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In a recent post, Fred Reed asks:

Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded? This would seem beneficial. We certainly don’t want them to reproduce, they use resources better invested in healthy children, and it makes no evolutionary difference whether they die quietly or screaming.

The short answer is that any killing, for whatever reason, increases the likelihood of killing for other reasons. One exception is self-defence, but that’s not done for pleasure. Another exception is capital punishment, but that, too, is not done for pleasure. More to the point, no single citizen can carry out an execution. It requires a lengthy judicial process. The same reasoning applies to the final exception of war. No single citizen can declare war.

It’s not for nothing that killing is so taboo, especially recreational killing. Several things have contributed to the success of Western societies, but a leading one is the relatively peaceful nature of social relations. When people can go about their business without fearing for their lives, much becomes possible that otherwise would not be. This taboo is so crucial that we even extend it to nonhumans. Cats and dogs have no inherent right to life, yet it is a serious offence to torture them to death.

That’s society. What about biology?

At this point, Fred may speak up: “But those are social reasons against killing of any sort. What are the biological reasons?”

The immediate biological reason is empathy. If I try to hurt someone, I feel the pain I inflict. Truth be told, the only life forms I enjoy killing are flies and mosquitoes. If a moth flies into our home, I’ll go to some length to capture it and set it free outside, and I know others who do similar things. Just think of all the car drivers who come to a screeching halt to avoid running over some poor animal.

It’s empathy that makes me and others act that way. And I cannot easily turn it off. It shuts down only when feelings of contempt enter my mind, as with those contemptible flies and mosquitoes.

Empathy is hardwired. It’s 68% heritable in the case of affective empathy, i.e., the capacity to respond with the appropriate emotion to another person’s mental state (Chakrabarti and Baron-Cohen, 2013). To date, studies have focused on disorders caused by too much empathy or too little. Psychopaths may have intact cognitive empathy, but impaired affective empathy. They keenly understand how others feel without actually experiencing those feelings. The reverse impairment may affect autists. As for depressives, they may suffer from being too sensitive to the distress of others and to guilt over not helping them enough.

These disorders exist at the tail ends of a normal distribution. By focusing on these extremes, we forget the variability among healthy individuals. We all vary in our capacity for empathy, just as we do for almost any mental capacity.

How can evolution explain empathy?

Why do we feel empathy? How could natural selection favor such selflessness? This is of course the point that Fred is trying to make. Empathy keeps us from doing things that supposedly make evolutionary sense. Therefore, it could not have evolved. It must have been given to us by a Great Designer.

But why did this Great Designer give more of it to some people than to others? We’re talking about a heritable trait. It’s not as if everyone starts off the same way, with some later falling behind through their own wrongdoing.

And how has the Great Designer preserved this selfless behavior? Unless something is done, empathic people will eventually be overwhelmed by a tidal wave of cheaters, free riders, and people shouting “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” This is as much a mystery for creationists as it is for evolutionists. It’s one thing to explain how altruism came to be. It’s another to explain how it manages to survive in this cynical world.

These questions passed through my mind when I was going through my late mother’s effects. I discovered she had for years been donating money for various projects in the Third World, at a time when she was a widow with no pension. Meanwhile, as a teenager, I had to take on all kinds of odd jobs to help us make ends meet. Looking over those donor receipts I shook my head and felt some resentment. How do good Christians like her manage to survive?

Yet she did, like others before her. For one thing, she was suspicious of strangers, and this suspicion extended to some ethnic groups more than to others. She was prejudiced and “postjudiced.” If someone acted dishonestly with her once too often, she would have no more to do with him or her. Such people were “contemptible.”

Today, that sort of behavior might seem un-Christian. But her Christianity was of an older, judgmental sort, being inspired more by the punitive Old Testament than by the forgiving New Testament. She would judge people, and her judgment could be harsh, very harsh.

Over space and time

Just as the capacity for empathy varies from one individual to another, it also varies statistically from one human population to another, being strongest in the “guilt cultures” of Northwest Europe. Guilt is the twin sister of empathy. Both flow from a simulation of how another person thinks or feels (an imaginary witness to a wrongdoing, a person in distress) and both ensure correct behavior by inducing the appropriate feelings (anguish, pity).

