144: Running the Human Race - and Losing

Running the Human Race - and Losing

"Although in the modern day we no longer run the risk of starvation and death unless we're in the depths of a serious World of Warcraft addiction, the competition for resources is still present in our competition for mates and jobs. At work, we chain ourselves to computers to earn promotions and better pay - resource competition redirected into the modern setting. And the success of dating websites shows that we still put in a ton of effort to find mates."

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Evolutionary Psychology and any claims as to the evolutionary source of complex social behaviors is always a dangerous and badly supported claim. I'll grant that human beings are often quite competitive in many aspects, but of course, they are likewise very cooperative in other aspects as well. Games, of course, tend to encourage competition, so attempting to divine a larger human drive from them is a bit tautological, it creates a perfectly predictable conclusion which was entered into by asking the quesiton this way in the first place.

Chilango2, if human behavior is not determined by the universe and our evolution within the universe, how is it determined?

We are products of our environment and other people are a large part of that environment. Some aspects of genetics, neurology and psychology are determined through random phenomena, but even that randomness is determined by the natural laws. If our behavior is not the result of something, it should be completely random, which it obviously is not. Our social and cultural evolution is still evolution and subject to the natural laws.

Of course, evolutionary psychology is not perfect and it needs to be supplemented with neurology and other branches of medicine to give us a complete picture of the pathology of our psyches.

After the drive to reach the top there's the unending task of defending your place. Like famous gunfighters or swordsmen, everyone knows who they have to beat to prove their superiority.

Meh I normally stop playing properly or altogeter if I reach the top 20 or so of anything, to me the achievement is getting there since it's just a game. Obviously if you're making a living out of the thing in question then you continue, but otherwise the competitive side to it is satisfied.

I'd sooner argue that co-operation has been more a part of our evolved instinct then competition. No matter how strong or fast you are, if you come up against a group of 20 other people, you're going to loose. It's the early humans who co-operated more often then not that formed tribes, built villages, developed agriculture, and eventually created civilization.

Finnish(ed):
Chilango2, if human behavior is not determined by the universe and our evolution within the universe, how is it determined?

There's a difference between behavior being determined by scientific phenomena and by evolution, which is one of many scientific phenomena. And, quite simply, evolution fails as a tool to explain socially learned behaviors.

Of course, evolution along with environment determines both the degree of social behaviors (i.e how social an animal is) and the complexity of those social behaviors. hominids in general exhibit both a great degree and complexity of social behaviors, and most current theories posit that at some point one branch of hominids developed bigger brains to take advantage of these social behaviors which started a feedback loop which eventually led to humans. But that doesn't mean those social behaviors were *evolved*, rather the *capacity* for them has evolved. But there's simply no way that complex social behaviors such as division of labor, hunting behavior and diet, etc, could be evolved, for the simple reason that this is not what evolution does, it encourages survival and adaptation to environmental circumstances.

The human condition is per se extraordinary because humans, being generalists, were able to "adapt" their behavior to survive in a wide variety of environmental circumstances. Which again underlies the capacity for evolution to make social behavior a possibility, but how it has no means to convey social behavior.

Rather, generational social interactions within an environmental context are sufficient to explain social behavior, attempting to explain them genetically is simply a fool's errand, something that is self evidently true when it is considered that humans are all essentially geneticlly identical, yet have exhibit a starling variety of socially learned behaviors in diffrent contexts.

In fact, the first fallacy that Evolutionary Psychology usually makes is a claim to a universal human behavior which is no such thing: there are well known counter examples to the allegedly "universal" behavior.

Chilango2:

Finnish(ed):
Chilango2, if human behavior is not determined by the universe and our evolution within the universe, how is it determined?

The human condition is per se extraordinary because humans, being generalists, were able to "adapt" their behavior to survive in a wide variety of environmental circumstances. Which again underlies the capacity for evolution to make social behavior a possibility, but how it has no means to convey social behavior.

The human condition might not be so extraordinary, but merely improbable and possibly exclusive in nature. I do not claim to know the details of how Neanderthals became extinct, but it is possible that Homo Sapiens had something to do with it. The emergence of sapience might be more common in an universal perspective than we would think. Also, human beings have developed into a variety of different physical appearances to accommodate different environmental conditions. Why would our behavior be any different? Rats and many other species have been almost as successful as humans in adapting to different conditions. It is very likely that rats would survive many changes in our environment that we would not.

Evolution has not coded our brains to function in a certain way. Instead, we have a multitude of hormones, chemicals and proteins in our system. These create our needs, urges and fears. These processes are so complex and often conflicting that they result in emergent behavior. Because complex things break in complex ways, human beings are vulnerable to many behavioral anomalies, which might even go against our basic impulses.

