The Apex Fallacy:
..Sketching and Understanding the Distortion
(c) 2015, Davd
Here’s an exercise to help us understand how Feminists (some of them male!) can seriously believe men are privileged when we plainly are disadvantaged, why so many girls (and even boys) go into debt for college and university studies that won’t get them a job, and maybe even why so many people buy lottery tickets. Doing the exercise should help your learning by including experience—your own experience.
Name a few dozen, even a hundred people you know about but don’t know from meeting them in person. If you have time, actually write down names until you’ve listed at least fifty.
Most readers of this site are men and boys: You’ll likely list some political leaders, some sports stars, and despite listing a few especially good-looking women, a majority of men*.
Women writing their lists are likely to list more women and men, more men… and those of the opposite sex will probably be much more attractive, on average, than those who are of the same sex. Nothing unusual about that: Most people’s non-erotic time is spent more with their own sex than the opposite, we notice people who share our interests and some of those interests are mostly male or mostly female; and we notice people who attract us sexually, or could, more than those who don’t. That’s what attractive means.
Something else that’s normal: We notice the rich and privileged far out of proportion to their numbers and percentage of the total population—and men tend to notice more rich and privileged men; women, more rich and privileged women1. The Apex Fallacy combines these two biases: The attractive, the rich, the powerful, and the privileged are a far larger proportion of those we notice, than they are of the population. (We notice more ordinary people who are near us, because they are near; while we notice the spectacular, even from afar… and the ordinary people who are also far off, don’t get noticed.)
Television and “the flicks” don’t correct this misperception; they tend to reinforce it. People who watch them much more than i do, report that they present viewers with a biased sample of humanity: Better looking, wealthier, and more powerful than average. I can believe that report, partly because i did see an hour or two of the very famous, average looking, working class television series “All in the Family”, featuring Archie Bunker. Those characters were indeed less attractive-looking, powerful, and wealthy, than what i recall as the average of television personages.
So unless we discipline ourselves, our image of “humanity” will be biased—we’ll think the impressive make up a much larger part of the population than they really do. We’ll think other people enjoy more “good looks,” more power, more privilege, more wealth, than on average, they really do. That’s why it’s called the Apex Fallacy: Those at the top [apex] of the distribution of attractiveness, of power, of privilege, and of wealth, get our attention out of proportion to their numbers; and that biases our impression of the human condition upwards.
Stereotypically, men are drawn to attractive women and women to rich and powerful men2. In both cases, the Apex Fallacy gives us a false—an upwardly biased—impression of “average”. If a woman were presented with a random sample of 1000 men from the population of her countrymen, she would almost certainly be surprised how few were rich, powerful—even especially attractive. Likewise, if a man were presented with a random sample of 1000 women from the population of his country, he would almost certainly be surprised how few were impressively attractive.
Methinks rural and small-town people are less subject to the Apex Fallacy than city dwellers. They see, day to day, more people who they know and fewer who they don’t. So women who are good but not impressively attractive, are more likely to enjoy appreciation outside the big cities; as are good men who are neither powerful nor wealthy. As Satchel Paige said many years ago, “Take it easy—the fast life ain’t restful”—and he was impressive in playing major league baseball to an older age than most. His advice might be worth some attention.
The Apex Fallacy also leads to a mistaken rendering of history—“historical figures” are top figures. Describing Europe after the fall of the (Western) Roman Empire, Wells (1949) wrote,
It is not, perhaps, true to say that the world became miserable in these ‘dark ages’ to which we have now come; much nearer the truth is it to say that the violent and vulgar fraud of Roman imperialism, that world of politicians, adventurers, landowners and financiers, collapsed into a sea of misery that was already there. [pp 558-9]
Typically, history books have related the doings of kings and queens rather than those who fed, clothed and served them; and battles from the perspective of the generals rather than the soldiers—thus reinforcing the Apex Fallacy. I favour Wells’ Outline of History because he doesn’t—at least, not as badly as the average history book.
