June 27, 2009

From Jon Loux:

Re: Warriors don’t always get the girl (May 12 ): Dear Sir, I am responding to your article on ‘Warriors Don’t Always Get the Girl. ’ I am of the opinion that the human race has been self domesticating over the past several tens of thousands of years and that this process has been unconscious, much like the initial domestication of plants and animals. It was not intentional, but was a natural part of forces in conflict. Your article seems to shed some light on this. I believe that social evolution has governors and that evolutionary traits, evolved randomly, are pared away if they are too strong or two weak. If too much altruism evolves in a community, it self destructs due to an excess of ‘free riders. ’ Alternately, if a society becomes too mistrustful, vengeful and violent, it can no longer support a threshold level of cooperation required to sustain a community and also self destructs. Athens was too nice, Sparta was too brutal.

Self domestication can also explain the huge societal friction between self sufficiency and dedication to the group as seen in literature, folklore, religion and myth. The Garden of Eden’s ‘fall’ from free range hunter-gatherers to sedentary herder-farmers, for instance. Today, we talk about ‘Sheeple’ as a bad thing, but do we really want feral humans? Herman Melville described angels (and us) as ‘well behaved sharks. ’ And of course there is the story of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. All these explore this dichotomy between wild human and civilized human. We are only half domesticated.

My master’s dissertation may be of interest to you. In it I created a computer simulation of the Prisoners’ Dilemma as a group phenomenon to explore some aspects of this idea.

You can find this here.

I have a regular (rarely updated) blog at:


Thank you for your time.


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