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Michael Prescott wrote: "That attitude would seem to rule out any meaningful romantic attachment to the opposite sex. It reminds me of the view prevalent in some ancient societies (e.g., Rome) that true friendship is possible only between men, because women are inherently inferior. Women were seen as half-formed men – potential men who'd failed to develop the necessary male genitalia in utero, and were thus consigned to second-rate status, both biologically and socially."

Ruling out attachment is the point. I don't necessarily subscribe to anyone's inherent inferiority, merely that a risk-reward analysis does not favor marriage or even dating at this time. I find the idea of "meaningful" romance silly. Romance is a set of perfunctory societal guidelines governing male-female interaction. It made sense when it was reciprocal, but that is no longer the case. Increasingly any male expectation of women is viewed as patriarchal, offensive, sexist, misogynist and every other buzzword you can think of. Female expectations of men, no matter how Disney Princess pie-in-the-sky outlandish and unrealistic they are, are indicative of liberated women finally demanding what they want. The only winning move in this rigged game is not playing.

A suitably reflective feminist would observe, quite correctly, that men like me are just a mirror-image of radical feminism, and just as likely to die alone. They're probably right, but what is so horrifying about that?

My BFF/kind-of-casual-long-distance-relationship-it's-complicated would be a "beta male" by any standards as he's physically average and autistic. So would my dad. They're worth infinitely more to me than any "alpha male" because they care what I say, share my interests, support me when I need it, aren't sexually pushy, and shall I go on? Not caring what women want is never, ever, ever going to be attractive to most women and it often veers unpleasantly close to a sexually abusive mentality.

I'm am literally chuckling out loud. Some people are working pretty hard here convincing themselves that something as old as life on earth and as obvious and fundamental as water flows downhill, not up, is either false or bad. The straw men that are being erected are informative. I like how alphas are characterized as stupid unfeeling brutes raping and pillaging at every chance. LOL.

I think it's a reflection of the times. Our post modern society hates masculinity - except, occasionally, as entertainment; or, in real life, when people need to be saved from some subhuman homicidal monster(s) or a raging fire.....or there's a tough business venture to get off the ground.

I never said that one alpha male would impregnate *all* of the females while the betas float around in VR la la land. Rather, there would be many alpha males and many alpha females not caught up in VR and they would be reproducing. Could be monogamous pairings.

And, of course, there are always exceptions to rules. Pointing those out does not invalidate a trend. Nothing in nature goes in a straight line. It's the trend that counts.

I think Michael Vann's statement about alphas not caring about or needing women isn't totally correct. I would say it's more not sacrificing one's masculinity to try to get a woman to like him. Many women are highly attracted to a man that isn't trying to get her to like him by becoming more like her (ever notice alphas complaining about how women go for the bad boys and jerks and not the nice guys? - not that alphas are really jerks. It's just that's how betas perceive them to be).

We're just set up that way. And no amount of post modern social science goobeldyguk is going to change that. OTOH, The drugs they give "boys will be boys types" in grade school might chemically neuter future generations (IMO it's already begun).

And...this discussion about alphas v betas actually proves my point. Lots of people (betas) live by the principle of "I don't like it. It doesn't feel good to me. Therefore, it's not real). That's 8exactly* the mindset that will be most likely to become lost in VR.

Only because it is salient and not disputable, it's kind of like this years election cycle which went like this: I don't like Trump. Ergo he has no chance. He won't get the party nomination. Oh he did....well he can't possibly win the election. Oh did, well he must have cheated with the help of the Russians. They even had polls and statistical wizardry to support their conclusions at each juncture. But it wasn't real. None of it. It was a VR that people hid in (are some are still hiding in) because they couldn't cope with reality.

My dad and my friend aren't TRYING to be like my mother or me respectively. We like them because they already were themselves and happened to share interests and characteristics with us. Nobody involved is trying to escape from reality in any way, and nobody involved is weak. I fail to see how "coping with reality" is associated with being a terrible person.

"Ruling out attachment is the point. ... I find the idea of 'meaningful' romance silly."

I'm not a psychiatrist, but I can't help seeing this statement as the rationalization of a fear of intimacy. I could be wrong.

But if love isn't meaningful, what is?

"I like how alphas are characterized as stupid unfeeling brutes raping and pillaging at every chance."

I wouldn't characterize them that way. As I said, they're pack leaders, which implies an ability to organize, motivate, and inspire. Still, the concept seems oversimplified when applied to human relationships.

And it's pretty vague. Even advocates of the "alpha male" idea don't seem to agree on what an alpha male is — even about something as fundamental as the alpha male's relationship to the opposite sex.

I suspect that this moment in history will be remembered as Peak Alpha Male — the moment when alpha-male cheerleaders were at their most ebullient. Their hero, Trump, is about to be sworn in, and they are enjoying their victory lap while thumbing their noses at all the "betas" who said Trump couldn't win. Time will tell if this is a Pyrrhic victory. I suspect that Trump will not be a successful president, and that the appeal of the alpha-male idea will recede along with his popularity. Again, I could be wrong.

In fact, I hope I *am* wrong about Trump, because this country needs good leadership in increasingly uncertain world.

I actually agree with a lot of what Eric and Michael Vann are saying, but the thing about "alpha males" is that there is no edifying theory about how they work and what they do. Are some men more dominant than others? Yes. Are some men more successful than others? Yes. Do dominance and success always go together? No. And society--*for thousands of years* has found various ways to channel male dominance, aggression, etc., and it quite often has *not* involved the veneration of the alpha types. Examples include hereditary monarchies, in which you had various types of men inheriting the throne (many effete), or even women. Or you had actual eunuchs having positions of high authority in governments. Now, those same societies could have venerated war and warriors in various ways at the same time. Perfect consistency is not to be found in any society.

Also, most societies have chosen monogamy over polygamy, so males, no matter how "alpha," got one women instead of several.

The whole alpha/beta thing going on the US right seems to be a subculture with its own worldview and not a very lucid picture of "how things work."

