What a Bunch of Apes!

Like it or not, the distant ancestors of our species were simians — monkeys, apes, what-have-you. For better or worse, many of those traits remain with us today, no matter how much we’d like to disavow them, either by claiming we’re beyond that or denying it totally through a wholehearted espousal of some miraculous divine world-creation mere thousands of years ago.

If we’re so far beyond that ancestry, why are so many behaviors so simian-like? Why do we listen to the loudest and most vociferous chatterers, rather than the most thoughtful? Why, in general, do we follow the tallest males and select them as leaders? And when they’re close to the same height, why do we select the most persuasive, regardless of the facts? Think otherwise? Just look at the history of presidential campaigns since the founding of the United States.

Like all simians — except perhaps the bonobos — we form groups and ostracize those who don’t play by the rules, while attacking all outsiders who intrude. Some of us do treat sex the way the bonobos do — indiscriminately with anyone — but most follow the simian model of faithfulness when convenient or required, but with a large modicum of cheating or serial monogamy, if not both.

Human social dynamics follow many simian patterns, such as male gifts of delicacies, grooming, and food in order to obtain sexual favors. Or females playing up to dominant males for special privileges and status. American male teenagers, as well as those in many other human cultures, form often rowdy gangs, just like many simian pre-adults, who can only be brought into line by social pressure and adult authority.

We’ve taken tool using farther than have our simian relations, but the earliest tools were predominantly weapons, and we’ve certainly carried through on that line, and like our ancestors, who used trees and high places for refuge, so do we, except we build higher than any tree to create such refuges.

Then there’s our vaunted communications technology, which through emails, cellphones, PCs, internet, twitter, Facebook YouTube, MySpace, is predominantly used, not for conveying information, but for the electronic equivalent of social grooming and posturing. Even the majority of face-to-face conversation contains a minimum of information and a maximization of chattering and “grooming.” And as in most simian cultures, most of the time most people don’t listen because they’re too busy chattering or thinking about what they’re going to chatter.

Now… for a bunch of intelligent and sometimes educated apes, we haven’t done too badly… so far, but whether we survive anywhere close to as long as the dinosaurs did is going to require some transcendence of some of our simian characteristics. More chattering and posturing isn’t going to do much to solve energy problems, global warming, terrorism, and an overpopulation of one small planet — and that’s just for starters.

33 Responses to “What a Bunch of Apes!”

  1. David says:

    Maybe the problem is individualism. There is too much emphasis on individual self-promotion, and not enough identification with the race. A house divided cannot stand, as someone once said. When a family's members constantly seek to tear each other down for the sake of momentary advantage, that family goes nowhere. Our race has been like that for two or three hundred years. We ought not to have discovered America or had an industrial revolution for a while. We needed another millennium in Europe figuring out who "we" were. Once we were sure of that, then we could have emerged, to sweep all before us as we almost did in 1900, except this time any gang of foreign sharpies who tried to sing us egalitarian siren songs or peddle us usurious bank loans would be identified at once as an enemy. An enemy who would find no chinks in our collective armor; no way to play some of us off against others to their profit; no way to buy the media, our collective sensory organs, away from us.

    We were, in effect, a child race, powerful in the sense of being "big for our age," who went out into the world before having enough wisdom to deal with its tricksters.

  2. Tell says:

    Individuality does have problems, but so does joining the crowd. There have been many instances in history where change began with an individual's actions, and many chances wasted because the collective were to weak minded to stand up. What is needed is a balance of both. Far too often do we see someone getting ahead in this world by walking on others, yet "we" don't do anything, or we justify for that person. I do agree that identification with the race is very important, but we are still going to need these stronger individuals to lead, or a master "race" to not be afraid to dethrone tyrannical individuals.
    Like the rest of the universe, we as a race need to learn how to balance, or we will have to face some severe consequences as overpopulation, global warming, war, poverty, etc..
    There have been model societies throughout history which would have been better studied for prosperity than the expansive European countries at the inception of our America, but we were a young race, and we were a very young country.
    In my opinion, capitalism is not the model society should follow. There should be more emphasis on culture, art and respect than gain. Who looks after our weak, destitute and elderly? All too often do "we" ignore what needs attention because we see no gain. This is where "we" follow the wrong individuals, the individuals obsessed with personal gain. For the last five years I have worked in fields which take care of others' families, and it still angers me that there can be such coldness in us. I will agree that sometimes there are circumstances where a family cannot tend to its own, but there are many who simply chose to be rid of a "problem."
    We need a mass soul search. We as individuals and a race need to concentrate on what we need to survive, and transcend our want for more stuff, speed, acknowledgment, and everything else. Individuals need to concentrate on the race, while the race needs to remember we are strong as well.
    We may be decent from simians, but we are now a new race, capable of awareness far above most others, it is this awareness we forget about when barraged with mundane daily things in our own world, a world we have created apart for the real world, a world which if left as is will crumble. It is this awareness which can save us or damn us.
    Tread lightly.

  3. David says:

    Dr. T wrote: "This intelligence spread is unheard of in any other species."

    And that is a good reason to suppose that there's more than one species among the modern hominids, regardless of any consideration of interfertility. It may be singular genus, Homo, but the taxonomy probably should recognize plural extant species. Radical egalitarian politics and various forms of leftist pressure is probably what keeps academe toeing the "Only One Race, The Human Race" line.

    Inherited characters are sometimes either-or, with one or a few dominant genes deciding which of several alternatives will be expressed, and which will remain buried until, in a later generation, they are paired with like recessives and then expressed in offspring. Hair and eye color are of this kind of character.

    But sometimes an inherited character is the result of many genes. Intelligence is one example. As the result, the level of intelligence in offspring is (more or less) normally — i.e., "bell curve" — distributed among the offspring, with the average being the AVERAGE OF THE average of the parents' intelligence and the racial average.

    Mean of IQ distribution in children = {(IQ of dad + IQ of mom)/2 + Racial mean IQ}/2

    The reason it works like that is because the parents each have recessive genes that are don't influence their own intelligence, but do influence the distribution of intelligence in their children.

