Re: META: Memes and War [was: Tomorrow is a new day]

From: Mikko Särelä (
Date: Thu Nov 11 2004 - 01:37:52 MST

On Wed, 10 Nov 2004, Keith Henson wrote:
> Ok, I will go over it again.
> The key to understanding this is that the psychological traits behind the
> coupling from a bleak outlook to war through xenophobic memes evolved in the
> *stone age* when there wasn't a big technological gap or even a big size gap
> between one tribe and the next.
> So when things started to look like the tribe members were not going to get
> enough game and berries to get through the next season, going to war was on
> average a 50-50 proposition for the people, and war was a *much* better chance
> for the genes of these primitive people than starving. The worst case was
> that all the males in one of the tribes fighting would be killed. That's
> still better for the *genes* of the losers than starving because copies of
> their genes are in the young women of the tribe who are normally booty to the
> winners. (A perverse application of Hamilton's inclusive fitness criteria.)
> So over a multi million year time frame, genes that made it more likely a
> tribe facing starvation would go to war with neighbors instead of quitely
> starving became standard. I propose that such genes build psychological
> traits that increase the "gain" of circulating xenophobic memes in times of
> the particular stress of "looming privation." You can see where the stupid
> factor comes in because all the normal inhibitions of not attacking nasty
> strangers who might just as well kill *you* have to be overcome.

In order for your theory to be testable and critisizable and thus of any
use, how do you propose it could be tested? What methods are there to (try
to) falsify this theory of yours?

Mikko Särelä
     "I too don't really find Monty Python all that exciting, but don't
      tell anyone I said that." Anonymous

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