The Apex Fallacy has been mentioned, as an important phenomenon, in The Misandry Bubble…but not defined. Bernard Chapin claimed to have coined the term in 2008:
… a new term for the fallacious way by which feminists comprehend the nature of our social structure. The phrase “Apex Fallacy” sprung to mind as it elucidates fully the inaccurate fashion by which they assess the status of women in America. The error in their thinking arises from a collective refusal to acknowledge that the vast majority of male workers toil in the nether regions of our economy. These hordes of men—who make possible feminist lives of leisure—are totally invisible to the harridans who compare women, on aggregate, to the rich and famous alone. Indeed, when judging female progress, juxtaposition is only made with those males at the apex of our status hierarchy. It seems that feminists can discern none but the elite.
Chapin’s definition is somewhat more extreme, more all-or-none, than what i’ve written above. In proposing a first rendition of how the fallacy comes to be, and what it does to our impression of others and of “average” i’ve described a quantitative rather than discrete phenomenon. Feminists do not deny the existence of garbage collectors and loggers, i expect; but they notice them much less, relative to their actual proportion of the population of men, than they notice elite and High-Status men… and as men notice impressive women more than mediocre women, relative to their actual proportions of the population.*
I would not go so far as to write that Feminism is the result of the Apex Fallacy; but it is clear enough that the fallacy contributed to many women’s acceptance of the very false notion that “men are privileged”, rather than that acting to correct that notion.
When Feminists write of “male privilege,” and we know very well that women are on average, more privileged than we men—the Apex Fallacy may be a reason for some women to sincerely believe in that “male privilege”: They do not notice many, if any, ordinary men. They notice privileged men because those are the men “at the apex.”3 … and compared to their mistaken view of the economic status distribution of men, their greater awareness of ordinary women, leads to the conclusion that men are privileged.
When women consider marriage, the Apex Fallacy leads them to expect a more powerful, wealthier husband than realistically, they can get. Only a few women will be lucky enough to “catch” a man as good as their biased perception of the population of men, leads them to expect. Many women, it seems, keep looking until their own “looks” fail them, where most women in earlier generations became realistic in time to accept a husband of approximately equal social standing. Those women who keep looking too long, could be counted as victims of the Apex Fallacy.
When men “date”, the Apex Fallacy may be a reason for many of us to expect more “looks” than average. If men expect, on average, better “looks” than women have, on average—most men will be disappointed relative to their mistaken expectations. This disappointment, combined with growing awareness of men’s disadvantages in divorce law4, has led many men to avoid marriage; i have heard this especially from men in their 20s.
Marriage and “supporting a family” are major incentives for men to work longer hours and take less appealing jobs, than they would need to support themselves. When i read or hear that young men today don’t have a good work ethic, i ask myself, “Is what work ethic they have, good enough to earn the subsistence they need as single men?” If it is, then a combination of Feminist lobbying success and the Apex Fallacy, by convincing young men that marriage is too risky or not worthwhile, is very plausibly the immediate cause of that decline in diligence. Ordinary workers of both sexes, can’t be expected to think, or be motivated, in societal or macro-economic terms.
.. which may be why the two most recent mentions of the Apex Fallacy i found via a search engine, by “Kid Strangelove” in 2014 and Rollo Tomassi in 2015, were both about how to look and act Alpha [elite] and succeed at dating. There will be readers for their advice, and some of those readers will benefit5; but the importance of the fallacy as a basis for misandry, surely, is much more important. It may be a good thing if a few more men who want to, can succeed with the hypergamous women who insist on “Alphas” (and outnumber them); but it is much more important that men overall, who are not privileged, get treated accordingly—that if there be “Affirmative Action” programs they favour men in fields where women are already more numerous, help boys in schools where girls are already doing better, etc.
So how to fix the “Apexpectations”? Living in a small rural village seems to be one way; and i got the impression that an Acadian village where i spent several years, was realistic in its perceptions of the local distributions of human “looks”, power, and wealth; as was a rural neighbourhood on Vancouver Island, on the opposite edge of Canada. The Apex Fallacy seems to be more an urban phenomenon.
Even in a large city, belonging to a fairly diverse community within that city can bless one with realism.
Standing in a good church in Edmonton, i noticed dozens of married and premarital couples standing there with me; and just as a quite small minority of the men looked rich or powerful, so a quite small minority of the women looked impressively attractive. Yet the couples seemed happy with one another: The community of the church had given them a clearer view of the real distributions of human “looks”, power, and wealth; and the teachings they were there to honour told them that joy did not depend on any of the three. Freed from the Apex Fallacy, at least for the most part, they were happier with realistically humble ambitions.
