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Jennifer Lawrence gets all huffy

Jennifer Lawrence


To quote the young lady:

In her comments to Kashner (of Vanity Fair), Lawrence also targeted those who viewed her photos, saying, “Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offence. You should cower with shame. Even people who I know and love say, ‘Oh, yeah, I looked at the pictures.’ I don’t want to get mad, but at the same time I’m thinking, I didn’t tell you that you could look at my naked body.”

Let us parse out the problem.

  1. Stealing her photos is a crime, probably theft, almost certainly an invasion of privacy.
  2. Selling them is a further crime, like fencing stolen property.
  3. Making nude photos for your boyfriend- who was then on the other side of the continent- is normal behaviour these days, and has been engaged in for as long as there has been photography.
  4. Looking at Jennifer Lawrence nude is normal human behaviour; looking at attractive nude women has always been normal human behaviour.
  5. Whining about male lust is simply idiotic. Jennifer, you are in the business of eliciting lust through photographic imagery of yourself, and if you could not be photographed, you would have been painted.

So talking like this is whinging drivel:

“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this,” she told Vanity Fair. “It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world. ”

This is like complaining you were not paid enough for your movies. Pardon me if I cannot take your outrage seriously.

This brings me to the issue of ubiquitous digital photography, and the social mores that follow.

We will soon have important political candidates who can be seen in the nude, or performing sexual acts, taken when they were in their younger years. Some female candidate for the Presidency in a near future will have to explain why she was photographed at 18 with her boyfriend’s dick in her mouth. And her answer should be: “He was my boyfriend at the time.” And that will that – and all there should be to it. Ubiquitous digital photography assures us of ubiquitous pornography, as simply as that. If you are contemplating a political career, you have to start controlling photo access  20 or 30 years before you run, and anyone so ambitious should probably not be trusted.

I have seen a rather fetching picture of the young Angela Merkel nude at the beach somewhere out there in the Internet. I just found it again in seconds on Google images.  She was young and beautiful once, as we tend to be at 20. Do you see the German Chancellor raging against the invasion of privacy? No. Why? She has a country to run. And she was good looking once. Good to know.

For Jennifer Lawrence, I feel bad for her that her photos were stolen. Just a bit. That I might take pleasure looking at her sleek young body? No apology whatever. Jennifer Lawrence is in the business of making millions, in part because we want to see her sleek young body. A little less outrage, Jennifer, would suit you well. No your photos should not have been stolen. yes, you were discreet. But watching your loveliness, it may be a sin  – which I doubt – but it is no crime and it sould bring no shame.



 The German Chancellor was young once too.

And while we are on the subject of sexual selection…

Social mobility, families, breeding, genetics, the persistence of social classes, lead me to the subject of sex. As what doesn’t?

You will recall that Charles Darwin published the Origin of Species in 1859. You will probably not recall that he published another massive tome twelve years later entitled The Descent of Man, or Selection in Relation to Sex. In it, Darwin argued for a different force of evolution, the selection of males by females and of females by males. I have been amazed by the number of people who rail for or against Darwin who remain completely ignorant of his second book, in which he argues for a force of evolution that is a) non-random, or directed, b) mutual as regards the sexes and c) because it is not random,  therefore efficient, rapid and sharing none of the characteristics of the first method proposed in Origin of Species.

I confess I don’t get it – why the second theory has been  politely ignored by most people, Darwinists and anti-Darwinists alike.

Entire careers seem to have been built defending or opposing Darwin – as if he had written only one book, proposing one theory, when in fact he wrote several, and proposed at least two -maybe more – independent theories of how evolution occurs. One theory -natural selection – does not contradict the other; each operates. But  one theory offers an efficient method of selection by members of the species itself of who should breed and who should not.

I have heard two British biologists explain away the second book by saying that since sex is natural, then sexual selection must be just another aspect of natural selection, and therefore the gap between the two theories can be papered over. Whistling past the graveyard, in my opinion.

