March 14, 2011

The "2001: A Space Odyssey" theory of human evolution

Nicholas Wade writes in the NYT in "The Supremacy of a Social Network:"
It was a tool, in the form of a weapon, that made human society possible, in Dr. Chapais’s view. Among chimps, alpha males are physically dominant and can overpower any rival. But weapons are great equalizers. As soon as all males were armed, the cost of monopolizing a large number of females became a lot higher. In the incipient hominid society, females became allocated to males more equally. General polygyny became the rule, then general monogamy. 

But did it take a black monolith suddenly appearing among the apes to give them the crucial idea of hitting each other with weapons? Did it help if Thus Spaketh Zarathustra was playing in the background?

More seriously, I'm a little vague on what constitutes a weapon. If you and I are chimps, and I pick up a heavy rock and hit you with it, is that not a weapon? Do I have to chip a sharp edge onto the rock to make it a hand axe weapon? 
This trend led to the emergence of a critical change in sexual behavior: the replacement of the apes’ orgiastic promiscuity with the pair bond between male and female. With only one mate, for the most part, a male had an incentive to guard her from other males to protect his paternity.

On the social level, the presence of both parents revealed the genealogical structure of the family, which is at least half hidden in chimp societies. A chimp knows who its mother and siblings are, because it grows up with them, but not its father or father’s relatives. So the neighboring bands to which female chimps disperse at puberty, avoiding incest, are perceived as full of strange males and treated with unremitting hostility.

In the incipient hominid line, males could recognize their sisters and daughters in neighboring bands. They could also figure out that the daughter’s or sister’s mate shared a common genetic interest in the welfare of the woman’s children. The neighboring males were no longer foes to be killed in sight — they were the in-laws. 

The presence of female relatives in neighboring bands became for the first time a bridge between them. It also created a new and more complex social structure. The bands who exchanged women with each other learned to cooperate, forming a group or tribe that would protect its territory from other tribes. Though cooperation became the norm within a tribe, tribes would wage warfare just as relentlessly as chimpanzee bands. 

I think there is room to merge the theories that the evolution of cooperation among humans happened via kin selection versus via long-term reciprocation. Both were helped by increased intelligence. In turn, both selected for more increases in intelligence.

Something that is frequently forgotten is how complicated knowledge of blood and marriage relationships can be.

Say I get smart enough to realize that my mate's brother (i.e., my brother-in-law) is the uncle of my child. Thus, has a nepotistic interest in aiding the welfare of my child. Therefore, he might make a more trustworthy hunting partner for me. Moreover, he has a brother-in-law, too, so maybe the three of us would make a good team that wouldn't be as likely to fight amongst ourselves over splitting up the catch or to turn on each other or abandon each other in a tough spot.

And if I'm smart enough to recognize something like that, maybe I'm smart enough to remember that this fourth fellow who isn't, as far as we can tell, related to any of us seems to have a track record of being a good guy, so maybe the three of us should bring him along on our hunts. And if he does prove a good guy on the hunts, maybe I'll let him hang around the campfire with my younger sister who doesn't have a husband yet.

So, kin selection and reciprocal economic cooperation both are aided by higher intelligence, thus, in turn, selecting for more intelligence and more cooperation. A virtuous circle.


Anonymous said...

Please no just so stories...

Chicago said...

So a chimp doesn't know who it's daddy is; how sad. Fathers Day must be the loneliest day of the year in chimp neighborhoods. Now I know why that pet chimp awhile back suddenly went ape and mangled that woman; it was really a cry of anguish and pain.

Kylie said...

"More seriously, I'm a little vague on what constitutes a weapon."

I always thought weapons were a subset of tools. I'd say a weapon is any tool wielded either aggressively or to defend against aggression.

Then again, maybe I've just watched Shane too many times. I love it when he says, "A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that."

Luke Lea said...

Christopher Boehm's "Hierarchy in the Forest" presents a more plausible hypohesis: it was the human brain (plus language?) in beings who don't like to be dominated that gave betas the idea of banding together to keep the alphas in their place. "Reverse dominance hierarchies" he calls this form of rational cooperation. It even works in modern complex democracies -- I hope!

Anonymous said...

It is hard to reconstruct a theory of the mind's development without a great deal of speculation.

What you have laid out seems eminently reasonable to me, in fact hard to see it any other way.


Johnny Abacus said...

But weapons are great equalizers. As soon as all males were armed, the cost of monopolizing a large number of females became a lot higher.

I'd like to see some evidence of this. In general, the more sophisticated the tools, the more of a premium one can extract from sophisticated tools.

An amazing farmer might be twice as productive as a shoddy one, but an amazing computer programmer can easily be hundreds of times as productive as this inept counterpart.

So too with weapons - in hand to hand combat, one man would be hard pressed to overwhelm four others in unarmed combat, no matter how strong or smart he is. Throw swords into the mix and an exceptional fighter might be able to do it. Upgrade weaponry even further, and it's doable for a group of people outnumbered 100 to 1, to crush the larger force with helicopter mounted mini-guns and artillery (look at the casualty statistics from black hawk down, for example).

If the state of (military) tool use is what is driving polygyny/monogamy, one would expect a smaller and smaller group of elites to monopolize all of the females in any society as tool sophistication continues to climb.

agnostic said...

Trading wives out and trade in general *increases* the level of warfare between two groups. Keeley's book War Before Civilization goes over the evidence, both from pre-state societies to 20th C. major players.

The short and skinny of it is that trade raises the number of arguments where both sides are indignant and can plausibly claim to have been wronged and so in need of satisfaction.

For one thing, trade is almost never done using a single currency -- I offer to give you my daughter as a wife, and you offer to give me 10 goats, 3 cattle, and 6 sheep. Wait, so, what, you think she's only a 3-cattle kind of girl? I'm insulted -- she's worth at least 5!

And for another, making promises, renegging, backing out, monitoring quality -- e.g., you gave me 6 sheep as promised, but 2 were sickly and should only count as 1! -- and so on, is something that people who don't trade will never have to worry about.

Think of how quickly a bar-room brawl over who had dibs on the dartboard can escalate into a homicide, or an argument over whether someone cheated on a bet or promise in a pool hall. Then make both sides a band of kin instead of random strangers.

Without a strong neutral third party to adjudicate disputes, trade leads to more warfare, not more 4th of July picnics.

jz said...

We all seem to enjoy favorite just so stories, but invoking evolution means understanding how natural and sexual selection operated on a pre-existing trait to solve an adaptive problem, resulting in a current behavior trait.
It's more honest to include the words speculative or theoretical.

Jeff said...

Steve said:

"the uncle of my child...has a nepotistic interest in aiding the welfare of my child"

Nepotism, from Latin "nepos" which means "nephew."

Why is nepotism always about uncles?

Anonymous said...

"Say I get smart enough to realize that my mate's brother (i.e., my brother-in-law) is the uncle of my child. Thus, has a nepotistic interest in aiding the welfare of my child. Therefore, he might make a more trustworthy hunting partner for me."

Sounds great, Steve. When's this Disney version of Evolution of the Family coming out?

Whiskey said...

Weapons are tools that equalize pure size and strength, often by killing at a distance. A throwing stick/atlatl is certainly a weapon. So is a spear. An arrow definitely is a weapon, though that came much much later.

Even a stone knife is an equalizer. Particularly if the "beta male" has one in his hand and the Alpha male does not. It does equalize things. Size and physical power are no longer enough.

Even a staff/stick can be a weapon, one that can kill (Musashi could not beat a samurai using a staff, his only draw). It gives reach, can produce prodigious force, and is quite simple to use.

Use of tools, and more and more complex tools, undoubtedly were the most important things in evolution. No other animal makes so many, and puts so much effort into it. Chimps don't do the delicate flake work needed to produce an edge in stone tools. Their tools are simple, not much work. They NEVER use them as weapons, only their teeth and hands.

Anonymous said...

"More seriously, I'm a little vague on what constitutes a weapon."