Why are guilt and empathy so strong in Northwest Europeans? Other societies ensure good behavior by relying on close kin to step in and enforce social rules. This policing mechanism has been less effective west of the Hajnal line (which runs roughly from Trieste to St. Petersburg) because kinship ties have been correspondingly weaker. There has thus been stronger selection for internal means of behavior control, like guilt and empathy.

This zone of relatively weak kinship is associated with unusual demographic tendencies, called the Western European Marriage Pattern:

- relatively late marriage for men and women

- many people who never marry

- neolocality (children leave the family household to form new households)

- high circulation of non-kin among different households (Hajnal, 1964; ICA, 2013)

The Western European Marriage Pattern was thought to have arisen after the Black Death of the 14th century. There is now good evidence for its existence before the Black Death and fragmentary evidence going back to 9th century France and earlier (Hallam, 1985; Seccombe, 1992, p. 94). Historian Alan Macfarlane likewise sees an English tendency toward weaker kinship ties before the 13th century and even during Anglo-Saxon times (Macfarlane, 2012;Macfarlane, 1992, pp. 173-174). I have argued that this tendency probably goes still farther back (Frost, 2013a; Frost, 2013b).

Whatever the ultimate cause, Northwest Europeans seem to have been pre-adapted for later shifts away from kinship and toward alternate means of organizing social relations (i.e., ideology, codified law, commerce). This tendency has taken various forms: the intense guilt-driven Christianity of the Anglo-Saxon penitential tradition and, later, Protestantism; the medieval alliance between Church and State to pacify social relations; and the post-medieval rise of the market economy. This cultural evolution has been described by the historical economist Gregory Clark for the English population between the 12th and 19th centuries. As England became a settled society, success went to those who could resolve disputes amiably and profit from thinking ahead—in short, those who had middle-class values of thrift, foresight, self-control, nonviolence, and sobriety. This English middle class, initially tiny, grew in numbers until its lineages accounted for most of its country’s gene pool (Clark, 2007; Clark, 2009a; Clark, 2009b).

But what does that have to do with evolution???

At this point, Fred may again speak up, with more than a touch of exasperation: “You’re ducking my question! You’re talking about culture, society, and religion! What does that have to do with evolution???”

Everything, Fred. Everything. Unlike other animals, humans have to adapt not only to their physical environment but also to their cultural environment. In short, we’ve become participants in our own evolution. We have domesticated ourselves.

Let me return to your initial question. What’s to stop you from torturing to death the severely retarded? First, your sense of empathy should. If it doesn’t, you’re the one with a severe mental defect. I wouldn’t want you as a fellow citizen, let alone as a neighbor. The law of the jungle may give you the right to torture defenceless people to death, but it also gives me the right to organize a lynch mob and hang you from the nearest tree.


Chakrabarti, B. and S. Baron-Cohen. (2013). Understanding the genetics of empathy and the autistic spectrum, in S. Baron-Cohen, H. Tager-Flusberg, M. Lombardo. (eds). Understanding Other Minds: Perspectives from Developmental Social Neuroscience, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Clark, G. (2007). A Farewell to Alms. A Brief Economic History of the World, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Clark, G. (2009a). The indicted and the wealthy: Surnames, reproductive success, genetic selection and social class in pre-industrial England.

Clark, G. (2009b). The domestication of man: The social implications of Darwin. ArtefaCTos, 2, 64-80.

Frost, P. (2013a). The origins of Northwest European guilt culture,Evo and Proud, December 7

Frost, P. (2013b). Origins of Northwest European guilt culture, Part II,Evo and Proud, December 14

Hajnal, John (1965). European marriage pattern in historical perspective. In D.V. Glass and D.E.C. Eversley (eds). Population in History. Arnold, London.

Hallam, H.E. (1985). Age at first marriage and age at death in the Lincolnshire Fenland, 1252-1478, Population Studies, 39, 55-69.

