[ExI] Rick Warren on religion (Stuart LaForge

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Sat Dec 15 22:32:41 UTC 2018

Keith Henson wrote:

> As for it being a single trait, if you want to measure a number of
> traits, you do it one at a time.
> Capture-bonding is one of the few psychological traits that have an
> obvious selection mechanism.
> We don't have the time machine to go back and see, so this is entirely
> academic  But I do wonder what others you would put in a list to see when
> they emerged.?

Well I would interpret cultural innovations as novel psychological traits.
A concrete example would be our affinity for fire. We are one of the few
animals on earth that use fire. In order to tame it, we had to overcome
our instinctive fear of it. That qualifies as a psychological adaptation
as much as anything.

Then for the rest we just go down the line. What is the first evidence of
art, of burial, of writing, of compound tools, simple machines, of dance,
of music. Essentially document anywhere you can find the oldest physical
evidence of a cultural meme.

>> So the only hard evidence Keeley has is 59 skeletons 24 of which were
>> killed by violence.
> He has a lot more:
> For example, at Crow Creek in South Dakota, archaeologists found a
> mass grave containing the remains of more than 500 men, women, and children
> who had been slaughtered, scalped, and mutilated during an attack on their
> village a century and a half before Columbus's arrival (ca. 1325 AD).

That is definitely not the Stone Age. That is the Post-Classic period
marking the aftermath of the collapse of the Mayan Empire. It is the
period of maximum violent death in the new world as the Medieval Period
was in the old world although not quite as bad - 10% versus 12%. Both for
the same reason in that they both occur in the aftermath of the fall of
relatively violent long-lived empires. The Mayans in the west and the
Romans in the east. Both empires had higher than average violent death
percentages of about the same range. 5% percent for the Mayans vs 6% for
the Romans in the Classical versus Iron Age.

>> On the other hand, one planet can only sustain so many of us sacred
>> monkeys when even the insects are dying. So we are going to have to make
>>  some tough choices soon. But a war to thin the herd is not the best or
>>  only option.
> I would really like to know what you consider other options.

Different folks have different options. Whose options are you asking me to
consider? Mine? Yours? The governor's? Trump's? Putin's?

War is a nice one syllable word, but it is no longer a tenable solution to
the overpopulation problem. This is because of the way modern wars are
fought. Any war catastrophic enough to make a dent in global human
populations would severely deplete our remaining resources, shatter what
was left of our fragile ecosystem, and change the climate drastically. The
survivors of such a war would enter a new dark ages making it a war with
no victory for anyone.

No, culture got us into this mess and culture is going to have to get us
out of this mess. It will take numerous small measures. Small steps toward
an enlightened goal.

Start with a small thing. Strike all laws against suicide and assisted
suicide off of the books. Anybody who wants off the ride should be allowed
off the ride with as humane and painless methods as science can provide.

Next, give natural selection back its teeth. Eliminate this obsession with
safety that modern society has. If people want to ride motorcycles without
helmets or free-climb skyscrapers, let them. People should be allowed to
risk their own lives to whatever end they so desire that does not harm

Next, I could imagine changing welfare laws to pay a flat rate rather than
offering a per child incentive. Same with taxes. I would eliminate tax
breaks or tax credits for children unless the children were adopted.

Further measures could be considered as needed all the way up to full
blown science-fiction scenarios. But my point is that a gradual decline in
population is preferable to a sudden drop.

And culture gives us the soft tools to do precisely that. Also this
current generation of teenagers is already the least promiscuous of any
since we started keeping track, so I am hopeful.

Something you should consider is this. In the oceans our role as top
predator is shared by one species Orcinus orca the aptly named killer
whale. A creature that effortlessly kills great white sharks to dine on
their livers and some of the smartest creatures on this planet.

There is zero evidence in the literature of killer whale on killer whale
violence ever. And there are very few documented cases of orca attacks on
people. And the few that are documented are usually captive whales
attacking their captors. This is an animal that eats dolphins and other

What limits their numbers except us or them? What can they teach us about
culture and population balance?

Stuart LaForge

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