Re: Scientology

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Thu Jan 17 2002 - 22:48:18 GMT

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    Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 17:48:18 -0500
    From: Keith Henson <>
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    At 02:46 PM 17/01/02 -0500, <>

    >As for the Yanamano, having "several times the number of children" sounds
    >quite high. It might help to view the original study and any followup and
    >replication studies.
    >--Aaron Lynch

    First thing which came up was this hostile article:

    "One might say that Chagnon made a scientific value of the belligerence in
    which he was entangled, elevating it to the status of the sociobiological
    theory that human social evolution positively selects for homicidal
    violence. Whatever the other consolations of this theory, it brought
    Chagnon the massive support of prominent sociobiologists. The support
    remained constant right through the fiasco that attended his attempt in
    1988 to prove the reproductive (hence genetic) advantages of killing in the
    pages of Science.

    "The truth claims of the argument presented by Chagnon in Science may have
    had the shortest half-life of any study ever published in that august journal.

    "*Chagnon set out to demonstrate statistically that known killers among the
    Yanomami had more than twice as many wives and three times as many children
    as non-killers.*

    "This would prove that humans (i.e., men) do indeed compete for
    reproductive advantages, as sociobiologists claimed, and homicidal violence
    is a main means of the competition. Allowing the further (and fatuous)
    assumption that the Yanomami represent a primitive stage of human
    evolution, Chagnon's findings would support the theory that violence has
    been progressively inscribed in our genes.

    "But Chagnon's statistics were hardly out before Yanomami specialists
    dismembered them by showing, among other things, that designated killers
    among this people have not necessarily killed, nor have designated fathers
    necessarily fathered. Many more Yanomami are known as killers than there
    are people killed because the Yanomami accord the ritual status of
    man-slayer to sorcerers who do death magic and warriors who shoot arrows
    into already wounded or dead enemies. Anyhow, it is a wise father who knows
    his own child (or vice versa) in a society that practices wife-sharing and
    adultery as much as the Yanomami do. Archkillers, besides, are likely to
    father fewer children inasmuch as they are prime targets for vengeance, a
    possibility Chagnon conveniently omitted from his statistics by not
    including dead fathers of living children. Nor did his calculations allow
    for the effects of age, shamanistic attainments, headship, hunting ability
    or trading skill--all of which are known on ethnographic grounds to confer
    marital advantages for Yanomami men. "

    A copy of the table out of the original Science article is here:

    Thinking about this in the mode of Dawkins ESS, (and assuming this has gone
    on long enough to have reached the ESS point) the argument would go that
    being a killer among the Yanamani is one way to get a lot of sex and kids,
    but the number of fathers we are looking at is the *survivors* because it
    is also a way to get killed. (As pointed out in above.)

    The other factor (as implied in the chunk of article above) is that while
    you are out on long trips trying to enhance your social status, your wife
    (or wives) are making time with the smooth talking lovers who stayed at
    home. The net effect (if it is at an ESS point) is that taking the high
    risk warrior road or the low risk stay at home road would result in about
    the same number of kids over a lifetime.

    But the genetic rewards seem to be there if you are among the lucky, don't
    get your ass shot off, and your women don't mess around while you are gone.

    Keith Henson

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