Re: War Gods?

From: Chris Taylor (
Date: Wed 10 Mar 2004 - 09:52:24 GMT

  • Next message: Chris Taylor: "Re: War Gods?"

    This is daft -- the thing you're employing as an established premise is the most contentious thing in there -- you *have* to *prove* that this is a genetically controlled response to have a leg to stand on (which you can't). Otherwise you're just in there with Ted -- swapping ideas about posited black boxes we can't open. If the article had used 'may be' instead of 'is' it wouldn't irk me so.

    "Humans have evolved a psychological response"
    "Genes inducing suicidal behavior"
    "this evolved psychological mechanism"

    And as for this being the root of (most) war; I think you'll find the greed of the 'haves' at the core of most wars, rather than the deprivation of the 'have nots'. Diamonds, oil, columbo-tantalite, lebensraum when you already have lots of raum for your leben...

    Anyway seeing as you wouldn't answer my points without my having read the article, I'll try to make time to read it and then pass criticism back if you'll be good enough to point me at the latest draft.

    I hope there's something empirical to back up what, from the abstract, sounds like an opinion piece. All this stuff about switching things on, and evolved behaviours (and I am assuming you mean classically evolved, therefore genetic and 'hard-wired') is otherwise a just so story -- and frankly I don't care how long it's been out there, or who else 'likes' it (cf. Judaism etc.).


    Keith Henson wrote:

    > Stockholm Syndrome, more descriptively capture-bonding, is a
    > conditionally switched on evolved psychological trait humans have. See
    > for discussion re this
    > trait and the attention-reward mechanism (awkward terms, I know).
    > I need suggestions for what to call the psychological mechanism(s) that
    > induce humans (and chimps) into making organized war on other groups
    > either as a result of being attacked or due to xenophobic memes
    > amplified by privation/looming privation conditions. Shorter terms
    > based on Greek or Latin roots for war or war gods would probably be
    > better. Best suggestions to date have been based off Mars.
    > I am not far from having the first draft of this article done. If any
    > are interested in reviewing the draft, send me a note.
    > Keith Henson
    > **********
    > Evolutionary Psychology, Memes, The Origin of War, Empowering Women
    > (Tentative title)
    > By H. Keith Henson
    > Our ancestors always lived close to their ecological limit, an unstable
    > upper bound for how many hominids (or lions or tigers or bears) an
    > environment can support. When reproduction pushes populations over the
    > limit or the limit fluctuates down because conditions vary, part of the
    > population will die, typically by starvation. Humans have evolved a
    > psychological response to looming starvation; a mechanism that induced
    > tribes to make war on nearby tribes. The psychological response
    > increases the circulation of xenophobic memes among groups facing
    > privation. Xenophobic memes break down the normal reluctance of humans
    > to attacking other humans and synchronize warriors of one tribe to
    > attack another. Genes inducing suicidal behavior in the (male) members
    > of a weak tribe attacking a strong tribe had a selective advantage
    > because the losing tribe's young females (carriers of those genes) were
    > usually incorporated into the winning tribe. From a gene's perspective
    > this was better than starvation. In war situations self-preserving
    > (rational) behavior has not been favored by selection. I.e., "stupid"
    > decisions should be expected.
    > Being attacked turns on a related psychological response, rapidly
    > inducing xenophobia and a fighting response even in groups not facing
    > starvation.
    > With appropriate mapping (looming starvation/privation into expected or
    > actual declining income per capita) this evolved psychological mechanism
    > accounts for the origin of most (if not all) historical wars. While war
    > was adaptive for hunter-gatherer level societies, war is poorly adapted
    > for human societies above that level.
    > Inherent in this model is a prescription for avoiding wars: keep income
    > per capita rising or at least not falling for *all* human groups.
    > Population growth itself does not lead to wars, but population growth in
    > excess of economic growth does. Empowering women to limit births to a
    > level below economic growth appears to be a key to avoiding wars or
    > ending long running conflicts.
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see:

      Chris Taylor (
      MIAPE Project --
    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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