August 18, 2009

"Screw you! I'm a beta male!"



Bob states a theory for the evolution of sex difference in that clip, but doesn't it depend on an incorrect assumption that sons inherit their characteristics from their fathers and daughters from their mothers?

26 comments:

ironrailsironweights said...

"Screw you! I'm a beta male!"

Well, actually, Betas don't get to screw, unless you count their hot dates with Mrs. Palm and her five daughters.

Peter

Meade said...

Hey, my male pattern baldness is more complex and incompletely understood than your male pattern baldness.

rhhardin said...

Everybody inherits from the species with the mix that does well.

Another example, the altruistic gene.

kynefski said...

I don't think Bob's claim depends on that assumption. If there is a trait that influences a male's behavior in a way that increases his fecundity (and that is the right word), it will be passed along to his daughters, whose sons will inherit the trait.

Wasn't there a recent hypothesis that male homosexuality, which is common in mammals, might be selected if one imagines determinants which, in females, make them unusually attracted to men?

former law student said...

assumption that sons inherit their characteristics from their fathers and daughters from their mothers?

So you think there's a gene for dominance that could be inherited equally by males and females, who would simply manifest it differently? Because it's been a long time since a woman picked me up in a bar, took me home, and had her way with me.

Smilin' Jack said...

Betas get their chance when the alpha pisses enough of them off. E.g. Julius Caesar.

ricpic said...

The beta male technique is an income.

Darcy said...

Ahhh. Mickey eye candy.

Now, what did they say?

Paddy O. said...

I saw a documentary about cuttlefish a month or so ago on PBS. There was this scene in which the alpha male cuttlefish was extremely vigilant about fending off competitors. He would guard his female and fight, or threaten, any that came close.

Except there was another cuttlefish, a male, but not at all perceived as a competitor. It was small. It was weak. It was entirely nonthreatening. It didn't even try to challenge the dominant male. Instead, while the dominant male was busy fending off other obvious suitors this weak cuttlefish snuck in an and began mating with the female. And, more than this, it disguised itself in color and shape, so that it looked like the female. The male, even when right above, thought he only saw the female, not the female and the disguised male in the act.

Reminds me a little bit of the occasional character of the man who was too weak or disabled to go to war, and who would stay at home "servicing" the serviceman's wives and girlfriends.

If you can't be an alpha male, it's better to be an omega male than a beta male. I suspect that's why male poets/artists tend to be popular with the ladies. They're not initially seen at all threatening by the alpha males because they're playing an entirely different game, while the women like them because they're often so emotional and creative.

Darcy said...

I liked that, Paddy O. Omega male. Yep.

Revenant said...

doesn't it depend on an incorrect assumption that sons inherit their characteristics from their fathers and daughters from their mothers.

There are male genetic traits that are inherited entirely from the father. Not all of them, but some (specifically ones associated with the Y chromosome, which comes from the father and is present only in men).

So you think there's a gene for dominance that could be inherited equally by males and females, who would simply manifest it differently?

The expression of a gene can be dependent on other genes (e.g., the presence of a gene found only in men). It can also be dependent on environmental effects (e.g., the level of testosterone or estrogen in the body).

So yes, it is possible for there to be a "dominance gene" that expresses itself differently in men than in women).

Joe said...

Seems to me that the alpha male runs off to battle and while gone, the beta male beds all the lonely females.

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem is that human females have traditionally needed male providers to help them raise their kids. It is fine for women to get genes from the alpha males - except that the alphas could never afford to raise as many kids as they sire, and the betas aren't going to knowingly raise some other guy's kids.

So, you have women settling for as high a status guy as they can get, and then sometimes sneaking out to get the Alpha genes.

Synova said...

I think that a lot of men who think they are Alpha... aren't.

Particularly the constantly on the prowl good for nothings.

Gabriel Hanna said...

So you think there's a gene for dominance that could be inherited equally by males and females, who would simply manifest it differently? Because it's been a long time since a woman picked me up in a bar, took me home, and had her way with me.

Your mother and you father have a set of genes. Each child gets half, chosen at random.

