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As Evolved Hunter/gatherers, How Do We Manage To Live In Huge Societies?


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#1 charles brough

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 02:25 PM

The social theorist consensus seems to be satisfied with the
assumption that there is no reason why we cannot live in huge
societies even though we are the product of millions of years of
evolution in small hunting/gathering groups. :blink:


"The fact that we do live in bigger groups just proves we are not
evolved to live in smaller groups" is no answer because there is a
method we natural selection evolved (social evolution) that has
partially enabled us to get around our biologically-limited group size
Is all this a mystery to you master anthropologists in this group? B)



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#2 Fluxus

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 04:49 PM

FYI, this is a variant of the same.... position he recently posted about in the History subforum.

Anyway.... The fact that a species evolves within a certain specific environment does not mean it is impossible for that species to survive in a different environment or conditions. In fact, they can flourish and dominate due to the absence of predators that would keep the population in check. (They are usually known as "invasive species.)

Similarly, many animals did not evolve in urban environments, but do very well in them: Mice, rats, monkeys, pigeons, ravens, mosquitos and roaches just to name a few.

In addition, humans happen to be very flexible, and can easily overcome many behavioral restrictions that might be imposed via genetics.

I.e. neither human biology nor the operations of natural selection are so utterly rigid that a specific species will meet instant death the moment it extends beyond that particular environment.

Why, exactly, is this a problem?
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#3 charles brough

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 11:08 AM

The fact that a species evolves within a certain specific environment does not mean it is impossible for that species to survive in a different environment or conditions. In fact, they can flourish and dominate due to the absence of predators that would keep their population in check.

Similarly, many animals did not evolve in urban environments, but do very well in them: Mice, rats, monkeys, pigeons, ravens, mosquitos and roaches just to name a few. In addition, humans happen to be very flexible, and can easily overcome many behavioral restrictions that might be imposed via genetics. I.e. neither human biology nor the operations of natural selection are so utterly rigid that a specific species will meet instant death the moment it extends beyond that particular environment.

Why, exactly, is this a problem?

Here we go again! Fluxus and I differ drastically over this.

I referred only to small-group mammals, especially primates, not to insects and birds! The Baboon, gibbon, and a few other primates do not live in small groups, but most primates and many other mammals do. The small group species stay in small groups even as they spread out into larger areas. There is just a multiplication of groups. The groups do not grow larger no matter how abundant the territory. They do not form big "societies."

Flaxus mentioned rats and mice. They are not small-group animals. When they become over-crowded, they experience a degeneration in behavior, a sort of crisis in social-problems .Like when we feel over-crowded, the females abandon the nest, gangs of males rape females, some males become catatonic. The situation worsens until their numbers fall. Meercats, monkeys, lemurs, wolves, lions, elephants, etc. all stay in small groups no matter how large or small the food supply and the territory.

Yes, humanity is flexible. That is why we managed to evolve language and speech to the point where we could build ideological systems that could gave us the same sense of loyalty (patriotism) for the larger group or society as we were evolved to feel for the small (hunting-gathering) group. That explains why we have always had ideological systems. They do not exist because they are "true" but because they serve a social-evolutionary function!

Also, it may be of note that we have not dispensed with or altered human social nature in any way in all the past many millenia other than to impose (as best we could) monogamy on our more polygamous social nature.

#4 Fluxus

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 12:28 PM

You suggested that because humans evolved in small groups, it doesn't make sense for us to live in large groups.

While this does offer many intriguing puzzles, ultimately it's not a major problem that results in a horrendous degradation in the quality of human life.

I mentioned mice and monkeys as a very simple illustration of how a species can quickly adapt to a completely alien environment and situation, not as an example of "how larger groups form."

At this point, it's pretty clear you're just a crank with an idee fixe, and you're not reading my posts. I don't see any purpose in further discussions.

Now, to find Hypography's "ignore" feature....

#5 charles brough

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 02:55 PM

You suggested that because humans evolved in small groups, it doesn't make sense for us to live in large groups.

