin, such as nephews, share 25 percent. If a person were highly religious, it would make their kin more attractive, because of the associations between religiousness, pro-social behavior, and mental stability. This would help to explain why some Islamic fundamentalists kill daughters who have dishonored the family. It is a way of signaling the family’s commitment to Islam, and thus elevating kin selection.36 An ethnic group is an extended genetic kinship group and is thus a means by which you indirectly pass on your genes.37 It has been found, using computer-modeling, that groups that are highest in positive ethnocentrism (internal cooperation) and negative ethnocentrism (external hostility) tend to dominate others in the battle of group selection.38 There is evidence implying that religiousness is genetically associated with both kinds of ethnocentrism, because a part of the brain associated with ethnocentrism is also associated with religiousness.39 And the correlation between positive ethnocentrism and religiousness would make sense because a group would be more internally cooperative if it were high in pro-social traits and low in mental instability.

This is why religion is such a prominent part of the human experience. In essence, the group that promoted the most adaptive behaviors as “God’s will” was more likely to pass on its genes, while those who did not were more likely to die off. To be religious became associated with other adaptive traits, but it also elevated group-fitness by elevating being group-selected as “divinely ordained.”

There has, however, long been variation within societies in the nature of religiousness. One reason for this is that religion is itself composed of a series of adaptive traits, which, because they were adaptive, became bundled together and selected for as a single trait—religiosity. These are, among others:

  1. Agency Over-Detection. We have a cognitive bias towards detecting the presence of an agent behind events. This is because, following the “Smoke Detector Principle,” it is adaptive to assume the worst and get it wrong—such as to assume that that rustling noise behind the bush was a wolf rather than the wind. This helps to explain why we might see evidence of god’s agency in the world.
  2. Pattern Over-Detection. Much as with agency, we are evolved to over-detect causation. This is adaptive because those who under-detected it would have been wiped out. Partly for this reason, we are evolved to want a world that is highly structured and that makes sense to us.
  3. Follow the Leader. We are evolved to form strongly-bonded groups and to obey authority; as such, groups are more likely to survive in the battle of group selection.40

Religions will vary in the extent of the prominence of each of these factors. This means that, though religiousness is generally adaptive, it is quite possible for maladaptive forms of religiousness—which do not “get the balance right”—to manifest, as has been the case throughout history. Those that espoused these forms of religiousness have tended not to survive.

One of the key balances that has to be maintained in any group is that between “individualism” and “binding values,” which we briefly looked at above. Jonathan Haidt has proposed that there are “Five Moral Foundations” on which humans vary. These divide into two higher order clusters: Individualizers (who are broadly left-wing) and those who are high on Binding (we’ll call them Binders, and they tend to be right-wing). Individualizers are strongly focused on “Care” (harm avoidance) and “Fairness” (a desire for equality). Although these values may superficially appear “selfless,” they are individualist, because they are concerned with the good of the individual (harm avoidance) or how he feels (equality) about the good of the group. Individualizers have relatively little interest in “Authority,” “Loyalty,” and “Sanctity” (that some things are “pure” and others “revolting” and “reprehensible”).

Binders are roughly equally concerned about “Loyalty,” “Authority,” “Sanctity,” “Care,” and “Fairness,” though there are some “extreme Binders” who do not much care about the latter two foundations; these people tend to be “far right.” Different forms of religion are thus differentially attractive to those who are stronger or weaker in the different moral foundations. For example, early Protestantism can be regarded as, in many ways, a revolutionary left-wing movement that was very high in “Fairness” and very low in traditional “Authority.”41 Of course, there will be all kinds of individual variance in the degree of strength within these moral foundations, but, overall, this was the clustering that was found.42 The groups that were successful in the battle of group selection were the groups that attained the optimum adaptive balance between these sets of foundations.

By 1800, we would expect White Americans to be particularly religious, because the cultural core of the country was founded by Puritans, who would have passed on their intense religiosity as a genetic legacy. The heritability of extreme religiosity is around 0.7,43 and White Americans were subject to intense group selection, especially in fighting Native Americans and the demands of establishing themselves in a hostile environment to which they were not adapted. Then again, evolution never stops. So we need to look closer at what happened to that original American stock.


6. The Industrial Revolution’s Revolution

Some 200 years ago, a basic level of religiosity had been established across the White race. Indeed, it has been shown that Western Europeans became more religious, seemingly for genetic reasons, throughout the Middle Ages, often due to executing and ostracizing “heretics” (that is, those prone to religious deviation and atheism).44 At that time, in Europe, the child mortality rate was 50 percent. A further 40 percent of people either witnessed all of their offspring die young or did not marry. Thus, only 10 percent of people born actually passed on their genes, and it has been shown in other species that this is necessary for a population to remain healthy. The Industrial Revolution heralded huge improvements in medicine, inoculations, and general living standards. And currently, around 80 percent of people pass on their genes and child mortality is 1 percent.45 In other words, the Industrial Revolution sparked a genetic revolution, as well—a dramatic change in who survived and reproduced.

In 1800, White America was a small gene pool in which people were all relatively genetically similar and strongly genetically fit, because those who deviated from the optimum—due to mutant genes—were purged from the population every generation. Being strongly genetically similar, the population would tend to trust each other, cooperate, and think in the same direction. We bond with people who are more genetically similar to ourselves because this is a means of indirectly passing on more of our genes. This trend is found even when looking at relationships between siblings, whose genetic similarity level can be subtly differ. This is why husbands and wives—and even best friends—are more genetically similar than could ever come about by chance.46 With the Industrial Revolution, this happy homogeneity began to break down, because selection pressure was heavily weakened. The result is a many-fold, inter-related sequence of factors, which change the nature, cohesiveness, and worldview of the population.


The Eleven Consequence of the Industrial Revolution

1. Genetic Physical Sickness

Populations are increasingly genetically sick, as mutations are no longer purged from the population. This has been demonstrated by growing evidence of highly genetic physical disorders.

2. Genetic Mental Sickness

Populations are increasingly mentally unfit, as witnessed by a rise in mental conditions associated with low fertility, such as depression and schizophrenia.

3. Genetic Diversity and Low Trust

Even controlling for immigration, societies are increasingly genetically diverse, leading, purely for genetic reasons, to lots of differences in how people view the world and a gradual collapse in social trust.

4. Diverse and Maladaptive Worldviews

We see worldviews that were extraordinarily rare in 1800 becoming more and more commonplace. This makes sense if we understand the relatively close relationship between physical and mental traits. The brain is 84 percent of the genome. This means it is a massive target for mutation, such that the higher your general mutational load, the more likely you are to have mutations of the mind, which would have been strongly maladaptive under Darwinian conditions and which correlate with other physical and mental mutations. Under harsh conditions, we were evolved to collectively worship a moral god in order to be highly ethnocentric. We should see increasing deviation from group religiosity, and worldviews that are highly maladaptive; these should be associated with evidence of mutation.47 In line with this prediction, views associated with the Left can be regarded as clearly maladaptive or deviations from the Darwinian optimum. These include atheism (which undermines group selection), believing that life is pointless and has no eternal significance, anti-natalism, redistribution (putting other families above your own), multiculturalism (putting other ethnic groups above your own), individualism (having no concern for your group), and animal rights (putting other species above your own). These viewpoints are themselves associated with other maladaptive traits, in particular low fertility and high levels of mental illness, one strong example being depression.48 These deviations from the collective worship of a moral god are, unsurprisingly, also associated with physical evidence of mutation. In other words, you can learn a lot about someone’s psychology by assessing what they look like.

Having a symmetrical face is attractive because it implies that you have low levels of mutations. It indicates that you have been able to maintain a symmetrical phenotype in the face of disease, meaning that you have an optimal immune system, good genetic health, and thus a low mutational load. A person with high mutational load, and thus poor genetic health, need to employ proportionately more of their bio-energetic resources fighting off disease, resulting in less symmetry.49 On this basis, we would predict that people who were traditionally religious or right-wing—the two measures robustly correlate50—to be judged as better looking than left-wing people and to have faces that were more symmetrical. There is evidence indicating that this is, indeed, the case.51 Left-handedness is also a sign of high mutational load, as a symmetrical brain is associated with right-handedness. Accordingly, we would predict that non-right-handedness would be correlated with atheism, and this is so.52

5. The Spread of these Maladaptive Views to the Relatively Healthy

As humans are a highly pro-social species, we evolved to be in networks of mentally healthy people, and are impacted by the nature of the people with whom we interact. For example, though depression is highly genetic, there is a significant environmental component, with people who regularly associate with depressed people being more likely to become depressed themselves.53 In the same way, those who hold maladaptive views would become an increasing presence in the population and would influence those around them to adopt these views. These influencers, who hold these views to a pronounced degree, can be termed “spiteful mutants,” as they induce those who are lower in mutational load to adopt maladaptive views.54 Traditional society has established structures—such as religiosity and child-rearing practices—which optimally elevate its group fitness. The spiteful mutant will attack and undermine these, subverting them such that they undermine the fitness of society. Only those who are, for genetic reasons, extremely fitness-oriented, such as the traditionally religious, will instinctively reject the spiteful mutants, just as, centuries ago, ideas that undermined group fitness were dismissed as “witchcraft” and “devil worship.”

Once around 20 percent of the population holds maladaptive views, studies have shown that it can be expected to turn, very quickly, towards the new “system,” as the old system will appear moribund in comparison and adaptive people seek to join the winning team.55 This change seems to have happened around the 1960s. The means by which you would gain status in the new system would be to signal how pro-equality you were, meaning that society, taken over by the new way of thinking, would overtly become ever more left-wing and, thus, ever more different from the remnant group-selected component of the population, which maintained traditional values and was relatively resistant to changes. It would also mean that regulations on issues such as sexual mortality would collapse.

