[ExI] psychology and evolution

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Fri Apr 24 17:04:33 UTC 2020

Having a god dictate to you is far more impressive than having a chief or
shaman tell you what to do.  So to answer the question posed to the leader
"What makes you so special?" is answered by a god or gods telling the
leader what to do.  Being directly in touch with a god is an awesome thing,
and if you can get people to believe that, you can ask of them anything,
including human sacrifice.

You start off treating your parents as authorities, then by generalization
your other relatives, then tribal leaders and ultimately the tribe's gods.
Just generalization is all that is needed to explain this sequence.

I probably could get some data to support this (but haven't):  I suspect
that more people are authoritarian than libertarian and contrarian.  'All
we like sheep....'

bill w

On Thu, Apr 23, 2020 at 5:43 PM Keith Henson via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

>  Ben Zaiboc <ben at zaiboc.net> wrote:
>  snip
> > I always thought that religion was the result of our desire to
> understand how the world works, but kind of gone wrong.
> Selection occurs only by individuals failing to reproduce.  (Often by
> dying.)
> For some trait to become as widespread as religion, at some point in
> our past having this trait made a big difference in survival.  For the
> traits behind capture-bonding, the selection forces are obvious.
> Captives who did not bond to captors did not reproduce, most likely
> they were killed.  This selection was around 10% per generation and
> the result is the trait is widespread if not nearly universal.
> I am at a loss to imagine how the psychological traits behind religion
> were directly selected.  In addition, what we now consider religions
> have not been around long enough to cause this selection.
> When you can't come up with a direct selection story (which you can't
> for drug addiction) then you need to consider an indirect selection.
> Wars provide enough evolutionary selection to make those psychological
> traits close to universal.  But the selection path between
> psychological traits for wars and those for religion is not obvious.
> I suppose that the psychological traits that allow the warriors to get
> whipped up on xenophobic memes and go off to kill neighbors might also
> make them vulnerable to religions.  A lot of religions seem to have
> xenophobic origins.
> When you invoke Darwinian selection for a psychological trait that has
> become widespread, you have to consider strong selection over a
> considerable time.
> Keith
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