While this does offer many intriguing puzzles, ultimately it's not a major problem that results in a horrendous degradation in the quality of human life.

I mentioned mice and monkeys as a very simple illustration of how a species can quickly adapt to a completely alien environment and situation, not as an example of "how larger groups form."

At this point, it's pretty clear you're just a crank with an idee fixe, and you're not reading my posts. I don't see any purpose in further discussions.

Now, to find Hypography's "ignore" feature....



So why did you attack my simple explanation?---just so you could "ignore me"? Sorry, but instead of being offended I am exonerated. You avoid any comment I might have in response to the strange and unprofessional statements you've made above.

Incidentally, I have never used any forum "ignore" button. How often have you felt you need to press it?

#6 modest

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 08:06 AM

The social theorist consensus seems to be satisfied with the
assumption that there is no reason why we cannot live in huge
societies even though we are the product of millions of years of
evolution in small hunting/gathering groups. :blink:


What specifically is the reason why we can't live in large groups if we used to live in small groups? If you don't have a specific reason then what is your point?

~modest

#7 charles brough

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 05:02 PM

What specifically is the reason why we can't live in large groups if we used to live in small groups? If you don't have a specific reason then what is your point? -modest


That's a great question!

We evolved in small groups for millions of years. That means that the repitoire of social instincts "hard wired into us" by that very long process are all based on the small group. A massive amount of data has accumulated regarding chimp social behavior and that of other primates. The group is focusses around the alpha male(s) who guard the group and enable the females and the offspring to feel secure. If they do not both admire and fear him, they will leave and go to another group. The alphas keep the juveniles under control and "service' the females the most. When violence arises because one member did not return an expected favour, the alphas intervene and keep order. All this takes form in human society. It is culturally modified but never directly violated.

In other small group social animals, when the group becomes larger than is characteristic of that species, it breaks up into two or more groups because friction invariably grows, the individuals feel more stress. The group becomes less stable and its members less secure. Sometimes that is referred to as "over-population" because members sense there are too many in the group.

Also, psychologists have recently discovered that none of us can feel compassion for, recognize faces of, and feel connected to more than 200 people.

But when we developed ideologies able to bind us into larger groups over 40,000 years ago, we could begin to live in much larger groups. With myths and rationalizing, the ideologies evolved and adjusted our small group social nature to living in larger groups that because of the ideological unity, felt like the original.

That is why we have had ideologies ever since. As I explain in "The Last Civilization," we just learned to replace them when they became old and no longer serve their function well.

That's the problem of our time. The world is not only too divided now by the various mainstream religions but, because of the advances of science, they have been weakened and as a result, they no longer adequately replace the small social group we are shaped by. The result is that their citizens are feeling the stress, the growing hostility, and losing hope.This is leading to a world in danger . . .

#8 Turtle

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 05:27 PM

That's a great question!

We evolved in small groups for millions of years. That means that the repitoire of social instincts "hard wired into us" by that very long process are all based on the small group. A massive amount of data has accumulated regarding chimp social behavior and that of other primates. The group is focusses around the alpha male(s) who guard the group and enable the females and the offspring to feel secure. If they do not both admire and fear him, they will leave and go to another group. The alphas keep the juveniles under control and "service' the females the most. When violence arises because one member did not return an expected favour, the alphas intervene and keep order. All this takes form in human society. It is culturally modified but never directly violated. ...


