[ExI] EP in 10 Easy Steps

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sat Oct 6 04:34:14 UTC 2007

Keith writes

> At 03:30 PM 10/5/2007, Jeff Davis wrote:
>> ...I've returned to the question "What in the human animal
>> makes this "brain/behavioral disease possible?"   My jumping-
>> off-point is tribalism and the peer pressure/echo chamber of
>> the mob, but I want more substance.  I would
>> like to hear from the EP folk
> I guess I am the resident EP guy, though if there are others, please speak up.

Okay  :-)

> You are right about "tribalism and the peer pressure/echo chamber of 
> the mob" but you need to go back even further and think about the 
> genes that built humans with such traits.

Yes, I like Jeff's comment as well. We may speculate that (especially
with the web today) when one has a hunch it's all too easy to find
supporting evidence (and, alas, emotionally gratifying substantiation).
Though, to be fair to the web, in free countries for a long time
it's been possible to find literature that supports your views if you look
hard enough, support that seems to offer good explanations that fit
with your hunch.

Keith writes

> So you need rephrase such questions into how the trait you are 
> thinking about could have made a difference in the reproductive 
> success of our ancestors...
> Jumping to the conclusion that a bush  shaking was due to a bear 
> wasn't a bad idea when there were bears in the bushes.  That
> extended to hearing from someone else there was a bear in the
> cave or the next valley.

Yes! The rumors engage our rational facitities because they provide
what seem to be good explanations.  So the very technique of 
learning that is *so* useful in other situations, e.g., I myself don't
need to serve time in prison if I can learn what the situation is
from someone who has and profit thereby, or I don't need to touch
a hot stove if I hear my big brother yelp when he does, this useful
technique is naturally two-edged, and one simply can pick up a
lot of bad info if one is not discriminating and skeptical.

> Now if something like this is an evolved behavior trait in humans, it 
> isn't hard to see how vivid and memorable stories (memes) of bears 
> [class dangerous] could spread among people and how it would be hard 
> to correct them, especially when part of the meme is "don't trust the 
> authorities," and you don't have any personal way to see the bear has 
> left the cave.
> Belief in these sorts of stories isn't likely to threaten your 
> survival or reproductive success even today.

Yes, but sometimes it's really very *helpful* to believe these stories.
As I said, one really needs to develop better and better abilities of
discrimination and skepticism, to separate the wheat from the chaff.

All I can say is that I hope that over a lifetime one gets better at 
making such discriminations, because I see no easy black and white
answers here.


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