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ErnstMuller comments on Politics is the Mind-Killer - Less Wrong

71 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 February 2007 09:23PM

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Comment author: ErnstMuller 15 April 2011 07:34:30PM 11 points [-]

You write "The evolutionary reasons for this are so obvious as to be worth belaboring: In the ancestral environment, politics was a matter of life and death."

Is there any evidence for that? That sounds much like the typical sort of sociobiologistic hypothesis which sounds so convincing that no one really thinks about it and just nods in agreement. So, are there any papers, experiments, mathematical models to back it up?

I would rather more suggest a hypothesis that it was (and is) very favorable for humans in terms of fitness to belong to a certain group of people and stick to that group - whether that group is a sports team, a class at school or a political party.

Well, I wouldn't dare to disagree with the rest of your article. Just that choosing of a political party has nothing to do with actual politics, just with sticking to a group.

Comment author: omeganaut 16 May 2011 07:56:33PM 2 points [-]

Citystates in Greece had to deal with politics that certainly could mean life or death. When the Peloponnesian war broke out, states had to take sides, or risk being hated by both sides, and at risk for invasion and conquering. Rome around the time of Julius Caesar was turbulent, and where supporting the wrong Tribune could mean being put on a wanted list and killed by a bounty hunter when they came to power. In Germany, choosing the wrong side at the wrong time could certainly result in execution for heresay or treason. There are many examples throughout history where competing political views transferred into violence and killing, if not outright war.

Comment author: CuSithBell 16 May 2011 08:01:53PM 10 points [-]

Those don't fit my understanding of the "ancestral environment" - I associate that with the tribes-of-cavemen era. By my understanding, Greek city-states are within our FOOM period. Am I mistaken?

Comment author: [deleted] 22 August 2011 05:34:58AM 3 points [-]

No, you're completely right -- omeganaut is confused about what constitutes the "ancestral environment" here. For most examples of "ancient" or "primitive" peoples that come to mind, there's a simple test: if they performed agriculture, horticulture or pastoralism as a primary way of life within the last 10,000 years, they're within in our FOOM period, and even if they didn't start out with it, the odds are extremely good that contact, cultural diffusion or conquest have moved them into orbit around the same basic attractor.

Comment author: [deleted] 24 August 2011 11:19:20AM *  3 points [-]

We have been exposed to radically different selection pressures after the advent of agriculture than we where prior to it. Change has thus probably been rather rapid in the past 10 000 years.