Against creeping Pinkerization

I want to see a appropriately scholarly article in Nature arguing against Pinker’s reduction-in-violence thesis by citing voluminous crime statistics from Cabot Cove and Badger’s Drift.

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77 Responses to Against creeping Pinkerization

  1. Smithie says:

    Jessica Fletcher really moved those Cabot Cove murder stats – I just can’t figure out in which direction. Although some would point to the fact she was a widow…

  2. another fred says:

    I don’t know about Cabot Cove or Badger’s Drift (except I did Google and see they are fictional) but I do think Pinker’s thesis (although valid) is skewed by the Pax Americana, much of which has been obtained on credit. I won’t be around to see it, but I’d wager the statistics might be quite different by the end of this century.

  3. Is this post in response to the Baltimore and Chicago crime headlines (which are clearest evidence of a causal relationship, at least within certain demographics, between strong policing and crime as you are probably ever going to find)?

  4. pyrrhus says:

    Pinker’s book was written before the Late Obama Collapse and BLM…

    • Pincher Martin says:

      So far there’s only been a small uptick in homicides. That’s certainly not a good sign, and I agree it seems directly attributable to the police pullback in some of our more colorful neighborhoods after the BLM protests, but it’s nothing compared to what happened in the sixties and seventies when the homicide rate exploded, roughly doubling in a decade. The homicide rates then stayed very high for another two decades before they were brought back under control, and the U.S. returned to the low marks of the nineteen-fifties and early nineteen-sixties.

      Since Pinker deals briefly with that period of rising crime in his book, mainly to brush it aside, I’m not sure this recent and smaller rise in homicides would give him any pause in pushing his thesis.

    • MawBTS says:

      I think Pinker looks at the set of violence in general, not just the subset of war.

      The Taleb thing looks interesting. No time to read it fully, but does he talk about technology, which makes killing easier (and makes 20th century man look more violent than he really was?)

      CS Lewis says in one of his books “you would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believed there were no mice in the house.” So, too, a man who doesn’t own any mousetraps.

      • reinertor says:

        Technology makes killing both easier and harder. For example, in the 18th century Austria spent every other year and Prussia every third year in a state of war (against other greater powers). This would be impossible for a major European power (or any European country), because it’d be so disruptive and expensive with modern weaponry. (The same was increasingly true already in the 19th century, war had become more and more disruptive and expensive.) Then the extremely destructive nature of the most modern weapons (especially nuclear weapons) made wars among greater powers almost impracticable.

        Almost: last fall in the US Senate there were debates about the US unilaterally introducing “no-fly zones” in Syria. That would have required downing Russian warplanes and suppressing Russian air defenses in Syria. It’s still a few steps removed from a real nuclear war, but the logic of escalation would’ve been there: Putin needed to do something in order not to look weak, which would’ve led to further escalation on the part of the Americans, and pretty soon we’d be at a situation where one party would think that a full nuclear exchange was imminent and they could either use or lose their nuclear arsenals.

        Logic would say that nuclear war is only improbable because all parties are so very much afraid of it that they do everything to avoid it. However, as soon as they believe that it won’t happen anyway (like a number of US Senators and foreign policy pundits, even presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who advocated for the unilateral establishment of “no-fly zones” over Syria), the likelihood will go up. Thus the less likelihood people attach to a nuclear war, the more likely it becomes. The more people are afraid of it, the more they will do to avoid it, and so the less likely it becomes. It’s only a real danger if nobody believes in it.

        • reinertor says:

          The Senate debates were in fall 2016.

        • Jim says:

          Seems like a very unstable dynamic.

          • reinertor says:

            Because it is very unstable. It’s a bit like stock market crashes. As long as everyone is afraid of one, it just cannot happen: no one is exposed enough, so the more prices drop, the less inclined people will be to sell. So prices quickly stabilize. However, if no one believes in a market crash anymore (usually as older traders and investors die out or retire), people start building up risky positions (high leverage etc.), which will then force their hands to sell as prices drop, creating a vicious cycle. Panic will set in, and the market collapses.

            Nuclear war is similar. If no one believes it is possible (I don’t think we’re there yet, but then I was seriously disturbed by this video, where a high ranking senator proposed to attack the Russian military in Syria and apparently couldn’t believe it would start a war), then actors will make risky provocations against nuclear armed opponents, one of which will eventually lead to a fatal escalation.