Geoffrey Miller covered this phenomenon in his marvellous book, The Mating Mind.

Darwin’s second theory has been taken up by other biologists of late. I came across this article in, called DUCK SEX, AESTHETIC EVOLUTION, AND THE ORIGIN OF BEAUTY, by Richard Prum. With a title like that, I was powerless to resist.

Sexual selection was distinct from natural selection in that it had to do with differential reproductive success. Not survival up until the moment of mating, but differential access to mates as a result of two possible mechanisms: One was male-male competition or competition within the sex, the other was female choice or mate choice of the one sex for members of the opposite sex. Darwin elaborated and predicted how male-male competition should give rise to armaments like antlers and large body size like elephant seals, and that nature should give rise to ornaments like birdsong, beautiful bird plumage and many other ornamental features. Darwin used explicitly aesthetic language to describe his theory. He described the mating preferences of birds as standards of beauty. He described female birds as having an aesthetic faculty. He described birds as the most aesthetic of all organisms, excepting of course man, and he was greatly criticized at the time.

In fact, his theory implied that female aesthetic judgments were a major force in evolution, and that was countered immediately by misogynistic responses who described female choice as “vicious feminine caprice.” In those days vicious meant full of vice. In other words, it was even immoral, this theory. In particular, Darwin was criticized for proposing that there was some other theory that might explain evolution other than natural selection, that the power of natural selection was its capacity to explain everything and to be a universal explanation to the origin of biodiversity.

Prum explains the abandonment of sexual (mate) selection as a legitimate theory under the influence of Alfred Russel Wallace, the biologist who is co-author of the theory of natural selection. It is fascinating reading for those who interested in the suppression of ideas, or fashions in theory. Much can be explained by a Victorian squeamishness about the idea that female selection of males was normal.

My interest here is what has happened in the human species as a result of female selection of males: to what ends have we been selected? Prum writes:

I’m interested in the possibility that aesthetic mate choice in humans—female choice—could have played a critical role in the remodeling of male-male competition, essentially by establishing that those features of males that are associated directly with violent competition are unsexy, or more positively, that those features that are associated with advancing female autonomy evolved to be a new from of sexy. That is the kind of dynamic interaction you get between sexual conflict and aesthetic mate choice that we see in birds like bowerbirds and lekking birds and throughout the bird world.

What would these traits be? Well, one of the interesting things is that even though human beings evolved to be much larger than their chimp-like ancestors in body size, they actually have gotten less different in size. Males and females are more similar in size than are chimpanzees. This is exactly against the laws of allometry, which indicate that as you get bigger any differences between the sexes should get broader. That means there’s been active selection to reduce the difference in body size between males and females, and that’s very likely to have evolved through female mate choice.

Prum speaks of sexual selection as being based on an aesthetic agency, and it is true as far as it goes. But female selection of human males goes further; it selects on the basis of moral qualities. One of the qualities selected for, he writes, is  the capacity of males to get along with each other. Selecting on this basis over time has meant that males do not kill the children sired by the previous mate of a female, when the latter remarry/remate. We have been gentled sexual selection.

Other theories have been advanced why life has become  less violent  – notably Steven Pinker’s reworking of Norbert Elias – Prum’s ideas on sexual selection are worth a close reading. The thought that males and females actually select one another, and have been doing so for aeons, and that this drives human evolution, should be a cause of hope.

The Son also Rises

Anyone interested in how society actually operates would benefit from reading Gregory Clark’s The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility.

Clark examined surnames in several different societies and how they have persisted over time in elite occupations. He found that social mobility was real, persistent and slow: much slower than much modern theorizing about it. In short, families count. Coming from a good family is more than half the battle.

And that means that genetics count. Most of the status of your children will be determined by whom you mate with. Practically speaking, produce the kids from the right wife or husband and you can largely forget about sending them to $50,000 a year Manhattan day cares. They are going to succeed with quite ordinary levels of parental investment. No amount of private schooling will turn a dolt into a success, and conversely quite ordinary levels of parental investment (love, education, opportunities) will turn smart kids into successes.

