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Thread: Birds in the park

  1. #1 Birds in the park 
    Forum Masters Degree organic god's Avatar
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    i was walking through the park the other day and i noticed something quite interesting.
    You know how small birds require being in a "pack" of birds for survival, and it is quite common to see examples of altruistic behaviour in these kind of animal.
    However when you drop a chunk of bread in the middle it is every bird for himself, there is no concept of sharing the food.
    I think this is a good analogy to human society, i think humans require altruism to survive as a society, a purely selfish community would tear itself apart, however when it comes to pleasure, there is no sharing and we try to grab as much as we can.
    Just a thought.


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  3. #2 Re: Birds in the park 
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    Quote Originally Posted by organic god
    i was walking through the park the other day and i noticed something quite interesting.
    You know how small birds require being in a "pack" of birds for survival, and it is quite common to see examples of altruistic behaviour in these kind of animal.
    However when you drop a chunk of bread in the middle it is every bird for himself, there is no concept of sharing the food.
    I think this is a good analogy to human society, i think humans require altruism to survive as a society, a purely selfish community would tear itself apart, however when it comes to pleasure, there is no sharing and we try to grab as much as we can.
    Just a thought.
    I get very angry when people take my food.


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  4. #3 Re: Birds in the park 
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    Quote Originally Posted by organic god
    i was walking through the park the other day and i noticed something quite interesting.
    You know how small birds require being in a "pack" of birds for survival, and it is quite common to see examples of altruistic behaviour in these kind of animal.
    However when you drop a chunk of bread in the middle it is every bird for himself, there is no concept of sharing the food.
    I think this is a good analogy to human society, i think humans require altruism to survive as a society, a purely selfish community would tear itself apart, however when it comes to pleasure, there is no sharing and we try to grab as much as we can.
    Just a thought.
    Though I'm not a sparrow expert, I don't think there is much altruistic behavior that goes on between them. Many animals live in groups simply under the principle of safety in numbers - you are less vulnerable to predators when you're with many other eyes and ears keeping watch. If the guy next to you suddenly starts running, you just start running too and don't ask questions. And up goes your chances of survival. This is the benefit, and the cost is having to squabble with the others in your group for food. As long as the benefits outweigh the costs, you stay.

    Though our distant ancestors probably started living in groups for similar reasons, human groups are markedly different. Safety is still probably something of a concern for hunter-gatherers, but the largest benefit they have to each other is in the cooperation of getting food, and the sharing of food. Hunting is not easy, and it can be made easier in one of two ways - one, multiple men get together to hunt large game, or two, the man who manages to bring home meat one day shares it with those who didn't, and the next day when he has not been so lucky, the person who was successful will share with him in return.

    But the modern world is very different from that world. In this world, one man or woman can get a job and conceivably raise a whole family just on their own. Our day-to-day lives are less clearly linked to each other, even though our civilizations as a whole work on pervasive and complex cooperation.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  5. #4  
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    i remember reading that when packs of birds are targeted by predators one bird will make a noise and try to distract the predator from the pack at great personal risk to itself, sounds quite altruistic. of course might not be the same bird.
    everything is mathematical.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by organic god
    i remember reading that when packs of birds are targeted by predators one bird will make a noise and try to distract the predator from the pack at great personal risk to itself, sounds quite altruistic. of course might not be the same bird.
    Depends on the species. And most cases of alarm calling are done among relatives - so it's not altruistic but kin selective.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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  7. #6 Re: Birds in the park 
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    Quote Originally Posted by organic god
    i was walking through the park the other day and i noticed something quite interesting.
    You know how small birds require being in a "pack" of birds for survival, and it is quite common to see examples of altruistic behaviour in these kind of animal.
    However when you drop a chunk of bread in the middle it is every bird for himself, there is no concept of sharing the food.
    I think this is a good analogy to human society, i think humans require altruism to survive as a society, a purely selfish community would tear itself apart, however when it comes to pleasure, there is no sharing and we try to grab as much as we can.
    Just a thought.
    We're already tearing ourselves apart. Look at the situation in each country and in the world. We're not living for the good of others but each man is for himself. We share the earth, the air we breathe and yet we have no disregard for others. We're driving ourselves to extinction. Only through the change of our inner qualities of intention towards others can we achieve unity and balance with nature. This means being an altruistic society like u mention. Pleasure will then be how much I can give to my neighbours, (but bear in mind there has to be the same intention in the part of the neighbours as well). Then everyone will take enough for their bare necessity and give the rest to others. Each individual will have no need to worry about anything if every part of humanity acts and thinks altruistically.
    ~ One’s ultimate perfection depends on the development of all the members of society ~ Kabbalah
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  8. #7 Re: Birds in the park 
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    Quote Originally Posted by organic god
    altruistic behaviour
    Altruistic behaviour may occur without altruistic sentiment. In the case of birds, them knowing the whys and wherefores is wasted effort. So they just develop these behaviours "floating" and free to contradict other "floating" behaviours.

    Seagull chicks for example. They don't know "mother". What they know, and all they really need to know, is that yellow beak with red spot means food so they peck that. That's mother. The mother's no more insightful. She doesn't know to feed her young. She knows to glut herself and return to the nest. She knows to squawk neurotically at the chicks. And that's when altruism of the dumbest kind takes place, for the leaping, pecking chicks soon land a poke inside her open beak, triggering a regurgitation reflex. The chicks then gobble half-digested scavengings as quickly as the inadvertent parent can gobble then back up herself.

    I've opined so often on this forum human morals are more like a collection of arbitrary rules than a rational system, people must be sick of it.


    PS for anyone more interested in seagull chick perception, and how it explains art, there's a cute lecture at BBC Radio 4.
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  9. #8  
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    "They harbor no fears, no secrets, no prejudices. Just two living creatures who somehow managed to look past their immense differences.
    Take good look at this couple, America. Take a good look world. If they can do it - what's our excuse?"
    CBS News

    A song "What a Wonderful World" to accompany the article above.

    Human morals doesn't help if human intentions is to exploit others for own benefit. At the same time we can't blame ourselves either because the system is built that way egoistically. When each and everyone "looks after their own interests first" before caring for others, it creates a deficit in the system causing problems to everyone. However altruist changes can only happen when every human being change their inner egoistical properties to an altruistic one. Similar to how each and every cell in our body takes only enough for itself and gives the rest to others.

    Now one may think that just following natures laws makes us beasts. But on the contrary, when everyone around you strives to provide for your every needs the same that you do for your neighbours, wouldn't it be great?
    ~ One’s ultimate perfection depends on the development of all the members of society ~ Kabbalah
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  10. #9  
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    Humans are susceptible to greed when there's an underlying fear of not having enough.

    In an economic recession for example multiple corruptions will spring up via humans attempting to gain more.
    In societies where this a feeling of abundance and security, there is usually peace and harmony and more cases of altruism.

    Although the resort to greed in the face of survival is not always the case.
    Because humans are blessed with a more advanced consciousness than animals and more control over their environment and their actions and behaviors.

    Birds don't know where or when the next lot of bread is going to come, so they automatically grab as much as they can.

    In historical case of famine in poverty in various societies there are incidents of greed and their are incidents of altruism.

    I think human reaction depends on an individuals state of consciousness.
    The less aware will resort to automatic reactions of panic, because the level of consciousness is only based around an individuals needs.
    A person with a broader and what could be said, a higher awareness, that goes beyond individuality and perceives reality on universal terms is more likely to be altruistic in such a situation.
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  11. #10  
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    Sparrows probably have a pecking order.