            I hope I’m wrong: maybe the escalation is always so long (though the Soviets in 1961 already authorized the use of tactical nuclear weapons…), that we’ll never get to a full nuclear exchange (maybe they’ll stop when tactical nukes are used by the weaker party or something), but I’m not so optimistic.

            To be honest, that’s not the worst thing that could happen to mankind, being discovered by real aliens or creating AI both seem way worse to me. The latter also seems very likely within the next couple of centuries (and possibly much earlier).

            • Garr says:

              Creation of genetically and technologically enhanced human beings seems much more likely than creation of general AI — both in itself and because anyone with the resources to spend on either would choose to devote these resources to the genetic and technological enhancement of his own offspring. (By “technologically enhanced” I mean with brain implants and cell-restoring nanobots and stuff like that.)

        • Jim says:

          Louis XIV fought throughout his reign a lot of little wars for fairly minor objectives. It all seemed pretty rational with little cost to the French people until he stumbled into the War of Spanish Succession which proved devastating to France. War is risky but of course it worked out great for Rome at least after a few serious setbacks.

          • reinertor says:

            The US has been waging lots of minor wars over the past few decades. I’m not sure how dangerous a war with North Korea would be (I’d be interested in Greg’s take on the whole North Korea situation – perhaps we could raise some money for him to write a detailed article?), but it might be more dangerous and destructive (to US interests) than most other wars. And then there are the proposals for the unilateral no-fly zones in Syria, which could’ve resulted in an open shooting war with Russia, potentially humiliating Russia and forcing them to escalate to save face or something. (Since modern war systems haven’t really been tried, it’s actually not impossible that it would be the Americans who would be humiliated. Then maybe they’d escalate further. In any event, that’s not the way to bet. It’s very likely Russia would be quickly and easily defeated in such an engagement.)

            So, although the US foreign policy establishment seems totally oblivious to it, there are actual risks involved in starting many minor wars. (Even the apparently harmless interventions like Serbia might have a lot of hidden long-term costs. I’m sure that the 1999 war shaped Russian policymaker thinking on the US and NATO in ways which are not totally beneficial to the US.)

            • Mike Byrne says:

              I recall reading several years ago that one of our governmental agencies…probably the DOD…ran computer war games of the USA v Russia. The results were that Russia won 24 times out of 24. So I’m not so confident that Russia would be easily defeated.
              And recently I read in a blog by the Saker that a Russian general stated that Russia can now destroy the USA without resort to nuclear weapons. According to The Saker, when this general says something, you can take it to the bank.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Well, that’s all horseshit.

              • reiner Tor says:

                I’m not sure how reliable those sources regarding the war games are. War games also are not fully realistic, because American generals are fighting American generals. Russian generals might be significantly less competent (I don’t think so, but it’s a possibility with a low probability), or they would simply know a lot less about the American military which would probably color their decisions: what seems like an obvious solution to an American general using Russian assets against the American military might seem way less obvious to a Russian general.

                I occasionally do read the Saker, but I don’t take him very seriously, and just look for his sources (which are often crappy, but sometimes there are gems). He’s a 911 truther, FFS. I also remember that point about how Russian generals are modest, yet they say they have the ability to whatever, and so we can take what they say to the bank… that’s just begging the question.

                I can see a small probability that because neither Russian nor American systems have been tested against peers or near-peers, somehow the combination of Russian systems and doctrines and training and (not so overly diverse) manpower as a whole will happen to be superior under the conditions of a real world war, but as I wrote, that’s not the way to bet. It appears that with a few exceptions, like some missile systems (for example anti-ship missiles maybe) and air defense systems, individual Russian weapons are usually inferior to American ones, so, even with some diversity and ideological idiocy in the American military, there is a very little chance in my mind that the Russians would destroy the Americans. If I had to bet, I’d bet on the Americans. Which is not to say the Russians couldn’t inflict casualties on the Americans (it’s not impossible they’d be able to take out an American aircraft carrier – but probably that would require a lot of effort and the Americans could just eradicate the whole Russian surface fleet in retaliation), or they couldn’t escalate in a limited conflict (maybe they’d occupy further parts of Ukraine, in some extreme scenarios even the Baltic states or, who knows, Finland, or somesuch), but the Americans could always escalate further.

                The main risk for the Americans is not that they cannot do serious sub-nuclear escalation, but that at some point the Russians might decide to escalate with some limited nuclear strikes, which would have to be answered, and pretty soon we’d be staring at a full nuclear exchange. Not very good. But even here, I don’t think there is a very high risk of that. The risk is real, though, especially if the American leadership was confident the Russians were too weak or cowardly to retaliate.

      • simontmn says:

        Yes, Pinker is much more focused on routine/disordered violence, as opposed to the ordered violence of mass warfare that is only possible when the resources of well-ordered societies are deployed. His thesis is that humans are self-domesticating over thousands of years, not that there cannot/will not be a WW3. He does make the point that the 20th century was certainly not proportionately “the most murderous in history”, Taleb appears to be talking crap there – or at best conflating absolute numbers with deaths relative to population size.

        • GAY_WEED_DAD_69 says:

          You didn’t understand Taleb’s point. He’s saying that with the evidence we have available, we cannot conclude that:

          a) the 20th century was less bloody than previous centuries, because of the unreliability of historical death counts

          b) that there exists a long term downward trend in war violence, because of the limited sample size and the fat-tailedness of the distribution

          This doesn’t mean he believes the opposite of those propositions, just that we can’t conclude them with the evidence we have.

        • GAY_WEED_DAD_69 says:

          It certainly is a major part of Pinker’s thesis that there has been a significant reduction in the intensity of wars — he devotes several chapters to it. According to Pinker, while WW3 might happen, the chances of it happening are much lower now. He isn’t just talking about crime.

  5. I recently emailed Pinker that he was wrong to use the Charles Atlas bodybuilding ad of a bully kicking sand in the face of someone on the beach as an index of violence in US when that ad was ubiquitous in WW II years, early 40s. I was vaguely aware of the disparity between the ad and the ruly behavior on crowded beaches in NYC, but put that perception in the unexplained phenomena basket in my child’s mind at that time. Surprisingly, Pinker emailed me back conceding that manners in WW II America were unviolent, belying the implicit violence of the Charles Atlas ad. I note also that Pinker equivocates away the increasing violence of American blacks with some deft handwaving, something about them following their own societal rules. I mentioned that in a follow-up email which he wisely left unanswered.

    • Patrick L. Boyle says:

      Pinker’s book is about 800 pages. I was motoring through it at a decent pace when about at page 400 my puppy ate the damn thing. I think I’ve learned enough of his thesis in the first half that I don’t need to buy another copy. Or do I?

      For those of you without a puppy, tell me is there anything new in the second half?

    • MawBTS says:

      Charles Atlas is interesting.

      In 1922, an old-school carnie type called Bernarr McFadden developed an interest in physical exercise, rented out Madison Square Garden, and held the world’s first bodybuilding contest, which he called America’s Most Perfectly Developed Man.

      A bunch of beer hall bouncers and football players stripped down to their loincloths, and flexed to the indifference of passers-by. The contest was a massive flop and was considered a bit of a joke, but someone had to win it, and that someone was an Italian weightlifter called Angelo Siciliano.

      Siciliano renamed himself to Charles Atlas, and decided to become one of the world’s first physical fitness scam artists.

      There was no money to be made selling barbells and weights, so he invented a scientifically dubious “Dynamic Tension” exercise system (which was a flimsily-printed pamphlet showing you how to flex your muscles), and claimed he’d built his body that way.

      When questioned, he’d admit that yes, he did sometimes lift weights, but only for the purposes of testing his strength. How frequently did he test his strength? Several times a week. And how long did he test it for? A couple of hours per session. But don’t be fooled – he actually built his muscles through the wonders of Dynamic Tension, not weightlifting.

      His ads were everywhere. Some of the claims in them were a bit doubtful. He said he weighed 97lb before he’d started Dynamic Tension. At 5’10, he would have had a BMI of 5’10 (underweight to the point of organ failure).

      He also called himself “America’s Most Perfectly Developed Man” for many decades, even when he was old and frail. Of course, that was the title he’d won at Bernarr McFadden’s contest. And since no more were held, nobody could ever take it off him.

      Buried in his grave, Charles Atlas’s skeleton remains America’s Most Perfectly Developed Man to this day.

      • ironrailsironweights says:

        Eugen Sandow popularized bodybuilding well before 1922.

        Peter

        • MawBTS says:

          No, it was Schwarzenegger in the 70s and 80s. Ngram viewer backs this up.

          Eugen Sandow and other early bodybuilders seem to fit into the circus sideshow category. People marveled at them. Nobody really wanted to look like them.

          • Jim says:

            Bodybuilding certainly was a subculture of some sort long before Schwarzenegger. I remember as a child seeing magazines devoted to bodybuilding. I thought the body builders looked hideously grotesque.

