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DNA and WAR

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posted on Feb, 6 2007 @ 09:09 PM
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This isn't really a conspiracy...but more of a question...with hopefully some good answers.


Ayway...

There are people in the world who hate violence, hate war, and think that humans should have outgrown their animal competitiveness. They say that humans aren't really violent, we're just pressured into being violent (being fear, power, or just out right brainwahsed).

Then, there are people who think violence is necessary, that wars solve problems, and that humans are just as animal like as any other animal.

And both of these parties feel this way regardless of how they were brought up, regardless of wealth or stature, regardless of any outside force.

My question is ....is there something chemically different in each of these people's brains? Is one parties line of thought that way because of a higher evolved DNA? If you were gather all the peace-nicks and hippies, would they really stay nice to each other and have a great civil life? If you lumped all the fear and war monger's together, would they fight until a resolve, or just kill each other off?

Again, this isn't about who is right, but about, why we think these different ways. Has there been any studies as to why this occurs?




posted on Feb, 7 2007 @ 08:12 AM
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Personally, I am inclined to think human aggression is intrinsic, that some humans are genetically predisposed to be more aggressive than others.

It's well established that aggressive men tend to have more testosterone in their blood than peaceable chaps like me. The amount of testosterone in a man's blood is normally determined by his genetic make-up. So to the extent that it's linked with testosterone, male aggressiveness is certainly genetic.


Originally posted by Arcane Demesne
There are people in the world who hate violence... and think that humans should have outgrown their animal competitiveness.

Anyone who thinks human beings can 'outgrow' their animal inheritence is on to a loser. We can learn to control and redirect our instincts, up to a point, but we will never outgrow our animal selves until -- in one way or another -- we leave our flesh-and-blood bodies behind. At that point, we shall certainly cease to be animals, but we shall also have ceased to be human.

Such is my firm conviction. Others -- believers in 'soul', 'spirit' and other such impalpables -- may believe that the essence of humanity is somehow immaterial. I, however, hold that our humanity is embodied in... our bodies.


Then, there are people who think violence is necessary... and that humans are just as animal like as any other animal...

The first part of that statement does not necessarily imply the second. To be sure that we are animals is not the same as being sure that violence against our fellows is necessary or even inevitable.

In fact, few animals ever do serious violence to other members of their own species. Violent encounters that do occur, usually over mates or territory, are highly ritualized and consist more of threat displays than actual fighting. The intraspecies violence of humans is unusual; I can't think, offhand, of any other creature that regularly slaughters large numbers of its own kind. As And this is true despite the fact that -- as Darwin pointed out -- the fiercest competition for resources is not between members of different species, but between different members of the same species.

In fact -- and here we come to the crux of my contribution -- aggression is a tricky thing to select for. Ask yourself: do aggressive individuals always have a better chance of reproducing? Aggression may favour their chances in some ways (such as by helping dispose of sexual competitors) while reducing them in others (by potentially shortening one's lifespan and opportunities to reproduce, say). No doubt some of the more scientifically aware members of this forum will be able to explain the variables and the odds in more detail than I can.

The truth is, we have evolved to display aggression in some situations and cooperation in others. Human beings are social; if we were furiously violent all the time, we'd never be able to form cohesive societies. But if we weren't aggressive and violent to some degree, those societies would be threatened and perhaps destroyed from the outside.

So, to sum up: yes, I think aggression and a predisposition to violence are inherited characteristics. The degree to which each of us is inclined towards aggression and violence varies, and this too, I believe, is inherited.

But I also think this genetic predisposition is strongly -- perhaps definitively -- modulated by social and other environmental factors.

Finally, I am reasonably sure that cooperation, sociability and altruism are also inherited characteristics, just like aggression and a predisposition toward violence, and that all these factors are part of our make-up because they have demonstrated their selective fitness as characteristics (I hope I'm not mangling the terminology too badly with that sentence).

We're all animal. But we're not all bad.

Now for a couple of tangential comments:


...and both of these parties feel this way regardless of how they were brought up, regardless of wealth or stature, regardless of any outside force.

How can you be sure that this is true? The only way to establish that such attitudes are intrinsic and not affected by environmental factors is to do studies of identical twins brought up in different environments and somehow establish that their attitudes correspond significantly more often than chance indicates. And even with a twin study like that, it's going be be very hard. So, are you saying that some such studies have been conducted, and that through them it has been established that wealth, status, etc. don't come into the picture at all? Or are you just expressing a point of view?

Well... let's argue for the opposite point of view, shall we? It's well known that people often do share attitudes based on external variables like age, education, upbringing, current social and economic status, geographical location, political affiliation, etc. It seems unlikely that such variables won't also affect people's attitudes towards violence. In fact, we know they do; to choose an extreme example, some societies not merely tolerate but demand homicidal levels of violence from their male citizens (think of Homeric Greeks or modern Pushtuns) while others seek to mitigate or sublimate it (modern Western European culture, for example).


Is one parties line of thought that way because of a higher evolved DNA?

'Higher evolved'? Isn't that another unwarranted assumption? Is it more 'highly evolved' to be aggressive or peaceful? True, viruses are the simplest form of life and just about the most aggressive there is, too -- but blue-green algae and all the little pollywogs that inhabit the oceans are, on the whole, pretty peaceful, while some of the most highly-evolved animals are nasty, vicious predators and scavengers. So be careful of your terms: to be 'highly evolved' means one thing in biology, and quite another in the field of ethics.


