Evolutionary psychology Genetics Human evolution

Are there “war genes”?

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A comparatively sensible article from at the Genetic Literacy Project:

Systemic rape used to go hand in hand with war as women, resources and lands were assimilated into the victors’ communities. The victorious men had more children, more land and more power. Some researchers have argued that this is proof of the ‘deep roots theory of war:’ Human males fight each other for reproductive advantage, proving that war is an evolutionary advantageous behavior.

But this theory has been hard to prove. In fact, studies of human groups and other primates have added to the evidence both for and against the controversial idea that humans were made for war, evolutionarily speaking. A January 2015 study indicates that societies don’t actually benefit from head-to-head action, though other forms of violence do pay off.

Among humans, the best-paying forms of violence are psychological. The target is actually submissive.

Another factor to consider is that while our common ancestors lived in groups like these thousands of years ago, almost no one does anymore. In fact, finding these undisturbed cultures is hard to do. Having more cows doesn’t carry the same appeal it once did. Its unlikely stealing your neighbor’s TV for your uncle will fetch you a better bride. Some scientists worry that if we accept the idea that violence was a beneficial tool for our ancestors, it somehow overturns the societal progress that has moved us beyond the rape and pillage culture to something still imperfect, but largely more peaceful. More.

Yes and it’s also worth noting that the cultures that are still doing this stuff are not leading the world in key science or ethical advances; they more often show up in charitable fundraising appeals.

So it is hard to see why their lifestyle is supposed to be an inherent evolutionary advantage, as opposed to something adopted at a given time to address specific needs, and for some, frozen in time.

See also: Man is ever a wolf to man! – or maybe sometimes just another slowly moving barrier against the wind? Evolutionary psychologists should just plain avoid trying to interpret modern urban life, at least in a northern Western world environment. They can make big enough fools of themselves elsewhere.

and

There’s a gene for that… or is there?

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