    Maybe it isn't so obvious at first sight. Maybe it requires careful observation.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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  12. #11  
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    Sparrows probably have a pecking order
    no pun intended? lol

    but you're idea is quite interesting, perhaps this sundays walk will give me a chance to observe the behaviour, although on first glance it does seem fairly random.
    everything is mathematical.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by organic god
    Sparrows probably have a pecking order
    no pun intended? lol

    but you're idea is quite interesting, perhaps this sundays walk will give me a chance to observe the behaviour, although on first glance it does seem fairly random.
    They do have a pecking order, or a hierarchy (if we want to avoid puns), at least among males. Depends on the breed of sparrow but if you have the kind with the black "bibs" on the front of their chest, usually the rank of the male in the group correlates roughly with the size of his bib relative to the other males.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by organic god
    perhaps this sundays walk will give me a chance to observe the behaviour, although on first glance it does seem fairly random.
    In a mob they're just too damn fast to track. And yet their actions are decisive - I mean look, peep, peck, it's almost robotic. I wonder has anybody done a multi-camera slow motion survey of a pecking group, including peeps? We could account for every glance that way, and I guess untangle the interactions.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  15. #14  
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    I almost vaguely remember reading about it in a book on sparrows. But it has been so long that it could be selective and modified memory.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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  16. #15  
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    What about the story of the blue tits and milk bottles?

    http://www.brefigroup.co.uk/resource...t/details_9.do


    Some of you guys are so dull, honestly I'm sure If i ever sat next to you I would probably recommend some more Omega oils with the squeaking and grinding from your cogs
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  17. #16  
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    Some of you guys are so dull, honestly I'm sure If i ever sat next to you I would probably recommend some more Omega oils with the squeaking and grinding from your cogs
    dude, that's a little harsh

    luckily my ego isn't totally wrapped up in what others think about me, so i really don't care what you call me.
    all the best.
    everything is mathematical.
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  18. #17  
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    Dolphins share food. As in they hunt as a pack and eat like a pack. And they wouldn't eat so much without collaboration.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Absum!
    What about the story of the blue tits and milk bottles?

    http://www.brefigroup.co.uk/resource...t/details_9.do


    Some of you guys are so dull, honestly I'm sure If i ever sat next to you I would probably recommend some more Omega oils with the squeaking and grinding from your cogs
    I have these The cogwheel adventures in my head.
    ~ One’s ultimate perfection depends on the development of all the members of society ~ Kabbalah
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by organic god
    Some of you guys are so dull, honestly I'm sure If i ever sat next to you I would probably recommend some more Omega oils with the squeaking and grinding from your cogs
    dude, that's a little harsh

    luckily my ego isn't totally wrapped up in what others think about me, so i really don't care what you call me.
    all the best.
    Lol....dude...

    Well I'm glad to hear that!
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by newnothing
    Quote Originally Posted by Absum!
    What about the story of the blue tits and milk bottles?

    http://www.brefigroup.co.uk/resource...t/details_9.do


    Some of you guys are so dull, honestly I'm sure If i ever sat next to you I would probably recommend some more Omega oils with the squeaking and grinding from your cogs
    I have these The cogwheels adventure in my head.
    Lol

    Oh well at least you are having fun on the way to spiritual enlightenment & oiling the cogs with some humor.

    But I do hope you are not being suckered into buying costly bits of red string or holy water, or having to peel bills from your wallet in order to become enlightened.

    Carrying on with the subject of bird behavior...........here's a great game to play if you want to learn about pecking orders

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pecking_Order

    http://www.funagain.com/control/prod...duct_id=015977
    Absum! has never been bored in her life, but is becoming increasingly bored of the Science Forum! :?


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    im trying to think if ive ever seen a genuinely altruistic act..... cause if you think about it, even when humans do kind things for other people, its not because they honestly want to help, its because they get a good feeling from helping someone. so its still to boost their own ego. and im sure "lower" animals are the same. if you see another animal doing something that seems kind, im sure there is an alternate reason for it. if their sharing food its not because they're nice, it's because that's what they do to survive.

    all in all, we all have the same basic instincts - to survive. and we wont survive if we're giving all of our resources away to others. sorry if that seems a little bleak but that's my opinion. we're all selfish because that's how we're "programmed" after hundreds of thousands of years. (or millions if we go back to talking about birds)

    p.s. wikipedia is the devil and it irks me to see people use it as a reference in a scientific discussion.
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by salukigirl
    p.s. wikipedia is the devil and it irks me to see people use it as a reference in a scientific discussion.
    Wikipedia is fine as long as people understand that it is not always accurate, especially for more advanced topics, and are just using it to get a little basic knowledge, not as support for an assertion. Besides that, with the citations the articles can sometimes lead you to more reliable sources.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by salukigirl

    p.s. wikipedia is the devil and it irks me to see people use it as a reference in a scientific discussion.
    Wikki is useful for a quick reference for a topic

    Perhaps you should try not to get so easily irked?
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    I'm fine with my level of being irked but thanks for your concern.
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  26. #25  
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    Quote Originally Posted by salukigirl
    im trying to think if ive ever seen a genuinely altruistic act..... cause if you think about it, even when humans do kind things for other people, its not because they honestly want to help, its because they get a good feeling from helping someone. so its still to boost their own ego. and im sure "lower" animals are the same. if you see another animal doing something that seems kind, im sure there is an alternate reason for it. if their sharing food its not because they're nice, it's because that's what they do to survive.
    Wow, great discernment there and I agree with you. No matter how much we give, it is still to please my own ego. Even if you point it out to them, they will vehemently deny that they are egoists. They can even prove that they're giving. But the intangible part of it, the great feeling of giving, pride, status, that you're able to give and others can't, its all egoistic.

    all in all, we all have the same basic instincts - to survive. and we wont survive if we're giving all of our resources away to others. sorry if that seems a little bleak but that's my opinion. we're all selfish because that's how we're "programmed" after hundreds of thousands of years. (or millions if we go back to talking about birds)
    I can't agree more. But now if we are able to "re-program" ourselves to the opposite of what we're "programmed" to do, what a wonderful world it would be! I mean, behind my every actions and thoughts there is only the intention to do good to the people around me and the world, nothing about me. So there is only net giving, not net receiving. And if everyone has the same intentions, then we would have the whole world providing for our very needs and vice versa their needs. It seems like nonsense talk, something that will never happen but just think about it, I only need to change from within.

    If I may say, all the problems in the world we live in today - wars, food shortages, financial crises, environmental and weather changes are all due to man's egoism, selfishness. I'm not saying i'm perfect, just discussing what maybe wrong with ourselves.
    ~ One’s ultimate perfection depends on the development of all the members of society ~ Kabbalah
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    Quote Originally Posted by Absum!
    Quote Originally Posted by newnothing
    Quote Originally Posted by Absum!
    What about the story of the blue tits and milk bottles?

    http://www.brefigroup.co.uk/resource...t/details_9.do


    Some of you guys are so dull, honestly I'm sure If i ever sat next to you I would probably recommend some more Omega oils with the squeaking and grinding from your cogs
    I have these The cogwheels adventure in my head.
    Lol

    Oh well at least you are having fun on the way to spiritual enlightenment & oiling the cogs with some humor.

    But I do hope you are not being suckered into buying costly bits of red string or holy water, or having to peel bills from your wallet in order to become enlightened.

    Carrying on with the subject of bird behavior...........here's a great game to play if you want to learn about pecking orders

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pecking_Order

    http://www.funagain.com/control/prod...duct_id=015977
    Oh no no no. No way anyone can persuade me to buy red strings or holy water. And no one is peeling bills from my wallet either, not that there is any to peel :P

    Kabbalah seems to tell of something about the world we live in, that is why I'm exploring it. There are alot of junk sites about this wisdom, and like what u mention tried to sell all sorts of stuff in exchange for enlightenment. What made me explore this wisdom is a clip i stumbleupon on about Perceiving Reality.
    ~ One’s ultimate perfection depends on the development of all the members of society ~ Kabbalah
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  28. #27  
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    newnothing, please do not discuss Kabbalah in this subforum. It is a supernatural explanation for natural phenomenon and is thus not scientific. If you wish to discuss it any further please do so in either the Religion or the Pseudoscience forum.

    /moderation mode


    Quote Originally Posted by newnothing
    Quote Originally Posted by salukigirl
    im trying to think if ive ever seen a genuinely altruistic act..... cause if you think about it, even when humans do kind things for other people, its not because they honestly want to help, its because they get a good feeling from helping someone. so its still to boost their own ego. and im sure "lower" animals are the same. if you see another animal doing something that seems kind, im sure there is an alternate reason for it. if their sharing food its not because they're nice, it's because that's what they do to survive.
    Wow, great discernment there and I agree with you. No matter how much we give, it is still to please my own ego. Even if you point it out to them, they will vehemently deny that they are egoists. They can even prove that they're giving. But the intangible part of it, the great feeling of giving, pride, status, that you're able to give and others can't, its all egoistic.
    There is a difference between what we have evolved to do and the mental motivation behind a given human's actions. Our genes do not require that we understand why we do what we do, only that we do it with effectiveness and efficiency. Our evolutionary history has been such that those humans who are generous and empathic (allowing them to create reciprocally altruistic relationships) to other members of their group have higher fitness. It has also been such that those of us who are able to detect people who may be trying to take advantage of us for their own selfish purposes, and avoid interacting with them, also have higher fitness. What better way to favor the creation of these altruistic relationships than to have humans operate such that they themselves consciously think in only altruistic terms, and show no hint of being a cheater and every possible indication of being a person worthy of cooperating with.

