[ExI] Function of religions

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Tue Sep 28 04:14:52 UTC 2010

On Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 7:45 PM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org
>> [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of
>> Keith Henson
>> ...
>> population as a whole didn't change in size hardly at all, it
>> was Malthusian, living right at the limit of the ecosystem,
>> or rather the current farming technology to support it.
>> But certain groups in the population, particularly the middle
>> to upper class reproduced (spread their genes) far more than
>> the poorest class...  The selection was intense... Keith
> Keith this reminds me of a Pulitzer prize book I read a few years ago that I
> really liked, Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt.  He describes growing up in
> abject squalor, in 1930s and 1940s England.  Three of his siblings died in
> infancy or early childhood of disease, weakened by persistent shortage of
> food.  After reading that story it is easy for me to imagine how a couple
> centuries of those conditions honed and sharpened a people to a fine edge.

Dr. Clark was able to see this pattern in probated wills from about
1260 to 1800, so we are talking a lot of generations, more than the
number it took to make tame foxes out of wild ones.

It turned out that becoming well off wasn't that hard in medieval
England.  But it *did* require a set of personality traits that were
very different from those of the default human living in a hunter
gatherer society.  (Clark lists them and you can see how they
contributed to obtaining wealth.)  After looking up Frank McCourt, one
of them was probably resistance to alcohol and being less impulsive.

I suspect that northern winters were a huge selection factor before
Clark's records started being kept in 1260.

If you were a farmer and failed to get enough wood cut and enough hay
in for the animals, you *died* and your family with you in a longer
than average winter.  If you made it through because you were always
trying to stuff the barn beyond capacity, your kids repopulated the
farms where everyone froze or starved.


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