Thursday, 3 April 2014

We Are a Violent Species : I don't think so!

An article floated by, via the interwebs, when I searched on the phrase "we humans", and it carried the following headline : We are Not a Peaceful Species. It wasn't what I was looking for (as is so often the case) yet it offered me something useful.

The author points to the prevalence of violence in  human history to prove the assertion of the headline. This is such a regular argument it merits some attention because it is inaccurate. Her aim in this article is to counter arguments that say that watching Mixed Martial Arts sport makes people more violent, often made by those who watch Boxing (a gentleman's sport) and look down on MMA or cage fighting etc...

I understand the thinking behind this article. I see her point about the hypocrisy of those who enjoy boxing and deem MMA somehow worse or of less merit.

However the logic, of both, is flawed. Let me explain.

Current stats (CDC) suggest that the number of noninstitutionalized American adults   with diagnosed heart disease is 26.6 million... that cannot be used to imply that human beings are a species prone to heart disease. It can be used to say that the biological drive towards optimal health is being thwarted by any number of factors in the adult population of America. One would have to dig deeper into the data to identify what those factors are.

The CDC also states that 1 in 10 Americans are clinically depressed. That is not to say that Americans are a depressive sub-set of the species of humanity... It does suggest that there are factors which exist in American that contribute to the prevalence of depression in adulthood (which might be greater that which is diagnosed... it could be 20%...)

Likewise the propensity towards violence.

Violence is understandable, we all get angry from time to time, and for a multitude of 'reasons'. We are sensitive beings, and life is replete with challenges to that sensitivity.

Some of us get angry when our computer is too 'slow' or if we lose a piece of text we have been editing and we will swear at our screen. Very few of us will actually tear the screen off the wall or off desk and throw it out the window or assault it with a heavy, blunt instrument whilst screaming expletives... that would invalidate the warranty at the very least....

Some people get angry because others are different (eg: some Christians hatred of gay people), and some of those people will choose violence. We know that not ALL Christians harbour a hatred of gay people, and we know that not all who do harbour such a hatred will choose violence as their response. We cannot use the incidence of Christians beating up a gay person to say ALL Christians are violent or that ALL Christians hate gay people. Christianity is quite a wide brush, ranging from fuming fundamentalists to peace and love Jesus freaks. Humanity is likewise a wide brush.

We do know enough to say that those Christians who harbour that degree of hatred that they choose violence will have serious psychological and developmental issues, that they are expressing a pathology, a serious pathological issue which needs to be addressed. It would be better if it were addressed BEFORE they actualised the violence. Punishment is most often too late for the person who was assaulted.

We also know enough (developmental science, neuro-biology, neuro-chemistry, endocrinology, anthropology) to say that aspects of the societal and individual propensity towards violence have a strong pathological element, that is to say they represent an unhealthy state, a diseased state (colonisation, empire building, rule by coercion, bullying, wife beating, rape) and that our fundamental nature as a species is towards peace and empathy (these are markers of optimal human social health and well being) and that the tendency towards optimal health explains our long existence (2 million years) whilst at the same time it is obvious that a peaceful culture is more vulnerable to a violent culture. - a one page chart outlining social behavioural characteristics of different cultures as outcomes of child care within those cultures. - a much more detailed paper on the origins of violence as an outcome of disrupted biologically mandated developmental processes.

It would be more correct for the author to write that she lives in a Society where violence is common, where violence is ritualised (made relatively safe) in sport (MMA, Boxing, Fencing), and where violence is deliberately chosen and actualised in Military adventures abroad, in the presence of Nuclear Weapons, in racial and other stereotyped hatreds and bigotry, in Organised Crime, Gang 'Culture' and that the State which claims a legal monopoly on Violence mirrors the pathological violence of the God of the Judeo-Christian-Abrahamic Religions, and that this is a pathological situation which causes more harm than good.

And that she enjoys watching men beat the living daylights out of each other.... especialy when they demonstrate respect for each other...
"And let’s look a little further into these professional fighters. Let’s look at how they high-five and touch gloves before they start swinging those fists. Let’s look at how, when the last round is over, they are shaking each other’s hands and giving hugs. Take a second to appreciate that pattern: respect, violence, admiration. Because that right there best encompasses the beautiful dynamic of what it means to be a human."

Oh dear!

This is a very useful article on how to counter commonly occurring falsehoods, deceptions, misinformation and outright lies...

Kindest regards


Do what you love, it's Your Gift to Universe