    In our case, the optimum was the formation of reciprocally altruistic relationships. They are optimum because they benefit us in "selfish" terms, but in order to achieve that optimum we were not made to think in selfish terms, but to think in terms of altruism. Just because now we understand why we desire to be altruistic to each other doesn't mean that our desires cannot be genuine and heartfelt and, in all conscious thought, not selfish whatsoever.


    Now, some of you are probably thinking by now that I'm using far too many broad generalizations and assuming too much about our evolutionary history and what goes on in the minds of all the other humans on this planet, and you're right. There is much we still don't know about our evolutionary history, and there is a lot of variation across and within individual humans, and I'm sure there are plenty of consciously and actively selfish people out there who are simply playing the act. But the principle remains that it is possible for people to, consciously at least, be truly and genuinely altruistic in their actions, even if that mentality evolved in service of a selfish goal.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  29. #28  
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    Hmmm...skimming the wikipedia article on altruism made me realize that actually we are all using different definitions of altruism.

    I guess altruism in behavioral biology has the toughest criteria which are also measurable.

    In the science of ethology (the study of animal behavior), and more generally in the study of social evolution, altruism refers to behavior by an individual that increases the fitness of another individual while decreasing the fitness of the actor.

    Many altruistic acts that we do as humans actually do not decrease our fitness at all. Is there a risk in helping an old lady cross the road? Of course, but the same risk is there from traversing a road by yourself.

    Should we try to analyze more deeply what constitutes an altruistic act?
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    Hmmm...skimming the wikipedia article on altruism made me realize that actually we are all using different definitions of altruism.

    I guess altruism in behavioral biology has the toughest criteria which are also measurable.

    In the science of ethology (the study of animal behavior), and more generally in the study of social evolution, altruism refers to behavior by an individual that increases the fitness of another individual while decreasing the fitness of the actor.

    Many altruistic acts that we do as humans actually do not decrease our fitness at all. Is there a risk in helping an old lady cross the road? Of course, but the same risk is there from traversing a road by yourself.

    Should we try to analyze more deeply what constitutes an altruistic act?
    That's the definition I was taught and that's the one I've been using - I probably should have clarified that earlier.

    Investing time and resources in other people that you could be investing in yourself is always a cost, besides the obvious cost of putting yourself in physical danger. Helping one old lady cross the street one time isn't necessarily a big cost, no. But if you are often stopping and carrying out this behavior, or other similar behaviors, this can accumulate to a significant investment of time. More easily measurable is the giving of money to charities, etc.

    But remember also that altruistic acts whose reciprocally altruistic benefits outweigh the costs to yourself will be most strongly favored by natural selection. If by showing a small kindness every now then significantly increases your reputation as a good person and makes it significantly more likely that you will procure a lucrative reciprocally altruistic relationship with someone in your group, that small effort is worth putting out.
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    Altruistic behaviour was and is probably much more immediately rewarded in smaller communities or groups in terms of elevating your social status as long as other people know about it. The benefit when only you know about it is increased self esteem when you pat yourself on the back and the social benefits that come with that. IMO
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    newnothing, please do not discuss Kabbalah in this subforum. It is a supernatural explanation for natural phenomenon and is thus not scientific. If you wish to discuss it any further please do so in either the Religion or the Pseudoscience forum.

    /moderation mode

    Err Paralith, I know this is not the section for this, and apologies for that, but you have actually made a huge false claim about the nature of Kabbalah (Qabalah Qabbalah etc) that has obviously been assumed through lack of Knowledge.

    This forum attempts to deter misinformation through lack of knowledge about a subject which might confuse other users so I'm sure as a moderator, you won't mind if i put you straight.

    Kabbalah is actually a highly scientific subject which gains it's knowledge through the application of observation and experimentation in strictly scientific conditions.

    The Kabbalah not only explores supernatural planes & events and metaphysical philosophy but also the physical plane and all it's components which incorporates all scientific methods and analysis of discoveries and theories of natural phenomena to date.

    It does not focus on explaining natural phenomena as wholly supernatural because this would completely invalidate the whole working structure of Kabbalistic system theory and practice which emphasis as it's basis in and knowledge of the physical realm from which every aspiring Kabbalist begins.

    Make a study of Kabbalah and try to validate your claim that it is unscientific Paralith.
    Your thoughtless comment about a subject you obviously know nothing about should be placed in the Pseudoscience section because it currently exists in your mind only.

    newnothing - Lets talk about Kabbalah in the erm....Philosophy section.....that seems to be the appropriate place for it considering the various forms of Kabbalah inc it's variety of spellings... and leave these pigeons to peck themselves to death over the last crumb

    ...look forward to seeing you there
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    There are various types of altruism which is based on motivation.

    Kalster you are describing a form of altruism which seeks a reward in an altruistic act, such as elevation is status within a society.
    This depends on everyone knowing about the act. These type of people will make sure that everyone knows they had done good.
    This type of altruism is a form of greed. Its motivation is to get something back in return and seeks to grasp and obtain through a particular method which is more cunning than simply blind grabbing.

    Humans and animals are susceptible to this type of altruism because it forms a behaviour based on reward.


    There are then those who display altruism for a different type of reward and this is the pleasure gained through altruistic acts. A feeling of goodness invoked.
    This altruism is also motivated by a return. This type of person will normally gain satisfaction from the reward of helping and knowledge of being a 'good' person without needing to broadcast their altruistic acts.
    People helping strangers and even putting their own lives at risk are in this category.

    Is this form of altruism only human or do animals perform it too? There must be some instances of animals helping other animals. And somebody has said that one bird will call an alarm and distraction if a flock is threatened thereby putting their selves in danger. I think this behavior of one bird helping the rest of the flock leads to another different type of altruism......

    This is a form of altruism which I would regard as higher than the previous two described, because they were both centered around a personal consciousness, aware only of it's own needs. Although the person helped in these instances had their needs met and benefited, in the process of motivation, they are usually in reality the opportunity of a means to an end.

    Whereas the form of altruism which seeks to help as many of it's kind as possible even at the cost of its own life, can be regarded as centered around a collective consciousness. It is aware of more than itself and that it belongs to a part of a community.

    Although I regard this as a higher form of consciousness, I suspect many animals that live in communities display this drive more so than humans, because they are probably more aware of a collective consciousness, than us humans living in our isolated boxes having a tendency to dislike everyone else.

    It is said that when a person expands their consciousness from the personal to the impersonal universal it is able to corporate a lot more in it's sphere of awareness and realizes the reality that all things are connected.
    This could be called a spiritual consciousness. This type of awareness is supposed to automatically bring with it altruism as well as compassion, because a being with such an awareness realizes that when he helps another he helps all of humanity, all living things and all of his environment on a universal scale.

    (Now Paralith, I know I included spirituality there in the Biology section, but if we are talking about altruism it is unavoidable. You matter how deep you want to immerse yourself in science, you will never escape the spirit, because it is always there watching you....and waiting )
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    Quote Originally Posted by Absum!
    The Kabbalah not only explores supernatural planes & events and metaphysical philosophy but also the physical plane and all it's components which incorporates all scientific methods and analysis of discoveries and theories of natural phenomena to date.

    It does not focus on explaining natural phenomena as wholly supernatural because this would completely invalidate the whole working structure of Kabbalistic system theory and practice which emphasis as it's basis in and knowledge of the physical realm from which every aspiring Kabbalist begins.
    Just because it looks at both the supernatural and the natural does not negate the fact that it is attempting to use supernatural explanations and explain supernatural ideas. Science is limited to the natural, period. If Kabbalah has purely natural aspects that it approaches in a scientific manner, then yes, feel free to discuss those aspects here. But anything that involves the supernatural will be moved.
    /moderator mode

    Quote Originally Posted by Absum!
    There are various types of altruism which is based on motivation.

