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Yo, dudes: Alpha males are a myth, according to actual experts on wolves

Manosphere misogynists like to tell themselves fairy tales about women. Their favorite such tale, repeated endlessly, is one called “The Cock Carousel” – sometimes referred to in expanded form as the “Alpha Asshole Cock Carousel” or the “Bad Boy Cock Carousel.” (Hence that Rooster-riding gal you see in this blog’s header about half the time.)

Despite the different names, the story is always, monotonously, the same: In their late teens and twenties, when they’re at the height of their sexual appeal, women (or at least the overwhelming majority of them) have sex in rapid succession with an assortment of charismatic but unreliable alpha males and “bad boys” who make their vaginas (or just ‘ginas) tingle. Then, sometime in their mid-to-late twenties, these women “hit the wall,” with their so-called sexual market value (or SMV) dropping faster than Facebook’s stock price. As Roissy/Heartiste puts it, in his typically overheated prose:

So sad, so tragic, the inevitable slide into sexual worthlessness that accompanies women, the withering tick tock of the cosmic clock stripping their beauty in flayed bits of soulletting mignons like psychological ling chi. A sadistic thief in the night etching, billowing, draping and sagging a new affront to her most preciously guarded asset.

While many women try to pretend they’ve still “got it,” even at the ripe old age of thirty, they inevitably have to either get off or get thrown off the “cock carousel.” At this point the more savvy women glom onto some convenient “beta male” who, while somewhat lacking in sexual appeal, will at least be a good husband and provider for them – and in many cases the children they’ve had with alpha male seed. Those women who don’t accept the new reality are destined to end up alone and childless, surrounded by cats.

To borrow the phrase South Park used in its episodes about Scientology and Mormonism, this is what manosphere men actually believe. Not only that, but they claim that this fairy tale is based on real science.

So who are these mysterious alpha males that get the women so excited? As one guide to pickup artist (PUA) lingo puts it:

In animal hierarchies, the Alpha Male is the most dominant, and typically the physically strongest member of the group. For example, in wolf packs, the “alpha wolf” is the strongest member of the pack, and is the leader of the group. This position of leadership is often achieved by killing or defeating the previous Alpha Male in combat. Alpha wolves have first access to food as well as mating privileges with the females of the pack.

Social status among human social groups is less rigidly defined than in the animal kingdom, but there are some recognizable parallels. Although people don’t often engage in physical violence to achieve dominance, there are still recognizable leaders in different fields who have wide access to material resources and women.

Because the qualities of the Alpha Male (such as social dominance and leadership) are attractive to women, many PUAs have adopted these ideals as models of emulation. In fact, the term “alpha” has come be shorthand for the qualities of an attractive man, and it is a common refrain among PUAs to be “more alpha” or to “out alpha” competitors.

There’s a certain logic to all this. But unfortunately for the PUAs and other manospherians the notion of the Alpha male is based on bad science. The notion of Alpha dominance, as the definition above notes, came originally from studies of wolf packs. Even if we assume that wolf behavior is somehow a good model upon which to base our understanding of human romance  – as manosphere men and evolutionary psychologists tend to do – the science behind the Alpha male wolf has now come completely undone, with many of those who promulgated the theory in the first place decades ago now explicitly repudiating it.

The problem, you see, is that the studies underlying the notion of the alpha male wolf, who aggressively asserts his dominance over beta males in order to rule the pack, were all based on observations of wolves in captivity. In the real world, wolf packs don’t work that way at all. Most wolf packs are basically wolf families, with a breeding pair and their pups. When male pups reach adulthood, they don’t fight their fathers for dominance — they go out and start their own families.

As noted wolf behavior expert L. David Mech, one of those who helped to establish and popularize the notion of the alpha wolf in the first place, explains on his website:

The concept of the alpha wolf is well ingrained in the popular wolf literature at least partly because of my book “The Wolf: Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species,” written in 1968, published in 1970, republished in paperback in 1981, and currently still in print, despite my numerous pleas to the publisher to stop publishing it. Although most of the book’s info is still accurate, much is outdated. We have learned more about wolves in the last 40 years then in all of previous history.