I guess it begins with the natural weapon. Some animals have claws, some have horns, some have antlers, some have powerful legs, some have sharp fangs. It's as if they're naturally eqipped with a weapon. Take a scorpion or a hornet. Or a spitting cobra. Humans, on the other hand, don't have much in the way of natural weapons compared to other animals of comparable size. A 200 lb man will be destroyed in seconds by a 200 lb leopard--or even by a 100 lb leopard. Also, some animals have stronger muscles.
And some animals have better natural technique, with cats and weasels being, pound for pound, the toughest of mammal predators. If a wolverine weighed 400 lbs, it would defeat just about everything. Thankfully, most weigh no more than 80s lbs. A tiger can often defeat and devour a brown bear twice its size. Though the brown bear may be bigger and stronger, tiger is faster, more versatile, more ferocious.

Among man, the type of weaponry has profound social and political impact. If one guy has a stick and another guy is bare-handed, the stick-guy has the advantage but may still lose. If Don Knots with a stick fought a bare-handed Mike Tyson, I would bet on Tyson. But if one person had a gun and another had a club, the gun-person's gonna win. If an old lady has a gun and if Mike Tyson has a club, I would bet on the old lady. In ancient times, even great civilizations like Chinese and Romans could lose to Mongols and Germanic barbarians when weapons were mostly horses, arrows, spears, etc. Today, the notion of China being overrun by Mongols on horseback is a laugh-riot.
WWII was a massive war of conventional weapons. If the great powers had nukes in the 30s, there probably would have been no WWII. Hitler, though crazy, wasn't THAT crazy.

Anonymous said...

I think Wade has a point about weapons equalizing power among males, as a result, fostering something closer to monogamy.
But maybe something else happened too. Chances are some groups of proto-man developed much better weapons than other tribes. Suppose there were 100 different tribes fighting one another. One tribe develops the badass weapon. Using this weapon, they fight, defeat, conquer, and/or wipe out other tribes. If one tribe with the better weapon wipes out all other tribes, all the land will belong to that one tribe. Since everyone on the land will have originated from that single victorious tribe, there would be more of a common/shared identity people on that land. It's easier to create a shared identity/community over vast spaces by the expansion of a homogeneous group than by bringing together diverse groups. Look at America. Anglos arrived and pushed the Indians out. There was unity from west coast to east coast, from north to south cuz the conquerors with the badass weapon--the gun--were of the same racial family(English). But suppose America had already been populated by 20 million Chinese, 20 million Russians, 20 million Germans, 20 million Arabs, 20 million Turks, 20million Arabs, 20 million Africans, etc, etc when the first Anglos arrived. It would have been much more difficult for Anglos to create a nation of shared identity. Anglos were able to pull it off cuz they pushed the Indians out and then used America as a blank slate political experiment for a homogeneous Anglo population. There were blacks but they were forced to follow in the Anglo model. Diversity worked better later in America cuz the Anglos first created the basic template over Americanism on the United Blank Slate of America.

Or even if the proto-man tribe with the badass weapon didn't wipe out the other tribes, its decisive victory over them might have made others pledge their loyalty to the victors. Also, the males of the victorious tribes might have taken the women of the vanquished tribes as sexual property, thus leading to mixing of blood between the tribes. In the Americas, the victorious Spanish males humped a lot of native women, and this brought the white race and Indian race together by creating the mestizo race.

David said...

>When's this Disney version of Evolution of the Family coming out?<

On average and over thousands of years, it makes sense. He's not talking about YOUR brother-in-law, remember, or mine.

And it really isn't Disney-fied. If you can reasonably trust your family (at best) but few others, then the picture of the human race is grimmer than that presented by "It's A Small World After All."

Nobody as yet has mentioned here the old iSteve data point fave of brothers going into business together - including the glamorous cites of brother-teams among film producers and directors - so I'm tossing it in here. If you can't trust your brother, whom can you trust?

(Can't resist adding an old wheeze: "You can trust your ma...but cut the cards.")

Anonymous said...

Speaking of movies, how about the HELL IN THE PACIFIC theory of human evolution? It might also be called the DISORIENTATION theory.

Generally, a rooted people on a solid pice of land feel proud, defensive, and hostile to outsiders and possible invaders. So, if outsiders came near their land, they might do everything to push them out. (On the other hand, if a community is very powerful and secure, it might be willing to trade and deal with other peoples. Or, like the Aztecs, it might even go hunting for other tribes to use as slaves or to sacrifice to their gods).

So, people on a rooted piece of land might feel hostile, confident, and fierce in the defense of their sacred territory. They have a strong sense of 'this is OUR land'. Animals are like this. A dog or cat is especially hostile when another animal or man comes near their 'home turf'.

But what about nomadic tribes on the move in a strange land? Or consider two dogs in 'neutral' territory which belongs to neither. The dog of Home A will bark like crazy to defend his turf, and dog of Home B will bark like crazy to defend his turf. But suppose dog A and dog B met at a park. They'd feel dioriented and have nothing to defend as home turf since the park belongs to neither of them. They are less likely to bark and more likely to sniff eachother's butt.
Maybe same was true of proto-man, at least those on the move, migration, exile, or displacement. If two proto-human groups met on a piece of land that belonged to neither side, both groups would have felt as 'strangers' than claimants of the land. They would have been less likely to fight. Also, since both sides feel disoriented and anxious in a strange land of dangerous animals, unfamiliar terrain, and other dangers, both groups may feel more comfortable in having come in contact with another group. They may belong to different tribes, but they have certain things in common: they are of the same species and are in the same situation: they are lost and disoriented. When people feel disoriented, they wanna cling to something. My cat was a stray. Having lost its way home, it followed my other cat to my house, and I've had it since. Feeling lost and disoriented, it clung to my original cat.

Anonymous said...

Take the movie HELL IN THE PACIFIC by John Boorman. Japan and US are at war. But on an island, Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune end up together. Both are disoriented as the island belongs neither to the Japanese or Americans. Though they initially fight, they come to realize that it's better to work together since they are lost and they're lonely on some weird nowhere land in the Pacific. And in the movie DELIVERANCE--also by Boorman--four unlikey men stick together in hostile gay peckerwood territory. Though Burt Reynolds, tubby Ned Beatty, do-goody Alex Cox, and Jon Voight have little in common, they know they better cooperate to come out alive.
It's interesting that there's a spiritual connotation to both HELL IN THE PACIFIC and DELIVERANCE. Every group seeks their piece of heaven on earth, their land of milk and honey. And when they have it, they fight to the death to defend it. But when men are stuck in hell together, there is a feeling of disorientation, and men come together to seek deliverance out from hell.
In the film THE FUGITIVE, the good doctor and a huge black convict work together when the bus flips over. Though they would never cross paths under normal circumstances, they help one another under duress. And NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD also has total strangers--even Archie Bunker and Lionel--working together to save themselves from zombies.

And we can see this operate among immigrant groups too. Syrians, Moroccans, Algerians, Egyptians, Iraqis, Kurds, Turks, etc may not have much in common in the Middle East. And we saw how Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds bashed eachother in Iraq. And there has been lots of violence between Turks and Kurds. But in Europe, the various Muslim groups feel disoriented in a foreign Western land; and so, they come together to pray together and to work together against the white majority.
In America, the various Latin American nationalities may not care for one another. There is no love lost between Mexicans and Guatamalans. But in the US, the various Hispanic groups feel disoriented in Gringo-land and form an alliance. And though Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, vietnamese, etc may not like each other much in Asia, they come together in America as the 'Asian-American community'. Since each group feels disoriented in a nation that is majority white/black/hispanic, Asians feel more comfortable in the company of other Asians--even if they mostly avoided one another(even with a degree of mutual hostility)in the Old World.

So, maybe displacement and migration among various proto-man groups led to a coming togther of sorts.

Anonymous said...

The large swath of human pre-history and history is about the various ways our cultures, lives, and civilizations promoted intelligence, literacy, science, and monogamy.

Today we live in one of the small minority of periods where dysgenic fertility and family breakdown mean we are heading the opposite way. The next generation will be more backwards, polygamous, stupid, and supersititous than this one. I hope we can leave them enough technology to keep them comfortable.

It makes me sad. So many hundreds of generations of progress and I live my life in a generation of decline.

On the positive side, if your parents were the last generation of ascent of your race and yours is the first of decline, you're living at the peak!

Small solace.

David Davenport said...

But weapons are great equalizers. As soon as all males were armed, the cost of monopolizing a large number of females became a lot higher.