ICA (2013). Research Themes – Marriage Patterns, Institutions for Collective Action

Macfarlane, A. (1992). On individualism, Proceedings of the British Academy, 82, 171-199.

Macfarlane, A. (2012). The invention of the modern world. Chapter 8: Family, friendship and population, The Fortnightly Review, Spring-Summer serial

(Republished from Evo and Proud by permission of author or representative)
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  1. whorefinder says: • Website

    weak argument. people have tortured others for thousands of years, with great pleasure, as well as animals. That they felt glee at doing it does not mean they were deficient in empathy; they were only deficient in empathy as YOU define it. once again, the anti-theist argument comes down to self-righteousness and solipsims: “because I do not want certain things done, or want other things done, everyone else who is good wants the same. Anyone who doesn’t agree with me ideas isn’t good and is therefore deficient and must eb reeducated/removed.”

  2. rod1963 says:

    I don’t think evolution explains it all by any means. Ideology seems to turn off any kind of compassion, empathy, you name it.

    TV and sports does a marvelous job as well. Sit down sometime and watch a MMA or football match on TV or better yet attend one. Watch how people get bloodlust so easily.

    Good propaganda can turn a persons empathy on and off like light switch.

    During the Cold War our scientists experimented on criminals and children with terminal cancer by giving them lethal dosages of X-rays. They made soldiers walk into nuclear fallout or made planes fly into radioactive clouds to see what happens to the men. Some scientists thought it was funny. Most didn’t care. If they did they would have walked away, evidently the chance of dousing people in radiation was just too attractive to these men of science.

    Look at the massive bloodshed of post-enlightenment Europe(also Russia and China) after it generated two nightmarish secular ideologies – Communism and Fascism were introduced to various populations. It seems to have turned large segments of the population into psychopaths and mindless killing and torturing machines. Young or old it didn’t matter.

    The end result of both was the deaths of more people than the last 2000 years of warfare. Pretty impressive results by the secular European intellectual class. Lets not forget the contributions of the Eugenicists who helped turn Nazism from just another form of tyranny into a mass murder machine based on ethnicity and looks.

    Empathy is very, very selective and something you don’t want to depend on from people.

  3. bob sykes says:

    Reread your Darwin. Evolution does not select for empathy or any other trait per se. Natural selection is all about differential reproduction. Any trait that allows its possessor to leave more children behind than it conspecifics becomes more common in the group and is thus “selected.” In a social animal, traits like empathy or altruism that lubricate social interactions become fairly common, but so do sociopathy and selfishness because they benefit the fraction of the population that is free-loaders. There is a large game-theoretic literature on this topic, and the conclusion is that Christian-like and anti-Christian-like ethics coexist in a variable equilibrium.

    Basically, what you are trying to do as an atheist is to justify your culturally inherited Christian ethics. You cannot do this in any kind of coherent Darwinian theory. So give it up.

  4. bob sykes says:

    Your revise thingy cut me off in mid edit. So let me continue the comment.

    Nietzsche’s and Chesterton’s analyses of the death of the Christian God in Europe are relevant here. When people lose belief in one God, as Europeans have abandoned Christianity, they transfer belief to another god or gods. The neopagan Green movement is the exemplar. Its numerous superstitions and irrationalities have been amply documented, their deleterious effects on European society are obvious. Note that the neopagan religion of modern Europeans nullifies much of Christian ethics, especially as regards fetuses, new borns, and the disabled and old. You now have legalized abortions everywhere and legalized involuntary euthanasia is spreading throughout the European Union.

    Again, you cannot have the Christian ethics you (as in you, Peter) you want without Christianity. If you want your children to be good Christians (as you, Peter, evidently do) then take them to church, the One, True, Apostolic, Roman Catholic Church, of course.

    It should not be necessary on a science blog, but apparently it is, to restate that evolution has no direction or goal. It is simply adaptation to local and current conditions. It is entirely possible for modern human to become stupid and violent if the environment rewards those characters with increased reproduction.

