X-Message-Number: 21693
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2003 07:48:31 -0400
From: Keith Henson <>
Subject: Reply to Thomas Donaldson and Brian A Stewart


>Ultimately we'll find out, once we get anywhere near true
>immortality. However I was saying specifically that we have no
>automatic instincts of the kind you discuss.

I don't know how you can say this in the face of a whole lot of evidence 
and a consistent theory about how we obtained such evolved psychological 

Take capture-bonding (Stockholm Syndrome).  Are you arguing that this well 
known trait in people does not exist?  I argue at length  here, 
human-nature.com/nibbs/02/cults.html, that "social reorientation when 
captured from one warring tribe to another was an essential survival tool 
for a million years or more. Those who reoriented often became our 
ancestors. Those who did not became breakfast."

And that this evolved trait lies behind a host of well known human 
characteristics.  ". . . it accounts for the "why" behind everything from 
basic military training and sex "bondage" to fraternity hazing . . . . It 
accounts for battered wife syndrome, where beatings and abuse are observed 
to strengthen the bond between the victim and the abuser . . . ."

If you have a better way to account for the well known Patty Hearst and 
Elizabeth Smart stories, I would sure like to hear it.

>Short of fighting
>over the ability to continue living, we will not automatically
>fight with others over issues of wealth or expansion. Why?
>Because human beings, too, react to their situation. It is
>immortality itself, rather than any greatly increased wealth,
>that would lead people to think a long time before they
>applied violence to some other immortal. They would do this
>because they expect to see this person again and again, in
>different circumstances, all through their long life; and
>most important, sometimes needing their help. That is, the help
>of a former enemy.

You may be fascinated by the fact that chimpanzees males have much the same 
attitude you ascribe to immortals.  They live all their lives in groups 
they cannot leave (because other groups kill them) and they absolutely 
*must* present a united front to neighboring groups or the group will be 
wiped out.  As a result, the males must reconcile after they engage in 
fights over status.  Females can afford to hold grudges longer and do.  The 
various books by de Waal are essential reading on this subject.

>This is what I think will happen. At this time it seems worthless
>to engage in argument on this point. We'll find out when the
>time comes, and if both of us survive to that time, we'll agree
>on this question.

There is remarkable work on this topic going on right now, and the subject 
of what motivates other humans to attack *us* is of vital importance to 
surviving into more interesting times.

(Brian A Stewart)

>I hope you don't mind my jumping in here.

Not at all!

> >Exposing/opposing a corrupting cult and being made into a political
> >as a result has given me an unusual interest in the subject.  My wife's
> >long standing wish to understand how the Germans let the Nazis take over
> >has been granted--to her dismay.
>I assume you are talking about the Scientologists and not the Bush
>regime...?  8-)

I escaped well before 9/11.  Incidentally, my studies of group 
psychological traits exposed by evolutionary psychology methods make me 
much more understanding of why the US went to war in Iraq.

>(BTW, how is your fight with the Scientologists going?  I've lost track,

It is too complicate for *me* to keep track.

> >I propose there is another trait for which I am still seeking a
> >name.  Times of privation (mapped today into declining income per
> >turn on an evolved psychological mechanism that makes some of us into
> >killing machines.  This mechanism was an essential genetic survival tool
>It sounds like you are talking about something akin to a "rally around
>the flag/leader/nation/group/etc" type phenomena.  Is that correct?

Related, but not the same.  Wars can be caused by both parties facing 
declines in wealth per capita, or just one of them.  In any case, there is 
nothing like having your tribe attacked to produced a united (and violent) 

>It might also be related to the drive which makes some people head out to
>the frontier ("Well, there doesn't seem to be anyplace for us *here*--
>maybe we'd do better elsewhere....")...?

Different drive.  It is interesting to see why and how tribes split 
up.  Even in fairly good times, primitive humans have to harvest from a 
large area.  Smaller, well spaced groups, are more energy efficient in that 
the people don't have to walk so far, but smaller groups are easier to 
attack.  The result is that if there is little external conflict, people 
engage in tribe splitting internal fights at a smaller group size.

> >To apply this insight to the current situation in Iraq (and the rest of
> >Arab world), educating the women, improving their status and making
> >control available is a good place to start.  Unfortunately that's about
> >*least* likely thing the current administration is likely to do.
>Unfortunately, what seems most likely to happen there is that the Shiites
>(sp?) will ultimately take over, IMO.

I don't know how much of this is understood at high levels in the US 
government.  But they seem to be unwilling to let Iraq to the way Iran did.


Keith Henson

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