Obviously your daughters are getting their father's genes, and your sons their mother's.

Some genes are not expressed in females and some not in males, others are expressed in both.

I don't see what's so hard about that.

Genes don't determine anything by themselves. Embryological processes turn genes into a body.

If the sex chromosome is XX some genes get turned on and others turned off, and a different set for XY. It's very simple.

bagoh20 said...

The alpha male can mate with whomever he wants, therefore, married men cannot be alphas. They are appliances.

Revenant said...

Seems to me that the alpha male runs off to battle and while gone, the beta male beds all the lonely females.

More realistically, the alpha males order the beta males off to war. You don't typically see an invasion force staffed by movie stars, politicians and captains of industry.

Bruce Hayden said...

The alpha male can mate with whomever he wants, therefore, married men cannot be alphas. They are appliances.

No, for a couple of reasons. First, the betas aren't going to raise the resulting children of the alphas, and secondly, there are invariably many more betas than alphas.

Much of our rape, incest, and sex law results from the dynamics of one guy diddling another guy's wife, and statistically, most of that involves the alpha male with the beta male's woman. The woman wants the alpha male genes, but the beta male doesn't want to raise the other guy's kids. So, he has to have assurances that those kids are his, since until recently, everyone in the village looked enough alike that this sort of substitution was hard to detect.

Bruce Hayden said...

So you think there's a gene for dominance that could be inherited equally by males and females, who would simply manifest it differently? Because it's been a long time since a woman picked me up in a bar, took me home, and had her way with me.

I don't really think that there is a gene for dominance, per se. Rather, there are genes for dominant characteristics, and when the all come together, and the situation is right, then the guy or gal can be the alpha.

In the old days, those characteristics for guys were being bigger, faster, stronger, and maybe a bit craftier. Now, of course, intelligence is overcoming those, but our programming hasn't caught up yet, so the football player still gets the girls in high school, despite the nerd having a much higher expected net worth.

But this is also subject to a lot of other things too. One of the things that is significant in attracting top mates is health, and that is most visually identified in many cases by symmetry and proportions. But health to some extent is dependent upon one's parents, and in particular, the social status of those parents. Thus, overall, rich kids are more attractive than poor kids, even excluding dental work, etc.

So, some social status has always been inherited outside genetics. Indeed, this can be seen in our nearest genetic relatives, the (regular) chimps, where male social status is often tightly tied to his mother's status.

blake said...

Aren't there a whole bunch of unproven assumptions in the very paradigm of "Alpha", "Beta", etc?

What sort of degenerate actually lives that way? Well, I guess I know: I hear some self-proclaimed Beta-males bemoaning their fate.

I just figured they were making excuses.

Bruce Hayden said...

So you think there's a gene for dominance that could be inherited equally by males and females, who would simply manifest it differently?

I don't know if you can really tell who the alpha females are going to be. Part of the problem is definitional. With males, it is fairly easy - the alpha males get more breeding opportunities. The more alpha, the more opportunities.

But that breaks down with females, since their breeding opportunities are constrained by biology - they can only physically have a certain number of children during their lifetimes, and for most of them, there is a point of rapidly diminishing returns, where additional children results in significantly lower chances for all her children.

So, how do you define the alpha female? The one who marries the alpha male? The one the other women want to associate with?

But here things get messy. Maybe the alpha male picked this woman because her father was an alpha, and he wanted to exploit that relationship (which traditionally was the most likely reason). Or, maybe she was willing to turn a blind eye to his infidelities.

It is messy because it isn't clear cut. Pretty women, who know that they are pretty, can marry up. But there are plenty of alpha women who are far from pretty.

I recently attended to high school graduation of a pretty good prep school. Most of the fathers were alphas, of course (and many invariably hit on my SO as a result), given the tuition and selectivity. But many of their wives were not stunningly beautiful. Well dressed and groomed, fit, but not stunning.

I could see most of the sons being fairly successful with women, once they learned the ropes. There was just something about their confidence that shone. But I could also see that many of the daughters, despite being confident, fit, and well groomed like their mothers, were not the striking beauties that the boys would be able to attain, if they so chose.