One of the outdated pieces of information is the concept of the alpha wolf. “Alpha” implies competing with others and becoming top dog by winning a contest or battle. However, most wolves who lead packs achieved their position simply by mating and producing pups, which then became their pack. In other words they are merely breeders, or parents, and that’s all we call them today, the “breeding male,” “breeding female,” or “male parent,” “female parent,” or the “adult male” or “adult female.” In the rare packs that include more than one breeding animal, the “dominant breeder” can be called that, and any breeding daughter can be called a “subordinate breeder.”

So the dominant male wolves – those whom manosphere dudes would still call the alphas – achieve this position not by being sexy badasses but simply by siring and taking responsibility for pups. To use the terminology in the manner of manosphere dudes, alphas become alphas by acting like betas. That’s right: alphas are betas. (For more of the details, see this paper by Mech; it’s in pdf form.)

Also, they’re wolves and not humans, but that’s a whole other kettle of anthropomorphized fish.

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pecunium
9 years ago

No… Eutosabra would never gaslight them in a way which was destructive… having someone tell you that what you remember being said/done didn’t happen is totes benign.

pecunium
9 years ago

Wild Horses: The leader of the herd is the Alpha Mare. The Stallion keeps a harem, but if the Alpha Mare decides he’s gone, then he’s gone. The young studs will leave, and they will attract mare who join them (some of them in the hope they will become the Alpha Mare of the new herd).

So no, they are so not what the PUA want to use as an example.

Gametime
Gametime
9 years ago

Wait, we have a Zionist PUA here?This’ll be fun.

A FASCIST Zionist PUA. And you’d think that would be good for some laughs, but then you realize he spends his time here alternating between bragging about all the women he’s manipulated and lying about manipulating all the women he’s manipulated, and the whole thing is just a giant creepy skeezy mess.

Falconer
Falconer
9 years ago

A FASCIST Zionist PUA.

I don’t know that he’s a full-fledged fascist, actually.

I haven’t paid that much attention to him, but I think he’s actually less fascist than the U.S. Government has been in recent years.

Of course, maybe he’s said he’s a fascist, in which case I can only assume that he’s for the primacy of the military and the intermingling of church and state, in direct contravention of things he’s said in this very thread, or he’s a tosser who’s only claiming to be fascist to get a rise out of people.

I’m not saying he can’t be a Zionist asshole to Palestinians, mind.

nydwracu
9 years ago

You’re quite literally begging the question here. The definition of “alpha” is “gets more than a beta,” and the definition of “beta” is “gets less than an alpha.”

So if someone gets more action than you, you categorize him as an alpha, and yourself as a beta, and start up the pity party.

The alpha/beta “metric” is utter rubbish at analyzing and predicting human behavior or social interactions.

If it’s defined that way, of course it’s useless. But who defines it that way?

In a sentence, alpha/beta is active/passive or dominant/submissive combined with confident/unconfident. If you want more than a sentence, go here and then read Prometheus Rising.

It is entirely possible to get action without taking initiative or having much confidence, but at least from what I’ve seen, that relies heavily on establishing semi-serious relationships with people who do take initiative, and people who take more initiative are less likely to sustain healthy relationships of that sort, at least until they age out of the PUAs’ target demographic.

It is bordering on the tautological that people who are more confident will get more action: confidence implies a higher number of approaches and a performance of higher value. But I think PUAs have nuance to the terms that I’m missing; I know they have something called “beta game”, at least, and my impression is that this revolves around acting in a manner as to indicate less of a status difference between you and whoever you’re after.

I doubt anyone would seriously argue that people hitting bars for one-night stands have more/better sex than people in healthy relationships (see: Tucker Max) but that’s a higher-risk strategy, and most PUAs, in addition to preferring a higher degree of freedom (which explains the emphasis on travel) are highly risk-averse. This comes with the territory: the people who get drawn into it are the ones who have dismal success rates, and the main way to have a dismal success rate is to avoid social interaction for fear of rejection.

Of course, humans are primates, so perhaps looking to them is a better measure of how we act.

Correct.

aworldanonymous
9 years ago

It’s Eurosabra who is the fascist zionist PUA right, cause I was under the impression that he was a Randroid.

hellkell
hellkell
9 years ago

Eurosabra is the fascist PUA.

I have a shitty worldview, sure, but I don’t actively use it to hurt women.

No, not at all. Just a little mild gaslighting. No harm in that, is there, you shithead?

Falconer
Falconer
9 years ago

But who defines it that way?