    You might consider the claim that British (and by inference all WEIRD countries) IQ’s are falling and have declined by one full standard deviation (15 its) over the last hundred years or so. This is based on reaction time data, which go back that far, and their correlation with IQ. The supposed cause is the dysgenic condition of modern society that allows low IQ people a selective advantage.

  5. Whore,

    Where did I say that empathy was a human universal? All humans feel empathy to some extent, but the capacity for empathy varies considerably, both between individuals and between human societies.

    In most human societies, every adult male had the right to kill. And torture. This was largely true in Western societies until about a thousand years ago when Church and State joined forces to criminalize murder. Before that, it was something to be settled between the murderer’s family and the murdered person’s family. The idea that every human life is unconditionally inviolable is an idea that gradually developed over time.

    The high level of empathy that many of us feel is a result of the “war on murder” that has been going on in Western societies for the past millennium.


    Yes, ideology can turn off empathy. If you can make someone, or certain people, seem morally worthless, you’re halfway to killing them.

  6. panjoomby says:

    we switch empathy on & off to some degree, & to some degree empathy (or lack of) sneaks up on us & is not within our control. amount of empathy may vary in different situations & with different people, animals, relatives, self. consult your physician to ask if this is the right amount of empathy™ for you.
    in general females have a higher mean on a general empathy score, males have more variability (as usual). Adolph H. was very empathic to his woman & his dog & to children, etc. Perhaps males can compartmentalize it more. switch it off for battle, let it flow back on for family.

  7. joe says:

    “No single citizen can declare war.”

    How many of the millions of people killed in and and by the US military in the last 70 years have been under a declaration of war? Zero. They all “served” at the pleasure of the president. Any other claim is just Lincolnian propaganda.

  8. Peter Frost says: • Website


    An altruistic society can tolerate free riders up to a certan point. Beyond that point, altruism ceases to be viable. Moreover, the point of equilibrium between altruists and nonaltruists varies from one society to another. A society like Sweden, with many social welfare programs, cannot tolerate as many free riders as a less altruistic one.

    In the Western world, the dominant religion is now post-Christianity. It is certain aspects of Christianity that have abandoned their traditional constraints and taken on new forms. Christianity gone mad, if you like.

    In my humble opinion, most “churches” are now post-Christian. This assessment applies not only to the mainstream churches but also to the evangelical and “fundamentalist” ones as well. The only exceptions are those that try to shut out modern mass-culture (e.g., Hutterites, Amish, certain integrist Catholics, and certain Russian Orthodox churches). When I left the United Church, I considered joining another church but eventually gave up. The difference between the United Church and most other churches is about 10-15 years of ideological change.

    You say that “science has no direction or goal.” Perhaps. But religion likewise can be reprogrammed to take on directions or goals that would have shocked people only a generation ago.

  9. joe says:

    You do not seem to understand the difference between empathy and altruism. Nor do you seem to understand the correlation between altruism and patriotism. And you certainly have no clue about the impact of the state and its public “services” on the shaping of mores, something that you misname “cultural evolution”. Your absurd claims that empathy is evolutionary (but somehow not genetic) ignore the growth in the intrusiveness of the nation state, the cost and extent of its administration, and the consequently institutionalized breadth of its propaganda since the industrial revolution. Such “evolution” exists only to the extent that academic and moral devolution has been better rewarded by an increasingly pervasive political environment.

    PS: I didn’t bother to see how you’ve abused your references this time. But for others who may find sport in such things, I say give it a try! You’ll likely be rewarded by this sloth. :)

  10. Sean says:

    “The law of the jungle may give you the right to torture defenceless people to death, but it also gives me the right to organize a lynch mob and hang you from the nearest tree.”

    Right, and people will feel they ought to join the lynch mob even if they don’t like the idea of killing. In the case of Reserve Police Battalion 101, where men were offered the chance to step out and leave the killing to their comrades, few did. They went ahead even though many were vomiting and disgusted with what they were doing.

