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BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans

toadfrog 04 May 03 - 10:09 PM
Forum Lurker 04 May 03 - 10:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 May 03 - 09:29 PM
Amos 04 May 03 - 01:02 PM
Forum Lurker 04 May 03 - 12:56 PM
*daylia* 04 May 03 - 11:44 AM
Peg 04 May 03 - 11:10 AM
McGrath of Harlow 04 May 03 - 08:46 AM
Doug_Remley 04 May 03 - 01:11 AM
Forum Lurker 03 May 03 - 09:25 PM
Amos 03 May 03 - 08:21 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 May 03 - 03:45 PM
Forum Lurker 03 May 03 - 01:20 PM
Amos 03 May 03 - 02:57 AM
toadfrog 02 May 03 - 11:36 PM
Amos 02 May 03 - 12:43 AM
toadfrog 01 May 03 - 11:43 PM
Mark Clark 01 May 03 - 10:57 PM
Mark Clark 01 May 03 - 09:49 PM
Amos 01 May 03 - 08:22 PM
Mark Clark 01 May 03 - 12:50 AM
Amos 01 May 03 - 12:30 AM
toadfrog 30 Apr 03 - 11:19 PM
Jim Tailor 30 Apr 03 - 10:28 PM
Amos 30 Apr 03 - 06:03 PM
NicoleC 30 Apr 03 - 12:55 PM
GUEST 30 Apr 03 - 02:03 AM
Amos 29 Apr 03 - 11:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Apr 03 - 10:27 PM
NicoleC 29 Apr 03 - 08:06 PM
Amos 29 Apr 03 - 07:34 PM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Apr 03 - 07:22 PM
Wolfgang 29 Apr 03 - 06:52 PM
Sam L 29 Apr 03 - 09:48 AM
Amos 28 Apr 03 - 07:30 PM
Sam L 28 Apr 03 - 07:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Apr 03 - 07:23 PM
Amos 28 Apr 03 - 06:48 PM
Forum Lurker 28 Apr 03 - 08:38 AM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Apr 03 - 05:46 AM
Amos 28 Apr 03 - 02:42 AM
Little Hawk 28 Apr 03 - 12:07 AM
Mark Clark 27 Apr 03 - 02:41 PM
NicoleC 27 Apr 03 - 02:20 PM
Amos 27 Apr 03 - 11:53 AM
Tweed 27 Apr 03 - 10:14 AM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Apr 03 - 09:11 AM
Jim Tailor 27 Apr 03 - 08:50 AM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Apr 03 - 08:28 AM
Amos 27 Apr 03 - 04:28 AM
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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: toadfrog
Date: 04 May 03 - 10:09 PM

A serious problem with Grossman's article is its premise. It appears that recently the violent crime rate has decreased. The FBI says, at THIS LOCATION that it decreased, and the FBI is not known for minimizing the crime rate. The Census Bureau likewise says the homicide rate fell consistently in the 1990's. CLICK HERE In that time, television fare did not improve, and the tone of society did not get better, or so anyone would notice.

In the United States, violent crime is consistently higher in the South than elsewhere. White southerners are more violent than white northeners. Black southerners are more violent than black northeners. Rural and urban are likewise not the key. Suggesting tradition is an important factor. Note also, violent crime goes down when the times are good. The times are likely to get bad in the near future, and I betcha crime will go up again.

But the amount of personal, or criminal, violence in Westen nations is much lower today than it was a hundred years ago, and a mere shadow of what it was 500 years ago. Wars are a little harder to calculate, but I doubt the level of savagery today is higher than in some early better time. Read, sometime, an account of the Wars of Religion.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Forum Lurker
Date: 04 May 03 - 10:00 PM

McGrath-You're right, I over-generalized, but the societies where the study was conducted indicated that murder was the overwhelming cause of death for males, and other anthropological evidence suggests that those were not isolated cases.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 May 03 - 09:29 PM

I'd need to see some pretty strong evidence before believing that murder was main cause of death among males in "pre-civilised societies", and that evidence would be pretty hard to gather. That's quite a sweeping statement, especially given the wide variety of societies that would presumably be included in that category, and the range of ways in which it is possible to die without being murdered.