Eric wrote,


||Some people are working pretty hard here convincing themselves that something as old as life on earth and as obvious and fundamental as water flows downhill, not up, is either false or bad. The straw men that are being erected are informative. I like how alphas are characterized as stupid unfeeling brutes raping and pillaging at every chance. LOL.||

OK, but what are they? That's the question that hasn't been answered (by you or anyone using the terminology).

||I think it's a reflection of the times. Our post modern society hates masculinity - except, occasionally, as entertainment; or, in real life, when people need to be saved from some subhuman homicidal monster(s) or a raging fire.....or there's a tough business venture to get off the ground.||

Here I agree. Our society denigrates men in various subtle and unsubtle ways. I think the reason is simple: men were valued for their labor, and now that labor is in surplus, men are considered superfluous. Modern business practices actually favor women, who are on average more docile.

||Many women are highly attracted to a man that isn't trying to get her to like him by becoming more like her (ever notice alphas complaining about how women go for the bad boys and jerks and not the nice guys? - not that alphas are really jerks. It's just that's how betas perceive them to be).||

And women like dominant men, on average. (And it should be pointed out that dominance in this sense can be quite subtle and come down to some pretty primitive cues. It's one reason why a very high percentage of women prefer the man to be taller. If he isn't taller, he seems less dominant than she is.) If "alpha" is really about dominance, then yes, that's a coherent concept. I would caution that dominance doesn't always correlate with success or a high position in society, as I said above. Also, I think a lot of women really *are* attracted to guys who express their dominance in a jerky way. Then other women get offended when this is pointed out, but it really is the case.

Take the song "Cool Rider" in the movie Grease 2: it's all about wanting, nay, demanding, a dominant motorcyle-riding bad boy. "I'm looking for a dream on a mean machine with hell in his eyes."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYB317pljts&list=FLoNIOEu6L3pxwosUTVfMQBQ&index=141

It makes psychological sense because a significant percentage of women really do think like that.

"I'm not a psychiatrist, but I can't help seeing this statement as the rationalization of a fear of intimacy. I could be wrong."

Oh, I don't deny that. I'm probably somewhere on the autism spectrum as well. But I must say I find such an argument unusual coming from a psi proponent on a paranormal-friendly blog, simply because the false choice between being rational and being emotional is typically cleaved to by the people who labor under the delusion they can be Mr. Data i.e. our crusading Skeptics. Emotion plays a role in every decision humans make. The suggestion is that I'm allowing fear to blind reason, which may well be true, but I find allowing love to blind it the more dangerous proposition. The question is not, as the Skeptics would prefer, whether emotion is present in decision making, as if that automatically invalidates the decision. The question is what the consequences of that decision will be. I, being afraid of spurious and weaponized accusations of rape and assault will avoid women. In so doing I run the risk of missing out on a loving companion. On the other hand, allowing oneself to love too much blinds one to the possibility of falling for someone who's not what she seems, the consequences of which will be alimony, child support, possible jail time, the loss of property and emotional wellbeing and a greatly increased risk of suicide during divorce, as men are far more likely to successfully kill themselves than women. And nobody forced those divorced men into marriage. Each and every one of them at one point saw those women as being loving companions worthy of marriage and a life partnership. And each and every one of them was wrong.

And I hope Trump succeeds simply so that his success will bury, if only for a time, this self-indulgent overemphasis on blind love. Politics is a side-effect of culture ("downstream" from culture, as Andrew Breitbart said). We've had a culture where love was championed and fear castigated, as if only one was a legitimate and permissible emotion. It's time for the pendulum to swing back.

Building on my previously submitted comment, I think an increasingly influential alternative media should accuse liberals of xenophilia and self-hate. Inject that meme into the sphere of human thought.

"OK, but what are they? That's the question that hasn't been answered (by you or anyone using the terminology)."

I think part of the problem is that "alpha male" often equates to "successful male," so that anyone who is seen as a success (by whatever standard, in whatever context) is automatically an alpha. But then the term "alpha male" becomes superfluous. We can just talk about successful people versus less successful people, rather than alphas versus betas.

And of course, people disagree about what constitutes success in the first place. Is the Dalai Lama a success? Is a poorly paid public school teacher a success? Is a highly compensated CEO who oversees a failing company a success?

I agree with Eric that it's not necessary to be a jerk in order to be an alpha male. However, I would say that a not-small percentage of alpha males are, in fact, jerks. Donald Trump, who seems to be the poster boy for alpha maleness right now, is unquestionably a jerk – a thin-skinned, abrasive loudmouth who literally shouted down his opponents during the primary debates. That doesn't mean he'll necessarily be a bad president (this remains to be seen), but by any normal standard of civility and etiquette, he gets a failing grade.

To be fair, a certain percentage of beta males are jerks, too. They are usually less obvious about it. Instead of being overtly aggressive, they may be passive-aggressive. In some ways, this kind of behavior is more difficult to deal with than straightforward rudeness. It's the difference between a punch in the face and a knife in the back.

"We've had a culture where love was championed and fear castigated, as if only one was a legitimate and permissible emotion. It's time for the pendulum to swing back."

You mean we should castigate love and champion fear? Um, no. I do agree that there's a legitimate place for fear in both personal behavior and national policy. Maybe if the Bush administration had been a little more fearful of things going wrong in Iraq, they would have been less eager to invade. Or maybe if the Obama administration had been a little more fearful of creating chaos in the health insurance market, they would have introduced their changes incrementally, rather than all at once.

Some years ago I read a book called "The Gift of Fear," which made the point that our fears are often important warning signals sent by the subconscious, to be ignored at our peril.

"I'm probably somewhere on the autism spectrum as well."

Meh, I think autism is absurdly overdiagnosed these days. It's similar to the way any kid who's restless in class is immediately diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder. I would bet that a large percentage of people who've been classified in either category don't belong there.

"Emotion plays a role in every decision humans make."

It does, but that doesn't mean that we need to take every emotion seriously, any more than we should take every thought seriously. Some thoughts and some emotions are not grounded in reality. To pass up an intimate relationship because it could conceivably lead to problems in the future strikes me as awarding far too much weight to fear. I doubt that even people who've been through a painful and costly divorce would recommend avoiding intimate relationships. (They might recommend a prenup!)

"OK, but what are they? That's the question that hasn't been answered (by you or anyone using the terminology)."

Oh this is just silly. I just asked my wife about this (feel free to verify). She says an alpha male just has an aura about him that says "I'm not gelded and I'm proud of it". They're confident and in control and don't look to others for approval before they act.

She then added that an alpha male is the one a woman turns to when something serious goes down because he's the one to handle it. She says it is not demeaning for a woman to be recognized as the "weaker sex" because, duh, they are.


She further added, "If you're in a room and a true alpha male enters, a woman can't help herself from noticing and wondering what it would be like to have sex with him". Alpha males stand out from the rest.

Asked about betas, she says they are guys that are sneaky about dating wanting to have sex with a woman. A woman is not attracted to them naturally. The beta always tries to meet a woman on an emotional level, but women aren't turned on by that. It's almost like the beta male is trying to get pity sex; like "I'm a nice guy. I'm emotionally available and I've been your friend and well, gosh, I'd like to sleep with you". But that never gets a woman's heart racing. She agrees that it's all nature at work and a woman knows it when she sees it - whether she will admit it or not, but if she's honest, that is what she thinks.

