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Yet, bipedalism can't completely account for human uniqueness, because we can see that Australopiths aren't around anymore, and it doesn't confer any special advantage to bipedal birds either.[/Quote]

 

I don't mean to explain everything. That's the point of rejecting umbrella theories.

 

I would agree. Technology is not unique to humans, but the scale at which we produce them are. The scale of technological production is directly related to the scale of our social cooperation.

This trend is not only seen on an evolutionary timescale, but in recent recorded history as well.

 

A fair assessment.

 

Yet the correctness of a theory is not necessarily an indication of how often its cited. As theories go, this one is in the early stages. If it continues to stand up to the evidence, than I'm sure Bingham will work on promoting it (thousands of students take his class each year and it's offered as an online course to international students as well... so I guess he's going with the direct educational route).

 

I.e. indoctrinating students so he doesn't have to deal with the old buzzards. :P

 

yup... we're monogamous when times are good. This behavior is common in animal species.

 

Or sometimes we're polygamous when times are good. Take the Tiv of southern Nigeria for example. In that culture how many wives a man has is a mark of his wealth. And each wife is expected to have her own hut for her and her children within the husband's compound (which is itself owned by the patrilineal family unit). Interesting system. If you read any of Chinua Achebe's novels the Ibo live a lot like that.

 

As a woman, you can answer that one better than I can. No woman truly understands men, and no man truly understands women. A terrible generalisation, I know, but true to a degree. So I ask you ; "Is being a co-wife as desirable for a woman as being a sole wife?" If the answer is yes, I am going hunting for my number two!

 

But Paralith is a female who is the product of a particular culture. You can't expect her to speak for all females of all times and all places.

 

The difference between chimps and pre-humans could have been something as simple as the retention of tools. Imagine our forebear using a stone to smash rotten wood for grubs. By pure chance, it happens to be a very superior stone. Instead of throwing it away, the ape hangs onto it and carries it along. The advantages of always having a superior tool with oneself become apparent and the entire tribe gets into the habit of carrying their favourite tool, and this continues for mutiple generations. This ties up one hand - no longer suitable for locomotion, hence driving adaptation to more upright stance and bipedal locomotion. However, it would not, immediately, necessarily drive evolution of a larger brain.

 

But chimps do retain tools already. Sometimes they'll carry specific sticks around for miles. They'll do so in the mouths or often just in one hand, and they seem to get around alright.

 

I'll go ahead and post that "Man the Dancer" now. Donna Hart and Robert Sussman are referring to "Man the Hugnter," the idea of human evolution popular around the middle of the twentieth century (and still influential today) centering on male hunting as the prime mover of human evolution:

Using a similar logic, we have developed an alternative (sarcastic- but no less feasible) theory to challenge Man the Hunter. We call our theory "Man the Dancer." After all men and women love to dance, it is a behavior found in all cultures, and it has less obvious function in most cultures than does hunting.

 

Although it takes two to tango, a variety of social systems could develop from various types of dance: square dancing, line dancing, riverdance, or the funky chicken [of course the authors forget flat footing]. The footsteps at Laetoli might not represent two individuals going for a hunt but the Afarensis shuffle, one of the earliest dances. In the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, it was wrong to depict the first tool as a weapon. It could easily have been a drumstick, and first battle may not have involved killing at all but a battle of the bands. Other things such a face-to-face sex, cooperation, language and singing, and bipedalism (it's difficult to dance on all fours), even moving out of the trees and onto the ground might all be better explained by our propensity to dance better than our desire to hunt.

p. 30, Man the Hunted

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CDarwin said :

 

"But chimps do retain tools already. Sometimes they'll carry specific sticks around for miles. They'll do so in the mouths or often just in one hand, and they seem to get around alright."

 

Perhaps chimps are on the verge of their next evolutionary sprint. Just as soon as they get rid of those pesky Homer saps first, of course!

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I'll go ahead and post that "Man the Dancer" now. Donna Hart and Robert Sussman are referring to "Man the Hugnter," the idea of human evolution popular around the middle of the twentieth century (and still influential today) centering on male hunting as the prime mover of human evolution:

fair enough... I suppose there's nothing concrete to suggest that tools evolved for hunting, even though that's why chimps seem to use tools.

 

For whatever the reason tools starting being used, I think they were used to one important effect: to enforce social cooperation.

