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Does evolution lead to a less violent society?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,522 ✭✭✭paleoperson


    Thanks for your insights.

    If you're going to resort to this sort of sarcasm then forget it.

    It would be very credible for me be thanked for my insights here since those things really needed to be said from the way some people here were talking about evolution, but based on what you just said you clearly aren't in the position where you're going to be thanking me. Try talking straight next time you want to be taken seriously.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,547 ✭✭✭✭Poor Uncle Tom


    Black Swan wrote: »
    I would think that we can discuss, evaluate, and debate the (discredited) theory of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (Philosophie Zoologique) and his Law that acquired traits can be inherited by future generations.

    Why not, although his theory has been discredited, he was novel in his establishment of the fact of evolution.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,547 ✭✭✭✭Poor Uncle Tom


    If you're going to resort to this sort of sarcasm then forget it.

    It would be very credible for me be thanked for my insights here since those things really needed to be said from the way some people here were talking about evolution, but based on what you just said you clearly aren't in the position where you're going to be thanking me. Try talking straight next time you want to be taken seriously.

    Ahh, don't be like that, I've thanked your post to prove you wrong......:)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,191 ✭✭✭Eugene Norman


    Guys, almost all of this is all nonsensical speculation.

    First of all, evolution is very different from natural selection. If all the tall people died tomorrow, we wouldn't have "evolved" the short trait. Evolution takes place over a much, much longer timeframe. It's due to mutation.

    Secondly, there is pretty much ZERO selection pressure against more violent people in society. Violent people have children all the time, perhaps a lot more than non-violent people. So no we're not headed that way at all. And we wouldn't see results of it that way, it's a ridiculous idea.

    The long and short of it is that everything you see in society has EVERYTHING to do with society and culture and environment and NOTHING to do with any sort of evolutionary pressure.

    It could be claimed that human society is adapting to the world, and tending to become less violent, but that has nothing to do with evolution.

    Frankly, the OP and several others here have some really, really serious misconceptions of what evolution is.


    There's clearly evolutionary pressures on humans in the historical or recent (by the glacial pace of most evolution) past. Resistance to diseases brought in by animals in Europe, (somewhat flawed) resistance to malaria in Africa, lactose tolerance in populations whose ancestors drank milk, white skin for vitamin D in Europe, alcohol resistance in societies who drink alcohol and more.

    Violence could be de-selected for if the violent had fewer kids. That's not happening now but it may have happened in the Middle Ages.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,191 ✭✭✭Eugene Norman


    Stephen Pinker has written the most coherent empirical text on this.

    Here's the Wikipedia synopsis.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Better_Angels_of_Our_Nature

    He argues that Iron Age man had as many fatalities as WWII and that since then -- with the exception of WWII and other blips like the 30 years war -- society has continued to get less violent. There was a slight rise in violence post 1960 and he puts that down to a looser culture. Mostly he credits cultural changes.

    Worth reading.

    A good riposte to that argument is that it's only true for now, if we ever use our nuclear weaponry then the modern age will b by far the most violent or genocidal ever.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,522 ✭✭✭paleoperson


    Stephen Pinker has written the most coherent empirical text on this.

    Here's the Wikipedia synopsis.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Better_Angels_of_Our_Nature

    He argues that Iron Age man had as many fatalities as WWII and that since then -- with the exception of WWII and other blips like the 30 years war -- society has continued to get less violent. There was a slight rise in violence post 1960 and he puts that down to a looser culture. Mostly he credits cultural changes.

    Worth reading.

    A good riposte to that argument is that it's only true for now, if we ever use our nuclear weaponry then the modern age will b by far the most violent or genocidal ever.

    The other great apes such as chimpanzees and bonobos are at almost all times peaceloving creatures. With their habitats being continually eroding away, very occasionally they get territorial and nasty nowadays. There is no reason why humans would be any different.

    In my view humans were like that originally, and civilization brought with it vast inequalities and violence. Ancient man also was not malnourished or in any way short of food pre-mass exodus from Africa. He did not live a short life, there is no reason or evidence to suggest he didn't to 100. It's with the neolithic revolution that people started dying young.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,191 ✭✭✭Eugene Norman


    The other great apes such as chimpanzees and bonobos are at almost all times peaceloving creatures. With their habitats being continually eroding away, very occasionally they get territorial and nasty nowadays. There is no reason why humans would be any different.

    In my view humans were like that originally, and civilization brought with it vast inequalities and violence. Ancient man also was not malnourished or in any way short of food pre-mass exodus from Africa. He did not live a short life, there is no reason or evidence to suggest he didn't to 100. It's with the neolithic revolution that people started dying young.

    Firstly chimpanzees are not peace loving. Bonobos are. However we didn't evolve like bonobos.

    Secondly you seem to want your own facts here. It's fairly clear ancient man was fairly violent and died young. They didn't have doctors although some could have lived to 70+ it was rare.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,236 CMod ✭✭✭✭Black Swan


    In my view humans were like that originally, and civilization brought with it vast inequalities and violence.
    This perspective would be consistent with the world view of Jean-Jacques Rousseau that claimed in his Discourse on the Origins of Inequality that humans were good by nature but corrupted by society. Some critics of Rousseau question how a society composed of good by nature humans was corrupt and not also good?

    The term "noble savage" suggested that humans were innately good before civilization affected change upon them to be otherwise. This term first appeared in an English play by John Dryden called the Conquest of Granada (1672). But the foundation for such a perspective can be traced to the ancient Greek works of Homer, Pliny, and Xenophon when they referred to the idealized primitive tribal Arcadians, such references being a mix between real and fictional accounts.

    Empirically we lack significant valid and reliable data that would support the existence of the noble savage, or to suggest that such a savage was less corrupt or violent than contemporary humans.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,522 ✭✭✭paleoperson


    Firstly chimpanzees are not peace loving. Bonobos are. However we didn't evolve like bonobos.

    Secondly you seem to want your own facts here. It's fairly clear ancient man was fairly violent and died young. They didn't have doctors although some could have lived to 70+ it was rare.

    That is incorrect. We have no tangible record of anything man did before he left sub-Saharan Africa. These are inventions and confusions in your thinking only.

    "fairly clear"... implying you're thinking of all the supporting evidence when you make that statement... really filthy and destructive lies.

    "fairly clear"... I've seen someone else make this sort of statement before, how they know "pretty well" (or some similar phrase) how long ancient man before he left Africa lived.... no they don't! Fossils don't survive in the type of environment man evolved in. There is nothing at all to suggest how long man lived in those times.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,236 CMod ✭✭✭✭Black Swan


    Why not, although his theory has been discredited, he was novel in his establishment of the fact of evolution.

    What about the relatively recent researches in epigenetic inheritance that suggests experiential tags of parents can be transmitted to offspring before nurturance can occur? Is this a variation and reconsideration of the disclaimed theory of Lamark? If so, are there any violence or anti-violence epigenetic tags transferred from parent to child before birth? This unconventional perspective is problematic and controversial.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,028 ✭✭✭gladrags


    Black Swan wrote: »
    What about the relatively recent researches in epigenetic inheritance that suggests experiential tags of parents can be transmitted to offspring before nurturance can occur? Is this a variation and reconsideration of the disclaimed theory of Lamark? If so, are there any violence or anti-violence epigenetic tags transferred from parent to child before birth? This unconventional perspective is problematic and controversial.

    Innate you mean.

    This is well researched,universal grammar for example,and the theoretical passage of genes,similar to the opposite proposition,that in fact it is the gene that is evolutionary,and we are merely carriers.

    Think back,simple amoeba.

    The questoon asked in this thread is too simplistic,to
    a point.

    You could say that violence and conflict is universal in all amoebic orientated life.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,236 CMod ✭✭✭✭Black Swan


    gladrags wrote: »
    You could say that violence and conflict is universal in all amoebic orientated life.
    Would it follow that "life is competition," and that tooth and claw violence is one variation of competition that is pervasive and continuous, and not in decline? Will and Ariel Durant suggested this in their Lessons of History, per a brief review by Edward Dougherty of the National Association of Scholars, 9 September 2015.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,028 ✭✭✭gladrags


    Black Swan wrote: »
    Would it follow that "life is competition," and that tooth and claw violence is one variation of competition that is pervasive and continuous, and not in decline? Will and Ariel Durant suggested this in their Lessons of History, per a brief review by Edward Dougherty of the National Association of Scholars, 9 September 2015.

    A fine expansive observation.

    “We shall here define progress as the increasing control of the environment by life….Our problem is whether the average man has increased his ability to control the conditions of his life.”

    Of human life maybe or maybe not.

    But in the context of living organisms,genetically formed,does it matter that one minute faction of life is bent on irrational behaviour?

    Violence is specific to the human condition.