    Peer pressure is group selection. Guilt at not pulling your weight is internal peer pressure. And you don’t have to even do anything to other groups; just being extra nice within your group is in effect ensuring the extermination of the group with free rider genes. What about free riders within your group? Well, humans can monitor and enforce compliance, so free riders get a visit from Captain Lynch; or less dramatically, just cease to be accepted as group members, which is social and genetic death.

    A hero doesn’t propose strategies, he suffers and sacrifices for the group. HBDers are seen as free riders.

  11. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The law of the jungle may give you the right to torture defenceless people to death, but it also gives me the right to organize a lynch mob and hang you from the nearest tree.

    Peter seems to have buried the real answer to this as an aside at the end without even realizing it. After laying out a number of plausible sounding but relatively vague and not very rigorous hypotheses, Peter spills the real answer inadvertently out of exasperation, since he knows someone like Reed isn’t going to just accept vague hypotheses. It’s group selection. And group selection is war.

  12. Dwiggmd says:

    Help for Fred from an atheist.

    From. Claim CB010.2

    “Nobody knows what the most primitive cells looked like. All the cells around today are the product of billions of years of evolution”

    This begs the question, “What prevented/is preventing ongoing episodes of abiogenesis?” – and the corollary, “Why do we see virtually none of the intermediate forms of abiogenesis today?”

    There should be parallel strands of evolution tracing from multiple abiogenic events. There should be a spectrum of cells from primitive to “the cells around today.” We should, if we look in the right place, or if we see what is there in the proper way, be able to see at least a few data points in the “evolution” of abiogenesis.

    It has, after all, been billions of years and there has been a wide variety of environmental conditions.

    Were the proper coditions so fleeting, and the event so improbable, that in a world of primordial soup this happened sucessfully only once? Ever? (This is so ridiculously improbable that it reduces to mere philosophy, i.e. Is it less likely that we are actors in a dream of some other consciousness?)

    Or are we looking in the wrong places? Panspermia just shifts the question one step. I think there are places on earth right now where we could see more extensive evidence of abiogenesis – ocean vents, deep underground, the upper atmosphere, somewhere. Either that, or the perhaps we have to re-evaluate the theory.

  13. Peter Frost says: • Website

    “I say give it a try! You’ll likely be rewarded by this sloth”

    A sloth? Really? I had no idea that nonhumans were reading my stuff.

  14. Pantah says:

    Talk about Frost completely missing the mark. Fred Reed isn’t favoring sadism; he’s asking how, in evolutionary terms, we can condemn torturing and killing defective children. If evolutionism is the be-all end-all explanation for what we are, why do we find some actions repugnant? Because we evolved to? And why would that be?

  15. Peter Frost says: • Website

    Who “we”?

    Your initial premise is wrong. You’re assuming that all people everywhere have the same revulsion against killing. That simply isn’t true.

    The heritability of affective empathy is 68%. That’s high. Most of the variability in empathy is genetic and reflects hardwired differences. I’m sorry to break the news to you, but that’s life.

    Look, you cannot have it both ways. If you think everyone is universally kind and empathetic, there is no need for Christianity. There was no need for Christian missionaries to protect the weak and defenceless from sadistic practices that were considered normal in many human cultures. None of that ever happened, and the whole Christian enterprise was a waste of time and effort. All of that flows from your initial premise.

    If you accept that Christianity really did abolish such practices, you must also accept that Christianity made a difference in who survived and who didn’t, in who had children and who didn’t. Under Christianity, especially from the 11th century onward, the violent male went from hero to zero. It became possible to get ahead through honest work and trade, as opposed to theft and plunder. All of that left traces in the gene pool.

    Please, read my post before making comments. I’m tired of answering people who accuse me of ignoring things I have actually discussed at some length. Show my views a bit of respect, and I’ll do more than reciprocate.

  16. B and B says:

    I don’t know, some societies like the Chukchi may have literally killed unwanted children as population control (I’m not talking about things like child sacrifice here.) But historically exposure was more common and a difference seems innately reckoned. All those English pubs are called ‘eagle and child’ and ‘fox and child’ for a reason. It was the same in Rome, Japan etc. And this suggests to me a widespreas cognitive basis for the preference, even though people may have assumed the outcome to be effectively the same.

