An artice that can have some interest - The origin of war: the evolution of a male-coalitional reproductive strategy.

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"There’s also the question of what kind of murder rate the forager societies had, and here we must keep in mind the distinction between killing outsiders, and killing other members of the tribe."

A problem with this approach is that sometimes is not much clear what counts as an "outsider" or a "member of the tribe" - many tribal societies (both foragers and farmers) have an hierarchy of groups (family, clan, village, tribe, tribal confederacy...), not a definite distinction between "we" and "them".

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There's also the question of what kind of murder rate the forager societies had, and here we must keep in mind the distinction between killing outsiders, and killing other members of the tribe. After all, the murder rates of modern societies don't include either war casualties or legally executed criminals, and so we have to apply the same standard in figuring out what the murder rate was in forager societies. (And even though the modern definition of murder tends to count infanticide as murder, it's still probably best to treat it as a different phenomenon in the context of forager society. Certainly the foragers think of it as a different phenomenon.)

Why is this an important distinction to make? Well, because we may be interested in whether forager thinking and norms--despite lacking the concept of states and laws--are good at promoting a harmonious society where serious crimes are rare. But I've noticed that sometimes people will seem to be thinking about this question, but then get distracted by the fact that forager societies are often quite violent against other tribes. Yes, the fact of constant war between tribes is quite inconsistent with the "noble savage" concept, but still it could easily be that the savages really were much nobler than a lot of other societies when it comes to getting along with other members of the tribe.

For of course, farmer norms and thinking have often been very bad at preventing violence, too. History is filled with farmer societies that have been not only belligerent toward outsiders, but also repressive and murderous toward their own members.

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"The farmer substrate is a necessary precondition for civilization in a way that the forager substrate is not."

I think "farmers" and "foragers" develop technology, and probably the second is more important to civilization than the first.

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I am a Portuguese, that I don't know the details of american politics very well.

However, my impression is that "liberals" are against private violence because they are usually against violence in general (they also claim to be anti-war, anti-police brutality, etc.), not because they prefer state violence to private violence; mutatis mutandis for the conservatives.

Perhaps the only current who takes the side of private violence against state violence is the libertarians (and eventually some radical socialists, who are in favor of the "people in arms")

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I think you are confusing "war" and "violence".

Yes, foragers had probably less "war" ("organized violence") than farmers, but what is missing is the "organized", not the "violence"

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"All of us, liberals and conservatives alike, free-ride on institutions, technology, morals, and inherited from our ancestors."

Not all free-riding is equal.

"Oh I’m a bit worried about risks from moving to forager practices in an industrial world, but being rich we can afford to take some risks."

We won't be rich for long if too many become foragers for too long. The farmer substrate is a necessary precondition for civilization in a way that the forager substrate is not.

"When I say foragers were more promiscuous than farmers, I don’t mean they weren’t picky about sex partners, nor that they didn’t get jealous. I mean they changed partners lots more often than farmers do."

The claims made by 'Sex at Dawn' are that the penis is shaped in such a way to scoop out competing sperm, and sperm itself is designed to outrace and chemically neuter competitor sperm. This would suggest concurrent cheating, not serial promiscuity, which is an entirely different sexual beast. Jealously is an evolved reaction to the former, less so the latter. Ryan, and you to an extent since you referenced Ryan, are arguing that we are naturally inclined to concurrent promiscuity -- tribal orgies where men love to get cuckolded and don't mind raising other men's kids; a polyamorous utopia. There is little evidence of that in any culture. The porn claims made by Ryan are simply absurd.

The penis shape does suggest women are somewhat promiscuously unfaithful, but that doesn't mean men have evolved to like it, nor that women are evolved to prefer concurrent promiscuity to monogamy.

"I don’t see what IQ has to do with this at all.'

IQ is a proxy for the rich elite. TGGP put up some evidence from the GSS that higher income people are less promiscuous than lower income people.

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"I don’t see what IQ has to do with this at all. Norms and practices have clearly moved in the direction of increased tolerance for promiscuity over the last century, though of course they aren’t remotely near an extreme free love scenario."

Norms seem to have at the very least a more immediate impact among lower IQ populations.

As for how far we have come toward "Free Love" and article in the NY times discusses the free love system circa the 1850s:

"the ultimate aim is to subvert the present organization of society,-destroy the institution of marriage as recognized by the religion and laws of Christendom, and to substitute for it a FREE LOVE system, in which Passion and personal inclination shall be the sole bond, and the sole restriction of the union between the sexes."

Marriage is still a part of life, particularly among the upper and upper middle classes, but even here, is it much more sacred than a system dictated by personal inclination. All marriages are love marriages today, and people can legally get divorced for any reason at all.

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"but there’s no crisis at the moment."

Have you visited Detroit, Cleveland, Brooklyn, Atlanta, Southeast DC, South Central LA, South Chicago, Baltimore, and um, just about every major American city. Do you realize these use to be nice places to live? What, in your opinion, would constitute a crisis? When a professors salary is no longer enough to live away from the foragers?

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My first response is always to examine the General Social Survey. My results are here.

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An interesting take on this is the "Dies the Fire" series by SM Stirling. In it, an unexplained event essentially stops every piece of post 13th century technology. Primarily, that's the internal combustion engine, electronics, and probably most importantly, guns and other easily used projectile weapons. While fanciful, he paints a good picture as to the how, without effective projectile weapons and other force multipliers, we almost necessarily fall back into feudalism.

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Is this the biggest point of disagreement between you and Roissy?

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If that is the claim, it is a lazy way to make it. Studies on the relationship between wealth and promiscuity abound and the correlations are positive.

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He actually states it in his reply to Hanson in the end: "I say this as someone who lives to the fullest the modern, promiscuous forager lifestyle. I know its personal appeal, and its immolating potential for the wider society."

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I like this talk a lot better than forager/farmer.


Transcends what happened 10000 years ago.

Bottom line:

Our minds were designed to unite us into teamsDivide us against other teams andBlind us to the truth.

Of course you may also want to consider this:


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ugh. i think i could have happily gone without being pointed in the direction of Roissy.

i feel like i've been offered a hamburger and found myself biting down on human excrement

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