Are humans domesticating themselves?

 
unsmoked
 
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unsmoked
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22 March 2019 11:41
 

A few years ago, Russian scientists bred tame foxes at a fox farm after a few generations of selecting tamer individuals for breeding. 

Q:  Are humans domesticating themselves?

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/530240/the-goodness-paradox-by-richard-wrangham/9781101870907/

About the book - ‘THE GOODNESS PARADOX’

“A fascinating new analysis of human violence, filled with fresh ideas and gripping evidence from our primate cousins, historical forebears, and contemporary neighbors.”
—Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature

We Homo sapiens can be the nicest of species and also the nastiest. What occurred during human evolution to account for this paradox? What are the two kinds of aggression that primates are prone to, and why did each evolve separately? How does the intensity of violence among humans compare with the aggressive behavior of other primates? How did humans domesticate themselves? And how were the acquisition of language and the practice of capital punishment determining factors in the rise of culture and civilization?

Authoritative, provocative, and engaging, The Goodness Paradox offers a startlingly original theory of how, in the last 250 million years, humankind became an increasingly peaceful species in daily interactions even as its capacity for coolly planned and devastating violence remains undiminished. In tracing the evolutionary histories of reactive and proactive aggression, biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham forcefully and persuasively argues for the necessity of social tolerance and the control of savage divisiveness still haunting us today.”

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2018/08/fox-dogs-wild-tame-genetics-study-news/

 

 

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Abel Dean
 
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Abel Dean
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24 March 2019 16:40
 

The Russian fox experiment is informative, because many anti-racists have asserted that genetic personality differences among human races would require hundreds of thousands of years or more. A strange assertion, because a Russian scientist bred docility in foxes within his own lifetime. He only needed to select within the biological diversity of a pack of foxes at any point in time. We have a habit of thinking that evolution is not observable within our own lifetimes. In truth, it happens with every birth and with every death. Docility has likely been bred in every race that has strongly enforced a rule of law for thousands of years. The more violent men were more likely to be killed or locked up forever and less likely to reproduce. In the societies that remained primitive, reproduction happened not by remaining peaceful but by fighting and winning. The rule of law caught on among them only recently, and their genes have not caught up so much.

This idea is far more likely to provoke one’s skepticism now that I tied it to scientific racism. How unfortunate. It is a big reason why the whole science of behavioral genetics has remained popularly despised in favor of the blank slate theory.

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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25 March 2019 07:26
 
Abel Dean - 24 March 2019 04:40 PM

Docility has likely been bred in every race that has strongly enforced a rule of law for thousands of years. The more violent men were more likely to be killed or locked up forever and less likely to reproduce. In the societies that remained primitive, reproduction happened not by remaining peaceful but by fighting and winning. The rule of law caught on among them only recently, and their genes have not caught up so much.

Wow. Some many analogies, so little time.

That was a stack of tasty little snack facts piled in a little cocktail sandwich (white bread) that is sure to satisfy one’s craving for a lofty feeling of being abel to figure anything out.

“But it includes everything I’m willing to look at! All my favorite facts! In a complete circle!”

We learn to see beyond simple animal aggression. A genteel human is a docile fox? Do these genetically docile foxes sit by the fire and read Milton? Ever seen a fox with self-control?

There might as well be a categorical error. Foxes are bioon (bi-perceptual) and humans are trioon (tri-perceptual). The variable is perception (malleable in one’s lifetime) and not temperament. But why take on the extra work when you can be sitting in the Winner’s Circle with a few bite-sized facts? The sound of happy mastication rings from your post. The sense of Yum is plain to see. The scale of your explanation is a demonstration of how much you can fit into your brain at once. To others, it can look like a hideously cropped picture.

That was the silliest thing you have ever posted, Mr. Dean, but I’ll wait.