To clarify what I said earlier, I don't think "jerkiness" is associated with dominance, success, or "alphaness." People are complicated. Want to know the most polite place in the world where men interact? The gym. Big dudes aiming to be bigger are never aggressive in such a context (in my experience).

Some of the most dominant, successful guys in the world are extremely nice. Some are sociopathic jerks. I do think, however, that a certain percentage of women see aggressively and jerkily dominant guys as desirable, even though these guys may have low social status. Again, it's complicated.

To riff on Michael's comments, I think it's a bit funny that Trump is seen as "alpha," as I think most dominant, successful men would see him as a joke. He comes across as very insecure and not comfortable in his own skin. At the same time, there is a lovable quality to Trump that makes it hard to hate him. He definitely has a certain strain of absurd charisma that has no doubt contributed to his success in business and the election. Note that this has *no* connection to "alphaness"--or does it?!?!

Eric said:

"She then added that an alpha male is the one a woman turns to when something serious goes down because he's the one to handle it. She says it is not demeaning for a woman to be recognized as the "weaker sex" because, duh, they are. "


So women are obviously weaker at handling "serious" problems? Would you care to explain what you mean by serious?

Sorry, Eric, but a) your wife's statement is only one data point, and we can't generalize from her personal preferences, and b) what she says is too subjective to nail down the meaning of "alpha male." Essentially she's saying an alpha male is sexually attractive and charismatic, but different people have widely differing views on what is or isn't sexy and appealing. Some people would describe Obama as sexually attractive and charismatic, but many on the right say he has no charisma and comes across as weak and "metrosexual." Some people would describe Trump as sexually attractive and charismatic, while many others see him as gross and repellent.

You would probably say that Trump is an alpha and Obama is not, and you would probably explain Obama's appeal by saying he attracts only those (presumably inadequate) women who like betas. But this is just arguing in a circle - alpha males are men who appeal to women who like alpha males.

I think your mistake is believing that nearly everyone is biologically programmed to share a certain outlook on sexuality and status, when it's far more likely that culture and individual psychology trump (so to speak) biology.

There is doubtless a core of truth in what you're saying. Someone like Errol Flynn undoubtedly qualifies as an alpha male by anyone's reckoning, while Wally Cox does not. But I don't think the idea takes us very far, which is probably why it's not generally endorsed by social scientists except in a very limited way.

"You mean we should castigate love and champion fear?"

No, and the pendulum will reach the middle well before it goes to that extreme. And it is a simplistic dichotomy, to be sure. There's plenty of liberal actions that are based on fear and conservative ones that are based on love. But the left has pushed a narrative that love and fear are liberal and conservative attributes, respectively. As you say, fear and associated impulses like caution and risk-aversion are useful when considering the ramifications of international interventions or significant legislative initiatives. We should also allow for fear and caution as well as risk assessment when considering admitting millions of so-called refugees into Western nations and the cultural impacts it will have. The left has successfully pathologized and weaponized fear to silence conservatives, hence they are called every possible variety of "phobe." Perhaps removing the stigma of phobias will allow a more honest conversation about the things we fear, and allow liberals to be honest about their own phobias (e.g. guns.)

As far as the issue of women goes, it simply isn't important to me at this stage. Maybe that will change, who knows. Perhaps in the future I'll look back and wish I had made different choices.

"You would probably say that Trump is an alpha and Obama is not, and you would probably explain Obama's appeal by saying he attracts only those (presumably inadequate) women who like betas"

Most women I know think Obama is gay. I can't imagine a straight woman finding Obama attractive. If you used as an example someone else, say low energy Jeb Bush, then I agree with what you say. Some women are control freaks and just want a man they can lead around by the nose. And yes, such women are inadequate.

Trump is an alpha. Apparently when a woman spontaneously asks that question about an alpha man the answer isn't always "yes". It's more that the alpha causes the question to be asked instinctually or reflexively.

"Sorry, Eric, but a) your wife's statement is only one data point"

Obviously. She says that she is also including the opinions of other women that she knows (girls talk). Of course that is selection bias. That said, it does suggest that I am not out in left (maybe far right) field.

"Essentially she's saying an alpha male is sexually attractive and charismatic, but different people have widely differing views on what is or isn't sexy and appealing."

True. But what I'm saying is that alphas and betas think differently. They're from totally different morphic fields. When it comes to attractiveness, with betas, all sorts of attributes can enter into play because there is so much psychology involved. With alphas, IMO, it is the basic instinct already described. The beta psychological involvement is NOT indicative of a more advanced, richer, inner life. It's more like over thinking, over complicated, stunted or warped expression of natural energies. Some people think its more civilized or something. But it lacks true passion.

I think there is a decent correlation between political affiliation and alpha/beta status; alphas tending to be Republicans and Betas liberals. Alphas confident and capable needing little government in their lives. Betas dependent and needy and needing government to save them.

"To clarify what I said earlier, I don't think "jerkiness" is associated with dominance, success, or "alphaness." "

Agreed. There are alpha jerks and there are beta jerks. Good manners are good manners. Emily Post wrote the bible on that subject. I know a lot of betas that are vicious jerks. They're passively aggressive about it, of course. Ill mannered alphas are more in your face about it.

"To riff on Michael's comments, I think it's a bit funny that Trump is seen as "alpha," as I think most dominant, successful men would see him as a joke. "

Why as a joke? That is your own bias coming through, I think. No, he's not the classic American archetype of a US alpha, yet he is, clearly, still an alpha. You can't have it both that he's mesmerizing half the country, as progressives complain, and preparing to usurp the Constitution and make himself Hitler 2.0 and yet he's a beta. One or the other. Make up your mind. And if he's a beta, what does that say about all of the other candidates? Omegas?

"So women are obviously weaker at handling "serious" problems? Would you care to explain what you mean by serious?"

Could be "urban youths" assaulting you on the street. Could be an psycho ex. breaking in through the window in the middle of the night. Could be a rough business situation (yes, I think that on avg men are better wired to handle these things. Despite decades of social terrorism by feminists, some women just want to be women; soft, caring, nurturing, etc. They don't want to develop psychological callouses in the high finance world. How does the feminine triumph if women begin to resemble men?

"I think your mistake is believing that nearly everyone is biologically programmed to share a certain outlook on sexuality and status"

I don't believe that for a second. I've seen all kinds of things/known all kinds of people. What I do believe is that certain preferences are strongly associated with reproductive success in a hostile world of scarce resources. Those who are most fit, instinctually recognize, and are attracted to, those traits in the opposite sex, which I refer to as "alpha". It is true that in our post modern world, betas can also reproduce and indulge in all kinds of superfluous selection criteria to the point of being downright unnatural.