6. Declining Religiousness and Rising Individualism

Due to very low mortality salience, and all else controlled for, people would be very low in religiousness and thus low in the group-fitness promoting ideas associated with religiousness, such as ethnocentrism. It has been found that religiousness promotes social trust among non-relatives, as it is an insurance policy that a stranger—believing that god will punish him for his misdeeds—can be trusted. As religion collapses, therefore, social trust collapses, as well.56 The collapse of religiously-induced ethnocentrism, combined with a drift towards individualist values, also leads to mass immigration. It has been found that multiculturalism—specifically a local neighborhood becoming ethnically diverse—reduces social trust. The natives are not only disinclined to trust foreign immigrants but other natives, as well. This happens because the natives blame their co-ethnics for allowing the multicultural situation to occur, and also because they now fear that disloyal co-ethnics might collaborate against them with the immigrants.57

7. High Fertility on the “Far Right”

The portion of the society that is utterly resistant to the new fitness-damaging system of individualist values will be predicted to have been growing due to the association between traditional religiosity and fertility. In this line, it has been found that, using Western samples, being “far right” predicts having the highest fertility while being “far left” predicts having the lowest.58

8. A Genetic Caste System

Our relatively meritocratic and mobile society has created increasing cognitive stratification, whereby intelligent people, who happen to be born into working-class families, for example, are very easily able to leave this environment, become educated, and move to other areas dominated by educated and intelligent people.59 This was not possible when society was less meritocratic, in part because it was less interested in values such as “Fairness.” The result is that people of different intelligence levels, and even of different social classes (socioeconomic status being robustly predicted by intelligence60), increasingly inhabit different worlds. And, due to the high genetic component of intelligence of around 0.8, as well as the high genetic component of the personality traits associated with high IQ,61 they will be increasingly different from each other genetically, as well. So, we would expect those at the bottom of society to decreasingly trust and admire the elite. Furthermore, intelligence is associated with realizing what the dominant set of values is, and with forcing yourself to adopt them so that you can get on better in life. This is why professional people, currently, tend to espouse leftist values.62 Those of lower socioeconomic status will be less able to do this so, in a society of cognitive stratification, and will be increasingly alienated from the elite.

9. Declining IQ and so Declining Trust

One of the correlates of intelligence is trust. People with high IQ are more trusting, possibly because if you have low IQ you are more likely to be taken advantage of, meaning that it is adaptive to trust nobody. Another result of the Industrial Revolution has been declining intelligence. Various factors have contributed to this, but the most salient is contraception—the promotion of wide scale, reliable contraception being a major innovation of the Industrial Revolution. Intelligence predicts the impulse control to use contraception and the cognitive ability to use it correctly. As a result, large families now happen by accident and are associated with low intelligence, there being a correlation of about -0.2 between IQ and how many children you have. We know this is happening for genetic reasons because the population prevalence of alleles associated with high intelligence in a Western sample has decreased across three generations, and numerous other correlates of intelligence all show the same pattern.63 This results in a society that is less trusting overall, and particularly less trusting of its elite. A lower intelligence, all else being equal, would also predict a population becoming more conservative, more religious, and more dogmatic.

10. The Mutation of Religion

The genetic diversity, and increased mutation, wrought by the Industrial Revolution means that we would expect the traditional “religious bundle” to break up in a growing number of people. Thus, you would have, in many supporters of Black Lives Matter, for example, high levels of dogmatism, intense hatred of the out-group, fervent belief in certain ideas, belief in the morality of the in-group, even collective worship of sorts, but no belief that life has eternal significance or belief in gods. This ideology is underpinned by individualistic foundations which, in some respects, it renders sacred: unquestionable dogmas, like “equality” and “social justice.”

We might also expect a similar deviation among those who have Binding values: they will semi-sanctify Binding values, meaning they will have some aspects of religiousness, but they might lack the belief in a moral god, or their belief in god will be so extreme as to be obsessive and damaging to their ability to get along with people. We can see QAnon supporters who worship Donald Trump as Messianic figure.

Such people would be high in evidence of mutation. Consistent with this prediction, it has been found that people who are high in the personality trait Neuroticism (which is associated with depression and anxiety) are generally low in religious belief. However, they go through phases of extremely intense religious belief. Suffering from manic depression or bipolar disorder, and Schizophrenia, as well, is also strongly associated with hyper-religiosity. In sum, mental illness is a marker of genetic mutation, and it seems to make one prone to an unhealthy righteousness.64

This makes sense because an aspect of schizophrenia is hyper-mentalizing, whereby schizophrenics are intensely interested in the feelings of others and external cues from them. Accordingly, they perceive evidence of “mind” everywhere, including in the world itself, making them paranoid.65 A study from Switzerland found that one third of schizophrenics are very strongly involved with their local mainstream church and that a further 10 percent are involved in New Religious Movements: small sects that tend to be fervently religious.66 All people sit on a schizotypy scale, with full schizophrenia at one extreme; the higher they are on this scale, the more attracted they are to conspiracy theories67 and unconventional and paranoid beliefs.68 So, this implies that some people on the “Right” are also manifestations of high mutational load. The “Right,” however, would be less influenced by mutational load than the Left, because the Right would be closer to the ideas that were prominent under harsh Darwinian conditions and, in line with this, being right wing lineally correlates with fertility and mental health, as noted earlier. It might also be noted that extreme Left activists have been shown to score very high in Narcissism (entitlement and desire for adulation) and Machiavellianism (desire for power), which makes sense as, in the current climate, being left wing is a means of achieving these aims. Those who are “White Identitarian” score high in psychopathology (low empathy), which makes sense because, currently, they are profound non-conformists.69 If combined with a period of high mental instability, then this could predict attraction to the “far Right,” at least when that is highly counter-cultural. These traits are expressions of developmental instability and thus, in some cases, mutational load.70

11. The Internet Echo Chamber

Finally, a clearly important factor, which indirectly emanates from the Industrial Revolution, is the technological revolution and the rise of the Internet. This has aided polarization by permitting like-minded people to easily find each other and establish online communities, which can spill over into real life. We have progressively moved from being a “mass society,” in which public opinion is managed by an elite, to a “network society” of ever fragmenting, often hermetic groups, each with its own inner-directed propaganda.71 This has permitted the proliferation of “non-mainstream” opinions, and the managing elite has, to a large extent, lost control of people’s minds. This happened previously in history, with the birth of printing, but not to this pronounced degree. Elites have attempted to deal with this reality by increasingly censoring social-media platforms, as noted above, but, in many ways, the train has left the station. The rise of the Internet—and social-media echo chambers like Q—are simply amplifying a polarizing tendency that was already under way.

The year 2020, which many saw as the end of the world, catalyzed two distinct religious revivals for our divided age: BLM and QAnon. They are godless faiths; however, they contain many of the core elements of the Christian revivals of yesteryear. Both are birthed from the evolutionary dynamics of post-Industrial society. And both, in their ways, are hysterical, schizophrenic expressions of how religiosity manifests itself in our “secular age.”


Coda: Is Q Getting At Something?

The mainstream media dismisses QAnon’s beliefs as fraudulent—ridiculous at best, dangerous at worst. We should remember that a cult like Q is unlikely to be persuasive if did not tap into some aspects of reality or contain a few kernels of truth.

Take, for instance, the belief that causes the most controversy—that Satanic pedophiles are in positions of power around the world. If we break this down, it could be argued that, in the minds of evangelicals, what “Satan” essentially preaches is individualism: wealth, power, and pleasure in the here and now, rather than sacrificing power in this world for glory in the next.72 There is a substantial body of evidence that people who tend to reach the very top of their professions, especially in business and politics, seem to combine outlier high intelligence with moderately psychopathic traits, such as moderately low altruism and moderately low impulse control. This means, for example, that not being bound by rules and conventions, they have the intelligence and traits to conceive of original ideas, and they don’t care that their original ideas may offend against vested interests.73 In the world of business, such people will come up with brilliant ideas, as they will in the arts. In the world of politics, such men will be superb at presenting themselves and persuading and manipulating their peers.

In an increasingly individualistic society, in which religious condemnation of individualistic behavior such as adultery has collapsed, such people would be more easily able to attain positions of political leadership. Sexual promiscuity is one of a number of accepted markers of psychopathic personality, alongside grandiosity and superficial charm.74 A few generations ago, revelations that a politician had had an affair, let alone fathered an illegitimate child, would be the end of his career. No longer. A key correlate of originality is testosterone, because it makes one driven, ambitious, competitive, low in impulse control, and low in altruism. It also gives you a high sex drive.75 Indeed, an analysis of a sample of extremely eminent people found them to have been high both in sexual deviance and sexual promiscuity, as well as being high in sub-clinical psychopathology. This analysis, by psychologist Felix Post (1913-2001), found that six percent of the male population in Western countries can be regarded as archetypal psychopaths, something true of none of a sample of “eminent men” whom he biographically analyzed. However, Post estimated that 10 percent of the male population were “subclinical psychopaths,” meaning psychopathic tendencies sufficiently strong to adversely impact relationships or careers. This he estimated to be true of 14 percent of eminent men, meaning subclinical psychopaths were overrepresented. Among eminent writers, subclinical psychopathology was 20 percent, while among eminent artists it was 25 percent. Among politicians it was just 11 percent, only slightly above the general male population. However, using the less severe measure of having “potentially handicapping traits” of antisocial personality disorder, Post found that this was true of 52 percent of politicians, 50 percent of artists, and 70 percent of writers. Post cautiously estimates that this level of psychopathology applies to 16 percent of the male population. Accordingly, it can be averred that moderate antisocial behavior disorder is elevated among the highly eminent.76 So, we should not be surprised that, to a greater extent than was once the case, people who are high in individualism, intelligence, and psychopathic traits should rise to the top.

Such people’s rise would be aided if they adopted the group-fitness damaging, spiteful mutant-inspired leftist ideas that are currently in vogue, so we would expect them to do that. And, with their high sex drives, and low empathy, we might even expect them to engage in sexual abuse to an elevated degree, including abuse of children because, as they are such easy prey. Approximately half of those who sexually abuse children are not exclusively attracted to children. Pedophiles, so defined, have strongly elevated levels of poor mental health (something Post also found was high among the very eminent), including mood disorders (66 percent), obsessive compulsive disorder (25 percent), and personality disorders of various kinds (61 percent), such as Psychopathic Personality.77 For this reason, evidence of the abuse, especially of young girls, by such males starts to make more sense. Pedophilia and psychopathic personality may be comorbid, because they are both manifestations of developmental instability, resulting from elevated mutational load.78 In addition, only pedophiles who are high in psychopathic personality would be likely to act on their proclivities. Those who are high in psychopathic personality are, in evolutionary terms, adapted to a chaotic, unstable environment in which cooperating with people is futile, because such acts might never be reciprocated; you must, therefore, “live fast, die young” and opt to pass on your genes as quickly as possible. This militates in favor of having as much sex as you can with as many fertile (and thus young) females as possible. This is known as a fast Life History Strategy.79 Having sex with underage, though fertile, girls—“ephebophilia”—would simply be an extreme manifestation of this sexual strategy. There is also evidence that, in such contexts of instability, males who engaged in rape were more likely to pass on their genes, and that gang rape was especially common in pre-history. As a consequence, males, even now, produce more semen during rape, as rape traditionally involved sperm competition. Men also become more aroused by, and produce more semen, when watching violent porn than “vanilla” porn. In other words, men have been selected to be aroused by violence, especially sexual violence.80 Thus, for some men who abuse underage children, it may not be that they find them attractive; they are turned on by power and dominance. This would be more likely if they were fast Life History Strategists.