I haven't read the book in question, but I'd be very surprised if Diamond would claimed to quote "studies showing that in pre-civilized societies, murder is the single greatest cause of death in males". I'd have thought that at most he would have cited studies which suggested that, in some "pre-civilised societies", this may have been the case.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Amos
Date: 04 May 03 - 01:02 PM

I would submit that all television and movies do is   re-activate forces already at work in the psyche, stirring them up and reactivating them in ways that cannot be predicted.

The thread title is inaccurate because, as mentioned above, there are occasions when extremes of force are the rational solution. The thread was aimed more at the roots of inappropriate violence.

Turning the television off is like quitting cigarettes for some people -- disconnecting from a source of toxic addiction which is being pushed on you by heavyweight commercial forces. Seems simple enough, eh? But like cigarettes,   those within the addiction have a very different perspective than those without. I watch television once or twice a year, aside from selected rental videos. I just won't get into it --becauseit has harmful effects on my cognitive processes. It is a corrosive influence, in my opinion, not just because it ooften glroifies violence, but because it glorifies other htings I don't want to bringinto my life like intentional stupidity, bizarre dramatization, and robotic reactionary mindlessness being substituted for thought.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Forum Lurker
Date: 04 May 03 - 12:56 PM

While Grossman presents strong evidence, there are equally strong arguments against the idea that our brutality is a recent phenomenon. In Jared Diamond's book The Third Chimpanzee, he quotes studies showing that in pre-civilized societies, murder is the single greatest cause of death in males. The fact that the first example drawn on to show our modern barbarity is nearly two thousand years old shows that it is hardly a recent change. Humans have reveled in violence against others from time immemorial. Ancient sacrifice rituals, gladiatorial matches, autos-de-fe, contact sports; there is really no end to the number of examples. I think that the only conclusion is that humans are innately violent. Whether it evolved as a self-defense mechanism, a way to ensure the elimination of rivals, or even an accident of neural wiring, we are now by our nature potential killers, with or without cultural encouragement.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: *daylia*
Date: 04 May 03 - 11:44 AM

Mark, thank you for posting Grossman's interesting article! Along with his thought-provoking analysis of the biological roots of violence in the human mid-brain, and the purpose/methods of military/police training, he offers very valuable insight into the explosion of violent behavior occurring among young people in developed nations over the last several decades.

I found his views on the effect of televised/media violence among very young children most revealing, ie."Our children watch vivid pictures of human suffering and death, and they learn to associate it with their favorite soft drink and candy bar, or their girlfriend's perfume.

After the Jonesboro shootings, one of the high-school teachers told me how her students reacted when she told them about the shootings at the middle school. "They laughed," she told me with dismay. A similar reaction happens all the time in movie theaters when there is bloody violence. The young people laugh and cheer and keep right on eating popcorn and drinking pop. We have raised a generation of barbarians who have learned to associate violence with pleasure, like the Romans cheering and snacking as Christians were slaughtered in the Colosseum."


Chilling stuff! And I've often noticed, with great dismay, the difference in attitudes toward/acceptance of violence between today's teens/young adults and my own cohort of the 'peace-and-love-stricken' 60's and 70's. This is one of the issues I was hoping to address in the precursor thread "Violence is the American Way?", but it got buried in the backlash provoked by my unintentionally confrontational first post/thread title (sorry about that to everyone!) So thanks very much for bringing it up again here!

