I appreciate your feedback on the points that I have made and I do need to offer some clarifications. My original argument in the article could have been worded more clearly as there are subtleties I had not articulated to the best of my ability at the time.

On Peterson, Conover, and Alphas:

Jordan Peterson is an expert on the Big Fiver Personality traits and has read a considerable amount with respect to the relevant psychological literature. His invocation of lobsters is relevant because it shows how far back the psychological elements of hierarchy go (pointing to the divergence of distant human ancestors and lobsters). Social hierarchies are based, in part, in biological and psychological realities. Peterson frequently notes the robustness of IQ data when he cites intelligence as a primary factor in life success. The other major factor is conscientiousness. The social hierarchies that tend to work the best are those in which intelligent, hard-working people are at the top. Intelligence, defined as the rapid manipulation of abstractions, is necessary for both the foresight it offers and the rapidity with which one can reach new ideas. Intelligence is largely genetic. The few environmental contributors to intelligence tend to be negative (such as lead paint chips, malnutrition, etc.)

My critique of Conover boils down to the fact that he uses a particular study of wolves, which popularized the term ‘alpha.’ Conover uses the problematic elements of that particular study, then generalizes to a problematic critique of (somewhat exaggerated) features which have been favored by natural selection.

The ‘alpha male’ is both problematic (in the sense of the study Conover critiques) and also based on deeper psychological realities (as Big Five Personality data and female selection tend to show). On that last point, female selection is central to which traits in men survive into the next generation.

In short, my argument is that the psychometric data suggest that social hierarchies are predicated on human psychology. What is social is an extension of what is grounded in basic psychology, which in turn is basic in biology.

On human evolution:

Yes, our development down through the various stages of simian development has made humans unique in many ways. This does not, however, mean that comparatively recent developments in human cognition have (or even can) negate millions of years of what came before — the basic shape and development of the human brain proves this. Rationality is an excellent tool (and has been since before Homo habilis pioneered the use of stone tools, as shown in anthropological finds over the past century.

On ideas/institutions:

While it is true that institution have access to more resources, this does not make these institutions less free of bias. I’m happy to listen to what academics say but I will base my judgment wholly on the content of their argument and how it fits with what is already known, not on their credentials (degrees, how many peer-reviewed articles they have, etc.).

For more on problems with academia (the humanities specifically), I would recommend Camille Paglia’s Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders, an article available online for free. This starts out as a book review and goes on into a detailed critique of academia (and, in particular, careerist and postmodernist elements.

As I am short on time, I will have to return later to respond to your other points.

Written by

Artist | Content Creator | Pantheist | Bohemian | Philosopher | Juggler | Anti-Authoritarian, Pro-Decentralization/Localism| http://www.instagram.com/kevinshau/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store