Alpha, Beta, and Reproduction

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In response to The Pill Causes Bad Mate Selection, Gunner Q objected to the alpha/beta terminology used.

“…you are trying to use non-Vox Day/Heartiste definitions of Alpha and Beta. I missed that footnote on the first reading and it makes your arguments disingenuous at best. An Alpha man is the specific man that a specific woman SHOULD want? That’s a hopelessly moving goalpost.”

It’s important to note that the Manosphere did not invent these terms and the way it uses them need not be scientific nor consistent. In the context of scientific research on hormonal contraception, we need to consider how the terms are used in the scientific fields (e.g. evolutionary biology and psychology; anthropology).

It’s also important to note that the definitions are inherently fluid as a function of selection and adaptation. Different traits will be selected in different times, places, and situations (e.g. socioeconomic differences). Nevertheless, certain genetic expressions are fairly consistent and non-variable.

Alpha traits are (merely?) proxiesor indicators—of genetic fitness. Good looks (e.g. facial symmetry; tall height), good physical fitness, no deformities, masculinity[1], wealth, and high social status all suggest good underlying genetics. It is fairly uncontroversial that most fertile women are attracted to men with these kinds of traits.[2]

Beta traits are those traits that are not alpha traits, that is, those traits that do not correlate stronglyat the population level—with genetic fitness. Such traits may include being fun, nice, woman-like (e.g. emotional; caring and nurturing; empathetic), physically sub-optimal, and unattractive.

“The most sexually attractive men are very often terrible choices for fathering children. The Pill is not driving such behavior. Women have always gone for the bad boys.”

Simply put, ‘alpha‘ implies genetic fitness and ‘beta‘ does not. Both sets can include both positive and negative traits. This is a very important point. While alpha traits indicate good fitness for reproduction, beta traits indicate long-term relationship stability and good child-rearing skills. A woman can mate with someone with any combination of traits, desirable or not. Butcriticallyreproductive choice is permanent and thus the more important consideration. It’s possible to influence and change her mate’s traits over time[3], but she can’t change her children’s genes after the fact.

“Women SHOULD want healthy, emotionally stable, productive men. Women DO want sociopaths, drug dealers and starving musicians. The Pill doesn’t change that.”

Not all such good men are beta men, nor are all alpha men sociopaths. Women do want these positive things and can find them in men of all types. Regardless, the alpha/beta distinctions are not about what any individual woman explicitly wants or should do. Choosing a mate in this context is amoral. It is her evolutionary imperative to find the best genetic match she is able to. Any given individual may fail at this task (either intentionally or unintentionally), but the pill lessens the desire for genetic (and sexual!) compatibility.

Hypergamy states that women will try to marry up. We know that there are upper bounds to this, for many different reasons (competition, limited selection, personal fitness, socioeconomic status, etc.). The most genetically fit man that an obese, low-intelligence, chain-smoking, tattooed, debt-ridden, short, blue-haired woman can mate with is going to be her ‘alpha’. He probably won’t have many (any?) really good alpha traits, but it’s the best that she can do personally.

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In modern society there is now a disconnect between having sex and reproducing (and marrying). Abortion, contraception (e.g. the pill), social acceptance of fornication, and the rejection of patriarchy have all contributed to separating sex from the evolutionary imperative to reproduce. Historical societies, almost universally patriarchal, had structures in place to ensure that negative traits were suppressed socially and positive ones expressed. A modern woman can have it all: consequence-free sex, children with anyone (including bad boys), and having the State or a beta-male raise her children (e.g. society sanctioned cuckoldry).

Statistics on virginity show that women are almost universally promiscuous in their youth. Who they have sex with need not be who they end up choosing to mate or marry. There is really no question that women today are having sex with alpha men, but they are not necessarily staying with them. Not even Brad Pitt can keep a woman.

While on the pill women can have as much sex as she wants, but she won’t have children with anyone, alpha or beta. What matters is what she does when she goes off the pill. There are a number of possibilities. Is she giving an alpha children, but marrying a beta man? Or is she now denying her husband sex or frivorcing him?

So what we see is that the very structure of society has changed and the pill’s effects fit right into it. Whether this is causal or merely correlative is unclear.


[1] Another term that should probably be defined, if possible, more specifically.

[2] One well-known example is a woman laughing at a not-funny joke that a tall, attractive, muscular, wealthy man says while otherwise mocking a short, unattractive, fat man who does the same thing. Or how some men are praised for “getting in touch with their feminine side” while other men are rejected for the same.

[3] This almost certainly happens in almost all real marriages, but research on this topic is outside the scope of this post.

