Hunter Gatherer

#1
This is a request for information.

I've heard this meme for so long now that I often catch myself analyzing human behavior or certain scientific findings this way. "We do this and that because of our evolutionary history as hunter/gatherers." Or "Men and women are a certain way because we were hunter/gatherers."

I'm sure you've heard about this meme. It makes a lot of intuitive sense, at first, but then I realized I could make equally "reasonable" sounding arguments based on entirely different hypothetical human evolutionary histories.

My question is, how did this meme come to be? Are there significant studies or data that prove its usefulness? Or is that just a bizarro version of "I don't know why so I'll say God did it", except we're replacing god with "hunter/gatherer"?
 
#2
I think you're talking about "evolutionary psychology", and yeah, there's a lot of pseudoscience in that field. Some evolutionary psychology is a lot more rigorous, though (like animal studies on altruism and the probable link to human behavior.)
 
#3
Or is that just a bizarro version of "I don't know why so I'll say God did it", except we're replacing god with "hunter/gatherer"?
Partly.

H/G serves a useful religious paradigm that God made us dumb because the blonde bit the apple. Later, he showed mercy on us and switched on consciousness, sent Jesus/Buddha/{insert local Redeemer-Deity} and all is well. We farmed, we technologized, we became modern...and nuclear. Thank you God.

Let's examine the H/G from a closer prospective. Dudes and dudesses in animal skins were too stupid to figure out how an orange could made to grow, after all they couldn't get a handle on how to knock one off the tree, splat on the ground.

Yet they could kill a saber-toothed tiger or a wooly mammoth, cook it with fire. And paint caves with abstract art.

Hmm.

I always thought the H/G was the pseudoname for the period of time we were just north of chimps and just south of the Babylonians, Chaldeans and Urians. Speaking of North, the Jews wandered for 40 years without knowing which way it was. This was well after they had wandered into Zoroaster's lands - as rock pusher's and H/G - and had been educated.

The entire human history narrative makes absolutely no sense.

HTH.

Tyler
 
#4
This is a request for information.

I've heard this meme for so long now that I often catch myself analyzing human behavior or certain scientific findings this way. "We do this and that because of our evolutionary history as hunter/gatherers." Or "Men and women are a certain way because we were hunter/gatherers."

I'm sure you've heard about this meme. It makes a lot of intuitive sense, at first, but then I realized I could make equally "reasonable" sounding arguments based on entirely different hypothetical human evolutionary histories.

My question is, how did this meme come to be? Are there significant studies or data that prove its usefulness? Or is that just a bizarro version of "I don't know why so I'll say God did it", except we're replacing god with "hunter/gatherer"?
I find a whole lot of intuitive sense behind the stuff . . . but a lot of it ain't really very politically smiled upon . . .

This is kinda the direction and thought process I had in mind when I started the morality/spirituality thread . . . kinda, that is.

Bear with me for a bit here:

And though some of this will be repetition of things I've said elsewhere here, my whole manner of thinking started to shift because of a something very related: food and a history of what we evolved eating . . . which is primarily meat - some cooked, some raw, but always all parts of the animal, and vegetables, namely leafy greans - some cooked, some raw, and fruits when in season, berries, nuts. Grains, sugars, overcooked and processed foods that we eat are obviously missing . . . but, well, with the grains, I don't think that many know how obvious that is. Grains (and dairy) were introduced with the agricultural revolution, and even then, they ate only a fraction of what we eat today . . . and to make matters even worse, some of the grains we eat today are very, very different than what they used to be b/c of selective breeding and then later genetic modification.

So what did these changes mean? It meant the chronic diseases we now have and a shrinking of the entire skeleton (to, as you can see below, where the teeth don't fit in the head anymore):

(Obviously, the ones on the left were still eating the diets indigenous to their people for thousands of years, while the ones on the right (or their parents or grandparents) adopted a Western diet)




You can google Weston Price with Teeth and see a lot of pictures. About a hundred years ago he travelled the world, sought out groups of people who were still eating as their ancestors ate, and took these pictures. He was a dentist, primarily. Many times, there would be a group that had split, so that one side was eating what the Westerners introduced and the other not. Anyway, I was so stupid my entire life that I didn't know that crooked teeth weren't normal. Why I didn't think about sharks and dogs and any other animal and wonder why they didn't have crooked teeth (and cancer and diabetes) like us, I don't really know.

So, what's that have to do with morality and evolutionary psychology? Well, I used to be a vegetarian. I thought - and would've argued one in the ground - that it was the best diet in every sense: health, spiritual, ethical. I still think it may be the most ethical because of factory farms, but certainly not the most spiritual. Eating exactly what evolution designed us to eat is the most spiritual. Right? I think so, anyway. I have an image stuck in my head based on something I read about American Indians where they were said to eat part of the buffalo (the intestine, I think) on the spot, raw, immediatly after they killed it. I think that's infinitely more "spiritual" than the soy burgers that used to be a staple of my diet. Those soy burgers and all the wheat (glutin) caused me many problems . . . and actually set in motion the journey that led to me discovering this stuff.

