Nobody Cares About The Losers

Robin Hanson notes that as sensitized as we are to various marginalized groups there are other categories of people who suffer from huge inequalities but for whom there are no sympathies to be found.  Hanson writes:

There is no social pressure whatsoever against maligning these groups. Especially striking are inequalities in attractiveness as a friend, lover, etc. not mediated by sensitive categories. These factors include physical appearance, vigor, charisma, personality, height, etc. Folks are well aware such inequalities exist, but have little concern about them, and no interest in policies to reduce them.

An especially striking example is inequality among men in their ability to attract women as lovers. If you don’t like “alpha/beta” labels, then call it what you will, but there are consistent correlations among men in this regard, which are consistently correlated with insensitive categories. While this inequality has large consequences for utility and happiness, there is no interest in reducing it, and people feel quite comfortable insulting these type of “losers”.

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Hanson gives this partial explanation of the harsh phenomenon at hand:

By sympathizing with creatures who suffer in ways that kids might suffer, people signal their parental nurturing instincts. And beta men look better by acting altruistic toward creatures that women feel sympathy for. .. But women who sympathized with sex-deprived beta males actually might give them sex, which would not exactly impress the men these women prefer. So since women are built to have little sympathy for sex-starved betas, betas don’t gain by showing sympathy to other betas. And since alphas gain little from showing altruism, literally no one cares.

For more cold blooded, game-oriented, misogynistic, traditionalist, anti-feminist, cynical analyses of how women assess possible partners, check out all the posts Hanson cites from The Man Who Is Thursday: “Who benefitted from the sexual revolution?”, “How to find a virgin to marry (if you are a guy)”, “How Social Conservatives and Traditionalists Got It Wrong About Female Sexuality”“Why Church Going Guys Don’t Have It That Bad With Women” and, finally, Thursday’s remarks on “Why the men’s rights movement is going nowhere” which sparked Hanson’s post.  I certainly do not endorse most of his attitudes, value judgments, ideas, or gross generalizations, but reading them is quite illuminating.  Particularly alien to me is the crass way that his patriarchalism explicitly trumps and determines his religious conservatism.  The unabashed mixture of machismo with preference for religion and tradition are something worthy of Stephen Colbert’s caricature.  It’s really odd to me since my own religiosity back when I was a believer was always a deeply egalitarian sort which held Thursday’s attitudes towards sex and relations between the sexes as contemptibly hollow.  And as a secularist now, I find his brand of  traditionalism and anti-egalitarianism equally repulsive but some of the reasons are changed from what I would have said as a religious person.

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.