14 thoughts on “Alpha, Beta, and Reproduction”

  1. Simply put, ‘alpha‘ implies genetic fitness and ‘beta‘ does not.

    This is impossible to support. The typical counterexamples I use are hollywood A-list actors and military officers. Look at the beta males who get constantly divorced by their slut wives in the U.S. Army’s special forces, for an example:

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/09/marriages-military-families-elite-troops-stress/2432243/

    Nobody is more genetically fit than they are, and yet wimminz love to divorce these men and steal their money. Why is that?

    I see the whole “alpha/beta” dichotomy as the result of something people do when they’re wanting to pretend to be scholarly: i.e. dress up a floating signifier with some greek letters.

  2. I see the whole “alpha/beta” dichotomy as the result of something people do when they’re wanting to pretend to be scholarly: i.e. dress up a floating signifier with some greek letters.

    Pretty much…no one has ever defined these greek letters which men give to other men based on women’s choices are genetic traits/desirability to reproduce, if this man is more suited for marriage or promiscuity, whether he’s emotionally disciplined or loves to ride the bi-polar roller coaster, if he is a God-fearing man or devil worshiper, if he is a pyschopath or has empathy. Is an Alpha man Brad Pitt and a beta man a military officer…both have still been divorced/frivorced/cheated on.

    That said the pill still does affect women’s mate choices based on the pill basically trick her body into thinking it’s infertile all the time. It’s a factor.

  3. if he is a God-fearing man or devil worshiper, if he is a pyschopath or has empathy.

    The most disgusting story I remember hearing was a special forces soldier coming home from deployment to Iraq to get divorce papers. His skank-ho bitch wife moved in with (drumroll) a drug dealer who was physically impotent and on probation for burglary.

    Bonus points if you can guess who his military commanders sided with in the divorce? They enforced all her orders, until she stole pretty much all his money and even his military retirement.

  4. Bill Hicks plug that I’m sure Boxer will appreciate…(apologizes if I posted this before)

  5. “This is impossible to support. The typical counterexamples I use are…”

    In a Darwinian-selected population the alphas are those who are most likely to reproduce and have their offspring survive to reproduce. This is what is meant—by definition—by genetic fitness. There is nothing to support here, it’s merely tautological.

    The problem is that human populations ceased to be Darwinian-selected beginning around the industrial revolution. With dramatically reduced child and maternal mortality combined with abortion, contraception, and divorce, we no longer operate in a society where the alpha/beta male distinction typically has much practical significance.

    However, when we speak of alpha males, that is different than alpha traits. The traits are those (measurable) things that are commonly found in alpha males (e.g. tall stature). Genetic fitness can also be defined as “the lack of genetic mutational load” and can be measured in various ways by proxy through those alpha traits: health, lack of deformities, etc. Moreover, despite no longer under operating Darwinian selection, men still have alpha traits and women still seek those traits. It turns out that this is a good thing: women still seek good genetic matches even though they no longer have to. The pill alters this.

    Are you suggesting that height, facial symmetry, attractiveness, and so forth are not indicative of lower mutational load? My thesis is largely centered around these points, so I’ll be presenting evidence to defend my claim. To wit:

    “Nobody is more genetically fit than they are, and yet wimminz love to divorce these men and steal their money. Why is that?”

    A large part of my thesis deals with questions like this and the role of feminism on these issues. Simply put, human society is post-Darwinian. I’m arguing that poor genetic selection (something the pill contributes to) and its corresponding increase in mutational load is (partially) responsible on multiple fronts for the issues you’ve noted here.

  6. “Are you talking about dominant versus recessive traits?”

    Good question, but no, I am not. The traits common to alpha males are proxies for strong underlying genes. By contrast, bad genes are those with high mutations. High mutational load shows up in various ways, often by decreasing alpha traits. Selecting for bad genes is a bad thing. The pill messes with the natural selection process.

    Consider something as mundane as right-handedness. It is, across the board, associated with better outcomes in nearly every area (health, wealth, etc.). In choosing a mate, you are best suited to choose one who is right-handed (along with other alpha traits) because it predicts better outcomes for your children. We also know that left-handedness is increasing in the population. For example, lesbians and autistics are more likely to be left-handed.

  7. @earl

    “That said the pill still does affect women’s mate choices based on the pill basically trick her body into thinking it’s infertile all the time. It’s a factor.”

    I’ll flip this back at you. The research shows that she favors alpha traits when off the pill and beta traits when on the pill. So, if the notion of alpha traits as proxies for genetic fitness is false, then what does it matter which mating choices she makes? Who cares what kind of man she wants?

