Humans are predisposed to murder each other, new research suggests, although it remains unclear if it’s down to genetics or other factors.
Researchers from Spain have found that a tendency to bump off members of the same species is particularly common among primates, and have estimated that around 2% of human deaths at the origin of our species were down to such lethal spats.
Myself I think it’s rather higher than that but that’s from those studies of Yanamamo and so on. But what I love is the bloke claiming to show that it’s all wrong:
But Douglas Fry of the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US, disagreed, saying that: “Gómez and colleagues demonstrate that recent assertions by Steven Pinker and others that violent death in the Paleolithic was shockingly high are greatly exaggerated. To the contrary, the findings show that social organization is critically important in affecting human violence.”
Gómez says the research highlights the control humans have over their situation in life and death. “The main message of our study is that no matter how violent or pacific we were in the origin, we can modulate the level of interpersonal violence by changing our social environment,”he said. “We can build a more pacific society if we wish.”
No one disagrees that we can build a more pacific society. Steven Pinker is insistent that we have in fact built one. Rather, the finding is about how we do so. And returning to that Edenic hunter gatherer fantasy so beloved of the extreme environmentalists would lead to a more violent one…..in fact, if we were being cheeky, we would start insisting that the consumerist frenzy capitalism makes possible through the system’s efficiency makes for a more pacific society.