    Like tossing a lot of dice, the sums of the upward faces on many tosses will trace out a distribution in the frequency of the results. It works that way for intelligence, for populations that are genetically isolated.

    If, among a population chosen at random, a degree of non-gaussian (i.e. non-bell-curve) nature is found in the distribution of IQ, it is evidence that you are dealing with not one race, but two or more. The evidence is even stronger when multimodalities (several maxima instead of only one maximum) are detected.

    And that's exactly what you do find. The leftists are full of hooey.

  4. TZ says:

    David, your understanding of what constitutes a species is misguided. A species is one that can breed offspring that can in turn successfully breed offspring. Which is why even though a donkey and a zebra can breed a zonkey, it is sterile and cannot pass on it's hybrid line. A new species can arise when a significant amount of time a subset of the population is separated from the same gene pool to allow enough mutation that when they come in contact again they could not breed offspring that are fertile. So even though there are significant ranges in IQ, there still is for all purposes one species. Until there is evidence that different populations of humans cannot successfully breed fertile offspring then the point is moot regardless of your political leanings no matter which country you call your home.

    Singling out IQ as the one trait that separates humans from other humans is a waste of time. IQ scores have risen, but this doesn't necessarily mean that intelligence has risen. What is more likely that students have had their education more geared towards taking tests and have therefore gotten better at taking them. IQ also has many factors that play a role in their overall score. It would be a far better use of time to look at physical traits that lead to increases or decreases in intelligence (such as grey matter folding) for signs of genetic drifting.

    As for evidence of IQ showing more than one race… care to add a link to that evidence? Or did you assume from your high school math that everyone would be impressed and take you word for it?

    Finally, even if there where more than one species of Human, what would that even matter? For a while on Earth there were several species of Humans living at the same time. Just like there are several species of whales, etc… living today. What would belonging to a separate species even matter? We would still have to find a way to peacefully coexist given that we currently share the same niche or the alternative would be conflict that could lead to the extinction of one or both species.

  5. David says:

    [To TZ, Part 1 of 2 parts.]

    I understood for a long time that otherwise similar animals were of distinct species if they could not produce fertile offspring. That is what I meant by "consideration of interfertility." But this does not seem always to be true.

    Taxonomy is an application of human definitions, or categories, to living things. Where the line is drawn is always someone's choice. When many people make the same choice, the categorization becomes a consensus or a convention.

    Interfertility is a commonly used characteristic to determine the division of species. But it is a convention that has exceptions. There are two different species of African antelope that can mate and produce fertile offspring, but they differ in ways that biologists deem important, and they don't mate across the difference border, even though they could.

    Coming at it from the other direction, I've been told by someone who grew up on a horse farm that mules do sometimes bear fertile offspring. The non-fertility of those offspring is another general rule that has exceptions.

    You might find this article on fertility in mules, from the Journal of Heredity, interesting.

    http://jhered.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/pdf_extract/7/11/494

    To find other relevant articles, simply type "fertility in mules" into the Google search window.

    It's likely that mixing interfertile, but genetically differing, populations results in a left-handed kind of impairment in offspring. (I imagine that reinforcing bad recessive traits through inbreeding would be called a "right-handed" kind of impairment.) The left-handed impairment might be labeled something like "Mendellian mismatches," caused when body parts that were not evolved to work together nonetheless must do so. Too much slack here. Too much tug there. Too much or not enough hormone for this or that organ or body process.

    Whether modern hominids are one species or several should be decided by general zoological conventions regarding taxonomic classification. Instead, what we get is taxonomic classification decided by leftist politics. That's a corruption of anthropology that I would like to see corrected.

    IQ differences are mostly the result of differences in brain size. The two characters go hand, generally speaking, within a human race, throughout the hominid family, across the primate order, and seems to apply to some extent among all animals. The bigger the brain, especially in proportion to total body size, the more intelligent the creature. Usually. Barring a large-but-injured brain, or a large-but-underdeveloped brain, or some other abnormality.

    Taxonomy does, in fact, use brain size to distinguish species within the hominid family… but this criterion is used, so far as I know, only for hominid species which happen to be extinct. Let an extant group of hominids appear with traits very much like those of a Homo erectus, and this rule is hastily abandoned in favor of leftist egalitarianism, as every liberal on the planet begins screaming their "It's all One Race, the Human Race" slogan can calling anyone who wants to stick with the usual taxonomic conventions a "racist."

    The grey-matter folding, or fissuring, you refer to is sometimes called sulsification. The degree of sulsification is also a racial variable, and the hominid races with the largest cerebrums are likewise the races with the most highly developed cerebrums. That's why there's such a large spread of IQ among the modern hominids. (See Dr. T's claim of a population mean differential of IQ 55 for the least intelligent group and IQ 145 for the most intelligent group.)

    [To be continued...]

  6. David says:

    [To TZ, Part 2 of 2 parts.]

    I believe that I was sufficiently clear in my last post on why heredity causes a gaussian distribution in the expression of complex heritable characters. If multiple modalities are found in the IQ distribution of a sufficiently large, randomly chosen population sample, then the several modalities are good evidence that more than one race is represented in the population. That's the standard scientific theory, and it's an eminently reasonable theory. It's only what you would normally (no pun intended) expect. If you have reason to believe that the theory is in error, then it is up to YOU to show why.

    Specifying which groups are down there in the intelligence basement might be galling to any members of such groups who might be able to read and who might be surfing the web, which is why I haven't identified them.

    Even if there aren't any low-IQ race members so situated, they're sure to have self-appointed "watchdog" representatives among a certain group of high-IQ meddlers, egalitarians almost to a man in every country except one, who will impersonate their "clients" and claim offense.

    Now, to your most important claim. You said: "We would still have to find a way to peacefully coexist given that we currently share the same niche or the alternative would be conflict that could lead to the extinction of one or both species."

    No.

    We would NOT have to peacefully coexist. We would NOT have to share the same niche. Conflict over niches is the rule in nature, and mankind holds off nature's rules only by the continuous and rapid burning of exosomatic energy, mainly fossil fuels. Our kind of friendly-peaceful-coexistence society is an anomaly made possible by petroleum and natural gas. These are finite resources and will be depleted in thirty years or so. Then nature's rules come back, full force and with penalties for any loss of adaptive fitness we let creep into our genetic stock.

