[extropy-chat] Usefulness of Anger and Hate

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Fri Dec 15 16:18:43 UTC 2006

At 04:45 PM 12/14/2006 -0800, Lee wrote:
>Keith writes
> > [Jef wrote]
> > > The hate dynamic tends toward immoral actions
> >
> > What we feel is "immoral" has been shaped by evolution in the stone
> > age.  It is, for example, considered immoral to kill close relatives while
> > it is considered entirely moral to kill attackers who are trying to kill
> > those close relatives.  Exactly what you would expect from genes that are
> > rationally "trying" to get into the next generation.
> >
> > In times of low stress, that is the food supply looks to be ok into the
> > foreseeable future, and your tribe is not under attack, what we consider
> > immoral widens.
>Yes, that's right.  Quite a number of behavioral traits including kindness,
>generosity, and even loyalty and honesty are, alas, luxuries that due to
>our wealth today we can afford, but which many of our ancestors could
>not afford.

I suggest you have not read enough anthropology.  Loyalty comes out most 
strongly in combat groups, and I don't see kindness,
generosity and honesty being correlated with wealth.  (Enron for example.)

> > > because hate motivates
> > > narrower context decision-making, evaluating consequences over narrower
> > > scope of possible agents and possible interactions.
> >
> > That's a better technical wording to the way I usually put it.  I just say
> > that xenophobic memes and the mental state they induce (hate) interferes
> > with the parts of the mind that do rational thought.
>What is not clear to me is how the "rational thought" that you
>are referring to here relates to the values of the hater, or in
>general an actor.

I have no idea of what you might be referring to by "values of the 
hater."  Hate, like other intense emotional states, tends to interfere with 
a person's ability to think.  Panic does that as well, which is why you get 
lots of people killed in fires where the building doors open to the inside.

>Could you provide an example where
>the xenophobia, say, was *irrational*?

Xenophobia induced by xenophobic hate memes *had* a function in the stone 
age.  It induced a closely related group of warriors facing bad times 
(starvation) to attack neighbors in an attempt to have their gene line 
prosper.  Inducing a state where warriors were willing to take a high 
chance of dying was rational from the *gene's* viewpoint if not so rational 
from the viewpoint of dead warriors.

Because we don't now live in closely related groups and fight for them, 
xenophobia induced by xenophobic hate memes isn't rational even for genes 
today.  You still may have to kill hopped up warriors coming after you, you 
might even have to destroy them as a people or nation, but hating them is 
pointless because it interferes with your ability to think.


>Surely you mean,
>don't you, that it merely conflicts with some other also-EEA-
>adapted values?
> > A really short approach is hate makes you stupid.
> >
> > snip
> >
> > Of course the *reason* these mechanisms evolved is that (pre birth 
> control)
> > humans lacked other ways to keep the population inside the ability of the
> > ecosystem to feed them.
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