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Even if humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor, one of the question is how could they have both diverged so drastically? It is sort of like starting with a German Shepherd. In the same time span, we get a shorted German Shepherd and a beagle.

 

One simple scenario for the split was due to something like an ugly duck scenario, with the ugly duck being pushed away because he was not quite right. This scenario would require more adaptation having to learn from the group, but also having to be far more self sufficient. If he remained too close to the group, genetics could go both ways. A hairy ape wife may produce hairy ape children with our ugly duck genes going back to the duck. He eventually find an equally ugly she-ape, like him, who is also an outcast. The ugly apes do the wild thing. They have a litter of even uglier children. There was no turning back, only forward, since now they really need to leave.

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Even if humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor, one of the question is how could they have both diverged so drastically? It is sort of like starting with a German Shepherd. In the same time span, we get a shorted German Shepherd and a beagle.

 

No, it's like starting with a wolf and ending up with a German Shepherd and a Beagle. By the way, not only are we descendant from apes, we ARE apes!

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I'm not surprised that CDarwin has never heard of the theory, Bingham published very little about his theory, and he wasn't cited often.

 

I just found out that he's writing a book. That should makea bigger impact.

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Paralith said

 

"Of course human women want husbands. But do they want one husband all to themselves for the rest of their lives, or will they be happy to be the second wife to a rich and influential husband?"

 

As a woman, you can answer that one better than I can. No woman truly understands men, and no man truly understands women. A terrible generalisation, I know, but true to a degree. So I ask you ; "Is being a co-wife as desirable for a woman as being a sole wife?" If the answer is yes, I am going hunting for my number two!

 

Again with your "the genders will never understand each other!!!!!!11." In the same sense that no one person will every truly know another person because we cannot share our innermost thoughts, then yes, men and women will never truly know what it's like to be a member of the other sex. But that's a far cry from being able to consider and understand what the general viewpoint might be for the other gender, which is most certainly within our reach and can contribute to our discussion. I think this is a much more constructive viewpoint rather than throwing your hands and up saying, "It's useless! We'll never understand each other!"

 

So: would I find being in a monogamous relationship as desirable as being in a polygamous relationship? No. But as CDarwin kindly pointed out, I have been raised in a particular culture and have different ideas about what I personally find desirable. However, even in a culture where facultative polygamy is common and accepted, I would say I'd only be interested in being a second wife to a man who I find much more worthy than any other potential husband that I could have to myself. Whether it be for his resources, his social status, or some particulars of his personality - I'm sure it would vary per the particulars of the woman, the environment, and the culture.

Paralith also said

 

"I see a problem with it."

 

It is perfectly possible to be proud of something and also research it dispassionately. Blindness is overcome with professionalism. Besides which, anthropology is not my professional activity. I am involved in industrial chemistry and microbiology. It pays more!

 

Possible, yes, but let's just say we humans do not have a good track record in that department. And regardless of what you do professionally you are participating in a science forum where members, it is generally hoped, will have discussions that aspire to a reasonable degree of scientific rigor and objectivity, and taking particular pride in how fantastically special humans are simply does not seem like an objective viewpoint to me.

 

I mention it only to support my case that there is a special and unique driver for human evolution.
(emphasis mine - paralith.)

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I stand by my claim of human uniqueness. We are a very strange ape!

 

Every species is unique! You could make up a list of uniqueness for every species on the planet! Most of your list is a byproduct of technology. For instance, our small gut is a byproduct of cooking our food.

 

We have the ability to make tools to make tools and the ability to manipulate abstract concepts.

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off topic posts about Expelled moved here: http://www.scienceforums.net/forum/showthread.php?t=31901&page=3

 

Every species is unique! You could make up a list of uniqueness for every species on the planet! Most of your list is a byproduct of technology. For instance, our small gut is a byproduct of cooking our food.

 

I disagree. I'd say that most of the list is a byproduct of expanded technology which is a result of expanded non-kin dependent social cooperation.

 

We have the ability to make tools to make tools and the ability to manipulate abstract concepts.

yes, on a scale whole orders of magnitude greater than any other species on the planet. I'd say this makes us pretty damn unique. (and that is not to say that other species aren't unique for different reasons.

 

Perhaps chimps are on the verge of their next evolutionary sprint. Just as soon as they get rid of those pesky Homer saps first, of course!