I'm losing my point here. What I'm really trying to say, I guess, is that that material made a deep impression on me that went much further than food or simple vegetarian/nonvegetarian stuff. It just showed me that how we evolved for literally a couple million years can't just be undone in a hundred or few hundred or probably a few thousand years . . . no matter how "enlightened" one thinks the change is. Thus, I find evolutionary psychology - what little I know of it, very impressive, by and large.

Used to, people's roles were clearly defined, and I keep realizing that that was probably for the best. Used to, a father was with his son day in, day out, teaching him what he knew. Even forgetting hunger/gatherer scenarios, think of times just a couple hundred years ago: the son saw what the father did every day through all seasons, whether doing metal work or farming. Something was imparted. Then that changed and fathers left and went to work in industrial places and came home exhausted. I seriously believe that that change is related to many problems American "men" now have with (positive and strong) masculinity: most are very suspicious of it and live lives of constant rebellion . . . I'd guess much more so than at any other time in history . . . and I realize one may have the impulse to point out good things here, and I'd probably concede a lot ot that, but it's still worth a long pondering, I think . . . Then it changed again, and women had to go to work to make ends meet. I see that as something like the cigarette thing: a propaganda push happened where they connected women smoking to being independent. The corporation needed more (cheap) labor. If we think of hunger/gatherer times, what men did was more important: they scanned perimeters, for one. We see men very, very intent on doing this still with even something as seemingly far removed from such a thing as art: "scanning the perimeters" very carefully and controlling what gets let in and what doesn't. Men create "us and them" situtations . . . whether with countries and such or with what's cool or with gangs or you name it. If you wanna discover how true or untrue the stuff is, just think about your attitude towards sex and extrapolate. (It actually may be lower than the hunter/gatherers sex drive due to bad food, but it still illustrates that not much as changed.) We don't "get enlightened" out of wanting sex any more than we "get enlightened" out of other primal evolutionary impulses. I tend to now see a lot of those primal impulses like I do those Indians on the plain eating raw buffalo intestine. It's simply a part of physical and psychological evolution that we really have no choice but to go with. Spirituality comes in through these things, not by circumnavigating them. As I've mentioned before, I always go back to that first story in the Gita where Arjuna's telling Krishna that he can't go to war and kill people he knows. Krishna says he has to and that, for one, he's taking our short, physical life too seriously. There's a life beyond, and if he'll realize that, he'll be able to follow through with his earthly duties which include going to war and killing people that he knows. Krishna says that there'll be no glory for him here or beyond by not going to fight. I realize that this and a lot of other parts of this stuff can be hard to swallow. I'm still by and large anti-war. I used to consider myself violently pacifist. But even that old characterization seems to say something . . . Of course, wars aren't what they used to be. A person can now sit and drink a diet coke and eat a honey bun, I guess, and fire a drone into who-knows-where Afghanistan. Only two thousand years ago, Alexander the Great conquered "the world" with a few thousand men. And he was sometimes at the front.

At any rate, there's a lot to be said, but I can't help but wonder if and how, psychologically speaking, that is, our "teeth don't fit in our heads." Did people used to get depressed or spend years wondering what to do with their lives? I could hear some say we don't even wanna go back to the old ways and that we like our possible depressions and such. Is that healthy? . . . . Certainly a lot of the choices we now have about what to do with our lives are great. No arguement here . . . but there also seem to be many aspects that come with it that are kinda strange . . . .
 
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#5
Like much of the standard "evolution" wank - none of this has anything to do with intuition. More like counter-intuitive. Let's be clear - "makes sense to me " is not the same as intuitive.
 
#7
Like much of the standard "evolution" wank - none of this has anything to do with intuition. More like counter-intuitive. Let's be clear - "makes sense to me " is not the same as intuitive.
The heliocentric solar system isn't very intuitive either, but it does "make sense to me!" after looking at the evidence. Kind of like natural selection.
 
#9
Like much of the standard "evolution" wank - none of this has anything to do with intuition. More like counter-intuitive. Let's be clear - "makes sense to me " is not the same as intuitive.
I don't really see what there is to argue with. Did you look at the pictures?
 
#10
Yes. They are different things. Materialism relies on "makes sense" but dismisses intuition (which often doesn't "make sense").
How are you defining "materialism"? Are you talking about when scientists approach a phenomenon and dismiss lines of inquiry that ascribe the unknown to things akin to mysticism?

I don't know of any scientists anywhere that dismiss intuition. In fact, I'm pretty sure creative, fact-based intuition is how they form a hypothesis and design an experiment to test it.
 
#11
I'd also add that we evolved in times of much greater scarcity and that our entire system, probably including morality, is based on seemingly infinite surplus . . . which, oddly, ties back in with - you named it - grains. If the shit hit the fan, as they say, I'd imagine we'd see a lot of going back to traditional roles and ways.