what a crock. :doh: your gross & unsupported simplifications are noteworthy only for their lack of noteworthiness. for one, you have not defined "small group", and for another the bonobos have a matriarchal society. rather than fight, they have sex. until or unless you provide supporting scientific evidence you are just flinging monkey poo. :loser:

bonobo@wiki

The bonobo (English pronunciation: /bəˈnoʊboʊ/[3][4] /ˈbɒnəboʊ/[5]), Pan paniscus, previously called the pygmy chimpanzee and less often, the dwarf or gracile chimpanzee,[6] is a great ape and one of the two species making up the genus Pan.
...
Bonobos are far less aggressive than chimpanzees and other apes.[8]
...
The bonobo is endangered and is found in the wild only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Along with the common chimpanzee, the bonobo is the closest extant relative to humans.
...
Bonobos are perceived to be matriarchal: females tend to collectively dominate males by forming alliances; females use their sexuality to control males; a male's rank in the social hierarchy is determined by his mother's rank.[15][16] However, there are also claims of a special role for the alpha male in group movement.[citation needed] The limited research on Bonobos in the wild was also taken to indicate that these matriarchal behaviors may be exaggerated by captivity, as well as by food provisioning by researchers in the field.[15] This view has recently been challenged, however, by Duke University's Vanessa Woods;[17] Woods noted in a radio interview[18] that she had observed bonobos in a spacious forested sanctuary in the DRC exhibiting the same sort of hypersexuality under these more naturalistic conditions; and, while she acknowledges a hierarchy among males, including an "alpha male", these males are less dominant than the dominant female. ...



#9 modest

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 01:07 AM

The social theorist consensus seems to be satisfied with the
assumption that there is no reason why we cannot live in huge
societies even though we are the product of millions of years of
evolution in small hunting/gathering groups.

That's a great question!

We evolved in small groups for millions of years. That means that the repitoire of social instincts "hard wired into us" by that very long process are all based on the small group. A massive amount of data has accumulated regarding chimp social behavior and that of other primates. The group is focusses around the alpha male(s) who guard the group and enable the females and the offspring to feel secure. If they do not both admire and fear him, they will leave and go to another group. The alphas keep the juveniles under control and "service' the females the most. When violence arises because one member did not return an expected favour, the alphas intervene and keep order. All this takes form in human society. It is culturally modified but never directly violated.

In other small group social animals, when the group becomes larger than is characteristic of that species, it breaks up into two or more groups because friction invariably grows, the individuals feel more stress. The group becomes less stable and its members less secure. Sometimes that is referred to as "over-population" because members sense there are too many in the group.

Also, psychologists have recently discovered that none of us can feel compassion for, recognize faces of, and feel connected to more than 200 people.

But when we developed ideologies able to bind us into larger groups over 40,000 years ago, we could begin to live in much larger groups. With myths and rationalizing, the ideologies evolved and adjusted our small group social nature to living in larger groups that because of the ideological unity, felt like the original.

That is why we have had ideologies ever since. As I explain in "The Last Civilization," we just learned to replace them when they became old and no longer serve their function well.

That's the problem of our time. The world is not only too divided now by the various mainstream religions but, because of the advances of science, they have been weakened and as a result, they no longer adequately replace the small social group we are shaped by. The result is that their citizens are feeling the stress, the growing hostility, and losing hope.This is leading to a world in danger . . .

I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean or how that answers my question.

Let me ask more simply and directly...

Do you think there is a specific reason that we cannot live in large groups if we evolved in smaller groups? Hopefully your answer would have either a "yes" or a "no" in it.

~modest

#10 coldcreation

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 01:53 AM

[snip]
That's the problem of our time. The world is not only too divided now by the various mainstream religions but, because of the advances of science, they have been weakened and as a result, they no longer adequately replace the small social group we are shaped by. The result is that their citizens are feeling the stress, the growing hostility, and losing hope.This is leading to a world in danger . . .


The problem with your conclusion is that it is based on erroneous assumptions. It doesn't even follow from your premise.

In large cities people are comforted by living in small groups, with their families (or even alone) inside apartments, within neighborhoods. Perhaps it comforts people to frequent a small church, synagogue (or whatever) with its own rules, its own dogma. You imply that the population should be divided (into smaller groups) as opposed to living in large societies, yet claim the opposite in your conclusion, by saying we're too divided, as if a return to the small social groups behavior would solve the problems you mention.

Stress and hostility are common characteristics of all animals, whether they live in large or small groups, on a farm or on Fifth Avenue. If the world were in danger (or heading towards danger) it would not be for the reasons you write above.