With sapience comes existential crisis. Evolution attempted to correct this through superstitions and religions. It is evident that we have a biological tendency to superstition. This argument is based on my own experiences and general statistics. Even if we do not follow any religion, we go to great lengths in order to rationalize our existence through a variety of ideologies. We have an inherent need to believe in something larger than ourselves.

Finnish(ed):

Also, human beings have developed into a variety of different physical appearances to accommodate different environmental conditions. Why would our behavior be any different?
....
Evolution has not coded our brains to function in a certain way. Instead, we have a multitude of hormones, chemicals and proteins in our system. These create our needs, urges and fears. These processes are so complex and often conflicting that they result in emergent behavior. Because complex things break in complex ways, human beings are vulnerable to many behavioral anomalies, which might even go against our basic impulses.

With sapience comes existential crisis. Evolution attempted to correct this through superstitions and religions.

Your contradicting yourself. You yourself pointed out how "emergent behavior" results from the interaction of the various chemical processes going on in the human mind. But that emergent behavior is *not* evolved, and as you observed, the emergent behavior can be very different from instance to instance.

You ask why behavior would be any different from physical differences. Firstly, meaningful physical differences as a result of environment among humans are piddling compared to the typical environmental adaption most other species demonstrate. Secondly, the reason they are diffrent is because their is, simply, no evolutionary means by which behavior can be transmitted.

Evolution works primarily through adaptation to environmental pressures and sexual selection. But we have already observed that humans tend not so much to adapt physically to an environment as to adapt the environment to them, as well as use tools and other unique human skill sets to survive without any physical changes. Secondly, sexual selection also does not have a way to select the behaviors you attribute to it.

The bit about existentialism is partiuclalry amusing nonsense, as existentialism was not disucssed or recognized until the late modern age (e.g the last century). How exactly evolution is suppossed to "come up with religion" to solve the problem of existentialism? There's no evolutionary mechanic for it to do so.

In short, I think you either are misusing or misunderstanding the mechanic of evolution and how it functions. If you can explain an actual means by which a hominid could "evolve" a set of behaviors as complex as religion through genetic inheritance and how this would either help it survive in an environment or help it be selected by the opposite sex, then you might have something. Simple tautological claims along the lines of "sentience leads to existentialism, so we evolved religion to counter that" aren't going to cut it, because there's no selection mechanic involved in your claim, along with a number of other dubious premises.

Sounds like someone is confusing biology with anthropology.

Q: How does behavior work?

A: Because science has not found any evidence of souls or spirits, it seems that behavior is based purely on the architecture and chemistry of our brains.

Q: What has created the architecture and chemistry of our brains?

A: Because science has not found any evidence of divine intervention, it seems that evolution is solely responsible for our brains.

Q: What is emergence?

A: Again, there seems to be an acute lack of divine intervention, so emergence is likely to be a property, function or tendency of biological systems. Ant colonies are a fine example of emergence. Also, many species teach their young. The human brain is not that big of a deal.

Q: What would happen if you placed a bunch of people into a secluded environment and wiped their memories and even their knowledge of language?

A: It is more than likely, that given time, they would form a society or societies. There would be fighting, communication and cooperation. At some point, superstition and religion would emerge. These are all direct results of our biological evolution. Sexual selection has favored individuals with certain social and emotional tendencies that make them better suited for groups, tribes and societies. Our modern culture has more intricacies because we can also pass on knowledge and not only our genes and we have had a long time to refine our system. However, the basics are still the same.

What is now called existential crisis existed before we made up the term. The same way that nuclear fusion existed when we had absolutely no idea what the Sun was actually doing.

I know I am confused and conflicted. I am also cynical and pessimistic. But that does not mean I am wrong. I would be very worried if I did not have doubts about all of this, but these are my conclusions based on current facts.

By the way, all this condescending attitude I am receiving here is making me regret ever registering. I have read and enjoyed this magazine for more than a year now. The Escapist is in fact the first and only forum I have ever written anything to, but it seems that perhaps I need not have bothered.

Finnish(ed):
Q: How does behavior work?

A: Because science has not found any evidence of souls or spirits, it seems that behavior is based purely on the architecture and chemistry of our brains.

Q: What has created the architecture and chemistry of our brains?

A: Because science has not found any evidence of divine intervention, it seems that evolution is solely responsible for our brains.

Q: What is emergence?

A: Again, there seems to be an acute lack of divine intervention, so emergence is likely to be a property, function or tendency of biological systems. Ant colonies are a fine example of emergence. Also, many species teach their young. The human brain is not that big of a deal.

A few short decades ago, scientists "had not found any evidence" that there was such a thing as microwave radiation. And, since "scientists had not found any evidence that microwave radiation exists, it seems that such a thing is impossible."
Then they FOUND that evidence, and now we have microwaves.