I'd like to see some evidence of this. In general, the more sophisticated the tools, the more of a premium one can extract from sophisticated tools. ...

"A musket for every man makes every man tall."

Anonymous said...

Remember the CS Lewis stuff about how 'kinship'and 'kindness'; 'gens' and 'gentility' or 'gentleness' or 'gentry' all came out of the same bag? 'Origins of Words' by CS Lewis.

Geoff Matthews said...

How does this creation story substantially differ from religious ones?
Apart from the appeal to science, that is?

Anonymous said...

I've never understood why we're supposed to look at animals with an IQ of 20 to unearth clues about Human nature.

And I've never heard any Darwinist give a good explanation as to why we "evolved" to the point where we need complex language skills, do algebra, or go bald. Cave men don't really need to do more than say "Food""no" "yes" "Sex?" and "Look Out" & there's no reason for us to have the ability to type words - for example.

But continue with the "scientific" just so stories, they're very amusing.

Anonymous said...

Maybe gays had something to do with human evolution, which leads us to the Fruit Theory.

Now, there are gays among all animals too. But gay chimps aren't very creative. But among proto-man, the gays might have been far more creative. So, suppose there were two hostile tribes, and the men of each tribe was making crude weapons to destroy the other side. But the gay guy of each tribe fashions a weapon that has more aesthetic than head-bashing value. The two tribes go face-to-face for some serious fighting, but the gay guys wave their fancy weapons in the air, and other guys look and think, 'wow, his weapon looks cooler than mine'. So, instead of fighting, the guys ask the gay fellas to design cool-looking weapons for them too, and everyone is talking of how cool their weapons look than using them to bash each other. Indeed, we see much of this at gun shows. A bunch of guys get mighty friendly, talking about how their weapons are so special and fancy looking.
And during the age of noblemen, what brought so many of them together was a sense of style. Though of the warrior caste, all the fancy stuff--clothes, boots, weapons, etc--designed for them by gays made them more interested in impressing their fellow noblemen than fighting them. So, noblemen invited eachother to their parties to show off their wealth than fight over it.

TGGP said...

Chimps use weapons for hunting.

Anonymous said...

Maybe drugs had a role in the development of proto-man. Certain drugs have a way of softening the ego and making people less uptight and aggressive. Call it CITY LIGHTS theory. In that Chaplin movie, a rich guy is nice to the Little Tramp when he's drunk. Alcohol dissolves class and social boundaries. His snobbiness leaves him, and he embraces humanity. When he's sober, he's a prick again. There's a similar character in the Joan Crawford film SADIE MCKEE. Of course, some people turn crazy and aggressive when they drink, but many people mellow out, which is why bars are a popular social-gathering places.

American Indians often fought but they made peace by smoking the peace pipe. And stuff like peyote made Indians see the Other World--or a sense that there is more to life than fighting for turf in the here-and-now.

In the 60s, the radicals were on pot and other drugs, which made them less aggressive than radicals of the past. If Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler were serious potheads, they might have been less ruthless and less committed to the purity of their cause. But many radicals in the 60s were into the EASY RIDER thing. Their egos melted under the use of drugs, and they were more into 'make love, not war' than 'cut off the heads'. Of course, drugs have been used for violent purposes. Aztecs were serious magic mushroom users. Many violent pagan tribes had their own mind-altering concoctions. Even so, at the inter-tribal level, drugs may have done more to bring different groups together by mellowing out their tribal egos.

In HELL IN THE PACIFIC, we see the double-edged nature of alcohol. Initially, it makes Marvin and Mifune more friendly. But then it makes them more angry at one another.

Ironically, though pot is considered a peace-drug, it certainly has been the cause of much warfare south of the border.

Anonymous said...

British may have used opium on the Chinese as a pacifying agent. A drugged out Chinese were less likey to resist. Indeed, Hindus may have been easier to conquer since they were drugged out on a soma-like culture to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Many social scientists speak of
TRIBALISM VS UNIVERSALISM but maybe this is a misconception. Maybe, every social concept is tribal, except that some tribalisms happen to be more wide-ranging or 'inclusive'.
So, it's not tribalism vs universalism but more a case of tribalism vs bigger tribalism.
Even globalism is a form of tribalism since it is about the human species than inclusive of all species.

And, something like nationalism is more 'universal' than clannism, but it too is a form of tribalism.

So, maybe little tribalism vs bigger tribalism is a more accurate dichotomy than tribalism vs universalism. Universalism then is a myth.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the growth of larger proto-human communities resulted from the culture of fighting. I don't mean it in the sense of stronger communities taking over small communities, and both sides eventually mixing through slavery, rape, domination, etc.

I mean it in the sense of fighting becoming a defining and fun aspect of a culture. Even animals find some fun in fighting. Cats and dogs play-fight all the time. And after a fight, wolves get all riled up and excited. But if animals fight mainly to destroy the other side, proto-man may have come to see fighting as a kind of fun sport. So, even as both sides sought to kick butt, the men of each side might have eagerly looked forward to the next fight with thrill and excitement. It went from a necessity to a culture, a way of life, a way of defining oneself. Over time, both sides got to understand the ritualistic and sporty nature of the fight. Even though blood was spilt, there developed a kind of mutual respect. We see this is modern sports culture. Different schools go head to head in football and basketball. They play hard to win, but this also produces a mutual respect among various teams. And because there is the respect for the tough brave warrior, it wasn't just hate-hate but a kind of love-hate. Indeed, even as boxers try to knock the head off the other guy, there is a kind of mutual respect. And fans of Ali also admired the toughness of Frazier, and fans of Frazier also admired the speed of Ali.

So, the culture of fighting may paradoxically have created a kind of mutual-admiration mindset even between enemy tribes. And when these warriors grew older and became tribal elders, they made the peace as 'once-warriors'. Indeed, we see this kind of mutual respect among US veterans and North Vietnamese who fought in the war. Though they fought bitterly, they now meet as worthy enemies, members of the tough warrior elite. Tough guys might fight other tough guys, and they may kill one another. But tough guys respect and wanna hang around other tough guys than with wimps and wussies.

Greeks may have been the first to understand the paradoxical nature of the fight: that it has a unifying value. So came the Olympics where the toughest men of each city-state got together and fought and competed in the spirit of mutual-tough-guy-appreciation society.

Anonymous said...

cooperative hunting was a bigger part of the story. You can see aspects of it, even with dogs. Certainly with Bushmen or Aborigines.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the development of musical sense made larger communities possible. Chimps can only growl and make crazy noise without much vocal pattern or rhythm or beat. But suppose proto-man could do the beat and rhythm and all that. Suppose two tribes are facing off to fight, but one guy starts stomping his feet rhythmically, and others do the same,and then both sides are stomping their feet in rhythm too. Then one proto-man claps his hand, and then other clap their hands, and one howls in a melodious manner, and then another does it and then another does it. Before long, instead of fighting, they are singing a chorus and dancing. Though music can be used martially or aggressively, it also has a way of dissolving barriers. A Nazi cannot stand communist ideology and a communist cannot stand Nazi ideology, but commies can march to Nazi music and Nazis can march to commie music. Though Wagner was associated with 'Aryanism', many Jewish musicians loved and appreciated Wagner's music(and indeed many Hollywood composers 'stole' entire riffs from Wagner). In the film HIDDEN FORTRESS, the princess is closest to her subjects when everyone's dancing around the bonfire. In that moment, she is part of the same energy and spirit of the people around her(mostly peasants and villagers)than a highborn woman of noble blood. Music can certainly be divisive, as we've seen in the generational conflicts between parents and children in the 60s. Even so, American pop music probably did more to bring different people together--rural, urban, white, black, west coast, east coast, etc.

Music may also have favored the lover over the fighter. Some guy with musical talent may have been favored by the ladies over some gruff-sounding thug-warrior. Michael Jackson wasn't macho but a lot of girls were crazy about him cuz he could sing. Maybe as proto-humans began to favor the pretty boy as well as the tough guy, there was more likelihood of different tribes coming together since pretty boys tended to be more peaceful. And maybe pretty boy singers had more a chance of wooing the daughters of other tribesmen.

