Two Types of People

I’m about to describe two types of people, A vs. B.  While reading their descriptions I want you to think about which people around you are more like type A or B. Also ask yourself: which type do you respect more? Which would you rather be?

TYPE *A* folks eat a healthier more varied diet, and get better exercise. They more love nature, travel, and exploration, and they move more often to new communities. They work fewer hours, and have more complex mentally-challenging jobs. They talk more openly about sex, are more sexually promiscuous, and more accepting of divorce, abortion, homosexuality, and pre-marital and extra-marital sex. They have fewer kids, who they are more reluctant to discipline or constrain. They more emphasize their love for kids, and teach kids to more value generosity, trust, and honesty.

Type A folks care less for land or material posessions, relative to people.  They spend more time on leisure, music, dance, story-telling and the arts. They are less comfortable with war, domination, bragging, or money and material inequalities, and they push more for sharing and redistribution. They more want lots of discussion of group decisions, with everyone having an equal voice and free to speak their mind. They deal with conflicts more personally and informally, and more prefer unhappy folk to be free to leave. Their leaders lead more by consensus.

TYPE *B* folks travel less, and move less often from where they grew up. They are more polite and care more for cleanliness and order. They have more self-sacrifice and self-control, which makes them more stressed and suicidal. They work harder and longer at more tedious and less healthy jobs, and are more faithful to their spouses and their communities. They make better warriors, and expect and prepare more for disasters like war, famine, and disease. They have a stronger sense of honor and shame, and enforce more social rules, which let them depend more on folks they know less. When considering rule violators, they look more at specific rules, and less at the entire person and what feels right. Fewer topics are open for discussion or negotiation.

Type B folks believe more in good and evil, and in powerful gods who enforce social norms. They envy less, and better accept human authorities and hierarchy, including hereditary elites at the top (who act more type A), women and kids lower down, and human and animal slaves at the bottom. They identify more with strangers who share their ethnicity or culture, and more fear others. They are less bothered by violence in war, and toward foreigners, kids, slaves, and animals. They more think people should learn their place and stay there. Nature’s place is to be ruled and changed by humans.

Types A and B map reasonably well onto today’s culture wars, with A the modern/liberal and B the traditional/conservative. It maps well to the rich-poor axis from the World Value Survey.  But in fact, type A vs. B are actually foragers vs. farmers. [The above summarizes many books and articles I've read over the last year.]  Which is my point: I think a lot of today’s political disputes come down to a conflict between farmer and forager ways, with forager ways slowly and steadily winning out since the industrial revolution. It seems we acted like farmers when farming required that, but when richer we feel we can afford to revert to more natural-feeling forager ways. The main exceptions, like school and workplace domination and ranking, are required to generate industry-level wealth. We live a farmer lifestyle when poor, but prefer to buy a forager lifestyle when rich. Why this should be will be the subject of my next few posts.

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  • Marcus

    False dichotomy.

    Shocking really (your belief in it).

    Yay, go reds and blues, academia is behind you, this i who we evolved!

    • John Maxwell IV

      Where does Robin say that one must be either Type A or Type B?

      • http://graehl.posterous.com Jonathan Graehl

        Indeed. Shameful.

  • http://www.axoplasm.com Paul Souders

    I recall similar discussions in my anthropology grad school days (in the mid 90s). A burning question of the time was how agriculture arose in the Neolithic, as very few modern hunter-gatherers voluntarily take up farming, given the choice. Longer hours, less variety, more disease. The key I think is agriculturists’ higher birthrates. No one had to “voluntarily” choose to become a farmer, those who took it up by accident simply outbred the foragers.

    “We live a farmer lifestyle when poor, but prefer to buy a forager lifestyle when rich.” — Well put.