If you were gather all the peace-nicks and hippies, would they really stay nice to each other and have a great civil life? If you lumped all the fear and war monger's together, would they fight until a resolve, or just kill each other off?

Frankly, I think both lots would be about equally bad. All human beings fight. Given the right motivation, hippies and peaceniks will fight to the death.



posted on Feb, 7 2007 @ 09:54 AM
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Astyanax

Thanks for that reply! It was really deeply thought about, and actually changed some of my points of view.


I guess aggression is both natural and learned. And how it plays within society is so complex, it's better just to live the best you can and not think about it too much.



posted on Feb, 7 2007 @ 11:36 AM
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Originally posted by Arcane Demesne
Then, there are people who think violence is necessary, that wars solve problems, and that humans are just as animal like as any other animal.


That may be a bit of a simplification of an entire school of thought. To say simply that [man = animal, animal = violent therefore man = violent would be passing the cause for violence in both 'lesser beast' and man.

Animals, for the most part and with a few notable exceptions, are not generally violent towards those of there own species or other species for that matter. Territory and mating partners are the two reasons which cue animals to natural violence --I use 'natural' because instances such as rogue elephants are not the natural norm and seem to be an unexplainable phenomenon with a possible relation to severe frontal lobe injury/abnormality.

Within the two examples of natural violence, territory and garnering a mate, seldom do the exchanges result in death. In fact, it would seem that there is a certain natural order to the whole thing which seems to be in place to avoid severe injury (butting hard antlers so to avoid injury to the skull, flaunting and pecking at plumage so to avoid injuring the body itself).

So, to say that man is animalistic in nature simply because he kills other man seems, to me, to be doing injustice to the animal world. Man does not act like an animal when he kills out of rage or greed; man acts like man.


Originally posted by Arcane Demesne
And both of these parties feel this way regardless of how they were brought up, regardless of wealth or stature, regardless of any outside force.


That statement(s) is a Pandora’s Box of social concept theory my friend
.

A large number of modern day social theorists who deal with crime and violent behavior seem to fall into the camp of 'nurtured violence'. That is to say that ones environmental upbringing and agents of socialization have contributed greatly to their violent tendencies.

Severe cases of child abuse, impoverished upbringing, social disorganization (the 'ghetto effect'), etc... Living in and around violence lends one to the belief that violence is the acceptable way in which to solve problems. A child who is repeatedly beaten when they do something wrong will learn that physical violence is the correct reaction to an undesired behavior.

However, some individuals feel that what you stated above would indeed be true --they fall into the 'nature over nurture' camp. However, there are fewer social theorists who reside there as it is a difficult concept to prove with any validation (look for information on Trait Theory or u2u me and I can provide you with some).


Originally posted by Arcane Demesne
My question is ....is there something chemically different in each of these people's brains? Is one parties line of thought that way because of a higher evolved DNA?


The first 'real' study which ventures the same hypothesis which you have presented is Cesar Lombroso (but his dealt with physical characteristics which presented certain individuals as a 'throw back' to more primitive man and dealt specifically with being predisposed to crime).

Many cases for a truly 'violent/criminal mind' deal with individuals who have experienced severe frontal lobe damage and therefore are physically incapable of restricting themselves from off beat and, sometimes, violent action. There is also some study which suggests certain chemical imbalances to be another cause for certain individual’s violent behavior (but I have never read up on them).

There have been several other studies into the 'nature' cause for violence (such as a study which surveyed children of repeat offenders serving time for violent crime. They were interviewed over the course of 19 years and the conclusion was that the children of violent parents were more inclined to participate in violent acts...however this study has been criticized and other explanations have been offered...which I will discuss in a bit) but I am not versed enough in the material to effectively discuss it. :p


Originally posted by Arcane Demesne
If you were gather all the peace-nicks and hippies, would they really stay nice to each other and have a great civil life? If you lumped all the fear and war monger's together, would they fight until a resolve, or just kill each other off?


And finally to actually address the main point of your thread
.

It seems, in my humble opinion, that humans as a species are violent because we have something to be violent about. We are greedy and by assigning value to specific metals, currency, product and property we have allowed ourselves to fall into a pattern of 'find and take'.

We are violent on an individual level as a way to gain some form of the aforementioned wealth and we are violent on a national/international level (ie: governing bodies and military forces) as a way to acquire the same forms of wealth on a grandiose scale.

I do not know if we have bred ourselves to be this way out of a societal desire for wealth or if we naturally horde and gather...reacting violently when that ability to horde/gather is opposed by another who has the same desires.

I spoke mostly on an individual level and not quite the global level of war which you put forward in the original post. However, I hope that by understanding the individual cause for violence we can one day understand the bodied structure of violence; as I feel they are one in the same on different levels of severity/social acceptance.

Whew, that was long! I hope I helped in the slightest bit and if you have any questions post them here or u2u me.



posted on Feb, 7 2007 @ 01:10 PM
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Originally posted by spines
Man does not act like an animal when he kills out of rage or greed; man acts like man.


That's a profound, interesting, and amazing statement.

I never thought about it that way.



I hope I helped in the slightest bit and if you have any questions post them here or u2u me.


Yes, you did, thank you. Now I have more reading material on social behavior!



posted on Feb, 8 2007 @ 09:49 AM
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Originally posted by Arcane Demesne

Originally posted by spines
Man does not act like an animal when he kills out of rage or greed; man acts like man.


That's a profound, interesting, and amazing statement.

I never thought about it that way.


Wow, thanks. I have never been called profound, interesting or amazing.

Hope you enjoy your reading. :p



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