And no, I'm not saying that "Divine Intervention" is the only alternative to soulless natural selection, I'm saying that you shouldn't be so quick to assume that there are NO forces at work that we are as yet unable to measure with scientific apparati.

Finnish(ed):
Q: How does behavior work?

A: Because science has not found any evidence of souls or spirits, it seems that behavior is based purely on the architecture and chemistry of our brains.

Q: What has created the architecture and chemistry of our brains?

A: Because science has not found any evidence of divine intervention, it seems that evolution is solely responsible for our brains.

Q: What is emergence?

A: Again, there seems to be an acute lack of divine intervention, so emergence is likely to be a property, function or tendency of biological systems. Ant colonies are a fine example of emergence. Also, many species teach their young. The human brain is not that big of a deal.

By the way, all this condescending attitude I am receiving here is making me regret ever registering.

I'm sorry you feel I am being condescending, that is not my intent.

What I am trying to convey in my disagreement with you is that you seem to misunderstand the precise function or meaning of evolution. It does not mean "things caused by the way we are put together." To put it simply, emergent behavior is not a function of evolution. It is a function of the interaction of the evolved systems.

Like I said, I think part of the problem is that you and I are using the word "evolution" differently.

You seem to believe that if a scientific explanation suffices for the behavior, since it emerged from what we did evolve, that it is evolved behavior, but it is my contention that this is not the case. Here, I am using a perhaps narrower definition of "evolution" than you. Unless behavior can be directly attributed to survival selection pressure (i.e is the behavior so sufficiently advantageous as to represent a evolutionary advantage) or sexual selection, it cannot be explained through evolution. If the *behavior* itself cannot be genetically communicated, it is not evolved, it is emergent, and again, emergent is not evolved.

Well this may be a bit over my head but I know that
A) According to Quantum Mechanics everything is random or more accurately currently we have no way to read quanta without causing a change in the outcome while trying to observe it, We can only observe the outcome.

B) Humans are animals, simple fact, no argument, Simply like all animals we think, learn, and can genetically overcome obstacles through evolution for our further survival.

C) Sexually we have courtship rituals like any animal and males are rated on certain characteristics as are females. Males are rated by their ability to maintain the female and the female on the ability to bear children.

Now When we combine the last two principles we can easily understand that women over the years have evolved from behavior and experience, systems of defense against men that would be unable to sustain them and men have at a lesser scale evolved to become better at showing the qualities that are needed to bypass the defenses.

The basic idea of it is that if there is a woman that rates 9.0 on the richter scale shes going to be harder to pick up than a 7.5 but if you try to use the same method used to get a 9.0 for a 7.5 you will more likely fail. Technically you could say that because of the randomness of genetic structure of a human being they will have different experiences that cause different views, advantages, and disadvantages.

Through observing your enemy you can further facilitate your ability to overcome them.

I have the tendency to perhaps overreact to perceived disrespect toward myself and anyone else. It's not like I'm in prison or organized crime or something like that. At least not anymore. I just think it is shortsighted when people belittle each other. We do it so easily. Husbands belittle their wives, parents belittle their children and many people belittle everyone, if they feel superior in some way. On the Internet it is easy to forget that behind every post there is a person and it is easy to act dismissively when you are not face to face with that person, especially when so many abuse the anonymity.

Maybe this thread is already far off topic, but I'll just plunder along. I rarely get to discuss these matters since the few friends usually talk to mostly agree with me. After all, there is little reason for discussion if everyone is in complete agreement to begin with. Then its just a group masturbation session.

In my understanding, evolution is anything that affects the chances of survival and reproduction of an individual. Anything that is beneficial has the tendency to become widespread inside the niche it is relevant and anything that is detrimental quickly vanishes. Even if there is no simple mechanism that induces emergence, when it appears and benefits survival and reproduction, it will fill that ecological niche. I do not see any reason why behavior and emergence could not be communicated genetically. Even animals with little or no brains, like ants, exhibit complex behavior.

I would like nothing better than to find out that we are more than machines; that we can in fact change. There just seems to be no evidence to suggest so. We are just as violent, selfish, cowardly and greedy today as we have always been.

I am sorry if I appear harsh or arrogant. Above all, I try to communicate facts and my own opinions, without overburdening them with emotions.

I can't help but think of Audiosurf, where you can be the best in the world at something if you can find an obscure enough song.

It's possible that global problems will lead to major changes in present middle class lifestyles. For example, prices for many commodities, including food, petrol, and minerals, are increasing significantly worldwide due to increasing demand from China, India, and other countries. We may be facing more shortages due to peak oil and drought. The U.S. and other countries face mounting debts and other financial difficulties while countries like China, Brazil, and Russia grow stronger. Given all these points, addiction to technology may disappear in the near future.

 

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