Chapter 20

We Are Very Far From Our Genetic Roots

 

The following are direct quotes from earlier referred sources, except for statements in italic added.

 

Recall our discussion in The Tribe and Modern society?

Hominids that cooperated with one another – and punished those who didn’t – must have outfought, outhunted and outbred everyone else.  This genetically evolved and biologically selected tribal approach over a million years, perhaps prominent at the exit of Homo sapiens out of Africa 70,000 years ago, lead to the dominance of this human species and the extinction of others. These are the hominids that modern humans are descended from.

 

In 2007, anthropologist Christopher Beohm published an analysis of 154 foraging societies that were deemed to be representative of our ancestral past, and one of their most common traits was the absence of wealth disparities between individuals.  Another was the absence of arbitrary authority. “Social life is politically egalitarian in that there is always a low tolerance by a group’s mature males for one of their number dominating, bossing, or denigrating others,” Boehm observed. “The human conscience evolved in the Middle to Late Pleistocene as a result of hunting large game. This required cooperative band-level hunting and sharing of meat.”

 

Recall the catastrophes and responses mentioned in Modern Crises and Tribal Instinct? What catastrophes seem to do, sometimes in the span of a few minutes, is turn back the clock on a million years of social evolution. Self-interest gets subsumed into group interest because there is no survival outside of group survival, that genetically evolved and chemically existent tribal instinct is revealed, and that creates a bond that many people sorely miss.

Recall the Warrior Ethos:

Place the mission first

Never accept defeat

Never quit

Never leave a fallen comrade

 

This Warrior Ethos above exactly describes the evolutionarily and genetically selected, and now neurologically hardwired tribal instinct that was necessary for survival and resulted in Homo sapiens becoming the dominant and now the only human species on the earth.

 

This Warrior Ethos could very well apply to the successful hunting of larger prey by our hominid ancestors like Homo habilis and Homo erectus. Hunting prey in an organization with sub groups with different roles functioning as a unit could result in a successful hunt. Ancient humans used complex hunting techniques to kill antelopes, gazelles, wildebeest and other large animals at least two million years ago.

 

Recall the vignette described in Neuroreality about a group of Homo habilis 2 million years ago coming across a group of Homo rudolfesi that they’ve never seen before. From that time until 70,000 BC perhaps this Warrior Ethos had evolved into the dominant genetically selected trait that lead to an exit of Homo sapiens from Africa and for them to overcome all other hominid species and become the only human species now on earth. As stated in The Tribe and Modern Society, these Homo sapiens must have outfought, outhunted and outbred everyone else.  This genetically evolved and selected Warrior Ethos, perhaps prominent at the exit of Homo sapiens from Africa 70,000 years ago, lead to the dominance of this human species and the extinction of others. These are the hominids that modern humans are descended from, and it may well be because of the Warrior Ethos.

 

If the Warrior Ethos, along with the cognitive bias, confirmation bias and argumentative theory mentioned earlier, was the primary reason for our coming out of Africa 70,000 years ago to become the dominant and only human species on earth, what is the present state of this evolutionarily selected and still present Warrior Ethos genetic trait in our society today?  Read the next piece from "Soldier’s Returning From Combat."

 

Two behaviors that set humans apart were the systematic sharing of food and altruistic group defense, the warrior ethos. Other primates did very little of either, but increasingly, homonids did, and those behaviors helped set them on an evolutionary path that produced the modern world. This is the Warrior ethos. The earliest and most basic definition of community, of tribe, would be the group of people that you would both help feed and help defend.  A society that doesn’t offer it members the chance to act selflessly in these ways isn’t a society in any tribal sense of the word: it’s just a political entity that, lacking enemies, will probably fall apart on its own. Soldiers experience this kind of tribal thinking in war, but when they come home they realize that the tribe they were actually fighting for wasn’t their country, it was their unit. It makes absolutely no sense to make sacrifices for a group that itself is not willing to make sacrifices for you.  That is the position American soldiers have been in for the past decade and a half.

 

To make matters worse, politicians occasionally accuse rivals of deliberately trying to harm their own country – a charge so destructive to group unity that most past tribal societies would have probably have just punished it as a form of treason.  It’s complete madness, and the veterans know this. In combat, soldiers all but ignore differences of race, religion and politics within their platoon. It’s no wonder many of them get so depressed when they come home.

