Evolutionary psychology

Coffee! Was it a slow day on the PC enforcement desk at Science?: There is no “demonic male?”

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Like, this got past somebody:

I’ve been reading and talking to anthropologists about the demonic-males theory for years, and I’ve turned from a believer to a skeptic. Here are some reasons why:Wrangham and other chimpanzee researchers often present the rate of “intercommunity killing” in terms of annual deaths per 100,000 population. Mitani, for example, estimates the mortality rate from coalitionary attacks in Kibale to be as high as “2,790 per 100,000 individuals per year.” But the researchers witnessed only 18 coalitionary killings. All told, since Jane Goodall began observing chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park in 1960, researchers have directly observed 31 intergroup killings, of which 17 were infants.

I obtained these figures by adding numbers from a 2006 paper by Wrangham and two colleagues and from the new report by Mitani’s group. Researchers have “suspected” or “inferred” a few dozen more lethal attacks, in which a chimpanzee is found dead or simply disappears. All these violence statistics, according to an analysis published this year by the anthropologists Robert Sussman and Joshua Marshack of Washington University in Saint Louis (W.U.), are based on 215 total years of observations at nine different sites in Africa. In other words, researchers at a typical site directly observe one killing every seven years.

Wrangham conceded in a response to Sussman and Marshack, published in the same volume as their analysis, that chimpanzee coalitionary killings are “certainly rare.”

[ … ]

“There is absolutely no evidence,” Trinkaus says, that “war is continuous back to the common ancestor with chimps.”

I bet there isn’t. Most chimps would stop the forced coalition march at the ripe banana palms. Was there ever a chimp Hitler?

I’ve never been a sentimentalist about animals, but there are some evils only humans can envision.

3 Replies to “Coffee! Was it a slow day on the PC enforcement desk at Science?: There is no “demonic male?”

  1. 1
    Barb says:

    I wonder how the writers would react to the statements made by serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer that learning about the purposelessness of evolution led him to begin killing.

  2. 2
    O'Leary says:

    Barb, I hadn’t heard that.

    I heard the story, and begged to hear no more, but …

    can you expand?

  3. 3
    Barb says:

    Dahmer was interviewed by Stone Phillips of the television show Dateline in 1994. Here is the direct quote: “‘If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then—then what’s the point of trying to modify your behaviour to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we, when we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing…”

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