Another thing to add is that, personally, I think we tend to want to rebel against this stuff from the level of the individual, forgetting that the way we evolved allowed for pretty phenomenal species to occur.
 
#13
I think there's merit in a lot of WAP stuff, and I think the paleo diet makes sense, but 4 pictures of young people tells you nothing.
Sure. But he took tons of those pictures and documented all their teeth stuff . . .

I just like posting those pictures as examples and because it really drives the thing home . . .

I mean, I personally can't get over it . . . it's almost conspiratorial . . .

And once again, all we really need to do is look around at other animals. Do any animals have (extremely) crooked teeth?

Oh, and by the way, there's pretty intense in-fighting between paleos and WAP people.
 
#14
And what's any of this really have to do with materialism anyway?

Is it less materialistic (in the pop sense) or more spiritual to embrace how we evolved? Is it more or less spiritual to eat? To have sex? No? Then what's wrong with taking the next logical step?

I mean, clearly you can embrace this stuff as a materialist or nonmaterialist.
 
#15
How are you defining "materialism"? Are you talking about when scientists approach a phenomenon and dismiss lines of inquiry that ascribe the unknown to things akin to mysticism?

I don't know of any scientists anywhere that dismiss intuition. In fact, I'm pretty sure creative, fact-based intuition is how they form a hypothesis and design an experiment to test it.
Creativity is inspiration not intuition. They are different processes.

I'm not defining materialism - I'm using it as it is commonly defined. I am however eschewing the "evolved" definition applied to intuition (which reduces it to something akin to "makes sense") and defaulting to what it was intended to mean: "something that is known or understood without materialist methods"
 
#16
I'd also add that we evolved in times of much greater scarcity and that our entire system, probably including morality, is based on seemingly infinite surplus . . . which, oddly, ties back in with - you named it - grains. If the shit hit the fan, as they say, I'd imagine we'd see a lot of going back to traditional roles and ways.

Another thing to add is that, personally, I think we tend to want to rebel against this stuff from the level of the individual, forgetting that the way we evolved allowed for pretty phenomenal species to occur.
All that is based in your belief that evolution as defined is correct. I believe it is incorrect.
 
#17
All that is based in your belief that evolution as defined is correct. I believe it is incorrect.
Uh, come again?

You quoted me on the scarcity/surplus thing. Surely we can agree that there's a lot more easily accessible food now than there was 12 thousand years ago. People had to actually work/hunt first in the morn instead of having cocoa crisps with homogenized/pastuerized/growth hormone milk. The effect this has on social structures is probably beyond comprehension.

And, no, I don't believe evolution is the product of blind, random mutations . . . but I don't see what that has to do with anything I've said anyway.
 
#18
Surely we can agree that there's a lot more easily accessible food now than there was 12 thousand years ago.
Across the board? Not necessarily. And your contention that people had to work/hunt first in the morn is also questionable. This is one of the times where even some in "officialdom" challenge your opinion. And, unless you have done most of the research in this are yourself my statement that, "All that is based in your belief that evolution as defined is correct. I believe it is incorrect." stands.
 
#19
Across the board? Not necessarily. And your contention that people had to work/hunt first in the morn is also questionable. This is one of the times where even some in "officialdom" challenge your opinion. And, unless you have done most of the research in this are yourself my statement that, "All that is based in your belief that evolution as defined is correct. I believe it is incorrect." stands.
A few things here:

First, the overarching point I was making is just that - regardless of our arguments about the details of our evolution - we can't outsmart evolutionary things very easily or successfully. That's partially why I showed the pictures . . . to illustrate it with food. So, regardless of how you question evolutionary dogma, my point still stands. Our teeth come in crooked after a few generations of a Western diet and I'm saying that I would imagine the same goes, metaphorically, for psychological stuff as well.

The thing about breakfast is just something off the top of my head and wasn't the main point. (The main point was about social structures). But it would seem to still be true and stand, anyway, unless you don't think we evolved from animals. I mean, granted, we had a squirrel the other day get a satsuma, eat part of it, and put it in a little hole in the ground and cover it with a leaf. I'm assuming it did this so it could return to it . . . And while I'm sure that pretty early on we figured out ways to keep things for eating later, I think it's safe to say that there are limits to this by today's standards, especially going back in time to when we were more similar to apes . . . but again, that's not the point, anyway.

But in a kinda reverse way, when you say it's not necessarily so across the board, would seem to kinda prove my point. I'm not suggesting here that I'm a cultural expert, but it certainly looks to me that countries that are poor - I'm thinking of the middle east - seem to have much more traditional social structures . . . and that's what my point was about: because of the excess in places like America, where I live, we're allowed to structure our society in ways that couldn't otherwise happen . . . like living in smaller and smaller groups. I'd wager that places with less than us would be more likely to at least still have extended families that functioned a bit more traditionally. (I also imagine sex relations are more traditional, too.) I don't live anywhere near any of my family whatsoever. It's a "luxury" of surplus.

As an aside, I'd also note that those with more traditional societies would fair much better if something catastrophic occurred.
 
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