RE: Mechanism for wars (was transmission)

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Thu 15 May 2003 - 23:08:49 GMT

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    At 08:14 AM 15/05/03 -0700, you wrote:
    >Keith wrote:
    ><<My recent arguments about natural selection for memetic mechanisms that
    >lead humans to wars in tight economic times didn't generate much
    >comment. QED it must be mainstream. :-)>>
    >I've been thinking about it and thought it was very interesting, so I
    >naturally didn't reply. :)

    Heh. I figured that would happen.

    ><<The connection to memetics is that under early privation conditions memes
    >that dehumanize other tribes do well spreading and motivating a tribe to
    >make war against another tribe. There is probably suppression of rational
    >thought involved in these mechanisms because (on average) your genes do
    >better win *or lose* and rational thoughts would certainly get in the way
    >of doing the right thing for your genes if "the right thing" meant almost
    >certain death. (I.e., attacking a stronger tribe.)
    >Please take a careful look at the logic here. I think it is airtight and
    >the conclusion is just stunning.>>
    >Given that the best game-theoretic strategy is to go all-out win or lose,
    >whatever unites and aligns the people will aid survival. If these UT memes
    >trigger strong emotion that paves the way for action, it all makes sense.

    Un-Thinking, hmm. The situation is even worse. I would estimate the induced state from the turned on mechanisms is an active deterrent to thinking, especially about consequences of actions. I see this in cult members, though different (or related) mechanisms may be involved.

    It is fairly clear that a person has to be in an extreme state to do what the 9/11 hijackers did. I wonder if most people can be induced to this state or if you have to sift through a lot of people to find people who will undertake suicidal attacks? Evolutionary psychology arguments based on the above indicate it should be all too common.

    ><<Fortunately we don't see this gene-selected psychological mechanism turned
    >on in the western countries very often because (due to low birth rates) we
    >don't see a lot of declining income per capita. But the Saudis have seen
    >per capita income fall from 28k per person to 7k in the past
    >generation. The rest of the Islamic world is not doing a much better.>>
    >So the best way to wage the war on terrorism is to aid foreign economies?

    It was just happenstance that the Saudis were sitting on all that oil. You can make a case that they have been the largest recipients of aid ever, for sure the per capita money that went to the Saudis for oil is vastly larger than any aid to Israel, and which society is more viable?

    I dislike saying this, but displacing substantial parts of their culture with aspects of secular western culture is the only thing that comes to mind. It would be interesting to speculate how this might be done.

    Keith Henson

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