Anyhow, I about done with this. I do not like VR and I still believe my initial prediction will be the outcome. As I already pointed out there was a movie called "The Matrix" that should illustrate where VR would end up. That and "Brave New World", the ultimate beta-land. If that's where people want to go, then have at it.


Eric,

||Oh this is just silly.||

Not really. We need a real concept with definitions in order for the "alpha/beta" thing to be truly useful. Right now, it's used by a certain segment of the right to mythologize and insult.

When used about animals, "alpha male" refers to readily identifiable roles and behaviors. Human behavior and societies are extremely complex, and I don't see the "alpha male" concept really having much use, aside from a way of describing dominant and attractive men who are appealing to women (which, as I said before), doesn't necessarily correlate with success and status in a company, society, etc.

||Asked about betas, she says they are guys that are sneaky about dating wanting to have sex with a woman. A woman is not attracted to them naturally. The beta always tries to meet a woman on an emotional level, but women aren't turned on by that.||

What do you think the percentages are? Alphas aren't in the majority, right? I mean, in order for the concept to make sense, it would be something like 10% alphas, 90% betas, right? So then you have 90% of men not being attractive to women naturally. That's obviously not true. Most people end up with someone. In fact, societies have *required* men to be married, ancient Rome and China being examples.

||I think there is a decent correlation between political affiliation and alpha/beta status; alphas tending to be Republicans and Betas liberals. Alphas confident and capable needing little government in their lives. Betas dependent and needy and needing government to save them.||

This is laughable. You know there was this guy named Jesus who lived some 2,000 years ago who told us that we should care about others ("Love of Neighbor"), and lots of people ended up believing in this, right? Including lots of men, presumably "alpha men" as well. A lot of men believe in taking care of others. That's why I'm a Liberal. I also have worked for myself and not received a paycheck since 2004. I eat what I kill. Many people like me don't receive above average benefits from the government but want to ensure that others don't slip through the cracks.


||Why [do you see Trump] as a joke? That is your own bias coming through, I think. No, he's not the classic American archetype of a US alpha, yet he is, clearly, still an alpha. You can't have it both that he's mesmerizing half the country, as progressives complain, and preparing to usurp the Constitution and make himself Hitler 2.0 and yet he's a beta. One or the other. Make up your mind. And if he's a beta, what does that say about all of the other candidates? Omegas?||

He's an example of why the alpha/beta concept doesn't work with respect to humans. Trump is like the "cool rider" I referenced earlier: his bluster and confidence seems like the real deal to a certain percentage of the population and absurd to a certain percentage of the population. A motorcycle gang member could seem very dominant and "cool" and get lots of women in a certain stratum of society yet still find himself quite unsuccessful on the whole.

I don't think Trump is an "alpha" based on what I interpret as the common use of that word. I find it telling that two of his three wives have come from Eastern Europe: even with his money, he had to find women who were less accustomed to American society and would be less prone to see how Trump seemed uncouth and absurd in our society. Not to be uncharitable, but Melania strikes me as a real dolt, basically a semi-attractive mail order bride.

But I also don't think Trump is a "beta." I reject that concept. Men are dominant and successful in a huge jumble of ways. I think Trump is funny and charismatic, but I don't think he's the kind of guy who (without his money and fame) would have most women perking up and whispering to each other, "Who's this hunk?!" He was moderately OK-looking when younger but has always to me seemed rather vulgar in his tastes and a bit absurd in manner. To go with what Michael said, he's no Errol Flynn.

||It is true that in our post modern world, betas can also reproduce and indulge in all kinds of superfluous selection criteria to the point of being downright unnatural.||

Aside from polygamous societies, which have always been in the minority on planet earth, most men have been able to find partners and reproduce. It has nothing to do with our "post-modern world."

This discussion seems to be getting as bad as the previous political one. Not that people can't discuss whatever they want, but these types of "oppositions" between so-called liberals and those who define themselves anything-but are killing my soul. Happy for those who seem to thrive from them, plenty to go around at the moment...

Why are here in this realm. Most of on this blog think it is for some kind of learning. many here think it is for about love.

How can you learn anything for, of and by the soul, when you spend your life entertaining yourself in VR? The materialistic atheistic post modern world is bad enough as it is. Ubiquitous high quality VR would make it worse. IMO it's pretty close to suicide (which spiritual messages all say is a bad thing with consequences) because it is hiding from or escaping what you're here to do.

"When used about animals, "alpha male" refers to readily identifiable roles and behaviors. Human behavior and societies are extremely complex, and I don't see the "alpha male" concept really having much use, aside from a way of describing dominant and attractive men who are appealing to women (which, as I said before), doesn't necessarily correlate with success and status in a company, society, etc."

Nonesense. What you describe is merely something that has emerged in post modern society. Do you think that Obama would have been selected as Chief of a Native American tribe or a Zulu group. Hardly. In fact, they may have left him on a hillside to die.

"So then you have 90% of men not being attractive to women naturally. That's obviously not true."

It obviously is true. I'd say the 90/10 split is about right. Beta women marry beta guys for financial security, emotional support in family raising. the 90% date and have sex, of course. But it isn't the same thing. Look at divorce rates. Relationship break up rates. People watch TV shows to pass the time, but it isn't like they are passionate about the show. A lot of channel flipping goes on.

"This is laughable. You know there was this guy named Jesus who lived some 2,000 years ago who told us that we should care about others ("Love of Neighbor"), and lots of people ended up believing in this, right? Including lots of men, presumably "alpha men" as well. A lot of men believe in taking care of others. That's why I'm a Liberal"

More nonsense. The underlying assumption of what you wrote is that conservatives don't care about others and that liberals are more spiritual. Liberals like to tell themselves that. Conservatives do take care of others. They see much of what liberals call "caring and helping" as making people weak and dependent, which is not ultimately helping them.

"He's an example of why the alpha/beta concept doesn't work with respect to humans. Trump is like the "cool rider" I referenced earlier: his bluster and confidence seems like the real deal to a certain percentage of the population and absurd to a certain percentage of the population. "

You complain about defining alpha and beta and then explain your position by introducing the idea of a "cool rider". What the heck is that? Then you use words like "bluster" to describe Trump's communications. That is merely your opinion as a left winger. I haven't seen a politician yet that isn't full of bluster. Just meaningless nonsense from you trying to sneak by as an intellectual argument. Then you just fall back on the standard "Trump is a con man" line. You have 0 proof of that; additionally, it packs the insult to half the country that they are stupid dupes. Unacceptable. Again, what does it say about all of the candidates?

