Re: Looking for a name.

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Fri 26 Mar 2004 - 03:19:05 GMT

  • Next message: Francesca S. Alcorn: "Re: Looking for a name."

    At 03:23 PM 25/03/04 -0500, frankie wrote:

    >Keith wrote:


    >>Phrasing this in gene centered terms, it is a high advantage to live in a
    >>group. (If you think about it, humans who live entirely in isolated
    >>groups of one don't pass on any genes at all.) But if you do live in a
    >>cooperative group, you have to be alert for freeloaders. That means you
    >>have to put out signals that you are not a freeloader, and (along with
    >>others) punish any in the group who are taking advantage of living in the
    >>group but not doing their share. Recent research found humans have a
    >>psychological trait to punish those who take too much even when it is
    >Yes, and the conservative think-tank people play on this.

    I have never heard of conservative think-tank people using evolution or gene based arguments. An awful lot of them are creationists. If you have pointers to such I would appreciate them.

    >But even if you could tell the difference between the deserving poor
    >(people who have lost their jobs due to the vicissitudes of the economy -
    >and there's a few of them out there.) and the undeserving poor (Marvin
    >Olasky's terms, not mine) - what then? Do we just sit around and watch
    >them starve to death? I think that we are also pretty hardwired to
    >respond to people in distress, and that is also "too socially beneficial
    >for us to want to violate it".

    I agree about the hardwiring. But that hardwiring was evolved into us in a tribal environment where the people you were likely to see starving were related to you. It is hard to violate it, I remember one vivid story of a French guy's week or so of experiences in India. The guy was a wreck because he could not switch off the sights and sounds of droves of extreme poor, nor could he do anything that had more than the most transient effect.

    >I know that it is possible to over ride that, or there would be no Kitty
    >Genovese and no roman coliseum, but I think it is dangerous to the whole
    >group to allow it to go too far.

    That's true, there are also conditions where society just comes apart. The worst example I know of is what happened on Easter Island when the population built up over a few centuries to the point they ruined the ecology. The general consensus is that they split into the long ears and the short ears and went at each other with rocks for a generation or two, reducing the population to 5% of the peak.

    >We generally respond with horror when we hear stories about things like
    >that, and with good reason.
    >And the politics of welfare really do allow you to look at conflicting
    >drives, and how memes can "activate" them. Certain people might be more
    >susceptible to memetic activation of one type of drive, while others might
    >be more susceptible to others. Maybe this is what makes me a
    >bleeding-heart liberal and my one of my best friends a
    >nuke-em-to-the-stone-age conservative.

    If you have not read Born to Rebel : Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives, by Frank J. Sulloway you might want to. Here is a review that liked it,

    and one that didn't.

    Keith Henson

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