[extropy-chat] War Is Easy To Explain - Peace is Not

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Tue Mar 13 04:16:44 UTC 2007

At 07:43 PM 3/12/2007 -0700, you wrote:
>Keith writes
> > And *why* is there utility?  I.e., why do people fight wars at all?
>Isn't it EXTREMELY OBVIOUS why human groups fight wars
>and have conflicts???
>It was obvious even before E.P.

Maybe to you, but I certainly didn't understand it.

Re the rest of this, EP tries to explain things in terms of psychological 
traits selected in the stone age mapping into modern day behavior.  Your 
list of questions relates to things that just didn't exist in the stone age.

For example, warring groups were bands or tribes that seldom exceeded 100 
people, not nations with hundreds of millions.

>If you want to explain something, explain why
>1.  people join anti-war marches designed to *weaken*
>      their own side's prospects while an actual war is
>      going on!

There is a bell curve of how much people get infected with memes leading to 
war.  In a large population you are likely to have a group that organized 
itself to fight against those making war.  You would expect such movements 
to be more common in places were the country was not attacked and not 
really at risk.

>2.  why people cannot control their own envy towards
>      those better off than they are, even though they've
>      grown up seeing envy in all its ugly manifestations
>      all their lives!

You need a concret example here.

>3.  why humans are the peaceful primate, i.e., why per
>      thousand hours of ethnological observation, humans
>      are vastly, vastly more peaceful than any other primate.

Violent behavior is dangerous.  You should expect it to be displayed only 
where the consequences of not being violent lead to a worse outcome.

>4.  why there has been a uniform decrease of warfare per
>      living human being during the course of history

In my EP, memes and war paper I address this.  Warfare is the ultimate 
consequence of widespread perception of a bleak future.  I also would ask 
you to support your statement with a study.  My opinion is that birth 
control leads to little excess population that must be burned off.


>Those really demand explanation.
>And that's just four mysteries I have for you.  There are
>plenty more mysteries.  But why war or inter-group conflict
>exists, or why people compete, certainly are not among them.
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