          • anon says:

            “No, it was Schwarzenegger in the 70s and 80s. Ngram viewer backs this up.”

            I think it probably depends whether one evaluates “popularize” linearly or logarithmically. The Ngram of “Weightlifting” starts its ascent in the 40s and was apparently the more popular term in the 60s and 70s. Steve Reeves is an oft cited popularizer.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      If you grow up in a violent neighborhood the Charles Atlas sales pitch resonates pretty well as violence plays a big part in the mating game in that kind of environment*. I imagine he grew up somewhere like that.

      (* it mostly revolves around attempts to humiliate rival males in front of females – males (and females) in more white collar environments do the same thing but in those environments it’s mostly verbal. so if you’ve ever seen anyone try to verbally humiliate a male rival in front of a girl they both liked the blue collar equivalent is someone getting kicked int he head.)

  6. IC says:

    Hungry animals are vicious killers. Well-fed ones are nice.

    People in poverty are nasty and aggressive, who fight over any little interest (like one dollar). Rich people can afford luxury generosity and polite behaviors.

    These behaviors are adaptive in short term, genetic in long term (thousands years of feudal noble class?).

    • IC says:

      Economical crisis will bring back violence very fast.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        Exactly. By the end of this century all hell will break lose in the Middle East and Africa. You don’t have to accurately predict the future, just see where trends are going. Population keeps growing, green revolution slows down to a crawl, meanwhile asians get richer and consume more food driving up prices, and there you have it. Kaboom.

        Rest of the world? Nobody knows, but this continued trend of a few kleptocrat billionaires at the top and masses of lower middle class schmucks getting by a little bit worse than their parents did, can that end well?

        • ghazisiz says:

          Always thought that the only thing keeping us Americans from each other’s throats was the rising tide of prosperity. When the prosperity faltered, in 2008, inter-ethnic hostility did seem to pick up: black lives mattering, America firsters, online antisemitism, Dreamer activism, contempt for the deplorables–all of these strengthened as the economic recovery came in late and weak.

          You can draw your own conclusions, but the one I drew was: vote only for the candidates who understand how the prosperity machine works. Trump was not such a bad choice, given the fools who hustle to the front of the queue at election time, but it would be nice if the libertarians were more of a force.

          • another fred says:

            “…vote only for the candidates who understand how the prosperity machine works. ”

            The only problem with that strategy is that for the last 50 years the “prosperity machine” has been running on credit and by consuming the accumulated wealth of past generations of savers. Mr. Trump proclaimed himself the “king of debt” during the campaign. We will see.

            [The preceding comment should not be taken as an endorsement of the Democrat Party and especially not as an endorsement of its most recent Presidential candidate.]

          • dave chamberlin says:

            Looking at our world through the lens of political thinking to me is fruitless. I don’t like Trump but who cares what I think or for that matter what anybody thinks about politics. Political conversations inevitably descend into grotesquely simplistic emotional belief systems trying to solve complex problems. It isn’t Trump’s fault there has been a huge shift in wealth from the middle class to the filthy rich. His tax plan will accelerate that trend but with or without Trump this world wide economic trend concerns me. Further and further dividing the world into the “gottalottas” and the “getbys” is going to eventually breed violence is all I am saying. Cochran looks at the world through the lens of science. That works and that is why we keep coming back to West Hunter.

        • another fred says:

          “…this continued trend of a few kleptocrat billionaires at the top and masses of lower middle class schmucks getting by…”

          According to the most recent discoveries of archaeology that is the story for all of the existence of states and civilization. What long term “trend” exists is that the well being of those on the bottom is increasing – very, very slowly.

          On a shorter term, when the top gets too corrupt societies fail, but it is never a very pleasant process. Maybe there is no other way to see the long term trend continue, but we might ought be careful what we wish for.

    • Jim says:

      There is still extreme poverty in rural China. Is rural China highly violent?

      • IC says:

        Yes, peasants uprising hotbed from those regions historically. Nowaday, they are just nasty people who will give you hard time.

        Farmers from rich regions tend to be gentle and nice.

      • simontmn says:

        Rural China is a lot more violent than urban China. But not really in the same random way that US black inner cities are violent. AFAIK the violent death rates in rural China are much lower than in US black urban neighbourhoods. But in European terms it somewhat resembles the 17th or early 18th century, before the full establishment of State order.