Music might have also added a sense of fun and humor to male competition. Rap battles may be nasty, but they are still more peaceful than a fistfight. And Eskimos and Africans engage in drum battles and say a lot of nasty shit about one another via beats, but it's also supposed to be kinda funny, which defuses tensions. And it's still more peaceful than real fighting. Though for higher civilization to develop, mankind had to suppress his 'jungle musicality', such sensibility still might have served as a means for greater peace among primitive tribes who were only used to loud growls and taunts.

Even in the US, though racial divides still exist, blacks, whites, browns, yellows, and others feel as one when they are singing the same gospel music in some mega-churches. Hope for racial unity and peace in PLACES IN THE HEART in the final scene takes place inside a church with everyone singing. And Woodstock attracted 300,000 people because it was a music concert. Music has a way of bringing people together. In WOOSTOCK the movie, during the number 'Soul Sacrifice' by Santana, all the boundaries between white, black, Hispanic, secular, spiritual, pop, art, etc, etc dissolve. Everyone and everything become part of the same energy. We even see a guy dancing with a sheep on his arms.

Anonymous said...

"This trend led to the emergence of a critical change in sexual behavior: the replacement of the apes’ orgiastic promiscuity with the pair bond between male and female. With only one mate, for the most part, a male had an incentive to guard her from other males to protect his paternity.

"On the social level, the presence of both parents revealed the genealogical structure of the family, which is at least half hidden in chimp societies. A chimp knows who its mother and siblings are, because it grows up with them, but not its father or father’s relatives. So the neighboring bands to which female chimps disperse at puberty, avoiding incest, are perceived as full of strange males and treated with unremitting hostility."

Gibbons pair-bond for life (although some hanky-panky between unmated individuals does occur), and the male guards his partner sans weapons (apart from some really big teetch).

Gibbon families are nice little nuclear families with ma and pa and a kid or two, so the genealogical structures of gibbon families is very clear.

And, yet, gibbons are still living in the trees.

Steve Sailer said...

Right, gibbons are delightful to watch at the zoo, so graceful and nice to each other, while adult chimps are like the Hell's Angels. But chimps are smarter than gibbons.

slumber_j said...

I once read that there's pretty clear evidence that the Neanderthals (which I think we're of course now supposed to call "Neandertals") never figured out how to throw stuff accurately. Or in any case, throwing stuff wasn't part of the Neanderthal Fighting Style, and perhaps that fact put them at something of a disadvantage when we came to extinguish them. Is that maybe what we're talking about when we talk about weapons?

Big Bill said...

"With only one mate, for the most part, a male [chimp/ape] had an incentive to guard her from other males to protect his paternity."


There are plenty of human tool-using hunter-gatherer tribes that have no conception of "paternity".

Did they somehow forget their earlier chimpish knowledge of fatherhood?

Big Bill said...

@agnostic: "Without a strong neutral third party to adjudicate disputes, trade leads to more warfare, not more 4th of July picnics."

... and more feuds. If each tit-for-tat response to a wrong takes a bit more than the other side finds reasonable, things escalate rapidly. Hence the Hatfield and McCoy situation that never gets resolved.

Establishing a wergild (man-gold) for various offenses ($X for a finger, $Y for an arm, $Z for rape, $Q for a murder) was a milestone in Germanic cultural development. No more endless escalation of feuds.

Even better, under some wergild regimes, the people of the clan closest to the evildoer who coulda/shoulda stopped their clansman from committing a wrong also had to contribute their share of gold/animals in restitution.

Perhaps this is the way to handle incidents like Cleveland, Texas where the community refuses to accept any responsibility for their homegrown, sports-hero, BMOC gang rapists.

Anonymous said...

"I've never understood why we're supposed to look at animals with an IQ of 20 to unearth clues about Human nature.

And I've never heard any Darwinist give a good explanation as to why we "evolved" to the point where we need complex language skills, do algebra, or go bald. Cave men don't really need to do more than say "Food""no" "yes" "Sex?" and "Look Out" & there's no reason for us to have the ability to type words - for example.

But continue with the "scientific" just so stories, they're very amusing."

Ah yes the argument from incredulity - "I can't see how it could have happened, therefore Goddidit."

What good would it be explaining anything to you when you've already declared yourself impervious to evidence or reason? There's a need for educational triage here, and hopeless cases such as yourself are not going to be educated by the rest of us. We will spend our efforts where they might do some good.

Anonymous said...

Here's the right way to think about weapons:

"What kind of tool gives a weaker male an equal chance in a fight with a stronger male?" is the wrong question to ask.

The right questions are (1) "what kind of tool gives a weaker male ( or males) a chance to fight a bigger male without serious injury to himself" or "what kind of tool makes it unlikely that a bigger male will be able to fight a weaker male without serious injury to the bigger male"?

Winning isn't the only thing from an evolutionary standpoint. Its the cost of winning that count.

So if me and five of my best beta buddies can take down an alpha in unarmed combat, but the alpha is going to kill or injure two or three of us, we're very unlikely to try. Especially because of the coordination problem: whomever moves first is the most likely to get killed or injured. But ranged weapons, like throwing a rock, or even weapons like a spear, give us the chance to take a big guy down without hurting ourselves and without coordination problems.

Same with me attacking the big guy at night or from behind. I do it barehanded and he's probably going to win, or at least give me some serious hurt. But if I have a rock to swing, or a club, I'm increasing my chances that I can sneak attack him without destroying myself.

From the other side, weapons, as a force multiplier, increase the odds that I'm going to hurt alpha if he jumps me, even if I lose. So he's going to hesitate to jump me.

From an evolutionary standpoint, winning at the cost of your own reproductive fitness is a DEAD END.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

... while adult chimps are like the Hell's Angels. But chimps are smarter than gibbons.

What is it with chimp-love anyway? I look at chimpanzees and feel repulsed. Their arrested anthropomorphism strikes my homo sapiens sensibilities as so wrong.

I read somewhere that Jane Goodall abandoned her field research when she found out chimps are a violent even cannibalistic species. Having your arms ripped off and beaten to death with them is not a good way to go.

Do people still have pet chimpanzees, like that insane woman in Ohio whose chimp ripped her best friend's face off?

What's up with the feminized (to my observation) urge to get all snuggly with animals that our ancestors were in mortal combat with?

Anonymous said...

"More seriously, I'm a little vague on what constitutes a weapon."

I was camping with my wife's family in Yosemite. Early one morning on the way to the head I met a beautiful blonde cowering in fear of a mountain lion she had seen. I walked her back to her tent.

Later I told my brother-in-law that I wasn't afraid because I found a hand ax. He was incredulous. Where - he wondered - did I find a hand ax?

I went to the side of the trail and found another. That's not an ax - he declared - it's a just a rock.

Technically it was an eolith - a dawn rock. You dig deeper at an archaeological find and the tools found are more primitive. Eventually the oldest tools are indistinguishable from simple rocks. It's a continuum.

That is to say - you're right.


Anonymous said...

I saw 2001 when it first came out. It seemed like a straight forward story to me. Later I learned that many people were confused - they couldn't figure out what it all meant.

I knew the whole theme of the plot in the first few seconds.

It wasn't because I am so insightful but rather that I was into HiFi. Every stereo store and every HiFi hobbyist in those days had an LP of "Thus Spake Zarathustra". Those LPs were worn out for only the first thirty seconds. No one listened to the whole thing, just the low C organ chord at the beginning. Real good woofers could just manage that first 32Hz note.

So I heard the C and said to my self - Zarathustra, Nietzsche, Superman. Bodda bing.


uncle nemo said...

Why is nepotism about uncles/nephews? I read that it referred to the practice of Popes and high clerics in the Roman Catholic church, putting their "nephews" in high places. They were not supposed to have offspring, so the beneficiaries had to be their "newphews" even when they were actually illegitimate offspring.

Anonymous said...

"And, yet, gibbons are still living in the trees."

It's gib and take.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe the growth of larger proto-human communities resulted from the culture of fighting."

Fight Club theory.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe the development of musical sense made larger communities possible."

O Brother Where Art Thou Theory.

Anonymous said...