Every self-defined beta, ever, that’s who. The idea starts from the premise of “alphas get more action than betas,” and exists solely as an exercise in justifying that premise.

aworldanonymous
9 years ago

Is there some kind of universal argument that I can use to shut down the whole Alpha vs. Beta thing in every day conversation. At this point I’m really just kind of getting sick of it.

Gametime
Gametime
9 years ago

It is bordering on the tautological that people who are more confident will get more action

… no it isn’t. There’s a difference between something being obviously true and something being tautologically true.

Dracula
Dracula
9 years ago

Sadly aworldanon, I don’t think there’s any argument whatsoever that will shut down a serious alpha/beta theory adherent. They’re quite zealous in their beliefs.

BlackBloc (@XBlackBlocX)

I haven’t paid that much attention to him, but I think he’s actually less fascist than the U.S. Government has been in recent years.

Low hanging fruit.

Eurosabra
Eurosabra
9 years ago

No, the local left here calls me a fascist. I am actually against state corporatism as it exists in Israel, state religious militarism doesn’t work in an army with Christian and Muslim and Druze Israelis in it, and the whole place still has rule of law, free press and representative govt. I was looking for European allies on the right like Tory and Gaullists, what I got, and rejected, was Forza Italia and EDL.

aworldanonymous
9 years ago

@Dracula

aworldanonymous
9 years ago

Stupid youtube not letting me copy the ironic quotes associated with horrid actions by gamers in one of the greatest RPGs ever at the right time in the video.

Tulgey Logger
Tulgey Logger
9 years ago

In a sentence, alpha/beta is active/passive or dominant/submissive combined with confident/unconfident.

Ergo 90% of women sleep with 10% of men and the rest are incels. Sounds legit.

If you want more than a sentence, go here and then read Prometheus Rising.

A model of consciousness developed by a bunch of non-scientists and woo-meisters? I know I certainly imbibed enough bullshit today!

Tulgey Logger
Tulgey Logger
9 years ago

I meant to say “certainly haven’t” but that only makes it a sarcastic statement rather than a true one.

aworldanonymous
9 years ago

Why can’t I be the version of me from four years from now, I’d be so much better equipped to say things here.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
9 years ago

I like my coffee strong, preferably very large, and not too sweet. This is almost the exact opposite of how I like my men. If I liked my coffee like I like my men I’d actually drink those Starbucks drinks that are basically coffee-flavored milkshakes.

I also like tea, especially oolong (Iron Goddess is my favorite), Ceylon, Lapsang Souchong, Russian Caravan, Rose Congou, Yunnan, Keemun, Aracha, Gunpowder, Sencha (preferably from Shizuoka), Gyokuro, Fukamushicha, Kukicha, Mecha, Genmaicha, and Hojicha, If I was a man this love of variety would probably indicate alpha status, but in a woman I guess it makes me flighty and slutty according to PUA theory.

Also, I see the Eurosabra has decided to slime all over this thread. Isn’t there some sort of Raid that can be used to clear out a PUA infestation?

aworldanonymous
9 years ago

There’s such thing as Mecha tea? I have to find this now, and see if it tastes like being on Gundam. Even if it doesn’t, I’m going to get a ton of it, and drink it whenever I watch Gundam, or GaoGaiGar, or play Armored Core, or anything with giant anthropomorphic piloted robots.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
9 years ago

There is indeed a tea called Mecha. It’s rather tasty – if there’s a good Japanese grocery store near you they might have it, if not the Ito En website sells it. It’s a by-product from the production of the fancier teas, so it’s not very expensive.

aworldanonymous
9 years ago

I’ll have to buy some when I can afford it, still working on saving up for a Sci-Fi convention in October.

katz
9 years ago

Why can’t I be the version of me from four years from now, I’d be so much better equipped to say things here.

Hey, that’s why you’re going to college. I should hope most of us are smarter, more eloquent, and better people than we were 4 years ago (I know I am).

aworldanonymous
9 years ago

So Eurosabra is a something or other?

whataboutthemoonz
9 years ago

I can’t seem to find the study, but apparently there was a bonobo or chimp troupe in the wild where the alpha/dominant males were killed off because they ate a bunch of food that got them so sick that they died, and the “beta” caring males were left over instead. Instead of falling apart, the troupe actually FLOURISHED and every individual thrived.