Your attack on the advances of science above is clearly unjustified and out of place. Advances in science have, on the contrary, benefited everyone.


EDIT: Hey modest, glad to see you back. :P


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#11 modest

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 07:15 AM

EDIT: Hey modest, glad to see you back. :P

:wave2:

I hate to say it, but I ran off to the :joker:, took up :knit:, joined a :headbang::singer::drummer:... just waaaaiting for the opportune moment to :lightsaber2: I would have been back sooner but I had some old :epizza: and a nasty bout of :pain30:.... That's when I fell in :loved: with a :ghost: and got my :unlove: and nearly went :loco:... After a couple weeks of :beer-fresh: and joining a :whp-pssh: club I figured I should find more constructive uses of my :kuku: and returned to Hypo.

Well... either that or I was abducted by :alienhead: and they :hypnodisk: false memories. I can't be sure.

The problem with your conclusion is that it is based on erroneous assumptions


I was wondering myself about one of the assumptions and how it supports any conclusions...

Also, psychologists have recently discovered that none of us can feel compassion for, recognize faces of, and feel connected to more than 200 people.


Years ago I was acquainted with the former XO of a Korean war era navy cruiser who told me very credibly that he knew all of his crewmen, well over a thousand, by name. There is no doubt that he felt connected and felt a great deal of compassion for each of them. Add to that friends and family and it strikes me how mistaken the figure 200 can be.

But, more importantly, even if your assumption about being personally involved with only a small number of people were true, how would it imply anything about our ability to live in large groups? Do I need to know the faces of each person in the phone book to feel connected to the people in my city? Did I need a personal relationship with someone in the world trade center towers on 9-11 to feel compassion and connection to the people there experiencing the attack?

Obviously not. The same human solidarity, altruism, and compassion that humans evolved in tribal groups can obviously work to bring human society together on an indefinitely large scale. I don't understand any of your reasons why you are saying otherwise... if indeed you are saying otherwise.
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#12 charles brough

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 09:47 AM

what a crock. :doh: your gross & unsupported simplifications are noteworthy only for their lack of noteworthiness. for one, you have not defined "small group", and for another the bonobos have a matriarchal society. rather than fight, they have sex. until or unless you provide supporting scientific evidence you are just flinging monkey poo. :loser:


It takes patience to deal with such unprofessional ameturism as this! Do you know there are hundreds or thousands of species of primates? You pick one, a sub-chimp species, and use that exception to "dispove" what was generalization that I made. I never stated "all" primates are anything.. Since it is so easy for you to make mistakes, you would be better appreciated if you ask questions rather than make a fool of yourself. And if you weren't so insulting, I wouldn't be so abrupt in response. . .

#13 charles brough

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 09:55 AM

I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean or how that answers my question. Let me ask more simply and directly... Do you think there is a specific reason that we cannot live in large groups if we evolved in smaller groups? Hopefully your answer would have either a "yes" or a "no" in it. ~modest


I never wrote that we could not form big groups. All of us, now live in big groups. I said that we evolved biologically as small group primates and manage to function in large groups only because we have ideologies that unite us into them and enable us to adapt to and function in them. I am surprised you did not understand what I had written. What part off it is so difficult for you?

#14 charles brough

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 10:20 AM

In large cities people are comforted by living in small groups, with their families (or even alone) inside apartments, within neighborhoods. Perhaps it comforts people to frequent a small church, synagogue (or whatever) with its own rules, its own dogma.


Yes, this is obvious. Everyone is aware of that.

You imply that the population should be divided (into smaller groups) as opposed to living in large societies, yet claim the opposite in your conclusion, by saying we're too divided, as if a return to the small social groups behavior would solve the problems you mention.


I imply no such thing. I am not trying to tell people what to do!. This is only a social evolution theory that can explain why societies decline and new ones form. Understanding social evolution helps us understand where society is going in the future.

