I have a sad, horrible addiction to The (He)artist(e) Formerly Known As Roissy, a smalltime pickup artist who enjoys playing up how Daring and Shocking he is by saying the Truths Nobody Admits without actually saying anything remotely daring or shocking or, indeed, truthful. This is partially because I enjoy playing a rousing game of Spot the Logical Fallacy with his occasional rants.

As an example, today’s post. Warning: Heartiste is hateful, frequently triggery, and every kind of Xist you can name. Readers who are not fascinated by trainwrecks are encouraged to look at Cute Roulette instead.

In this post, Heartiste disagrees with traditional conservatives who argue that the purpose of human existence is to have children. Instead, he argues, the purpose of life is to have sex with lots of beautiful, willing women. He proves this by pointing out the revulsion that most people have to donating to sperm banks and how most people prefer having relationships instead. Therefore, evolution programmed us to have sex with beautiful, willing women, not to have children. (This is the stripped-of-awfulness version of his argument, but I trust it is fairly accurate.)

Except that this argument is conflating at least three different questions: “what do genes want us to do?”, “what is the purpose of human existence?” and “what does ‘alpha male’ mean?”

What Do Genes Want Us To Do? No, sorry, Heartiste, you’re wrong, it’s all about having children here. Genes whose carriers reproduce a lot spread; genes whose carriers don’t reproduce die out. Certain genes that lead to people having more children spread more (of course, some genes just spread because an improbable number of the people who carried a different gene had a brick dropped on their heads, which is called genetic drift). You could reasonably argue that both genes that lead to increased desire for sex and genes that lead to an increased desire for children have spread through the population. Of course, sperm banks have not been around for long enough for genes that increase one’s chance of donating to a sperm bank to spread very much and, for this reason, most people feel very little desire to donate to a sperm bank.

What Is The Purpose Of Human Existence? Well, I’m a materialist nihilist, so maybe I am the wrong person to answer this question, but I suppose I can’t solely leave it to religious people and Hallmark greeting cards. Human evolution has left us with a certain number of wants, needs, drives, and so on. Some of them helped our ancestors have children and grandchildren; some of them are side effects of things that helped our ancestors have children and grandchildren; some of them don’t have any actual deleterious effect and so managed to avoid being filtered out; some of them just stuck around because all the carriers of the competitor genes had a brick dropped on their head. These wants/needs/drives/whatever are filtered through an individual’s life experiences (parents, peers, media, nasty bosses, random encounters with shouty people on buses, etc.) to produce Goals and Desires and Meaning and Other Things That Make People Happy. And then people do those things that make them happy and other people happy, and that’s the meaning of life.

You will notice that none of this has anything to do with having more kids and grandkids. Frankly, I don’t see why the purpose of my life needs to be spreading my genes, any more than the purpose of my life needs to be making sure that some random child has as close to an identical upbringing to me as possible. What I want is the product of my genes and my environment; that does not mean that spreading my genes and my environment needs to be what I want. (Unless what I want is More People Wanting The Same Things I Want, which it is sometimes, e.g. feminism, and not other times, e.g. shopping for clothes on the clearance rack.)

What Is The Definition Of An ‘Alpha Male’? Look, you can define “alpha male” as “dude who has lots of women attracted to him” as much as you want, as long as everyone else in the conversation defines “alpha male” as “dude who has lots of women attracted to him.” But you have to stop smuggling in the “purpose of life!” thing. Lots of dudes don’t particularly care about lots of women being attracted to them. They’d rather play video games or argue about Renaissance painting or help people in developing countries, and those are also perfectly valid outcomes of genes and environment. Just because your combination of genes and environment ended up prioritizing sex with 22-year-old blonde skinny chicks over everything else doesn’t mean that everyone’s does.

Also, dude, guys who have lots of women attracted to them do not behave in the way you think they behave. Anecdatally, they tend to be kind, charming, outgoing, and respectful of boundaries, to look like their social group’s norm of attractiveness, and to do things their social group considers awesome. (Anecdatally, this also applies to women.) As for SCIENCE!, well, it shows that women tend to prefer high-dominance high-agreeableness males to any other combination (see Jensen-Campbell, L.A., Graziano, W.G., and West S. G. (1995) Dominance, prosocial orientation, and female preferences: Do nice guys really finish last? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 427-440).