    There WILL be war. There WILL be genocide. There is nothing anyone can do to prevent it. The only thing a race can do is try to be quick, so that the depopulation bears (or the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) catch some other race instead of yours.

  7. Tell says:

    I don't dream of a fantasy world, Dr. T, I am well aware that there were savage societies, but so is ours today. We have been programmed to view things in terms of gain and loss. If we gain we are successful and more powerful, if we suffer losses, we are weak. What is wrong with this ideology is what we view as important. We have based wealth and status on an illusion, a piece of paper we carry to represent something else we label as precious and rare. We do not actually own our wealth, we entrust it is safe somewhere else. And how do we gain? Most of society no longer grows or takes care of the substances needed to survive, we depend on outside sources to ensure we have food, for which we exchange paper. Loss and gain. Longevity is gain, death is looked upon as a loss, therefore a tragedy, but why? What can we gain by living longer? More stuff, more notoriety, more enemies? Other cultures before were savage, yes, but we are savage as well, and worse as we neglect to draw attention to it and make excuses.
    The point I should have striven harder to make is this: we are intelligent and aware enough to foresee what may happen. We can look back and see what has gotten us where we are. Our greatest tool for advancement is also our greatest push towards our downfall: intelligence. We need to use this to change ourselves. We can work to shift our “instincts” or tame them so we may focus not on dominance but harmony.

  8. TZ says:

    Interesting article on fertility of mules. Living organisms continue to break what arbitrary rules we give them. It doesn't however conclusively prove that a rise in IQ shows a rise in intelligence. At least based solely on genetics (as I, with the help of the late Dr. Gould, point out why below).

    I do not have to show why this theory is in error as Dr. Stephen Jay Gould did so much more persuasively than I ever could.

    According to Gould (author of The Mismeasure of Man), the idea of heritability is confused by many: "If all environments were to become equal for everyone, heritability would rise to 100% because all remaining differences in IQ would necessarily be genetic in origin." This claim is misleading as it is hard to conceive of even an experimental world in which everyone grows up in the same environment. Also, even if people did grow up in the same environment, not all differences would be genetic in origin as embryonic development tends to alter the effects genes have on cells. In addition, when researching traits like IQ within even narrow populations one must take into consideration both genetic and environmental factors like nutrition, polution, etc… Therefore, heritability is almost never 100%.

    Yes war does exist and so does genocide. However, imagine a rabbit being born. It's parents can arguably be considered the same species and so can it's grandparents and so on including it's children and grandchildren and so on. Somewhere down the line this line of rabbits will look so different that if you could take the latest rabbit and transport it back in time far enough it would not be able to breed with it's ancestor thus a distinction for a new species (as far as taxonomists are concerned). All the while individuals of this rabbit line will compete with other rabbits within the same niche for the same resources never knowing or caring that they are the same or different. The rabbits that win out and go on to reproduce "live on" through genetics. If there was a complete fossil record it would be almost impossible to name groups into species given our current method for doing so. This is what I meant when I said that trying to identify a new species is futile. You somehow assume that we will suddenly be able to distinguish this new species from the other and that these organisms within this new species will care more about being a new species than other factors such as the geographic region they belong to, political leanings, or traditions they observe like religion. The genocide that happens today (and what has happened in the past) has far more to do with religion that it has to do with race differences.

    You tend to intermix comments of race with species so much in your post. These two terms are not interchangeable and for you to do so either shows you to be a bigot or ignorant or both. Where the underlying hatred of race comes from is for you to contemplate but in strict biological terms race has mainly to do with a combination of how much melanin is expressed (as all humans of any color tend to have the same amount) and the geographic region they belong to or identify with. Where the same species can be found in many different regions and many different colors ( for example: Puma conclour ).

  9. David says:

    [To Tell, Part 1 of 2.]

    Tell, the perception of gain or loss is related to survival. It's an accessment of changes in the environment as being either good or bad. Good changes, or gains, mean we are better positioned to handle challenges to our survival. Bad changes, or losses, handicap us in dealing with the challenges that come our way.

    These judgments have nothing to do with illusions. They are real. They pertain directly to whether we will live or die, and we acquired the ability to make those judgments through the process of natural selection. Now you want everybody to quit doing it so that they can live in "harmony"? No way. I'm not going to be such a sucker.

    It may take the choice of two to argue, but it only takes the choice of one to cause a fight. You do not improve your chances by being a soft target. Turning the other cheek only works when your enemy has a sense of shame, which, in general, he won't have.

    Status is a symbol of power; it is not power itself. But it has value as a test. If you can't make others respect you, then you might not be able to deter attacks from them. That is, if you don't have a way of estimating your "status," then you are blind regarding the extent to which you might be considered an easy target.

    Yes, ownership is a fiction, a social construct. Ownership exists as an agreement. Agreements exist because there is power to enforce them. In some places and in some times, if you break an "ownership" agreement, then other people will come running up to kill or imprison you. But in other places and at other times, there is no power to enforce those agreements, so ownership disappears, and control of property goes to those who can take it.

    Likewise, at some places and in some times, money script can be depended on to facilitate trade. But in other times, people don't trust that the value of their money will be honored by sellers. Sometimes the division of labor can be carried out so that not everyone needs to produce their own food or be friends with someone who can produce more than he needs. But at other times, no such division of labor is possible, and the only occupations condusive to survival are (1) farmer and (2) fighter, and the only human organizations that can endure are farmers guarded by fighters.

    [To be continued...]

  10. David says:

    [To Tell, Part 2 of 2.]

    You wrote, "Longevity is gain, death is looked upon as a loss, therefore a tragedy, but why? What can we gain by living longer? More stuff, more notoriety, more enemies?"

    More children. More advantages for our children. Better circumstances for our children.