    • http://williambswift.blogspot.com/ billswift

      You might find Jane Jacobs’s speculations in “The Economy of Cities” interesting. She thought that cities, basically trading centers, came first; then agriculture arose accidentally through the holding of game animals and plant foods that were being used in trades. And that agriculture spread from there, and from the immediate environs of the city to the hinterlands. (I’m getting tired of having to copyedit my comments, why don’t we all agree that “that” will now be spelled “taht”, which is how it too often comes out.)

  • http://www.cephalove.southernfriedscience.com Mike Lisieski

    I feel much like Marcus. Of course you can make an argument, when you (apparently arbitrarily) define the scope of possible attitudes and patterns of behavior so narrowly. My first reaction to those descriptions was that neither of them cleanly fits almost anybody I know, rich or poor. There may be a few situations where they describe some people’s behavior, but it takes more than that to claim that something is a core determinant human behavior (as you seem to be doing, if implicitly.)

    • http://glenraphael.com Glen Raphael

      My first reaction was that these weren’t good categories – didn’t actually describe a coherent “type of person”. More like a random collection of traits with no particular reason to think they’d go together as a group more often than not.

      Having seen the claim as to what they represent, it still doesn’t really fit. I can kind of see how somebody who self-identified as being on the modern/liberal side might accept that description of the two types, but I doubt someone on the traditional/conservative side would agree. Most notably, the claim that one side “better accept(s) human authorities and hierarchy” or “has more murder” than the other seems dubious.

  • Robert Wiblin

    Incidentally this matches very closely the two parenting/governing models in Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant. He doesn’t bother to explain why this axis exists – just explains how Type As can win.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10546265581296919974 Rob

    Interesting also to consider how this matches (and diverges from) Haidt’s correlation of conservatives, liberals (and, most recently, libertarians) with particular permutations in his moral foundations theory.

  • http://cephalicfurrow.wordpress.com PeterW

    This model would have to explain why the “10,000 Year Explosion” model of “middle-class values” genes diffusing across society is either inaccurate or suddenly reversing now.

  • http://cephalicfurrow.wordpress.com PeterW

    Also, which groups adds to civilization and which subtracts from it? Are farmers subsidizing the social cohesion of foragers?

  • http://akinokure.blogspot.com agnostic

    Good topic, but one major flaw is the confusion between farmers and herders in the Type B people, who you’d need to break out into Type C people.

    For example the warrior prowess, strong culture of honor, and being fine with slavery are more herder traits. Farmers are too malnourished and disfigured from stooping over all day to make good warriors — plus no experience riding horses (or whatever). The culture of honor arises to deal with the lack of defenses available to a sedentary farmer (like fences) but not to the herder (who has to maintain a reputation for the kind of guy you can’t dis). And the most enthusiastic players in the slave trade are nomadic raiders who scoop up people for sale in the nearby market, like the Mongol descendants operating in Caffa.

    This farmer vs. herder war is just as strong historically and today as the forager vs. farmer or herder war. Christianity vs. Islam, for example, is mostly a farmer (C) vs. herder (I) war, both in terms of who initially spread it and where it has taken root the strongest. That’s why the most violent Muslims who war against decadent civilizations (i.e. farmer societies) come from the Arabian peninsula and Afghanistan.

    Couple smaller things:

    - Foragers don’t eat a leaner diet; that’s farmers, who get very little animal fat and mostly eat fat-free carbs. The muscle meat that foragers eat from wild game is leaner, but they eat the whole animal — including all the organs, which are almost only fat, particularly saturated fat. Brains, for instance, are one of the most concentrated sources of saturated fat. Liver is that way too.

    - Foragers don’t really know of preferential, obligate male homosexuality, which appears to be a disease of civilization, probably of infectious origin (google Cochran gay germ). So they’re more accepting of it the way we’re accepting of unicorns — they don’t believe such patently ridiculous things are real.

    • halvorz

      “Farmers are too malnourished and disfigured from stooping over all day to make good warriors — plus no experience riding horses (or whatever). ”

      Greece, Rome, Scotland.

      “The culture of honor arises to deal with the lack of defenses available to a sedentary farmer (like fences) but not to the herder (who has to maintain a reputation for the kind of guy you can’t dis).”