 

Perhaps this is true, but not in the same 'direction' as humans... they have not yet solved the free rider problem to any large extent: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_rider_problem

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lucaspa said

 

"Most of your list is a byproduct of technology."

 

That is really my point. We are a very strange ape, and the reason for the strangeness is the unusual evolutionary process we went down over the past few million years.

 

Evolution requires adaptation to changing circumstances. Europeans in general (not quite all) have a gene to permit lactose tolerance. This is due to the fact that, over the last few thousand years, Europeans have added animal milk to their diet. We have adapted with the lactose tolerant gene. If we regard the milking of cows, goats, raindeer etc as a form of technology, this is a direct evolutionary response to a technological advance.

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We have adapted with the lactose tolerant gene. If we regard the milking of cows, goats, raindeer etc as a form of technology, this is a direct evolutionary response to a technological advance.

 

Yet, what I consider more "uniquely human" is not the fact that we use technology (which other animals do) to change our genes or memes... it's that we have come up with a way to cooperate on such a scale that has allowed us to domesticate cattle, etc. This is not something we could have done on a small, family-unit scale.

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To ecoli

 

The sociability of humans is doubtless an important part of what we are, and a driver of human evolution. However, if we are talking about what makes us special, the use of technology is more special. Sociability is very common in the animal world, with many, many species living social lives, whether ants, termites, meerkats, baboons, bonobos, dolphins etc etc. The use of technology is much rarer. Minimal technology is used by other great apes, and by the New Caledonian crow, but by very few animals overall.

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Evolution requires adaptation to changing circumstances. Europeans in general (not quite all) have a gene to permit lactose tolerance. This is due to the fact that, over the last few thousand years, Europeans have added animal milk to their diet. We have adapted with the lactose tolerant gene. If we regard the milking of cows, goats, raindeer etc as a form of technology, this is a direct evolutionary response to a technological advance.

 

You can also refer to dairying is also a cultural practice. The fact that there is so much overlap in the two categories is significant. Humans are not simply technological. We are culturally technological.

 

This is not something we could have done on a small, family-unit scale.

 

I do have to question when you think human ancestors would have lived in such a "small, family-unit" society. Modern chimpanzees don't. Gorillas come closer, but not quite.

 

It almost sounds like you're falling back on the old Western preconception of the "nuclear family" as the primitive arrangement for humans, but there's no evidence for that.

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To ecoli

 

The sociability of humans is doubtless an important part of what we are, and a driver of human evolution. However, if we are talking about what makes us special, the use of technology is more special. Sociability is very common in the animal world, with many, many species living social lives, whether ants, termites, meerkats, baboons, bonobos, dolphins etc etc. The use of technology is much rarer. Minimal technology is used by other great apes, and by the New Caledonian crow, but by very few animals overall.

 

However, the type of non-kin dependent social cooperation we see in humans is almost unheard of. The fact that this makes us unique (and not just because of technology) is supported by the fossil record. How could we have come to become great tool-users? It's because of brain expansion. This brain expansion would have been impossible if it weren't for the rise of the human village; when we first see large scales of non-kin cooperating socially. This protects mothers in childbirths and our vulnerable young, giving them time to develop.

 

As we can see, there is minimal technology being used by other great apes, crows, beavers, etc. However, in no other animal was this trait selected for on such a scale as we have it. Obviously, it only becomes useful under selective conditions... If brains become large/complex enough for abstract thought, and if an animal has the time to specialize and learn to excel in tool making, an epigenetic factor which requires other members of the species to supply food in exchange for superior weapons. Both of these factors require the type of expanded non-kin social cooperation we only see in humans.

 

So, yes, the fact that we make and use tools makes us unique, but it is probably not the ultimate cause for why we see such expanded tool use... which is what makes us unique.

 

In fact, I think that a lot of what we see as social cooperation in the animal world is either cooperation strictly between kin (like in ants - which are commonly known to conduct warfare against non-kin) or mistaken, small scale versions of reciprocal altruism between non-kin (which easily falls prey to the free-rider problem).

For years, we thought that schools of fish was an example of large scale, non kin social cooperation... that fish would work together, warning each other when prey is around (similar ideas about other herd animals) but as it turns out, this isn't the case. High speed cameras show that fish respond individually to threat. Other fish around the first fish, on the order of milliseconds, respond to changes in water pressure caused by the initial fish. As a result, schools of fish appear to be acting as a body, but are in fact acting in selfish interest.

 

I do have to question when you think human ancestors would have lived in such a "small, family-unit" society. Modern chimpanzees don't. Gorillas come closer, but not quite.

actually, I think quite the opposite... humans are the first species to live in large groups of cooperating non-kin. Obviously there is no archeological evidence to this (structures don't survive that long) but the fossil record shows brain expansion at around 2 million years ago. Right after homo evolved the ability for elite throwing. Elite throwing would have allowed Homo to enforce large scale social cooperation as to drastically reduce the conflict of interest and the free rider problem.

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To ecoli

 

My answer to the conundrum of humans assisting non kin is simple. I think it is an evolutionary accident.

 

Goes like this. Over most of human and pre-human evolution, social groupings were essentially tribal. Tribes were made up, over long periods of time, of individuals who were kin to other tribe members, and who assisted each other as a result. Evolution worked to result in humans who helped their fellow tribespeople, since they were all (or mostly) kin. However, the simplest and easiest evolutionary change was to cause a trait to evolve that led to humans helping other humans whether kin or not. Since most humans in the tribal situation were kin, anyway, the more general trait worked just as well.

 

Thus we now have the behavioural trait of humans helping all other humans (to some extent) whether kin or not.

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To ecoli

 

My answer to the conundrum of humans assisting non kin is simple. I think it is an evolutionary accident.

 

Goes like this. Over most of human and pre-human evolution, social groupings were essentially tribal. Tribes were made up, over long periods of time, of individuals who were kin to other tribe members, and who assisted each other as a result. Evolution worked to result in humans who helped their fellow tribespeople, since they were all (or mostly) kin. However, the simplest and easiest evolutionary change was to cause a trait to evolve that led to humans helping other humans whether kin or not. Since most humans in the tribal situation were kin, anyway, the more general trait worked just as well.

 

Thus we now have the behavioural trait of humans helping all other humans (to some extent) whether kin or not.

 

I must respectfully disagree... non-kin tribal groups are present in other animals as well, yet they didn't develop large scale social cooperation like us, so there is probably something more profound going on.

 

The other problem with that idea, is that you still have the free rider problem. No matter what, its almost always beneficial for a cheater to take advantage of a group of cooperators, so it's not worth it for individuals to cooperate on large scale with non-kin: there's too much risk of being taken advantage of and not enough return, too much risk associated with self defense of hand to hand combat.

 

However, the ability to throw, thereby projecting threat from a distance reduces the cost of coercion a lot, making cooperation with non-kin worthwhile... this is also an 'evolutionary accident' but one that explains human biological and cultural evolution on different hierarchal levels. What emerges is a pattern that consistently explains human development and reveals patterns, which shows that developing new types of weapon technologies leads to greater adaptive sophistication (which I can go further into, if you would like).

 

So what you describe as the "simplest and easiest" change, I don't think is easy at all. Selfish genes will ultimately win out in such a scenario (as they do in virtually all other animal species that can't reduce the cost of coercion), because there is great incentive to take advantage of non-kin cooperators. This results in little incentive for others to help out non-kin to any large degree, because they aren't helping their own genes out.

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No matter what, its almost always beneficial for a cheater to take advantage of a group of cooperators,

 

You state this with such certainty. What if the cheater is identified after an instance of cheating? What if they are shunned by their group members for cheating? What if a individual cannot possibly achieve as much reproductive success living ostracized from a group as he or she can living in cooperation with a group?

 

However, the ability to throw, thereby projecting threat from a distance reduces the cost of coercion a lot,

 

Again stated with such certainty. How far away are you expected to be so that you can throw a rock at someone, and they can't come running after you? And if as a group you make the decision to act against a single cheater, there is plenty of advantage in numbers to reduce the cost of pursuing physical punishment to a single cheater. Which only adds to the selective pressures, outside of the fear of thrown rocks, which could promote in-group, not-necessarily-kin cooperation. The ability to throw objects may have played some partial role in human evolution, but I think you put far too much emphais on its role in promoting group living.

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To ecoli

 

I may not have explained it very well.

Evolution, as you know, is a numbers game. It is a function of increasing and decreasing probabilities.

 

The free rider problem is not a problem if those individuals are rare. In a tribal set up, such as applied to human and pre-human societies over many millions of years, most of the tribe will be kin to some degree. The few that are not kin will not be selected against, simply because their numbers are low and thus do not have a big selective impact.