    Kalster you are describing a form of altruism which seeks a reward in an altruistic act, such as elevation is status within a society.
    This depends on everyone knowing about the act. These type of people will make sure that everyone knows they had done good.
    This type of altruism is a form of greed. Its motivation is to get something back in return and seeks to grasp and obtain through a particular method which is more cunning than simply blind grabbing.

    Humans and animals are susceptible to this type of altruism because it forms a behaviour based on reward.


    There are then those who display altruism for a different type of reward and this is the pleasure gained through altruistic acts. A feeling of goodness invoked.
    This altruism is also motivated by a return. This type of person will normally gain satisfaction from the reward of helping and knowledge of being a 'good' person without needing to broadcast their altruistic acts.
    People helping strangers and even putting their own lives at risk are in this category.
    Are you talking about what's consciously going on in people's minds, or what they evolved to do? Evolution would have favored altruism if it increased your status which increased your reproductive success, and it may have done that by triggering the release of dopamine and other feel-good chemicals in you brain when you carry out altruistic acts, encouraging you to continue to carry them out. But as I tried to explain before, that's not the same as a person thinking, "Ah, if I help this old lady my reputation in the community will increase! Yes!" or, "Ooh, if I help this old lady I'll get that happy high!" Perhaps some people do actually think these things when being altruistic, but I don't think that's what happens with the average person.

    Is this form of altruism only human or do animals perform it too? There must be some instances of animals helping other animals. And somebody has said that one bird will call an alarm and distraction if a flock is threatened thereby putting their selves in danger. I think this behavior of one bird helping the rest of the flock leads to another different type of altruism......

    This is a form of altruism which I would regard as higher than the previous two described, because they were both centered around a personal consciousness, aware only of it's own needs. Although the person helped in these instances had their needs met and benefited, in the process of motivation, they are usually in reality the opportunity of a means to an end.

    Whereas the form of altruism which seeks to help as many of it's kind as possible even at the cost of its own life, can be regarded as centered around a collective consciousness. It is aware of more than itself and that it belongs to a part of a community.
    As I also said before, animals who alarm call do it to save their relatives who share their genes. For example, ground squirrels live in communities where the females stay in the group they were born in, and males move to a new group when they're mature. Thus, when females are near other females, they will give an alarm call when they see a predator. By doing this they save their relatives with which they share genes. However, males, especially recently immigrated ones who have yet to father many offspring in the group, will not give an alarm call when they see a predator. They're surrounded by non-relatives, they won't be saving any copies of their genes if they get themselves killed. The evolutionary history of alarm calling is completely selfish. But again, what's actually going on in the little mind of a ground squirrel? A female probably feels something akin to worry and concern when she sees and eagle and there are other individuals around that she grew up with. So she calls.

    Although I regard this as a higher form of consciousness, I suspect many animals that live in communities display this drive more so than humans, because they are probably more aware of a collective consciousness, than us humans living in our isolated boxes having a tendency to dislike everyone else.

    It is said that when a person expands their consciousness from the personal to the impersonal universal it is able to corporate a lot more in it's sphere of awareness and realizes the reality that all things are connected.
    This could be called a spiritual consciousness. This type of awareness is supposed to automatically bring with it altruism as well as compassion, because a being with such an awareness realizes that when he helps another he helps all of humanity, all living things and all of his environment on a universal scale.

    (Now Paralith, I know I included spirituality there in the Biology section, but if we are talking about altruism it is unavoidable. You matter how deep you want to immerse yourself in science, you will never escape the spirit, because it is always there watching you....and waiting )
    Absum, I'm touched by your concern for my spiritual well-being, but that is an altogether separate issue from the standards of discussion for a biology forum. Unless you'd like to start a thread on the empirical evidence for something like a collective consciousness, any further comments on collective consciousness will be moved - to Philosophy, if you'd prefer it over Pseudo or Religion.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    newnothing, please do not discuss Kabbalah in this subforum. It is a supernatural explanation for natural phenomenon and is thus not scientific. If you wish to discuss it any further please do so in either the Religion or the Pseudoscience forum.

    /moderation mode
    Alright Paralith, I won't continue with the subject of Kabbalah.

    Absum, we can carry on this subject in Philosophy forum, no matter.

    Now back to the topic at hand.

    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    There is a difference between what we have evolved to do and the mental motivation behind a given human's actions. Our genes do not require that we understand why we do what we do, only that we do it with effectiveness and efficiency. Our evolutionary history has been such that those humans who are generous and empathic (allowing them to create reciprocally altruistic relationships) to other members of their group have higher fitness. It has also been such that those of us who are able to detect people who may be trying to take advantage of us for their own selfish purposes, and avoid interacting with them, also have higher fitness. What better way to favor the creation of these altruistic relationships than to have humans operate such that they themselves consciously think in only altruistic terms, and show no hint of being a cheater and every possible indication of being a person worthy of cooperating with.

    In our case, the optimum was the formation of reciprocally altruistic relationships. They are optimum because they benefit us in "selfish" terms, but in order to achieve that optimum we were not made to think in selfish terms, but to think in terms of altruism. Just because now we understand why we desire to be altruistic to each other doesn't mean that our desires cannot be genuine and heartfelt and, in all conscious thought, not selfish whatsoever.
    An altruistic act with a selfish intention is not altruistic at all, if in the end I receive the benefit. To us, the optimum is when we give little and get more. We "think" we are acting altruistically and in terms of altruism, but that is after the calculation of what will I get in the end of the bargain. That is the feeling of security from the fact that something good will happen to me, that I feel that it is the right thing to do, that society will say good things about what I do. And of course the desires can be genuine and heartfelt, because we want to feel good, and we do feel great. Would we do it if it felt otherwise? Let me see, I save a starving child from death because it is the right thing to do or... I save the starving child because if I don't I will feel terrible and won't be able to live with myself.

    Naturally we will say that I save the starving child because obviously it was the right thing to do. But are you sure? or did your brain calculated that if you did not do what u do, you'll suffer a painful moral death?

    Here is a question for all: Do you scratch your nose because it itch, or because you wanted to remove the itch?
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    Quote Originally Posted by newnothing
    An altruistic act with a selfish intention is not altruistic at all, if in the end I receive the benefit.
    That's the point. The intention in the mind of the human may not be selfish. The brain like any organ is built to perform a specific function, not understand how or why it performs that function.

    To us, the optimum is when we give little and get more. We "think" we are acting altruistically and in terms of altruism, but that is after the calculation of what will I get in the end of the bargain.
    Does a female ground squirrel calculate how many of her relatives are at risk multiplied by their relatedness coefficient to her versus how much risk she is at? No. That is far too complicated and her brain does not need to be that expensively flexible. Her brain works on proxies. Individuals I grew up with (in her environment, more likely to be her relatives), fear of predator (in her environment, targets sounds), but worry for relatives. Somewhere in her subconscious a balance shifts and she makes the call.

    The human brain is no different. It goes on proxies that were reliable and unchanging in the environment it evolved in. Do we calculate how many people are around who will recognize us, relative cost of this behavior, possible benefits, etc etc consciously? No. We're in familiar territory (in our environment, where group members are likely to be), we see someone needing help, we decide to help (in our environment, tends to have good reputational results).

    It could even be argued that, since humans during our evolution were conceivably never far from the eyes of our group members, that the help decision is simply designed to ALWAYS be made, whether or not we are aware of watchers, because of the high likelihood that watchers were always around anyway. No need to check for what will always be there.

    That is the feeling of security from the fact that something good will happen to me, that I feel that it is the right thing to do, that society will say good things about what I do. And of course the desires can be genuine and heartfelt, because we want to feel good, and we do feel great. Would we do it if it felt otherwise? Let me see, I save a starving child from death because it is the right thing to do or... I save the starving child because if I don't I will feel terrible and won't be able to live with myself.
    Some people may think like that, as I have conceded before. Perhaps we all think about that from time to time at the very least. But it's entirely possible that someone can have an altruistic inclination and in their minds that's all it truly is. It's a mechanism blindly doing what it does it best, regardless of why.

    Naturally we will say that I save the starving child because obviously it was the right thing to do. But are you sure? or did your brain calculated that if you did not do what u do, you'll suffer a painful moral death?
    When humans are confronted with the ultimate selfishness of our acts, when we're made aware of what we were never meant to be made aware of, we doubt ourselves. With "selfish genes" being a household word, is scares us all that there really is no good done for the sake of good. But there can be, even with selfish genes. Because your mind was built by your genes, but it is not the same thing as your genes.