"but I don't think he's the kind of guy who (without his money and fame) would have most women perking up and whispering to each other, "Who's this hunk?!"
"

Women are attracted to power, confidence, success as much as physical attributes. You'd be surprised at how many attractive women are with physically unattractive men who exhibit alpha traits.

This really is my last response. I am seeing that we live in different universes and there's no use in trying to describe how my works to you and vice versa. I do, honestly believe that we are informed by fundementally different morphic fields. That's ok. It's good for each to be reminded that there are substantially populated groups out there that really are different and really won't get where you're coming from. It is another reason I am not for all this multi-culti diversity. Cats and dogs can mix on a limited basis, but basically a bad idea.

Of course some school marmish progressives will try to organize everyone according to some utopian ideals they learned in social psych and shoot everyone who doesn't go along with the glorious new engineered society.

Alpha males may or may not exist, but the kind of men who call THEMSELVES alpha males are invariably repulsive.

I did a little bit more reading about the alpha male issue. At first I was going to do a whole blog post on it, but I decided it probably wasn't worth the effort. Here's a summary of what I learned, along with my references.

1. Alpha males were first identified in studies of wolves kept in zoos. Later studies, however, showed that wolves in the wild do not display the same characteristics. Jostling for preeminence in a pack is behavior characteristic of unrelated wolves grouped together in a cage. Wild wolves travel in family units, and the "alpha male" is simply the father. Today, the term "alpha male" is not used in wolf studies; instead, the term is "breeding male." If this concept were applied to humans, the alpha/breeding male would be a stable father figure, not a bad-ass hellraiser.

2. Chimpanzee bands, on the other hand, really are run by alpha males, who attain their position by physically intimidating, or even attacking and injuring, their rivals. The position of alpha male is tenuous, as new rivals are constantly emerging to challenge the leader. Other nonhuman primates have different social structures. Bonobos, which are genetically closer to human beings, appear to have a matriarchal society. Still other primate bands depend more on cooperation than conflict.

3. Few social scientists see much utility in the concept of the alpha male when applied to human relations, mainly because human relations cover a much wider range of communities. A chimpanzee band has little interaction with other social groups, while a human being is typically a member of various groups: work, family, recreation, etc. It is possible (in fact, it is typical) to be the "alpha" in one environment but not in others; the leader of a weekend softball team may occupy a subordinate position at work. A change in social context can also lead to an abrupt downgrading of "alpha" status; a corporate CEO may find himself at the bottom of the pecking order in the state penitentiary. Moreover, human dominance is expressed in a far greater variety of ways than in any particular animal species; humans can be dominant in terms of physical strength, sexual prowess, intellectual ability, earning power, athletic skill, creative talent, and so forth, ad infinitum.

4. The biggest fallacy involves applying the dubious concept of the alpha male to dating, as is commonly done on "pickup artist" sites. This is simply a case of using pseudoscientific jargon to give a veneer of intellectual respectability to generally bad advice. Studies have shown that the stereotypical alpha male, characterized by aggressiveness and narcissism, is a turnoff for most women, who are deterred by the prospect that he may turn his aggressiveness against them. A submissive or overly shy man is also a turnoff. To answer Freud's famous question, "what women want" is a man who is confident in himself but also sensitive toward others – self-assured but not domineering. This personality type is characterized as "prestigious," rather than "dominant." The prestigious personality is someone who can achieve high social status through his ability to master a skill, work with others, and earn money and accolades. This is very different from the angry, loudmouthed, short-fuse guy who insists that anyone who disagrees with him is a pathetic, emasculated "beta." Relatively few chronically angry people have the social skills and self-control to achieve high status in our society.

5. Finally, more than one source makes the point that there can only be one alpha in any group, so online forums where most or all of the members claim to be alphas are inherently problematic. If the members of those forums really understood the concept, they would realize that all of them except one must be betas, at least in that community. More to the point, the term "beta" is little more than a catchall insult similar to "pansy" or "fairy," indiscriminately applied to anyone with whom the self-designated alpha disagrees. Those who characterize themselves as alphas (especially young men) may be compensating for insecurities and self-doubts by puffing themselves up in a "vulgar Nietzschean" way. In extreme cases, this conflict between unrealistic self-image and painful reality can lead to violence; mass killer Elliot Rodger convinced himself that, as a "true alpha male," he had been unfairly snubbed by college girls (see the last link in the list below).

Overall, I don't think this concept is of much value. It muddies the waters rather than clarifying them, and it is principally used as a rhetorical device to assert one's superiority over others – something that a true alpha male, if there were such a thing, presumably wouldn't feel the need to do!

https://www.bustle.com/articles/99560-is-the-alpha-male-a-myth-the-science-behind-the-concept-explained

https://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2016/oct/10/do-alpha-males-even-exist-donald-trump

https://thinkgrowth.org/the-alpha-myth-150121d3868f#.6uffwvfga

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/05/24/elliot_rodger_the_pick_up_artist_community_s_predictable_horrible_response.html

I was thinking some more about VR and whether it is spiritually deadening - I'm honestly not sure and suspect much like the internet it depends on how it is used.

If you have to actually see the face of someone you are attacking, rather than an "apparition" behind the mask of an avatar (even if it's a frozen picture of the person) wouldn't that return some humanity to online discourse?

OTOH Eric likely is correct that a world of hedonistic pleasure would lead humanity to a path of becoming metaphorical Cenobites....though I have to admit as a big believer in (somewhat regulated) capitalism's economic and cultural value I can see a possible light:

We often make money to go on vacation, pay for a gym membership, gain entrance a play/museum/movie/etc. Having the cost for grand experiences much reduced may in fact motivate people to work more (or work at all).

There's also the fact that VR is kinda like a "preview" or "appetizer" to OBEs and Lucid Dreams. VR's popularity will, like console games do now, outpace its actual realism if it ever gets there. When someone tells you lucid dreams simulate smells, tastes, etc instead of just sight/sound it might encourage people to work at it.

Perhaps I'm too optimistic but it seems to me talking to kids who like the same pop music discuss it with others around the world that "superficial", "lowbrow" culture will bring people together and I include VR in that. Maybe it's a sign of the times that I place more hope in pop-music and Marvel movies to bring global peace than I do in spiritual paths or politicians at this point. :-)

.... this really is the last.

Michael, nah. It's an old concept that used to put in terms of wolves and sheep as opposed to alpha/beta.

I am not trying to make anyone feel bad. I incorrectly assumed that it was a known and generally accepted concept.

http://www.mwkworks.com/onsheepwolvesandsheepdogs.html - refers to David Grossman, LTC US Army, West Point, Dr of Psychiatry, etc. Author of "On Killing" and other books.

