Scott has a post where he fails to see the dangers of gay marriage to cultural evolution:
First, he distinguishes between two types of cultural evolution and concludes:
Consider: one Inuit tries the red berries and discovers they make her sick. Out of pure self-interest, she decides not to eat them again, and tells her friends the same. Also out of self-interest, they decide not to eat them; those who think they can get away with eating them anyway are quickly disabused of the notion. The taboo against eating red berries quickly spreads throughout the culture.
Marriage doesn’t seem to work that way. If one person decides not to marry in the usual way, it doesn’t necessarily hurt that person. They might have lots of affairs, and enjoy them. Or they might get gay married, and enjoy that.
Here he misses the obvious: STD’s.
About 1.2 million Americans have HIV; about 658,000 have died.
On gays specifically, one-fifth have it.”Although MSM represent about 4% of the male population in the United States, in 2010, MSM accounted for 78% of new HIV infections among males and 63% of all new infections. MSM accounted for 54% of all people living with HIV infection in 2011, the most recent year these data are available… Since the epidemic began, an estimated 311,087 MSM with an AIDS diagnosis have died, including an estimated 5,380 in 2012.”
About 1.8% of men identify as gay, which would mean that about 2,725,200 men in the US are gay. Over about thirty years, over a tenth of the homosexual population has died of AIDS. Most of that was front-loaded in the 80’s; currently there’s a yearly mortality rate of about 2 in 1000. The only reason this isn’t massively worse is because scientists developed drugs to combat the disease.
The yearly death rate in 1995 before the drugs was about 17 in a 1000. (Assuming gays still accounted for 54% of cases and were 1.8% of the population). By comparison, the death rate due to OD by cocaine addicts is about 4 in a 1000, while the death rate of smokers due to smoking-related disease is about 11 in a 1000. That’s not even including other STD’s, which are also not as deadly/disfiguring as they used to be thanks to modern medicine.
Homosexuality is a huge health risk kept mostly in check by modern medicine.
Not to mention that Scott ignores reproduction entirely.
But beyond that, we can go to the second type, the group selection form of cultural evolution.
So I interpret it as a different claim: a culture that allows gay marriage will, for various reasons, become weak and unsuccessful. Then it will be crushed by other cultures, either militarily, economically, or in a sort of marketplace of ideas where people convert to or assimilate into the other culture because it’s more attractive and successful.
Note that THIS IS REALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE FIRST TYPE OF CULTURAL EVOLUTION. In fact, it might be diametrically opposite. For example, gay sex may be lots of fun – and as people figure this out and tell their friends, it will be positively selected through the first type of cultural evolution. But it might weaken a culture’s Moral Fabric – in which case it will be negatively selected through the second type of cultural evolution.
There is no distinction between the two, which is obvious when he talks here:
How long is a “generation” in cultural evolution? Rome lasted a thousand years, Byzantium another thousand. It took about three hundred years for Christianity to replace paganism in Rome; Enlightenment values have been replacing Christianity for three hundred years already and aren’t nearly done. Any sort of evolutionary process that involves waiting for Rome to fall is a process that will take way longer than human history to come to any sort of conclusion… Communism, which basically took all of the worst ideas in history, combined them together into a package deal, and said “Let’s do all of these at once”, took almost a century to collapse, and still hasn’t collapsed in a couple of places.
These were not static societies; they went through numerous dynasties, governments, wars, coups, splits, expansions, and so on. Cultural evolution never stopped: his ‘generation’ had uncounted evolutions. These civilizations adapt to outside pressures. failure to adapt leads to doom, but having a failing policy then fixing it internally can stop doom before it occurs.
For an example, take Rome in the Punic Wars. They were at a disadvantage because they had no fleet when they started. They adapted by creating a fleet, then eventually won. Had they not created a fleet, it may have been Carthage destroying Rome.
Cultural adaptation is different than genetic adaptation and can not be calculated the same way. Genetic adaptation necessarily happens one generation at a time because genetics can only be transmitted by procreation. Cultural adaptation does not as it is not bound by procreation; there are no generations.
(Not to mention that ‘coming to a conclusion’ would put Scott’s generation as the equivalent of an extinction. How long did it take for the Dodo’s to ‘come to a conclusion?’ As well there is survival bias. Scott is only looking at the major, successful, civilizations. What of all those city-states Rome conquered or destroyed? Rome was the one that survived; the life of the conquered was probably shorter. But these are tangential to the real error).
Finally, he acknowledges a third type:
Actually, this leaves out a possible third kind of cultural evolution, where cultures try good ideas, learn to like them, and stick with them; or try bad ideas, learn to hate them, and stop… Likewise, there’s a cultural evolution argument that we tried traditional sexuality, that made a lot of people unhappy, and now we’re trying something else. It’s unclear how this is different from the Maoism example in a way that makes jettisoning Maoism good, but jettisoning traditional sexuality bad.
The difference is traditional sexuality is not an idea being tried. Traditional sexuality is (in some form) how every civilization that has been successful has made itself and how our civilization has been for millennia. Traditional society is a healthy dog; Maoism is the bright idea to chop off 2 of its legs and see what happens; gay marriage is removing of one of its testicles and seeing how that works out. The latter might no be as immediately debilitating, but if his other testicle is already gone, he won’t be reproducing.
For a taste of gay marriage cultural changes, just look at all the effects of other similar evolutions (divorce, acceptable fornication, etc). High bastardry rates, plummeting marriage rates, and a plummeting birth rate. We’ve gotten to the point where simply to keep things running because we’re not having enough children, we import foreigners with different cultures to work for us; foreigners who are gradually replacing us.
That’s cultural evolution in action. White Americans have adopted policies that have made them evolutionary dead ends and will soon be replaced in their own country, after adopting the other peoples’ cultures through multiculturalism.
Scott put another post up with some responses after I had written this one. It doesn’t address the issues I raise. Also, I know I still have to respond to Scott from about a year back. I have the post half-written, I just never quite finish it.