Stress and hostility are common characteristics of all animals, whether they live in large or small groups, on a farm or on Fifth Avenue. If the world were in danger (or heading towards danger) it would not be for the reasons you write above.


Of course all animals are subject to stress. We all know that. And perhaps you have a "true" explanation of why and how societies develop and collapse since you dislike mine (even though you are unable to explain why).

Your attack on the advances of science above is clearly unjustified and out of place. Advances in science have, on the contrary, benefited everyone.


Yes, advances in science benefit everyone. I do not and never have attacked or even criticized the advances in science. I have criticized rationalizing in the philosopht of social theory. That is in support of science.

#15 Turtle

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 10:43 AM

It takes patience to deal with such unprofessional ameturism as this!...


you have aptly described your own work. by-the-by; the correct spelling is "amateurism". :doh:
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#16 charles brough

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 11:08 AM

:wave2:

I hate to say it, but I ran off to the :joker:, took up :knit:, joined a :headbang::singer::drummer:... just waaaaiting for the opportune moment to :lightsaber2: I would have been back sooner but I had some old :epizza: and a nasty bout of :pain30:.... That's when I fell in :loved: with a :ghost: and got my :unlove: and nearly went :loco:... After a couple weeks of :beer-fresh: and joining a :whp-pssh: club I figured I should find more constructive uses of my :kuku: and returned to Hypo.

Well... either that or I was abducted by :alienhead: and they :hypnodisk: false memories. I can't be sure.

.

Yes, this forum has the most amazing collection of graphic characters. I tried to save them to use in other forums but have had difficulty doing so . . .


I was wondering myself about one of the assumptions and how it supports any conclusions...Years ago I was acquainted with the former XO of a Korean war era navy cruiser who told me very credibly that he knew all of his crewmen, well over a thousand, by name.



Is there anything in social science that you cannot find an exception to? It is not like physics. We have to deal in generalizations.

But, more importantly, even if your assumption about being personally involved with only a small number of people were true, how would it imply anything about our ability to live in large groups? Do I need to know the faces of each person in the phone book to feel connected to the people in my city? Did I need a personal relationship with someone in the world trade center towers on 9-11 to feel compassion and connection to the people there experiencing the attack? Obviously not. The same human solidarity, altruism, and compassion that humans evolved in tribal groups can obviously work to bring human society together on an indefinitely large scale. I don't understand any of your reasons why you are saying otherwise... if indeed you are saying otherwise.


Oh come on! Be honest with yourself. Do you feel the same compassion and concern for some eleven million black and Muslim people supposedly near starvation in NW Africa as for the thousands killed or still suffering from the 9/11 attack? If even the media thought so, it would replace all the Republican slug fests coverage going on every day with views of hungry people. If it were going on here, it would be the only news. If is our common ideological, heritage (the Constitution, secularism, Christianity) that enables us to feel the nation and society to be much the same as what our small group once felt to us. The only reason we are able to identify with and feel that more compassion, for example, for the 9/11 victums, is that our common ideological systems bonds us into the larger groups ("nation" and "society", the one bonded by Christianity and Secular Humanism).

If we had no common ideological systems, our nations and societies would all collapse into small groups again. And look around you. In the slow decade by decade social evolutionary way, it is happening. The divisions in the Muslim faith are growing hostile to each other. Hostility between societies is growing (terrorism is an example) Here in the West, the some forty social problems that had appeared are still with us but we don't mention them anymore. We feel stress. Even some of the others in this forum, are hostile, arrogant and antagonistic. It is more important to them to express and hence relieve it than really do science.

Why do you think we have always had common ideological systems?
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#17 charles brough

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 11:16 AM

you have aptly described your own work. by-the-by; the correct spelling is "amateurism". :doh:


Don't you believe we have the right to spell word in more than one way? Would you take away that right! Maybe you don't believe in human rights!
Does your spelling sound any different from mine? Why are you so picky? :angry:


I will probably end up with more than one misspelling, considering there are so many silly posts to respond to . . .:blink: