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Thread: War is a social behavior?

  1. #1 War is a social behavior? 
    Forum Freshman Mark Ian's Avatar
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    What speaks for it and against it? I have my own opinions, but hey I want to know what you think. please use a non human perspective while analyzing the subject (wel if thats even possible,). I was thinking of putting this in psychology, but since I'm thinking about humanity's last hundred to a million years and not limited to homo sapiens sapiens, it seems more fit in the biology section.


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  3. #2  
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    well war certainly has certain benefits to the species. in older times the weaker group suffered greater casualties than the stronger group. patriotism(or the number of members who would serve in the military to protect their lands) played a factor in the form of how many soldiers were on the field for each side. in modern times wars are decided more by the weapons each side fields. the most intellegent or scientifically advanced group is now the one that is selected for by war.

    it seems to be a very large factor in what traits natural selection breeds into the human race. as a social tool i don't really know. we like to think now that we've done away with militarism(in my mind a boldface lie), and to find a society really centered around war we have to go back to rome or sparta.


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  4. #3  
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    Moot question.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    Moot question.
    This ^

    And what, from a non-human perspective? So what, you want to know what its like from a plants perspective, or a rocks perhaps?

    I think you mean to say, a non-byist perspective?
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    Wars between groups of chimps have been documented. It's a way of expanding your territory and hence the reproductive success of the group which shares more of your genes.
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    Every species needs a mechanism for population control. Some species just stop breeding under certain circumstances. Humans keep right on breeding no matter what, and then just start killing members of another society's adult population if the resources in their area start to become stretched. It can be described as territorial expansion, but it's unlikely a population would want more territory enough to risk dying over it, unless they were having a hard time making due with what they have...... so it's really the same explanation.

    With no mechanism for population control, resources would get stretched to a point where an overwhelming majority of the population was failing to obtain the resources it needed in order to reproduce.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Every species needs a mechanism for population control. Some species just stop breeding under certain circumstances. Humans keep right on breeding no matter what, and then just start killing members of another society's adult population if the resources in their area start to become stretched. It can be described as territorial expansion, but it's unlikely a population would want more territory enough to risk dying over it, unless they were having a hard time making due with what they have...... so it's really the same explanation.

    With no mechanism for population control, resources would get stretched to a point where an overwhelming majority of the population was failing to obtain the resources it needed in order to reproduce.
    War is hardly a mechanism of population control, if you take the last few wold wars they haven't impacted our global population very much... quite the contrary we are starting to grow exponentially. I agree though each species needs a population control, but often such a mechanism lacks, the species will reproduce exponentially, for example if a key species is take out of a ecosystem another species will be able to populate the area and exterminate their rivals (in that ecosystem) or take certain bacteria which will reproduce in a exponential fashion (we humans are also growing exponentially, but thats only been happening for the last ten thousand years or so) this phenomenon is known as biological exponential growth.
    bringing me to my main argument: since humans have only been growing in our J curve the last ~10k years, we can sure exclude the possibility that war is a mechanism for population control. We have yet to deplete earths resources and that hasn't happened yet (upcoming tho, very very soon, yes)

    My opinion is similar to saul: War definitely has caused us humans to use our brains the last few hundred thousand years, BUT that too is too little time. As Harold14370 explains the war phenomena amongst chimps, war is used as means to expand territory.
    Obviously though there is a big gap between hundred thousand years of the species homo sapiens war style and chimp war. chimps and humans separate paths on the evolutionary tree way back: 5 to 7 millions years ago.
    What purpose did war serve in between this time span? was it simply because of territorial reasons our is there a much more complex thing happening here?
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Humans keep right on breeding no matter what, and then just start killing members of another society's adult population if the resources in their area start to become stretched.
    Are you serious? This is obviously not true.
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    it is an over-generalization.

    there are variations in procreation rates, and wars occur for multiple reasons

    however it can be said that no matter what the rate of procreation always exceeds zero percent. it can also be said that resource scarcity will cause socio-political distress that often contributes to war along with a variety of confounding variables.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by saul
    however it can be said that no matter what the rate of procreation always exceeds zero percent.
    No. It's actually negative in Europe and eastern Asia.
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  12. #11  
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    If you look at the propensity of humans to wage war as the result of a process of organic evolution, then there is little point discussing what has happened in the last few thousand years. Evolution is a slow process, and while we have undergone some gene change in that time, it is not substantial.