As Clark writes:

By and large, social mobility has characteristics that do not rule out genetics as the dominant connection between generations. Ascribing an important  role to genetics helps to explain one puzzle of social mobility, which is the inability of ruling classes in places like England, Sweden, and the United states to defend themselves forever against downward mobility. If the main determinants of economic and social success are wealth, education and connections, then there is no explanation for the consistent tendency f the rich to regress to society mean even at the slow rates we observe…..

Only of genetics is the main element in determining economic success, if nature trumps nurture, is there a built-in mechanism that explains the observed regression.

The implications of Clark’s findings are contrary to what most believe.

If nature does indeed dominate nurture, this has a number of implications. First, it means that the world is a much fairer place than we intuit. Innate talent, not inherited privilege, is the main source of economic success. Second, it suggests that the large investment made by the upper classes in the care and raising of their children is of no avail in preventing long-run downward mobility….Third, government interventions to increase social mobility are unlikely to have much impact unless they affect the rate of intermarriage between levels of the social hierarchy and between ethnic groups. Fourth, emphasis on racial, ethnic and religious differences allows persistent social stratification through the barriers they create to this intermarriage. In order for a society to increase social mobility over the long run, it must achieve the cultural homogeneity that maximizes intermarriage rates between social groups.

Of course, humans segregate themselves by religions and denominations within religions, and to a lesser degree by social classes, castes, and political tastes. “Not our kind” is the answer to many a proposal of marriage. Perhaps one of the main functions of denominations and religions is to prevent intermarriage. For example, an Anglican can marry a Catholic of the right sort, and a Presbyterian without thinking, but neither a Jehovah’s Witness or a Muslim without conversion being entailed, and conversion to either of the latter religions is to slide down the social scale to the bottom rung.

Which brings me to the end of Clark’s book, concerning his observations of the persistence of elite groups within Islamic societies of members of non-Islamic religions.

Elites and underclasses are formed by the selective affiliation to a religious identity of some upper and lower share of the distribution of abilities within the population. In Islamic societies, the practice of imposing taxes on religious minorities tended to recruit to Islam the lowest economic strata of the conquered societies. Elites and underclasses have maintained themselves over periods as long as 1,300  years because of very high rates of endogamy (marriage within the tribe) which preserves the initial advantages of elites from regression to the mean by preventing intermarriage with less advantaged populations.

Clark’s book is well-written, fact-based, and amusing. For those interested in how society actually works, rather than how it is supposed to work, his discussions of social mobility and the largely vain attempts to  prevent it produce lively interest in the discerning reader, and not a few laughs-out-loud as some important truth clangs like a bell.

Invasive Species


Sable Island is about 110 miles (300 kilosquidgets) off the coast of Nova Scotia. It is home to a naturalized breed of ponies, which the improving minds of some scientists wish to see removed. Why? They are an “invasive species”. They are wrecking the ecology of this insignificant sandbar. Ian Jones, a “researcher specializing in the ecosystems of remote islands” is quoted as follows:


He, along with a host of other researchers who study invasive species, is suggesting the removal of the horses to preserve the island’s fragile ecosystem. They say the horses are causing the desertification of the island by eating the vegetation and compacting the soil with their hooves.

“It’s a debate between this romantic idea of horses and conservationism and biology,” says Mr. Jones. “[Science-based policy] is more difficult for some members of the public to buy into than this image of wonderful horses running wild on windswept offshore. But you have to differentiate between values and science.”

Note the number of self-serving tropes and embedded assumptions in one sentence:

  • Ecosystems are always “fragile”; they are never robust.
  • “science based policy” must trump any romantic consideration.
  • Invasive species are bad.

Whether we keep the horses on Sable Island or not is a matter of policy; we put them there (by unconsidered accident) and we can keep them there, or turn them into dog food.