 

Running into non tribal members would be rare, and often hostile. In fact, recent tribal groups have shown this hostility. Altruism is not possible if you are trying to kill each other! However, non hostile relationships will normally be with kin, and thus such relationships will engender altruism. If everyone around you is kin, then there is no benefit in excluding non kin from assistance.

 

Having said that, there is a degree of discrimination in human altruism. We are most altruistic to our own offspring, or grandchildren. Then to our siblings. Then nieces and nephews etc. In a tribal set up, this level of discrimination makes good sense, since many of the tribe may be more distant kin - third cousins and the like.

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You state this with such certainty. What if the cheater is identified after an instance of cheating? What if they are shunned by their group members for cheating? What if a individual cannot possibly achieve as much reproductive success living ostracized from a group as he or she can living in cooperation with a group?

and how do they enforce this shunning with minimal risk? The easiest way is to develop threat from a distance.

 

 

Again stated with such certainty. How far away are you expected to be so that you can throw a rock at someone, and they can't come running after you?

Compare a group of people throwing rocks at a single cheater from a distance of, say 90 feet (pitchers mound to home plate - i think). Now imagine that same group fighting face to face with a cheater. The group throwing from afar has a tremendous advantage... The math is predicted by lanchester's square law. Projecting threat from a distance is exponentially better than proximal combat (pre-armor).

 

And if as a group you make the decision to act against a single cheater, there is plenty of advantage in numbers to reduce the cost of pursuing physical punishment to a single cheater.

But, according to lanchester's 1st law, there is not. Any physically fit cheater could quite conceivably be willing to take on a group in proximal combat, dealing a great deal of damage, so that even a group would rather flea than fight. Also, you have to take into consideration the conflict of interest problem, where, you have a group of cooperators seeking to drive off a cheater. Any cooperator that would invest less than the others in driving away a cheater would have the advantage (they then would become the cheater). Any cooperator willing to invest more would lose out, running a greater risk of physical injury/death. therefore , cooperating and expelling a cheater becomes disadvantageous.

 

will respond more tomorroow. bed time now.

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Yet the correctness of a theory is not necessarily an indication of how often its cited.

 

It's still surprising that so few articles were published, 10 years is a whole era in science.

 

Honestly, I'm skeptical about this, I'm not saying that he's wrong, but I was not impressed with his article. Do you have some lecture notes with references ?

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My thought concerning why humans and apes went their seperate ways is because of the environmental change in Africa at the time. Before the switch it is known that Africa, or parts of it, were lush with vegetation with which our ape ancestors could use for travel and to hide. The desertification started occuring and the apes of the time needed to find some other means of living. They started living more on the ground than in the trees which then freed up our hands for different tasks which led to an advancement in learning and eventually bigger brains. As well the switch from trees to land led to our bipedalism.

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I disagree. I'd say that most of the list is a byproduct of expanded technology which is a result of expanded non-kin dependent social cooperation.

 

Please define "expanded technology". Humans have only been in extended "non-kin" social cooperation for at most 10,000 years. Far too short a time for it to have affected our biological evolution and thus our physical traits. Therefore none of the list can be attributed to this.

 

yes, on a scale whole orders of magnitude greater than any other species on the planet. I'd say this makes us pretty damn unique. (and that is not to say that other species aren't unique for different reasons.

 

Your parentheses negates your statement about "unique". As I said, every species can claim to be unique. I don't think you realize the implications of being able to make tools to make tools. Many species make tools. To make that additional step, however, is to open a whole new realm of technology. This small change is the basis of the magnitude of our technology.

 

I must respectfully disagree... non-kin tribal groups are present in other animals as well, yet they didn't develop large scale social cooperation like us, so there is probably something more profound going on.

 

Please name them. I can't come up with any.

 

How could we have come to become great tool-users? It's because of brain expansion. This brain expansion would have been impossible if it weren't for the rise of the human village; when we first see large scales of non-kin cooperating socially. This protects mothers in childbirths and our vulnerable young, giving them time to develop.

 

Sorry, but the first documented use of tools is by H. habilis -- who lived in small family groups. No villages. By the time larger groups and villages were forming, humans were H. sapiens with our modern brains. Kin groups also protect pregnant mothers and vulnerable young. You don't need a larger group than that.

