Social Antler Theory

In Genocentrism Is the Future, I argue that:

  • the study of behavior and socioeconomic phenomena (including philosophy) is best understood when rooted in biological reality, in compliance with the knowledge hierarchy;
  • Intellectuals who study such phenomena while ignoring biological reality will be sexually outcompeted by their genocentric counterparts.

In this essay, I introduce the theory upon which the aforementioned arguments are founded on, along with its implications. I call it “Social Antler Theory” (SA Theory) and it is the 2nd theory of genopolemology – the first one being Genetic Invasion Theory from The Science of Admixture.

Update

For more information about the role of memetic footprints in male-male competition, see the Science of Nobility. For memes in women, see Female Memetics.

The Memetic Footprint

I first define the necessary terms and concepts which are requisite to SA Theory:

  • Genes are the unit of biological evolution just as memes are the unit of cultural evolution.
  • The memetic footprint refers to the sum total of memes that a set of genes can take credit or authorship for.
  • The memetic footprint can be analyzed as an extended phenotype, or it can be dissected into its constituent components and each can be further analyzed as separate extended phenotypes.
  • Communication is the transmission of memes and all signals, including sexual signals (i.e. mating calls), are conveyed via communication.
  • Depending on the organism and the signal, an understanding of the signal itself need not be consciously understood in order for a reaction to manifest; some reactions are purely instinctive and this is increasingly the case the less intelligent the organism is.

SA Theory posits that the memetic footprint primarily functions as a weapon of male-male competition, just like the antlers of a deer. Hence, the term “social antler” is used to qualify the memetic footprint. Additionally, antlers and memetic footprints also serve an ornamental purpose. However, females cannot evolve to respond to an ornament unless it is present among genetically fit males.

In the case of the peacock, the male tail, which acts as an invitation to predators, becomes ornamental because only the genetically fittest males can have one and get away with it. To contrast, unfit males either cannot muster the bioenergetic resources to have such a tail or, if they do, they will be predated. As such, big noticeable tails will coincide with genetic fitness and those females who are most sexually responsive to the tail will be the ones who produce the fittest offspring. In turn, the genes which predispose females to being attracted to a big tail will proliferate throughout the gene pool until the phenotype becomes the female norm. Finally, the tail has become an ornament – a sexual signal.

The case of deer differs from that of peacocks in that its primary use is as weaponry, whereas the the primary use of the peacock’s tail is ornamental. The more formidable the antler, the greater the likelihood of victory in male-male competition. Given that females select for the victors, antler formidability will coincide with genetic fitness and those females who are most sexually responsive to antler formidability will be most the ones who produce the fittest offspring. In turn, the genes which predispose females to being attracted to formidable antlers will proliferate throughout the gene pool until the phenotype becomes the female norm. Finally, the antlers have acquired a secondary ornamental function.

Social Formidability

Research surrounding humans is rather puzzling, given the absence of a unified theory of human sexual selection. Much of the literature is invested in producing sociocultural explanations for female preference, whereas the few studies who attempt to produce evolutionary explanations limit themselves to the correlation of a particular trait and female preference E.g. “it has been found that women prefer trait X”. In other words, there is seemingly an attempt to avoid any discussion surrounding the mechanism underlying human sexual selection. This is bizarre because scientists are quick to delve into such mechanisms when it comes to peacocks, deer, and other animals, which indicates a preference for mechanistic explanations.

Some studies have come rather close to such an explanation. However, these studies miss the forest for the tree and, consequently, produce an incoherent perspective of human sexual selection and female sexual choice. For example, see the following studies:

We find support for the mating effort hypothesis. The smaller effect of status on offspring mortality relative to mating success and fertility suggests traits related to male status evolved to enhance mating effort more than parenting effort.

Rueden RC, Jaeggi AV. Men’s status and reproductive success in 33 nonindustrial societies: Effects of subsistence, marriage system, and reproductive strategy. University of Utah. Jul 19, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1606800113

our main finding is that physical dominance rated by men based on videos (as a proxy measure of male-male competition), but not female-judged sexual attractiveness (as a measure of female mate choice), predicts men’s quantitative mating success

Kordsmeyer TL, Hunt J, Puts DA, Ostner J, Penke L. The relative importance of intra- and intersexual selection on human male sexually dimorphic traits, Evolution and Human Behavior. ISSN 1090-5138, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2018.03.008.

we hypothesize that adaptations for social status allocation are designed to interpret men’s physical formidability as a cue to these leadership abilities, and to allocate greater status to formidable men on this basis. These hypotheses were supported in 4 empirical studies wherein young adults rated standardized photos of subjects (targets) who were described as being part of a white-collar business consultancy.

Lukaszewski AW, Simmons ZL, Anderson C, Roney JR. The role of physical formidability in human social status allocation. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2016 Mar;110(3):385-406. doi: 10.1037/pspi0000042. Epub 2015 Dec 14. PMID: 26653896.

Both facial and bodily dominance positively predicted success in the physical discipline, mediated by physical strength, but not in the three nonphysical disciplines.