 
 
Abel Dean
 
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Abel Dean
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25 March 2019 07:33
 

The silliest thing, you say. It must be completely outright preposterous?

 
burt
 
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burt
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25 March 2019 08:44
 
Abel Dean - 24 March 2019 04:40 PM

The Russian fox experiment is informative, because many anti-racists have asserted that genetic personality differences among human races would require hundreds of thousands of years or more. A strange assertion, because a Russian scientist bred docility in foxes within his own lifetime. He only needed to select within the biological diversity of a pack of foxes at any point in time. We have a habit of thinking that evolution is not observable within our own lifetimes. In truth, it happens with every birth and with every death. Docility has likely been bred in every race that has strongly enforced a rule of law for thousands of years. The more violent men were more likely to be killed or locked up forever and less likely to reproduce. In the societies that remained primitive, reproduction happened not by remaining peaceful but by fighting and winning. The rule of law caught on among them only recently, and their genes have not caught up so much.

This idea is far more likely to provoke one’s skepticism now that I tied it to scientific racism. How unfortunate. It is a big reason why the whole science of behavioral genetics has remained popularly despised in favor of the blank slate theory.

See my other post. Actually, the elimination of the more violent and aggressive males goes back much further than you would think, likely to our common ancestor with gorillas, chimps, and bonobos. So at least 8 - 10 million years. So no rule of law required. Chimpanzee are the most violent of our close relatives, but chimpanzee alpha males are not the ones who are most violent and aggressive, they are the ones who are good at building alliances and resolving conflicts in a troop. Bonobos seem to favor “make love, not war.” In hunter-gatherer groups (the human form of social organization starting perhaps 200,000 years ago) the social relations are generally egalitarian. So not a matter of laws being instituted, just typical ape behavior.

Not all behavioral evolution is based on genetics. Here is an example I found a couple of weeks ago in a visit to the Arizona Desert Museum (worth a visit, btw): During the fall and winter months they have raptor free flight shows, and the one i saw featured Harris’ Hawks. The range for these hawks extends from Argentina up to the Sonora desert but they arrived in Sonora (northern Mexico, southern Arizona, New Mexico and a part of Texas) only recently (a couple of hundred years ago at best estimates, so no time for genetic changes). In the Sonora desert, and only there, these hawks show a unique behavior for raptors, they are pack hunters (raptors are typically solo hunters). A typical Harris’ hunting group consists of an alpha breeding pair (the female in control) with a few subordinate males who may or may not be genetic kin. Only the breeding pair nests and produces young. In other words, when Harris’ hawks spread into the Sonora desert suddenly (from a genetic standpoint) a new form of social organization appeared, required because of environmental conditions (needs to flush game from under cactus, availability of water, etc.). Both forms of organization (solo hunting, pack hunting) were possible but which one prevails is a matter of local adaptation, not genetic adaptation.

 
Abel Dean
 
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25 March 2019 09:10
 

OK, I will try to find your other post.

 
unsmoked
 
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26 March 2019 12:16
 

Einstein does his part in the domestication of homo sapiens?  http://www.gurteen.com/gurteen/gurteen.nsf/id/X00070BAE/ 

 

 

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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30 March 2019 18:07
 

Here’s an interview with Wrangham in Der Spiegel: Those Who Obeyed the Rules Were Favored by Evolution

Wrangham: We humans exhibit a number of biological characteristics that are more typical of pets than of wild animals, including a very low rate of face-to-face aggression. The reason that I attribute our peaceableness to our having been domesticated is because we share with our pets and farm animals some of these other characteristics, which we now call a domestication syndrome. Charles Darwin was already fascinated by this phenomenon. He studied domestic animals, and he noticed that they share a multitude of peculiarities not found in wild animals.

. . .

DER SPIEGEL: You claim humans are also domesticated. What makes you think that? We don’t have white spots, or floppy ears, or a curly tail.

Wrangham: You’re right. We have no tail, so it can’t bend. But if you look at our skeleton, you will find a lot of peculiarities that are characteristic of pets. Four of them stand out compared to our ancestors: a shorter face; smaller teeth; reduced sex differences, with males becoming more female-like; and, finally, a smaller brain. This latest development is particularly fascinating. In fact, the evolution of humans is naturally characterized by a continuous increase in brain size. But it turns out this trend has reversed in the last 30,000 years.

