RE: A time for war.

From: Agner Fog (
Date: Mon 21 Mar 2005 - 07:32:44 GMT

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    At 23:02 20-03-2005, Keith Henson wrote:

    >The proximate cause of wars starting is almost always ideology, i.e.,
    >memes. The question is why memes--of the class that lead to people
    >starting wars--have cycles where this class of memes have a lot of
    >influence on large scale behavior and times when they don't?
    >This is an evolved behavior switch that it seems obvious we got from our
    >stone age ancestors. You can't exactly map the social behavior of hunter
    >gatherer tribes into any time in the post agricultural period.
    >Still, the kinds of things, a bleak looking future, particularly a sharp
    >downturn after an extended period of good times, that activated our
    >ancestors can be expected to activate the xenophobic meme mechanism that
    >prepares a tribe's warriors for killing neighbors.

    I agree. People develop bellicose ideologies when they perceive their tribe as threatened. World War 2 followed after an economic recession. The bleak look was real here, though war was probably not the solution. In the case of the witch hunts, the power of the church was dwindling so they invented an enemy that gave them an excuse for being brutal.

    The terror attack of 9/11 led to the wars against Afghanistan and Irak. The media gave so much emotional coverage of terrorism that the population felt the whole western civilization threatened. This was an emotional over-reaction to a threat that the media made look worse than it was.

    The "evolved behavior switch" that Keith talks about is actually what I have called cultural r/k selection. The mechanisms are explained in my book and my articles. See

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