    • chozang says:

      The problem is not poverty, the problem is a subculture of aggression and violence. I have lived in a poor country (where our version of “poverty” would be considered wealthy) where the people were very nice and polite and generous and civilized, more so than the average person in the U.S. The problem in the U.S., is two-fold: 1) there is such easy vertical mobility that people who are poor are often poor for a reason, often having to do with a reduced ability to delay gratification. 2) In subcultures with a high degree of criminality and violence, people often identify with their subculture, rather than with the society at large. This is a problem when the subculture has a high degree of aggressiveness and criminality. As Don Juan Matus said, “My parents lived like Indians and died like Indians, and never realized that, before all else, they were men.” (Not trying to pick on Indians, just a good quote.) I worked in the division of correction, and an inmate said to me that at a family reunion, if there was a woman who was a secretary, the rest of the family would feel like “She’s not one of us”, but if she was a stripper, they would feel more comfortable around her.

  7. Dennis Rodman says:

    So, what’s the lowdown on North Korea? Asking for a friend.

    • DK says:

      Nothing on North Korea. It’s safe. No attack in either direction is happening in the foreseeable future. Have your friend sleep soundly. Koreans are not suicidal.

      • Kim Jong-Un says:

        I believe my good friend Dennis Rodman was thinking more in terms of likely scenarios if the Dotard attacks – how much of a bloodbath will it be, what will China do, etc

  8. GAY_WEED_DAD_69 says:

    pinker discusses the unusually high levels of US crime compared to the rest of the anglosphere and I don’t remember him even once discussing the race aspect. he didn’t even bring it up and argue it away — he just ignored it completely. that alone tells you it is a book of great dishonesty.

    • He did not ignore it completely. He handwaved away rising criminality of American blacks as following their own rules thus not counterevidence against his theory. I can’t give you a page reference having returned this overlong 800 page book to the library.

    • HumanHorn says:

      He does mention it:

      These jurisdictions are outliers mainly because they have a high proportion of African Americans. The current black-white difference in homicide rates within the United States is stark. Between 1976 the average rate for black Americans was 36.9 It’s not just that blacks get arrested and convicted more often, which would suggest that the race gap might be an artifact of racial profiling. The same gap appears in anonymous surveys in which victims identify the race of their attackers, and in surveys in which people of both races recount their own history of violent offenses.

      p.111

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      (according to the internet) homicide rates by race/ethnicity in the US are mostly the same as the average for their source region (whites/europe, blacks/west africa, east asians/ east asia etc)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

      (exception being the hispanic rate is lower than the south america and much lower than the central america rate)

      • HumanHorn says:

        Reminds me of:

        A Scandinavian economist once stated to Milton Friedman: “In Scandinavia we have no poverty.” Milton Friedman replied, “That’s interesting, because in America among Scandinavians, we have no poverty either.” Indeed, the poverty rate for Americans with Swedish ancestry is only 6.7%, half the U.S average. Economists Geranda Notten and Chris de Neubourg have calculated the poverty rate in Sweden using the American poverty threshold, finding it to be an identical 6.7%.

        http://www.newgeography.com/content/001543-is-sweden-a-false-utopia

  9. My theory is that murder mysteries are only popular in places where there actually aren’t a lot of murders or other violent crime.

    • dearieme says:

      After watching the Inspector Morse series on TV I decided that all ambitious young would-be academics in Britain should try to wangle an Assistant Lectureship at Oxford. The murder rate among the dons would almost guarantee rapid promotions.

      • dux.ie says:

        https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/universities-ranked-crime-rate

        Rank Violence/K Inst
        1 56.6 Courtauld Institute of Art
        2 56.2 Bradford
        3 53.8 Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
        32 35.9 Cambridge
        49 32.0 Oxford
        83 27.2 Imperial College London

        http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-20910859

        There were 636 killings in England and Wales in 2010-11 – that equates to 11.5 for every one million people – or a rate of 0.00115%.

        The murder rate in the fictional county of Midsomer has been estimated at 32 per million, in excess of the England and Wales figures.

        Jessica Fletcher’s sleepy home town of Cabot Cove has a rate of 1,490 murders per million.

        “The other thing is that fictional detectives let the bodies rack up. Morse once allowed six murders to take place in the time he was investigating one – if that was real life he would have been replaced by someone who could actually do the job.”

        • Wilbur Hassenfus says:

          “In a paper printed in the British Medical Journal, Tim Crayford, Richard Hooper and Sarah Evans reported that the mortality rate for characters in the television soap operas Coronation Street and EastEnders exceeded those of bomb disposal experts and racing drivers.”

