Thebastidge: Alpha
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    Wednesday, May 23, 2007

    Alpha

    Dizzy, over in Bobvis' comments said:
    "I really don't think there are guys who are inherently better than the rest out there."


    If you're right, then Mr Darwin must be wrong.

    Now, our generally accepted perceptions of which are superior may be skewed.

    But completely aside from the issue of whether a given person is a natural-born leader (Alpha), individuals can improve themselves and their society. Again, if that were not true, we'd all still be living in caves.

    Some people will always be naturally stonger or bigger than others. Some personality characteristics are largely determined genetically (how our genes express is a combined product with environment, of course.) Some combinations of personality traits and physicality will be dominant and more desirable; it's hard to dispute such an intuitively obvious conclusion.

    But the range of physical strength that can result from a given genetic legacy varies widely. You can obviously improve on the average, because people largely waste their potential.

    The effectiveness of one's intellect is improved by education. Note that intellectual capacity is genetically determined- it doesn't matter what exercises you do, you will not improve your IQ. But you can improve how effectively you use your potential, and again, you can be better than the average. IQ is largely wasted potential- environmental factors only detract from or enable (but not improve)genetic potential. If you're very lucky, and multiple generations of your family work to achieve the best environment possible, then you can come close to your absolute genetic potential.

    Striving for your personal best will be effective. But many (most?) of us get hung up and waste our potential. I believe "Alpha" status is relative and situational- a physically fit, determined, and educated person X with only 80% of the natural advantages of person Y, will still be dominant if Y hasn't done the homework. An expert will take the lead in their area, football players follow coaches, etc.

    Comparative advantage, is more important than absolute advantage.

    [cross-posted in comments over there, edited here]

    I think that they're on to something with the common theme they have over there lately, about alphas and others in the dating scene. I just think they're too hung up on the 'pre-ordained order' idea.

    4 Comments:

    Blogger Lil said...

    I've never cared for the "alpha" characterization. I've known too many people who acted like the stereotypical alpha publicly but were whipped at home, not to mention those who considered themselves alpha but were actually just domineering asshats, if not downright abusive.

    Real strength isn't something anyone has to show; real strength is simply something a person has.

    7:37 PM  
    Blogger Larry said...

    Well, I think people get too hung up on the idea of being "dominant".

    And it's often put into practice s ass-hattery, rather than true leadership.

    But sometimes you do have to make a show of strength. Posturing continues because it is effective.

    9:11 PM  
    Blogger Spungen said...

    Obviously there are always going to be people who are at the top and bottom of any system. But I think what Dizzy was objecting to was more along the lines of how the "alpha" theorists think there's some small percentage of guys who are way ahead of all the others (often because they're beefy obnoxious jerks, it's implied) and we all want them.

    You're on the right track when you object to the supposed pre-ordainedness of it.

    6:15 PM  
    Blogger Larry said...

    Hi- thanks for stopping by!

    6:11 AM  

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