In the UK, elite pedophile fascination was sparked in the wake of the death of the extremely popular and influential entertainer Sir Jimmy Savile (1926-2011). Evidencing his “Establishment” status, Savile had been given a knighthood in 1990. After Savile died, large numbers of allegations came to light that he had raped and otherwise sexually abused under-age girls throughout his long career and had even been subject to a police investigation about this shortly before his death.81 A subsequent police inquiry into historic sexual abuse, “Operation Yew Tree,” as well as concomitant investigations and publicity, led to the downfall or reassessment of many other celebrities and politicians who had received assorted honors such as CBE (Companion of the British Empire), OBE (Order of the British Empire), and knighthoods. The investigation led to the jailing of a household name, entertainer Rolf Harris, CBE (b. 1930), for sexually abusing under-age girls; the imprisonment of TV personality Stuart Hall, OBE (b. 1929), on 13 counts of indecent assault against girls aged 9 to 17 between 1967 and 1986; and two posthumous allegations of underage rape, and one of rape of a 17-year-old woman, against deceased TV personality Sir Clement Freud (1924-2009), grandson of the psychiatrist.82

So, looked at in this way, the idea that the world is run—or at least heavily influenced—by selfish, child-abusers Satanists becomes less than entirely ludicrous. And, as was noted when Jimmy Savile’s proclivities came to light, there must have been so many high-status people who, at best, turned a blind eye to what they knew he was doing and, at worst, enabled him.83 We can see how people might suspect the same to be true of Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, Michael Jackson, and many others. In general, we exaggerate the extent to which members of an out-group are morally deficient, and we can see how this would become particularly pronounced at a time of extreme polarization and existential stress.84


Notes

  1. Katrin Bennhold, “QAnon Is Thriving in Germany. The Extreme Right Is Delighted,” New York Times, October 11, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/11/world/europe/qanon-is-thriving-in-germany-the-extreme-right-is-delighted.html (accessed November 15, 2020). ↩︎
  2. Barabara Ortutay, “YouTube Follows Twitter and Facebook with QAnon Crackdown,” AP News, October 15, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/youtube-qanon-conspiracy-theories-ef03a889e68239de6692ce42666d97d8 (accessed November 15, 2020). ↩︎
  3. Graeme Bruce, “Half of Trump’s Supporters Think Top Democrats are Involved in Child Sex-trafficking,” YouGov, https://today.yougov.com/topics/politics/articles-reports/2020/10/20/half-trump-supporters-believe-qanon-theory-child-s (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
  4. Edward Dutton, “The Next Great Awakening,” Radix Journal, https://radixjournal.com/2020/06/the-next-great-awakening/ (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
  5. For an early look at “Q”, see Paris Martineau, “The Storm Is the New Pizzagate — Only Worse,” New York, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/12/qanon-4chan-the-storm-conspiracy-explained.html (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
  6. Anonymous, BQ7V3bcW, 4chan.org/pol, https://archive.4plebs.org/pol/thread/146981635/#147012719 (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
  7. Anonymous, BQ7V3bcW, 4chan.org/pol, https://archive.4plebs.org/pol/thread/146981635/#147012719 (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
  8. Bennhold, “QAnon Is Thriving in Germany,” New York Times, op cit. ↩︎
  9. William March, “Conspiracy Theorist QAnon Promoted, Then Deleted, by Hillsborough County GOP, Tampa Bay Times, July 16, 2018, https://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/07/16/conspiracy-theorist-qanon-promoted-then-deleted-by-hillsborough-county-gop/ (accessed November 15, 2020). ↩︎
  10. Anonymous, BQ7V3bcW, 4chan.org/pol, https://archive.4plebs.org/pol/thread/146981635/#147012719 (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
  11. See Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1922); Jacques Ellul, Propaganda (Alfred A. Knopf, 1967). ↩︎
  12. See Jasun Horsley, The Vice of Kings: How Socialism, Occultism, and the Sexual Revolution Engineered a Culture of Abuse (London, Aeon Books, 2019). ↩︎
  13. E.J. Dickson, “QAnon Followers Think JFK Jr. Is Coming Back on the 4th of July,” Rolling Stone, https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/qanon-jfk-jr-conspiracy-theory-854938/ (accessed December 10, 2020). ↩︎
  14. Anonymous, BQ7V3bcW, 4chan.org/pol, https://archive.4plebs.org/pol/thread/147433975/#147434025 (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
  15. Ling, “QAnon’s Creator Made the Ultimate Conspiracy Theory,” op cit. ↩︎
  16. Michael Barkun, A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2003). ↩︎
  17. Peter Knight, Conspiracy Culture: From Kennedy to The X Files (London, Routledge, 2013). ↩︎
  18. Justin Ling, “QAnon’s Creator Made the Ultimate Conspiracy Theory,” Foreign Affairs October 6, 2020, https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/10/06/qanon-creator-ultimate-conspiracy-theory-q/ (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
  19. Anonymous, BQ7V3bcW, 4chan.org/pol, https://qalerts.app/?q=Biblical+times (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
  20. Gerard van Grongingen. First Century Gnosticism: Its Origin and Motifs (Leiden: BRILL, 1967). ↩︎
  21. Anonymous, BQ7V3bcW, 4chan.org/pol, https://qalerts.app/?n=4950 (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
  22. See Steve Bruce, God Is Dead: Secularization in the West (Oxford, Blackwell, 2002). ↩︎
  23. Ara Norenzayan and Azim Shariff, “The Origin and Evolution of Religious Pro-sociality,” Science, 322 (2008): 58-62. ↩︎
  24. Stanley C. Griffin, A Forgotten Revival: East Anglia and Northeast Scotland, 1921 (Bromley: Day One Publications, 1992). ↩︎
  25. Callum Brown, The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation, 1800-2000 (London: Routledge, 2009). ↩︎
  26. Dutton, “The Next Great Awakening,” op cit. ↩︎
  27. See Brown. The Death of Christian Britain, op cit. ↩︎
  28. See Edward Bailey. Implicit Religion: An Introduction (Hendon, Middlesex University Press, 1998). ↩︎
  29. Eric Kaufmann, Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century (London: Profile Book, 2010). ↩︎
  30. Faiz Siddiqui and Susan Svrluga, “N.C. Man Told Police He Went to D.C. Pizzeria With Gun to Investigate Conspiracy Theory,” Washington Post, December 5, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2016/12/04/d-c-police-respond-to-report-of-a-man-with-a-gun-at-comet-ping-pong-restaurant/ (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
  31. Edward Dutton, Guy Madison, and Curtis Dunkel, “The Mutant Says in His Heart, ‘There Is No God’: The Rejection of Collective Religiosity Centered Around the Worship of Moral Gods is Associated with High Mutational Load,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, 4 (2018): 233-244. ↩︎
  32. Rüdiger Vaas, “God, Gains and Genes,” in The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior, eds. Eckart Voland and Wulf Schiefenhövel (New York: Springer, 2009). ↩︎
  33. Norenzayan and Shariff, “The Origin and Evolution of Religious Pro-sociality,” op cit. ↩︎
  34. Lewis Rambo. Understanding Religious Conversion (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993). ↩︎
  35. See Dutton, Madison and Dunkel, “The Mutant Says in His Heart, ‘There Is No God,’” op cit. ↩︎
  36. Yael Sela, Todd K. Shackelford, and James R. Liddle, “When Religion Makes It Worse: Religiously Motivated Violence As a Sexual Selection Weapon,” in The Attraction of Religion: A New Evolutionary Psychology of Religion, eds. D. Jason Sloane and James A. Slyke (London: Bloomsbury, 2015). ↩︎
  37. Frank Salter, On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration (New Brunswick, NJ: Transactions, 2006). ↩︎
  38. Robert Axelrod and Ross A. Hammond, “The Evolution of Ethnocentric Behavior,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50 (2006): 1-11. ↩︎
  39. Colin Holbrook, Keise Izuma, Choi Deblieck, Daniel M. Fessler, and Marco Iacoboni, “Neuromodulation of Group Prejudice and Religious Belief,” Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11 (2016): 387-394. ↩︎
  40. Pascal Boyer, Religion Explained: The Human Instincts that Fashion Gods, Spirits and Ancestors (London: Heinemann, 2001). ↩︎
  41. G.J.R. Parry, A Protestant Vision: William Harrison and the Reformation of Elizabethan England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). ↩︎
  42. Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt, and Brian A. Nosek, “Liberals and Conservatives Rely on Different Sets of Moral Foundations,” Personality Processes and Individual Differences, 96 (2009): 1029-1046. ↩︎
  43. Matt Bradshaw and Christopher G. Ellison, “Do Genetic Factors Influence Religious Life? Findings from a Behavior Genetic Analysis of Twin Siblings,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 47 (2008): 529-544. ↩︎
  44. Edward Dutton and Guy Madison, “Execution, Violent Punishment and Selection for Religiousness in Medieval England,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, 4 (2018): 83-89. ↩︎
  45. Anthony Volk, and Jeremy Atkinson, “Is Child Death the Crucible of Human Evolution?” Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 2 (2008): 103-116. ↩︎
  46. J. Philippe Rushton, “Ethic Nationalism: Evolutionary Psychology and Genetic Similarity Theory,” Nations and Nationalism, 11 (2005): 489-507. ↩︎
  47. Michael A. Woodley of Menie, Matthew A. Sarraf, Radomir N. Pestow, and Heitor B. F. Fernandes, “Social Epistasis Amplifies the Fitness Costs of Deleterious Mutations, Engendering Rapid Fitness Decline Among Modernized Populations,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, 3 (2017): 181-191. ↩︎
  48. Emil Kirkegaard, “Mental Illness and the Left,” Mankind Quarterly, 60 (2020): 487-510. ↩︎
  49. Michael Woodley of Menie, Heitor Fernandes, Satoshi Kanazawa, and Edward Dutton, “Sinistrality is Associated With (Slightly) Lower General Intelligence: A Data Synthesis and Consideration of Secular Trend Data in Handedness,” HOMO: Journal of Comparative Human Biology, 69 (2018): 118-126. ↩︎
  50. Corwin Smidt and James Penning, “Religious Commitment, Political Conservatism, and Political and Social Tolerance in the United States: A Longitudinal Analysis,” Sociological Analysis, 43 (1982): 231-245. ↩︎
  51. Niclas Berggren, Henrik Jordahl, Panu Poutvaara, “The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and Voters Reward It,” Journal of Public Economics, 146 (2017): 79-86. ↩︎
  52. Dutton, Madison and Dunkel, “The Mutant Says in His Heart, ‘There Is No God’”, op cit. ↩︎
  53. T.E. Joiner, “Contagious Depression: Existence, Specificity to Depressed Symptoms, and the Role of Reassurance Seeking,” Journal of Personal and Social Psychology, 67 (1994): 287-296. ↩︎
  54. Michael A. Woodley of Menie, Matthew A. Sarraf, Rodomir N. Pestow, and Heitor B. F. Fernandes, “Social Epistasis Amplifies the Fitness Costs of Deleterious Mutations, Engendering Rapid Fitness Decline Among Modernized Populations,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, 3 (2017): 181-191. ↩︎
  55. Damon Centola, Joshua Becker, Devon Brackbill, and Andrea Baronchelli, “Experimental Evidence for Tipping Points in Social Convention,” Science, 360 (2018): 1116-1119. ↩︎
  56. See Ara Norenzayan, Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013). ↩︎
  57. Robert Putnam, “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century: The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize lecture,” Scandinavian Political Studies, 30 (2007): 137–174. ↩︎
  58. Martin Fieder and S.usanne Huber, “Political Attitude and Fertility: Is There a Selection for the Political Extreme?” Frontiers in Psychology (2018), https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02343. ↩︎
  59. See Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (New York: Free Press, 1994). ↩︎
  60. See Arthur Jensen. The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998). ↩︎
  61. Richard Lynn. Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations (London: Ulster Institute for Social Research, 1996). ↩︎
  62. Michael Woodley of Menie and Curtis Dunkel, “Beyond the Cultural Mediation Hypothesis: A Reply to Dutton (2013),” Intelligence, 49 (2015): 186-191. ↩︎
  63. See Edward Dutton and Michael Woodley of Menie. At Our Wits’ End: Why We’re Becoming Less Intelligent and What It Means for the Future (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2018). ↩︎
  64. Harold G. Koenig, “Religion, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications,” ISRN Psychiatry (2012), http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/278730 (accessed December 5, 2020). ↩︎
  65. Christopher Badcock, “Mentalism and Mechanism: Twin Modes of Human Cognition,” in Evolutionary Psychology, Public Policy and Personal Decisions, eds. Charles Crawford and Catherine Salman (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2003). ↩︎
  66. Philippe Huguelet, Sylvia Mohr, Laurence Borras, et al., “Spirituality and Religious Practices Among Outpatients With Schizophrenia and Their Clinicians,” Psychiatric Services, 57 (2006): 366–372. ↩︎
  67. D. Barron, A. Furnham, L. Weiss, K. Morgan, T. Towell and V. Swami. “The Association Between Schizotypal Components and Conspiricist Beliefs Through Cognitive Mediators,” Schizophrenia Bulletin, 44 (2018): s368-369. ↩︎
  68. Jo Hodgekins, “Schizotypy and Psychopathology,” in Schizoptypy: New Dimensions, eds. Oliver Mason and Gordan Claridge (London: Routledge, 2015). ↩︎
  69. Jordan Moss and Peter O’Connor. “The Dark Triad traits Predict Authoritarian Political Correctness and Alt-Right Attitudes,” Heliyon, 6 (2020): e04453. ↩︎
  70. Martin Lalumiere, Grant T. Harris, and Marnie Rice, “Psychopathy and Developmental Instability,” Evolution and Human Behavior, 22 (2001): 75-92. ↩︎
  71. See Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, and Hal Roberts, Network Propaganda: Manipulations, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018). ↩︎
  72. See J.A. Peterson, “Carnal, Chthonic, and Complicated: The Matter of Modern Satanism,” in Controversial New Religions. eds. James Lewis and Jesper Peterson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). ↩︎
  73. See, Edward Dutton and Bruce G. Charlton, The Genius Famine (Buckingham, University of Buckingham Press, 2015). ↩︎
  74. See Edward Dutton and Richard Lynn, “Cheating in Sport and Race Differences in Psychopathic Personality,” Mankind Quarterly, 55 (2015): 325-334. ↩︎
  75. Dimitri Van der Linden, Edward Dutton, and Guy Madison, “National-Level Indicators of Androgens are Related to the global distribution of number of scientific publications and science Nobel prizes.” Journal of Creative Behavior, 54 (2020): 134-149. ↩︎
  76. Felix Post, “Creativity and Psychopathology,” British Journal of Psychiatry, 165 (1994): 22-34. ↩︎
  77. Gilian Tenbergen, Matthias Wittfoth, Helge Frieling, et al., “The Neurobiology and Psychology of Pedophilia: Recent Advances and Challenges,” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, (2015): 344. ↩︎
  78. Ibid. ↩︎
  79. J. Philippe Rushton, Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective (New Brusnwick, NJ, Transaction Publishing). ↩︎
  80. Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001); Lee Ellis, Theories of Rape: Inquiries Into the Causes of Sexual Aggression (New York: Hemisphere Publishing, 1989). ↩︎
  81. Dan Davies, In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile (London: Quercus Books, 2014). ↩︎
  82. Martin Evans, “Clement Freud Accused of Raping Another Teenage Girl as Evidence Mounts That He Was a Predatory Paedophile,” Daily Telegraph (15th June 2016), https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/15/clement-freud-accused-of-raping-another-teenage-girl-as-evidence/ (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
  83. Davies, In Plain Sight, op cit. ↩︎
  84. Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt, and Brian Nosek, “The Moral Stereotypes of Liberals and Conservatives: Exaggeration of Differences across the Political Spectrum,” PLOS One (2012), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0050092 (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎

 

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The Next Great Awakening

With the rise of the BLM movement, we are not just witnessing protests and riots but the birth of an old/new religion. Summary The Black Lives Matter protests are best…

With the rise of the BLM movement, we are not just witnessing protests and riots but the birth of an old/new religion.


Summary

The Black Lives Matter protests are best understood as a religious revival, emerging from the United States but global in scale. This new religion is “Multiculturalism” and based on institutions and ideals outside traditional churches; however, its structure and sacraments strikingly resemble those of Christianity. It could even be considered a kind of heresy.

Religious revivals take place in the wake of wars and disasters, periods of elevated stress and widespread angst. They are spearheaded by and attractive to people who are relatively high in neurotic traits such as anxiety. Their disturbed mental states are, temporarily, alleviated by the religious experiences that take place through these revivals—with religion, more generally, being an adaptation that allows us to cope with an unpredictable and traumatic world.

Leftists and atheists, of course, proudly reject traditional religion and sexual morality, and we should appreciate the irony of a “religious revival” capturing their hearts and minds. However, as a group, leftists and atheists are high in mental instability—especially those who are young and female—and thus they are highly susceptible to the religious experience, if not religion as it has been historically understood.

Following the Industrial Revolution and the exploitation of fossil fuels, the world became immensely wealthier, healthier, and more comfortable, and the harsh Darwinian selection pressures that characterized previous ages subsided. One of the most impactful consequences of this is the dramatic decrease in childhood mortality. Thus, millions of people with high levels of mutations, who would not have survived childhood in previous times, walk among us in the postmodern age. These “spiteful mutants” have managed to bring about the collapse of traditional religion—which is associated with mental and physical health and evolutionary success. They have spread Multiculturalism as a religion in its place. The result is a Multiculturalist revival, where 70 years ago there would have been a Christian one.


Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You, you may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one
—“Imagine,” John Lennon


Interesting Times

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement swept through the Western World beginning in May 2020 after the accidental death of African-American criminal George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. The initial result was widespread riots and looting by African-Americans in Minneapolis, followed by similar scenes in other places. But this quickly morphed into an ideological movement—under the already extant slogan “Black Lives Matter”1—in which a kind of anarchy swept through American cities, encouraged by Social Justice Warriors2 and, to a large extent, the leftist media and political establishment. A kind of hysteria appeared to take hold among White Americans, including politicians and even police officers.

Flagrantly breaking the “lock down,” which had been in action for two months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Whites gathered in the streets and knelt in the name of George Floyd. Many police officers publicly engaged in this deferential behavior, often holding out their open hands to signify their willingness to make themselves defenseless. White Americans were filmed not just kneeling before Blacks but symbolically washing their feet.3 The riots were stated, by the media, to be “largely peaceful” even as buildings were aflame behind them or as White news reporters were physically attacked by rampaging mobs. There were calls to abolish the police and even for complete anarchy, under the slogan “No Justice, No Peace.”

The hysteria quickly spread to other Western countries. There were Black riots— assisted by White SJWs—on the streets of central London. White news reporters were attacked live on air. British police, in front of the gates of Downing Street, knelt before Black protestors rather than arrest them for breaking the lockdown and for rioting, as English Law demanded. Companies began to signal their support for “Black Lives Matter,” with those who were slow to do so being criticized as “racist” because, according to one slogan, “Silence is Violence.” In a BLM protest in Helsinki, the overwhelmingly White and female “protestors” didn’t merely kneel but lay prostrate on the ground in order to signal total submission and deference. Young females posted videos of themselves online renouncing their Whiteness, showing their “solidarity” with BLM. In one extreme case, a woman smeared herself in excrement as a sign of abasement.

Then came the attacks on statues and other public monuments. A statue of Winston Churchill in central London was graffitied with the word “Racist.” Britain’s Cenotaph war memorial was desecrated, and a young Black woman attempted to burn the Union Jack that hung from it. The statue of an 18th-century philanthropist and slave trader, which had stood in Bristol since 1895, was dragged down by a mob and thrown in the dock. Other statues that “offended” the sensitivities of the mob were preemptively removed, likely never to be re-erected, to prevent their destruction, including one of Belgium’s King Leopold, which stood in Brussels.