    The reason life is good is not a human invention. We are the descendants of a billion years of creatures whose motivation to live prompted actions to secure advantages for survival contests. Animals with that motivation tried harder to stay alive: they fought more fiercely, they schemed more intelligently, they sneaked more stealthily, on behalf of themselves and their families or tribes, on behalf of their genes. The first rule of natural law, as it pertains to living things, is: Thou Shalt Act to Preserve the Molecular Information that Led to Thy Birth. That is the "natural" good, or "good according to nature."

    And, when you think about it, life is the highest good. Because neither truth, nor justice, nor freedom, nor prosperity has any value to the dead. Only to something alive may anything else be good. Truth is next in the hierarchy, subordinate only to life, since without truth freedom does not endure, justice becomes corrupt, and prosperity disappears. Ideas like fairness and justice are not moral imperatives: they are, rather, moral luxuries that may be indulged in when they do not threaten higher values, such as life and truth.

    Yes, we do need to use our intelligence. But the first thing we must use it for is to distinguish between what we can change, and what we cannot change. We can change our choice of actions, but we cannot change the natural laws that our actions must respond to. There are conditions which nature imposes on us, and it isn't "intelligent" to disregard them.

    One of the conditions is: Life can't avoid competing with other life.

    Another is: You can't choose your opponents' strategies.

    If you ignore either of those conditions, however noble you think your reasons are, then you are setting yourself up to be a sucker, a loser, and a corpse.

  11. Tell says:

    David –
    Harmony isn’t the act of making yourself a soft target, harmony is living out a pleasing arrangement, living in agreement with those around you, not disrupting the balance Nature has given us. What prevents us from living this way is people who refuse to stop fighting. It is wise to turn the other cheek, but you only have two, so it isn’t wise to let people walk all over you, which is another problem in our world.
    Gain or loss may have been founded upon a need to survive, but in our modern society, more money won’t help you survive if you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere without being able to use it. If you cannot use it, how is it helpful or relative to survival? More cars and houses won’t help you survive. Our modern accumulation of stuff is no longer founded on survival, it is status. Now we turn back to your argument about the individual. Stuff does not equal survival, it equals status, but why? Because we say so. We can change, the masses can control this if they were wise enough, willing enough, not afraid to stand up to those with status.
    Yes status was also a way to insure one’s survival, but not now. These arguments were started on the assumption that we are ape descendents and have inherent instincts, and my argument was that we could change them, need to change them to survive. We have knowledge to see what can happen because of our choices, but we need to not be afraid of change, yet another survival tactic.
    We consider ourselves to be above animals, yet we lock ourselves into these primal labyrinths and justify them while we could be constructing something better.
    Your argument further solidifies my own. You refuse to stop fighting, why? What is it you are trying to control through violence? Self preservation is one thing, but what about war? What is the purpose of war? If someone attacks, defend yourself. I see no purpose in beginning any war. And what about status as power? Yes it works, but again, only if the methods used to attain status is accepted and revered by the masses, otherwise you’re a loony.
    Longevity by you has its roots in procreation and prolonged chances of a better world. How? I understand the greater number of descendents, but better chances for our children? Better chances for our children would come about through harmony, not fighting, not gain of wealth.
    Yes we must respond to what Nature imposes upon us, but that does not involve destroying nature or each other. Life will compete, but we do not need to rule it, we need to learn to coexist, or we will destroy what Nature has provided us. Besides, we no longer need to fight Nature, we are our own greatest enemies.
    While we may not choose our opponent’s strategy, it is no reason to strike first, we can still endure. Brain over brawn. Again, I have never said stop fighting, I merely advocate the necessity of not starting a fight. We have wars and battles all around the globe. For what good were they started.
    Your two conditions are the only two you can see. I can see through them to something better, something not leading to death, waste, and loss.

  12. Derek says:

    Tell,
    Nature hasn't given us any balance, because nature isn't sentient. There isn't a balance in nature, there is no inherent harmony in nature. It is pure competition, between species over dominance over niches. Plants compete with each other, animals compete with each other, they are constantly adapting to their environment and each other, and have been doing so for billions of years. The 'harmony' we have in nature is a result of that competition.

    The harmony you are looking for sounds very nice if it were all voluntary. Hows it going to come about, because I'm not in the mood to abandon the burden of the dollar and the shackles of status symbols. The chains of capitalism are far lighter than what any other system offers, especially when we look at it through the scope of history.

    There is no natural harmony, there is competition and the status quo that came from it, to assume that the world is supposed to be a certain way or will always be a certain way is a byproduct of our short our term perspectives.

    Now the real question is whether or not we can compete in a sustainable way.

  13. David says:

    [To Tell, Part 1 of 5 parts.]

    Let me say again that nature's laws make it unlikely that any living thing, humans included, can avoid competitions with other living things.

    (It would be impossible, instead of merely unlikely, if humans didn't have access to an abundance of fossil fuels. Even with fossil fuels, the dealings of human groups with other human groups is generally characterized by the kind of competition that can become seriously violent.)

    For one thing, populations grow to the limits of the readily available food supply, after which they either curb their exuberence and sustain a balance between the birth rate and the death rate—a condition that nearly always involves in-group competition with starvation for the losers—or else they try to take additional food away from some other group.

    It's easy to mentally gloss over fundamental issues when one wants very badly to believe that cherished ideals are possible "if only" people were what they are not, or "if only" enlightened persons such as yourself could control the choices of everyone else. But what you really are doing is avoiding reality.

    Robert Heinlein considered the morality of war and reasoned out several things that you have yet to see. If you want to read his summary, woven into fiction, read STARSHIP TROOPERS. The most relevant passage begins about one third of the way into chapter 12: "Well, why should I fight? Wasn't it preposterous…" A lot of people with your sentiment-driven idealism don't like that passage, and they cavil about it, thinking they've out-thought Heinlein—but they have not. Quite the reverse: Heinlein out-thought them.

    [To be continued...]

  14. David says:

    [To Tell, Part 2 of 5 parts.]

    If you examined your views for unstated assumptions, you'd find many, among them: (1) the world has an infinity of vital resources, which can be drawn at an arbitrarily high rate, (2) populations can be limited by voluntary measures. Both of those assumptions are false. The first one can be seen to be false, by most people (even by most liberals) once it is clearly stated, once it is no longer held in emotional suppression.