I saw a NatGeo documentary on the group (for some reason I wanna say baboon???) and not only did they flourish, but when aggressive “alpha” male types joined the group, they were socially ostracized until they calmed the fuck down (and turned into whiteknight feminist mangina baby monkeys).

Because, go figure, AGGRESSION IS SOCIALIZED.

Unimaginative
Unimaginative
9 years ago

Is there some kind of universal argument that I can use to shut down the whole Alpha vs. Beta thing in every day conversation. At this point I’m really just kind of getting sick of it.

“Oh, fuck off.” It’s actually applicable in a large number of widely diverse situations.

Why can’t I be the version of me from four years from now, I’d be so much better equipped to say things here.

I apparently made an unconscious decision in my early teens that I would avoid certain social situations until I’d finished going through my awkward phase, and would thus be spared the embarrassment of being awkward. It turns out that going through the awkward phase is what teaches you the social skills to not be socially awkward, so I ended up having a very long, very extended, very awkward phase.

Hang in there, and remember that it’s okay to ditch people who make you feel bad about yourself.

Unimaginative
Unimaginative
9 years ago

It’s also okay to ditch people who just aren’t any fun.

aworldanonymous
9 years ago

Also @Katz

9 days left, I’m so excited.

katz
9 years ago

^You will have fun and meet awesome people, I guaran-effin-tee it.

cloudiah
9 years ago

@aworldanonymous, I would like to second katz’ remark just above. It’s going to be great. And the campus looks gorgeous — I can’t remember what thread it was where you said where you were going, but I did go to the college’s website where there were tons of photos.

I am actually jealous. 🙂

Ice
Ice
9 years ago

Has anyone ever in, like, whole history of all the humans ever actually met an alpha?

Or are they like snuff films?

tigtog
9 years ago

I can’t seem to find the study, but apparently there was a bonobo or chimp troupe in the wild where the alpha/dominant males were killed off because they ate a bunch of food that got them so sick that they died, and the “beta” caring males were left over instead. Instead of falling apart, the troupe actually FLOURISHED and every individual thrived.

I saw a NatGeo documentary on the group (for some reason I wanna say baboon???) and not only did they flourish, but when aggressive “alpha” male types joined the group, they were socially ostracized until they calmed the fuck down (and turned into whiteknight feminist mangina baby monkeys).

Because, go figure, AGGRESSION IS SOCIALIZED.

The observable fact that Western society in general is moving away from giving aggressive/predatory arseholes high levels of social rewards seems to be one of the things that the MRA crowd is most angry about.

Women now have their own financial resources, and they are choosing to pool those resources to form families with caring, kind, supportive and trustworthy men. That it might take us a while to get enough social and sexual experience to effectively determine who is actually a reliable partner for the long term rather than just an exciting partner for the short term is part of a rational sorting process to find the most compatible pair-bond, not a nefarious cock-carousel scheme.

howardbann1ster
howardbann1ster
9 years ago

I think I saw an alpha once.

I mean, for the actual value of alpha, as defined by the study–men raising children in monogamous relationships.

And I was totally a beta. That is, a teenager living with his parents.

But now I’m all Lone Wolf! (zoooooom!)

…only not really ‘lone wolf.’ Cuz of the roomie. But where do roomies fit in this?

We’ve formed a vicious pack of wild loners! Yeah!

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
9 years ago

We’ve formed a vicious pack of wild loners! Yeah!

That’s actually a pretty decent description of MGTOW. Now if they’d just actually go the rest of us could be all “yeah!”.

Ice
Ice
9 years ago

@howardbann1ster

We’ve formed a vicious pack of wild loners! Yeah!

Am not making a gorilla joke. Am not.

Which just randomly reminded me how, being someone who got introduced to fandom long before PUA, whenever I see discussions of alpha/beta/omega, I think this. (I… suppose that link is NWS? Kinda?) And then I laugh and laugh.

howardbann1ster
howardbann1ster
9 years ago

@Ice: I had to go back and delete that gorilla joke from my own comment like five times. I feel your pain.

Eurosabra
Eurosabra
9 years ago

If you’re going to attack tenets of the PUA worldview, and still allow me to reply, you’re going to get feedback. Clarisse Thorn has much better PUA = RAPE threads anyway, and she’s better at feminist analysis. (Clarisse is also better at opposing PUAs, and occasionally rehabilitating them, i.e. she is influencing PUAs to moderate the messages they impart to other men.)

