Time article and letter to editor

From: Keith Henson (hkhenson@rogers.com)
Date: Sun 07 Sep 2003 - 16:43:58 GMT

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    Interesting article on the Saudis.

    Humans almost certainly have a psychological tendency to go to war with neighboring tribes when the per capita income is falling. (I.e., the game has been eaten and they are going to starve.) Even if the attacking tribe lost and every male was killed, females and children (who carried the same genes) were normally absorbed by the winners.

    In any case, evolution favored those who resorted to violence over those who quietly starved.

    A proposed mechanism to couple bad economic situations to wars is that under conditions of looming privation xenophobic memes leading to wars replicate well. This can even be seen in the US where neo-nazie movements become more common in bad times.

    Population growth rates above growth in economic productivity are highly correlated with areas where xenophobic memes induce fighting. In this is should be noted that the per capita income in Saudia Arabia has fallen by about three quarters over the past generation from smaller oil income and rapidly rising population.

    Easter Island is a long ways in both time and space from the Mid East, yet there may be a lesson in the gruesome history of that isolated place. The American Southwest about 1250 CE is another example of privation induced wars and population collapse. (See LeBlanc)

    Unfortunately, the current US administration is utterly opposed to population limiting steps that would improve the per capita income, though that probably lies behind reversing the tide of violence in Northern Ireland.

    Keith Henson

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