    The second assumption can be proved false with an understanding of how evolution by natural selection works. I refer you to the arguments of Garrett Hardin, who proved that voluntary efforts in population control always fail because the "responsible" people who limit their births get out-bred and replaced by the "irresponsible" people, who continue to reproduce rapidly. Whatever had enabled the responsible people to restrain themselves disappears from the gene pool.

    While Hardin didn't take his argument to the level of international competitions, it isn't difficult to do so. Let's suppose that Country A limits births, while Country B does not. Before long, Country B has lots of hungry people, while Country A has plenty for all. Country B would like to invade Country A and take its food for themselves, but Country A has powerful technological weapons that makes up for its lower population and, hence, its fewer soldiers. Then one day the oil wells run dry, and Country A's technological weapons don't work anymore. Country B invades country A, and Country A's population promptly goes from limited (by birth control) to zero (by military genocide).

    Mankind's intelligence, being without peer on Earth, has prevented any natural predator from keeping his numbers in check. Furthermore, the "tragedy in the commons" noticed by Hardin means that any voluntary effort in population control will eventually fail. Man must supply his own predation. We are actually supposed to partition ourselves into groups, and each group is supposed to engage in low-tech warfare (weapons that operate by human muscle power, augmented by clever tactics on the battlefield). The longterm effect of this human-on-human predation will be to control the global population, as the winners kill the losers on an ongoing basis, while improving the breed, since the winners will tend to be the stronger and smarter groups.

    [To be continued...]

  15. David says:

    [To Tell, Part 3 of 5 parts.]

    Nature does this same thing, except in every other case, the predators and the prey belong to different species. The results, in regard to what survives, are generally good. Most wild animals are adaptively fit, energetic, and healthy. Much more so than man, who for three centuries has exosomatized his worth. When fossil fuel energy began to be used on a large scale, and when money brought privileged access to this energy (and to things made with it), the measure of man moved from his genes to his bank accounts, from his blood to his wallet. And as his material wealth grew, man's biological quality dwindled.

    We have had, and have wasted, our chance to improve the human breed without the necessity of war. We could have used fossil fuel energy to augment our development, but instead we used it to reverse it. Eugenics, practiced from the time Germany used it, could have made us stronger and smarter by design. Not genetic engineering, precisely. But by encouraging more children from the better people and by discouraging births among the inferior. Instead, our social welfare systems did everything wrong and backwards. So we have more fat people, and more nearsighted people, and more diabetics, and more whiners and losers and thugs and sinners. It could all have been so much better.

    I have already addressed your remarks about status. It functions as a test of whether you have, or don't have, the respect of potential enemies. Although "stuff" might not equal survival, the "right stuff" usually does. The guy who got stranded in the middle of nowhere: his immediate problem won't be remedied by his yacht in a harbor a thousand miles away, but it would be remedied by a spare can of gas for his car. Or a shortwave radio to call for a helicopter pickup.

    You say that I "refuse to stop fighting." I haven't been in a fight lately. Say, rather, that I refuse to stop being prepared for a fight. That might have something to do with why I haven't had to fight.

    [To be continued...]

  16. David says:

    [To Tell, Part 4 of 5 parts.]

    You ask, "What is the purpose of war? If someone attacks, defend yourself." Oh, well, why THANK YOU SIR! I am SO HAPPY that you see nothing wrong with me "defending myself" if, say, China sends its army to attack me. I'll just pick up this here pistol and shoot back, and you'll agree that I'm within my rights to do so. I'm as pleased as I can be that you'll permit me the use of my fists if I'm ever confronted by an angry mob of illegal immigrants.

    Now, will you also permit me any EFFECTIVE METHODS for self defense, or are you only willing to allow me to engage in battles against hopeless odds that I'm certain to lose and die in?

    You condition the acceptability of methods used to attain status, saying that the method must be "accepted and revered by the masses," and if I don't agree with you, then I must be "loony." Well, I'm NOT loony, and I don't agree. In case no one ever told you, truth is not something that you can find by the method of voting on what the truth is. Nature's laws are not things we decide democratically. And between ourselves and nature there is no metaphysical gulf. We are a part of nature, and we (or our progeny) will pay the price of any foolish choices we make.

    If a fight seems to be imminent, you do not do well to cower, to engage excessively in appeasement. Do you understand the advantage of getting in the first punch? If you land a solid hit, your opponent's wits will be scattered. You'll be able to follow up with two or three more hits, keep your foe off-balance, win the fight, not be hurting overmuch, and the choice of whether the loser lives or dies will be yours to make.

    Your enemy also knows the value of the first punch, and he will be thinking about getting that first hit on you, scrambling YOUR wits, following up with more blows, keeping you off-balance, inflicting pain and injury on you while sparing himself same, beating you in the fight and gaining the right to decide whether you should continue living.

    [To be continued...]

  17. David says:

    [To Tell, Part 5 of 5 parts.]

    Weapons only sharpen the contrast of the matter and speed up the process. The principle is the same: the advantage goes to the one who makes the first successful attack. After that, the underdog is fighting a battle up a steep hill and is not likely to recover lost ground.

    Now suppose that your family depended on you, as their key fighter, not to make a mistake in a hostile encounter. If you fall, your family suffers much. Beatings. Rapes. Murders. You can't control the tactical choices of your opponent, and your chance to fight a victorious battle will (probably) end the moment your enemy attacks first.

    Now suppose that your whole country depends on your not letting an enemy country launch a preemptive first strike. If you decide wrongly, millions of people who gave you their trust as leader will die, betrayed by your indecision. Do you see why wars happen?

    The most serious part of the harm that war does is, again, the result of the misuse of exosomatic energy resources. Modern war is, more or less, a matter of fossil fuels exploding with human soldiers being caught in the explosions. Since the power in play is not muscle power, the strongest people are not necessarily the winners.

    But fossil fuels will be depleted, as I said, in thirty years or so. Then it will be back to low-tech war for us, and then war will be a eugenic thing, a good thing, once more.