    “…no one has ever defined these greek letters which men give to other men based on women’s choices are genetic traits/desirability to reproduce”

    The term alpha male is descriptive, not prescriptive. It comes from biology where certain individual males of a species dominates mating opportunities. This has been demonstrated in many Darwinian-selected populations, including human ones. Do you debate this?

  8. It comes from biology where certain individual males of a species dominates mating opportunities. This has been demonstrated in many Darwinian-selected populations, including human ones. Do you debate this?

    Well yes because humans aren’t just farm animals looking to randomly mate. Although the current beast system is trying to turn us into that.

  9. @earl

    Natural selection isn’t random on either Christian or evolutionary principles. Mutations are random, selection is non-random. This is true whether you examine animals or humans. The more I study these topics, the more convinced that Christianity and evolution go hand-in-hand. The core principles in evolution are mirrored in Christianity. Didn’t you ever notice that Catholicism, which shuns contraception, is in complete unity with the evolutionary imperative? Didn’t you ever notice that the more Catholic principles are followed, the more human sexual selection follows evolutionary theory?

  10. “It’s important to note that the Manosphere did not invent these terms and the way it uses them need not be scientific nor consistent.”

    This is the Manosphere you’re talking to and the Vox/Heartiste ranking system is consistent and applicable. If scientific means measurable then it’s that, too: N count with reliably associated behaviors.

    “In the context of scientific research on hormonal contraception, we need to consider how the terms are used in the scientific fields (e.g. evolutionary biology and psychology; anthropology)”

    Sigh, this is going into proselytizing territory. I fear your motivation here is not that the Pill is bad because reasons, but rather that women aren’t behaving as evolution predicts and therefore factors such as the Pill must be responsible.

    A comparable situation would be me scientifically proving the existence of the afterlife because I believe Christ overcame death, and proving it by statistically analyzing near-death experiences because God… like evolution… doesn’t fit under a microscope. It’s not a theory that my observations led me to. It’s a theory that my preexisting beliefs require to be correct, on pain of me losing my religion.

    Is there any argument one could possibly make that would convince you that women are not evolved to value reproduction? Because you’ve already blown past obvious counterexamples such as the Pill itself. If we are the products of epochs of ruthless, endless trial and error, with the only definition of success being reproductive capacity, then how is it we are capable of valuing even the idea of contraception?

    “The more I study these topics, the more convinced that Christianity and evolution go hand-in-hand.”

    This is absolutely false from the Christian perspective. One, God claims to be our Creator. Running a random number generator and patenting the best results is not an act of Creation. Two, nowhere in Scripture does God behave randomly. Three, humans are explicitly described as a special act of Creation involving a supernatural element (the breath of God). Evolution cannot accept that.

    And four, nothing in the New Testament mandates or rewards reproduction. As Paul famously put it, “one man has this gift, another has that gift”. Even the Old Testament prophet Isaiah promised that eunuchs would get a heavenly reward better than mortal families.

  11. @Gunner Q

    Alpha/beta are terms of art that conflict with the ‘sphere, so I define my contextual use. Using Greek letters for N-counts and behaviors is fine, but that use makes it harder to understand my arguments. It’s not a competition.

    The pill discussion is just a prelude. This series will have ~6 parts, so my motivations will become clearer. The series is inspired by Boxer’s assertion that “In context, feminism is a symptom, rather than a cause, of fundamental problems”. I have not yet drawn a conclusion.

    “Is there any argument one could possibly make that would convince you that women are not evolved to value reproduction?”

    Of course! Scientific inquiry only works if we can fully pursue an hypothesis and also be willing to accept its negation. Anyone can publish their own competing analysis.

    “This is absolutely false from the Christian perspective.”

    Here is a more precise claim: if modern Darwinism is true, then Catholicism is the best companion ideology: not atheism, Protestantism, Mormonism, Hinduism, etc. Those that think Darwinism is correct should consider Catholicism. After three decades studying evolution and theology, I find this conclusion nearly inescapable. I wonder if this is subconsciously why Boxer has an affinity for Catholicism.

    “God claims to be our Creator”

    Evolution is not an origin-of-life theory: it is unrelated to creation. Christian claims about God do not conflict with natural selection and “random” mutation.

    “…nowhere in Scripture does God behave randomly…”

    Nature is full of chance events. Randomness is everywhere, from the quantum to astronomical level. I suspect you are unintentionally equivocating. God does not behave indiscriminately, unconsciously, or unintentionally (randomly), but intentionally and consciously (non-randomly) uses randomness and chance.

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