Thank god for your last posting Michael! And I do agree that, in reality, the term 'Alpha Male/Female is a misnomer. What is surely important for any balanced community is a leader who leads by example and whose qualities are recognised and valued instinctively by psychologically healthy people.

Not having visited this blog forum for some time, I was more than taken aback yesterday to read the comments made by someone here who, I can only presume, is either sending everyone up or honing up his skills for the 'Epsilon of the Year' contest!

Anyway, I sat down and wrote the following off the top of my head. I wrote it because I believe its simply common sense. But since common sense isn't nearly as common as is generally imagined, I decided against posting. However having seen your post today, Michael I decided after all to risk posting my meanderings here. And this is what I wrote:

"The Trumpesque 'Alpha male' is not alpha at all. He's a caricature of the macho bad-boy, fists-first sociopathic bully that weak or psychologically damaged people mistake for a strong and effective leader. In fact, I doubt that Trump could even fight his way out of a wet paper bag!

I suspect that in most animal societies the Trumpite would be rejected, for the simple reason that animals prefer a leader who is wise, calm and can keep the entire herd together as a stable unit. A good leader keeps the herd feeling relaxed and secure. A bad leader is either weak in character (like some of the old kings of England) or an unpredictable tyrant and bully who tramples on the values that any healthy society holds dear.

Animals know, instinctively, that bullies are cowards at heart. Get the big-mouth, fighting-talk buffoons like Trump on their own outside a bar and they will squeal like a stuck pig, then whimper home like a beaten puppy.

The true human 'Alpha', male or female, is psychologically balanced, successful by his or her own efforts and respected by the more psychologically healthy factions of society. The human alpha is someone that almost everyone looks up to, respects and feels calm, happy and confident around. The Alpha represents the values most prized by the generally more balanced, socially-and-psychologically-evolved members of society. The Alpha male cares and shows respect for the female of the species and understands that they are society's most valuable investment for the future. If you want to destroy a nation then the most simple method is to kill off all its womenfolk.

Anyway, to use a simple (if perhaps somewhat outdated) example, the Waltons, John and Olivia, represent the basics of the human Alpha characteristics. They are recognised, instinctively, as the epitome of psychological health, dependability and an inclusive outlook that holds any genuinely successful family or community together. That's why such dramas continue to attract audiences both old and young."

And, just as a matter of interest, I could certainly fancy Obama - just as his beautiful, clever, well-educated and classy wife obviously does. I could not ever fancy the Trump if he were the last male specimen on earth. Take away his money and pretense of personal success and hardly any woman on earth would look at him twice.

Ps. This is not a political statement, it's just that I can't think of a better example of one of nature's true epsilons than Trump. And I probably won't comment here again because what I read here yesterday simply had me wondering if I'd absentmindedly wandered into an asylum! ;)

"He's a caricature of the macho bad-boy, fists-first sociopathic bully that weak or psychologically damaged people mistake for a strong and effective leader."

Many months ago I wrote something similar, either here or on Facebook, I'm not sure which. It went something like this: "Just as Trump has been likened to a hobo's idea of a rich person, he can also be described as a weakling's idea of a strong person."

His whole blustery, quasi-buffoonish, scowling, ridiculing persona is a caricature of strength. Consider a genuinely strong, self-assured man such as astronaut John Glenn, who died recently. Can anyone imagine Glenn in a public debate waving his arms around and chanting, "Little Marco! Little Marco!" to drown out his opponent? (If John Glenn doesn't work for you, substitute any heroic masculine figure, whether John Wayne or Gary Cooper in the movies, Chuck Yeager or Omar Bradley from the military, Howard Hughes or John Jacob Astor IV* from big business, etc.)

*I include Astor because of his calmly dignified death on the Titanic.

I'm not trying to turn this into a Trump-bashing thread (I'm willing to give him time to show what he can do as POTUS, and hoping he surprises me by doing well). But as Julie said, Trump is the contemporary example par excellence of the "alpha male" as the term is understood by its most vocal popularizers.

"I am not trying to make anyone feel bad. I incorrectly assumed that it was a known and generally accepted concept."

I'm glad you did bring it up, Eric. It obliged me to do some research into the term "alpha male," which I'd previously accepted as probably valid, without having thought much about it.

"If John Glenn doesn't work for you, substitute any heroic masculine figure, whether John Wayne or Gary Cooper in the movies, Chuck Yeager or Omar Bradley from the military, Howard Hughes or John Jacob Astor IV* from big business, etc."

Oddly enough I was going to mention the 'macho' good guys. Notice they were always strong enough to have a soft center. The 'manly man' never appears overtly aggressive. Just as the pack leader in any animal group is usually the one most relaxed and assured.

But I can't believe I'm pointing out such obvious things in a group like this!

Clearly, where ego reigns, reason and intellect fly out of the window.

Glad to see you leading us in thought again, Michael. :)

http://www.mwkworks.com/onsheepwolvesandsheepdogs.html

The above is insanity, par excellence.

"He's a caricature of the macho bad-boy, fists-first sociopathic bully that weak or psychologically damaged people mistake for a strong and effective leader."

By this same reasoning, Obama is a caricature of the pensive, erudite intellectual who calmly reasons his way around all obstacles. He's a cardboard standee of the sort of person that posturing lefties so desperately and futilely aspire to. Likewise, his exhortations towards love and community tug at the heartstrings of the liberals who pontificate endlessly about those same values and then go out and smash property and assault people while blithely waving "Love Trumps Hate" signs. Any politician is going to have a certain amount of veneer that shows his constituents what they want. It amuses me that liberals seem so moonstruck by Obama's veneer and so repulsed by Trump's.

"The Alpha male cares and shows respect for the female of the species and understands that they are society's most valuable investment for the future."

This is hysterical. The whole discussion has revolved around a term which is nebulous, allowing it to be used by different people to different ends. I defined it in a way Michael and probably everyone else rejected, which is their right to do as I can no more point to a singular definition than they can. "Alpha" is a buzzword meant to express what a given individual respects in another. But I must ask, why are women society's most valuable investment in the future? Are they more gifted than men at activities conducive to societal thriving? Do you believe society will magically improve if our organs of power have a greater concentration of women? Do you, in plain and simple English, believe women are worth more than men? You'll excuse me if I've no interest in participating in such a system. And does this valuation of women have any logical end to it? Are we men all still expected to nonchalantly sip brandy and let the North Atlantic lap at our coattails while you escape?

Michael,

Great summary, thanks!

Michael Vann wrote,

||It amuses me that liberals seem so moonstruck by Obama's veneer and so repulsed by Trump's.||

Not this Liberal. I think Obama has been a decent administrator but not the visionary he advertised himself to be. I don't think he's brought much change to the country, and I think a lot of his policies (continued support for the surveillance state, persecution of legitimate whistle blowers, etc.) have not been good.