  17. Shmiggen says:

    First off, I thought Fred’s question was dumb. What he probably wants to ask is, how do we know mass Hispanic immigration is bad? That’s cutting to the chase of it.

    If we don’t know who “we” are, and we don’t know what we want, and we don’t know where we’re going, we can’t answer the question.

    Why can’t we ask this, rather than going the long winded curcuitous route of Evo-speak?

    Personally, I think mass Hispanic immigration is good. Why? Because their Catholic and their traditions are western and they will assimilate just as the Italians did. They will drive our trucks, cook our food and cut our lawns for us, and their taxes will support our retirement.

    We should be happy. I live in the real world and all I have to do is look at Europe to see how lucky we are. Mass Muslim immigration is a death wish. It will have bloody results. But we here in the USA are sitting pretty. Hector and Juan will be good for America; Mohammed and Achmed will reign down bloody murder on Europe.

    • Replies: @syonredux
    , @Jim Christian
  18. Sean says:

    Poet Louis MacNeice: “If there has been no spiritual change of kind / Within our species since Cro-Magnon Man . . .”

  19. shmiggen says:

    “Because they’re Catholic”

  20. Fred says:


    You say, “Let me return to your initial question. What’s to stop you from torturing to death the severely retarded? First, your sense of empathy should. If it doesn’t, you’re the one with a severe mental defect. I wouldn’t want you as a fellow citizen, let alone as a neighbor. The law of the jungle may give you the right to torture defenceless people to death, but it also gives me the right to organize a lynch mob and hang you from the nearest tree.”

    We agree perfectly. If I found myself doing such a thing, I would organize my own mob to lynch me. But we would lynch me for different reasons.

    You would say, “Fred, you are transgressing an evolutionary prejudice that promotes social cohesion, and anyway unjustified killing tends to promote more killing, so you must die.” To which I would reply, “Well, gee, Peter, what if I do it in secret, so it doesn’t promote anything? Would that be ok? And if revulsion at torture is just a practical genetic instinct, like fear of heights, why should I not overcome it at will, as I do fear of heights when I go skydiving?”

    My reason for lynching me would be that torturing children is Wrong. Period. No matter how craftily I arranged it so as to overcome evolutionary objections, I woujld still think it Wrong. You would say, “But Fred, how do you know it’s wrong?” I would say, “It just is.” Which is as dead-end an answer as genetic practicality, but to my mind less embarrassing. There are things we do not know, and cannot know.

    But my broader point was that traits exist for which there seem to be no evolutionary explanation. There is of course male homosexuality, so puzzling that Cochran had to invent an undetectable virus to cause it. Sadism and, particularly, masochism do not make much evolutionary sense, yet are very much part of human behavior. You know better than I how this varies over societies, but any big American city has SM clubs for the controlled practice of such, and their memberships are not all that small. I can think of no evolutionary explanation for suicide, which remains with us.


  21. syonredux says:

    “Personally, I think mass Hispanic immigration is good. Why? Because their Catholic and their traditions are western and they will assimilate just as the Italians did.”

    Yes, the old Hispanics are the new Italians meme. Barone has been beating that drum for years. Crucial differences to bear in mind:

    1. Proximity: Mexico shares a land border with the USA; Italy does not.

    2. Human Capital: Amerinds and Mestizos have mean IQs that are below the White American mean. Plus, they have displayed little evidence for high achievement in the arts and the sciences in their home countries (cf Latin America’s dearth of Fields Medalists, low number of Nobel laureates, etc). Italy, in contrast, is one of Europe’s big 4 in Murray’s HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT (alongside Germany, France, and Italy) and can boast of an enviable array of talent: Dante, Virgil, Leonardo, Fermi, Galileo, etc.

    ” They will drive our trucks, cook our food and cut our lawns for us,”

    The old dream of importing a servile race. It tends to end badly.

    “Hector and Juan will be good for America; Mohammed and Achmed will reign down bloody murder on Europe.”

    Low bar.

  22. Sean says:

    “Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?”

