Monday, 20 July 2015

Mutation accumulation and modern Western sexuality

If the sexual revolution can briefly be defined as the long-term and strategic legalization, toleration, equalization, and now official advocacy and approval of sexuality outwith the context of traditional and permanent marriage - then one extraordinary and neglected aspect is: that it has been able to happen.

In The West, we find ourselves in an extraordinary situation with respect to sexuality - and the single most extraordinary aspect is that a critical mass of people do not find it extraordinary at all!

Plenty of Westerners apparently regard the current situation of moral inversion with bland equanimity - a situation in which the goods and bads, rewards and punishments, official supports and persecutions of sexuality have been turned on their heads... and yet this unprecedented ethos elicits little more than a shrug or a grin from the masses.

It looks very much as if the sexual revolution has been pushing at an open door - and yet, in world historical terms we are in uncharted territory: there never has been a society like ours, now, in which sexual transgression (according to world historical consensus) has been so actively-endorsed at every level from mass media and the arts, to government policy and the workplace.

This is utterly remarkable - yet clearly it is not viscerally regarded as remarkable - it is, more or less, accepted.


Why is the extraordinary situation of the sexual revolution accepted so placidly, when it is so extraordinary? Clearly there must be unprecedented factors at work, things that have never before been operative.

I think there are two main plausible candidates: Irreligion and genetic damage.

1. Irrelegion

Irreligion refers to the unprecedented state of incremental mass apostasy from Christianity. We live in a world where religion is not just absent from, but excluded from , the public sphere - and this is something new in human history. Irreligion means that there is no reason - except personal preference, which is labile and malleable - not to do anything.

This means that instinctive feelings of approval or disapproval cannot be ordered; cannot even be rationally discussed - people feel unsure, unconfident; modern people therefore are demotivated, lack the courage of their convictions, and seem unable coherently to oppose anything being imposed from above.

2. Mutation accumulation.

But the lack of resistance to the sexual revolution seems even more profound than this. The impression is not one of a mass of passive people whose instinctive valuations are being violated but lack the clarity and courage to respond; but instead of people whose sexual instincts are absent, weak or disordered - and therefore see no reason not to go along with whatever sexual innovation is being advocated.

The impression is therefore that the mass of people are suffering from a mass of sexual pathologies - such that sexuality is - in multiple ways - weakened, labile, misdirected, futile.

Is this plausible? Yes. There are powerful theoretical grounds for assuming that since the industrial revolution, the extreme reduction in natural selection on humans (mainly, but not entirely, due to reduction of child mortality rates from more-than-half to almost none) must have led to a generation-by-generation accumulation of deleterious genetic mutations - which would be expected to damage social and sexual adaptations before anything else.


Why sexuality?

Because the development of adaptive sexuality is an extremely complex and multi-step linear sequence, with many things that can (and do) go wrong at every step - and only if every step in the sequence has gone well, will sexuality be optimally adaptive.

There is genetics; then (controlled by the genes) multiple waves of multiple hormone-induced changes - primarily in the womb during the earliest and most fundamental development, and secondarily at adolescence and the development of fertility; there are calibrations to the early environment ('life history'), critical learning experiences and adaptations to the socio-political system and others... all of which must successfully be negotiated for sexuality to be 'normal'.

This complex sequentiality of development is why sexuality is a function where genetic damage first and most sensitively shows-up.


It might be asked how sexual development could possible be so fragile, considering that - until now - the human species has not died out but has indeed grown in numbers!

The answer is that the errors in sexual development were weeded-out generation upon generation - by mortality rates being heaviest, and near total, among the most genetically damaged in the first place; then by sexual selection and assortative mating as a kind of back-stop - whereby the most genetically-healthy would choose each other and reproduce to yield (mostly) viable offspring - and the least genetically-healthy would be left-out; or mate to yield (mostly) non-viable offspring.

The harshnness and rigour of this historical selection process is hard to exaggerate. It used to be near universal, yet in the past 200 years it has been incrementally all-but eliminated from ever-more of the world.

Thereby the failures of normal sexual development would continuously be being-'purged' from the gene pool - and this was necessary because they were continually incident (mostly due to genetics, but also due to the environment).


Our current situation is merely the lag phase in which genetic damage is relatively subtle and apparent mainly in sexual and social behaviour; and it will be followed by more and more obvious and severe dysfunctionalities.

The seeming slowness of sexual and social change - operating over a decades timescale - is merely an artefact of the slow generation time of the human species. There have been only about eight generations since the industrial revolution, even in England where it began; and the increasing longevity of humans further buffers apparent change.


So it is plausible that the modern lack of concern at the sexual revolution was enabled, was facilitated, and is more-or-less accepted due to the high prevalence of greater-or-lesser types and quantities of disordered sexuality in the population at large.

In sum, it seems probable that almost everybody in the modern West, and indeed most of the rest of the world (the rapidity of change is likely to vary by population and location) is suffering from genetically-disordered sexuality of varying degrees and types; caused by the unique conditions of the post-industrial revolution on ameliorating the harshness of human selection.

And this would explain how it is that the truly extraordinary and unprecedented modern situation with respect to Western sexuality has met with so little response or resistance.

Note: these ideas were developed in conversation and collaboration with Michael A Woodley of Menie. 


delta9hedge said...

>Our current situation is merely the lag phase in which genetic damage is relatively subtle and apparent mainly in sexual and social behaviour; and it will be followed by more and more obvious and severe dysfunctionalities.

Do I understand this correctly that the dysgenic evolution in the Western population will be accelerating? When do you expect this to reach it's peak (or have converged sufficiently)?

Bruce Charlton said...

@d - I meant that damage is accumulating, that is getting more severe with each generation - not necessarily that the process is accelerating (I don't know about that one way or the other).