I agree that he tries to talk his way around everything. He's a rhetorician, not a true leader.

"Do you believe society will magically improve if our organs of power have a greater concentration of women? Do you, in plain and simple English, believe women are worth more than men?"

Do you understand anything? When and where did I suggest that the 'organs of power' would improve with a greater concentration of women?

In plain and simple English, no, I do not think women are worth more than men.

However, my advice to you is that you try taking more water with it. :)

Ps "But I must ask, why are women society's most valuable investment in the future? Are they more gifted than men at activities conducive to societal thriving?"

Are you being deliberately obtuse, Michael Vann?

How many bulls are needed to develop a herd of cattle?

How many rams are needed to develop a herd of sheep?

How man stallions are needed to develop a herd of horses?

Need I go on?

"Are we men all still expected to nonchalantly sip brandy and let the North Atlantic lap at our coattails while you escape?" Yes. With restraining orders if necessary.

"I'm glad you did bring it up, Eric. It obliged me to do some research into the term "alpha male," which I'd previously accepted as probably valid, without having thought much about it."

Oh. OK. Well good. Did you read the link I posted in my immediately previous comment (Grossman). That is the thinking I was employing when employing the terms "alpha and beta".

Developing and maintaining the skillset *and mindset* to be a wolf or sheepdog (per the article) creates the aura of the alpha.

As an aside, when I walk into, say a bar, I reflexively scan the room and size up everyone in it. Who might be trouble? How and how much? How would I handle them? Who might be good back up? Who is just in the way? What are the ways in and what are the ways out? Are there objects handy that could be used as weapons? That kind of thing.

I would say that a similar process occurs in the world of finance and business where the stakes are high and the competition tough. Trump has clearly achieved those abilities. Now the question is wolf or sheepdog? Or both?

As the article notes, it's just like a sheep/beta to call non-sheeps jerks, etc. It's the clearest most consistent tell.

Also the article notes that sheep aren't bad, they're just sheep, largely by choice (though I think there are cultural and biological influences that drive the choice). It describes what makes them sheep - which is why I brought up alpha/beta in the first place. What makes them sheep/beta is exactly why they would be attracted to abuse of VR to the point of being out bred by alphas/wolves/sheepdogs.

As mentioned above, I think there are tendencies toward cultural/biological difference between alphas and betas. Boys (or girls) that display the precursors to a masculine or warrior "look" and aggressive and athletic behavior are probably steered toward paths that involve the development of alpha/wolf/sheepdog skills and mindsets. I also think that some of the charisma perceived in alphas is due to having a primitive connection to base energies and confidence that one can handle oneself in life threatening situations or other serious conflicts. If one can handle that, one can stay calm and handle anything. True, one doesn't haven't the competency to play Paganini like a master, but that's not what we're talking about. That kind of confidence cannot be faked (or not for long) and it, in men, is attractive to women.

Trump apparently was like many budding alphas (per the above) when he was a youngster. His chosen battlefield is the business world as opposed to the streets or actual military conflict zones.

Again, I didn't mean to cause a thread hijack; not to bring things around to Trump and politics - and I certainly did not intend to insult anyone.

Most liberals I talk to don't think of Obama as one of them, he's just a nice way to sheep-dog policies that Dems would reject if spoken by a white guy.

Michael Vann: women are the ones whose decimation would limit the production of children.

"As it happens our interests are almost the same.
You see I'm really quite skillful at managing game.
If I ate just your men, would your excess decline?
Of course not, the rest would just make better time.
Now, the number of babies a woman can bear
Has limits, and that's why my pruning's done there.
And an orphan's a sad sight and so when I munch,
I'm careful to eat only virgins for lunch."
-The Dragon's Retort

Now, as for trump....

....So you're boarding an airplane and the captain is at the hatch to greet you as you step onto the airplane. He's immaculately groomed. He stands straight and tall. His uniform is neat and set up correctly. He looks you straight in the eye and says "Hello. Welcome aboard". His voice is deep, calm and clear. You recognize this man as an alpha/sheepdog. You instantly have confidence that this man can pilot the aircraft effectively. If you're a woman you are instantly attracted to him. Yu feel that if something went wrong during the flight, this man could handle it as well as possible.

Or...

You're boarding the aircraft and the Captain is there to greet you. His hair is mussed. His uniform poorly fitting and wrinkled. His eyes shift about and won't maintain contact with yours. His shifts about a bit on his feet. He slouches in his posture. He mumbles "Welcome aboard". There's almost a question like rise in his voice as he completes the statement. You instantly recognize that he is a beta and you begin to fear that this guy could screw up and crash the plane. If something went wrong in flight, he might panic and make it worse.

That's just how humans think, despite what over-intellectual arguments you might want to make about the sloppy looking pilot maybe being the better pilot, or being an alpha at playing chess or something.

Trump's problem is that he looks and acts more like the second pilot. It is understandable that some people are reacting badly to him. That's because, despite resistance to the idea by beta sheep, the theory of alpha/wolf/sheepdog v beta/sheep is true and we all instinctually recognize it.

That said, the problem the country has that politicians have been playing the roll of the squared away pilot, but they have been fakes and they have crashed us.

So many of us look to a different model.

Do anyone of you who write so glowingly about Trump as an "alpha" even know his history? He inherited a fortune from his father, as well as his father's extensive business contacts. And BTW, Trump's grandMOTHER is crediting for building up the real estate business.

As a so-smart "alpha" he had to declare bankruptcy FOUR times. U.S. banks have consequently refused to lend to him (thus, much speculation that he's been borrowing from Russian banks, thus his refusal to release his tax returns; his contention that he can't release them because he's being audited is completely false, as the IRS has pointed out numerous time).

The guy spews word salad all the time. Like here:

"Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes,
OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart
—you know, if you're a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if,
like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I'm one of the
smartest people anywhere in the world—it's true!—but when you're a
conservative Republican they try—oh, do they do a number—that's..."

So so smart, such an alpha! The smartest!

LOL! Well, I can only assume you don't regard yourself as one of your 'Alpha' males - and certainly in terms of attractiveness to women, Eric Newhill.

The words 'deluded', 'sad' & 'plonker' spring to mind.

"In plain and simple English, no, I do not think women are worth more than men."

Rrreeeeeaaaalllyy? Because that's implied by your subsequent examples. As you say, only a single breeding male is needed, so may I presume that if you were in charge of a disaster situation you would take only a single male and leave the rest to die?