The Apex Fallacy generates too-high expectations. Modest truth brought them more happiness.
But there remain millions of women who aren’t aware of the bias the Apex Fallacy represents, thousands of ideologues who won’t admit it, millions of men who think they’re privileged and are ashamed how little success they’ve got from privileges they really don’t have. Men deserve the benefit of the truth; ideologues deserve the shame they’ve been loading onto men unfairly.
This is a serious blog, an initial essay on a subject that may well merit more attention in the near future. It’s intended didactically, to give readers an awareness that the Apex Fallacy is real, and how it comes to be. It shouldn’t be the last word or the last one or two thousand words, on the subject; i have only suggested, not nearly detailed, how it affects the mistakes we make about the social world around us or specifically, about “gender relations.” It does seem to be involved in women believing the false notion that men are privileged; and it might be involved in men thinking they are low-down members of a privileged sex when they’re actually average members of an underprivileged sex.
Chapin, if his website is indeed the first place the Apex Fallacy was named, gave us the phrase and a basically sound but overly discrete expression. The Misandry Bubble made the concept widely known. This blog has made a plausible case for its general existence and psychological basis.. Now what shall we do to further develop our understanding of its effects—the examples above are only a start—and perhaps start correcting those mistakes based on a better awareness of their fallacious foundation?
* I did the exercise, myself, in June, and found the greatest difficulty was not to list people i have met, even corresponded with or spoken with over the ‘phone. … for instance, i listed one author and then had to remove his name because we have exchanged e-mails.
Most of the ordinary people i know about, i have “met” at least to that extent. I could name one of my friend Smitty’s brothers, the other, i have met fairly often. I could name a man who posted his name on the premises of his business, another who a friend patronizes and i don’t—but most of those i know by name, i have met. I know there are men who pick up the garbage and drive the snow plows, but not their names. I saw the names of the women who are bank tellers and government front desk sitters, on their desks, but since their dealings with me were stereotyped, i forgot most of them—and anyway, in some sense i have “met” them and so should leave them off the list.
The proportion of men on the list below is more than twice the proportion of women, despite the fact that i correspond and speak with men i know less well. Using the impressionistic categories “Elite” (top 1%), High Status (next 10-15%) and Workers (remaining ≥85%), i counted among those i named 20% Elite vs 1% of population; 62% High vs 10-15%; 18% workers vs at least 85%. (That exaggerates my bias toward noticing apex personages, because i named only people i have not met; and those i have met are much more like the general population in social status. Still—if i do not discipline myself to correct for the Apex Fallacy, it will mislead me, badly, as to the average human condition.)
Names tended to come in related groups—related by subject matter (writers, political figures, church figures, musicians, …) by sound of the name (Lazare Breau, then B R Merrick). I didn’t think of one “jock” — despite the women’s World Cup and the usual baseball scores coming over the radio. Didn’t remember the name of the disgraced FIFA chief, either. The ‘jocks’ i remember, like [Olympic Judo medalist] Mitch Kawasaki, i have met.
Often i thought of someone whose name i didn’t immediately recall, like the successor to Bishop Vienneau. And of course, many more names occur to me since listing those 50: The present and retired Pope, premiers like Rachel Notley and Christine “Yogi” Clark whose names didn’t come instantly to mind,—and notice that these names remembered after the exercise, are also mostly prominent personages rather than ordinary folks.
1. Doubt that? How many men notice ballet stars or fashion gurus by name? How many sports stars does an average women notice? and what fraction of them, are women? (Compared to an average man, she notices fewer sports stars and more of those she does notice are women.)
2. Women are also drawn to impressively attractive men. Some men are drawn to rich and powerful women, some ain’t.
3. The women who believe Feminist rhetoric seem more likely to be sincerely mistaken; those who write and speak it, more likely to be slyly tendentious.
4. In The Misandry Bubble, the author writes: “I cannot recommend ‘marriage’, as the grotesque parody that it has become today, to any young man living in the US, UK, Canada, or Australia. There are just too many things outside of his control that can catastrophically ruin his finances, emotions, and quality of life.“
5…. I’m not sure how many will benefit in lifetime terms, given the dangers of STDs.