Ugh
Ugh
9 years ago

@Eurosabra

I don’t think the point of this thread is to convince PUAs to be less horrible. It’s to mock them for believing in a whole bunch of evopsych bullshit.

“attack tenets of the PUA worldview” = put out obvious factual inaccuracies in what PUAs believe.

Ugh
Ugh
9 years ago

Because, really, if you actually believe alpha/beta describes real life human interactions and that a bunch of people advocating manipulation and date rape are part of a “worldview” than HOLY SHIT MAN you believe some stupid shit.

Ugh
Ugh
9 years ago

*then

hellkell
hellkell
9 years ago

Eurosabra, read the site header again. We’re going to mock the misogyny inherent in PUA, tough biscuits.

If Clarisse Thorn wants to analyze and rehabilitate PUAs, that’s her gig, not mine.

hellkell
hellkell
9 years ago

I’d be totally OK if you weren’t allowed to reply.

Falconer
Falconer
9 years ago

Why do I get the feeling Eurosabra just begged us not to throw him in that there briar patch?

Ugh
Ugh
9 years ago

It’s kind of funny how Eurosabra says a thread would have more value if it was meant to rehabilitate PUAs, while still defending PUA as an ideology.

Pro tip: if it’s a worthy endeavor to deprogram someone of an ideology, that ideology is probably not worth defending.

Eurosabra
Eurosabra
9 years ago

My hatred makes me strong. That is why the seraglio of my old Arab house in Jerusalem was filled with my three vampire wives.

Wait, what?

jumbofish
jumbofish
9 years ago

My hatred makes me strong. That is why the seraglio of my old Arab house in Jerusalem was filled with my three vampire wives.

Wait, what?

?????

ritsu
ritsu
9 years ago

This article talks about male wolf cubs leaving the family. But it ignores what actually happens to them. It pretends that they disappear. You could as easily say this about lions, it works out the same.

tigtog
9 years ago
Reply to  ritsu

ritsu

This article talks about male wolf cubs leaving the family. But it ignores what actually happens to them. It pretends that they disappear. You could as easily say this about lions, it works out the same.

The article pretends no such thing. If you actually follow the links to the full paper by the actual scientist who studied wolf packs in the wild for 13 years, this is what the author writes about what happens to the grown cubs (both male and female):

in the wild, most wolves disperse from their natal packs and attempt to pair with other dispersed wolves, produce pups, and start their own packs (Rothman and Mech
1979; Fritts and Mech 1981; Messier 1985; Mech 1987; Gese and Mech 1991; Mech et
al. 1998). I know of no permanent dispersers that failed to breed if they lived long
enough.

Wolves do show considerable variation in dispersal age, distance, direction, and other
dispersal behavior (see references above), and conceivably these are related to the
intralitter variation discussed above (Fox 1971b; Fox and Andrews 1973). However,
unless a maturing pack member inherits a position that allows it to breed with a
stepparent in its own pack (Fritts and Mech 1981; Mech and Hertel 1983), sooner or later
it will disperse and attempt to breed elsewhere.
Source: Mech, L. David. 1999. Alpha status, dominance, and division of labor
in wolf packs. Canadian Journal of Zoology 77:1196-1203.
Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Home Page.
http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/2000/alstat/alstat.htm
(Version 16MAY2000). (pdf)

Eurosabra
Eurosabra
9 years ago

Let’s just say there wasn’t enough diversity in women’s preferences to let me have a romantic relationship until I worked on my self-presentation and on always leading a date-type interaction in an influential manner.

The rapist bit worries me but I tend to think of them as rapists who glommed onto PUA, not that PUA causes rape or enables rapists. The (Israeli) Center for the Art of Seduction was at the center of a storm and I’ve had a zero-tolerance policy for my own part, not that anyone particularly thinks I’m a great PUA or accords me the standing in “The Community” that would let me deter abusers through the use of social capital. I have read Lisak thoroughly, and as I said, it worries me. Most of the latest insane rapey stuff involves people on whom I have no purchase, like Real Social Dynamics.

pecunium
9 years ago

Eurosabra: The rapist bit worries me but I tend to think of them as rapists who glommed onto PUA, not that PUA causes rape or enables rapists.

You wouldn’t. It’s called a defense mechanism.

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