Bruce Hayden said...

Finally, when it comes to alpha females, female dominance almost seems to be counter productive.

My SO, whom I mentioned in the previous post, is one of the most competitive women I know. And, as a result, she has almost no female friends anywhere close to her age. She does fine with males, and married two alpha males (before being stuck with me). But that male-type competitive streak alienates all the women around her who could have been her friends.

She is unique, being able to attract alpha males, while not being able to get along with other women. But I also think that she is at a significant disadvantage, because most women seem perfectly willing to cut her throat, given the chance. And that is why I think that pure male type dominance does not work well with women.

But that does remind me of some studies I have seen. Dominance is such an interesting subject that it is probably tested to death.

Males and females tend to pair up based on perceived value. Of course, failure to acquire mates at the value that you consider yourself typically tends to ultimately reduce your perception of your own value as a mate, until you finally reach the point where you pair up with someone of similar rank or merit.

So, it was interesting watching the effect of artificially assigning rank to males and females, and then watching them match up. Surprisingly, they did fairly well, even when they didn't know what their assigned rank was.

Bruce Hayden said...

Relistening to the video, I think that they pretty much missed the answer. Human beta males have kids because the asymmetry of the sexual relationship, and esp. that it takes over a decade to raise a kid to maturity. The females need the help of the males to raise the kids, and males are not going to raise kids that don't have their genes (which covers the few situations where they don't raise their own kids, but rather, their sisters' kids).

As I noted earlier, this is critical to understanding much of the sexual mores and laws we see throughout society and history.

This is a significant difference between humans and their closest genetic relatives (the other two species of chimps). With chimps, the maturity process is quicker, and the mothers can provide the necessary resources. And, as a result, alpha males can father many more of the offspring.

One of the interesting side effects of the dichotomy in human female strategies and needs is that their preferences for males changes during their cycles. Closes to ovulation, they prefer alpha males, while during other times, they prefer their betas. Also, sexual desire rises at the same time as does the attraction for the alpha males. This would theoretically allow them to keep their betas around to care for them and their kids, but would acquire the alpha genes for those kids - if the beta males could be hoodwinked into this. They sometimes are, but catching the women doing that has traditionally been justification for homicide in many cultures.

bagoh20 said...

Working a lot with dogs, I notice that the dominance hierarchy seems to serve more as a means of maintaining order than right to breed. The restrictions on breeding are very lax in the pack, but the alpha's control over other behavior is much more strict. The alpha often has no problem watching others mate, yet will quell unauthorized playing or fighting quickly.

This makes sense since lack of order could seriously effect the packs ability to cooperate in the hunt and lead to unnecessary injuries other times.

Just my observation and wondering if the sex angle is over-hyped. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

kentuckyliz said...

Beta males don't get any in polygamous cultures. They have a much better chance in monogamous cultures.

Female dominance is expressed in social aggression, not physical.

The supposedly alpha female wife probably isn't because she hadn't figured out how to evade the social aggression of the women around her.

It can be managed. I do it in a den of vipers. It's strategery.

WV: shiat
what i yelled when i stubbed my toe HARD on the front step a couple days ago. southerners add syllables by adding vowels.

Drewbrando@Live.ca said...

Im soy but,Ive read the comments and I dont believe genes define who I am.I choose who I am and how I wanna feel.And,I also think that being a alpha male means being monogomaus,because thats what a real man does,not someone who jumps from woman to woman.Thats selfdestructive behaivour,nd very unmanly.
Again,I think life is a matter of choice,my genes dont choose or define who I am,I define myself through the way I present myself.I call that responsability for my own actions,I dont inherit anything from anyone except my facial looks and some diseases probably.But,I dont think human beings act upon theyr genes unless theyre totally stupid.
I think we are all born equal with equal chances,and it is our education and what we learn and they way we do things that define who we are in some way.
My genes arent really the boss of me,lol.Its kinda stupid,Im not some mindless animal,I choose what I want and I understand myself,unlike animals.
We're not born in a certain way,we develop ourselves and we become someone.