          They can thank Jackie Stewart for that.

    • Philip Neal says:

      Can anyone explain why there are more fictional murders in Oxford than in Cambridge?

      • dux.ie says:

        http://www.oxfordtoday.ox.ac.uk/features/oxford%E2%80%99s-golden-years-murder

        Sayers dominated a group of young Oxford graduates who were prime movers in a drive to improve the literary standards of detective fiction. The Detection Club, the world’s first social network for crime writers, began informally with a series of dinners hosted by Anthony Berkeley Cox, who had read Classics at Univ, before taking a more formal shape in 1930.

        Members were elected to the Detection Club by secret ballot, and were supposed to have written detective novels of ‘admitted merit’. Oxford graduates dominated the Club; four of the first thirty members came from Balliol (also the alma mater of Sayers’ sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey).

        • cthulhu says:

          I think they were spectacularly unsuccessful; so did Raymond Chandler – see his famous and marvelous essay The Simple Art of Murder, wherein he has some specific criticisms of Miss Sayers among others.

    • ironrailsironweights says:

      Crime fiction, especially on TV, is most popular among middle class white suburban women, who are just about the least likely people to become crime victims.

      Peter

      • pyromancer76 says:

        Much better to be able to phantasize both internal violent desires and those we know about in reality than to have to face the external reality — as way to many humans have to do everyday. Everyone has murderous desires (for survival and reproduction) towards parents, siblings, and those who do not “obey” one’s wishes from very early on..

        Don’t knock “middle class…suburban” – better for everyone so long as everyone works hard to preserve the opportunity.

  10. Greying Wanderer says:

    I think it’s true humans have been gradually domesticated by cereal but in proportion to how long they’ve been under that process of domestication – with more recently hunter gatherers or herder populations being less domesticated than cereal farmers.

    However one side of that is the more you reduce low level personal violence the more functional society becomes and as a result the more capable of massive large scale violence.

    The other thing is, as it’s going to be at least 50% genetic, genes for violence will always be selected back again if you create an environment where they become adaptive for reproduction again – as they are in gang ruled underclass neighborhoods where violence is probably tied with smooth talking (aka lying) as the most important factor in gaining access to females.

    Thirdly, when you have environments which actively breed psychos – like the urban welfare ghettos (cos reproductive advantage) – I think there’s probably a peak psycho tipping point where you get a mass war (over whatever) with lots of casualties followed by a lull for 20-ish years while the kids of the dead gangsters grow into adults. It’s a bit like Iberians rebelling against Rome and then another one 20 years later and another 20 years after that i.e. after the kids of the dead previous rebels grow up.

    Lastly, cops spending the last 50 years suppressing the scale of casually sadistic gang-related violence in those neighborhoods has made it easier for the media/politicians to hide the problem so in a way i’m pleased that BLM and the media have stopped the police doing their job as although it’s gonna be very messy it might force the media to tell the truth and the only way the problem can ever be fixed is if the truth comes out: which is don’t create environments which give the feral kind of psycho a breeding advantage.

    • infowarrior1 says:

      ”However one side of that is the more you reduce low level personal violence the more functional society becomes and as a result the more capable of massive large scale violence.

      The other thing is, as it’s going to be at least 50% genetic, genes for violence will always be selected back again if you create an environment where they become adaptive for reproduction again – as they are in gang ruled underclass neighborhoods where violence is probably tied with smooth talking (aka lying) as the most important factor in gaining access to females.”

      What would happen is that organized violence in your example would be selected for and unorganized violence would be selected against.

      The most successful gangs would suppress violence in their own territories and prosecute murderers as they would define it. As that would harm their revenue and internal cooperation needed to be successful against other gangs. Interpersonal violence in other words is bad for business. Like a proto-state they would secure a monopoly on violence.

      The mongol empire for example suppressed violence in their own territories ensuing that they would be able to tax their subject peoples.

  11. GAY_WEED_DAD_69 says:

    The better angels of our nature couldn’t keep Pinker off Ashley Madison. What hope do they have against jihad?

    • JerryC says:

      What kind of twisted world do we live in that a star professor like Pinker is trawling the dark corners of the internet for illicit sex instead of adhering to traditional academic mores and simply having affairs with his students?

  12. MattinLA says:

    Pinker’s thesis does not take into account the prevalence of abortion. Counting abortion, the total homicide rate is multiple times the “official” rate. The actual level of violence has thus greatly increased on a per capita basis worldwide in the last half century.

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