    If we evolved to wage war, that evolution happened during our time as tribal hunter/gatherers. In fact, anthropologists have found that, among recent tribal hunter/gatherers, a much higher percentage of the population is killed by acts of war than in 'advanced' societies. Modern society wages terrible wars, but the percentage of the population harmed is way less than in more 'primitive' times. Hence it would not be incorrect to say that our social development seems to be away from war.

    As Harold said, chimps wage war for territory, and they are much nastier than humans. I would like to see war as a 'primitive' trait that we are moving away from.

    I would also like to point out that most humans in recent history do not like to kill others, and will go to some lengths, even during active battle, to avoid that.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater...ctance_to_Kill

    I quote :

    "During World War II, a study was conducted to see on average, what percentage of American troops actually fired on the enemy. It was found that only 15-20 percent of the American riflemen in combat during World War II would fire directly at the enemy. Those who did not fire elected to run or hide in many cases they were willing to risk greater danger to rescue the injured or get ammunition. Grossman found that there was a reluctance to killing in many other war scenarios as well.

    During the 19th-century, Ardant du Picq, a French military officer, documented the common tendency of soldiers to fire harmlessly into the air simply for the sake of firing."


    I know that it is common among those morons who practise 'political correctness' to suggest that humans are natural born killers. We are not. Only about 15% can kill without specialised training, even during a fire fight. Most people are actually rather gentle, and caring.

    This quality also explains why, for those people who confront criminals (who can kill) with a gun in their hand, the risk of being killed or maimed increases by about 450% compared to such confrontation with no firearm. The innocent guy is too reluctant to fire, while the nasty criminal is not.
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    War is just a name for a large conflict and conflict will happen any time there is more demand than supply. Whether that supply is water, space, mates, food, etc. when more is needed than what is there those in need of it will fight for it. There will always be war as long as there are people (or apes, or whatever else you want to talk about). The fewer people the less war.
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    Not true, fishguy.

    Primitive tribal hunter/gatherer people engage in a lot more wars than modern man. There is no suggestion that more people means more wars.

    Today, there are more people than ever before, yet wars are becoming less numerous, and are killing fewer people.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4350860.stm
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    Maybe, but did they count them up for us? Our current idea of war is very large and extreme, and takes just as much to get to that point so will therefore be rare. That article specifies 'since the Cold War'. With our current education and communication we know what war brings and try to avoid it, but that won't happen forever. We WILL inevitably have more wars, worse than we have seen in generations. I don't think hunter/gatherers had more and more deadly wars than we do now. If they did it is hard to say why (fighting over less, dying more easily, etc.). To think that we can keep cramming more and more people on this planet and expect less and less conflict is...mistaken.
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    Just to give you an idea, fishguy, look at the Yanomami - a tribe in the Amazon which continues the old hunter/gatherer way of life.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4350860.stm

    I quote :

    "Villages may go to war for a number of reasons and warfare makes up a large part of Yanomami life.

    About 40% of adult males have killed another person and about 25% of adult males will die from some form of violence. Violence will vary from chest pounding, in which opponents take turns hitting each others on the chest, to club fights, to raids which may involve the killing of individuals and abducting the women, to all out warfare."



    This sort of thing is very common among primitive hunter/gatherer societies. The odds against an adult being killed by physical violence is way lower in modern societies.

    If we look at warfare over the past 70 years, we see that fatalities per annum have dropped dramatically since WWII, and on average, get less every year. Today, most hostilities are in Africa, and even there are getting less.