Kordsmeyer TL, Freund D, Vugt MV, Penke L. Honest Signals of Status: Facial and Bodily Dominance Are Related to Success in Physical but Not Nonphysical Competition. Evol Psychol. 2019 Jul-Sep;17(3):1474704919863164. doi: 10.1177/1474704919863164. PMID: 31345060.

This is all well and good but why can’t they piece all of this into a unified theory? For starters, the hierarchy of knowledge is violated. All of these studies attempt to understand female sexual choice, a consequence of sexual signaling, without rooting any experiment or explanation in signaling theory – the parent perspective. As such, we find Sociocentric Pitfalls in the form of contradictions.

One study suggests that females select based on markers of status while the other suggests that females select based on physical formidability. Another suggests that physically formidable men are allocated greater status, yet physical formidability is not predictive of success in nonphysical disciplines. This is all incoherent until we apply signaling theory:

  1. Females cannot respond to physical formidability or markers of status unless they are signaled to them.
  2. All signals are conveyed via the transmission of memes.
  3. Therefore, both physical formidability and markers of status are components of a memetic footprint.

From this, we can define the formidability of a memetic footprint as social formidability and, thus, physical formidability as well as other aspects of one’s public perception are part of one’s social formidability. As such, we can establish the flaws in the aforementioned studies.

In “The relative importance of intra- and intersexual selection on human male sexually dimorphic traits”, I note that the experiment suffers from a pre-selection bias, as it fails to test for any other components of social formidability due to the purely visual medium upon which the sexual signals were transmitted. Still, testing for one component of social formidability, namely physical formidability, does provide limited support for the thesis that female sexual preference selects most broadly for social formidability.

In “The role of physical formidability in human social status allocation”, the experiment suffers form a dual pre-selection bias. Not only does it fail to test for any other components of social formidability (again due to its visual medium), but also fails to use a representative sample. More precisely, the test subjects worked at the same company which implies a significantly similar educational background and life path and, as such, the study strongly controls against other components of social formidability. A representative sample would include men of various professions, life accomplishments, etc. Indeed, it is no surprise that women would rate a physically formidable consultant as higher status than a less formidable consultant. But would women rate a physically formidable consultant as higher status than a less formidable but famous artist? This is unlikely to be the case and this difference is mediated precisely by all the other components of social formidability: the famous artist’s memetic footprint dwarfs that of the consultant, no matter how physically formidable the consultant may be. The artist’s negative opinion of someone is more likely to result in ostracism whereas a consultant’s negative opinion is unlikely to have as significant of an effect.

In “Honest Signals of Status: Facial and Bodily Dominance Are Related to Success in Physical but Not Nonphysical Competition”, the evidence supports the notion that there are other components of social formidability which mediate success in male-male competition, given that most forms of male-male competition, especially among civilized humans, are non-physical. Scientific debate and market competition are examples of non-physical competition. In both cases, non-physical components of social formidability mediate victory and the consequent allocation of status. Finally, “Men’s status and reproductive success in 33 nonindustrial societies: Effects of subsistence, marriage system, and reproductive strategy” demonstrates that the selection for status is primarily female-driven.

In other words, the essence of male-male competition is conflicting memetic footprints. The more socially formidable the footprint, the greater the allocation of status, the greater the female preference. It should be noted that this is absolutely no different than sexual selection among deer. Female deer, like female humans, cannot respond to the formidability of male antlers unless it is signaled; even among deer, physical formidability is thus a component of social formidability. Therefore, it is not only the case that memetic footprints are social antlers: real antlers are social antlers too, along with any other phenotype which functions as genetic weaponry.

All War Is Meme War Is Gene War

SA Theory is not only the precise mechanism of human sexual selection (i.e. the unified theory that I allude to), but it is also a unifying theory of sexual selection for any animal whose females sexually select the victors of male-male competition. Again, the explanatory power and universality of genocentrism is demonstrated. Moreover, both the literature and the female selection for social formidability supports the genocentric definition of the elite:

There is a socioeconomic definition of the elite and there is a genocentric one. As seen in the Genes & Mating Systems Simulator, genopolemology uses the genocentric definition of the elite which is simply that of a genetic cluster. Culture and religion is understood as a collection of memes made by brains made by genes. Thus, the genetic cluster of an elite is easily defined by the genes which develop the worldview of a particular hierarchy.

Genocentrism Is the Future

To define the elite in sociocentric terms is akin to defining genetically fit deer in terms of their immediate antler size. This would be absurd to any biologist. A young genetically fit male deer will necessarily have less formidable antlers, even when compared to a less genetically fit male deer who is much older. In fact, prepubescents have no antlers at all, regardless of genetic fitness. Does this mean that some male deer become genetically fit? Or are genetically fit deer born? The question is so absurd that to ask it is to answer it. Thus, one does not become elite. Instead, the elite is born.

By this definition, religion / culture / worldview is the combined social antlers of an elite, and regime change (inter-elite competition) is memetic warfare. Again, victory is mediated by social formidability. He who has the more formidable social antlers wins the meme war. This is equally true in individual competition as in group competition. Furthermore, the use of violence in conflict does not make the war any less memetic in nature. When armies collide, we witness the collision of religion, culture, worldview, hierarchies, strategies, tactics, techniques, weaponry, technology, and a whole host of other memeplexes. Some wars are violent. All wars are memetic. Since memes are made by brains made by genes, meme war is gene war.

