[ExI] super bowl and EP

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Sun Feb 6 06:29:39 UTC 2011

On Sat, Feb 5, 2011 at 9:27 AM, Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sat, Feb 5, 2011 at 5:00 AM,  Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Football IS the new opiate of the masses!! How's that for blasphemy against
>> sports?
> Since all human behavior depends on evolved psychological mechanisms,
> it would be interesting to understand the origins of sports in such
> terms.
> Sometimes the links lead strange places.  For example, BDSM being an
> outcome of strongly selected capture-bonding psychological mechanisms.
> I have not given much thought to selection of psychological mechanisms
> that today manifest in sports fans.
> If anyone wants to try, the rule is that the selection of whatever is
> involved had to happen in the stone age or, if post agriculture, it
> need to be rather strong.

Keith, I think the evolutionary roots of sport are quite easy to surmise.

First, human beings are highly evolved as runners. According to
Dawkins, there were over 20 different evolutionary advances between
the high apes and human beings that lead directly to our excellence as
long distance runners. From the loss of hair and sweat glands to
changes in the hip structure, we were born to run. Many primitive
tribes participate in persistence hunting.


In addition to persistence hunting, our ancestors were involved in
many other types of hunting that required significant physical skill,
particularly in running, throwing, fast judgment, and other elements
that we see in today's sport.

Since we learn from watching others, it is pretty easy to imagine
young hunters going out and watching older hunters track down prey.
The leap from there to sports seems pretty small. If you put the Roman
Coliseum as an intermediate step, it is even easier to see the
progression, and to understand the evolutionary pressure that would
lead us to want to watch others participate in "sporting" activities.
If you weren't interested in watching, you wouldn't learn to hunt as
well, your children would not be born, selection pressure is applied.
Viola, 1000 generations later, everyone is very interested in sports.

Over the past 200 years or so, as the influence of religion has
decreased in the populace, the political elite have resorted to the
Roman bread and circuses method for quelling the masses. Religion can
no longer maintain the hold on the masses that it did during the
middle ages, so something has to take the place, or many things.
Television, sports, ipods, etc. All of these things keep us from
rebelling against 40%+ tax rates that would have driven any previous
generation to charge Washington with flaming pitch forks. It is only
in our abundance that we can accept the level of government
confiscation of private property that we accept in our current
political system.

As we move to the future, and even more abundance, I predict that tax
rates will continue to go up. Not a real stretch as predictions of the
future go of course :-)


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