[ExI] Social organization (was leftist, etc)

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Mon May 26 23:40:47 UTC 2014

There have been important advances in knowledge since the early days
of this list.  Unfortunately most of the recent arguments don't
reflect knowledge post 1990.

Evolutionary psychology by Wright, Ridley, Buss, Gat and others had a
lot of influence.

They make a case that evolution shaped human psychology during the
long period when we were hunter gatherers.  I have taken off from this
to explain the origin of war as a sensible approach to a resource
(food) crisis.  (Sensible from the viewpoint of stone age genes.)

More recently I have been particularly impressed by the work of
Gregory Clark.  His book _Farewell to Alms_ is excellent.  If you want
to read the Cliff notes version, try here:

Genetically Capitalist? The Malthusian Era, Institutions and the
Formation of Modern Preferences.

Sure, evolution shaped human psychology during the stone age.  But
Clark makes a case that for 20 generations before 1800 there was
strong selection for the traits we see in the wealthy.  Clark based
his research on historical probate records.  The same intensity of
selection over the same number of generations produced profound
psychological changes in foxes.  There is good reason to think this
happened in some human groups as well.

How does this related to my previous post?  To a considerable extent
our wealth is due to low cost energy.  As we run out and the cost
rises, humans will experience a resource crisis.  The evolved human
reaction to crisis is war or conflict such as that in Syria.  I don't
want to see that, so I work on ways to improve wealth per capita that
should lead us away from wars.


PS.  There is a fascinating article in a recent Science.  It looks
into the cultural and psychological differences for Chinese who came
from areas of China that grew one or the other.  Rice requires much
more cooperative labor than wheat.  The psychological differences are
easy to measure in the current day population from different areas in
China.  I suspect (and have suggested to the article's author) that
the effects may be measurable in their genes.

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list