From: email@example.com (Robert Derrick)
Lawrence C. Foard writes:
: (Christopher Peters) writes:
: >2. Humans exhibit the rather unusual characteristic of killing
: > great numbers of their own kind. Why?
This question bothered me, but I was unable to articulate the reason
until the able Mr. Foard supplied the stimulous.
: Because they can.
And so some of them do. But what bothered me is the globally
accepted assumption that the statement "humans kill their own kind"
has some kind of general validity. It definitely does not!
Because the average human in an average human lifetime, on the
average, kills about zero other human beings. The statement has
a subtle undertext that implies that we are all killers, barely
held in check by our fear of retribution. This, I believe, is
a gross mistatement of human nature. The average human being
will not willingly kill another human being unless severely
provoked. This is a part of survival. In some sense, it is
also that which we call morality, which I believe is innate.
The average human being has to be brainwashed, coerced, or
desensitized by training wherein the trainers assume responsibility
for the act (in the mind of the trainee, at least), or by removing
the personal touch of the finger on the trigger, the hand on the
blood soaked blade, and raising it to a button pushed in a high-
flying Holiday Inn, or even by computer. Whatever it takes to
keep the victims eyes from boring into the killer's soul.
The fact of the matter is that only a small number of human
beings kill "great numbers of their own kind". The most of
humanity will never take the life of another human in their
lifetime. And in case you still rankle at the numbers, let
me say that, by analogy, Christians have killed an abnormally
large number of their fellow human beings in their short
history. Do you, Mr. Peters, believe we should judge God's
creation by the acts of his minions? Why then should you
be allowed to judge the "morality" of evolution by the acts
of a paltry few aberrents?
: >"Ethology, the study of behaviour has yet to find evolutionary
: >basis for man's aberrant conduct that allows him to kill members
: >of his own species wholesale, which other species do not do.
The writer of this statement is nearly as grossly ignorant
as "Hold The Elephant" Holden. The answer is simply:
: They are looking in the wrong place, the behaviour originally wasn't
: destructive enough to be eliminated. Technology has moved faster
: than evolution.
Exactly. What was a defense mechanism for individuals and for
small groups has been terribly overbalanced by our ability to
devise techniques of destruction. The sad fact is that we have
escalated in an evolutionary arms race far beyond reason, and it
may signal the beginning of the end for one species that has
developed a deadly, self-destructive trait. Intelligence.
On the other hand, some of us will recognize the moment and
be able to wave goodbye to ourselves.
"Grab a flag so you can wave goodbye" - Phil Ochs
ps: there is hope, of course, and I will be holding out for
the success of humanity's better nature. Hope you are