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

From: David Clark (
Date: Thu Nov 11 2004 - 12:36:27 MST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Keith Henson" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, November 11, 2004 7:51 AM
Subject: Re: META: Memes and War [was: Tomorrow is a new day]

> Predictions can be made. One theory about war is that when the proportion
> of young men goes over some particular percentage, that causes war. China
> is at or beyond the prediction percentage as a result of selective
> abortion/infanticide. This theory says China will not attack neighbors as
> long as their income per capita is rising. (They can still go into war
> mode as a result of *being* attacked of course.) We could also take a
> at income per capita trends and predict where there are going to be
Since when does the income level of the average Chinese affect *any*
decision at all, in their government. And especially war? When students
protested the speed of implimentation of some free enterprise institutions,
they were casually shot in Tiananmen Square. Do you read a different
history book?
> The theory would have to be modified or thrown out if there are historical
> examples of a population in "good times" mode, i.e., rising income per
> capita and good future prospects, having a random upsurge of xenophobic
> memes and going to war *without* being attacked. In favor of the theory
> the inverse correlation of neo-nazi memes/activity and economic prospects
> in the US. If you could get good data, the timing lag would be a good
> number to know.
Whether or not there actually are "xenophobic war memes", what does this
show about countries going to war. Since when does the USA go to war with
anyone based on "income levels"? Did Bush invade Iraq because of
unemployment in the USA? Since when do the politicians of any country
consult the *people* to decide on going to war?
> The theory requires psychological *mechanisms* implemented in neural
> hardware, that are ultimately the results of genes. Chimps act enough
> humans (genocide of neighbors) that they probably share the psychological
> mechanism and (versions of) the underlying brain genes. Bonobos might
> not. They have not (so far) been observed carrying out genocidal attacks
> on neighboring groups. (Which brings up the question of how bonobo
> populations are ultimately limited?) Genetic comparison of human, chimp
> and bonobo for genes active in brain construction might be useful.
Are you suggesting that humans act like apes but not bonobos? If apes and
humans are genetically 97% the same, don't you think apes and bonobos are
more like 99% the same? How can you make such suggestions without any
> To tie this back into being on topic, it is going to be hard enough for
> to emerge in humans who are not in "war mode." "Friendly" wouldn't be
> high on the list for researchers in war mode. Consider the Manhattan
> project.
This problem only arises *if* your theory is correct. I see no historic
evidence to suggest that it is!

In one of my posts I suggested an alternative theory based on an imbalance
of power between countries. You ignored my post. Tell me why my theory is
worse than yours? I believe I have a huge amount of evidence to back my
theory. (Imbalance of power causing war theory was not originated by me.
This theory has been around for at least thousands of years.) You seem to
quote others "big advances in evolution theory over the last 30-40 years by
William Hamilton, Robert Trivers, and George Williams" but does quoting
others make an argument for your theory?

I took Anthropology at University (2000) and it is news to me that there is
fossil evidence that ancient man warred often. It was thought that
hunter/gathers lived a very scattered and lonely existence and
overpopulation was definitely not a problem. They came together in
friendship on a year or two basis to exchange things, (women, tools etc) and
didn't stay together long because of the quickly depleted resources.

The following is an excerpt from Roger Lewin's "The Origin of Modern

"Even in earlier times, between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago, indications of
violence can sometimes be seen in paintings and engravings. But go back
beyond the beginning of the agricultural revolution and depictions of war in
art virtually vanish. ... Warfare, so important a part of human history, is
associated with the need for territorial possession that arose once
populations became agricultural and necessarily sedentary. Violence became
an obsession once populations started to expand and the ability to organize
large military forces developed. Is violence, then, a necessary and
inevitable characteristic of humankind or merely an adaptation to certain
circumstances? It may have occurred when modern humans replaced archaic
populations, but it is not yet possible to be sure one way or the other."

I say again, if your theory of *war memes* is incorrect then we don't have
to worry about "income levels" precipitating a war. We do *not* have to
worry about the financial well being of everyone to have a successful
singularity. I think we might have to worry about the government enforcing
rules on us if we ever get powerful enough for it to matter but that is a
different conversation.

-- David Clark

PS Just because I am quoting a book does *not* make my case. I am only
showing that your theory is not backed by fossil evidence.

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