 

Perhaps this is true, but not in the same 'direction' as humans... they have not yet solved the free rider problem to any large extent: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_rider_problem

 

Cooperative species like wolves and dolphins most certainly have. Humans solved it genetically by evolving a brain module to detect cheating. It is one of the few modules that is constant from culture to culture that evolutionary psychology has found.

 

Yet, bipedalism can't completely account for human uniqueness, because we can see that Australopiths aren't around anymore, and it doesn't confer any special advantage to bipedal birds either.

 

Bipedalism doesn't free up hands for birds, so that is an apples and oranges comparison.

 

Australopithecines were only partly bipedal. Later hominids (H. habilis and H. erectus) were more fully bipedal. Therefore they could occupy that niche better than the Australopithecines that were their ancestors.

 

The scale of technological production is directly related to the scale of our social cooperation.

 

Maybe the production, but the technology itself is only partly, at most, related to social cooperation. Chimps have social cooperation, but they don't have the technology, do they? It is related to our ability to make tools to make tools.

 

If human behavior isn't unique, than nothing is.

 

Lots of animal behavior is unique. This is an empty statement.

 

I'm taking a class, the professor of which proposes that Homo's ability to throw is the basis for human uniqueness.

 

It's an interesting theory (and I think it's probably the correct one): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_M._Bingham

 

Why do you think it is the correct one? Have you tried to falsify it?

 

Let's try this. Bingham states (according to wikipedia) that it was the ability to throw, thus threatening from a distance. But other primate species throw. Chimps and baboons as just two examples. So why didn't they evolve like humans? Also, if you are living in a small group with a cheater, is throwing really going to help? The person isn't at a distance -- he/she is right next to you! What's more, they can throw back! So we have two pieces of observations that contradict the theory. I see Bingham has stated the theory in two papers. Has he ever studied the fossils of the upper arms to see if there are any specific adaptations in humans that allow for throwing?

 

I'm sure Bingham will work on promoting it (thousands of students take his class each year and it's offered as an online course to international students as well... so I guess he's going with the direct educational route).

 

That isn't the scientific way to do it. Promoting it to students who don't have the expertise to challenge the theory is a dishonest way to go about it. What Bingham needs to do is convince anthropologists. If he can't do that, then the theory isn't worth anything and what he is doing is the equivalent of creationist/IDers like William Dembski and Michael Behe who try to bamboozle non-scientists about how ID is correct.

 

and how do they enforce this shunning with minimal risk? The easiest way is to develop threat from a distance.

 

No, the easiest way to do it is to threaten with overwhelming numbers.

 

The group throwing from afar has a tremendous advantage... The math is predicted by lanchester's square law. Projecting threat from a distance is exponentially better than proximal combat (pre-armor).

 

Not really. Especially if the individuals are unarmed. The thrown stone back can hurt, but an outnumbered individual not trained in hand-to-hand combat is going to be quickly subdued by the group.

 

Any physically fit cheater could quite conceivably be willing to take on a group in proximal combat, dealing a great deal of damage, so that even a group would rather flea than fight.

 

Doesn't work that way. You also forget the cheater is going to take damage! Therefore it is much more likely that the cheater is going to flee! Look at predators faced with a troop of chimps or baboons. Yes, the physically fit predator is going to deal a great deal of damage to the members of the troop, but it is the predator that runs away, not the troop. Why? Because the predator knows that he will take damage. And a damaged lone predator (or cheater) isn't going to be able to get food. Whereas the undamaged members of the group can help the damaged one until they heal.

 

Any cooperator that would invest less than the others in driving away a cheater would have the advantage (they then would become the cheater). Any cooperator willing to invest more would lose out, running a greater risk of physical injury/death. therefore , cooperating and expelling a cheater becomes disadvantageous.

 

That assumes the cheater will fight. But that isn't the case. The group will bluff the individual and not have to fight.

 

Ecoli, I went and looked up "Lanchester's Law" -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanchester%27s_Square_Law -- since it is the basis of the idea of "throwing".

 

Unfortunately, from the description, the "law" doesn't apply here.

 

"Among these are what is known as Lanchester's Linear Law (for ancient combat) and Lanchester's Square Law (for modern combat with long-range weapons such as firearms)."

 

Neither of these is the situation we are describing.

 

"In ancient combat, between phalanxes of men with spears, say, one man could only ever fight exactly one other man at a time. If each man kills, and is killed by, exactly one other, then the number of men remaining at the end of the battle is simply the difference between the larger army and the smaller, as you might expect (assuming identical weapons)."

