Friday, October 01, 2010


My following comments also appear on the World Panthiesm Movement website:

Most of the statistics I go by are contained in the 1st and 2nd editions of The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology ed. Buss which is filled with overviews of the literature in that field.

From analyzing my own situation in and struggles against reality as it is conceived of in the brains of my fellow animals of the human species, I think there's a basic disagreement among us about what a pecking order is. It's not a political structure; it's a sense within an individual brain of where it fits within the culture in which it finds itself competing for goods and services by which to procreate itself. The brain is constantly analyzing its situation—who to trust, who to make alignments with, who not to trust, who can offer us an advantage, who makes us feel comfortable? All these evaluations take place within a mental picture in our brains of the social structure in which people are worse or better positioned to aid us or harm us. Our evaluations of those around us naturally fall into an hierarchical structure as we evaluate who we can help and who can help us—our allies and our enemies.

If someone is struggling against their place in a culture, they are, by default, acknowledging the pecking order. If there is not a perceived pecking order within our brains, against what are we struggling? What does it mean to be dissatisfied with our station in the pecking order? In short, to me the pecking order is indistinguishable from our sense of being in harmonious alignment with the culture we are born into. Or not. It's an intensely personal psychological phenomenon, rarely acknowledged for what it is, because we are so busy arguing about the politics of it. We have our heroes in the struggle (those we raise UP in our psychological fundament and our goats (those we put DOWN in our psychological hierarchy). We are always looking up and down the scale. Our friends are usually people who stand at a relatively equal place in the hierarchy.

Beth, no one has replied, I don't think, to my comments about sports. If there is a common phenomenon in worldwide culture, it's sports, specially football, soccer, rugby and all the permutations of that game called football. In that arena we find the pecking order being played out for us, a game to decide who is most fitted to rule the roost. Since most play is practice for living within a culture, football is childhood play raised into the adult sphere. Here is an arena where people vote with their dollars and their feet. There's no power structure holding them in place. In the last 60 years, we've gone to great lengths to raise the awareness of women as to their opportunities in sports. Women are playing many sports at the professional level now, yet women do not seem to want to flock to the WNBA, for example. Women seem less interested statistically in physically competitive sports. Not only do they not have a great interest in their sex playing sports, they usually don't much care about the opposite sex's participation in sports either. No one can keep a woman from watching a competitive sport if she so desires, thus, their failure to attend says something about how deeply they don't respond to hierarchical physical game play.

Most evolutionary psychological studies reveal that women do compete and do have a sense of where they stand among their contemporaries, but—IF THEY ARE WANTING TO HAVE CHILDREN—then they are constantly looking for ways to further that ambition, and, if they want their child-rearing efforts to be fruitful, they are constantly evaluating the male's fitness to nurture children either with time or with resources. Most all of this evaluating goes on under the conscious level. To be conscious of it would be too embarrassing. Women recognize a hierarchy of resources. I long ago painfully accepted that most outstandingly beautiful women would prefer a rich man to poor little old me. Nowadays, however, my psychology has begun to compensate by finding the Twiggys amongst us not to be physically beautiful. Too damn skinny. I now catch myself adjusting my psychological measuring stick to fit my circumstances. My wife is beautiful and sexy to me, and that's all I need to know, and since I'm 72 and my libido is not the same as it was when I was younger, my wife must be specially sexy and beautiful to me because our sex life is purring right along.

Evolutionary psychology is a much harder science than counseling and other fields of psychology. If you check into that field or into neuroscience, you'll discover tons of hard data about the human animal's brain. the inside of which is teeming with evaluations based on a pecking order, but the pecking order isn't a single chain of lower to higher. It's an accumulation of evaluations all based on various strategies for survival and procreation. It's this fundamental human drive that keeps us mentally shoving our fellow animals into hierarchies of various kinds.

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