    Here is a question for all: Do you scratch your nose because it itch, or because you wanted to remove the itch?
    I don't understand. What's the difference?
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    Quote Originally Posted by newnothing
    An altruistic act with a selfish intention is not altruistic at all...
    This is greedy reductionism, because it only removes ways of understanding. You could say a BLT is not a sandwich, because it's really just bacon, lettuce, and tomato. You could say you don't really like it, because your metabolism directs you to digest those nutrients.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by newnothing
    An altruistic act with a selfish intention is not altruistic at all...
    This is greedy reductionism, because it only removes ways of understanding. You could say a BLT is not a sandwich, because it's really just bacon, lettuce, and tomato. You could say you don't really like it, because your metabolism directs you to digest those nutrients.
    No denying it. It is greedy reductionism.
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    Quote Originally Posted by newnothing
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by newnothing
    An altruistic act with a selfish intention is not altruistic at all...
    This is greedy reductionism, because it only removes ways of understanding. You could say a BLT is not a sandwich, because it's really just bacon, lettuce, and tomato. You could say you don't really like it, because your metabolism directs you to digest those nutrients.
    No denying it. It is greedy reductionism.
    Woah. Rarely does a poster concede a point like you have. I feel a sudden aimless reciprocity toward you, newnothing.

    Three cheers for newnothing, everyone!
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    you really can't compare any other animal to humans though. our cerebrum went crazy in evolution so we have the ability to deduce and understand things. were not like dogs. dogs do things without the thought "why am i doing this?" but humans dont have that luxury. we have the ability to understand why we do things. and many people do understand why they're doing an act and actually consciously think about it.

    people with Muenchausen syndrome know why they're harming themselves...to get attention. Often times people will purposely wait to do an "altruistic" act until they know it will be seen. That's obviously doing it for the go boost. Or if they're not seen a lot of times they will tell people about it. That pretty much says to me that people are selfish no matter how you look at it. In my opinion, people do not do things for the sheer act of doing it, they do it to boost themselves, which makes it not altruistic at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by salukigirl
    you really can't compare any other animal to humans though. our cerebrum went crazy in evolution so we have the ability to deduce and understand things. were not like dogs. dogs do things without the thought "why am i doing this?" but humans dont have that luxury. we have the ability to understand why we do things. and many people do understand why they're doing an act and actually consciously think about it.
    Yes, we have the ability to understand why we do what we do, but that doesn't mean that every single action you carry out is pre-empted by a conscious, logical calculation. If we did that, we'd never get anything done. We'd spend two hours deciding whether or not to use a red pen or a blue pen. In order to function normally many things are handled via subconscious mechanisms, freeing up our nice fat cerebellum for those problems which really do need to be consciously contemplated.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Often times people will purposely wait to do an "altruistic" act until they know it will be seen. That's obviously doing it for the go boost. Or if they're not seen a lot of times they will tell people about it.
    this doesn't disprove that altruistic are just for the ego boost.
    altruistic acts could be occuring that you do not see, or people could be doing altruistic acts and not talking about them.
    however it is obvious you will not see or hear about these things.
    everything is mathematical.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Quote Originally Posted by salukigirl
    you really can't compare any other animal to humans though. our cerebrum went crazy in evolution so we have the ability to deduce and understand things. were not like dogs. dogs do things without the thought "why am i doing this?" but humans dont have that luxury. we have the ability to understand why we do things. and many people do understand why they're doing an act and actually consciously think about it.
    Yes, we have the ability to understand why we do what we do, but that doesn't mean that every single action you carry out is pre-empted by a conscious, logical calculation. If we did that, we'd never get anything done. We'd spend two hours deciding whether or not to use a red pen or a blue pen. In order to function normally many things are handled via subconscious mechanisms, freeing up our nice fat cerebellum for those problems which really do need to be consciously contemplated.
    It may not be exactly conscious calculation but instead a 'habit' that is subconscious. Birds and other animals are like nature's robots, built with an algorithm that governs how they act and react in their environment. We're also the same that we act within nature's algorithm but with a special code inserted, that is the ability to want more than what we have, we have desires. We look at a person carrying an I-Pod and we think we it would be nice to have one too. We see our friends driving a BMW and desire to achieve the same or better. That difference between humans and animals is what makes us aspire to know the reason for everything that exists in this reality. Just that tiny difference. Other than that by genetics, by evolution and biology, we're still part of nature's program.
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    Quote Originally Posted by newnothing
    It may not be exactly conscious calculation but instead a 'habit' that is subconscious. Birds and other animals are like nature's robots, built with an algorithm that governs how they act and react in their environment. We're also the same that we act within nature's algorithm but with a special code inserted, that is the ability to want more than what we have, we have desires. We look at a person carrying an I-Pod and we think we it would be nice to have one too. We see our friends driving a BMW and desire to achieve the same or better. That difference between humans and animals is what makes us aspire to know the reason for everything that exists in this reality. Just that tiny difference. Other than that by genetics, by evolution and biology, we're still part of nature's program.
    I don't think it's fair to say that animals don't have desires. After all, if they didn't, baboons wouldn't chase down tourists holding candy bars and steal their backpacks. Males wouldn't fight each other over females. Females wouldn't fight each other over food. Recent experiments with different primate species even show that they have some sense of fairness - if you reward one capuchin with a piece of celery but you reward the one next to him with a grape, he refuses to eat that celery. If he did the same thing as the other one he wants a grape too, dammit.

    But the ability to learn is definitely something humans excel in - though again, not something we alone have. Many animals can learn, just usually not to the degree that we can. Nor is learning somehow not "part of nature's program." When our ancestors began exploiting rich and nutritious but very difficult to acquire foods, the ability to learn the skills necessary to acquire these various foods was favored by natural selection. (At least, that's one hypothesis.)

    I'm not operating under some idea that humans function exactly the same as other animals, but I do like to make sure that we don't put ourselves up on a pedestal either. The same evolutionary forces that resulted in all the other lifeforms we see today were the same forces that resulted in us, for all our weirdness and extremity compared to other animals.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Hmm I saw a very interesting documentary a few days ago that is relevant to this, it's called Are We Smarter Than Apes or something similar, Basically it's a documentary exploring why one branch of apes went on to dominate the earth and become massively advanced technologically while the other branches remained unchanged for the better part of 50 thousand years



    the answer was actually what this thread asks, community, it was discovered that humans are the only animal to co-operate it's true chimpanzees will work toards a common goal but only as long as it benefits them, a test was setup where food was placed at opposite ends of a long tray, a rope was threaded around the tray and left in the chimp cage, one chimp was locked up, another chimp was released into the cage and went straight to pull the rope for the food, when it realised it needed help it freed the other one and they worked together to get the food, the same test was done only all the food was put in the middle, the chimps pulled the tray and the dominant chimp took all the food, the other chimp refused to help from then on, the reason? chimps use one another like a tool, we are the only animal to work together towards a common goal for unselfish purposes (like invading a country or helping an injured person to a hospital)



    So organic god you are wrong if our whole community was selfish on anything, just one thing, we would cease to be such an advanced civilisation and our dominance would topple (maybe the ancient advanced civilisations like the mayans and aztecs and atlanteans, tried to be selfish about something?)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Booms
    So organic god you are wrong if our whole community was selfish on anything, just one thing, we would cease to be such an advanced civilisation and our dominance would topple (maybe the ancient advanced civilisations like the mayans and aztecs and atlanteans, tried to be selfish about something?)
    Are not whole communities being selfish when they invade another community to take their resources? This happens very often in human history yet many of the communities that have done this are still around.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    maybe the ancient advanced civilisations like the mayans and aztecs and atlanteans, tried to be selfish about something?)
    i think the aztecs got invaded by the spanish rather than destroying itself internally through being selfish.
    everything is mathematical.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Booms
    So organic god you are wrong if our whole community was selfish on anything, just one thing, we would cease to be such an advanced civilisation and our dominance would topple (maybe the ancient advanced civilisations like the mayans and aztecs and atlanteans, tried to be selfish about something?)
    Our dominance are toppling right in front of our eyes. Individualism has reach new highs that now every man is for himself. Yet, no man is an island since we depend on each other for our sustenance. As an individual we're selfish, as a nation we're also selfish, this civilization won't last long the way it is going.
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    Quote Originally Posted by newnothing
    Quote Originally Posted by Booms
    So organic god you are wrong if our whole community was selfish on anything, just one thing, we would cease to be such an advanced civilisation and our dominance would topple (maybe the ancient advanced civilisations like the mayans and aztecs and atlanteans, tried to be selfish about something?)
    Our dominance are toppling right in front of our eyes. Individualism has reach new highs that now every man is for himself. Yet, no man is an island since we depend on each other for our sustenance. As an individual we're selfish, as a nation we're also selfish, this civilization won't last long the way it is going.
    I would hardly call ultra-conformity individualism.
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    Altruism or not, we are indeed (together with all other species) alone on planet earth. If you compare earth to the infinitive universe... then you realize how dependent we really are. And all the hatred/war/crime comes to a hault.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BioFreak
    Altruism or not, we are indeed (together with all other species) alone on planet earth. If you compare earth to the infinitive universe... then you realize how dependent we really are. And all the hatred/war/crime comes to a hault.
    Finally someone who sees through it all. I totally agree with you.
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    I predict hatred, crime and war will continue as normal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    I predict hatred, crime and war will continue as normal.
    Far from that, it will intensify and spread. Until we realize how much this is unnecessary.
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    Why would war be unnecessary?