 

The ultimate betrayal isn’t acting competitively – that should be encouraged – but predicating your power on excommunication of others from the group. That is exactly what politicians of both parties try to do when they spew venomous rhetoric about their rivals.  That is exactly what media figures do when they go beyond criticism of their fellow citizens and openly revile them. Reviling people you share a combat outpost with is an incredibly stupid thing to do, and public figures who imagine their nation isn’t, potentially, one huge combat outpost are deluding themselves.

 

Soldiers in an army platoon are functioning as an early hominid tribal unit for survival of the group; all are equal, there is no wealth, survival of the group is the reason d’etre, which leads to altruism and selflessness.  Recall the story of soldiers in the trenches in World war I? The enemy lofts a hand grenade in the trench, the closest soldier dives onto the grenade, it goes off, he dies but the platoon goes on.  All for one, one for all. Survival of the tribe, survival of the species. This ethos resulted in our becoming the dominant and only human species on the planet and is still hardwired into our evolutionary genetic consciousness.

 

John Musgrave, a Vietnam vet in Ken Burns’ Vietnam War series, described how after being shot through the chest, his fellow soldiers risked their lives under continued heavy enemy fire to bring him out alive.  They dragged him for a few dozen feet, then laid on top of him as the firing increased and bullets whizzed by, then dragged him a bit further, over and over and over, until reaching safety.  That’s the army ethos. This was John Musgrave, who after the Kent State shootings, joined the anti-Vietnam protests.

 

Recall our discussion of Skinwalkers? Rampages are usually defined as attacks where people are randomly targeted and four or more are killed in one place, usually shot to death by a lone gunman. As such, those crimes conform almost exactly to the kind of threat that the Navajo seemed most to fear on the reservation: murder and mayhem committed by an individual who has rejected all social bonds and attacks people at their most vulnerable and unprepared. For modern society, that would mean not in their log hogans but in movie theaters, schools, shopping malls, places of worship, or simply walking down the street.

 

Recall the list of Skinwalkers and their shooting rampages in the USA over the last 30 years. Note that from 1988 to 1997 there were 6; from 1998 to 2007 there were 9; from 2008 to early 2018 there were 24. Why does it appear that over the last 10 years our society is generating a sharp increase in Skinwalkers, individuals committing murder and mayhem who have rejected all social bonds and attack people at their most vulnerable and unprepared?  Perhaps it is because, as Sebastion Junger stated, this “shows how completely detribalized this country has become.” As individuals and society it appears we are now very far from our evolutionarily and genetically selected, and now neurologically hardwired roots.

 

Modern Skinwalkers are individuals and corporations that harm or kill 1000s if not millions of people, but make millions if not billions of dollars for themselves doing it. Cancer cells are normal cells within the human body that suddenly start to replicate and grow uncontrollably, they become malignant and can seriously harm the individual, but with proper treatment can sometimes be kept in check. However, if left untreated (and many times even with treatment) cancer can overcome and kill the host. So let’s consider modern Skinwalkers as a form of cancer.  Here are examples of such previously mentioned in Modern Skinwalkers as forms of cancer.

 

Defense industry fraud is a modern Skinwalker, a mild cancer that is kept in check, treatment perhaps costing $2000 per year per household.

 

Unemployment, welfare, Medicare and Medicaid fraud are examples of modern Skinwalkers, mild cancers that are kept in check, treatment costing perhaps $3000 per year per household.

 

Insurance industry fraud is a modern Skinwalker, a mild cancer that is kept in check, treatment costing $5000 per year per household.

 

The financial industry and it’s real estate collapse of 2008 was a modern Skinwalker, a very malignant cancer that was treated and contained at a very high cost to society at large in lives and treasure. This is an example of a malignant cancerous Skinwalker that kills it’s own, the only difference being as the industry and individuals do such, they make millions of dollars

.

The former DEA employees complicit with the pharmaceutical industry created a very malignant cancer, the opioid epidemic, that was in the process of being treated by the DEA, and then overcame this treatment with money, politics and a pliable Congress. This was and continues to be a very high cost to society in lives and treasure. Former DEA employees complicit with the pharmaceutical industry and facilities dispensing these opioids are examples of malignant cancerous Skinwalkers, killing their own, the only difference being as they do such, they make millions of dollars.