    Assuming you would not be killed for behaving like that, there is no reason from the standpoint of the effect on your community. But there is every reason from the standpoint of your evolutionary prime directive of reproductive fitness which requires self preservation, if you are not in a society in where such behaviour was condoned. There probably were people doing that kind of evil stuff, if you go far enough back in European ancestry, but they became scarce due to punitive measures against acting like that.

    I think people have argued that the most advanced and progressive values have altered the terms of gene selection, where they were enforced. Just explaining why something is wrong isn’t going to alter a natural inclination to do it.

  23. Sean says:

    Yes Fred, if natural selection causes everyone to converge on a single optimum, there couldn’t be any traits left for which there is no evolutionary use. But even cloned fruit flies have differently wired brains. The variation is what allows natural selection. Also you are assuming that what you see as anomalies are not side effects of selection for something else. Say a virus is vertically transmitted from the mother (in the womb) and makes sons attracted to men, but daughters more sexually attractive to men (by affecting prenatal hormone levels). A virus that is transmitted in the female line doesn’t care about males.

  24. Fred,

    It’s good to read your reply.

    You asked for a utilitarian reason. I gave you one. Of course, it’s a lot easier to say: “Because it’s WRONG! You dumb bastard!!!” And if I have a rope in my hand and ten mean bastards behind me, no one is going to quarrel. Not even you.

    In a real-life situation, I probably wouldn’t bother with an elaborate argument. It’s often more efficient to say “No!” in a firm tone of voice. Like talking to a child. And some adults are no better than children. Like the kind who torture for fun.

    As for torturing in secret, what’s your point? No crime gets punished until it’s found out. Of course, your conscience should stand in the way, but for some reason it isn’t doing that job very well, is it?

    Let me ask you about another scenario. Suppose you torture only dogs and cats for fun. No humans, just dogs and cats. Since nonhumans don’t have souls, why is it wrong to torture them?

    On this point, Catholic theologians fall back on the same utilitarian reason I gave. Let me quote the catechism:

    “2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly”

    In other words, it is wrong to torture an animal, not because animal life has intrinsic value but because torture is degrading to the person who practices it. By inflicting torture, even on an animal, we adopt ways of acting, feeling, and thinking that will eventually cause grief to fellow humans.

  25. Dear Mr. Frost,

    What’s bugging me about this subject: What was the mechanism by which refraining from torture conferred enough survival advantage that the non-torturers started having more babies (and the torturers fewer) and the non-torturers’ point of view became dominant? Torturers being what they are, why wouldn’t they kidnap all the non-torturers’ kids and torture them?

    And along that line, in societies where the non-torturers survived and bred more, how do we account for the occasional outbreaks of bloodlust? After all, something hard wired into the chromosomes would seem to be more resistant to that kind of thing. And it would seem to make repentance a physical impossibility, for it torturing comes from the genes, how could you ever get away from it? The only way to stop torture, ironically, would be to identify the responsible gene and wage a campaign of extermination against all the people who have it.

  26. shmiggen says:

    You’re speaking to what hbd’ers refer to as IQ Fetishism. That is, IQ is how we measure what is “good”. But this is not the basis of immigration policy alone. Work ethic is also a consideration, and Mexicans will work, and assimilate. I disagree this is a low bar, and that only those with high educational credentials should be allowed to move here. The fact remains that white people are in a period of stasis, and Europe has become a museum. We can’t replace ourselves. So those should be considerations of an immigration policy. As for the great works that white people have accomplished, there is no denying it. But the Irish are also white, and as I mentioned earlier, it was common for other whites to consider them low IQ idiots. I see no reason for us to consider the Mexicans as idiots. They do have writers, artists and scientists. They are there, if one takes the time to study Mexico.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  27. Peter Frost says: • Website


    Read Gregory Clark’s book: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World. A PDF is available at:

    Six hundred years ago, England was a much more violent society. We see this not only in the homicide rate, which was around 50 times higher, but also in the popularity of blood sports, like bull and bear baiting, and public executions. The average Englishman in 1400 had a different psychological profile from that of the average Englishman in 1800, i.e., lower thresholds for expression of violence, weaker future time orientation, and less thrift, sobriety, and self-control.

