Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Conformity in parents carefully explained

(Comment: by daughter, I mean mostly to exclude adult daughters; I am mainly speaking of adolescent and teenage daughters in a society with reasonable age of consent laws, the idealistic case, being more relevant one may hope to future generations. Also, for those unfamiliar with statistics, an estimator of males is unbiased if the males of a particular worth are going on average to be estimated at that worth. Such an estimator is not at all going to be a best or risk minimizing estimator.)

Looking back at my past few posts for my explanation of why parents tend more to be conformist in parenting than children are in living, it occurred to me my explanation might be a little sparse in its details. Indeed, upon rereading, it took a whole hour or so for me to understand and recollect my reasoning—how to look at things in the right way. And I wrote it just a week or so earlier! So I clarify. But first I go over the various considerations that might predict when exactly a mother could influence her (young) daughter’s sexual decisions.

There are some matters regarding sex in which it is right that girls conform to their parents' understanding. For instance, even a girl who wants to be true to her own true nature in making her sexual decisions should see that if she is uncertain about a decision, then the opinions of her parents, each being genetically half her after all, can inform her decision in such a way as to make the girl's decision more likely to be that of her own true nature. People aren't just products of their genetic makeup, they are also products of their environment, yet what people should tend to be true to is their own genetic makeup. Accordingly, to encourage her own decisions to be more reflective of her own true nature and to be less reflective of the external influences of the noise of undesired circumstance, a girl if reasonable will refine her sexual decisions with the opinions of her family.

If a girl considers herself to have lived a free, clean life and doesn't at all feel like she has been a victim, then of course her own true nature will be much more reflected by her own opinions than by those of her parents. Accordingly, when a girl considers herself full of innocence (an opinion likely to be largely derived from her parents' opinions of her), she shouldn't much weight the opinions of her parents as to her sexual decisions (of course, given a particular weight a girl has ascribed to her parents' opinion, the more the parents' estimation of a male differs from her own estimation of him, the more her refined opinion of him will depend upon her parents' unbiased estimation, but that is a different matter, following merely from weighted averaging really being a kind of averaging.) The interesting consideration is what happens when parents' opinions of a male differ very much from a daughter's opinions. (It is still interesting to note the importance of being clear-headed about the Bayesian statistics involved, though. For instance, a girl could barely not want to have sex with a guy and a parent barely could not want her to have sex with a guy, and then, after they learn each others' opinions, they could quite reasonably both want the girl to have sex with him. This could be valid statistical reasoning, since each before could be biasing their estimation with knowledge of how the worth of males is distributed; viz., males worthy of having sex with girls are rare, so it is much more likely that an unbiased estimate of a male's worth that suggests or almost suggests such a high worth be an overestimate than an underestimate. Thus, the typical choosy mother's (biased) estimate of a rather desirable male will likely be less than her unbiased estimate of him. But only if the mother's unbiased (with respect to her knowledge of the prior distribution of male worthiness in the general population) estimate of a male suggests that her daughter shouldn't want sex with him should that discourage the daughter from wanting him; otherwise, it should have quite the contrary effect (even if because upon considering that truly worthy males are rare the mother had decided just using her own reasoning that the daughter shouldn't have sex); typically a mother has to want her daughter to have a man much less than the daughter wants to have sex with him in order to be able to change her daughter’s decision about having sex with him.

Let us first suppose that a girl, before refining her opinions of a male with those of her parents, wants sex from some male, and that the mother, before refining her opinion with that of her daughter, is that the male is an undesirable jerk. In this case, the mother is likely to believe that her daughter is messed-up, and so to an unusual degree possesses opinions not reflective of her daughter’s own true nature. The daughter will probably believe her mother (especially if the daughter believes her mother is not generally deluded or messed-up), because, obviously, messed-up people might be supposed to be not particularly effective at unbiasedly estimating their own messed-upped-ness. It follows that the daughter will refine her opinions of the male heavily by those of her mother; and since these latter opinions would be not only heavily-weighted, but also vastly different from those of the daughter, the daughter will very reasonably refine her estimate of what her own true nature wants to such a large degree that she no longer will want sex with the male, who with a great probability is obnoxious. Especially does this downward refining seem reasonable because females know intuitively that it is more common for unbiased females to greatly overestimate the worth of a male unbiasedly judged desirable than to greatly underestimate it, which makes greatly overestimating a male's worth quite a risk. This refining is obviously a good thing, and one rather wishes that things always happened so reasonably. At any rate, the tendency is for a mother to effectively control her daughter’s mating when she believes strongly her daughter shouldn’t mate with the male under consideration.