If televised violence is the primary source of increasing violence in developed nations, it's certainly not difficult to find the remedy - Turn the d*** thing off! Refuse to support the sponsors of violent shows, and let them, the media moguls and your children know exactly why you're doing it! And that's just two easy solutions off the top of my head, which I'm sure a great number of concerned parents have been doing for a long time now. So it certainly can't be the whole solution though...

daylia


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Peg
Date: 04 May 03 - 11:10 AM

McGrath, as for why people engage in destructive or cruel behavior designed to hurt others they could not possibly have any beef with (vandalism, cruel put-downs etc.) it strikes me this sort of "bully" behavior (for it is very childish) also stems from fear: the bully strikes out to make a name for himself, to draw attention to himself for being tough enough or bold enough to do the nasty thing. If he vandalizes in secret, well the evidence is still there on the wall or tombstone or church door, for all the world to see. This pumps them up, makes them feel important. Picking on someone who can't defend themselves, while most of us would think this very unsportsmanlike (for lack of a better word) and unfair, the bully probably sees it as his duty to do so, because everyone else is too "afraid" to do it...Bullies of this type don't feel like they measure up, they are usually outcasts of the worst sort, and most likely have some painful past experiences with rejection by loved ones, or betrayal by same. My two cents, anyway, having observed a lot of bullies in my day...


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 May 03 - 08:46 AM

It's a common experience, when people who ask their fathers if they ever killed anyone when they were in the army, for them to say "I hope not".

And firing squads have always had the practice of not having all the rifles loaded with live ammunition.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Doug_Remley
Date: 04 May 03 - 01:11 AM

Mark is absolutely correct in his reference to "On Killing". Throughout history, apparently, it has been difficult to force the common man (usually the larger % of "Armies")to take another man's life in Judeao/Christian cultures. Often NCO's must literally force their men to aim and fire. Often it is embarrassment in face of their brothers-in-arms that prevails, or the outright fear of death in the face of an overwhelming attack that forces response, and then often men dry-fire empty magazines. A Sergeant's job is not to participate singly, but to monitor his men assuring applicable defense or attack. Culture defines levels of acceptable violence. Poor leadership allows excesses.

I have no clue as to why some cultures are devastatingly violent. I think that in evolutionary terms we are but the blink of an eye past hunter-gatherer groups that defended, or attacked, good feeding grounds. I read somehere that man did not really achieve consciesness until about 5,000 years ago, but had become a hive-animal having recently (10,000 years ago)tamed goats and dogs. With that form of living an altruistic response (preservation of species, or group) was paramount.

Nowadays some cultures hold esteem for killing your father's enemy and his children, so they eventually will not become your son's enemy.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Forum Lurker
Date: 03 May 03 - 09:25 PM

It is based on the idea that those who love you now may cease to love you, and you will lose that control over them. One cannot force love, but fear can be enforced.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Amos
Date: 03 May 03 - 08:21 PM

t is better to be loved than feared, but it is safer to be feared than loved.

Terribly sorry, but IMO this is an untenable proposition. People who fear you will destroy you -- if they fear you too much to do so explicitly they will do so covertly.

People who loveyou may cause you great pain from folly or oversight or misinterpretation, but they won't seek to destroy you.

At best the notion that it is safer to be feared than loved, in my opinion, qualifies as an irrational dictum.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 May 03 - 03:45 PM

Violence can quite often make sense as a way to achieve something, and it's possible to understand why in certain circumstances a capacity for violence has survival value.

What is harder to understand is where cruelty fits in, especially the kind of cruelty that doesn't seem to obtain any advantage, over and above whatever satisfaction is felt by the person.

For example, I was just reading a really vicious and nasty post on another thread directed at a young person who had done nothing whatsoever to deserve it, other than write an essay that someone else had posted on another website. And that set me thinking about other examples of similar gratuitous nastiness, some types of vandalism, for example.

Where is the survival value that can explain the capacity and appetite for that kind of thing?


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Forum Lurker
Date: 03 May 03 - 01:20 PM

Amos-There are many situations where violence is the best, or even only, answer. These usually result from other's irrational actions. Sometimes fear is a valuable tool. It is better to be loved than feared, but it is safer to be feared than loved.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Amos
Date: 03 May 03 - 02:57 AM

I do not think violence is irrational as a remedy to certain situations. However, opting to settle issues with violence is less rational than using other means because it does more harm and less good. There are people for whom the only choice is to use force,, even if not violence and there are times when non-violent practices lead to personal annihilation. However you are talking in such instances about situations that are already deeply involved with degrees of insanity.