    There is a difference between violence and survival.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,236 CMod ✭✭✭✭Black Swan


    Behavioural genetics is a relatively new field of enquiry that suggests from preliminary studies that specific variations in gene composition may be associated with antisocial personality and behaviour (APB), including aggression and violent behaviour. A meta-analytic review of researches by Christopher Ferguson suggested that "56% of the variance in APB can be explained through genetic influences."

    It should be noted that such behavioural genetic findings have been a source of debate, and may need extensive longitudinal studies before sufficient support, or the lack of support, may be realised. It may be (or not) that specific genetic inheritances increase the proclivity to violent behaviour, but in and of themselves, in the absence of additional environmental influences, may not result in the increased likelihood of APB.

    If future studies support the genetic proclivity to increased APB and violence, and if such genetic predispositions are a variant of population distributions, then to suggest that violence may be in decline would be problematic.

    Source: Ferguson, CJ (2010), Genetic Contributions to Antisocial Personality and Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review From an Evolutionary Perspective, Journal of Social Psychology, 150 (2), 160–180.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 963 ✭✭✭Labarbapostiza


    gladrags wrote: »
    But in the context of living organisms,genetically formed,does it matter that one minute faction of life is bent on irrational behaviour?

    Why would violence be irrational behaviour?

    I can think of many circumstances where violence would be the most rational action.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,028 ✭✭✭gladrags


    Why would violence be irrational behaviour?

    I can think of many circumstances where violence would be the most rational action.

    "When discussing violent behavior in humans, newscasters and other people quite often refer to those who commit these acts as "animals" or say they're "acting like animals." However, this dismissal is based on a lack of knowledge about the latest scientific research on animals that clearly shows that individuals of many species are far more cooperative, peaceful, kind, compassionate, empathic and nicer than previously thought. However, regardless of mounting scientific evidence that nonhumans are predominantly cooperative, peaceful and fair, and on occasion display social justice (see also and also), media hype often portrays other animals as being far more violent and war-like than they really are."


    From the perspective of animals,including humans,violence is specific to humans,and within the context of animal behaviour it is irrational,and inexplicable.

    It is not related to natural evolution,it is unatural within that scope.

    You may have circumstance,but it is the actions of unatural behaviour of for example,gratuitous vilonence,and our acceptance of it,that is unatural.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 963 ✭✭✭Labarbapostiza


    gladrags wrote: »
    "When discussing violent behavior in humans, newscasters and other people quite often refer to those who commit these acts as "animals" or say they're "acting like animals."

    Okay, let's take the newscasters, or the voices you'll hear in the media. They frame the violence for political reasons. They're not objective, they have their objectives.

    Lets look at how the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is framed by say the BBC. The Palestinians are framed as being inexplicably violent and less civilised. (Inexplicable because part of the framing is not explaining). The violence of the Israelis is depicted much differently, it's not even referred to as violence. The Palestinians commit acts of terror, the Israelis simply defend themselves. And of course this is not true; the Israeli contribution to the violence dwarfs the Palestinians'. If you listened to the BBC you'd have the impression that a Goliath sized Gaza was pummeling a David sized Israel. This is very much upside or back to front.

    Why does the BBC back the Israelis? This is to do with social class. Media organisations are dominated by the upper-class. Their view of the world is that they are the only people, and everyone beneath them is rat like and threatening. They see Israel's actions as exterminating the rat people. The same people will say in relation to the Palestinians, that violence achieves nothing. But they never say the same for the Israelis. The reason is, they believe violence achieves everything, they just don't want the rat people to know that.

    However, this dismissal is based on a lack of knowledge about the latest scientific research on animals that clearly shows that individuals of many species are far more cooperative, peaceful, kind, compassionate, empathic and nicer than previously thought. However, regardless of mounting scientific evidence that nonhumans are predominantly cooperative, peaceful and fair, and on occasion display social justice (see also and also), media hype often portrays other animals as being far more violent and war-like than they really are."

    The kind of people dominate the BBC dominate this kind of "research". I wouldn't absolutely dismiss this work, but you'd have to take it with a large a pinch of salt as you'd take the output of the BBC.

    Orwell's main influence for 1984 was the BBC, where he worked.
    From the perspective of animals,including humans,violence is specific to humans,and within the context of animal behaviour it is irrational,and inexplicable.

    That is not true. Our closest relatives; the apes, behave very much like us. Acts such as killing rivals for resources or raping females, these are rational actions.

    You may have circumstance,but it is the actions of unatural behaviour of for example,gratuitous vilonence,and our acceptance of it,that is unatural.

    There's no such thing as unnatural behaviour....there's no such thing as unnatural.........the dichotomy is a spurious claim of ideology.


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