 

But we aren't talking about one on one here, are we? No, we are talking about many on one. This is why the predator won't take on a herd but seeks to isolate just one prey and why troops of chimps or baboons are able to deter predators. And it's why our hominid ancestors would have been able to eject cheaters without having the ability to throw.

 

I'm sorry to say, but (as long as Wikipedia is accurate) Bingham's theory is based on a faulty premise. No wonder it hasn't been accepted.

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This brain expansion would have been impossible if it weren't for the rise of the human village; when we first see large scales of non-kin cooperating socially. This protects mothers in childbirths and our vulnerable young, giving them time to develop.[/Quote]

 

Why villages? Many, many modern human cultures don't live in permanent villages. I don't see how that could be a precondition to humanity. Perhaps you're using the term differently.

 

actually, I think quite the opposite... humans are the first species to live in large groups of cooperating non-kin. [/Quote]

 

How do you justify that when modern chimpanzees live in large groups of cooperating non-kin? Capuchin monkeys as well will aid non-kin in ways that can't be accounted for by reciprocal altruism alone. The science really isn't there to justify the claim that only humans engage in extensive non-kin cooperation.

 

Obviously there is no archeological evidence to this (structures don't survive that long) but the fossil record shows brain expansion at around 2 million years ago. Right after homo evolved the ability for elite throwing. Elite throwing would have allowed Homo to enforce large scale social cooperation as to drastically reduce the conflict of interest and the free rider problem.

 

So what makes this hypothesis more than another "just-so" story?

 

And another question: Have humans really solved the free-rider problem? The data you've shown has been pretty skimpy in terms of ethnography, but that may just be because no one has brought the sugject up yet. From what I know about it, though, there are still "free-loaders" in hunter-gatherer societies that are tolerated and fed (only ribbed occasionally). For most hunter-gatherer groups, there's much more attention given to keeping anyone from gaining status over others than there is to keeping people working (as in an agricultural society). Successful hunters are harassed and forced to give up most of their kills and if they are boastful they are chastized much more severely than any bums. So in these cultures (which must be taken as more similar to the 'ancestral' human condition than agricultural societies) the focus seems to be opposite to supressing freeriders.

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Why villages? Many, many modern human cultures don't live in permanent villages. I don't see how that could be a precondition to humanity. Perhaps you're using the term differently.

I use the term village to mean a group of people living together, both kin and non-kin. I didn't mean to imply that they weren't nomadic.

 

 

How do you justify that when modern chimpanzees live in large groups of cooperating non-kin? Capuchin monkeys as well will aid non-kin in ways that can't be accounted for by reciprocal altruism alone. The science really isn't there to justify the claim that only humans engage in extensive non-kin cooperation.

we cooperate with non-kin on a whole different scale than other animals.

 

 

And another question: Have humans really solved the free-rider problem? The data you've shown has been pretty skimpy in terms of ethnography, but that may just be because no one has brought the sugject up yet. From what I know about it, though, there are still "free-loaders" in hunter-gatherer societies that are tolerated and fed (only ribbed occasionally).

Of course there are... but they are sufficiently suppressed to make their occasional presence tolerable.

 

For most hunter-gatherer groups, there's much more attention given to keeping anyone from gaining status over others than there is to keeping people working (as in an agricultural society). Successful hunters are harassed and forced to give up most of their kills and if they are boastful they are chastized much more severely than any bums. So in these cultures (which must be taken as more similar to the 'ancestral' human condition than agricultural societies) the focus seems to be opposite to supressing freeriders.

 

Well, I don't know if all hunter-gathering groups behave that way, but it doesn't negate what I said. It's just another instance of enforcing social cooperation. Do we see this type of behavior in, say, other ape hunters?

 

 

Building some resources to respond to the other posts... stay tuned.

 

by the way, a more detailed paper: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/2665093.pdf

 

let me know if you're able to see this video (not sure it will work, because all the lecture videos are *technically* behind a pay site).

http://www.2shared.com/file/3190029/97a64e48/filephp.html (scroll down and click "save file to PC")

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I've always considered language to be one of the fundamentals of human intelligence. While it is quite possible to have intelligence without formal language, language allows abstraction of things as well as communication. Language seems to be the basis of our declarative memory (knowledge of facts). In any case, I suppose that saying that language is important is kind of cheating, as any kind of Turing machine has its own language too.

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