From: Scott Chase (email@example.com)
Date: Mon 17 May 2004 - 23:47:39 GMT
Keith Henson wrote:
Ever since the human line discovered the high tech life (chipped rocks,
later fire) they have over-populated and over-exploited their
environment with period of about a generation. At 2.5 million years
since chipped rock and 25 years a generation, this happened 100,000
times to our ancestors. Also, weather glitches would suddenly drops
the carrying capacity of the human ecologic niche on an irregular basis.
There's a new "doom and gloom" movie coming out, the mother of all
disaster films, called "The Day after Tomorrow" which looks like it
explores the implications of a major weather glitch.
I am not talking about modern times--when this happened the entire tribe
would die of starvation unless they moved into new territory (normally
impossible) or attacked and took over the resources of a nearby tribe.
We know that we have conditional psychological traits that switch on in
certain circumstances. Stockholm Syndrome or capture-bonding is one of
them. I recently recognized that the "trait to induce capture bonding"
(TTICB) is *another.* It is switched on by the mere presence of captives. This is a tight and simple way to account for Zimbardo's famous prison experiment results. http://www.prisonexp.org/ and a lot of current news stories. (Google TTICB.)
You need a better acronym. Something more glamorous that people would
remember should do the trick. How about calling this putative thingy
"Induction of Capture Bonding Module (ICBM)"? Yes, that acronym has already been taken. Oh well. There's "Bond Induction Trait for Capture of Humans". That's gonna result in a rather memorable acronym, although it's not very glamorous.
TTIBC just doesn't roll off the tongue very well.
I claim that the response to "looming privation" of attacking neighbors
is genetically wired in rather than a meme. The spread of xenophobic
memes is part of the causal chain that leads a tribe to attack its
neighbor, but it is a conditional genetic mechanism like the Stockholm
Syndrome that turns up the "gain" on xenophobic memes.
Genes do what is good for them. (Over the long term surviving genes are
100% rational--without, of course, being able to think at all.) In good
times it is not good for your genes to attack neighbors (not counting
raiding for wives). It is better for your genes to spend your time
hunting and raising children rather than fighting with dangerous
neighbors where you and the personal copy of your genes may both come to
an untimely end.
But it is a different matter when your tribe is facing starvation. Our
genes have seen this enough times to have evolved a conditional
strategy. Even the *worse* outcome of fighting with a neighboring tribe,
where every single male of your tribe is killed is usually better for
genes than starving. Reason (see bible accounts of the tribal era.) is
that the wining tribe normally takes the losers young women as booty.
Did you intend that as a pun? You might want to reword this last part
They become wives of the winners and mothers of the next generation.
Rough on the loosing males, but note that the copies of their genes in
their female children march on, satisfying Hamilton's inclusive fitness
criteria that such a trait should evolve.
Hard economic times start up the ancient mechanisms to go to war with
neighbors we evolved when we lived in little hunter gatherer tribes.
Did the US go to war with either Canada or Mexico during the Great
Depression in the 30's or during any of our lesser economic downturns,
such as during recessions? We went to war in Vietnam over ideological
reasons (ie- anti-communist fervor in the post-HUAC, post-Korean war,
post "loss" of China to Mao, post-McCarthy time frame).
Economic reasons may result in war, but I'm not sure xenophobia always
plays a role. Oil prices and control of oil fields played a role in
Husayn's invasion of Kuwait, but since Iraq claimed sovereignity over
Kuwait as a province, it would be more of a land grab than a deep seated
hatred of Kuwaitis as Kuwaitis. In the minds of Iraqis at the time,
wouldn't the term "Kuwaiti" be an artificial construct imposed on
inhabitants of a perceived region of Iraq? Even if the US had some
economic problems at the time, Iraq was hardly our neighbor, unless we
scale this up to the "global village".
The VeitMinh despised foreign control over Vietnam by France before and
after WWII. Privation as an oppressed colonized people and xenophobia
against French probably did play a major role in Vietnamese nationalist
and communist insurgency against France, but how does this translate to
their long and bloody struggle against the United States? The US backed
a non-communist Vietnamese regime in the south, but wasn't a long
standing colonial power in the area of Indochina. The Vietcong and North
Vietnam fought against both the US backed South Vietnamese regime and
the US, but did they have a sense of looming privation relative to
either of these entities? I accept that there was a strong xenophobia
against the US, but was this because of a simplistic activation of a
xenophobia module due to looming privation or because the VietMinh felt
betrayed by the US backing of France and just wanted to rid their
country of any invader no matter the name. Maybe the reasons are less a
matter of a prewiring of VietMinh minds than the complex interplay of
various historical contingencies.
When North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, what were the causal
factors? Was it looming privation or xenophobia? The two portions of the
peninsula did have ideological different backers as the communist Soviet
Union under Stalin backed North Korea post WWII, where the capitalist US
backed South Korea. Even if privation came into play, was the south any
better off? If xenophobia were at play it certainly wouldn't be Korean
hatred of fellow Korean so soon after the post WWII partition. Maybe it
was to rid the peninsula of the vestiges of US influence in the South,
yet the North was accepting of Soviet and ChiCom aid. The Chinese played
a major role in diriving the US out of the North. Whatever animosity the
North Koreans would have for foreign invaders of the peninsula was
squashed by the aid that an Asian foreign player could provide.
Is there looming privation at play between China and Taiwan? These two
places, emerging from the battle between Mao's Communists and Chiang
Kaishek's Nationialists decades ago enjoy some prosperity, at least in
certain circles of each country, but they are poised at the brink of war
over the tension between Taiwanese independence from the mainland and
China's "One China" principle. Xenophobia could hardly play a role if
these two square off in a confrontation.
The solution is lowering population growth, which requires empowering
women and providing access to birth control measures *and* takes upwards
of 20 years to take effect. Fundamentalist Islamics and the current
fundamentalist US administration agree on the undesireability of
empowered ("uppity") women and the full range of birth control methods.
I agree with you here on the comparison of the two fundamentalisms with
respect to women's rights, but this demonstrates how an extremist
mindset takes control of a population's collective weltanschauung and
thus how ideas can become causally efficacious. How genetically
influenced are religious beliefs? Is there a religiosity module?
I have said this a dozen different ways here and on other lists over the
past year, citing Easter Island and the evidence of what happened in the
American Southwest after 1250 CE as examples, and the confirming example
of the troubles fading out in Northern Ireland due to slowed population
growth and rising income per capita. Try "xenophobic memes" and related
terms in Google for more discussion.
If you can find a hole in the logic of this argument, please do. It
accounts for many known events of human history such as the Rwanda
genocide, and (roughly) predicts where we are going to have problems in
the future. Still, I find it profoundly disturbing and wish someone
could provide a convincing argument that it is not true.
There's a difference between presenting the logic of an argument for
something that should exist given certain circumstances and actually
demonstrating that it does exist in the real world.
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