    Are you a hippie or something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    Why would war be unnecessary?

    Are you a hippie or something.
    I can't imagine myself a hippie

    War will be necessary in making people realize it is unnecessary.

    But the question being asked is why would people want war? To protect our land? Our interests? For goodness sake, we're sharing the same atmosphere! Imagine the Earth as a boat, all the countries are represented by their leader who are all in the boat. If each wants to wage war against the other there will be holes in the boat. Then the boat sinks and everyone drowns. So in the end what good is war?
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    War is profitable for some.

    That's good enough reason to start one.
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    Humans want war. It's encoded into our DNA. Think of World of Warcraft. It has a revenue stream of something like a billion dollars a month. People pay to run around fighting simulated other things with simulated combat skills.

    Think of every major book, movie, radio play, etc. The plots for 75% of them, maybe more, can be boiled down to either sex or violent death. Fighting is as important and fundamental to who we are as a species as sex. Wealth and affluence are a distant third.
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    Numsgil is right. If you actually look at any animal today, you would be hard pressed to find one that doesn't defend its territory (if it has one) through violence. Mankind is highly territorial; it makes sense that it reverts to age old concepts of fighting for what they want.

    However, I personally believe war is useless. It makes much more sense, economically and socially, to conclude disputes through peaceful negotiations. Or, if that doesn't work, integrate all nations into one supernation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Numsgil
    Humans want war. It's encoded into our DNA. Think of World of Warcraft. It has a revenue stream of something like a billion dollars a month. People pay to run around fighting simulated other things with simulated combat skills.

    Think of every major book, movie, radio play, etc. The plots for 75% of them, maybe more, can be boiled down to either sex or violent death. Fighting is as important and fundamental to who we are as a species as sex. Wealth and affluence are a distant third.
    Ever played World of Warcraft? A massive proportion of the population are uninterested in fighting with other players. In fact I'd go so far as to say that the PVP (player versus player) players are in the minority. The accumulation of wealth and possessions is the primary focus, even the ultimate goal for the many of the PVP players.

    Sure, sex and violence are part of the core of us, but that knowledge doesn't rob us of choice. And a lot of people seem to prefer to get to their ultimate goal (the accumulation of wealth, security and a mate) by the easiest possible path. Which is increasingly not via conflict, or even simulated conflict. It's possible that violence is gradually becoming a vestigial impulse relegated to a recreational function.

    I seem to recall some recent stats showing that violence (particularly violent crime), on a worldwide scale, is in decline. This being in marked contrast to the level of media reporting of violence, which is on the rise. I'll see if I can find that...
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    Ever played World of Warcraft? A massive proportion of the population are uninterested in fighting with other players. In fact I'd go so far as to say that the PVP (player versus player) players are in the minority. The accumulation of wealth and possessions is the primary focus, even the ultimate goal for the many of the PVP players.
    I think you'll find such behaviours differ based on the game. RuneScape, a popular game, for example, has PvPers in the majority. Or had, I should say.

    Sure, sex and violence are part of the core of us, but that knowledge doesn't rob us of choice. And a lot of people seem to prefer to get to their ultimate goal (the accumulation of wealth, security and a mate) by the easiest possible path. Which is increasingly not via conflict, or even simulated conflict. It's possible that violence is gradually becoming a vestigial impulse relegated to a recreational function.
    I agree with you here. There is not much need for violence these days; it's understandable why it should be in decline.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liongold
    Numsgil is right. If you actually look at any animal today, you would be hard pressed to find one that doesn't defend its territory (if it has one) through violence. Mankind is highly territorial; it makes sense that it reverts to age old concepts of fighting for what they want.

    However, I personally believe war is useless. It makes much more sense, economically and socially, to conclude disputes through peaceful negotiations. Or, if that doesn't work, integrate all nations into one supernation.
    Our territorial impulses certainly seem to be tempered if not superseded by our altruistic tendencies. Over time, our social groupings have been getting larger and larger through the foundation first of tribal alliances, city states, states, federations... and now we have the beginnings of loose alliances between federations of states.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liongold
    Ever played World of Warcraft? A massive proportion of the population are uninterested in fighting with other players. In fact I'd go so far as to say that the PVP (player versus player) players are in the minority. The accumulation of wealth and possessions is the primary focus, even the ultimate goal for the many of the PVP players.
    I think you'll find such behaviours differ based on the game. RuneScape, a popular game, for example, has PvPers in the majority. Or had, I should say.
    Yeah, Warcraft is not really PVP friendly anyway. I suppose the best test are open worlds like Eve. I'm sure there must be stats around regarding that game. But what is very notable about Eve is the prevalence of not just corporations of hundreds of pilots, but formal alliances of hundreds of corporations. And informal alliances between alliances The balance between altruism and aggression again...
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    Could the "War in Iraq" be viewed as an altruistic war? Rather than an offensive/defensive war to defeat an enemy, we have a war whose primary aim seems to be to bring a better way of life and a prosperous future to people of Iraq. With a million dead (by some sources) this seems a steep price, yet one we are willing to pay (and obviously one that is too steep for many in the area).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko
    Could the "War in Iraq" be viewed as an altruistic war?
    There are equally bad (or worse) regimes in other nations that the US didn't bother to invade. So, no. That war was about moderating the middle east to keep the oil flowing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko
    Could the "War in Iraq" be viewed as an altruistic war?
    If that would be true people would fight for free.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Numsgil
    Humans want war. It's encoded into our DNA. Think of World of Warcraft. It has a revenue stream of something like a billion dollars a month. People pay to run around fighting simulated other things with simulated combat skills.

    Think of every major book, movie, radio play, etc. The plots for 75% of them, maybe more, can be boiled down to either sex or violent death. Fighting is as important and fundamental to who we are as a species as sex. Wealth and affluence are a distant third.
    I would disagree with the simplicity of the statement "humans want war." Nor do I think, based on what I know about hunter-gatherers, that our ancestors were particularly territorial. A hunter-gatherer group is nomadic - they move from place to place depending on where the food is, and it is simply impractical to think to defend the huge area within which they move. After the advent of agriculture, definitely, but that is a relatively recent invention. Also, as Biologista mentioned, high degrees of cooperation and food sharing are also very important in these groups.

    But I'm not saying we were all peaceful and happy either, only that fighting was not based around land but around the group - many are of the opinion that the evolution of intense in-group cooperation evolved hand-in-hand with intense out-group competition. It's not "stay out of my country!" it's "us against them!" Threats to who you perceive to be members of your group by outsiders will be defended against. Another big part of WoW is not just getting resources, but joining and being active in your guild. I know people who miss out on real-life social occasions because they have a pre-scheduled raid with their guild on WoW to attend.

    This is why I think a united world is possible, if we can all learn to perceive of all humanity as members of our in-group. Which will be made that much easier of aliens attack us and we have a common out-group. =p
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    That's a good point paralith. "us" vs "them" is the ingrained trait, which tends to lead to violence, but violence is the means not the ends...

    Also, the "us" vs "them" works on several hierarchical levels. The rivalry between highschools and the rivalry between countries aren't so far distant. And you can bet that rival highschools would band together to fight a rival country.

