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Thread: Human Self-domestication

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    Human Self-domestication

    "Though our brains are big, our skulls are smaller"

    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019...dence-suggests

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jovialis View Post
    "Though our brains are big, our skulls are smaller"

    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019...dence-suggests
    We may be less aggressive than, say, Chimps, but with some people not by all that much, imho.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    We may be less aggressive than, say, Chimps, but with some people not by all that much, imho.
    Didn't Jane Goodall show that chimps made war? I believe she saw this when a large chimp group broke in two, followed by the larger group attacking, and killing some number of the smaller group.

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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    Didn't Jane Goodall show that chimps made war? I believe she saw this when a large chimp group broke in two, followed by the larger group attacking, and killing some number of the smaller group.
    That's right.

    "Ever since primatologist Jane Goodall’s pioneering work at Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania in the 1970s, researchers have been aware that male chimps often organize themselves into warring gangs that raid each other’s territory, sometimes leaving mutilated dead bodies on the battlefield."

    See:
    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014...ill-each-other

    Of course, the "usual suspects" say it only happens because humans are encroaching on their territory. Well, humans have encroached on the territory of most animals, but they don't react like this. Not even all "apes" react like this.


    "
    The researchers created a series of computer models to test whether the observed killings could be better explained by adaptive strategies or human impacts. The models incorporated variables such as whether the animals had been fed by humans, the size of their territory (smaller territories presumably corresponding to greater human encroachment), and other indicators of human disturbance, all of which were assumed to be related to human impacts; and variables such as the geographic location of the animals, the number of adult males, and the population density of the animals, which the team considered more likely to be related to adaptive strategies.Online today in Nature, the team reports that the models that best explained the data were those that assumed the killings were related to adaptive strategies, which in statistical terms were nearly seven times as strongly supported as models that assumed human impacts were mostly responsible. For example, 63% of the fallen warriors were attacked by animals from outside their own in-group, supporting, the authors say, previous evidence that chimps in particular band together to fight other groups for territory, food, and mates. Moreover, males were responsible for 92% of all attacks, confirming earlier hypotheses that warfare is a way for males to spread their genes. In contrast, the team concludes, none of the factors related to human impacts correlated with the amount of warfare observed.
    The study also confirmed earlier evidence that bonobos are, relatively speaking, more peaceful than their chimpanzee cousins. Although fewer bonobo groups were included in the study, the researchers observed only one suspected killing among that species, at Lomako—a site where animals have not been fed by humans and disturbance by human activity has been judged to be low."

    They also kill infant chimpanzees not fathered by themselves.

    I've always felt that if you want to know what the human "Id" looks like, watch chimpanzees.

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    Domestication is in some ways a process of extended infantilization. Adult dogs, for example, retain wolf puppy behaviours such as jumping up and trying to lick the faces of their owners when they return home. Wolf puppies do this to their returning parents to encourage them to feed them regurgitated food. Domesticated dogs retain playful and submissive puppy-like behaviours all their lives.

    In his book "The Eternal Child", Clive Bromhall suggests that humans have self-domesticated themselves by a similar process of infantilization. To quote "Like baby chimps we have soft downy bodies, flat faces and large rounded heads. Like them we too want to be kissed, cuddled and stroked, and we remain playful, compliant and relatively mild-mannered for the whole of our lives".

    Some might say that this process continues unabated in modern societies, aided by the internet and other modern technology. Your phone can now remind you to brush your teeth, tell you to take an umbrella when rain is forecast, suggest your lunch, suggest the movie you should watch tonight, or which video game you should play, and remind you that your mother's birthday is tomorrow. Governments increasingly give you advice about your health and safety, like a concerned parent.

    We are less violent than chimpanzees on average (even if we can all think of counter-examples), and this tendency also seems to be continuing. Believe it or not, a randomly selected global citizen in the 21st century probably has less chance of being murdered, killed in warfare, or killed by their own government than at any time in world history (or pre-history).

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    Tamakore: I agree with your comments, but I think we should keep separate those physiological changes that have occurred evolutionarily (is that a word?) over a great span of years and the behavioral changes (extended childhood for example) we've seen developing since, say, the end of WWII, that are the result of access to modern devices (internet, etc.). The latter would, conceivably, disappear if the devices did.

    I'm still unclear, however, on how self domestication works. Dogs are the way they are because 'we' specifically bred them that way. Today we want puppy-like dogs so we select for that characteristic. Can our natural wild human characteristics be bred out simply by moving to a settled lifestyle? How exactly would the more aggressive wild humans be forced out of the gene pool? I can't see the mechanism.

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    I think women doing the mate selection is one way, providing, of course, that they actually select for more passive, less aggressive men. Some women wouldn't. I wouldn't, for one. I'm not saying I'd want Charles Bronson or "The Rock", but I wouldn't choose Alan Alda or Woody Allen, either.

    Only in a peaceful, relatively prosperous era could I see that ever being possible.

    As for how it happened in the past, could greater attrition among aggressive, violent, men have been a factor?

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    Angela: I can only guess (thinking out loud here) that the driver had to do with the consequences of aggressive behavior in different eras. During the Paleolithic over aggressive behavior might have bad results (the Mastodon might win), but over passive behavior always resulted in starvation (a hunter has to take chances to make a kill). During the Neolithic the aggressive men would still rise to the top of the hierarchy, and have their choice of mates (including multiple ones), but passive men could feed their families even if they weren't willing to put their life on the line to do it (there is little or no danger in growing wheat). And, aggressive men would still suffer for their aggression in wars and conflicts with other powerful, aggressive men. Over time the timid would inherit the world.

    I guess I can sum up my theory, if it rates such a word, in that keeping your head down worked as a strategy only as people settled and we created a better organized, safer society. In our very safe era I can say that I've never had to confront a situation in which my life or well being was threatened (even though I spent a career in the military). The closest I ever got was in college. A seminar I was in adjourned to a local tavern and while we discussed airy-fairy concepts over a beer, there was a sudden fight at the bar with one man losing dramatically and being drug out and thrown into the street. That's it, the closest I've gotten.

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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    Angela: I can only guess (thinking out loud here) that the driver had to do with the consequences of aggressive behavior in different eras. During the Paleolithic over aggressive behavior might have bad results (the Mastodon might win), but over passive behavior always resulted in starvation (a hunter has to take chances to make a kill). During the Neolithic the aggressive men would still rise to the top of the hierarchy, and have their choice of mates (including multiple ones), but passive men could feed their families even if they weren't willing to put their life on the line to do it (there is little or no danger in growing wheat). And, aggressive men would still suffer for their aggression in wars and conflicts with other powerful, aggressive men. Over time the timid would inherit the world.

    I guess I can sum up my theory, if it rates such a word, in that keeping your head down worked as a strategy only as people settled and we created a better organized, safer society. In our very safe era I can say that I've never had to confront a situation in which my life or well being was threatened (even though I spent a career in the military). The closest I ever got was in college. A seminar I was in adjourned to a local tavern and while we discussed airy-fairy concepts over a beer, there was a sudden fight at the bar with one man losing dramatically and being drug out and thrown into the street. That's it, the closest I've gotten.
    Unfortunately, because of my career, I've been around more than my fair share of really violent men. Seeing the aftermatch is horrifying, and disturbing, but to see it in action is also frightening as hell. There's nothing glamorous or attractive about it.

    I've only ever seen my husband in a fight twice. Once was because someone started bothering me in the street. It was Mardis Gras, we'd been diverted to New Orleans, you can guess the rest. Another time I was picking him up from his summer job on a construction site and he was fighting some idiot who had started up with him because he was the boss' soon to be son-in-law. I absolutely hated it. All of a sudden it was as if I didn't know him. Don't get me wrong: he wasn't the type to get into fights on a regular basis. He said that even growing up in a rough neighborhood other guys didn't mess with him because he was always big for his age, a football player and wrestler, etc., but he'd had to deal with situations like that from time to time.

    Yet, in much of the world, and even here in the U.S. in some areas what is upsetting for us is the norm. People see violence every day. That's what I think of when I see the newsreels and photos: how must it have felt, how often did they have nightmares about it, how many people's lives are permanently scarred by it.

    So, I'm all for domestication. Yes, you should be able to defend yourself if necessary, but it shouldn't be necessary, and people, usually men, who get off on violent confrontation are a danger to themselves and the community as a whole.

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    Easteuropid: While I don't like the idea of being "domesticated," despite the fact that my wife would say I was, as used here it means willing and able to live together in peace. I find it hard to hate that. Note too that domesticated dogs, Dobermans for instance, are quite effective at being guard dogs so being domesticated doesn't mean we have to be easy marks.

    I'm willing to believe you meant something else. A joke perhaps? One of the problems with written communications is that it's difficult to signal the ha ha moment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    How exactly would the more aggressive wild humans be forced out of the gene pool? I can't see the mechanism.
    One possible mechanism is that the most aggressive individuals, particularly those who were violent for no apparent reason, would become so unpopular within the social group that they would be ostracised and forced to leave the group. After that, the odds of surviving alone in an environment such as the African savannah would be low.

    There would have been leadership contests within social groups, but as those groups got bigger and more socially cohesive, the winner of the contest was perhaps less likely to be the most violent one and more likely to be the one who gathered the biggest coalition of supporters, in other words, the one who was best at making friends. Leaders were more likely to have reproductive success.

    Mate selection, as Angela wrote, is another mechanism. Humans are unique among great apes in reproducing through pair bonding and parental care by both parents. This change probably happened more than 600,000 years ago, but with the increasing complexity of culture and language in modern humans, the nurturing and mentoring qualities of good fathers and mothers may have become more highly valued. Even in those cultures where female choice was limited because elders arranged marriages, most elders of both sexes would probably have the maturity to prefer a man with good domestic qualities to be the father of their grandchildren rather than a young, violent hothead.

    When overly aggressive men did become fathers, their children may have been less likely to survive, either because of poor parenting, or because their reckless father died young, leaving them less protected than other children.
    Last edited by Tamakore; 08-12-19 at 07:10.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EASTEUROPID View Post
    How to undomesticate ?
    Destroy your computer and move to Sudan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tamakore View Post
    One possible mechanism is that the most aggressive individuals, particularly those who were violent for no apparent reason, would become so unpopular within the social group that they would be ostracised and forced to leave the group. After that, the odds of surviving alone in an environment such as the African savannah would be low.

    There would have been leadership contests within social groups, but as those groups got bigger and more socially cohesive, the winner of the contest was perhaps less likely to be the most violent one and more likely to be the one who gathered the biggest coalition of supporters, in other words, the one who was best at making friends. Leaders were more likely to have reproductive success.

    Mate selection, as Angela wrote, is another mechanism. Humans are unique among great apes in reproducing through pair bonding and parental care by both parents. This change probably happened more than 600,000 years ago, but with the increasing complexity of culture and language in modern humans, the nurturing and mentoring qualities of good fathers and mothers may have become more highly valued. Even in those cultures where female choice was limited because elders arranged marriages, most elders of both sexes would probably have the maturity to prefer a man with good domestic qualities to be the father of their grandchildren rather than a young, violent hothead.

    When overly aggressive men did become fathers, their children may have been less likely to survive, either because of poor parenting, or because their reckless father died young, leaving them less protected than other children.
    Those are all very helpful insights.

    A silly example, I know, but your post prompted me to look back on my recent viewing of the latest Martin Scorsese film, "The Irishman". The "mob" culture is built on violence and intimidation as well as manipulation of man's baser instincts and desires no matter the ethnic group involved. Yet even in that culture the overly aggressive and reckless are ostracized and even killed eventually. That's why "Crazy Joe" Gallo was gunned down in a restaurant in downtown New York. It happened to many others. They endanger the group. The characters even used your word to describe him: hothead.

    The ones who survived into old age were the calm, controlled, even icy ones.

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    That probably deserves a second think: that's probably how HIV spread from monkeys to humans.

    Primates are dangerous even when they don't attack you.

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    When I was a teen we would watch action movies on VHS, and it seemed that fighting would be something we'd be expected to do occasionally as adults. But as the decades pass I have grown older, and I've started to realize that the people who get into fights, show up at the emergency room with damage -its normally the same group of men. There seems to be a subculture or social strata where it is an acceptable means of conflict resolution or status-adjuster.

    This is also the same group of people that suffers by far the most attrition due to drugs and car accidents. I imagine if this was a high-crime country they'd manage to get in trouble that way too. Although I'd expect more short-term successes as well.

    But really, its a fast-breeder strategy versus a slow-breeder one. Be full of fire and passion and spread your seed. And die young. (Most of the people I know in the fighting subculture have accumulated damage by now. I can't imagine them surviving in a more primal setting like that). Or have a few kids less born, but raise them well with good resources. As society settles more, the second strategy will have marginally more kids surviving to adulthood I suspect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Those are all very helpful insights.
    A silly example, I know, but your post prompted me to look back on my recent viewing of the latest Martin Scorsese film, "The Irishman". The "mob" culture is built on violence and intimidation as well as manipulation of man's baser instincts and desires no matter the ethnic group involved. Yet even in that culture the overly aggressive and reckless are ostracized and even killed eventually. That's why "Crazy Joe" Gallo was gunned down in a restaurant in downtown New York. It happened to many others. They endanger the group. The characters even used your word to describe him: hothead.
    The ones who survived into old age were the calm, controlled, even icy ones.
    I saw that movie the other day, it was great. That's a good point. Over aggression is a lack of discipline. Humans actually became more proficient at violence through "self-domestication", because discipline and cooperation, led to armies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EASTEUROPID View Post
    Sudan is too dry. I will move to Amazon jungle and eat monkeys
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jovialis View Post
    I saw that movie the other day, it was great. That's a good point. Over aggression is a lack of discipline. Humans actually became more proficient at violence through "self-domestication", because discipline and cooperation, led to armies.
    I watched one interview on youtube with Scorcese, De Niro, and Pacino, and now my "recommended" videos are like a greatest hits of mob movies. I was reminded of "Goodfellas".

    I know a lot of people who adore that movie, know whole scenes by heart. I watched it only once. The violence is too real in it. The Joe Pesci character was scary as hell, and a perfect example of the kind of berserker character who should be locked away from other people.

    Yet, people are infinitely complicated, even people like that. Think of that scene in the middle of the night with his mother...a total sociopath/psychopath who loves his mother.

    Who can really understand the human animal?

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    While this is getting off the point, I'm fascinated by the idealization of the mother in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. And this was a two-way street . . . Douglas MacArthur's mother took an apartment near West Point so she could look into her son's room at the Point throughout his time there.

    I don't think any of this survives today. I suppose pretty much everyone loves their mother, but love their wife or husband more. Has anyone ever looked into this deification of mothers and what it meant?

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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    While this is getting off the point, I'm fascinated by the idealization of the mother in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. And this was a two-way street . . . Douglas MacArthur's mother took an apartment near West Point so she could look into her son's room at the Point throughout his time there.

    I don't think any of this survives today. I suppose pretty much everyone loves their mother, but love their wife or husband more. Has anyone ever looked into this deification of mothers and what it meant?

    What reading on the topic I've done was usually in the context of literature, particularly Victorian literature, and more generally in terms of the "mother" figure in general through the works of people like Joseph Campbell and his exploration of myth in western consciousness, including the figure of "The Great Mother".

    This is a pretty good treatment of what people in general call the "sentimentality" of not only the 19th but the 18th century Anglo world, a sentimentality which spread throughout Europe and the U.S. etc.
    https://link.springer.com/chapter/10...780230595507_6

    A reading of Joseph Campbell, if you're unfamiliar with him, is well worth your while.

    I think, though, and thought when I originally studied the topic that these treatments, mainly earlier ones, in fact, much discussed in my university days, suffered from the fact that Anglo academics only look at phenomenon like this from the perspective of the Anglo World, which is very short sighted of them.

    I could make an argument that the idealization of the "mother", which was born not out of an intellectual "idea", but from actual human experience, is as old as man, and was certainly part both of the "mother worship" of the ancient world, and of the importance assigned to Mary, the mother of God.

    A course in European art devoted to Mary as the "Mother" is very informative. Now, such depictions, and the emotion attached to them, were present all over Europe, but during the Protestant reformation Northern Europe found it relatively easy to jettison them. That wasn't the case in Southern Europe, and most particularly not the case in Italy, where such depictions are way more common than in France and Spain, for example. (I'm not so sure about the Greek Orthodox sphere.)

    When looking at a lot of these depictions, I get very little sense of the divine. What I see is a very earthly depiction of a very tactile, emotional attachment of a mother toward her infant.

    Now, to this day, Latin men, and Greek men, and men in the Near East, and indeed in a lot of different parts of the world are known for their attachment to their mothers. Unfortunately, imo, that attachment is denigrated to some degree.

    Certainly, a man has to, as scripture says, leave his family and cling onto his wife, but those bonds are difficult to break, and can cause problems in the marital relationship.

    However, particularly in the modern era, I wonder how adaptive that actually is. How many times do people marry, or find their significant "other" and then are betrayed, split, heartbroken? The number of mothers who abandon their children is much smaller even in the Anglo countries or some other European countries, and is virtually unknown in others.

    I can also tell you it's not just limited to men. When I married I told my husband in no uncertain terms that there was a limit to how far away I was willing to move from my mother. Also, in a funny take off on that, while playing one of those stupid games about who would you save first if all your family and friends were drowning, my husband shot out his hand and says, oh, I can answer that: I think he said that first I'd say the children, then my mother, then my father, then him. He was absolutely right.

    I think he shocked some people. Now, some of that was because of the vulnerability of the children and my middle aged parents compared to him, but he had a finger on my inner "scale", much as I loved him.

    My nonna once said to me: love your husband, honor him, take care of him, but remember than you can have one husband, or two, or three, but you only have one mother and father, and no one will ever care for you with such unconditional love as they do.

    Or think of AIDS patients, when it was so deadly. Yes, some partners stepped up to the plate, but usually it was the parents, often the mother.


    • attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” – George Washington
    • “The doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.” – Wilma Rudolph
    • “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” – Thomas Alva Edison
    • "When my mother took her turn to sit in a gown at her graduation, she thought she only had two career options; nursing and teaching. She raised me and my sister to believe that we could do anything, and we believed her." -- Sheryl Sandberg
    • “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.” – Abraham Lincoln
    • “A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” – Washington Irving
    • "My family has very strong women. My other never laughed at my dream of Africa, even though everyone else did because we didn't have any money, because Africa was the 'dark continent,' and because I was a girl." – Jane Goodall
    • "My mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier you'll be a general; if you become a monk you'll end up as the pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso."—Pablo Picasso
    • "My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors." – Maya Angelou
    • "It seems to me that my mother was the most splendid woman I ever knew... I have met a lot of people knocking around the world since, but I have never met a more thoroughly refined woman than my mother. If I have amounted to anything, it will be due to her."—Charles Chaplin
    • "My mother taught me about the power of inspiration and courage, and she did it with a strength and a passion that I wish could be bottled." – Carly Fiorina
    • "I think my mother...made it clear that you have to live life by your own terms and you have to not worry about what other people think and you have to have the courage to do the unexpected." – Caroline Kennedy
    • "Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love." – Stevie Wonder


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    2 members found this post helpful.
    We may have, in fact, done better with self-domestication than I thought.

    According to this paper, 1% of the population is responsible for 63% of violent crime.

    See:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/art...rticle_783.pdf

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