Maybe something like the BALLAD OF NARAYAMA theory took hold. AKA Mama's Boy theory. Among most animals, mother is protective of its young but threw them out after 2 or 3 yrs. This is true of bears. Among chipms, mothers may be more clinging, but the bond between mother and son fades over time. Maybe among proto-man, the mother-son relation grew deeper. Even as sonny boy eventually grew up and his mate-partner became more important, the emotional bond with mother never went away. And this maybe had a pacifying impact on the males. In Imamura's movie, it's not easy for the son to let his mother go.
In GODFATHER II, the death of the mother brings Fredo and Connie back home. And while the mother was alive, Michael gave orders that Fredo was not to be touched.

Anonymous said...

Maybe something like PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE theory took hold. AKA specialization theory. Among chimps, most chimps have more or less the same talents and skills. But as proto-man grew smarter, certain individuals may have gained greater specialized skills and talents much to be prized. There was bound to be more outstanding skills and talents.
When one chimp pack defeated another chimp pack, the winning chimp pack just wanted the turf and bananas.
But when one proto-man tribe defeated another proto-man tribe, the victorious tribe might have thought, 'you know, these fellas got something we don't have(or can do stuff we can't do)'. Suppose one proto-man tribe didn't have the art of cooking while another did. The former defeats the latter, but instead of wiping them out, the victors say, "cook, where's my lunch, where's my dinner, where's my hassenpfeffer?"

In the Pee Wee movie, a biker gang is about to kill Pee Wee, but Pee Wee shows he can dance a special unique kind of dance--something the ruffian bikers had never seen before; they are so delighted and awed that they let him go.

And maybe development of higher beauty also had a pacifying effect. Chimps are all hairy and ugly. When they get horny, they just hump the nearest female. So, sexual behavior comes down to us vs them.
But greater beauty might have arisen among proto-man. So, when one tribe attacked another tribe, it looked around and thought, 'you know, these gals look better than our gals. So, maybe the victorious tribe went easier on the losing tribe'. I think the Mongols spared a lot of tribes on the basis of 'give us your good looking gals and we'll let you live'.

Anonymous said...

... which would be BEAUTY AND THE BEAST theory.Or maybe SHREK theory.

Anonymous said...

In "Guns, Germs, and Steel", there's a bit where Diamond describes how stressful bride exchanges are in nomdic tribes, because inevitably the tribesmen are going to run into the family members of people they've killed. Or to put it another way, at the time when the tribesmen kill someone, they know that they are inevitably going to have an in-law relationship with the victim. But they do it anyway, I guess because whatever is driving them to kill is more pressing than these considerations.

Anonymous said...

In modern times, specialization theory led to USSR and US sparing Nazi scientists so as to recruit them as rocket engineers.

And Mongols spared Chinese cuz Chinese could make silk and other fancy stuff. And Romans spared the Greeks cuz Greeks had so many good stuff.

YR said...

I'm sure NYT will come out against gun control any day now

Anonymous said...

Maybe something like THE GODFATHER theory took hold. AKA Deception Theory. We know that higher animals are all capable of deceit. Dogs have been known to deceive other dogs and their masters. Cats must use deceit to hunt. They quietly and silently stalk their prey before pouncing. Apes have been know to 'cheat' and pull tricks. Even so, animals tend to be more emotional and have a more difficult time suppressing their natural 'passions' and drives. They are more child-like. They show fear, excitement, anger, happiness, anxiety, etc in a blunt manner. There's little in the way of self-control. Also, even when deceiving, it's instinctive than 'intellectual'--or self-conscious. Among proto-man, with higher intelligence and growing self-awareness(later to become self-consciousness), the ability to deceive surely developed further.

There are essentially two kinds of deception. Deception by expression and deception by suppression. (Third kind, deception by diversion, employed by conman and magicians, may be the highest form. HOUSE OF GAMES theory.) Deception by expression would be like telling an ugly person that he or she's good-looking. Deception by suppression would be holding back one's natural feelings, such as saying nothing when a gross looking person enters an elevator. Though one's natural reaction would be to say, 'wow, look at that ugly gross person' and laugh, one pretends as if everything is normal. Generally, deception by expression is called 'lying' and usually looked down upon, though 'white lies' have their uses, as when teachers tell dumb kids, 'you are smart!'; but deception by suppression is something we teach our kids cuz 'civilized people' don't say stuff that offends other people. A kid is naturally likely to point to a disabled person and say, 'mommy, mommy, look at funny looking man'. The parent tells the child it's 'not nice' to say stuff like that even if it's true. This ability to avoid certain truths or natural emotions makes greater social peace possible. Blacks would be more peaceful if they stopped badmouthing each other's looks and saying stuff about each other's mama. (To be sure, deception can also be used as a wounding weapon, as most 'yo mama' insults are fabricated, e.g. 'yo mama is like McDonalds, over a 99 billion served'.)

Anonymous said...

Anyway, proto-man was probably able to deceive better. First by suppressing more of his emotions, and then by learning to lie--deceptive expression--as well. Suppose the primary purpose of these lies was to gain an advantage over the other side--to eventually defeat it; like how the Corleones lay low in THE GODFATHER before finally making the move to wipe out the five families.
But suppose two sides are equally matched in wit and intuition, as Vito Corleone and Hyman Roth were. Neither side trusts the other. Initially, they may have deceptively worked together to slyly gain the upperhand over the other. But over time, their endless deceptions(fangs hidden behind smiles, fists opening to shake hands) lead to an interweaving of business relations and even interdependency, to the point where it's in the interest of both not to destroy the other guy. And things might have remained stable if the Corleones didnt make such a blatant move against Moe Green.

Clearly, proto-man didn't have an 'intellectual' understanding of deception that Vito Corleone, Hyman Roth, Henry Kissinger, Bismarck, or Zhou En Lai did. But much more than chimps, they may have intuitively come to realize that there is something to be gained by suppression than expression of emotions. Also, they may have realized that deceptive expression can be more useful than honest expression. This made for reduced overt aggression, and more interaction between the two sides. Even if the chiefs of both sides were using deception to get the better of the other guy, the peace created during the period of deception might have led to bonds between members of both sides; while chiefs were slyly trying to destroy the other side, their kids might have fallen in love with one another; traders of both sides would have traded more. In time, the originally hostile intent of the deception-by-peace would have been subverted by genuine peace produced by increased interaction.

In this light, we can see the evolutionary aspect of PC. Though a bunch of lies, it does have a way of keeping the peace by suppressing expression that may be prickly or upsetting to the social order.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that certain species are in an unstable state while others are in a stable state of evolution? Maybe this is inherent as well as due to external factors. Drastic change in the environment--geographic or change in flora/fauna--obviously speed up natural selection for all species. Some die out while those suited to the environment survive.
But what if some species are in an inherently unstable stage of evolution, i.e. they are prone to change or evolve EVEN IF the environment remains stable. It'd be like uranium is inherently unstable.
We think that proto-man evolved to higher forms of man cuz of change in environment, but what if a kind of chain-reaction of genetic changes happened in proto-man when certain factors converged in his DNA? A kind of auto-combustible set of DNA. Let us assume that proto-man could have survived in Africa even without having changed any further. Why not? If lower-intelligence animals like chimps and baboons could survive in Afric without changing over a million yrs, why did proto-man, which was more intelligent and capable, have to evolve further in order to survive? Suppose something like homo erectus was perfectly capable of surviving without further evolution. So, why did proto-man keep evolving and changing? If dumber chipms could survive without further changes, why did proto-man need to 'improve' more? Maybe the DNA of proto-man was inherently unstable. It kicked off a series of possibilities in emotional, intellectual, and physical traits which then triggered a chain reaction of changes. Thus, even had the environment had remained stable and more-or-less the same, proto-man was bound to keep evolving, and this pace kept snowballing and growing larger and larger and faster and faster as it rolled down the evolutionary hill.
Suppose change in emotions gave new possibilities to use of intellect. Changes in intellect then led to more versatile use of hands and tools. More versatile use of hands and tools led to greater mental agility. Greater mental agility led to better control and self-awareness of emotions. So on and so on. This led to evolution not only by external forces by internal forces. As emotions, intellect, and physique of man grew more complicated, evolutionary pace sped up even more.
So, it could be proto-man evolved into modern man not so much because it needed to survive but because it reached a genetic tipping point which unleashed a series of chain reactions which played on/off one another and triggered more changes which then trigggered ever more changes.

Anonymous said...