    But there needs to be conflict. That's what's ingrained in us. It can either take the form of destructive war or some sort of cathartic ritualized combat (soccer/football). Actually, soccer/football is probably a good social study for conflict and "us" vs "them". Most people in the world take it very seriously.

    If you could somehow eliminate conflict from everyone's lives, by somehow constructing a utopian society of pure fairness and equality, your civilization would self destruct as your population unconsciously sought conflict.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Numsgil
    That's a good point paralith. "us" vs "them" is the ingrained trait, which tends to lead to violence, but violence is the means not the ends...

    Also, the "us" vs "them" works on several hierarchical levels. The rivalry between highschools and the rivalry between countries aren't so far distant. And you can bet that rival highschools would band together to fight a rival country.

    But there needs to be conflict. That's what's ingrained in us. It can either take the form of destructive war or some sort of cathartic ritualized combat (soccer/football). Actually, soccer/football is probably a good social study for conflict and "us" vs "them". Most people in the world take it very seriously.

    If you could somehow eliminate conflict from everyone's lives, by somehow constructing a utopian society of pure fairness and equality, your civilization would self destruct as your population unconsciously sought conflict.
    I'm sorry to be nit picky, but again I would not say we seek conflict. What we seek is to categorize, to define who is in and who is out. When there is actually something to contest, some limited resource desired by too many people, you're going to want to know who you fight and who you fight with. It was important during our evolution to know that, and yes, as you say that type of thinking probably pervades all hierarchies of grouping. Who is my friend and who isn't, who will help me and who won't, who's in my group and who isn't, who are members of my people and who are not, etc.

    In light of this, I was particularly interested to observe the FIRST competition last year. High school teams are assigned the task of building a robot that will compete in a game, the rules of which game are different every year. My boyfriend mentored one such team and I went with them to the regional competition. The founder of this competition, Dean Kamen, has strongly built into it the idea of sportsmanship - of helping members of other competing teams, of forming friendships with them, of learning from each other. And yet it's still a competition. To me I was seeing an institutional attempt to fortify a harmonious coexistence of competition and cooperation in a large and diverse group of young people. Things like that give me hope that we can learn to incorporate and diffuse our divisive tendencies while still maintaining a whole and peaceful culture.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Chimps go to war. have patrols. Raid the territory of the opposing factions to kill the enemy and eat them when possible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liongold
    Numsgil is right. If you actually look at any animal today, you would be hard pressed to find one that doesn't defend its territory (if it has one) through violence. Mankind is highly territorial; it makes sense that it reverts to age old concepts of fighting for what they want.
    Now that makes us animals doesn't it? We're even more of an animal of we're 'highly territorial'.
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    They've only been observed to eat infants. Don't seem as interested in eating other adults.

    But chimps have hierarchies of competition and cooperation as well. All the males in the group are in competition with each other for females; often they form alliances with one or two other males for the purposes of kicking out the current alpha; then all the males have to cooperate together to defend their territory (which has the resources that females need), or expand it if they can. Chimpanzees also prefer the advantage of numbers - they never attack unless they have the upper hand in terms of numbers.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    They've only been observed to eat infants. Don't seem as interested in eating other adults.
    you make it sound as if post-uterus abortions are desirable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    They've only been observed to eat infants. Don't seem as interested in eating other adults.
    you make it sound as if post-uterus abortions are desirable.
    I don't see how you pulled that out of my statement. Just describing a fact. Though infanticide is usually a desirable outcome for the individual perpetrating it, otherwise what would be the point?
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    you make it sound as if post-uterus abortions are desirable.
    I don't see how you pulled that out of my statement.
    You said 'only'. As if infants are a special category of the species. Not so important as juveniles and adults.



    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Just describing a fact. Though infanticide is usually a desirable outcome for the individual perpetrating it, otherwise what would be the point?
    Fun activity? They contain more proteins? They don't fight back?
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    you make it sound as if post-uterus abortions are desirable.
    I don't see how you pulled that out of my statement.
    You said 'only'. As if infants are a special category of the species. Not so important as juveniles and adults.
    I said only, because as I said quite clearly, they have never been observed to eat an older juvenile or an adult that they attacked and killed. (It has probably happened at least once or twice but I'm just saying its never been observed after several decades of close observation, so it's probably not common, not like eating the infants.) Yes it is a specific category, it's a specific age group with specific qualities. But I have no idea what would be the cause of this trend but it is a trend.

    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Just describing a fact. Though infanticide is usually a desirable outcome for the individual perpetrating it, otherwise what would be the point?
    Fun activity? They contain more proteins? They don't fight back?
    An infant probably can't fight back but its mother will. And even older juveniles are rarely far from their mothers until they're nearly 8 years old.

    Males commit infanticide on the infants of strange females because infants are still nursing and the presence of a nursing infant prevents the mother from ovulating again until the infant is weaned, which may be years. Kill the infant now, she ovulates in a few months, and can be mated with by the male who killed her infant. Big benefit to him. Female chimpanzees will kill the offspring of other female chimpanzees in their group when there is a conflict over female-specific territory within the wider territory patrolled by the males. By doing this the victimized mother may give up trying to claim the more desirable patch and may even leave the group entirely to find another group with less competitors around. Big benefit to the perpetrator. It is usually committed by a female and her older daughter, as it takes two of them to successfully overpower the mother and kill the infant. But they won't be able to overpower a mother and an older juvenile; at that point its a more even match.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith



    An infant probably can't fight back but its mother will. And even older juveniles are rarely far from their mothers until they're nearly 8 years old.

    Males commit infanticide on the infants of strange females because infants are still nursing and the presence of a nursing infant prevents the mother from ovulating again until the infant is weaned, which may be years. Kill the infant now, she ovulates in a few months, and can be mated with by the male who killed her infant. Big benefit to him. Female chimpanzees will kill the offspring of other female chimpanzees in their group when there is a conflict over female-specific territory within the wider territory patrolled by the males. By doing this the victimized mother may give up trying to claim the more desirable patch and may even leave the group entirely to find another group with less competitors around. Big benefit to the perpetrator. It is usually committed by a female and her older daughter, as it takes two of them to successfully overpower the mother and kill the infant. But they won't be able to overpower a mother and an older juvenile; at that point its a more even match.
    So chimps have a good memory and can recognize individuals. You would imagine they are happy to mate with the killer of their offspring? Especially in the light of the studies that show that mating is very political among chimps. Will they go out of the way to mate with a stranger that killed their child? Or would they prefer mating with the guy that babysits, is nice to them, and entices them for a quicky behind the bushes when the big guy isn't paying attention?

    Chimps often don't know who their father is. But they sure know who their mother is. And vice versa.

    I am under the suspicion that you are projecting data from other species to chimps without foundation. Maybe you can show where I err by posting the relevant study.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    So chimps have a good memory and can recognize individuals. You would imagine they are happy to mate with the killer of their offspring? Especially in the light of the studies that show that mating is very political among chimps. Will they go out of the way to mate with a stranger that killed their child? Or would they prefer mating with the guy that babysits, is nice to them, and entices them for a quicky behind the bushes when the big guy isn't paying attention?

    Chimps often don't know who their father is. But they sure know who their mother is. And vice versa.

    I am under the suspicion that you are projecting data from other species to chimps without foundation. Maybe you can show where I err by posting the relevant study.
    Firstly, I was being more general in the case of male perpetrated infanticide, and I apologize for not stating that more clearly. The purposes of infanticide by primate males is well documented, such as in the case of langurs where when a new male takes over he promptly kills all infants in the group and the females then mate with him when they next come into estrous. Any group living primate has a great memory for individuals so it can't be argued that monkeys would forget who killed their infant any less than chimpanzees would. Data here:

    Male-male competition and infanticide among langurs

    It has been documented in gorillas where a long male tails a male with a harem, and if he successfully manages to kill one of the females' infants, that female may then leave with him. Grouping in gorillas is largely contributed to the fact that the silverback protects females from other infanticidal males, and when infanticide occurs, it is evidence for the female that her current harem male is no longer doing his job and that going with the new male is a better bet for her future reproduction. I could not find my reference for this online, and if you give me some time I will request it from my school's library, though the paper is also referenced to in the paper I link to below on intergroup aggression in chimpanzees under the "Recruiting females through infanticide" heading.