  18. Tell says:

    Derek –
    There is harmony in nature: the food chain, the circle of life, if you will. Everything has a job. The number of predators is linked to the number of its prey, and the number of its prey linked to that which it feeds upon, and so forth. Humans have moved outside and control this cycle and no longer live in harmony with it.
    Yes, it can be seen as competition, but if the number of prey drop, so does the number of predators, and so the balance is maintained. If we pollute the planet so that we kill ourselves off, who's to say that the earth won't be inhabited later by species which have survived our ignorance?
    Too often do we look at the planet or Nature as a thing with no intelligences, and that's fine, but it is an intricate puzzle which constantly renews itself and provides for others. Balance there is, and harmony, without either, nothing could exist.
    There will always be a need to feed, every organism has to do it, but there is an organism which provides for another, and that provides for another, and that another, and so on, and so on. It's a dance, a play, a machine, it has to have balance to exist or it would destroy itself.
    Enter the modern human. We no longer honor the balance found in Nature. We create, use, destroy, remove, obliterate at will. This too will end us, or the good life David has spoken of. How can we survive on this planet if we do not attend to Nature now that we have transcended it? We must find a way to live in harmony with it, or we are on a crash course to our own extinction. We have already been the cause of countless extinctions, why do we feel we can do this? How many of those extinct species was a threat? Humans can survive the curve balls Nature throws at us, if we have transcended Nature, it is now time we become the shepherds and take care instead of use, use, use, waste.

  19. Derek says:

    And David… You are a loon, a bigot, and your race based war of eugenics will never happen.

    Go wash your mouth out with buckshot. I gave you the benefit of the doubt the first time you waxed supremacist, but you're little 5 comment posts have removed all doubt.

    Your posts disgust me.

  20. Tell says:

    I do tend to agree with Derek, David. I tried to understand your point of view, but it seems based on fear, a survival trait. But it is unnecessary. It is based on a fear of what could, perhaps, maybe able to happen scenarios, which many feed into, but could all be avoided through non-violent means. It's natural to fear, but it is ignorance to fear that which you do not know.
    Watch this video and listen to this girl, she possesses wisdom we all should attain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQmz6Rbpnu0
    Now, as I have stated, fighting may occasionally be necessary, in defense. And acting first when a threat is going to happen is defense, never did I say shrink back and accept the first hit. I have had years of martial arts training, philosophical debates, and intro-, retro-, and all manner of -spections, and when faced with an unavoidable obstacle, it is best to face it, not run. If it cannot be solved or avoided without violence, then violence may be needed.
    The point of Mr Modesitt's blog, at least from my point of view, was that we are descendants of apes, and we still have inherent instincts and behaviors shared with apes, but we possess the potential to change. This has been the basis for my posts, I too believe we can change. It won't be easy and it cannot happen over night, but with our intelligence, we can change.
    David, you seem to demonstrate the part of the human condition which ties us to our instincts and the justified refusal to change, and you have every right to believe that, but nothing will ever change with that mindset and things will happen as they have to most great societies throughout history, only on a global scale.
    We can make a change for the better, and we should, not only for ourselves, but also for the countless species unable to share their voices.

  21. David says:

    [To Tell, Part 1 of 2 parts.]

    The proper way to judge any policy, any habitual method of dealing with potential problems, is by whether it works or not. In saying that fear (or, more correctly: wariness) is "unnecessary," you might be making a mistake that leftists make frequently when they judge their own policies. It's an implicit kind of statistical bias.

    The dead don't talk. They don't testify. The only people the leftists take data from are those who have not yet become casualties. Leftists misidentify such people as "success stories," when, in fact, they are simply people who have not yet been killed in a race riot or in some other racially motivated crime. People like Melissa McLaughlin and Tiffany Nicole Long aren't going to come back and tell their stories, and leftists exploit the fact that for most people "out of sight" means "out of mind."

    Policies made to handle problems are normally judged by whether they work or not. That is, they are judged on the basis of past results, and if the performance is nil or negative, the policy is abandoned or changed.

    But leftist policies are sheathed in political correctness, which means that they are judged not by their effects, but by their ostensible aims, or by their proponents' promises. And if ever anyone suggests that experience has shown that a leftist policy is a failure, that it ought therefore to be amended or abandoned, those who police for political correctness will call that person a racist, a bigot, a homophobe, an antisemite. The leftists will declare themselves to be "offended" and "disgusted." They will announce themselves surprised that anyone could be so "ignorant" in the year 20xx (fill in as necessary).

    Anything to avoid debating their policies in the light of experience, on the basis of their past performance, the leftists will do. Anything to distract attention away from the factual issues, they will say. We have seen this kind of behavior right here, in this discussion, already.

    [Continued...]

  22. David says:

    [To Tell, Part 2 of 2 parts.]

    Yes, Tell. Humans can alter their behavior. Compared to most other species, our behavior is relatively genetically unspecified. We have a response range and an intellect that permits us to calculate individual advantages for each of our possible choices. What other animals usually do is act in accordance with nature's highest moral rule: they act to preserve the molecular information that led to their births. Man's intelligence thus has a defect: it can lead individuals to sacrifice their genes to their personalities, which sooner or later leads to the extinction of the genes that makes such sacrifices possible, and, in the end, that sort of intelligence will disappear.

    We can alter our behavior, but we can't alter the laws of nature. That's the point. We can be in a greater or a lesser degree of conformity to the rules that govern the odds of survival. But the greater the conflict is between the way we choose to live, and the way we were adapted to live, the more energy has to be thrown into apologies to nature. We can, for example, choose to tolerate genetic defects, but, if we do, we'll have to come up with more technological remedies for the trouble they cause in every successive generation. And the time will come with we shall have become so unfit that nothing we can do will enable us to survive.

  23. Derek says:

    Wow, yeah, you've reached a new low David. Your racist paronia would be laughable if it weren't so vile.

    Anyway, I'm not a 'leftist' as you say, nor any sort of person who would argue for redistribution of wealth… See, a person doesn't need to be a liberal to find bigotry disgusting. Is your racism confined to black men? Or does it spread to those of any other descent than Aryan? It's not hard to spot a supremacist… you are acting as though every other race is at war with you, you romanticize it and fantasize about this mythical war that is coming. No matter how much you try to clothe your racist and ignorant ideas in science, you will still have to know that your views have a root not in intelligence but in simple and ignorant fear.