How Meme Wars Are Won

Male-male competition takes place when status allocation is disputed. In a majority of cases, males in hierarchies have a sense of their status and do not challenge higher-status males when doing so appears unlikely to succeed (i.e. they engage in pre-emptive submission). However, the sexual and evolutionary incentive for lower-status males to challenge higher-status males exists, nevertheless. When victory seems possible, a status dispute occurs, and social formidability is what determines whether victory is possible. The greater the disparity in social formidability, the lesser the likelihood of victory, the lesser the likelihood of a status dispute. Conversely, the lesser the disparity in social formidability, the greater the likelihood of victory, the greater the likelihood of a status dispute. Invariably, the lower-status males either attains a higher status or the higher-status male retains it.

In physical male-male competitions, signals of submission are used to put the competition at an end. These signals are various ways of saying “I no longer wish to fight you”. In war, there are treaties. In Jiu Jitsu, there is the tap. In dog fights, the loser will lie down on his back, squeal, or run (if possible).

Male-male competition regularly takes place among intellectuals, in the form of scientific debate. The signals of submission, however, are very subtle. These signals take the form of deference. How does deference manifest itself in scientific discourse?

Any time an intellectual defers to another’s theory to make an argument, the originator evidences social formidability. In fact, we can easily place intellectuals along a hierarchy of social formidability. For example, all biologists must defer to Richard Dawkins’ Selfish Gene Theory must defer to Darwinism. The determinant question is: how much of other intellectuals’ memetic footprints defer to an intellectual’s memes?

The greater the deference, the higher the status, the greater the female sexual preference. Case in point, genocentrism will never defer to sociocentric fields, such as sociology, economics, psychology, or philosophy, to explain itself; to contrast, sociocentric fields are so incoherent without genocentrism, that sociocentric intellectuals regularly defer to genocentric concepts to bridge the knowledge gaps of their own fields. Therefore, sociocentric intellectuals must either choose between adopting a genocentric perspective of their respective fields or accept a loss in social formidability. For example, biologists who rejected the Selfish Gene Theory have become less socially formidable over time and the same can be said of physicists who rejected relativity.

It should be noted that intellectuals themselves are not directly required to defer to another intellectual, in order for the male-male competition to end. To the contrary, many theories lose their social formidability in the face of theories which are more explanatory and universal. As such, it is often the case that the originators of lesser theories lose their social formidability far before there is any chance of scientific debate. This is most likely to happen in cases where the newer theory is self-evident as in the case of the genocentric invasion of sociocentric fields (because why debate with a discredited intellectual?). On the other hand, newer theories are up for debate when they are not so self-evident (e.g. Modern Economic Theory vs Keynesianism vs Austrian School).

Genocentrism is the more socially formidable social antler and females are choosing the more socially formidable males 24/7. If you are an intellectual and you’re not getting with the program, you are losing your status and being outbred, as we speak. Up to you.

Implications of Social Antlers

I conclude with some thoughts about the implications of SA Theory:

  • Heredity studies which aim to distinguish between genetic and environmental factors fail to account for the genetic component of environmental factors (e.g. socioeconomic status of parents). This biases the results in favor of environmental factors and thus allows researchers to proclaim that life outcomes are equally caused by genes and environment. Given that wealth, education, reputation, and the ability to produce a child-friendly home environment are social antlers, can we not conclude that the very same studies ultimately demonstrate a social antler’s heredity to be (almost) fully genetic?
  • If real antlers develop in puberty in relation to testosterone, can we not say that the same would be the case for social antlers? I hypothesize this due to the same selective pressures which delay real antler formation, namely the limitation of bioenergetic resources; there is no evolutionary benefit for a prepubescent deer to invest its bioenergetic resources to develop antlers. The human brain is similarly very bioenergetically resource-intensive. Why would we expect the male brain to develop the capacity to produce a sexually competitive memetic footprint before puberty? And can we say that those changes in the brain which give it the capacity to produce a sexually competitive memetic footprint are developed in relation to testosterone? Since prepubescent boys have memetic footprints, can we say that one function of puberty is to weaponize the memetic footprint into a social antler?
  • Women have memetic footprints. However, women do not undergo the biological processes which weaponize the memetic footprint into social antlers; women will never engage in male-male competition because women are the choosers of males. It is also known that women tend to gravitate towards more social fields where they exert an influence that is altruistic, pro-social, and oriented towards care and harm avoidance. Can we, therefore, say that the intellectual aspects of the female memetic footprint are vestigial? In other words, it possible that women have inherited the brain structures which produce the intellectual components of memetic footprints simply because it was selected for in men? Is there any point in evolutionary history where females were selected for their mathematical, scientific, or artistic ability? (Seems unlikely which supports the hypothesis of vestigiality)
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The original ideas and arguments presented herein are published under the COSL license.