I agree with young Mr. Jones that you have to differentiate between values and science. That is precisely why – assuming we humans are the sole cause of global warming, which I deny – so many people do not wish to return to the levels of wealth we experienced in 1900, or 1800, so that our planet can recover. We would rather take the chance that our analysis is wrong than that we should return to the poverty of earlier centuries that knew not how to enrich themselves by burning fossil fuels on the scale we now do.That is what I mean by distinguishing values from science. We have a choice in this matter. we have a choice in every matter, and “science based policy” is often no more than dressing up opinion in the robes of dogma.

Stepping around the abyss of anthropogenic global warming, let us consider some of the other arguments and unquestioned assumptions wrapped up in Ian Jones’ mind.

The fragile ecology

Ecosystems are fragile: the recurring motif of all ecological thinking is the fragility of the ecosystem. The motif operates at every scale. The planet is fragile, the planet is a spaceship, there is limited room, resources are limited, we must conserve.

earth from space Indian Ocean

There is a great George Carlin take-down of the absurd idea that the earth and the ecology are fragile.

“Science-based” policy

Why must the romantic notion of horses running free be trumped by “science-based policy”.  Even assuming Mr. Jones’ “science” is anything more than a pre-conceived opinion dressed up in the white lab coat of authority, there is no basis for us to be guided into action. Suppose the horses eat the grasses down to nothing, the whole place is swept away by a storm, and all the horse die. Is this a superior outcome to removing the horses to preserve this glorified sandbar? Why? What about introducing a few wolves? What about shooting a few of them? Options please, said the Prince to his council of ministers.

“Invasive Species”

All species invade econiches where they can make a living: moss on stones, musk-oxen on moss, wolves on hares and musk-oxen, humans on all of them. We whites have invaded a continent (North America) some thousands of years after the previous invaders from northern Asia, and all of mankind “invaded” the planet outside of Africa, starting some 30,000 years ago. We have invaded lands that used to be under ice, learning how to sew, make fires, and hunt mastodons, giant ground sloths, and two-ton bears as we followed the game out onto the tundra. Should we all go back to Africa?

Should the Department of Ecological Correction of the Canopean Empire remove the Polynesians from Hawaii, Tonga, and Samoa? Should New Zealand be depopulated of Maori and British?

Between “fragile ecology” and “invasive species” you can triangulate the voice of the mandarins crying in the wilderness: we the scientific caste, are the saviours of the planet. Let us have our way and Gaia will be healed. A more pretentious philosophy of rule has not been heard since the last Caliph or the last Emperor of China.



The struggle of the Left with Darwin

The most succinct precis of Nicholas Wade’s new book I have found has been in City Journal. It sets out Wade’s arguments and draws attention to the fight that biological realism has with the political Left, which strongly desires that man have no nature, and if he has no nature, then he is capable of endless reformation under the wise guidance of – who else? – the political Left.

But if man is the product of evolutionary forces (in part or in whole), and that these forces have acted and continue to act on our genome, so that we are really different from one another, then, despite our biological unity as a species, humans have evolved into different races, ethnicities, and tribes, and hence are significantly inclined to different social behaviours as races, ethnicities and tribes..

Which is heresy to those who think race is a social construct. The future is not going to be kind to Marxism.

Stephen Malanga, citing Wade, writes:

Geneticists now estimate that about 14 percent of the human genome has changed under evolutionary pressures over the last 30,000 years, forging differences among us. Some scientists have discounted these changes as insignificant and merely cosmetic, but as Wade asserts, small shifts in isolated populations can produce enormous transformations over time in behavior, and hence in entire societies.


Dalwhinnie’s Micro Book Reviews – 1

Svante Pääbo is the world’s foremost genome researcher. He heads a team of people at the Department of Genetics at the Max Planck Institute who have sequenced the Neanderthal and Denisovan genome. His book, Neanderthal Man, In Search of Lost Genomes, is a genial and interesting account of his work, his rivalries, and the state of genomic research.