    Mankind can change, and I pray that change will purge us of the bigotry that you display.

  24. Tell says:

    Perhaps, David, I am still confused as to where you are speaking from. You are attacking someone's policies, but they are not mine. Yes, my ideas may seem unrealistic, but yours are fatalistic. Mine are unrealistic because there will always be people like you who will refuse change in the light of some catastrophe you fear will happen.
    Yes, I say fear is unnecessary, and it is. Wariness is a good trait to possess, as long as there is a viable reason and not just speculation behind it. I have lived my life without fear, and I am still alive, though there have been times I have had to fight, but the fearless part helped calm my mind so that I could think clearly and calmly so I could subdue the threats in a quick fashion with minimal harm.
    You seem to be set on the idea that some imminent battle will occur and cannot see past that. Have you ever heard of self fulfilling prophecies? If you fear something so much as to prepare for it so much as it seems you have, you may be causing such an even to occur. You seem to think that peace can come only through the strongest, or the one with the bigger weapon, you are wrong.
    I feel sorry you live in fear, I don't, I have survived much. I hope you will as well. I also hope you see that we can live in harmony without destroying the world.

  25. David says:

    [To Derek.]

    There's more than one kind of leftist. The honest (but mistaken) liberal is one sort, but there are others.

    Leftists have typical positions on more than one issue. The abrogation of property rights in favor of what leftists call "social justice," whether in the strong form of communism or in the weak form of tax-subsidized social welfare, is one of those issues, but it isn't the only one.

    Racial egalitarianism is another typically leftist position. Leftists have, mostly by the sort of invective you seem to delight in using, and by censorship where they have the power to use it, seemed to have won the popular debate against "racists" (people who disagree with leftists about the size and significance of racial differences).

    But the truth is not subject to a popular vote; it is not a matter of public opinion. The racists are right, and they have always been right, and it was an evil day for the world when the leftists acquired their disproportionate powers in the media. The racists are in the same position that Galileo was, in 1620. The truth is on their side, but they are usually punished for saying why.

    Notice how you argue. You alternate between presumptuous insult and dogmatic assertion. That carries the implication that you know that the facts are on my side, and that you fear that I might expose them to the minds of other people. That's why you leap forward to apply foulness to the path ahead of me, so that when I get there others will smell your stink and think it's mine.

    I know why you say what you say, why you argue as you do, because I also was once a leftist. In 1996, I spent a lot of my time using the intranets of MSN and AOL, where I'd seek out racists and do pretty much what you are doing now: throw insults and make dogmatic assertions. They'd ignore my insults and challenge me to prove my dogmatic assertions, and I'd answer them with more insults and more dogmatic assertions. Eventually, I caught on to what I was doing, and, because I was one of those "honest liberal" leftists, I became ashamed of myself.

    I was unusual in another way, too. I'd had training as a scientist. I'd majored in physics and in astronomy in college. I'd been employed as a physicist and sensor data analyst by the US Air Force (Foreign Technology Division, Wright-Patterson AFB). I was later employed as a physicist, mostly doing signal processing of one kind or another, for a defense contractor in Huntsville, Alabama.

    Scientists become accustomed to having their theories shot down. It's still disappointing, but it's not quite as much a blow to our egos as it might be for someone without scientific training who has attached a lot of emotional freight to a cherished opinion. I was able to detach myself from my leftist views, therefore, soon after someone else demonstrated good evidence that I'd been wrong. That someone was Dr. William Pierce, who himself was a physicist at one time.

    Just a bit of my history for you to ponder.

  26. David says:

    [To Tell.]

    But I ~don't~ live in fear. I live warily, trying to be prepared for struggles that I haven't yet had, but might eventually have to endure. I hope that you will begin to understand the meaning of the expression "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." I appreciate that you mean well with your desire for universal harmony. I see, too, that you don't understand that what you want is in conflict with natural law as it applies to living things, which is something we cannot change. You have not been wise, Tell. You have been lucky. Did you bother to find out why I mentioned the name "Melissa McLaughlin" in an earlier post? You should do so. She had your attitude toward harmony, but her luck ran out and she paid the price of being mistaken.

  27. David says:

    [Again, to Tell.]

    Derek was right here:

    "Nature hasn't given us any balance, because nature isn't sentient. There isn't a balance in nature, there is no inherent harmony in nature. It is pure competition, between species over dominance over niches. Plants compete with each other, animals compete with each other, they are constantly adapting to their environment and each other, and have been doing so for billions of years. The 'harmony' we have in nature is a result of that competition."

    Yes, indeed. That's correct, except that the competition is not finished. It never will be. It never can be. The harmony is not a harmony of peace, but of process. That is, it isn't a static condition, but rather is a dynamic equilibrium. That is why the racist is wiser than the egalitarian.

  28. Tell says:

    Perhaps I have been lucky, perhaps you have, who's to say, David? One person's luck ran out, sad, one day my luck may, or yours. You have a very straight forward approach and know where you stand and what you stand for, that is commendable in very many ways, there is a lack of people with your virtues. But just because you possess a firm belief and faith in your way, doesn't make mine wrong.
    Yes my views and opinions may go against the natural order, but if we accepted them and changed our way, wouldn't then that be the natural order for humans? As I've stated before: humans have transcended the natural order, or at least advanced so far as to control it, and therefore must change ways to ensure there is a "good future" for anyone, or anything.
    I will give you one pointer: we have gotten to where we are through instinct and natural laws, but I agree with Mr. Modesitt: we must change, or our bright future will not come.
    I see now where you are coming from, and I do agree that in my plan violence cannot be removed. But that still does not mean it is a bad idea, for it is an idea, and ideas can change and evolve as well. Your views are rooted in thousands of years of history and evolution, mine is based on ideas that force us humans to drastically change, but as these are only two views as to what can/will happen, we may, at best, only see one of our sides come through on top, perhaps neither.
    Your route is easier, and following natural laws it will most likely prevail. My route requires work and cooperation, and as you have pointed out, it doesn't seem logical that all the races would participate, it may actually cause a demise of a race… but so would yours.
    I am well aware that my views are out there, but I still stand firm that they could benefit us as a species, as a planet.
    I appreciate your last few posts, as they have shown me where you come from, and while we share different views, I appreciate yours. I hope you can work to change/preserve the world as you see fit, and I shall try my ways.

