[ExI] Really? and EP

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Mon Apr 20 18:26:57 UTC 2009

On Mon, Apr 20, 2009 at 7:49 AM, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 4/20/09, Keith Henson wrote:
>> This demonstrates an appalling misunderstanding of evolution.
>>  Humans who fought when the net advantage of fighting to their genes
>>  (including copies in relatives) was negative did not (statistically)
>>  become out ancestors.
>>  Have you read *any* of the major works in the field?
> You think?  Hey, I'm not the one who loves quoting that a few hundred
> years buying stuff in shops caused evolution in the English population
> to start the Industrial Revolution.  :)

Thanks for totally misrepresenting the work of Dr Gregory Clark.  I
don't know how the rest of the list members feel about it, but it
seems below the appropriate level of discourse.

> Human have been fighting wars since humans began. And they have got
> really good at it.

> Try:  http://www.physorg.com/news140174454.html
> Quote:
>  Wars are costly in terms of lives and resources – so why have we
> fought them throughout human history? In modern times, states may
> fight wars for a number of complex reasons. But in the past, most
> tribal wars were fought for the most basic resources: goods,
> territory, and women.
> These reproduction-enhancing resources prompted our ancestors to fight
> in order to pass down their family genes. With war as a driving force
> for survival, an interesting pattern occurred, according to a new
> study. People with certain warrior-like traits were more likely to
> engage in and win wars, and then passed their warrior genes down to
> their children, which – on an evolutionary timescale – made their
> tribe even more warrior-like. In short, humans seem to have become
> more aggressive over time due to war’s essential benefits.

Read the accounts of genocide between chimpanzee groups.  I think it
is hard to make the case that humans have become more aggressive over
time.  No human would live long in a city full of chimp gangs.

But that's just *NOT* the way evolution works.  Unlimited,
non-modulated aggression, would rapidly be bred out of the race.  Why?
 Because humans have to do many other things with their time to
survive and reproduce, particularly acquiring food and mates.  Human
offspring require years of provisioning.  Unless there is serious
resource crisis, hunting (or later farming) to provide food for mates
and kids is much more likely to spread a person's genes than going off
to attack neighbors.

All too often this resulted in the attackers dieing in droves because
the attacked neighbors are just about certain to fight back,  We don't
have a lot of records of those times, but here is one:


> In their study, Stanford University scientists Laurent Lehmann and
> Marcus Feldman have presented a model showing that aggressive traits
> in males may have evolved as an adaptation to limited reproductive
> resources. Because tribal war serves as a method for appropriating
> territory and women, war may have driven the evolution of these
> traits.

It's not like humans or mammals in general need to evolve aggression,
it goes back to fish--at least.  What evolution will do is adjust when
it is turned on and off to the level most likely to be reproductively
successful over the long run.

> <snip>
> Today’s modern wars between large states, as opposed to tribal wars,
> don’t follow the same model. Rather, one of the most common
> explanations is that modern wars are fought when the benefits outweigh
> the costs, in a fairly rational way. But do the results of this study,
> showing that we are all offspring of conquerors, suggest an underlying
> primitive explanation for why we fight “rational” modern wars? Though
> it may be an intriguing idea, Lehmann doesn’t think so.
> “I don't think that our study helps in one way or another to
> understand war between states, but there are many interesting and
> relevant theories for understanding such wars that have been developed
> by economists and political scientists,” he said.
> More information: Lehmann, Laurent and Feldman, Marcus W. “War and the
> evolution of belligerence and bravery.” Proceedings of The Royal
> Society B. doi:10.1098/rspb.2008.0842.

These models are incomplete, they even admit it.  They are not a
system level model and they lack the framework provided by an
evolutionary psychology approach.

Dr. Clark's leading edge (and politically incorrect) work advances the
point that a lot of the belligerence and aggressive traits were bred
to a much lower level in stable agrarian societies over 20 plus
generations.  That's not to say that such people do not respond to
belligerence and aggression appropriately, but it's not everyday
behavior the way it is in the Yanamano.


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