The streaming service HBO Max removed the American civil war epic Gone With The Wind (1939)—a film preserved by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant”4—after its romanticization of the South and depiction of African slaves was deemed unwatchable in the current climate. The chairman of Warner Media called the ban a “no brainer,” a curious choice of words.5 The BBC even removed from its streaming sites relatively recent comedies, made by liberal comedians only a decade ago, such as the light-hearted “Little Britain,” because “times have changed.”6


A New Religion

This wasn’t just mob rule and anarchy. On display was a religious intensity. And people were sucked into it. If the mob declared that you were not a “true believer,” you could lose your job, or perhaps even be subject to a police investigation. So, as more people exhibited their adherence to the Cult of George Floyd, an arms-race developed to indicate ever-greater fervor.

This eventuated in some White protestors “going Medieval” and actually engaging in self-flagellation—a grotesque spectacle but a seemingly inevitable culmination of the White guilt narrative.


What Causes Religiousness?

This was all so predictable. In April 2020, experts in the study of religion cautiously suggested that there might be some kind of religious revival in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, though they focused on what might happen in churches.7 There are always religious revivals after or during wars, famines, and pandemics. Why would the Covid-19 be any different?

In other words, we are witnessing another “Great Awakening.” But the religion of a significant portion of Western populations, and especially the young, is not Christianity. This new global religion of the 21st century is Multiculturalism. That said, Multiculturalism contains many elements of evangelicalism, both aesthetically and structurally, and perhaps could be viewed as Christianity’s latest mutation.

In order to understand what has taken place, we need to make sense of what religion is; why “mortality salience” is relevant to it; and how, precisely, religious revivals occur. Once this is clear, we will see that Multiculturalism is not just an ideology, partisan politics, or passing fad; it must properly be understood as a religion itself.

One of the key predictors of becoming religious is being confronted with your own mortality or that of your loved ones. No matter what an inveterate skeptic might say or write throughout his life, when told that his mother is in intensive care or his daughter has been in a car accident, there is a very strong possibility that, in private, he will beg God for help. “There are no atheists in foxholes,” as the saying goes. So-called “mortality salience” is an extreme example of the kind of psychological stress that appears to elevate religiousness. “Feelings of exclusion” seems to cause people to become more religious, too, as do periods of dramatic change, such as significant changes in government.8

“Religion,” in the widely accepted sense of the word, involves all of the key components of an evolutionary adaptation. Religiousness is around 0.4 genetic; it is associated with physical and mental health partly at the genetic level;9 it correlates with fertility; and specific parts of the brain are associated with it.10

There are likely a number of non-exclusive reasons why religiousness evolved. One is that it promoted pro-social behavior. Those who believed in a god who told them to behave in a pro-social way were less likely to be cast out or killed by the pre-historic band and were, therefore, more likely to pass on their genes. A related possibility is that it reduced stress in the face of danger or as we become aware of our own mortality. Those who felt that their life had eternal meaning and that a god was constantly looking after them would be less likely to become depressed and anxious and would be more likely to pass on their genes.11

Consistent with this, not only do people tend to become more religious at times of stress, they are more likely to have dramatic religious experiences, in which they do not merely vaguely feel that God is present but, as far as they are concerned, see Him and hear His reassuring voice.12 People who are high in neurotic personality traits are prone to depression and anxiety, these being manifestations of “mental instability.” Neuroticism seems to decrease considerably after one has undergone conversion and other religious experiences.13

Intrinsic religiousness—genuinely believing in god—is negatively correlated with Neuroticism.14 We can see this in the average churchgoer of the past century, a man who conforms to the belief system of his community, intellectually believes in a higher power, but likely doesn’t take his religion overly seriously nor does he worship with particular emotional affect. On the other hand, extrinsic religiousness—outward conformity to religion—is positively associated with Neuroticism. We can think of the fanatic or obnoxious scold, someone who wears his faith on his sleeve, perhaps even so devoted that religion negatively affects his welfare.

Being a “religious seeker” is also associated with Neuroticism. This involves going through phases of mental instability that are alleviated by an unusual and often very extreme forms of religiosity, which are duly abandoned during periods of sound mental health.15 Overall, it’s reasonable to argue that religiousness would have been selected for, because it promoted mental health, with the result that mental health and religiosity have become genetically related, due to both being simultaneously selected over a lengthy period of time.16

Religion also would have been “kin-selected.” You can pass on your genes indirectly by aiding your kin: your children share 50 percent of your genes, and more distant kin, such as nephews, share 25 percent. If a person were highly religious, it makes their kin more attractive, because of the associations between religiousness, pro-social behavior, and mental stability. This would help explain why some Islamic fundamentalists kill daughters who have dishonored the family. It is a way of signaling the family’s commitment to Islam and, thus, elevating kin selection.17 An ethnic group is, in the sense, an extended genetic kinship group and thus a means by which you can indirectly pass on your genes.18 It is has been found, using computer modeling, that groups that are highest in positive ethnocentrism (internal cooperation) and negative ethnocentrism (external hostility) tend to dominate others in the battle of group selection.19 There is evidence implying that religiousness is genetically associated with both kinds of ethnocentrism, because a part of the brain associated with ethnocentrism is also associated with religiousness.20 And the correlation between positive ethnocentrism and religiousness would make sense because a group would be more internally cooperate if it were high in pro-social traits and low in mental instability. But our key point is that religiousness has evolved, in part, as a means of coping with stress and mortality salience.


Why Are Women So Religious?

The high female presence both in BLM protests and in churches is obvious to anyone who has ever attended either. And this shouldn’t be surprising. Women are more religious than men, across cultures, in terms of how likely they are to believe in God and engage in collective worship.21 In the United States, Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, Mainline Protestants, and Mormons are each 55 percent female. Some 70 percent of American women report an “absolute certainty” in their belief in a god, compared to 57 percent of men. American women are also much more likely to report that religion is important in their lives, and atheism is found twice as often among men than women (12 percent vs. 6 percent).22

This occurs because religion has been sexually selected for, too, as it is associated with being pro-social, rule-following (and thus not cuckolding your husband or abandoning your family and child), and with being part of a supportive group of co-religionists. These clear sex differences in the strength of religiousness will become significant later when we analyze the Black Lives Matter protests.

There are a number of probable reasons for higher female religiousness, one of which is empathy. Females are higher than in empathetic behavior, which involves being interested in people’s feelings and being able to detect their feelings from external markers, such as facial expressions.23 There is evidence that people who are high in empathy transfer this ability over to the world itself, meaning that they perceive the presence of a “mind” or “higher power” simply from looking around the world. Accordingly, low empathy—that is, stereotypical autism—is associated with atheism.24

Another reason may be adaptation to patriarchy. Females sexually select for male status because a high-status male is better able to invest in them and their offspring, meaning that both are more likely to survive.25 Until the Industrial Revolution, wealth and status strongly predicted completed fertility, and this is the case among pre-industrial peoples today. 26 If males must invest resources in the female in order to obtain sexual intercourse, then they want to be certain that the offspring in which they are investing their resources are actually their own. The result is a system of patriarchy in which females are controlled by males such that male paternity anxiety can be reduced. This system of patriarchy will tend to be promoted by the society’s religion as divinely ordained, possibly because patriarchal societies reduce paternity anxiety, meaning that they, in turn, reduce inter-male conflict, thus causing males to be more internally cooperative. And, again, as computer models have shown, societies of internally cooperative people are more likely to triumph in warfare with competing societies.27

This system of patriarchy, however, would mean that females would be strongly selected to be accepting of patriarchy and thus to be religious, as this is what the religion would promote.28 Consequently, there would be a religious “arms race” among females in order to obtain the highest-status males, especially in the kind of polygamous societies in which humans have lived for most of history, in which the highest status males monopolize the most desirable females. As such, we would expect females to be strongly prone to wishing to signal their virtue and, if religiosity were regarded as virtuous, to signal this. And they would be more convincingly able to signal it if they genuinely believed it.


Why is Religiousness Associated With Mental Health?

It is also clear to anyone that has ever attended a BLM protest that many of those involved—with their stereotypical unnatural colored hair and screams of righteous fury—are not mentally well. By contrast, females in churches appear sober and under control.

Why should traditional religiousness be associated with mental health? The answer lies in its evolutionary history. In understanding the evolution of religion, it is worth noting that it is a combination of a variety of traits, which would have been adaptive in pre-history.

1. Agency Over-Detection. We have a cognitive bias towards detecting the presence of an agent behind events. Following the “Smoke Detector Principle,” it is adaptive to assume the worst and get it wrong—such as to assume that that noise over there was a wolf rather than just the wind. This helps to explain why we might see evidence of god in the world.

2. Pattern Over-Detection. We are evolved to over-detect causation. This is adaptive because those who under-detected it would have put themselves in danger of being wiped out or not been able to analyze and understand the world around them.

3. Follow the Leader. We are evolved to form strongly-bonded groups and obey authority. By working as a team with a leader, groups are more likely to survive in the battle of group selection.29

Religions will vary in the extent of the prominence of each of these factors. This means that although religiousness is generally adaptive in an evolutionary sense of promoting individual and especially group fitness, it is quite possible for maladaptive forms of religiousness—which do not promote genetic fitness—to manifest. Some devotees might be, for example, too extreme in their obedience to the leader or in their pattern over-detection, such that adhering to such a religion is harmful for its followers. An obvious example of this would be suicide cults—such as the notorious Jonestown—in which devotees are so inclined to follow their leader and so inclined to over-detect patterns that they accept a mentally ill man’s paranoid worldview and kill themselves, completely destroying their genetic interests.30 Membership of such groups is associated with other maladaptive traits—such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder—whereas traditional religiousness is genetically associated with mental health.

The relationship between religiousness and sound mental health makes sense if we delve a little deeper into how religiousness has been selected for over time. This will also be highly relevant, later, to understanding the nature of the Black Lives Matter movement. As I have discussed in my study “The Mutant Says in His Heart, ‘There is No God,’”31 we were under conditions of harsh Darwinian selection until the breakthroughs of the Industrial Revolution, which began in around 1800. The resulting improved public health and living conditions meant that child mortality has fallen from around 50 percent in 1800 to 1 percent today.32 High child mortality ensured that the surviving population was very strongly adapted to its ecology. Babies with mutations that made them unfit—such as those leading to a poor immune system—were purged from the population every generation, meaning that it overall had a very low “mutational load.” Under these brutal conditions, traditional religion—based around the collective worship of a moral god—was adaptive, meaning that it came to be selected for in tandem with other adaptive traits, which thus became genetically connected.