    There is no empirical evidence that higher population increases wars. If anything, history would show the reverse.

    Homicides follow a similar pattern through history. In Medieval England, the rate was 100 per 100,000 people each year. Today it is 1. The USA has the worst homicide rate of the western world at 5.
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    But if you are talking about history in general you can't just look at the past 60 years or so. The population has exploded in that time and the results of which can take time to be fully demonstrated. Again, we have seen and/or heard from immediate family members how bad war is and therefore avoid it until we can't, in my opinion we simply haven't reached that point of can't avoid it. Physical space, food, water, etc. will all become more valuable as more and more people need it and we WILL have major catastrophic war in the future, worse than we have ever seen. Maybe not in my lifetime, but I would be surprised.

    Have these tribes always been THIS violent? Is their population also becoming too concentrated, posisbly because they are becoming too overpopulated or because we have taken so much of their land and concentrated them? Tribal populations in the past have become so overpopulated that they literally ceased to exist because of warfare and lack of food, and look at them now, gone.

    Good stats though.
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  18. #17 Re: War is a social behavior? 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Ian
    What speaks for it and against it? I have my own opinions, but hey I want to know what you think. please use a non human perspective while analyzing the subject (wel if thats even possible,). I was thinking of putting this in psychology, but since I'm thinking about humanity's last hundred to a million years and not limited to homo sapiens sapiens, it seems more fit in the biology section.
    War is a social behavior?

    In biology, psychology and sociology, social behavior is behavior directed towards society, or taking place between, members of the same species.
    Is war behavior taking place between members of the same species?

    Yes.

    War is a social behaviour.

    Next question.
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  19. #18  
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    To fishguy

    Re your question about whether tribes have always been so violent.

    Short answer : I cannot know for sure. The data comes from studies of recent tribal hunter/gatherer societies, and we have no data going back before modern research.

    I suspect (but could be wrong) that tribes have always been violent, though with the actual stats varying a lot from tribe to tribe and time to time. The ones I know most are the tribes of Papua, who are xenophobic in the extreme, and happily kill anyone not of their social group. And also the Maori (native people of my country) who were frequently engaged in inter-tribal warfare, up until Europeans arrived to 'civilise' them.

    Certainly the average guy in any western nation today has a very, very small probability of dying in war, and that was most definitely not the case with tribal society.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    If you look at the propensity of humans to wage war as the result of a process of organic evolution, then there is little point discussing what has happened in the last few thousand years. Evolution is a slow process, and while we have undergone some gene change in that time, it is not substantial.

    If we evolved to wage war, that evolution happened during our time as tribal hunter/gatherers. In fact, anthropologists have found that, among recent tribal hunter/gatherers, a much higher percentage of the population is killed by acts of war than in 'advanced' societies. Modern society wages terrible wars, but the percentage of the population harmed is way less than in more 'primitive' times. Hence it would not be incorrect to say that our social development seems to be away from war.
    Which goes to show that war's role in evolution was as a population control mechanism. In the modern era I think birth control technologies may be sufficient to supplant it. The question is whether third world societies can realize that in time to make use of it, rather than just continue the genocide cycles they've been in for a while.


    Quote Originally Posted by Fishguy2727
    War is just a name for a large conflict and conflict will happen any time there is more demand than supply. Whether that supply is water, space, mates, food, etc. when more is needed than what is there those in need of it will fight for it. There will always be war as long as there are people (or apes, or whatever else you want to talk about). The fewer people the less war.
    Scarcity of mates would probably explain the war like tendencies of China. The one child law leads to a lot of female babies being aborted (or sometimes killed after birth) by people who want a son.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Not true, fishguy.

    Primitive tribal hunter/gatherer people engage in a lot more wars than modern man. There is no suggestion that more people means more wars.