  • Science is an intensely rivalrous business. Paabo is always on the lookout for ways to scoop his rivals, and they, him.
  • The “peer-review” process subjects one’s work  to carping, jealous, small minded individuals whose only goal is to disprove what you have shown. It is a miracle scientists do not kill each other.
  • Getting a team of scientists to work together is powerfully assisted by allowing them to get their names on the appropriate articles.
  • “The dirty little secret of genomics is that we still know next to nothing about how a genome translates into the particularities of a living and breathing individual” )at p.208

For more information on your genetic background, you should pop the US$200 and take the National Geographic’s genome test.  I did. Guess what? I am white. The tests say so.

While we are on the subject of biological differences

I came across this article, by Dr. Stephen Seiler the sports physiologist and his evil twin (self-confessed) Steve Sailer, the businessman and commentator. It is abut the gender gap in sports, and, as always with Sailer, so much more.

By the way, were you aware that Canada’s Olympic women’s hockey team competes in practice against Junior-B level 18-year old males? Think about that for a moment, as you consider why men’s hockey is so much better.


Nicholas Wade’s “A Troublesome Inheritance” has been published

The most important book of social science since The Bell Curve has been published this week. It is called “A Troublesome Inheritance” by the science writer Nicholas Wade. You should read it.

Here is an excerpt from the review of Wade’s book by Charles Murray, co-author with Richard Hernnstein, of the Bell Curve.


Before they have even opened “A Troublesome Inheritance,” some reviewers will be determined not just to refute it but to discredit it utterly—to make people embarrassed to be seen purchasing it or reading it. These chapters will be their primary target because Mr. Wade chose to expose his readers to a broad range of speculative analyses, some of which are brilliant and some of which are weak. If I had been out to trash the book, I would have focused on the weak ones, associated their flaws with the book as a whole and dismissed “A Troublesome Inheritance” as sloppy and inaccurate. The orthodoxy’s clerisy will take that route, ransacking these chapters for material to accuse Mr. Wade of racism, pseudoscience, reliance on tainted sources, incompetence and evil intent. You can bet on it….

“A Troublesome Inheritance” poses a different order of threat to the orthodoxy. The evidence in “The Bell Curve,” “Male/Female” and “A Blank Slate” was confined to the phenotype—the observed characteristics of human beings—and was therefore vulnerable to attack or at least obfuscation. The discoveries Mr. Wade reports, that genetic variation clusters along racial and ethnic lines and that extensive evolution has continued ever since the exodus from Africa, are based on the genotype, and no one has any scientific reason to doubt their validity.

And yet, as of 2014, true believers in the orthodoxy still dominate the social science departments of the nation’s universities. I expect that their resistance to “A Troublesome Inheritance” will be fanatical, because accepting its account will be seen, correctly, as a cataclysmic surrender on some core premises of political correctness. There is no scientific reason for the orthodoxy to win. But it might nonetheless.

So one way or another, “A Troublesome Inheritance” will be historic. Its proper reception would mean enduring fame as the book that marked a turning point in social scientists’ willingness to explore the way the world really works. But there is a depressing alternative: that social scientists will continue to predict planetary movements using Ptolemaic equations, as it were, and that their refusal to come to grips with “A Troublesome Inheritance” will be seen a century from now as proof of this era’s intellectual corruption.

It is my conviction, based on observation, that the tenured university social scientist is one of the least curious, least fact-driven, least analytical of people. He and she is the hierophant of a dogmatic revelation that asserts that race is a social construct, that human evolution stopped 30,000 years ago and that man is inherently equal but for an evil existing “system” which promotes inequality. In all important respects humans are the same, except of course, as regards our position for or against “the system”, which position acts as the sole relevant criterion of moral worth. Their ability to internalize and spout the religion of social science got them their jobs. They are priests of an ideology, which has the force and status of an established church. Do not ask them to understand what they are paid not to understand.