The Five Hierarchies

People talk as if a person is genetically programmed to be an alpha male (or alpha female). In fact there cannot be a simple “dominance gene”. If there were, its alleles, the “subordination genes”, would have been eliminated by reproductive competition millions of years ago. Animal dominance is a function of several things, such as social role (in humans not wholly under genetic control), stage of life and what one textbook calls the “capacity and inclination to play the game of ascending a dominance hierarchy”. Now, if there is one of these things that is very open to influence from upbringing and environment, it is the inclination to play the dominance game. It would be interesting to research those individuals who appear fitted for dominance but who nevertheless refuse to exercise it; and whether the same renunciation occurs in the animal world.

Of course, the catch with humans is that we have so many different hierarchies, in fact five overlapping ones: the biological, the economic, the political, the aesthetic and the moral. Those who have no chance of competing in the first four may make a show of sacrificing the goods they anyway have little chance of obtaining, in order to advance in the fifth hierarchy.

Posted on January 28, 2010 at 11:18 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE LONGEST CON, Religion As Social-Status Tech

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  1. Written by James Beck
    on January 26, 2010 at 15:25
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    As a phenotypical trait, the evidence is to some extent confounded by the influence of environment, but there is a pronounced biological basis for it. We know for example that a battle is raged in utero. The mother’s body prefers small offspring because require fewer resources now and they’re easier to support later, while the male’s prefer larger more aggressive offspring. Aggressive genes tend to win, though the process appears to be self-limiting, at least in a crowded world. The large aggressive types tend to be culled by war, famine, pestilence or imprisonment. For example, France the average height in France appears to have dropped several inches between 1800 and 1850. After the war, the average French soldier was shorter than the male population average in 1800. That implies a substantial reversal. On average and controlling for environmental factors, I would expect to find that the larger, more aggressive types tend to win.

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