View Full Version : Liberal perspective on racial r/K theory

05-14-2018, 01:12 PM
The application of r/K selection theory to the human species has been popular among the far right to explain social racial differences. But, a paper in 2016 put a liberal spin on it. The theory is that r/K explains social racial variations as a matter of short-term epigenetics (variants in genetic expression) as a response to immediate environment. The paper seems to be strongly influenced by JP Rushton, though Rushton was not even cited. Here is an excerpt from Heylighen and Bernheim, 2016, "From Quantity to Quality of Life: r-K selection and human development." Also included is a table that expresses r-versus-K differences.

Development as shift from r to K-strategy

The r-K model has important implications for our general understanding of social development. Most obviously, it provides a simple explanation for the demographic transition: the practically universal observation that as a population becomes socially and economically more developed, its fertility drops spectacularly--bringing down the average number of births per woman from 7 or 8 to less than 2. This has many practical implications.

First, it suggests that the best way to reduce unsustainable population growth in the long term is to increase the general level of physical, psychological, social and economic security in the population. It also explains why less developed minorities (e.g. Arabs in Israel, Gypsies in Eastern Europe, or Hispanics in the US) tend to increase in share of the population, threatening to overtake the majority. This often frightens the majority into becoming more controlling or oppressive, thus increasing the stress on the minority, pushing them into a stronger r-pattern of even faster population growth and more risky behavior (e.g. terrorism)--thus reinforcing the majority's reasons to be afraid. Ironically, if the majority wants to keep its position safe it would do best to make the life of the minority as comfortable as possible, helping them to develop economically, socially and intellectually, and thus reducing their birth rates and stress levels.