 
The Tobacco Industry has behaved in the last 50 years as described earlier, and as has been concluded in the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 and the RICO verdict of 2006, is a very malignant cancer that has killed millions and continues to kill hundreds of thousands of people in the US and 5 million worldwide every year. The Tobacco Industry is an example of a malignant cancerous Skinwalker, killing their own, the only difference being as they do such, they make billions of dollars.

 

The fossil fuel industry is another malignant cancerous Skinwalker that started as a particular industry (the cell), primarily in the West (the US and Western Europe - an organ) that has metastasized now involving all nations, and is the cause of climate change that is now affecting at great cost the entire earth (the host). They are making billions of dollars with their deceit while killing their own with increased storm intensity and wreaking havoc on the planet, the total costs of which will be only determined in the future.

These malignant forms social cancers are kept in check at the cost of billions of dollars and millions of lives.

 

As individuals, societies and the whole of humankind on earth, we are presently dealing with malignant forms of social and environmental cancer in our midst. How could this happen?  We would not be the first to damage our environment to our own detriment.  In North America 5000 years ago, larger wild animals like the mammoth, sabre-tooth tiger and aurochs (cows but bigger) went extinct most probably due to overhunting by the Paleolithic tribes that had migrated there from Eurasia 20,000 years ago. Recall Mesopotamia, the first civilization in what was then called the fertile crescent stretching now over the areas of Syria and Iraq?  That area is now mostly dessert with degraded lands and diminished crop yield as the result of continuous farming over the course of thousands of years that has caused the erosion of topsoil blown away by the wind or washed away by the rain. Recall Easter Island, the inhabitants unknowingly over generations depleted and degraded their limited resources on the island which lead to a significant decrease in population – from 15,000 to 2000 over the course of 100 years.

 

As individuals and society it also appears we are now very far from our evolutionarily and genetically selected, and now our neurologically hardwired roots. Recall all for one, one for all, survival of the tribe, survival of the species. This ethos resulted in our becoming the dominant and only human species on the planet and is still hardwired into our evolutionary genetic consciousness. Why are we very far from our genetic roots?

 

Lets look at the degrees of change in society over the 4 million years from Australopithecus to the advent of civilization, – which is the baseline described in Tribe, the neuroreality of the platoon mind, all for one and one for all, and is the ancient evolutionarily selected and genetically selected mindset in the hunter/gatherer era that resulted in the success of the Tribe, and Homosapiens, to the extinction of others.   Revolutions resulting in degrees of change from the tribal baseline are: Agriculture - 10,000 years ago; which led to the advent of Civilization – 6500 years ago; Science, a revolution in thinking – 1620; Industrial Revolution – 1760; Exponential growth of the human world population since 1800, from 500 million to 7 billion;

Then the Digital Revolution – 1980, and the information age - now.  So let’s look at degrees of change through each revolution. Tribal hunter gatherer to agriculture: going from a small (50-100) mobile and physically demanding tribal community to a larger (100s perhaps 1000s) more stationary small city or town-like community.  Let’s say this is 30 degrees of change from the tribal baseline.  Agriculture to civilization: going from a small city or town-like environment to a huge state or nation-like environment complete with laws for expected behaviors – Mesopotamia and Hamarabi’s code.  Let’s call this 30 degrees of change. Scientific way of thinking to analyze and understand the world – 30 degrees of change. Industrial revolution – 30 degrees of change.  The exponential growth of the human world population since 1800, from 500 million to 7 billion – 30 degrees of change; Digital revolution and the information age and sedentary lifestyle – 30 degrees of change. These make up 180 degrees of change in 10,000 years from the evolutionarily and genetically selected, and now neurologically hardwired tribal instinct that was necessary for survival and resulted in Homo sapiens in the time from 4 million to 10,000 years ago.  10,000/4 million = ¼ of 1 percent.  In the last ¼ of 1 percent of its time in existence, humanity has created a society that is 180 degrees different from the one it evolutionarily created in the earlier 99.75 percent of its human history.  As a visual, picture this above World Population Graph, with the baseline extending to the left 399 times it s present length, which is about the length of a football field.  As can be seen, we are now very far from our genetic roots.

 

How are we handling and the human brain processing this huge change?  Read Chapter 21 for insights on this question and more.