[extropy-chat] Hating versus Loving

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Dec 19 05:53:59 UTC 2006

Keith writes

> The mismatch between the EEA and later environments can be an utter 
> disaster.  One such disaster depopulated almost all of the Colorado plateau 
> of corn farmers.  (Their response to war was to concentrate and move into 
> forts, but that put too much of their farm land out of reach, which kept 
> them in privation, which kept them in wars . . . .)

Very interesting.

> In one case, the southwest corn farmers, it killed almost the entire 
> population.  See Prehistoric Warfare in the American Southwest by Steven A. 
> Leblanc.  Privation put them into war mode, the response they made of 
> moving into forts forced them to abandon much of their farmland.  That kept 
> them in war mode till 23 of 27 groups died.  The few who were left were 
> still in war mode when the Spanish arrived hundreds of years later.

Well, it's just dandy when some people (probably not you) see
people fighting or arguing, to take the lofty attitude and exclaim
"Now you boys would be better off if you both just stopped
fighting, can't you see that?"

But please understand that it's of *no* practical help when you
say things like that to belligerents!   Of course they know that!
It's just that each of them wants the other to stop first.  (Or to
give in.  In RL, there are no "adults" around to take them by
the ears and force them stop fighting, no police to restore

This is a fundamental and very familiar phenomenon in Game
Theory.  (If I had any nerve--and was a bit superior to boot--
which I'm not--I'd say that you need to go read up more on
game theory.)  In the game matrix, one always has to consider
what one's best move is, and sometimes the unfortunate
situation is that you have no choice but to either fight or submit.

And it may not be clear which is worse!  In Lucky Situations,
which evidently the early Colorado farmers did not find
themselves in, the best move is to seek enough allies to gamble
all on a "world-takeover".  That's what Sargon did, (he who
first built an empire to take over the whole world)   Or, obviously,
another strategy is to offer an honorable peace that would be
satisfactory to both sides.

But this advice I've just given to the Colorado farmers  (One
of You Win, or Both of You Negotiate) is pablum.  It would
have doubtless been just as silly as the advice I lampooned
above;   to wit, there would come the ready and angry retort,
"You don't think we're trying???? What kind of idiots do you
take us for, anyway????  Why don't you all-wise 20th century
bed-wetting foolish persons suggest just HOW my tribe can
take over the whole plateau, or just HOW we can get rid of
the XYZ tribe or avoid being overrun by them????"

The sad fact is that it really all boils down to game theory, 
intimidation, fear, and strength.  Always has, and always will.
I guess your allusions to the EEA and to genes amount to this.
The Colorado farmers were just in a bad matrix.  It can happen.

(Yes at this moment in history, to some lofty idealists---some
who are reading this very post!--- it doesn't *seem* like it
always boils down to initimidation, fear, and strength, but
they're just living off the surplus of their ancestors who knew 
better, and who fought hard for the luxuries their descendents
now enjoy.  20th and 21st century types who always complain
about "man's inhumanity to man" are in reality just simple-
minded free-riders, who cannot fathom the sacrifices made by
earlier generations, and why they were necessary, and what
the horrific alternatives were. Bad memes seem to rule now,
at least in the West.)


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list