He also claims that aggression—even among chimpanzees—is “evil.”

DER SPIEGEL: Is it fair for a scientist to describe this behavior [“the essential violence of chimpanzees’ carnivory”] as “nasty”?? Is aggression evil?

Wrangham: It would seem inhuman not to recognize that some of the chimpanzees’ behaviors are deeply unpleasant. And is aggression evil? Yes, I think so, at least when it involves physical violence that is inflicting pain. Violence is the opposite of virtue.

 

 
 
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31 March 2019 11:38
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 30 March 2019 06:07 PM

Here’s an interview with Wrangham in Der Spiegel: Those Who Obeyed the Rules Were Favored by Evolution

Wrangham: We humans exhibit a number of biological characteristics that are more typical of pets than of wild animals, including a very low rate of face-to-face aggression. The reason that I attribute our peaceableness to our having been domesticated is because we share with our pets and farm animals some of these other characteristics, which we now call a domestication syndrome. Charles Darwin was already fascinated by this phenomenon. He studied domestic animals, and he noticed that they share a multitude of peculiarities not found in wild animals.

. . .

DER SPIEGEL: You claim humans are also domesticated. What makes you think that? We don’t have white spots, or floppy ears, or a curly tail.

Wrangham: You’re right. We have no tail, so it can’t bend. But if you look at our skeleton, you will find a lot of peculiarities that are characteristic of pets. Four of them stand out compared to our ancestors: a shorter face; smaller teeth; reduced sex differences, with males becoming more female-like; and, finally, a smaller brain. This latest development is particularly fascinating. In fact, the evolution of humans is naturally characterized by a continuous increase in brain size. But it turns out this trend has reversed in the last 30,000 years.

He also claims that aggression—even among chimpanzees—is “evil.”

DER SPIEGEL: Is it fair for a scientist to describe this behavior [“the essential violence of chimpanzees’ carnivory”] as “nasty”?? Is aggression evil?

Wrangham: It would seem inhuman not to recognize that some of the chimpanzees’ behaviors are deeply unpleasant. And is aggression evil? Yes, I think so, at least when it involves physical violence that is inflicting pain. Violence is the opposite of virtue.

This brings to mind ‘modern’ humans going to the Coliseum to watch gladiator combat, or to boxing matches at Madison Square Garden.  Or to bullrings in Spain.  Or to ‘milder’ violent contests.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_association_footballers_who_died_while_playing 

You go to the dogpound and pick up a gentle puppy who will be ‘good’ with your little kids and a year later find out that this Buster is sneaking away on Saturday night to watch an illegal bout between two pitbulls.  https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/dogfighting/closer-look-dogfighting

Domestication in progress?  In this scene from the movie, ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’  I remember one main character, sword drawn, charging beside his friend, shouted ecstatically over the thunder of hoofs and cannon, “Isn’t this the greatest feeling you could ever have?”  (paraphrase)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBiUWQ5YLQ4

 
 
Quadrewple
 
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04 May 2019 16:04
 

The answer is YES at least at a behavioral level.

Consider the amount of people who spend 95% of their time indoors, even though they live in perfectly safe climates to be outside.

Consider the toughness of our ancestors and consider how many people complain when the thermostate is 5 degrees too low…..

Consider the willingness of parents to give up the raising of their children to strangers and that child’s peers.

Consider the level of disregard we currently have for ancient wisdom which was gathered and curated by people who survived and even thrived in environments many times more dangerous and harsh than our own.

These are 4 obvious examples of many in regards to domesticated humans.

On a genetic level, it’s a lot more complicated because certain times and environments rewarded having lots of kids and certain times and environments rewarded having few children.  It’s difficult to argue what is “domestic” and what is “wild” as it pertains to human reproduction and the subsequent passing on of various gene sets.