    Today, there are more people than ever before, yet wars are becoming less numerous, and are killing fewer people.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4350860.stm
    Certainly war is the result of an imbalance (or at least perceived imbalance) between resources and population, rather than just the result of a high population. Without technologies like agriculture that increase the carrying capacity of their lands, tribal cultures run into problems a lot earlier than industrial societies. It's still a population problem though. Well... maybe population + under-education.
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  21. #20  
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    kojax

    I have to respectfully disagree with you. Not that I am claiming that war has nothing to do with population. Just that there is no convincing data to show that it does.

    The apparent causes of war are myriad. The following 'causes' may or may not be the real causes. World War I appears to be the result of tensions between two blocs of nations, with intertwined alliances. The trigger that set it off was trivial, but set national jealousies to work.

    World War II was the result of a single charismatic leader who claimed his people needed more 'living room' and was happy to steal that from other nations. The Korean War was a conflict of ideologies.

    The Crimean War was related to religion, in that access to the "Holy Land" was a major trigger. The American war of independence appears to have been related to a bunch of wealthy people who refused to pay their taxes, but used propaganda to convince the ordinary cannon-fodder colonist that it was about freedom.

    Basically, as far as I can tell, the causes vary so much that generalising about them is misleading. Indeed, it is often very difficult to identify the specific cause (as opposed to the trigger).

    Some of the most populated nations in the world today are actually rarely involved in conflict. The largest number of conflicts (mostly civil wars) occur in Africa which has a much lower level of over-population than either Europe or Asia, though more poverty. I would label the reason for this to be tribalism, and corruption - no over-population.
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    kojax

    I have to respectfully disagree with you. Not that I am claiming that war has nothing to do with population. Just that there is no convincing data to show that it does.

    The apparent causes of war are myriad. The following 'causes' may or may not be the real causes. World War I appears to be the result of tensions between two blocs of nations, with intertwined alliances. The trigger that set it off was trivial, but set national jealousies to work.
    The tension was economic in nature. It always is.

    World War II was the result of a single charismatic leader who claimed his people needed more 'living room' and was happy to steal that from other nations. The Korean War was a conflict of ideologies.
    Clearly, this was the result of the massive poverty and economic breakdown Germany suffered after WWI, from having to pay "repairations" to the winners.

    The USA's policy of reconstruction is widely considered to be the main reason we haven't seen a 5th Reich. (Instead, Germany is conquering Europe by setting up a "European Union" and leading them into prosperity.)

    The Crimean War was related to religion, in that access to the "Holy Land" was a major trigger. The American war of independence appears to have been related to a bunch of wealthy people who refused to pay their taxes, but used propaganda to convince the ordinary cannon-fodder colonist that it was about freedom.
    So, it seems you do understand, right? Ordinary cannon fodder don't start wars. Wealthy people start them, and wealthy people don't start them over petty reasons like religion, or cultural offense. It's all about money.

    The cannon fodder only follow them into these wars when they are desperate. They're all too happy to get "flim flammed" by some kind of righteous talk, because it spares them the humiliation of admitting that they're in a tight spot and the war will benefit them.

    Basically, as far as I can tell, the causes vary so much that generalising about them is misleading. Indeed, it is often very difficult to identify the specific cause (as opposed to the trigger).

    Some of the most populated nations in the world today are actually rarely involved in conflict. The largest number of conflicts (mostly civil wars) occur in Africa which has a much lower level of over-population than either Europe or Asia, though more poverty. I would label the reason for this to be tribalism, and corruption - no over-population.
    Any economic problem can be solved by cutting someone out, and then redistributing their wealth. In Nazi Germany it was incredibly obvious, because they did it overtly to the Jewish population, but it happens in all wars. If nothing else, some of your buddies don't come home, and then their hot wife (now a widow) puts their sports car up for short sale, and their job becomes available for you to apply for.

    The best outcome is basically a kind of raffle. Everyone casts in their lot. Some people lose (big time), and the rest see their standard of living improved.
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