With the break-down of harsh Darwinian selection, we would expect the population to display increasing evidence of mutational load. This would be observed in secular increases in the prevalence of partly genetic medical conditions.33 We would also expect the development of all kinds of deviations from this delicately balanced Darwinian religious norm—deviations that would be maladaptive in terms of group and individual selection and that would be attractive to people with maladaptive traits, such as mental illness. Religious suicide cults, such as Jonestown and Waco, would exemplify this process. These religious deviants would have high mutational loads and likely be people who would not have survived childhood under harsh Darwinian conditions.

How do we know that such people would not have survived? In that the brain is 84 percent of the genome, it is an enormous target for mutation, meaning that those who have physical mutations can be expected to have mental mutations as well, which would direct them towards deviations from the most adaptive form of religiousness. Consistent with this, it has been found that, in modern samples, collective worship of a moral god is genetically associated with physical and mental health and is negatively associated with other markers of high mutational load, including autism, physical asymmetry, and left-handedness. These are associated with atheism or religious deviations, such as paranormal belief. The inability to develop a symmetrical phenotype implies a poor immune system, because a person with a poor immune system would have to use disproportionately more of his bio-energetic resources to fight off pathogens, meaning insufficient resources left over to ensure symmetry. Left-handedness is an accepted marker of “developmental instability.” If the brain develops symmetrically, people will tend to be right-handed. Failure to do so implies mutational load and, thus, left-handedness is associated with many examples of poor physical and mental health.34

So, with the nature of “religion” and its connection to mortality salience understood, let us now turn to making sense of “religious revivals.”


What Causes Religious Revivals?

Religious revivals appear to occur when the kind of situation that would lead to a period of religiousness in an individual—such as stress and mortality salience—are experienced relatively suddenly by a substantial portion of a society. There will be variation in the nature of the revival, depending on the kind of people who are impacted. But, in general, dramatic change and a period of difficulty can be expected to lead to a religious revival of some kind. These can be charted throughout history and, interestingly, there is often a time lag separating the period of stress from the revival itself.

Christian evangelists are constantly attempting to create revivals, traveling to different communities and preaching their message of conversion and redemption. However, they only seem to be able to create mass revivals during, or just after, periods of significant distress.

An examination of British revivals during the 20th century is consistent with this pattern. The first major revival of the twentieth century took place in Wales between 1904 and 1905. At the time, South Wales was ravaged by industrial unrest and unemployment in a society in which there was no welfare state. Accordingly, Welsh workers, many of whom were already heavily influenced by Methodism and were facing serious hardship and the realistic possibility of destitution.35 Interesting, there was no religious revival during World War I in the UK, nor during the Spanish Flu pandemic that immediately followed it36. There were, however, various revivals during the 1920s. The lack of communications at the time meant that it was more difficult than in the 1950s for these to become national phenomena. A major revival in East Anglia in 1921 focused around socioeconomically deprived fishing communities, which were under considerable distress even compared to ordinary people recovering from the Great War. The following year, there were revivals in other parts of the country, most notably in fishing communities in northeast Scotland.37 There was no major revival in Britain in the 1930s, other than in the deeply conservative Hebridean islands off the north west of Scotland in 1939. This year was a time of elevated distress due to very real possibility that Britain might go to war again.38

There was no major revival in the UK during World War II itself. The next Christian revival, and a concomitant reassertion of conservative attitudes, came after the War, and especially in the 1950s. There was a revival in the Hebrides in 1949, in which large numbers of people, who had not previously been especially devout, underwent religious experiences and became more involved in their church and in which those who were already religious became more fervent. According to revival leader the Rev. Duncan Campbell (1898-1972), in late 1949, in the village of Barvas on the Island of Lewis, he conducted a night-time meeting at which:

Three o’ clock in the morning came and God swept in. About a dozen men and women lay prostrate on the floor, speechless . . . We left our cottage at 3am to discover men and women seeking God. I walked along a country road and found three men on their faces, crying to God for mercy. There was a light in every home; no-one seemed to think of sleep.

At 5 AM that morning, 14 buses full of people arrived from all parts of the island and even from the island of Harris. People at these meetings fell into trances, fainted, swayed and collapsed to the floor.39 Campbell felt that he had been inspired by the Holy Spirit to go and revive the Outer Hebrides and, given the stressful conditions of the time, people were extremely receptive to religious-fervor in a ways that they otherwise wouldn’t have been.40

Wartime rationing did not cease until 1954, so it could be argued that it was only at this point that “normal life” finally reasserted itself.41 In an era of mass-communication, a spark was needed to set off a nationwide revival, and this came in the form of American pastor Billy Graham (1918-2018), as witnessed in his British rallies, which took place between 1954 and 1955. The postwar religious fervor was such that it has been estimated that roughly 21 percent of the London population attended a Billy Graham rally, while up 73 percent of the Glasgow population did so.42 In 1955, 100,000 people packed a Glasgow stadium to attend a single service conducted by Billy Graham.43 I am not aware that the relationship has been quantitatively tested, but, as a rule of British Modern History, religious revivals seem to manifest in areas of elevated mortality salience as a consequence of impoverishment or, directly, famine and other highly stressful phenomena.


What Kind of People Have Religious Experiences?

What was happening, in terms of individual and mass-psychology, during these revivals? As we have discussed, quotidian, stable religiousness—in which you are religious all the time—is correlated with sound mental health. Even religious people who are mentally healthy, however, go through periods of stress and mortality salience in which they may become more religious. They may even undergo forms of what is known as a “religious experience.”

Religious experiences are profound psychological experiences in which a person may be overwhelmed by a feeling of God’s love and even hear God’s voice or believe to have seen Him. In making sense of these kinds of experiences, American neuroscientist Andrew Newberg and colleagues argue that the mind has two effective systems, calming and arousal. When either of these systems is pushed to their extremes, through meditation or hyper-arousal—both of which can be achieved via religious services—they argue that it is dangerous for the body. Accordingly, the other system hits in, leading to alternative states of consciousness and intense psychological experiences.44 British biologist Richard Dawkins has suggested that they may be provoked by the way in which stress makes us highly instinctive, and thus prone to religious belief anyway. Dawkins also argues that we are also evolved to over-detect agency: as mentioned above, if we mistake a distant rock for a wolf, we have lost nothing, but if we make the opposite mistake, we may be killed. Accordingly, at times of very intense stress, we are much more likely to mistake some unidentified sound as the voice of God and, at the same time, find that our calming system would hit in. This would lead to an intense religious experience combined with feelings of relief and joy.45 Undergoing mild religious experiences—known as “spiritual” experiences—is about 0.3 heritable. Undergoing intense religious experiences is approximately 0.66 heritable.46 This high heritability might imply that the ability to undergo a religious experience is extremely beneficial, in evolutionary terms, because it combats stress and, due to its profound nature, keeps you low in negative feelings for a substantial period of time afterwards.

However, we must distinguish between the “religious experience” and the “conversion experience”—and also between being “religious,” being “hyper-religious,” and going through a phase of being intensely religious. American psychologist William James (1842-1910) distinguished between the religion of the “sick soul” and that of “healthy mindedness.” The religion of healthy mindedness is characterized by relatively mild religious experiences. The religion of the “sick soul,” however, is marked by a dramatic conversion experiences, which occur at times of intense stress.47 Those who lead religious revivals—people such as Billy Graham—can be regarded as constantly “hyper-religious.” As already noted, this is associated with either schizophrenia or with being a severely depressive personality. Psychological studies of those who lead religious revivals have found that most of them display evidence of these pathological traits. They require, for example, the absolute structure and order which fanatical religiousness provides in order to allay their anxiety and frequently undergo intense religious experiences.48 Such is the nature of revival “leaders.” It may be beneficial for a healthy society to be able to maintain a very small percentage of such lunatics, precisely because they are able to inspire fervent religiosity in other people and religiosity is traditionally a means of promoting ethnocentrism. In this regard, it has been noted that tribal shamans tend to the same kinds of psychological characteristics as modern-day charismatic leaders.49

But what about the followers, and those who become followers during a revival? What is their psychology? Religious revivals are characterized by the “conversion” type of religious experience, in which a person undergoes a kind of psychological breakdown and, to some extent, adopts a new identity, for example as a “Christian” or as “real Christian” in a way that they somehow were not prior to the revival.50 They, consequently, go through a transient phrase of hyper-religiosity. Transient hyper-religiosity is associated with high Neuroticism,51 while bipolar disorder and bouts of depression also predict periods of extreme religious fervor, as does schizophrenia.52 Schizophrenia, and its milder forms, is also elevated at times of stress, just as is anxiety.53 There is a range of severity to schizophrenia-type conditions. Mild symptoms are summarized as “schizoid personality.” This is characterized by anhedonia (the inability to experience joy) and apathy. More severe is “schizotypal personality,” where the schizoid symptoms are accompanied by social anxiety, paranoid ideation, unconventional or paranoid beliefs, and, sometimes, psychosis. Diagnosable schizophrenia is a particularly severe manifestation of these characteristics.54 Having undergone a conversion experience has been found to be associated with having been, prior to that experience, high in anxiety and other Neuroticism traits.55 When people suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress, which is associated with high Neuroticism, they can develop a very specific kind of religiosity known as “spiritual struggle” or “negative religious coping.” Those who undergo this believe that God is punishing them for their sins, plead for God to intervene in the world, and project hostility towards out-group members. “Positive religious coping” can cross over with this, insomuch as it involves conversion, but this also involves the belief that God has forgiven you and that you are purified of your sins.56

So, people who are high in Neuroticism—and even under the harsh Darwinian conditions prevalent until 1800, there would have been population variance in this trait—are more likely to become part of religious revivals. They will feel stress more acutely and will, accordingly, be more likely to become extremely religious in the aftermath of periods of intense societal distress. Females score higher than males in Neuroticism. For this reason alone, we would predict that females would play a noticeable part in religious revivals.57 Consistent with this, studies of religious revivals in the U.S. have found that “white and black women were among the most visible participants at religious revivals, where converts wept, wailed, writhed, and fainted as they received God’s grace.”58 Neuroticism tends to decrease with age in males. But in females, Neuroticism decreases with age until adolescence and at that point, it increases, possibly due to the adaptive need to worry about one’s children. This can be seen most obviously among university students, where females in particular tend to suffer mental health problems of various kinds that they will often have recovered from by the time they are in their mid-20s.59 Neuroticism, in women, begins to decline in early adulthood.60 For this reason, as well as due to their higher general religiousness, we would expect females in their mid-teens to mid-20s to be attracted to religious revivals. In line with this prediction, there is detailed data on those who “came forward” to receive God’s forgiveness during Billy Graham’s British rallies. In London, 65 percent were female and 50 percent were under the age of 19. In Glasgow, 71 percent were women and 73 percent were under the age of 30.61

Even those who are not sufficiently Neurotic to undergo religious experiences can be expected to be influenced by a religious revival if it appears to be sufficiently popular. Neuroticism predicts extrinsic religiousness, that is, religious outward conformity.62 People who are high in Neuroticism will fear being judged negatively or even being ostracized for failure to conform, meaning that they may fake religious fervor even if they don’t actually feel it. This means that religious revivals that become particularly prominent can envelop people who are far lower in Neuroticism than those who are, as they see it, “slain by the Holy Spirit.” Accordingly, popular revivals can generate a kind of group hysteria and thus appear far more popular than they really are. This is obvious when we consider how so many celebrities felt compelled to jump on the bandwagon of Black Lives Matter.