On the other hand, when a girl would not wish to have sexual relations with a male whom the mother would want her daughter to have sex with, the situation is a little different from a merely opposite phenomenon. Sexual impurity is largely a black-and-white phenomenon—a girl is either into sodomy or she isn’t; it follows that if a girl is overestimating a male’s worth, very possibly she is overestimating it a great deal. This black-and-whiteness also follows from the reinforcing nature of delusions; the more deluded a girl is, the more confusion makes her vulnerable to further delusions from seducers, whereas the more a male has (by mostly being honest) made her wise, the more difficult it will be for him to lie to her at all. But girls disliking sex excessively is less black-and-white. A girl who fails somewhat to unbiasedly appreciate a male’s sexual worth is going to be much more common than a girl who fails drastically to unbiasedly appreciate a male’s sexual worth; i.e., mathematically, one could say that the distribution of the parameter of male worthiness (as defined by a girl's true nature) corresponding to a particular high unbiased estimate that she can make will be skewed to the left.

Occasionally, a girl might from an excess of puritanical superstition reject a male whom the mother would want her to have sex with, but if the mother doesn’t have that puritanical excess, it is not particularly likely that the daughter possesses it unless she considers her mother screwed-up, but then if she does think her mother screwed-up, the daughter would not have been likely to take her mother’s opinions seriously anyway. So you wouldn’t expect very many mothers to be able to convince their excessively puritanical daughters into sex unless the daughter already almost desired it.

Similarly, if on account of the daughter being too screwed-up to appreciate what is good sex, the daughter doesn’t want to have sex with the male the mother would want the daughter to have sex with, the mother’s influence upon her daughter does not per se stem from the mother’s opinion differing drastically from that of her daughter but from the daughter believing she is screwed-up on account of that being the opinion of her mother. In any event, it is rare that a mother who thinks a male much more desirable than her daughter does is going to be able to convince the daughter to have sex with him. If the daughter’s opinion of the male is high to begin with, then the difference would entail the mother having a truly extraordinary liking of the male, so extraordinary as to be, well, rare—rare even among women who want their daughter to have sex. On the other hand, if the difference in opinion is great on account of the daughter having a below average opinion of the male, then because the daughter in making her decision is likely to take a kind of average of her opinion and her mother’s opinion, the mother’s opinion of the male again would have to be a truly extraordinary opinion in order for her opinion to make a difference in her daughter’s decision. It is very rare that a mother whose opinion of a male differs radically from her daughter’s opinion of him succeeds in convincing her daughter to have sex with him.

To sum, the important, useful, less infrequent phenomena are a mother convincing her daughter not to have sex with a male the mother likes much differently (i.e., much less) than the daughter and a mother convincing her daughter to in fact have sex with a male the mother likes a similar amount to the daughter. The latter sort of control is much less appreciated than the former, and I think that is because in a way it is not control at all. Indeed, the latter situation in all great likelihood implies a mother’s respect for her daughter’s sexual innocence so great that the sense of ease the daughter feels at knowing her mother thinks her sexual desires, be what they may, are not at all screwed-up would in itself push the daughter over the edge and into bed with the desired male. No reason, really, why a mother who wants her daughter to have sex should try to force her daughter to change more directly her feelings, when all the mother has to do is, say, rub the daughter’s shoulders while (she) the daughter is obviously lusting for the male under consideration, and maybe say how pretty and innocent she looks. Sometimes a sledge-hammer approach is not the best one!

Now let us go to the question at hand, namely, why it would be expected that a mother would tend to be more conformist than her daughter(s) in deciding whether her daughter(s) should have sex presently.