From my understanding(or maybe misunderstanding)of recent findings, there seems to be something that might be called 'genetic addition' at work in human evolution, which is different from natural or artificial selection.

Suppose there's an organism that has 5 general traits A,B,C,D,E. Suppose mutative traits L,M,N,O crop up periodically. Generally, under normal circumstancs, the main traits of A,B,C,D,E are favored and pass down generation after generation while the 'useless' or 'harmful' mutative traits L,M,N,O are weeded out.
But suppose sudden change occur in the landscape. In the new enviroment, traits A and B are favored while C,D,E are disfavored. Also, mutative traits L and O are favored. So, natural selection favors A,B,L,O while C,D,E are weeded out and M and N are still have no evolutionary value.

But suppose a community of organisms produces enough food and security so that more can survive. And emotions and values develop so that even those not best-fit-to-survive are taken care of and allowed to produce offsprings. Under this system, not only will A,B,C,D,E traits survive but even the mutative traits L,M,N,O(and other mutative traits) since there is far less in the way of ruthless weeding out of 'inferior' or 'useless' traits.
Suppose mentally imbalanced organisms are generally weeded out in typical organic community. But in another community, even the mentally imbalanced are allowed to survive and mate. Some would call this 'degeneration', but others might call it diversification.
Though mental illness traits may generally be harmful, suppose in some 'great individuals', the traits produce something like artistic or scientific genius--the obsessives like Einstein, Beethoven, Kubrick. They may not be totally crazy but they have elements of mental-oddity-or-eccentricity. As more 'degenerative' genes survive and mix with the population, the effect could be both harmful and useful. According to Ayn Rand, human civilization lurched forward thanks to 'great individuals'. Most great individuals in arts, science, and what-have-you tend to be 'different', even 'psychopathic' in some way. Though a 1000 mentally imbalanced people may not be good society, one very great person may owe his greatness to some element of mental funniness; and he will do great stuff for civilization.
We can see this with the gays. Most gays have useless genes and are annoying as hell. But some great gay individuals in arts, science, and philosophy may owe their greatness at least in part to their 'abnormal' way of looking at things.

Anonymous said...

And if we compare dogs and wolves, one might say dogs are the products of genetic addition while wolves are products of natural selection. All wolves look more or less the same cuz nature weeds out those with unwolf-like features. Though artificial selection worked on dogs to create certain special breeds, many dogs were allowed to survive and breed as 'family dogs' even if they had emotional problems, were physically weak or funny, etc. This caused more problems among dogs but also a wider diversity of traits which is why dogs are capable of doing much more than wolves. Wolves may be stronger--and even smarter--but they are basically only good for hunting in nature. Though certain breeds of dogs were genetically weeded out for certain traits, many dogs were allowed to interbreed and survive in various combinations. Traits multiplied. So, though most dogs may be mediocre, some individual dogs are truly exceptional in talent and personality.

Because of natural selection, most wolves are alike. Most moose are alike. Most brown bears are alike. In both appearance and ability. But because genetic addition has been at work with man, there's great diversity and divergence among humans. There are significant different between races but even within one race; the differences among individuals in looks and ability is much greater than among wolves or among polar bears.

So, the concept of 'human evolution' may be problematic. We are not all evolving in the same way, and this is true even within the same national or racial community. When the Apollo spacecraft landed on the moon, we say 'mankind did it' and, it sounded very nice. But was it really the work of mankind? Or of a select number of individuals who are 'different'?

All wolves can more or less can do the same thing. Relatively few humans can do higher math and computer engineering. Yet, the technology created by those few humans affect all our lives, and so there's the notion that 'we all did it'. And when American blacks win the 100 m sprint, all Americans say 'we won'. But did WE win? Instead of natural selection or weeding out traits, we seem to be artificially widening the number of traits.

Svigor said...

With only one mate, for the most part, a male [chimp/ape] had an incentive to guard her from other males to protect his paternity."


There are plenty of human tool-using hunter-gatherer tribes that have no conception of "paternity".

Incentive, meet concept.

Svigor said...

Jesus H Christ, I think somebody needs his own blog.

travis said...

So, kin selection and reciprocal economic cooperation both are aided by higher intelligence, thus, in turn, selecting for more intelligence and more cooperation. A virtuous circle.

Kubrick returned to the image of a circle of killers again and again in his movies, most famously with the construction of the War Room in Dr Strangelove. The most direct articulation of Kubrick's views on human evolution are expressed by Sgt Hartman, surrounded by a circle of marine recruits, in Full Metal Jacket: Intelligence and cooperation are important, but it's a hard heart that kills. The reason the ape is ecstatic in 2001: A Space Odyssey is not because he disovered a weapon; he's revelling in the joy of the kill, the joy of the overman, hence Thus Spach Zarathustra playing in the background.

It's a rather compelling vision. I know I would rather throw my lot in with a group of hillbillies than a group of SWPL types, a vicious circle as opposed to a virtuous one. Sure, the latter is more intelligent and cooperative, but do they have killer instincts?

Svigor said...

in Full Metal Jacket: Intelligence and cooperation are important, but it's a hard heart that kills

Makes sense, but it's odd, because I always squared Joker's killing of the sniper girl and his liberalism by assuming the point of putting the gun in Joker's hand was about taking responsibility, not hard-heartedness. Doing the dirty job, basically. And maybe dealing with hard-heartedness as an unintended consequence.

Gene Berman said...


Nicholas Wade, in writing of male apes' guarding females from approach by other males, terms such behavior "protecting his paternity."

This is "anthropomorphism"-- the attribution to lower life forms of specifically human cognition (in a "down" version the inverse of the "up" version of attributing human
traits to a deity).

Of course this behavior is a form of evidence that such species as display it do share (with humans) cognition of the mechanical (and genetic) fundamentals of coition and its consequences. But it's not proof. Similarly, the activities by which various species seem to "stake claim" to a "territory" are based on similar anthropomorphic interpretation.

Put another way, our ability to understand much of the behavior of various species depends not on studying their behavior but on an understanding of our own, similar in some respects.

But the fact that we observe such behavioral similarities should not lead to unwarranted conclusions. We don't know, for example, that various animals have any concept of 'territory" whatever--only that they do certain things that make it seem as though they do.

As an example, do you think that either you or the ape might become agreeable if it were sure that the interloper were sterile (or would wear a condom)? No? Didn't think so. Thus, it becomes obvious that interpreting the behavior as intended to protect paternity leaves much to be desired insofar as understanding is concerned, no matter how valuable such behavior might be as a general rule for restricting paternity. The plain fact is that we don't know why either we or the apes behave in such manner--only that we (and they) do--and that a result we wish is potentially enhanced (without any requirement that the ape has any interest whatever in the paternity matter).

Anonymous said...

I don’t agree.

All this proves is that a certain threshold of intelligence promotes cooperation. That is not to say that more intelligence also promotes more cooperation. I could very well be true that at a higher threshold of intelligence, the protagonist gets smart enough to realize that he doesn’t have to hunt anymore. All he has to do is get guy #4 to smash brother-in-law’s skull in exchange of access to sister and hunting rights in his territory. Then sit back and enjoy the daily portions of cave-delivered food. Till a huge dumb chimp or two comes along to massacre his pseudo-tribe and rape the females.

Point being that even the most backward Amazon tribe is smart enough to identify relatives. Intelligence alone cannot promote cooperation. On the contrary, too much intelligence is probably a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

There are two interrelated theories: The SEVEN BEAUTIES theory--aka The Worm Theory--and the ZELIG theory--aka the Chameleon Theory.

Wertmuller's film's central theme is survival. Its main character is Pasqualino, a guy who will do anything to survive. In one scene, a German Nazi officer--a fat gross-looking woman--tells Pasqualino that his kind will out-survive the noble Aryans since worms can wiggle through anything. Worms have no vertebrae. Generally, saying someone has 'spine' is a compliment while 'spineless' is pejorative. But to have a spine can also be rigid and stiff while a spineless creature can adapt to all manner of situations. Pasqualino survives cuz he wiggles like a worm. Paradoxically, his cowardice in the face of danger makes him 'courageous' and daring in his shameless attempt to survive anywhere, anyhow; his low courage intensifies his life force. Come to think of it, Italy came out of WWII better than Germans. Germans had spine and fought to the end; and Hitler died in the bunker. Italy switched sides when war began to go badly, and Mussolini ran to save his own skin. Italians are more 'wormy'. It could be that wormy individuals or wormy nature among proto-man had a way of loosening hard-headed tribalism among various groups.
Some might say a worm is like a rat, but there's a difference. A rat may be adaptive but it has a hidden 'social agenda'. Rats are for rat power. Worms, on the other hand, have no loyalty but survival. Thus, they can be arch-individualists or arch-socialists. They'll do and be anything to survive. Thus, their mentality is ever flexible.

