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Member since: Mon Mar 27, 2017, 07:57 AM
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Storytellers promoted cooperation among hunter-gatherers before advent of religion

Storytelling promoted co-operation in hunter-gatherers prior to the advent of organised religion, a new UCL study reveals.

The research shows that hunter-gatherer storytellers were essential in promoting co-operative and egalitarian values before comparable mechanisms evolved in larger agricultural societies, such as moralising high-gods.

Storytellers were also more popular than even the best foragers, had greater reproductive success, and were more likely to be co-operated with by other members of the camp, according to the research published today in Nature Communications.

The researchers, led by Daniel Smith, Andrea Migliano and Lucio Vinicius from UCL's Department of Anthropology and funded by the Leverhulme Trust, based their findings on their study of the Agta, an extant hunter-gatherer group descended from the first colonisers of the Philippines more than 35,000 years ago.

They asked three elders to tell them stories they normally told their children and each other, resulting in four stories narrated over three nights. They found the stories about humanised natural entities such as animals or celestial bodies promoted social and co-operative norms to co-ordinate group behaviour.


Christmas billboard campaign revisited


this post won't disappear.

Dept. of WTF and Who Knew: "Vatican Council Asks The Pope To Exonerate Jesuit Scientist's Writings"

This past week, leaders at a meeting of the Pontifical Council for Culture in Rome formally requested that Pope Francis lift the official disclaimer of the Catholic Church against the writings of the influential priest-scientist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955).

Teilhard's writings were only published after the paleontologist's death in 1955. But by 1962, when the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the monitum, or warning, his posthumous works had attracted a large following.

Controversy has always surrounded Teilhard. He was not allowed to publish by his Jesuit superiors during his lifetime, and it was partly because of his ruminations on the implications of evolution for Catholic doctrines like Original Sin, that Pope Pius XII issued his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, reaffirming the necessity for Catholics to accept the belief that all human beings alive are descended from an historic Adam and not from a founding population of humans, which is the consensus of science today.


Same-sex marriage survey: religious belief matched no vote most closely

The same-sex marriage survey revealed a deep divide between Sydney’s western and eastern electorates. The nation and its states recorded an overwhelming yes and only 17 of 150 electorates voted no, but 12 of those were in Sydney’s west. The strongest no vote came from the electorate of Blaxland, where only 26% of people wanted marriage equality. Five other electorates in the area had less than 40% support.

These electorates are some of the most ethnically and culturally diverse in Australia, with high immigrant populations, and that factor has been strongly linked to the no vote.

But the factor that correlated most strongly with a no vote was religious affiliation, not overseas birth. It had a correlation of -0.8, implying a close to 1:1 relationship. The following graphs show the percentage of yes voters in every electorate in the postal survey, mapped against census data for each electorate.


It feels good to win.

We should do it more often.

On Altruism, from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Do theories of the evolution of biological altruism apply to humans? This is part of the broader question of whether ideas about the evolution of animal behaviour can be extrapolated to humans, a question that fuelled the sociobiology controversy of the 1980s and is still actively debated today (cf. Boyd and Richerson 2006, Bowles and Gintis 2011, Sterelny 2012). All biologists accept that Homo sapiens is an evolved species, and thus that general evolutionary principles apply to it. However, human behaviour is obviously influenced by culture to a far greater extent than that of other animals, and is often the product of conscious beliefs and desires (though this does not necessarily mean that genetics has no influence.) Nonetheless, at least some human behaviour does seem to fit the predictions of the evolutionary theories reviewed above. In general, humans behave more altruistically (in the biological sense) towards their close kin than towards non-relatives, e.g. by helping relatives raise their children, just as kin selection theory would predict. It is also true that we tend to help those who have helped us out in the past, just as reciprocal altruism theory would predict. On the other hand, humans are unique in that we co-operate extensively with our non-kin; and more generally, numerous human behaviours seem anomalous from the point of view of biological fitness. Think for example of adoption. Parents who adopt children instead of having their own reduce their biological fitness, obviously, so adoption is an altruistic behaviour. But it is does not benefit kin—for parents are generally unrelated to the infants they adopt—and nor do the parents stand to gain much in the form of reciprocal benefits. So although evolutionary considerations can help us understand some human behaviours, they must be applied judiciously.

Where human behaviour is concerned, the distinction between biological altruism, defined in terms of fitness consequences, and ‘real’ altruism, defined in terms of the agent's conscious intentions to help others, does make sense. (Sometimes the label ‘psychological altruism’ is used instead of ‘real’ altruism.) What is the relationship between these two concepts? They appear to be independent in both directions, as Elliott Sober (1994) has argued; see also Vromen (2012) and Clavien and Chapuisat (2013). An action performed with the conscious intention of helping another human being may not affect their biological fitness at all, so would not count as altruistic in the biological sense. Conversely, an action undertaken for purely self-interested reasons, i.e., without the conscious intention of helping another, may boost their biological fitness tremendously.

Sober argues that, even if we accept an evolutionary approach to human behaviour, there is no particular reason to think that evolution would have made humans into egoists rather than psychological altruists (see also Schulz 2011). On the contrary, it is quite possible that natural selection would have favoured humans who genuinely do care about helping others, i.e., who are capable of ‘real’ or psychological altruism. Suppose there is an evolutionary advantage associated with taking good care of one's children—a quite plausible idea. Then, parents who really do care about their childrens' welfare, i.e., who are ‘real’ altruists, will have a higher inclusive fitness, hence spread more of their genes, than parents who only pretend to care, or who do not care. Therefore, evolution may well lead ‘real’ or psychological altruism to evolve. Contrary to what is often thought, an evolutionary approach to human behaviour does not imply that humans are likely to be motivated by self-interest alone. One strategy by which ‘selfish genes’ may increase their future representation is by causing humans to be non-selfish, in the psychological sense.


The whole article is interesting, as is much of this internet treasure, but the closing section is relevant to some of the ongoing discussions here.

Would all the wealthy and powerful men who weren't serial abusers of women please raise your hands?

Scott Brown: still an a-hole.

A U.S. ambassador told a server she should cash in on her looks. An official inquiry followed.

Brown told many of the people at the function that they looked beautiful, according to the Associated Press. And he told one server in particular that back in the United States, she could make hundreds of dollars in the hospitality industry.

Now, four months into his ambassadorship, Brown finds himself playing defense.

The State Department and the embassies in New Zealand and Samoa didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about the investigation.

In the interview, Brown said after the inquiry that he was told: "'You know, listen, you’re not Scott Brown from Rye, New Hampshire, any more. You’re an ambassador, and you have to be culturally aware of different cultures, and different sensitivities,’ and I'm always welcoming that kind of advice.”


Clinton: 'I'm not going to run again'


Clinton: 'I'm not going to run again'

Hillary Clinton in a new interview said she does not plan to run for president again but will continue her criticism of President Trump.

"No, I'm not going to run again," she told BBC Radio 4's "Woman's Hour" in comments aired on Tuesday, according to CNBC.

"I think I'm in a position where my voice will actually be magnified because I am not running," she said. "And there's a very good basis, as we watch Trump's support shrink, that people will say, 'Well, what she said was right, and now where do we go from here?'"

Her comments were aired after Trump tweeted on Monday that he wished Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, would run again.


Last time I was in Las Vegas airport.

There was a giant wall advertisement for a fully automatic shooting range depicting steroidal men and artificially enhanced women blasting the shit out of "perp targets".

Seems entirely appropriate.
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