  29. David says:

    [To Tell, Part 1 of 3 parts.]

    "But just because you possess a firm belief and faith in your way, doesn't make mine wrong."

    That's right. Whether you are right or wrong doesn't depend on what I think, and the reverse. We are only offering each other our opinions. We are each free to inspect those opinions or not, reply to them or not, and reject them, adopt them, or reserve judgment on them.

    "My views and opinions may go against the natural order, but if we accepted them and changed our way, wouldn't then that be the natural order for humans?"

    No. Homo sapiens has been a tribally competitive animal for as long as he's existed, which, depending on whom you talk with, is somewhere between 1e5 and 1e6 years. Our ancestor species, perhaps H. erectus (or maybe another), was tribally competitive, as was H. habilis before him, as was every species of Australopithecus even earlier. To one extent or another, every species within the primate order is tribal and tribally competitive.

    Chimpanzees organize patrol groups that guard their tribe's fruit trees from the poaching of enemy, outsider chimps. Do you know what happens when chimps from different tribes meet? There's a big fight, with chimps killing chimps. This isn't silly or unnecessary behavior. There are only so many fruit trees, and chimp populations, like human ones, increase to the limit of the food supply. Those warring chimps are working out between themselves, in the natural way, which of them will get to pick the fruit off the trees and enable their tribe to become bigger.

    Humans have a gene-encoded pattern of adaptive behavior. Each human can meddle with his own behavior by an act of will. Some humans can organize campaigns to adjust the behavior of other humans through religion and mass propaganda. But these are usually shallow things, compared with the solidity of the tribal in-group amity & outsider enmity pattern that has evolved in us.

    You might have heard someone remark that "civilization is a thin veneer." What that means is that anti-tribalism propaganda never takes lasting effect. It depends on its victims remaining immersed in it. Many leftists appear to believe that the success of egalitarian propaganda also depends on there being no cogent dissent to it. Take away the siren song, and some of the sailors on the sea of fate suddenly notice the rocks toward which their ship was going.

    [Continued...]

  30. David says:

    [To Tell, Part 2 of 3 parts.]

    You said, "Humans have transcended the natural order, or at least advanced so far as to control it, and therefore must change ways to ensure there is a 'good future' for anyone, or anything."

    Humans haven't transcended the natural order. We have not even once found a way to overcome nature. We have, rather, found fossil fuels. We have tapped a resource of accumulated chemical energy, and we've diverted that energy into various forms of cultural insulation from the natural environment. We've pumped fossil energy into forms of social organization that would not survive without it. We maintain this cultural insulation and those social organizations by paying their cost with fossil energy.

    One of the ways we do it is by creating an abundance of food with gasoline-powered farm machines and by turning some fossil fuels into artificial fertilizer. Another example is the great expansion of the police powers of governments, whose legislatures create lots of behavior micromanagement laws ("civil rights laws") for the police to enforce and for the courts to try cases over.

    Such things are among the "apologies to nature" that I referred to in an earlier post. Without fossil fuels, or some form of alternative energy that can be scaled up to the consumption level of fossil fuels, these non-adaptive social systems will collapse, and all the ferocity of tribal competitiveness, which they had been holding in abeyance, will appear. Any debts to nature, which we shall have placed temporarily on the credit card of technology, will be immediately paid, without regard for what we may think of the manner of payment. Any shortcoming of ours with regard to being fit to live in a world that doesn't have enough food to go around, or electricity, or combustion engines, or the products and services of modern medicine will be Our Problem.

    Fossil fuels don't exist in an infinitude. They are a resource available on a one-time drawdown basis. There are people who believe we passed the half-way point, in terms of the oil and natural gas that can be recovered on an energetically profitable basis, in the year 2004. We are, or soon will be, past the peak in the global availability of oil and on the downward slide. Things aren't bad yet, but have you noticed that inflation has picked up some momentum, in such things as the price of bread and the price of gasoline? That's an early warning of what's ahead.

    [Continued...]

  31. David says:

    [To Tell, Part 3 of 3 parts.]

    If you have some money to spend, try these books:

    1. "The Rapid Growth of Human Populations 1750-2000: Histories, Consequences, Issues, Nation by Nation," by William Stanton.

    2. "Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change," by William Catton.

    Either of them will clue you in, though Stanton speaks more plainly, while Catton goes into academic technicalese or avoidance whenever the gory details are due for a mention.

    Fossil fuels gave us an energy "window of opportunity," which, if they'd correctly used, could have improved our species eugenically and could have begun human colonization and industrialization of the solar system: everything from here to Titan. But they weren't correctly used. They were squandered, and a major part of the blame for their being wasted is leftist sentimentalism.

    We could have been on the path to the stars. We are not. We might have lost our chance forever. Fossil fuels can be regarded as the key that unlocks the sky. When the key is gone, there will be no way up. Had mankind actually created starships, whether fast ones or slow ones, the Life of Earth, in whatever form it might have taken, could have enjoyed a run through this universe of a trillion years or more. Without interstellar fight, we will be limited to less than 0.005 of that much time. If we remain bound to Earth, we'll have no more than 0.001 of the future we might have had.

    Like it or not, nature passed us the ball, and we fumbled it because not enough of us understood the rules of the game, or what the goal was. No other goal was as important as beginning of the long climb out of the solar system for the Life of Earth. We thought we had more important things to do with the enabling energy, such as feeding the hungry, or fighting wars that didn't accomplish anything except putting power into unworthy hands.

  32. hob says:

    David is Galileo. David is the Sun. Woe to any who do not heed. For mighty is his word. And his struggle.
    He does not sleep. Nor snore.
    Or laugh. Sometimes he laughs. And great would be his paradise. There would be no want. Nor any wanting.

  33. David says:

    "David is the Sun."

    I wouldn't mind being the Lightning, too.