Violence is almost always less rational than other means of control or persuasion. That doesn't mean it's always avoidable, eh?

A


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: toadfrog
Date: 02 May 03 - 11:36 PM

Amos and Mark: Rhodes would respond that people who say violence is "irrational" usually have led sheltered lives. Of course, I don't know either of you, so I won't characterize your backgrounds. For a long time I personally have associated almost entirely with civilized people who do not regard violence as an option. I cound not win their regard by showing I was dangerous. (Even if I were.) I could not obtain any of the things I want by using violence. Also, I have no particular talent or bent for that kind of thing.

But when I was a kid, and when I was in the Army, I was often in close, prolonged and unavoidable contact with rougher types. I heard and saw things that left a lasting impression. And I know that there are worlds out there where things work differently from our own middle-class milieu. There are environments where the assertions in Amos's last paragraph simply don't apply. And in the past, before we had ubiquitous police and law courts, this was true just about everywhere. Absent cops and lawyers, people settled disputes with knives. I don't know anybody today I can even imagine sticking someone with a knife, but they used to do it all the time.

And there are even a couple people who contribute to this Forum who are apparently only impressed by superior force. Not to name any names.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Amos
Date: 02 May 03 - 12:43 AM

As I understand it, rationality has no part in determining the end, just the means by which it is sought.

The really irrational person has irrational ends, at least n the short term -- the desire to destroy has become generalized. There may be a deeper end which is somehow good, such as the desire to survive a situation which happened long ago. But I wouldn't say that ends cannot be irrational as well as means. People sometimes have low level insistent little drives to dominate others, for example -- and while you cvould argue that they are trying to acheive long term survival (a good end) through the means of dominating others (an irrational solution in many instances) it gets kind of chicken-eggy there -- you could equally well say they choose to dominate others (a bad end) thorugh the various means of overwhelming, undermining, intimidating, etc (bad means). Guess it depends on where you draw the scale. I have a strong sense that there is a lot of rationality and goodness buried in the most anti-social individual, but sometimes it is very hard or impossible to reach. That's just my opinion.

The end of making yourself feared by others is an irrational one because any experience with people will inform you that those who fear you also dislike you and will try to get even with you, sooner or later, for frightening them. It is also irrational because the same purpose-- for example, security among people, or esteem from others -- can better be served by merit, communication, and helping. Those are therefore more rational answers to the same equation because they acheive more good results across a wider spectrum. Diplomacy trumps war for the same reason -- it does less harm, usually.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: toadfrog
Date: 01 May 03 - 11:43 PM

I am not sure I understand why violence is "irrational" (as opposed to "unacceptable" or just "bad." As I understand it, rationality has no part in determining the end, just the means by which it is sought. So if the end is to make yourself feared and respected, or to be let alone in rough company, violence may very well be a rational means to that end. Depending on circumstances, like, are you on a tough street or at an academic convention. At the convention, physical violence would be self defeating.

Mark: Rhodes likewise believes soldiers don't normally want to kill or shoot to kill, and he cites a scholar who examined the muskets abandoned on the field in the Civil War, and found that a large number were still loaded, or even loaded many times. He concludes that soldiers loaded their muskets to look diligent, but did not fire them.
I have problems with that.

1. One assumes that soldiers who abandoned muskets were those not keen on shooting them. What about muskets that weren't abandoned?

2. The fact that a musket is loaded does not prove that it wasn't fired. And a person reluctant to kill could as well fire his musket in the air. And yet, it is notoriously true that those muskets were used with murderous accuracy. A whole lot of people were shot in the Civil War.

3. My father remarked that in World War II, a lot of soldiers never fired their rifles. He attributed that to a lack of visible targets. He said he remembered a speech by General Patton, who told the troops to think where they would be if they were Germans, and shoot there. After the speech, Patton asked him what he thought, and he said (very respectfully) he thought it was a fine idea, but doubted the troops would actually do as the General said. But, he said, he was wrong, and Patton was right, because after the speech there was a great deal more shooting, and also more effective shooting.