      Scotland, again, plus its southern and Appalachian offspring.

      • http://akinokure.blogspot.com agnostic

        Are you agreeing or disagreeing? Scotland is a good herder / highland pastoralist society, at least where the warriors came from. Ditto Appalachia.

        You seem to be confusing “good at winning wars” with “good warriors.” Robin’s obviously talking more about the personality, disposition, skill, determination, etc. Farmer societies only win wars over herders when the latter’s solidarity runs low and through superior logistics and surpluses of agrarian states. When we’re talking warrior-to-warrior fighting, bet on the herder every time.

      • halvorz

        Disagreeing. The Scottish Highlands were populated by small farmers, not herders, originally. The vast quantities of sheep came with the Highland Clearances. And very not ditto Appalachia, where a lot of the Highlanders that were cleared went. First subsistence farmers, later tobacco farmers- for the parts without coal, anyway. The only significant herds were half wild pigs running through the woods.

        And if you think the farmers of Rome, Scotland, and the southeastern United States were not fearsome warriors, we have very different understandings of history.

    • Doug S.

      Does the “gay germ” theory also explain homosexuality in ancient Greece?

  • http://Unemployment VeryAnon

    “They are less comfortable with war”

    I have always heard that farmers are less violent.

  • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

    Robert, yes Lakoff’s account is closely related.
    Rob, good question; I don’t have much to say there yet.
    Peter, yes to important genetic changes over 10Ky, but is not likely the whole story.
    agnostic, yes diggers vs. herders is an important distinction; any cite to reviews on how their lifestyles differ? Diggers did war more than foragers, even if herders warred better. I’ll delete the reference to leaner. Have a cite re no gay foragers?

    • http://akinokure.blogspot.com agnostic

      With respect to the topic here, I’d look at Keeley’s War Before Civilization or Turchin’s War and Peace and War. I can’t think of a journal review off the top of my head, though.

  • Jehu

    The work ‘Who Really Cares’ demonstrates that Type A in the US aren’t really into more sharing than Type B. The type B’s donate far more proportionate to their income to charitable causes (even if you exclude religious charities) than the type A’s.

  • Maria

    These types are totally false, and shows how hypothesis can set end result. There are many people who travel and are liberal, and are also loyal, work hard, and are stressed. I happen to be one of them, and am friends with people who also have similar values/behaviors. Simply go to Manhattan, Chicago, or Boston. Get out of Academia, and work in the mid to upper levels of Finance, Communications, Philanthropy, Business. You’ll meet people who are both A and B.

  • http://kazart.blogspot.com mwengler

    That’s very interesting. My recent readings suggest we evolved as hunter/gatherer’s and haven’t farmed long enough to have a lot of selection impact on us.

    There is nothing in genetics that suggests a creature can’t be at war with itself, that is, can’t have different inconsistent natures that come out in different circumstances. Probably as a species we benefit from both. Has anybody done any good thinking/research on the survival value of diversity in human nature? Presumably as we evolved the ability to cooperate by the millions, the advantage of diversity within our population is gigantically amplified over that of any other species (which cooperate by the thousands at most). Even in other species with the most cooperation (social insects) we see differentiation within the species. Have we looked for differentiation within larger herding animals?

    Does this makes sense or is it just evocative? Ants are farmers, solitary wasps are hunter/gatherers? Bison are farmers, coyotes are hunter/gatherers? I’m probably underestimating the social aspect of hunter/gatherer in these comparisons, but the amount in scale of people cooperating required for farming seems to be orders of magnitude higher than for hunter/gatherer.

  • J

    Geez Robin, if there was ever a pre-determined conclusion in search of supporting data, this is it. Is this post real or some sort of troll?

