Re: Group selection

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Mon 21 Feb 2005 - 02:44:42 GMT

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    At 12:12 AM 21/02/05 +0000, Alan Patrick wrote:
    >>*There are cases in post-agricultural history where suicidal
    >>self-sacrifice made a huge difference. For example in 480 BCE Leonidas
    >>king of Sparta commanded 300 Greeks in one of the most important events
    >>in modern human history:
    >A tipping point moment? And for this to have happened, the peculiar meme
    >set that was Spartan society had to have occurred, probably no other
    >nation in classical history would have done that....

    Actually no. Though there were doubtless memes involved, the psychological traits leading to self-sacrifice for others is right out of evolutionary psychology, having been shaped in the stone age environment of hunter gatherer tribes.

    Even though the psychological traits behind this story were right out of the stone age, the effects on the track western civilization took were profound--and probably more from Athens than Sparta.

    Keith Henson

    PS. The rise and fall of Greek society gets only end note treatment in Dr. Diamond's Collapse, but it was for the same environmental damage that happened to the Mayans, though not so extreme.

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