January 12, 2009

More "Deleted Scenes" from Cochran and Harpending

The website for the new book by Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending, The 10,000-Year Explosion, includes "deleted scenes" -- chunks of text that were dropped for reasons of space. Some are digressions, such as Henry's encounter with the charging cape buffalo, while others consist of fairly well-known background info, but are worth reading for the level of insight that you won't find in other works. Here's one subsection of a long essay, "Prelude," on the various traits that evolved at some point since humans broke off from apes. I'll just highlight the section on how well humans get along with members of their own sex. Personally, I have two fluffy bunnies living in the backyard, two neutered male rabbits who wouldn't hurt a fly, but we have to keep them separated like the Israelis and Palestinians with a series of fences to keep them from ripping each other to shreds.

Groups of pair bonds - Some primates form durable mating male-female pairs, but the only ape to do so is the gibbon. Other arrangements like harems or troops are more common both among larger primates and among mammals in general.

In a harem there is one reproducing adult of one sex and more than one of the other sex. Gorillas and hamadryas baboons are mostly organized into one-male harems. African Cape Dogs live in one-female harems with a number of males that are related to each other. Troops contain adult reproductive individuals of both sexes, among whom there may be complex competitive games and strategies to achieve access to the other sex. Common baboons live in troops as do chimpanzees. The baboon troop, like troops of most mammals, is predominately a matrilineage, related females, while the males have entered the troop from another troop. Chimpanzee troops, on the other hand, are patrilineages, groups of related males, with females having come from elsewhere. Chimpanzee troops are ordinarily dispersed over a large territory while the more familiar usage of “troop” refers to a group that moves together.

Durable male-female pairs usually live away from other pairs, and when they do join larger groups, they are members of a flock, not involved or minimally involved in social interactions with others of the flock. Almost all the social interaction is between members of the pair. Animals in harems or troops, on the other hand, spend most of their time in same-sex interactions. Ordinarily these would be some variant of social competition for food among females and competition for females among males.

Humans, remarkably, have the ability to maintain durable pair bonds with reproductive exclusivity while living in larger social groups in which most of the day to day social interaction is with members of the same sex (Rodseth et al., 1991). Gibbons almost certainly could not do it: males are intolerant of the presence of other males and females of other females. Something special and now occurred in human evolution the led to our peculiar capacity to maintain pair bonds embedded in larger social groups.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've gone ahead and pre-ordered the book. I know they have to market or languish, but I almost regret getting the taste now, since I have to wait for the rest.

RobertHume said...

I've gotten hooked on Kindle and would like to download it, but Cochran and Harpending have not yet indicated that they would be willing to do that.

One problem I've found so far with Kindle is that illustrations are often missing. If illustrations are important in this book, I'd be inclined to get the hard copy. Does anyone know if it will be available on Kindle and if illustrations are important?

testing99 said...

That something special is tool-making. Tools like spears allow even a smaller man to be the equal of a larger one if he's surprised, so stealing someone's mate is not healthy.

Then too, hunter-gatherers must depend on the larger group because even the best hunter can come up unlucky and empty.

This "flatness" and lack of social hierarchy and inter-dependence probably explains the "longing" for the primitive lifestyle (which is also brutal and bloody, constant low-level warfare and murders) even though the resource advantages of agricultural societies are evident.

Anonymous said...

Cochran and Harpending's book website is blocked here in China, as was Sailer's until a few months ago. Sino-bureaucratic oversight or stupidity?

John said...

Interested in meeting other Steve Sailer readers in SD? Join my meetup.com group!

headache said...

t99 sed:
"This "flatness" and lack of social hierarchy and inter-dependence probably explains the "longing" for the primitive lifestyle (which is also brutal and bloody, constant low-level warfare and murders) even though the resource advantages of agricultural societies are evident."

I'm not advocating a primitive lifestyle but the Bushmen (San) in the Kalahari basically live like this and actually do not have the violent society you describe. Many are Christians nowadays and some are moving back to the bush lifestyle as Christians (they now have legislative protection and their own lands). These people have nature in their genes; they can understand animals and live peacefully with nature in their own sense. The fact there are so few means their ecological footprint is negligent. Their hierarchy is flat and they live in little groups but they are very peaceful. It’s the Bantu with their Big-man hierarchies who first brought violence to southern Africa, followed by the British Colonists. In the process the Bushmen almost got wiped out.

Reader said...

Anonymous said...

Cochran and Harpending's book website is blocked here in China, as was Sailer's until a few months ago. Sino-bureaucratic oversight or stupidity?



I'm having the same problem. I can load the site for their book using a web proxy, but the link to the "Deleted Scenes" page won't work, as it uses some kind of Javascript thing.

I'm also perpetually annoyed by being able to check blogs hosted on Blogger but not Wordpress.