    “Types A and B map reasonably well onto today’s culture wars, with A the modern/liberal and B the traditional/conservative”

    No, they don’t. I’d make the standard remark about “this may be true if you work in an academic environment and have no exposure to anyone who doesn’t”, but I doubt your descritptions are accurate even there. Type A veers into oblivion with this section:

    “They talk openly about sex, are more sexually promiscuous, and more accepting of divorce, abortion, homosexuality, and pre-marital and extra-marital sex”

    Using the health and income variables in GSS data, people with high levels of income and/or health show the lowest levels of approval of divorce or extramarital sex of any demographic in our culture. ( http://sda.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/hsda?harcsda+gss08) . Healthy, wealthy people do exhibit higher levels of approval of homosexuality and premarital sex, (though not as high as the extremely poor). You’ll have to be more specific on what you mean by “talk openly about sex”, but I doubt this is true in the demographic you’re trying to describe..

  • http://t-a-w.blogspot.com/ Tomasz Wegrzanowski

    Why do you keep pretending we know what foragers were like?

    The few groups that could be even remotely described as anything like still Paleolithic are nothing like your description!

    It’s not even clear that your other description is much like typical farmers – our lack of knowledge is not as severe, but serious research started long after nearly every human group’s traditional ways of life have been transformed by modernity.

    What you’re describing is foragers and farmers living in your imaginations shaped by Homo Hypocritus theories – with zero connection to actual foragers or actual farmers.

  • Douglas Knight

    Like agnostic and VeryAnon, I have concerns about violence.

    There may be an issue about bucketing violence between murder and war, which enables to people to reach arbitrary conclusions. Robin implies that farmers have more of both types of violence, but only says more murders and better at war.

    That farmers are better at war sounds wrong to me. Farmers have more specialization. Warrior castes among farmers are good at war, but I think the average farmer is worse than the average forager. Nor do I think the average farmer spends much time preparing for war. Maybe the forager practices war implicitly in the hunt, while the farmer must admit to preparing for war?

    • John Runyon

      In single combat, perhaps, however as warfare moderized with the Greeks 600BCE or so, the capital investment needed for equipment gave farmers the edge. Also, farmers almost by definition are more invested in the land being defended. The hoplite farmer-citizen-soldier organized in his phalax was more than a match for his enemy – in fact a killing machine par excellence.

      Another factor in Type B profiency at war is perhaps their sense of honor and shame. Warfare, being different from murder, requires unit cohesion, self-sacrifice, and willingness to subsume one’s identify to the percieved greater good. Honor and shame are used to to reinforce these attributes. Foragers on the other hand being less beholden to groups, or the land itself, are more likely to avoid conflict -move on along the path of least resistence.

      • Douglas Knight

        farmer-citizen-soldier

        The proportion of warriors varied with time and place, but in many of these societies, the average farmer was a slave.

      • Alexander DePalma

        Consider reading Victor Davis Hanson’s “Carnage and Culture” if you get the chance (my guess is John Runyon already has, for he summarizes Hanson’s argument quite well).

      • John Runyon

        Farmer-Citizen-Soldier

        Yes in many societies farmers were slaves. In all societies the proportion of warriors has varied; however, in the specific case of the Greek city-states virtually every citizen was a warrior (and farmer) — it was a requirement. Interestingly, it was the agri-based, slave holding, Spartans who defeated the urban trade-based imperial Athens in the Peloponnesian War. If we consider the isolated pennusula of Greece as a test case the Athens – Sparta axis more or less ligns up on on Robin’s Type A, Type B thesis.

      • John Runyon

        See also by VDH: A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War and for a primer on honor, James Bowman, Honor, A History. Murder and Honor aren’t mutually exclusive, once everyone agrees on a cultural definition of honor.

  • http://zatavu.blogspot.com Troy Camplin

    You should familiarize yourself with the psychological theory of Clare Graves. It has been further developed by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan together in their book “Spiral Dynamics” (don’t let the name fool you) and separately.

    What you describe here are merely stages 4 and 6 in their developmental psychology. They are the Authoritative and Egalitarian world views, and both are communitarianist. Gravesean psychology argues that we move from individualist to communitarian psychologies in increasing complexity (up, and around — thus, a spiral).

