[ExI] evolution and the supernatural

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Wed Feb 26 21:22:34 UTC 2020

John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com> wrote:


> Using a condom is not the best way to get your genes into the next
generation either.

No, but condoms have been around for such a short time that they have
not been a serious factor in human selection.

> Both your brain and your genes want things and sometimes
these things are different and sometimes the brain wins.

Brains are constructed by genes.  In the long run, genes get their way
by shaping what we want.


> But there must be more to it than that because countries like China, India,
America, Britain, Russia, Brazile, the Philippines and many others are more
xenophobic and totalitarian now than they were fifteen years ago, and yet
we've never been richer.

You have to be very careful in mapping stone age genetic selection to
modern behavior.

As an example, consider capture-bonding.  In the past, the
psychological mechanisms behind capture-bonding were under intense
selection.  But the social scene has changed since the stone age and
the psychological mechanisms are seldom activated.  (Thankfully.)

What trips off xenophobia and the related support for totalitarian (or
just irrational) leaders is not the absolute wealth of a population,
but the trend in wealth and the anticipation of bleak times.

" Tribes did not mathematically model the various outcomes, but our
genes have been selected to build brains that make such "genetic
cost-benefit" calculations on the basis of average expected outcome
without conscious awareness. (Capture-bonding does not involve
conscious awareness either--see Hearst's account. [10] )

" Looming privation

" In fact, our genes would have been selected to go to war with the
neighbors not when we are weak from starvation, but when we anticipate
hard times a-coming. Further, like most psychological responses, this
one is almost certainly tripped by relative changes, here in income
per capita, (originally game and berries), especially by sharp
downturns after a long ramp up (Cialdini 1984, p 249, quoting J. C.
Davies). "

>From EP, memes and war.


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