Kinda similar to the worm is the chameleon, like the character Zelig of Woody Allen's movie. Higher animals have ability to mimic: 'monkey see, monkey do'. Humans have the great ability for mimickry. Humans can not only mimic other humans but animals, machines, etc. This could have been useful among proto-man in forming bonds. Suppose Tribe A has 100 members and Tribe B has 10 members. Tribe A has the advantage over Tribe B and wonders if it should destroy Tribe B. But suppose members of Tribe B mimic the ways, habits, and culture of Tribe A. After a while, members of Tribe A will think, 'you know, these guys are kinda like us'.
In a way, we see this among immigrants. Initially, all those immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe freaked out Anglo-Americans with their different language, smelly foods, habits, etc. But immigrants began to mimic Anglo-American ways. Eventually Polish-Americans, Swedish-Americans, Irish-Americans, and Italian-Americans became more or less the same. Rise of culture--different languages, customs, habits, rituals, etc--may have led to divisions and distrust among mankind, BUT the ability for man to mimic other people and cultures made cooperation among different groups much more likely.

In the book LITTLE BIG MAN, Jack Crabbe is a chameleon who fits in among Indians, whites(of all social classes and status).
A chameleon may be of a higher order than a worm. If a worm seeks to survive anyway-anyhow due to a primal life-force(desire for self-preservation), a chameleon may be more self-aware of and skilled in his talents. It's no wonder some call Obama 'the Obameleon', a creature who can hang with the brothas, Harvard Jews, wasps, Muslims, etc. While chameleonism may be cynical and deceptive, in many cases it may actually be sincere. Many immigrants really want to become 'good Americans'. They go out of their way to mimic American-ness out of genuine desire to become this creature called 'American'.

Anonymous said...

Maybe something like LA STRADA theory--aka Boredom Theory--influenced the development of cooperation among proto-man.

Higher animals need stimuli, which is why modern zoos offer lots of horizontal and vertical space for chimps and the like. Even so, chimps can be more or less satisifed with monkeying around, eating, climbing and jumping, etc. Dogs need stimuli too, but they are more or less easy to please. It's happy to play fetch and go for walks.
Proto-man was somewhere between ape and man. He was considerably more intelligent and emotionally complex than apes. So, it needed more stimuli and was also naturally more curious. Boredom was probably less bearable for proto-man, who was also more fascinated and dazzled by new stimuli.
A bunch of chimps on their own turf could be pretty satisfied playing their little games and eating fruits. But proto-man may have wanted more than the same old-same old.
So, if a chimp pack faced off against another chimp pack, the main emotions was aggression and hostility.
But among proto-man tribes, though aggression and hostility flared up when different tribes met, there was probably lots of curiosity and a welcome break from the boredom.

In the movie LA STRADA, Zampano(Quinn)is a traveling freak show artist, and villagers are eager to see his show cuz they are bored out of their skulls in isolated villages. When I spent some time in small town as a kid, I was bored out of my skull and delighted when county fairs brought carnival people with their rides. Even though many carnies were scary looking--with tattoos and leather--, they were still a welcome break from the sheer dullness of the town.

So, proto-man, being more intelligent and more curious had greater problem of boredom and lack of stimuli. Thus, encountering another tribe, especially a colorful and 'different' one, might have led to something other than fear: joy and relief(from boredom).
Modern man and woman certainly need NEW everything to keep himself entertained: new news, new fashions, new shoes, new movies every week, new crises, new technology, etc.

Anonymous said...

Maybe something like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA theory or the Third Party theory came into play in the development of cooperation among proto-man.

In Lean's movie, there's a funny paradox. The various Arab tribes have much in common but simply cannot get along; in fact, they often kill one another. It takes Lawrence, who has almost nothing in common with any of them, to bring the various tribes together for a united purpose.
When Lawrence first meets Omar Sharif, the latter shoots an Arab. Lawrence is shocked by the cruel barbarism of the Arabs. Later, Lawrence tries to bring the Omar Sharif tribe and the Anthony Quinn tribe together. But a member of the Sharif tribe kills a member of the Quinn tribe. An inter-tribal war is about to go off. If Quinn tribe strikes back, Sharif tribe will strike back too in endless cycles of vendetta. So, Lawrence volunteers to kill the man who committed the murder. This is okay to both sides since Lawrence is a 'neutral outsider' beholden to neither tribe.
Even today, peace in places like Ireland and Israel required outside mediators--like Carter in the deal between Egypt and Israel. And US played the mediator in the Irish peace deals in the late 90s. (Today, US is so close to Israel that I doubt if it could play the neutral outsider/mediator.) And Asians trust US in the Pacific cuz US plays the neutral power among the various nations: China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, etc.

In the New Zealand movie UTU--great review by Pauline Kael--, a bunch of guys wanna kill a Maori rebel chief. They wanna kill him so bad that they almost come to blows over who should do the killing. Then, some guy steps in and says HE should do the killing since he has no personal vendetta against the man. Others accept this as just.

Among proto-man, a kind of third-party social dynamic might have developed which made larger and larger communities possible. Suppose there's tribes A, B, and C. Suppose Tribe A and Tribe C cannot stand one another. But tribe B is friendly with both Tribe A and Tribe C. Via Tribe B as the third party, it may be possible for Tribe A and Tribe C to eventually make the peace too.
The symbol of justice is a blindfolded woman holding a scale, and this basic concept might have began with third-party-ism among proto-man tribes. In sports, there are referees who are trusted by both sides and the fans cuz they are neutral parties who don't take sides. Among friends, if Jane and Jill fight, and if Cathy is friends to both Jane and Jill, it may be through Cathy that Jane and Jill become friends again.

The third party among proto-man tribes could also have been oddball yogi types. Suppose they left their tribes to seek some kind of higher magic/wisdom. As medicine men of the forest, they have no fixed tribal loyalty. So, if different tribes get come into conflict, the medicine man outsider could serve as the mediator.

Anonymous said...

Should human evolution even be called 'evolution'?
Human and dog evolution must surely be atypical in the annals of evolution.
Evolution generally produces members of a species that are more or less alike. Evolution of humans and dogs produced wide divergences within the same species.
Of oourse, if all dogs were to return to nature, they would eventually probably end up looking more or less alike. Certain breeds--dacshunds and bulldogs--probably wouldn't survive. Eventually, the hardy ones that survive will become more like wolves. But under human care, dogs evolved into all sorts of diverse creatures. Such differences within a single species are surely abnormal in nature.

Same goes for humans too. Just consider the difference between Albert Einstein and Mike Tyson. Einstein could figure out the laws of the universe; Tyson struggled to learn simple math. On the other hand, Tyson could have killed Einstein in a second or half a second.
Among chimps, there are smarter chimps and dumber chimps, stronger chimps and weaker chimps. But the difference between a smart chimp and a dumb chimp cannot be that great. A smart chimp may pull tricks to earn 5 bananas; the dumb one might pull tricks to earn 1 banana. And though the stronger chimp will beat a weaker chimp, there will still be a struggle. It won't be like Tyson killing Einstein with one punch.

Evolution generally narrows down the traits of species where human evolution has widended the traits of human species. Should this be called divolution, a diversifying evolution? And where will all this lead?

Modern elites do things that will increasingly separate them from the rest of humanity. Smart/rich people marry smart/rich people. Their IQs grow ever higher, thereby growing further and further apart from the idiocratic masses. Yet, the elites are telling us that humans are all the same. Something surreal about where we are headed as a species.

Anonymous said...

"We don't know, for example, that various animals have any concept of 'territory" whatever--only that they do certain things that make it seem as though they do."

Their concept of territory seems to be wet than dry. They piss and poo all over and tell by scent.