    Stage 1 is bare survival
    Stage 2 is tribalism and thus communitarian
    Stage 3 is heroic individualism — think everyone in The Iliad
    Stage 4 is authoritative thinking — think Medieval European Christianity
    Stage 5 is classical liberalism
    Stage 6 is egalitarianism
    Stage 7 is integrationism
    Stage 8 is holism
    Stage 9 is . . . ?

    These are of course simplified levels — as you move into a new level of psychological complexity, you retain the earlier levels as well. Many problems arise in the denial of those other psychological levels within oneself. Or within one’s society.

    Here’s the thing, in regards to your question: one considers one’s own level to be most ethical; one considers lower levels to be less ethical; one considers higher levels to be incomprehensible (and thus, by default, unethical, since you don’t know how else to classify it). Unless you understand that one can develop through these levels, in which case, different judgments could and should apply.

  • Pablo Stafforini

    Robin, on farmers and herders, see Not by genes alone, by Peter Richerson and Robert Boyd, and references therein.

  • Hrm

    Neither. Both types are two sides of the same boring, annoying, coin.

  • Pangolin

    Actually, this dichotomy matches reasonably well with the P-J dichotomy in typology (MBTI, Kiersey Temeperament Sorter, etc.)

  • Sundog

    This is a favorite topic of mine, though I’m maybe a bit more hesitant to map it so closely onto current US society. A key fact is that agriculturalist populations only very recently attained the average height of prehistoric foraging peoples, having been stunted for thousands of years.

    One thing to keep in mind would be to distinguish carefully between foragers, and farmers v pastoralists.

    A book I’ve been meaning to read that relates to this topic, though from the flatlander/highlander angle, is “The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia” by James Scott (Yale Univ. Press), which attempts to address the question of why people would choose to remain deliberately and reactively stateless. I think current problems on both sides of the Durrand Line regarding the 40 million Pashtuns, one of the world’s largest stateless ethnic populations, could be illuminated by thinking along these lines.

  • http://akinokure.blogspot.com agnostic

    Another big thing — foragers go to war more often and thus have higher per capita losses due to violence than farmers. (See Keeley, War Before Civilization.) In the latter, you may be including groups like the Yanamamo who are slash-and-burner horticulturalists, in addition to their foraging, but it would be misleading to put them with sedentary farmers. They’re closer to foragers.

  • Halvorson

    One prediction that might follow from this idea is that societies that have only recently adopted agriculture on a historical time scale will more easily revert to hunter/gatherer norms given the opportunity. In Europe at least, this is exactly what we see. Farming was introduced into Europe via the Balkans c.7,000 B.C. but only reached Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea thousands of years later due to the distance and cold climate. Scandinavian countries and Finland are by most measures the most liberal in the world. And I think you can even see remnants of hunter gatherer norms today in things like the traditional Scandinavian emphasis on modesty and hatred for braggarts. (Thorsten Veblen was a Norwegian after all).

  • John Richardson

    I buy it. I think Robin’s distinction holds. And yet, modern liberals have organic gardens and grow cabbages, and modern conservatives go hunting. Why is that? Discuss.

  • che

    also maps well onto elois and morlocks, no?

  • Rebecca Burlingame

    Interesting, and yes I’m one of those (Type O blood) foragers that never got rid of the wanderer instinct. What’s remarkable is that as a society grows, it seems to want to return to its free roots, albeit in a more complex way. One of my fears is that we’ll fall back so far we end up in the farming paradigm for who-knows-how-long. Four states are in the enviable position of not being overly indebted, among those is Arkansas. While Arkansas takes particular pride in its solvency, the fact remains that Arkansas was never as committed to advanced economies in the first place. It’s self-sufficiency also means a lot of survival depends on being a landowner. And without land, human capital is still a questionable attribute. Yikes!

  • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

    I posted on forager vs farmer war in June.

  • http://www.isteve.blogspot.com Steve Sailer

    Robin,

    I would guesstimate that 95+% of the people who read your blog are descended 95+% from farmers over the last 150 generations.

    More recent splits in how people earned their livings, such as Agnostic’s farmer v. herdsman split are more relevant (see the song in “Oklahoma” about “Why Can’t the Farmer and the Cattleman Get Along?”).

    Moreover, type of farmer is particularly relevant: cultures where women do most of the farmwork are the ancestors of American groups in which women bring in most of the money.

  • http://www.isteve.blogspot.com Steve Sailer

    Robin claims of farmers: “They have more murder”

    I think that’s close to the exact opposite of the truth.

  • http://www.isteve.blogspot.com Steve Sailer

    Do Silicon Valley liberals work shorter hours and have more divorce than Scots-Irish good ol’ boy conservatives in Appalachia?

    In general, the values we publicly espouse the most tend to be the ones we have the hardest time living up to.

  • http://www.isteve.blogspot.com Steve Sailer

    In general, Robin’s point is a decent one: the liberal model is, like the economist on the desert island with a can of beans, “Assume we have a population of cooperative, intelligent, empathetic individuals” and when that turns out not to be the case, to move to a more expensive and exclusive neighborhood.

  • http://zatavu.blogspot.com Troy Camplin

    Actually, I wrote a tragic play pitting a family who essentially represents Type A against a family who represents Type B. I titled it “Vice”.

    http://zatavu.blogspot.com/2008/12/teaser-from-vice-tragedy.html

  • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

    I’m wondering when Robin will respond to the series at the Incidental Economist, particularly the suggestion that making the elderly pay more for medical care will result in more total cost.

    “This farmer vs. herder war is just as strong historically and today as the forager vs. farmer or herder war”
    I would disagree, because hunter-gatherer vs agriculturalist is such a rout it doesn’t constitute a war. Franz Oppenheimer thought herder conquest of “grubbers” was the origin of the state, but the hybrid society they formed is what we usually think of as early agricultural civilization.

    • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

      To balance out the Incidental Economist, Adam Ozimek says Medicare part D was as ineffective as the Hansonian view would predict.

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  • These days, those days

    In terms of Near vs. Far, it seems that forager values are related to very Near and very Far thinking, while farmer values are best suited to the middle range. From the Near point of view, foragers are obviously having more fun. From a more Far point of view, farmers are the ones who have discipline and hierarchy, which are useful for success in winning wars and working hard enough to accumulate an abundance of material wealth. But of course, if you follow your thoughts onto a still larger scale, you end with the idea that foraging really is, as it claims to be, more sustainable than farming: Hierarchy, militarism, material possessions and resources, and the habits of hard work are all things that are prone to break down, thus returning us to a world where forager values can prevail.

    The material-wealth aspect of things also explains why affluent liberals and the very poor (lumpenproletariat, in Marx’s term) have many common sympathies, while so many of the moderately poor (proletarian) are likely to identify with the values of the middle class/bourguoise/conservatives. Affluent liberals think and act like foragers because they can afford it–and since foragerism is more natural and pleasant, of course many people will want to do it if they can afford it. When poor people engage in forager habits, they become even poorer, and thus they are the individuals who are either incapable of the farming virtues, or think that that restrictive lifestyle isn’t worth the benefits. Meanwhile, other members of the working, middle, and ruling classes are holding onto the habits that make them (and everyone else) wealthy. But although farmer values are important, they don’t have the last word. Forager values are both important to make sure life is worth living; and anytime the structured world of farming starts to break down,it turns out that foraging and farming values are both very useful indeed.

  • Glenn G. Chappell

    Interesting ideas, but I wonder about the accuracy of some of your points.