    Secondly, female chimps have very little choice when it comes to reproduction. They mate extremely promiscuously, and copulate with every male in their group when they are in estrous, though the dominant monopolizes her the most during the few days when she is at maximum fecundity. Females in estrous receive large amounts of aggression from males and in particular the dominant, and they are essentially forced to mate. Data on this can be found in this paper:

    Male coercion and the costs of promiscuous mating for female chimpanzees

    Unrelated males contribute absolutely nothing to the care of offspring. They do not ever carry offspring, extremely rarely do they share food with them. The female does not get to choose her preferred mate and if her standards were parental care she wouldn't have anyone to choose from anyway. Unlike other primate groups where a female lives with all her relatives who back her up, female chimpanzees emigrate at adolescence and live in a group full of unrelated females who are in fact in competition with her. Immigrating females in fact receive large amounts of aggression, and as I stated above other females can even pose an infanticidal threat themselves. I have a paper summarizing chimpanzee social organization but it is not available online, please PM me with an email address and I can send it to you if you'd like. On female infanticide:

    Female-led infanticide in wild chimpanzees

    On aggression towards immigrant females:

    Immigration costs for female chimpanzees

    The current consensus is that it is in the female chimpanzees interest to mate promiscuously anyway, in order to confuse paternity and make it less likely that any in-group male will attempt to commit infanticide against their offspring because they're not sure if the infant is theirs or not. It has also been hypothesized that low ranking females who must exist at the edge of their territory, close to stranger males from other groups that will attack and kill their infants, will also secretively mate with those stranger males in an effort to decrease the chance these males will commit infanticide against them. I will easily admit that this is just a hypothesis at this point and requires further testing. Details on intergroup aggression in this paper:

    Intergroup relations in chimpanzees

    Please let me know if you would like more references for anything.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Unfortunately none of the references were relevant to my question.
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    You'll have to explain to me how that is. You asked if a female chimpanzee will go out of her way to mate with a male that killed her infant. I told you that when I was speaking of male perpetrated infanticide in my previous post I was not speaking of chimpanzees in particular, and apologized if I was misleading in that sense. I gave you examples with supporting references of other primate species where the female will in fact mate with the exact same male who killed her infant. I gave you a paper that suggests a hypothesis where female chimpanzees mate ahead of time with possibly infanticidal males in order to make it less likely that they will commit infanticide against her and admitted it still needed testing.

    Where you suggested that a female chimpanzee would prefer to mate with a male who would help her with caring for her offspring I explained that males do not aid in caring for offspring at all, and that female chimpanzees have little to no choice of which males within their group they would prefer to mate with over others - that all get their turn and that the dominant male through aggressive coercion monopolizes her during her most fecund period. I offered to send you a paper explaining the general social structure and had a link to a paper describing the sexual coercion.

    So, spurious. Where is your question that I did not answer?
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    I gave a specific example. The literature was on other specific examples.

    Is that explanation enough?
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    You said I didn't answer your question. Correct me if I'm wrong but your question was: will a female chimp mate with the same male who killed her infant? My answer was no, but other primates will. Female chimps might instead mate with potential perpetrators ahead of time in the hopes of preventing the infanticide from happening at all. A negative answer is still an answer.
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    So they answer is no. So there your argument was not valid that it increases the chance for reproduction in chimps.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    So they answer is no. So there your argument was not valid that it increases the chance for reproduction in chimps.
    Don't you think this is a little vague though? It certainly helps the male chimp's genes if he kills off his rival's offspring. The more successfully he can do that, the better his genes are generally. Also, the female that play the game better has a bigger chance that her offspring will survive long enough to reproduce. Overall win I'd say.
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    Chimps are not just animals. They are the closest to the human experience the animal world has to offer.

    Do you really think any human female would love to fuck the man who killed her offspring?

    It's just ain't flying. And I postulate that the same doesn't fly in the chimp world.


    So there is no evolutionary benefit regarding the resetting of the fertility cycle by infanticide in chimps by the infanticide perpetrators.

    That was what was under discussion.

    It's possible to postulate and go on tangents till you see double, but that's not productive.

    Specific questions require specific answers.
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    Do you really think any human female would love to fuck the man who killed her offspring?

    It's just ain't flying. And I postulate that the same doesn't fly in the chimp world.
    You are comparing our culture and norms to chimps? How much of their behaviour do you think is learned as opposed to being inborn? They might be close to us, but I think it is still mostly an exercise in folly to project our morals onto them.

    So there is no evolutionary benefit regarding the resetting of the fertility cycle by infanticide in chimps by the infanticide perpetrators. That was what was under discussion.
    Yes, and I think paralith provided a good enough answer, one that makes sense and can be tested (or already observed). The group has a leader that defends offspring from infanticide. When a rival male is successful in killing an opposing male's offspring, the females lose confidence in him and would rather side with the new guy, since he is bigger and stronger and would do a better job of protecting their children. The result? The leader of the group is as strong as he can be and is much more likely to have his genes propagated, especially after killing off his rival's offspring. A female would lose out if she doesn't have his kids.

    Think about it objectively. The mechanisms paralith described ensure that the leader of a group is as strong as he can be, which is good for chimps in the long run. That strength and that of his offspring is vital for their survival.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    So they answer is no. So there your argument was not valid that it increases the chance for reproduction in chimps.
    Not through getting that particular female to mate with them afterwards, no. But the threat of infanticide may be enough to get peripheral females to mate with them anyway. That was my point. Threat of infanticide drives a lot of primate social systems as with the gorillas and langurs, where you have single male groups with multiple females. The females don't need the male for anything other than insemination and protection of their offspring. That's really the only reason that they have a male in the group with them. In fact I can send you a paper if you like that postulates that infanticide defense is the ONLY reason why male and female primates live in the same groups together year round. Amongst chimps infanticide of neighboring females' infants happens very often and it is, generally, for the removal of rivals. That is discussed in the intergroup relations paper.

    I was also trying to point out that part of your logic for why it wouldn't make sense for a female chimp to mate with an infanticidal male was incorrect, that she would prefer a male who is caring. Male chimps are not caring. Female chimps have extremely little choice. It about amounts to walking up to a group of males while in estrous and then they're all over her and extremely aggressive towards her. Would a human female put herself in a situation to mate with ALL the males in her community in quick succession, especially right after they've all beaten her? To quote yourself dear sir, fuck no.

    Chimps are VERY close to humans but they are not humans. Our diet, our social system, and our reproductive system are all very very different from that of chimps, so even if our ancestors were just like them we have since become very divergent from them in certain ways, and social system is one of those ways.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    es, and I think paralith provided a good enough answer, one that makes sense and can be tested (or already observed). The group has a leader that defends offspring from infanticide. When a rival male is successful in killing an opposing male's offspring, the females lose confidence in him and would rather side with the new guy, since he is bigger and stronger and would do a better job of protecting their children. The result? The leader of the group is as strong as he can be and is much more likely to have his genes propagated, especially after killing off his rival's offspring. A female would lose out if she doesn't have his kids.

    Think about it objectively. The mechanisms paralith described ensure that the leader of a group is as strong as he can be, which is good for chimps in the long run. That strength and that of his offspring is vital for their survival.
    Kalster, this applies to gorillas, not chimps. Chimp groups do not have a set leader as the position of dominant can change relatively frequently as the group males jostle for dominance, whereas a gorilla group consists of, usually, only one adult male and several adult females. But as I was describing above it is probably for purposes of infanticide defense that female chimps live in the same territory as male chimps anyway. Though this remains to be tested I would not find it unlikely that a female chimp, having been the victim of infanticide by rival males twice or more, might try to move to a new community where she can get better protection from the resident males.
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    Kalster, this applies to gorillas, not chimps
    Uhm, I'll just be leaving with my foot in my mouth now. :?
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  88. #87  
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Kalster, this applies to gorillas, not chimps
    Uhm, I'll just be leaving with my foot in my mouth now. :?
    lol, don't worry about it. It's a good example for one reason why infanticide is good for males, and why females should alter their behavior in order to try and prevent infanticide from happening.

    Spurious, I'd just like to add that I understand your point about a specific question and a specific answer. But you are drawing from a specific answer (a female chimp has never been observed to mate with a male who had personally been involved in killing her infant) a more general conclusion, that infanticide by chimpanzee males has no affect on their overall reproductive success, and that's not true. Actual infanticide removes rivals in other territories and the threat of infanticide can alter the females' behavior toward them significantly.
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