In parents as in children, the tendency to be non-conformist arises largely at the gene level. An allele coding for parenting authenticity (or what amounts to almost the same thing, an allele coding importunately for a parenting trait, i.e., so strongly that desires the allele produces must be heeded regardless how many people would heed it) in a parent has a fifty-fifty chance of being passed on to a child. In the case the allele is not passed down, it is of no consequence to the allele what happens to the child, and hence of no consequence whether parenting encouraged by the allele be conformist or not, so we can ignore that case. In the case the allele is passed down, the advantages and disadvantage of the allele being authentically coded for are (so far as the allele is concerned) exactly the same as would be the case if the parent shared all her DNA with that of her child. It follows, therefore, that the consequences to a parent of authenticity are exactly the same as those to a child. If a mother is authentic and true to herself in deciding how to influence her daughter’s sexuality, she will on average encourage selection and evolution of wise parenting traits (that code for wise influence on daughters’ mating decisions) in descendants; on the other hand, by being conformist, she will on average have more successful children (if a woman is not screwed up, she will on the contrary actually do better on average by not being conformist, but this is just because even the wisest clean people tend to insanely overestimate their screwedupness, and such an estimation tends quite understandably to produce conformity). Moreover, these effects will be in the same proportion as would be the case when making decisions about your own mating. What then is the difference? Why do parents tend to be more conformist than daughters when it comes to daughters having sex? The difference is that being able to influence your daughters’ sexual behavior in the proper way is not as useful a skill as being able to influence your own sexual behavior in the right way. On average, in a society with a stable population, a person will have the same amount of his genetic material in children as in herself (this will hold exactly when someone has two children). But only about half of children are daughters. Therefore, influencing your daughters’ mating decisions really is only about half as useful as influencing your own mating decisions. (Thinking of parenting as an influence on all childrens’—not just daughters’—mating decisions gives a similar result for different reasons, i.e., a mother would have to share the influence with that of the mother of the prospective mate, again making it half as useful; similarly, including the father’s say over mating doesn’t change the conclusion in this context.) A gene that is half as useful as another gene is only going to put about half as much weight in encouraging its own evolution. So far as its survival is concerned, however, it wants that all the same as much. Parents tend to be conformist in deciding how to influence their daughters’ sexual decisions because the genes coding for these parenting traits only care half as much about being authentic as does a gene that regulates one’s own sexual behavior.

Just because parents tend to be conformist in parenting, it doesn’t mean necessarily that this creates tension between parents and daughters, however. In fact, there is tension, but not all of it results from parents inappropriately trying to make a daughter inauthentic; in fact, some of the tension involves daughters inappropriately trying to make their parents inauthentic. Careful discrimination of the various cases is required. On the one hand, to the extent daughters considering sex want to be authentic to their own genetic nature, daughters will tend to weigh less their parents’ (more conformist) opinions than the parents themselves would want. Ideally, girls in making their mating decisions largely would be authentic to their own genetic material. But what a mother selfishly would want would be for her daughter to be authentic to that part of the daughter’s genetic material that her daughter shares with herself. A daughter, quite reasonably, and for the greater good, is not going to want to weight her mother’s opinion as much as her mother would want her to, because presumably half her mother’s opinion is formed by genetic material that actually is not present in her. When this sort of tension arises, it is ideal that it should be considered proper that the daughter not submit to any attempts by the mother to enforce her will over her daughter. Such an upset mother should be viewed as excessively controlling. An exception is when the appropriateness of a sexual decision made by a daughter depends largely upon whether some conclusion believed by the daughter because her mother believed it in fact is true. Such a situation I discussed in my last post, the poem—whether a girl’s extreme lust for a man is reckless or quite the contrary depends mainly on the chances of various levels of depravity in him, and daughters in evaluating absence of depravity effectively tend to rely more on their parents’ opinions than their own opinions. And just as mothers don’t appreciate sufficiently the importance of decisions properly mostly made by daughters reflecting their daughters’ true natures, daughters tend not to appreciate sufficiently the importance of decisions properly mostly made by parents reflecting their parents’ true natures. The genetic material a mother has which is not shared by her daughter will fortunately not care if a parenting decision made by the mother is authentic or not. But the genetic material which a daughter has disjointly from that of her mother will in fact unfortunately care about the mother being authentic—very probably it would prefer the mother to make conformist less idiosyncratic decisions, it not caring about the fast evolution of the genetic material it is together with, but just (genewise) the fast evolution of itself. There is a sense, then, in which daughters undesirably will excessively want to rely on their parents’ opinions more as a faithful indicator of standard opinion than as an extra indication of what her own (the daughter’s) true genetic nature desires. This cause of a daughter’s desire for parental conformity to standard dogma perhaps won’t in itself cause daughters to push heavily for more normalcy in parents, because such normalcy would tend to cause an increased tension between parent and daughter if the daughter should want sex (and such tension exists because, as we have seen, parents tend to excessively want to be controlling). But at any rate, parents will want to be authentic as parents more than their daughters will want them to be so. This leads to a very subtle point which it is quite important to be clear about. On the one hand, daughters undesirably tend to want their parents to be more normal as parents. But on the other hand, parents undesirably tend to want to control their daughters sexual behavior, with perhaps a few exceptions (daughters’ lust being perhaps one or almost one), more than their daughters want them to control it. Parents tend to be excessively conformist as parents, but ironically, daughters tend to want their parents to be more conformist than the parents do, notwithstanding this conformity is likely to make for arguments between daughters and parents. So it is not quite so simple to just blame parents for their excess conformity.

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