Evolutionary psychology Intelligent Design

Did virtue signalling evolve via Darwinian evolution?

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Practically every decent human being in these parts has been disgusted in recent years by Woke virtue signalling:

You know the sort of thing:

“I don’t go to Florida because I disapprove of… ” [Too bad for the sharks then. They’ll have to eat fish this season.]

“I was going to take a course in sushi but then I realized I was appropriating Japanese culture.” [Fine. The rest of us will take the course and be glad. She can just go on stuffing herself with whatever that awful stuff is that she buys at Correctness Foods, Inc. I just hope she isn’t planning to invite us to an Awareness Dinner again. I am running out of socially appropriate excuses… ]

“I have realized at last that my habit of being polite to strangers is a classic symptom of Whiteness.” [Yes, indeed! You are quite right! Now go ahead and be as rude as possible to everybody you meet. Most likely, your life will soon be a hell of needless contention and maybe you will see the value in moving far away. The rest of us must then, as it happens, learn to live somehow without our Shining Star of Virtue… ]

The Babylon Bee is great for sending up that kind of thing.

Now here’s a curious thesis from an evolutionary biologist as to what underlies it:

When individuals send signals to try to convince others that they are better than average, the result is often what signalling theorists call a ‘runaway’: an arms race toward more and more extreme signals. If peahens want to mate with the peacocks whose tails are more extravagant than the average peacock, natural selection favours peacocks with increasingly more extravagant tails over successive generations. If everyone has a high-school diploma, students need to start getting bachelor’s degrees in order to become distinctive in the eyes of employers. Students in the next generation will, of course, pursue a master’s to distinguish themselves from the mass of mere college graduates.

In the moral domain, runaway signalling happens when people try to elevate their moral status by doing and believing things that not everyone else does. For example, everyone is opposed to killing humans: saying that you think people should not kill each other does not set you apart from others. But not everyone is opposed to eating animals, so being vegetarian or vegan can effectively increase your moral standing.

Tadeg Quillien, “Is virtue signalling a vice?” at Aeon (April 4, 2022)

Quillien got that right but most of the rest of the essay is Darwinian nonsense about peacocks.* However, he should be given credit for daring to raise this point.

*It is not clear that peahens even care much about the peacock’s tail. They seem to be attracted to the screams.

You may also wish to read: As the Babylon Bee still awaits rescue from Twitter jail… Not To Be Outdone, Bill Gates Buys 9.2% Of MySpace “Gates confirmed he will be making some much-needed changes to the site—adding helpful information on the latest vaccines and boosters, a “Clippy” virtual assistant, and handy information on the benefits of subdermal microchip technology.”

4 Replies to “Did virtue signalling evolve via Darwinian evolution?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Pretty close, but this type of selection isn’t natural. It’s an intelligent interaction between choosers and offerers. The ‘runaway’ only happens when supply is much greater than demand. The cure is to rerig the culture or civilization to create more demand for real skills and talents. When there’s a place for every real skill and every honest personality, there’s no need to flash dishonest displays or status prostheses.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Polistra at 1, we LOVE it! “status prostheses”

  3. 3
    Pearlman says:

    Classic case of projection, by ignorant of both sides of the disputed science current secular consensus.
    It is actually ID -Creationists who hold by scriptural testimony who knew all along One human race (as recently attested to by genetic research a First Adam and Genetic Eve, aka Chava, followed x generations and years later by Genetic Adam we know as Noach. vs secular indoctrinated (that discount Mosaic testimony) that had assumed NDT Evolution and that some are more evolved than others and did not even know we are all one human race till recently.
    reference Pearlman YeC for the alignment of Torah testimony, science and ancient civ.

  4. 4
    Fasteddious says:

    Honest question for Darwinists: is there any fossil evidence of peacock precursors with smaller tails? i.e. is there any fossil evidence to back up the “just-so story” that we’ve all heard?

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