Also, note the hilarious contradiction. Women moan constantly about being valued not for their characters, their souls, minds or whatever but for their mere biological functionality. And yet, every time the conversation takes this turn, the thing that women demand they be valued for is..... mere biological functionality. None of the examples you have cited have anything to do with your ability to meaningfully enrich anyone's life, just your ability to incubate. (Note how you defined thriving as mere reproduction, not the furtherance of art or literature or music or knowledge or anything beyond mere numbers). I have to laugh.

"Yes. With restraining orders if necessary.". Sorry we're not playing that game. We're going to take our rightful place in the lifeboat, because our lives have value outside of you. It's your turn to drown and freeze.

I feel I should point out here that Trump the alleged alpha is also being sued for allegedly raping some women and a thirteen-year-old girl and there's fairly credible evidence he did. Is that a man you want as a role model? Is that a man you'd be happy leaving alone with your hypothetical daughter?

Thanks for proving my point, once again, Julie.

You don't need my help, Eric. You manage to destroy your credibility perfectly well all by yourself.

"Rrreeeeeaaaalllyy? Because that's implied by your subsequent examples. As you say, only a single breeding male is needed, so may I presume that if you were in charge of a disaster situation you would take only a single male and leave the rest to die?"

Listen very carefully, Michael Vann, I shall say this only once: My comment referred to warfare. If you want to completely destroy a nation then its greatest vulnerability is its womenfolk.

Is that clear enough for you? :)

"I feel I should point out here that Trump the alleged alpha is also being sued for allegedly raping some women and a thirteen-year-old girl and there's fairly credible evidence he did. Is that a man you want as a role model? Is that a man you'd be happy leaving alone with your hypothetical daughter?" - Chel

I seem to recall that the victim dropped that case after Trump became president-elect. I imagine she feared for her life knowing what that man is capable of. I would like to think that I would have become even more determined to bring him to justice. But it's easy to be brave when it's not our personal welfare at stake.

If your countrymen and women can elect a man like that after all that has been revealed concerning him then where's the hope of justice from one's society?

BTW, can you imagine how Trump's behaviour would be regarded by society were he a woman?

Say, how does the alleged "Type A personality" fit in here?

"Sorry we're not playing that game. We're going to take our rightful place in the lifeboat, because our lives have value outside of you. It's your turn to drown and freeze."

I like to think I would give up my seat in the lifeboat to a woman. I respect that tradition. It's the reason I singled out John Jacob Astor IV as a "manly man."

Although the discussion seems to have taken a somewhat acrimonious turn, I think Eric Newhill and Michael Vann deserve credit for putting forth opinions that are more widely shared than many of us probably realize. And I don't think they're entirely wrong. I just think the view they're presenting is oversimplified, and I'm not sure it has much to do with science, despite the use of science-y terms like "alpha male."

Still, who can deny that some men are stronger, tougher, more rugged, more dependable, etc. than others, and that society depends on men (and women) with those qualities, especially in emergencies? A famous quote mistakenly attributed to George Orwell neatly sums up this idea: "We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2011/11/07/rough-men/

As I said earlier, there's a difference between Errol Flynn and Wally Cox. (For the benefit of younger readers, Wally Cox was an actor who specialized in nebbishy roles – a less intellectual version of Woody Allen.) In a crisis you're more likely to turn instinctively to Flynn, although if it's a crisis that requires debugging a computer, maybe Wally would be the better choice.

There's no doubt that some men have leadership qualities that make them effective football quarterbacks, drill sergeants, and corporate CEOs, while other men wilt under pressure. Not everyone can march onto a stadium field under the eyes of 100,000 screaming fans and perform athletic feats with cool precision, or participate in a live televised debate watched by millions without breaking a sweat. I'm sure I couldn't.

The problem comes in conceptualizing the issue in black-and-white terms – thinking that any given person is either alpha or beta. Real life is more complicated, and these qualities exist along a continuum, with most people occupying a gray area in the middle. Extreme examples, like pro football quarterbacks or macho movie icons on one side or the Wally Cox-Woody Allen caricature on the other, bear little resemblance to 99% of the population, who are neither James Bond nor Walter Mitty.

Even seemingly textbook cases of alpha maleness can have a hidden dimension; I've known big-city cops who, when you got to know them, were a lot less "tough" than they appeared. A man like John McCain can be unquestionably courageous when faced with physical threats, but can retreat into cowardice and evasion when faced with an intellectual challenge. Or take Errol Flynn himself: his offscreen behavior included the alleged statutory rape of two underage girls, along with other unsavory activities. Sometimes even the alpha male has feet of clay.

Coming at it from the opposite perspective, I would bet there are some milquetoast types who have a core of toughness that's not readily apparent.

As for society as a whole, there have been cases of highly militaristic "warrior" societies in history, which presumably put a premium on "alpha males" as conventionally understood – think of ancient Sparta, or the Vikings, or the earlier generations of Romans – but these societies have not proved particularly stable. They either suffered military defeats, like Sparta, or they morphed into a more effete phase of civilizational development, like the Vikings and Romans.

In the long run, the so-called "prestigious" person, as defined in one of my earlier comments, seems to offer a better model both for personal success and for social stability.

"Coming at it from the opposite perspective, I would bet there are some milquetoast types who have a core of toughness that's not readily apparent."

There is certainly an existential element to all this. No one knows their strength until faced with a testing challenge. Those rough men who guard us in our sleep are not necessarily rough at all in the literal sense. They can be the lawmakers who lock away violent offenders and the Police officers who carry out surveillance operations under cover. A great hairy oaf guarding one's home is just that; a great hairy oaf in employment.

"In the long run, the so-called "prestigious" person, as defined in one of my earlier comments, seems to offer a better model both for personal success and for social stability."

I quite agree. Prestige amounts to respect. We don't truly respect a 'successful' person if they reveal them self to be a cad and a bounder. As the cliche goes, respect has to be earned. Then again, what one respects in others is a very reliable hallmark of one's own character.

Michael said:

"We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

Also helping us to sleep at night is the work of wimpy intellectuals and mystics such as, for example, Raymond Moody. How many of us have had their fear of death eased thanks to his pioneering research? Just about everybody participating in this conversation, I would guess.

In this life, we face a variety of threats and terrors, and with respect to a great many of them, the soldierly type is of little help.

But I'm not criticizing your comment, Michael. What you say here is right to the point:

"The problem comes in conceptualizing the issue in black-and-white terms – thinking that any given person is either alpha or beta. Real life is more complicated, and these qualities exist along a continuum,"

Bravery comes in many forms. For all we know, and I mean this, Wally Cox was the bravest man alive. I mean, who knows what his inner experience was? Can any of us have an inkling as to what emotional and spiritual challenges he came here to face—and how well he succeeded?

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