The Religion of Multiculturalism and Mental Health

So, with the nature of “religion” and “religious revivals” clear in our minds, we can now explore the “religious” nature of the Black Lives Matter protests. There are obvious parallels between 20th-century religious revivals—such as that that spear-headed by Billy Graham—and the Black Lives Matter revival. The leaders of the movement are extreme “liberals”—with this being clearly associated with mental instability, where conservatism and traditional religiosity are correlated with mental stability.63 The “revival” has taken place in the wake of a period of elevated mortality salience; in other words, it is a response to stress. Those who are drawn into it are politically liberal themselves, with this being associated with mental instability.64

In many respects, Multiculturalism can be argued to be a secular “replacement religion” for Christianity—and perhaps even a kind of Christian sect. The same argument has been made with regard to Marxism and even some kinds of Romantic Nationalism.

1. Dogmas

Traditional Christianity is based around a series of dogmas that you must accept in order to be regarded as a Christian and achieve salvation. These dogmas are sometimes logically incoherent—such as the Trinity—or require the acceptance of truth-claims that cannot be proved or are, on any reasonable basis, extraordinarily improbable. However, you signal your intellectual submission to the religious community by accepting these. This can be regarded as their purpose; they are tests of loyalty. In much the same way, Multiculturalism requires that you accept dogmas that are empirically inaccurate or patently nonsensical, such as that there are no race differences in intelligence or that everyone is “equal.”

2. “The Last Shall Be First.”

Christianity also tends towards idolizing the “marginalized.” It preaches that “the last shall be first” and encourages its followers to empower those who are supposedly marginalized, and humble themselves, embracing a kind of sacred poverty. Similarly, Marxism idolizes the dispossessed in the form of the “worker”; Romantic nationalism worships the “peasant”; and Multiculturalism, as espoused by Whites, idolizes non-Whites, and the more different they are—culturally and genetically—from Whites, the more they are worthy of reverence. There is evidence that humans—being evolved to tightly structured groups—have two fundamental instincts: one towards climbing the social hierarchy and the other towards equality, as groups that are relatively equal tend to avoid collapsing into discord.65 Thus, religions that preach “equality” can be highly psychologically attractive, especially to those who are not close to the top of the hierarchy or who fear they will not be able to get there. This is consistent with evidence that males who are physically strong—and thus who would have been more likely to ascend the prehistoric hierarchy via winning fights and being sexually selected for—are more likely to hold conservative views that specifically favor hierarchy and inequality.66

3. Self-Abasement and Guilt

The third key point that Multiculturalism has in common with Christianity, though not with pagan religions such as Hinduism, is the salience of “guilt.” In general, “guilt” and “shame” both function to make people “know their place,” and thus conform and behave in pro-social, cooperative ways. Accordingly, a group that adopts a religion imbued with these feelings to an optimum degree would be likely to out-compete other groups.

Christianity is a religion to which “guilt” is extremely important—“central to the biblical message” as one theologian has put it.67 According to Christian dogmas, humanity is “Fallen” as a consequence of its “Original Sin.” In other words, God is perfect and all-benevolent, whereas humanity is inherently sinful and bad, living in a sinful, Fallen world. Indeed, it was cast down into this world from Paradise as a punishment for its wickedness. The only way humanity can gain salvation and forgiveness is to admit how sinful it is and humbly worship God and follow the commands of His Church. Worldly success is, in a sense, something for which you should feel guilty—unless you are certain that God has blessed you with this success—because it implies that you are insufficiently humble; you are failing to sufficiently repent for your wickedness.

In much the same fashion, the Church of Multiculturalism tells its adherents that they are burdened by the Original Sin of Whiteness. White people are presumed to have treated people of other races in abominable ways, with images of slavery, the Holocaust, Jim Crow, and the like acting as symbols of their primal deeds. Whites must repent for their Original Sin by empowering those who are not White, such that racial “Equality” is attained. In the same way that wealthy people in Christian societies are “privileged” and must engage in charitable works to assuage their “guilt,” White people have the “privilege” of being “White”—not only being wealthy but enjoying that wealth at the expense of non-Whites, whom their ancestors brutalized, enslaved, or murdered. “Privilege” is the source of “guilt,” which must be assuaged through acts of humility and penance, potentially including not producing White children and adopting non-Whites instead.

Shame, though less obvious, is also germane to Christianity and its replacement religions. Those who refused to conform to Christianity could be “shamed” as devil-worshippers who might bring God’s anger on the community, and shunned accordingly. Those who do not “take the knee” for George Floyd or who remain silent, instead of publicly stating their support for Black Lives Matter, can be shamed as possible “racists;” with this term of abuse implying that you are not an adherent to the religious community. You are “Other.” This is because membership of the community is based around adherence to dogmas, not around blood-bonds, as is the case with pagan religions and with many forms of nationalism.68


A New Kind of Awakening

The key difference between the Church of Multiculturalism and Christianity is that there is no god—no non-physical existence. Moreover, Black Lives Matter represents an extremely “spiteful” form of religiosity, in the sense that there doesn’t appear to be any “forgiveness.” In Billy Graham rallies, you could “step forward” and be forgiven for your sins. In Black Lives Matter rallies, it doesn’t matter how many times you “take the knee,” there can be no forgiveness for your sin of being White. You must simply learn to live with the guilt, slightly assuaging it ever so often by campaigning to empower non-Whites.

As previously discussed, we can conceive of two distinct kinds of religion: those which are selected for under centuries of Darwinian conditions—that tend to involve the collective worship of a moral god—and those which deviate from this norm. Due to the way in which mental health and religiousness were co-selected under Darwinian conditions as we have explored, this “traditional religiosity” is now positively associated with mental health, while deviations from it—such as New Age affectations or belief in the paranormal—are associated with anxiety and depression, either on-going or periodic. People who are high in mental instability can be expected to become highly religious in the wake of a crisis and being low in traditional religiosity as well as fervently left-wing correlates with being high in mental instability

Accordingly, we would expect such people—self-identified “liberals”—to become extremely religious (in terms of their religious deviation) in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and this is what we appear to be seeing. In previous situations of gravity, the overwhelming majority of the British population was Christian and believed, to varying degrees, in its doctrines. This would have meant that the relationship between being a traditional Christian and mental stability would have been much weaker than is now the case. It also meant that the revivals were Christian in nature, because this was the religious belief even of the kind of mentally unstable people who tend to undergo intense religious experiences. As already noted, a specific form of religiosity has been found to manifest among mentally unstable people suffering from high levels of stress—“Spiritual Struggle.” Those who felt the Holy Spirit during this revival would be, in general, relatively high in Neuroticism, something that would be soothed, temporarily, by their religious experience. Usually, their Christian zeal would be temporary. It would no longer be psychologically required once the period of stress was over and recovered from, by which time the factor that was elevating their anxiety to intolerable levels would have dissipated.

In 2020, especially for younger people, their religion is Multiculturalism and not Christianity. Christianity is now the religion of a shrinking minority. Consequently, we would expect some variant on the kind of revival outlined above to occur in the wake of Covid-19, especially among such people. Its leaders, as with Christian revivals, would be mentally unstable people. However, many of the “followers,” caught up in the revival, would be prone to mental instability and would be going through a particularly acute phase of anxiety. As with a Christian revival, these feelings would be alleviated by the collective experience—in this instance of “Black Lives Matter”—in which they would feel a sense of certainty that they were morally superior; that they were better than most (“racist”) people; and that they were part of creating a paradise on Earth. Once the anxiety-reducing feelings this induced wore off, such people would no longer be subject to acute mortality salience and then they would return to being much less fervent believers in the Church of Multiculturalism.

We would expect any such revival to be more pronounced among Multiculturalists than among Christians. Social Justice Warriors are irreligious and liberal, both of which correlate with mental instability. “Christians” are conservative and religious, both associated with mental stability. Accordingly, in a world in which remnant Christianity is associated with sound mindedness, a Multiculturalist revival in the wake of a pandemic becomes far more probable than a Christian one—though there still may be a Christian one of some kind in the near future. We would expect this Multiculturalist revival to be elevated among young people—because people go through a period of relatively high mental instability when they are young adults—and, in particular, among young females, because females are more religious than males and they are more prone to depression and anxiety. Multiculturalism is the “new religion”—the “new morality”—and thus females would be evolved to want to signal the extent of their adherence to it, being ultimately psychologically adapted to polygamous societies in which they must compete for the highest status males by strongly signaling their religiosity and sexual faithfulness.69 Females are also evolved to a patriarchal society in which decisions tend to be made for them by their fathers and husbands. With the breakdown of patriarchy, it has been argued that we would expect females—especially young females—to make particularly maladaptive decisions.70 These would include strongly aligning with a religion that seeks to destroy their ethnic group and effectively encouragers them to be childless.