4. It seems to me Grossman is looking at things through a distorting ideological glass. I don't believe any amount of military training can make a person kill if he really doesn't want to. On the other hand, shooting pop-up targets might just convey the idea of shooting where there is movement, even if no clear view of a person or object. I find it extremely hard to believe that shooting at pop up targets will overcome even the weakest moral reluctance to kill.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Mark Clark
Date: 01 May 03 - 10:57 PM

I found a first look at the problem with a reference to the book On Killing by David Grossman, a former military officer (Little, Brown, 1995). Grossman turns out to be a recognized expert in this field of study and is especially critical of many video games as sources of violent acts by children. Here is an interesting article by Grossman on the subject of violence.

Grossman's thesis is that humans posess a natural reluctance to kill members of their own species unless they've been psycologically conditioned to kill. If he is correct then my notions of violence as a genetically inherited response are probably out the window.

I'll try to find more on this subject from other sources.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Mark Clark
Date: 01 May 03 - 09:49 PM

Actually that was the case in WW II. I'll try to locate the documentation.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Amos
Date: 01 May 03 - 08:22 PM

MArk:

I seriously doubt that was the case in WW II.   Or there were an unbelievable number of accidental collisions with lead.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Mark Clark
Date: 01 May 03 - 12:50 AM

Toadfrog makes an interesting point. I'll have to check out those authors. I've read that, prior to Viet Nam, infantrymen often didn't shoot to kill or perhaps didn't even shoot at all. The DoD spent a lot of time and money studying the problem and had entirely new training methods developed by the time troops were needed for Viet Nam. From that war forward, nearly all infantrymen fire their weapons in a fight and shoot to kill.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Amos
Date: 01 May 03 - 12:30 AM

TF:

Rhodes sounds like an interesting read,. thanks for the reference.

Violent behavior is netiher irrational nor rational in itself.

But if your man Rhodes tries to make a case that irrationality is an empty concept, or that brutality against the innocent is not irrational, I'm not going there. I believe there is a difference between rationality and irrationality, and that violence in places and against persons where it is not called for is throughly irrational. But I think you could make a case that there is a lot of confusion between rationality and cultural acceptability, and the two are not the same, although they are linked.

As for the topic being speculative -- it's about as concrete and meaningful as trying to define whether violence is 'the American Way'. But perhaps more helpful. Working toward answers that seem "more true" adds incrementally to some sense of understanding at least. Who knows where the benefits of that might appear?

A


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: toadfrog
Date: 30 Apr 03 - 11:19 PM

Looking for the "roots of violence" in human nature sounds like an excessively speculative project. But for some extremely interesting insights, try Richard Rhodes Why They Kill, on a maverick psychologist who based his work on extensive interviews with violent criminals. Also points out a lot of things that are wrong with contemporary academic psychology. He also thoroughly debunks the idea that violent behaviour is "irrational."

Also, for some interesting thoughts, the first chapter in Keegan's History of Warfare which points out that although violence and some kind of warlike behaviour may be part of essential human nature, the kind of disciplined violence we see in modern warfare is decidedly not.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 30 Apr 03 - 10:28 PM

Hey Amos,

I just read your last post and will have posted a response...

...yesterday. If I had the time.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Amos
Date: 30 Apr 03 - 06:03 PM

It is possible that the root of all human violence is a series of misconception about time. For example, in order to dramatize some past trauma you have to fail to differentiate it from the present, so that its "feelings" are being played over you in the present moment even though it occurred some time back. For another example, believing that you can achieve large rewards in status or wealth by actions measured in hours is a sort of collapsed sense of the flow of things through time. Even suicide depends on the notion that one's time and the continuation of personal confusion will end with a single violent act. This is often not the case.