Jim Bowery said...

Pack hunting relying on running is reduced in favor of individual hunting relying on weapons and symbionts such as predomesticated wolves. Individualized hunting was the first "out of Africa" wave.

We see the consequences today in the gang takeover of governments and the marginalization of the individual.

Anonymous said...

How about JULES AND JIM theory of human development. Though 'women's liberation' as we know it is a recent political phenomenon, the proto-woman might have been more 'liberated' and 'independent' than an ape-woman. I mean who ever heard of a 'chimp fatale'? Female chimps just get nailed by horny male chimps.

But as proto-humans became psychologically and emotionally more complex and physically more appealing-looking, proto-gals may have come to conscious realization they could use their sexual attractiveness as a kind of flirting instrument. And proto-gals might have shown preference not just for the toughest proto-man but for a proto-man with charming qualities, style(or proto-style), more clams, or more food. I heard even male chimps use food to get sex from female chimps.

As this developed, proto-man males realized that it's not good enough to be merely tough and strong. One had to look nice, smell nice(or nicer), know how to dance and sing(or at least make more pleasant sound), etc in order to win the heart of the proto-gal. This may have led to more peacefulness among males. (On the other hand, worship of beauty could lead to war too. Helen and the Trojan War. Nazis and their cult of beauty as core ideology.)
If proto-man had the fight club, proto-woman developed the beauty club. In GOODFELLAS, guys go 'hunting' while the gals hang around beauty salons.
And sometimes, Popeye and Bluto try to win Olive by more civilized means than just fighting. And since good-looking proto-woman wanted a good-looking proto-man, proto-man may have realized fighting is not always to one's advantage: one could get scarred, teeth knocked out, or nose punched in--or end up pug-ugly.

In JULES AND JIM, Catherine is so beautiful and special that the two guys don't fight over her but cooperate to share her. Pathetic, one might say, but then they're trapped on the Island of Jeanne Moreau.

Gibbonologist said...


Gibbons pair-bond for life (although some hanky-panky between unmated individuals does occur), and the male guards his partner sans weapons (apart from some really big teeth).

Gibbon families are nice little nuclear families with ma and pa and a kid or two, so the genealogical structures of gibbon families is very clear.

And, yet, gibbons are still living in the trees.

The Great Steverino:

Right, gibbons are delightful to watch at the zoo, so graceful and nice to each other, while adult chimps are like the Hell's Angels. But chimps are smarter than gibbons.

Gibbons, though impressive family-minded acrobats, are an evolutionary dead-end. They're "still in the trees".

The arboreal (tree-dwelling) niche demands small body size and fast movement. Gibbons have all that. Monogamy is a side effect of the male not being any larger or stronger than the female. The dwarf antelopes of East Africa are also selected for smallness, and happen to be monogamous.

Small body size puts a limit on brain size and intelligence. Chimps and humans are about the same size, the ideal one for brain development. Gibbons are too small to be very smart. The largest gibbon species, the siamangs, has reached its maximum size (a wopping 30 pounds). It eats mostly leaves, and is much slower than other gibbons without being much smarter.

It is possible for a large, smart, slow ape to finds it niche high up in the jungle. But it would have to evolve separately from the gibbon, and in the case of the orangutan, did just that.

Anonymous said...

An example of the CHAMELEON or ZELIG theory can be seen in the movie BODY SNATCHERS. The pod people have no emotions and go after people with emotions. But one can fool the podders by mimicking them. Act emotionless and the podders mistake you for one of them. This suggests that control of emotions made it more possible for proto-man to cooperate. If pod people do one thing really well, it's cooperate. Emotions don't get in the way.
When two strange cats confront each other, there's more chance of peace if both suppresses their emotions. But if one starts spitting and other starts hissing, there's more bound to be a fight.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the banana aided the development of proto-man. We saw in many comedy movies how people slip on bananas, and it's supposed to be funny.
Suppose two proto-man tribes faced off for a major fight. One of the warriors eats a banana and tosses the peel away. Just as the fight is about to start, some guy slips on the peel and falls down. Everybody starts laughing, and the fellas decide they are all friends since they laughed together.

Anonymous said...

"Gibbons, though impressive family-minded acrobats, are an evolutionary dead-end. They're 'still in the trees'."

I heard there are two kinds of chimpanzees: the forest chimps who rely much on trees and field chimps who have fewer trees to rely on. Field chimps are bigger and stronger. When a leopard appears on the scene, they huddle together and rely on strength-in-numbers. Forest chimps, on the other hand, head for the trees when they spot danger. They are smaller, swifter, and flightier than the field chimps.
One might say forest chimps are more gibbonish while field chimps are more gorilla-ish, at least in their behavior. But, forest chimps and field chimps are still more or less alike.

But the following video shows chimps, by working together, can scare the crap out of a leopard too.

Anonymous said...

The question... why did primates eventually produce the most intelligent species: the great apes and man? Why not canines, felines, elephants, or bears? After all, bears and elephants are said to be more intelligent than some lower primates--certain species of monkeys.

Maybe there was something unique in the primate brain that allowed it develop and expand more?

Or maybe it was accidental. I think I sort of remember hearing something along this line in freshman highschool class in the early 80s. The teacher told us something about the hand. Primates have hands, other species do not, no matter how intelligent they are.
Initially, the development of the hand may have had nothing or little to do with intelligence or 'intellectual' stuff. It was just a useful survival tool--for hanging from trees. Though smaller bears and cats can climb trees, they cannot hang from one tree to another, like gibbons can. A bear may escape danger by climbing one tree but it's stuck there. A monkey or gibbon can not only climb a tree but hang or swing from tree to another, if the first tree comes under attack by a big cat or poisonous snake that can also climb. Hands allow hanging. Hooves cannot climb; paws and claws can climb but it cannot hang or swing. Intially, this ability to hang may not have led to any 'intellectual' breakthrough. It was just a survival skill and a neat ability/trick.

Though apes needed to come back down to ground to develop into the smarter proto-man, it was the trees that probably made the development of hand possible--as a hanging/swinging apparatus.
If monkeys/apes had remained only in trees, they might not have done much with hands. In a way, the gibbon's superb swinging skills were a kind of curse. They got so good at it that they saw no need to come down to ground and do much else with their hands.

But other apes did come down to ground. Though chimps are also good swingers and hangers, they also like to do a lot of ground activity. On the ground, hands didn't hang/swing from branches, so they were freed. Though originally developed for hanging, it was now able to do lots of 'creative' stuff in looking and digging for food, forming into a fist to punch opponents, and even using/making simple tools. This connection between the versatile hands and the brains brought forth a whole new dynamic. Those with better--more creative--use of hands had better chance of survival. Over time, those with even better use of hands were favored. Thus, hands developed more and more into a creative tool than merely a hanging/swinging tool. And at some point, proto-man developed a hand where the thumb could touch the tips of opposings fingers. And as the feet developed more into a walking/running instrument, the hands got freed even more. This is a gist of what the highschool teacher told us. Don't know if it's true or not according to latest theories.

I wonder though... suppose by some accident, bears, cats, and canines had developed hands first. Would we living in the planet of the bears, cats, or dogs?

Anonymous said...

Under 'divolution', will humans simultaneously grow ever smarter and ever dumber. Some groups will grow smarter--smart Jews marrying smart Chinese--and some groups will grow dumber and dumber.
If the masses of dummies are sheeplike--relatively gentle--, the ever smarter elites will find ways to control them. If the masses of dummies are tasmanian-devil-like, it's gonna lead to one massive riot.

Anonymous said...

Would it be possible to turn chimpanzees into hominids? We know that man didn't evolve from chimps, but maybe chimps could be genetically evolution-ized into something higher, something like proto-man.
Suppose we were do tests on chimps and pick only the smartest among them and mate them together in successive generations. Suppose we also choose chimps that are less hairy, have better hand skills, and better at walking upright. We choose those traits over generation after generation after generation. Suppose this experiment goes on for 1000 yrs. Will a hominid like proto-man evolve from chimps?

Anonymous said...

Would it also be possible to make an ape out of man? Suppose we find people who are hairest, have longest arms, lowest IQ, etc, and mate those individuals generation after generation after generation. will they eventually turn ape-like?