    Historians have described this cultural change at great length, but Gregory Clark has shown that this change was demographically driven. It was due to the steady growth of one segment of the English population: what would become the middle class. Through a higher rate of population growth and downward mobility, its lineages came to dominate most of the English gene pool by 1800.

    The English middle class maintained itself by expelling those who wouldn’t conform to middle-class values. Often, expulsion took the form of execution. Between 1500 and 1750, court-ordered executions eliminated between 0.5 and 1.0% of all men of each generation. A comparable number died through extrajudicial executions (death at the scene of the crime or in prison while awaiting trial). Thus, certain individuals were condemned as “morally worthless” and subsequently ostracized or killed. Either way, there was a process of selection that tended to remove certain predispositions from the English population.

    That mental mechanism still exists but has been turned against itself. The “morally worthless” are now those who are “racist.” Instead of preserving a particular gene pool, this mechanism now serves to liquidate it as quickly as possible.

    I could go on but I fear my reasoning is too complex or too long for many people to digest. I would simply add that Northwest Europeans may have been “pre-adapted” for this kind of gene-culture co-evolution by their greater reliance on internal mental mechanisms of behavior control (guilt, empathy), as opposed to external mechanisms (shaming and peer pressure by close kin).

  28. syonredux says:

    “You’re speaking to what hbd’ers refer to as IQ Fetishism. That is, IQ is how we measure what is “good”. But this is not the basis of immigration policy alone.”

    IQ is hardly the only thing that I take into account, dear boy. Besides their low IQs, Latin American Amerinds and Mestizos also bring with them an alien and pathetic culture.

    “Work ethic is also a consideration, and Mexicans will work”

    Work as what? Hewers of wood and drawers of water?

    “, and assimilate.”

    Assimilate to the lowest common denominator, dear boy.

    ” I disagree this is a low bar,”

    It’s an extremely low bar, dear boy.

    “and that only those with high educational credentials should be allowed to move here.”

    Frankly, dear boy, I would prefer a complete moratorium for a while. However, barring that, I do think that the qualifications should be set quite high (e.g., graduate degree, multi-million dollar investment, etc)

    ” The fact remains that white people are in a period of stasis,”

    MMM, last time I checked, Whites are still producing lots and lots of inventors, Nobel laureates, etc

    ” and Europe has become a museum.”

    Better a museum than the rubbish heap that Mestizos and Amerinds are turning the USA into…

    ” We can’t replace ourselves.”

    So we should invite in foreigners to replace us?

    “So those should be considerations of an immigration policy.”

    Sounds more like a national suicide policy.

    “As for the great works that white people have accomplished, there is no denying it. But the Irish are also white, and as I mentioned earlier, it was common for other whites to consider them low IQ idiots. I see no reason for us to consider the Mexicans as idiots.”

    Not idiots, dear fellow; they simply have IQs that are below the White American mean.

    “They do have writers, artists and scientists. They are there, if one takes the time to study Mexico.”

    Here is what a study of Mexico reveals:

    Fields Prize Winners: 0

    Nobel laureates : 3 ( as compared to 10 for Scotland, 15 for Australia, 23 for Canada, 74 for England, 306 for the USA).

    Mexico’s cultural performance has been quite pathetic.

  29. @Shmiggen

    Shmigg, concur. Question for you, since you see the threat; Can you see our Hispanic influx one day battling Obama’s Muslim influx for control of the U.S., post-White-European society? Say, 50-80 years hence? Perhaps a new American civil war? It happened in South-Central L.A. Blacks hardly have a place to hang their hats anymore.

    Obama’s people are the Syrians, the Muslims. He was happy to use Hispanics to his own ends, but is not the undertow of Africans from Libya, Syria, Iraq and the rest not Obama’s challenge to the Hispanics? My wonder is that Hispanics and Blacks in America are not protesting the Muslim undertow into the United States. Hispanics and Blacks will inherit the United States, yet they utter not one peep about the new competition being introduced.


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