    In particular, type Bs “move less often from where they grew up”. Hunter-gatherers wander, of course, but I’ve read that they tend to wander in the same area for generations. This is necessary, since they have to be very familiar with the land they live in, and its plants and animals. They also have few problems with population pressure. A farmer, on the other hand, can just pop into an unfamiliar area and start growing crops, and so he can easily move if he wants. Further, he often must move, as population pressure (or depleted soil, erosion, etc.) make the search for new farmland necessary.

    I’m also wondering about your claim that farmers have lower murder rates. There was a TED talk recently that mentioned the ridiculously high murder rates among hunter-gatherer tribes in New Guinea. If that is typical, then your claim might be way off.

  • Cyrus

    Except that these are the same people, who act out of two different value systems in different contexts. I act out of the type B value system at work and the type A system elsewhere. The ability to use the type B system when useful has been heavily selected for over the last few thousand years. People constitutionally unable to do B exist but are uncommon. They often end up incarcerated.

    The political question is simply, in which contexts besides work and war is adopting the type B values useful?

    • Aaron

      Well if you are good at work and are type A you should use it because they are harder workers. Although I understand about conflict as you mentioned. For sport yes A may be needed for competitive athletes, and other competitions, etc. Otherwise everything else should be B!

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  • William H. Stoddard

    I don’t like type B, but I don’t really like type A, either. All that group discussion and emphasis on sharing and consensus is just creepy. It’s a subtler authoritarianism than type B, but it’s still authoritarian.

    • http://zatavu.blogspot.com Troy Camplin

      See my comments above about why your instinct is correct.

  • http://thesomnambulist.org Sam Gardner

    This is also how ADHD is described. Hunters in a farmers’ world.

  • Matt

    I’m not really sure we’re in a position to compare murder rates or out group xenophobia for hunter gatherers and farmers. Farmers vary so much depending on how strong the rule of law is, for only one factor (if farmers = everyone farming between the Neolithic and Industrial revolutions).

    Farmers have a *much* more complex group hierarchy, which would seem to me to make talking about out group response difficult. We can’t really easily compare group size units which don’t exist in the forager mental world. Are farmers less friendly to people who are equally sized groups which are equally as distant in time, space and culture as hunter gatherers are to one another, i.e. the next village over? Are they less friendly or respectful to people of different subsistence methods – bandits, foragers, herders – than foragers are?

    Plus, I’m skeptical that foragers really less supernaturalist in inclination over the entire spread (unless the Piraha are our chosen group)?

    Other than mentally complex jobs and higher comfort with violence and supernaturalism though, I think I’d have to say (predictably, given my scepticism here) I clearly identify more with B (and would want them to *win* in a “culture war”!). I’d hate to ever be in situation where I couldn’t pick and choose though!

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  • clay

    These two groupings of people seem very arbitrary and don’t seem to match liberal/conservative preferences or hunter/farmer mindsets.

    Almost every real person that I know has strong traits from both groups and couldn’d be categorized as either type.

    • Aaron

      Sure but you do Know that most people fit into either one or the other at the end of the day right.

      • oldoddjobs

        That’s exactly what he is denying.

  • Peter St. Onge

    I see type A as closer to non-working elites than to foragers. The children of the rich, for example (as you allude to) resemble this, as do, say, elites in Heian Kyoto (c.f. Tale of Genji).

    I wonder if this forager-farmer distinction is simply rediscovering that there is a separate culture spontaneously generated by non-working elites. And modern society, thanks to obscene levels of widespread wealth, are adopting that carefree elite preference-set.

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  • http://twitter.com/BondOrama1 BondOrama

    You might be interested in Ernst Mayr’s “Philosophical Foundations of Darwinism” paper (linked from his Wikipedia article) in which he explains Darwin’s rejection of the sort of typological thinking used in this post. Especially page 491, where he discusses essentialism and why thinking in terms of populations has greater explanatory power.

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  • The Shaman

    Grossly inaccurate and highly divisive. I am a type C and find that this sort of thinking increases biases more than it could every possibly help others overcome biases, by leveraging the ‘us’ and ‘them’ camps.

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