It should be noted that, in relatively religious societies, females tend to be more politically conservative than males, seemingly because females are more religious and the religion promotes “traditional” values as the will of God. However, when the influence of traditional religiousness breaks down, the female propensity towards higher empathy—and thus leftism and anti-traditionalism—begins to manifest. In 1992, in Britain, women born in the 1920s were more conservative than men of the same age. However, women born in the 1960s were less conservative than males of the same age.71 These younger women, no longer as influenced by traditional religious ideas, tend to promote leftist ones—including altruism towards competing ethnic groups—with a kind of religious zeal. One commentator astutely termed them “The New Church Ladies,” evoking the subterranean religious quality to so much of contemporary female discourse.72

Traditional religiousness took the female propensity to strongly believe in God and engage in religious worship and focused this into an adaptive form of religiosity in which God promoted group-selected values. With the breakdown of this religion, we are left with females tending to be religiously fervent and high in generalized empathy and thus attracted to Multiculturalism and leftism. Females are also higher than males in Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism, and, thus in social conformity.73 So, for this reason as well, we would expect them to be more heavily involved in the New Church into which younger females have been inculcated.

It has been observed that highly educated young people—those with post-graduate degrees—are significantly over-represented among Black Lives Matter activists.74 One possible explanation for this—beyond the fact that university Humanities and Social Science departments are increasingly indoctrination factories for leftist ideas75—is that there is a positive relationship between Neuroticism and academic success at university, especially when this is combined with high Conscientiousness (impulse control and rule-following).76 This is possibly because anxiety acts as a motivator towards diligence or because Neuroticism means you desire greater certainty about the nature of the world and believe you can attain this through higher education. In that Neuroticism predicts extrinsic religiousness77—that is, outward religious conformity—we would expect non-SJWs who were relatively high in these traits to be drawn into this dominant, public revival due to their fear of not conforming, leading them to compete to strongly outwardly conform.


Anarchic Religious Awakenings

The other difference between the British religious awakenings in the 20th century and Black Lives Matter is the anarchy involved: BLM activists flagrantly breaking the law, engaging in dangerous behavior, rioting, inciting perpetual disorder (“No Justice, No Peace”), and engaging in iconoclasm by toppling statues and desecrating memorials. In this sense, a clearer comparison can be found in the Peasants War that took place in German-speaking states in the 1520s, in the early days of the Reformation. There are multiple reasons why the Reformation began when it did, but one of them was a period of elevated mortality salience. There had been severe famine in Germany between 1515 and 1520.78

Reports indicate that violent Protestant mobs would strip Catholic Churches of their valuables and destroy their idols. As with Black Lives Matter, educated people were heavily over-represented among early Protestant iconoclasts—they were mainly the so-called “middling sort.”79 The Protestant leaders would oppose iconoclasm, publicly stating that idols should only be removed with permission from the proper authorities. But, as has occurred in Britain in 2020, the Swiss authorities preemptively removed icons as a way of halting public disorder and also as way of appeasing Protestant leaders. In June 1524, all Zurich churches were closed in order to prevent a maelstrom.80

In other words, Black Lives Matter is a particularly pronounced religious revival. In the 1520s, this occurred, in part, due to particularly difficult conditions. In 2020, it may be that the cause was moderately difficult conditions plus a growing percentage of young people who, partly for genetic reasons underpinned by increasing mutational load, increasingly suffer from depression and anxiety and, therefore, cannot psychologically cope with what would have been historically regarded as quite normal levels of mortality salience. Contemporary young people are increasingly in a situation of “evolutionary mismatch” where—under the influence of modern, anti-traditional ideologies, over-parenting, and education— they are decreasingly socialized as children in the manner that was the norm under harsh Darwinian conditions. This has been shown to lead to severe behavioral problems in non-human animals,81 and we will explore this issue in more detail below.

Furthermore, far superior communications—social media and instantaneous reactions to events around the world—mean that what may otherwise have been isolated patches of revivalism have been globalized, impacting much larger numbers of people. And there may also be an extent to which these riots are in the interests of some powerful individuals, who are themselves fervent adherents to Multiculturalism or who desire a subservient population that will not challenge them. If the population is depressed and demoralized, this subservience is clearly better accomplished. Accordingly, the riots—which could be crushed if so desired—are permitted to run their course. It is as if ordinary people are being told: “Look what we can allow to happen to you if you elect the wrong people or vote the wrong way in a referendum.” Afraid of offending the righteous mob—and their high-level sympathizers—even leaders who oppose leftist disorder dare not act decisively. Again, comparisons to the iconoclasm of the early English Reformation leap to mind. Iconoclasts were permitted to “get away with it” during the periods when the Protestant faction, most notably led by Thomas Cromwell (c.1485-1540), wielded the most influence at Court.82

All of this leads us to a final question. How have we reached a situation where so many people—including many in positions of power—wish to destroy their own extended kinship group?


BLM and the Spiteful Mutants

Christianity, even the zealous kind of the Reformation, was an adaptive form of religiosity. Thus, a key part of it is “forgiveness”—after publicly confessing your sins and wavering of faith. With the breakdown of Darwinian selection, we see an increasing deviation from this religious evolutionary norm, including religions that are maladaptive, because they are ultimately nihilistic and lack doctrines that allow a person’s highly negative feelings during times of stress to be fully expunged. This is what we see with Black Lives Matter—the ultimate logic of which is that Whites should simply feel perpetual shame throughout their lives with no hope of it being alleviated, other than in a very mild and brief way via “taking the knee.”

Young people have been inculcated with this maladaptive religion due, in part, to the breakdown of traditional Christianity, which, like all religions that survived under harsh Darwinian conditions, tended to take behavior that was adaptive in terms of group selection and turn this into the will of God. As discussed above, as child mortality collapsed, we had more and more people who would not have survived under harsher conditions—due to their high mutational load—who had mutations of the mind that caused to hold beliefs that would be highly maladaptive if held by even a small percentage of the group—anti-natalism being only the most obvious. Due to our being a highly eusocial species—that is, interacting in a “hive mind”—we are heavily influenced by those around us. In this way, it has been found that depression can spread like a contagion. If you are around a person who is depressed then you are more likely to become depressed yourself, a condition which is negatively associated with fertility.83 As a result, these mutants— spiteful mutants84—helped to spread their maladaptive ways of thinking even to non-mutants, gradually undermining adaptive institutions, such as traditional churches, and replacing them with their Church of Multiculturalism, a church which is now clearly adhered to even by the leadership of the Church of England.85 Having taken over the state’s organs of power, such as the education system and the media, they could then inculcate young people into the New Church, alter the evolutionarily adaptive methods of socialization traditionally imposed on them, and push them—and with them, the entire super-organism—to think and behave increasingly contra to their genetic interests.

This became possible when a “tipping point” is reached, whereby about 25 percent of the population advocated anti-traditional ideas. Experiments have shown that when this happens, people perceive the new worldview as the way forward and begin to abandon the old one en masse.86 With our evolution to obedience and following the leader and the mob, this can sometimes result in a misfiring of our adaptations such that we start to engage in behavior which is not in our evolutionary interests. This is particularly likely to be the case if we are subject to “evolutionary mismatch;” if we are placed in an ecology to which we are not evolved. We are evolved to a pre-industrial ecology, so we can expect to find ourselves increasingly maladapted as the ecology increasingly deviates from this. We will engage in behavior which would have been adaptive under previous conditions – such as following the crowd – but this will be decreasingly adaptive as the crowd is increasingly evolutionarily mismatched, mutated and influenced by spiteful mutants.

In 1954, this tipping point had not yet been reached in Britain. People forced themselves, for fear of ostracism, through so-called “effortful control,”87 to believe in traditional Christianity, meaning that the revival was Christian and adaptive in nature. Around 1970, the tipping point was reached. This is demonstrated by the fact that evidence of mutational load – in the form of autism, which is associated with paternal age – did not predict atheism in the 1950s, but by the 1970s it did predict atheism. By the 1970s, in the U.S., having an older father predicted atheism in a way that had not previously been the case. This is because Christianity was so strong during the earlier period that autistics, who tend not to be religious as we have already noted, forced themselves to conform to the dominant religiosity. By the latter period, the tipping point had been reached, so they no longer needed to conform.88


The Toppling of Evolutionary Success

The Church of Multiculturalism, and its Black Lives Matter conversion rallies, is a Church with “spiteful mutants” as its priestly class. Under harsh Darwinian conditions, only those with adaptive cognitive biases survived childhood, because maladaptive cognitive biases were under-pinned by mutation, and those with high mutational load would likely perish before reaching adulthood. With the extreme relaxation of these conditions, these “spiteful mutants” walk among us in significant numbers. These are people who are programmed to behave in a way that is highly maladaptive in evolutionary terms—which results in the destruction of group and even individual fitness—and to persuade others to do likewise. All of the doctrines they advocate involve, if accepted, essentially being a “failure as an organism”:

  • life has no meaning so you may as well not have children;
  • put the interests of other ethnic groups above your own and so reduce the extent to which your own genes are passed on;
  • have few or no children to assist non-human animals and their genetic interests over your own.

The toppling of “racist” statues by the Black Lives Matter mob can be perceived as tearing down the “old gods,” those whom European people have venerated as heroes. These statues have traditionally been erected to honor highly group-selected people who have promoted the genetic interests of Europeans by expanding their territory and leading their ethnic group to victory over rivals. In a sense, the statues are sacred, they are idols; objects of worship. To tear them down is a way of asserting that the religion that they represented no longer has any power, is no longer sacred, simply because the idols that embody it can successfully humiliated.

In 1520, Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes (1485-1547) destroyed every Aztec idol that he could and desecrated the temples. He noticed that it left the Aztecs demoralized and less able to put up a fight.89 So, this leaves the worshipers in a state of confusion in which the previously certain, uniquely real system by which they made sense of the world—and in which they played an integral and positive part—is an under assault. They feel confused because they have got used to this system, and the comforting presence of these statues, and they feel demoralized and anxious. Any significant change can cause this by virtue of elevating anxiety about the unknown.90

This, alongside the symbolism of the system that gives their life meaning being attacked, leads them to feel depressed and looking for new certainties. But what if the certainties offered are nihilistic and tell you that you are inherently evil and should debase and even destroy yourself, never able to be forgiven for your and your ancestors’ sins? This is the ultimate message of the Death Cult that is the Church of Multiculturalism. It is, therefore, no coincidence that it attracts the same psychological types who are attracted to literal suicide cults. Indeed, a Black Lives Matter Suicide Cult, in which young White women kill themselves to repent for their racist sins, would not be beyond the realms of possibility.


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