It is clear that time itself is difficult to fully understand. Most of us skip the issue by hanging on to the present as well as we can. But the odd thing is perhaps that a lot mnor eof our creative energies are wrapped up in the past and in the future than in the moment.

By which hangs many a tale, I am sure...


A


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: NicoleC
Date: 30 Apr 03 - 12:55 PM

enhance their reputations in the gang by killing for no apparent reason

Enhancing one's reputation is a reason within itself. It may not be logical, but it is emotional. Needing acceptance into a larger group is part of human nature.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Apr 03 - 02:03 AM

Lack of Consequence can be a factor. Bullies in school are not punished severely for their bad behaviour. They thrive in a culture where the consequence of their action is a mild reprimand and detention. Sometimes they are made to write a note of apology to the victim; very often dictated and not sincere. Parents very often do not believe their kid is guilty, so there is rarely a follow up after school, or re-enforce the teachers authority.

Some people have trouble accepting that there are evil people who enhance their reputations in the gang by killing for no apparent reason. In some gang culture you must be blooded (kill) before you are accepted. Not too long ago a gang called Einsatzgruppen became very efficient killers. September 1941 33,000 men, women, and children were shot and buried in a ravine at Babi Yar in just two days.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Amos
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 11:35 PM

Well, there's emotional layers and then there's self-fulfillment of the higher sort which comes after you clear away a lot of old freight. I think emotional freight is intimately tied in with physical duress and in turn ties itself in intimately with cognitive difficulty. As do cogntiive and spiritual difficulty -- like one of those layered parfait-liqueurs, each of these zones interacts with the one above and the one below in strange and wondrous ways. A lot of emotional turmoil sounds like frustration of self-fulfillment, because it is certainly an impediment and frustrating to the self, but in the Maslowian sense, I think there's a differentiation to be made.

Jus t my two bits worth, FWIW.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 10:27 PM

"thwarted self-fulfillment" is probably a significant factor in a fair number of suicides too.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: NicoleC
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 08:06 PM

acts of physical violence caused by thwarted self-fulfillment

What about events like the Columbine shootings, and other instances where there is a clearly a connection between the perpetrator's mental state and their violent actions? I would think that would be an example of twarted sel-fulfillment, even if the desires involved aren't necessarily rational ones.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Amos
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 07:34 PM

Maslow would probably identify the roots of violence relative to his pyramid of needs -- starving or physically threatened people feel desperate and that desperation leads to extreme acts. But -- interestingly enough -- the same sort of desperation can come from feeling similarly thwarted or threatened on other needs, such as safety of an emotional sort, or perhaps even self-fulfillment. I can't say I know of any acts of physical violence caused by thwarted self-fulfillment, to be honest, but it is an amusing concept. Well, maybe there's a hierarchy of kinds of violence, too -- physical, emotional, and cognitive? 'Cuz I'm sure I have seen extreme cognitive violence being perpetrated by people whose chances for self-fulfillment are slim to none.

Just speculatin', you understand...


A


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 07:22 PM

"...excluding war." That is quite an exclusion. Though I'm in agreement that much of the killing in war probably hasn't got that much to do with other types of violence.

Work related accidents - I'm guessing, but my guess is that the number here would have risen dramatically for a few generations following the Industrial Revolution from a relatively low figure.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Wolfgang
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 06:52 PM

Intra-species violence is always at a maximum at mating time. A high level of testosterone is linked to a high level of aggressivity. Young males of the human species are known to be most prone to violence (in comparison to other humans) and to have a high level of testosterone.

It has been claimed here that the level of violence is increasing. This is certainly untrue for interpersonal violence excluding war. This type of violence has been decreasing since centuries. Any look into old chronicles shows that. I guess that even with war the probability of getting killed by another human has decreased for many centuries. What has increased, however, is the greater accessability (TV, internet, newspaper) to stories about violence. Humans tend to make spontaneous guesstimates of frequencies according to the ease with which instances come to the mind. That is not a very reliable guess and is strongly biased.

The increase of road accidents seems impressive only if you forget that at the same time the level of work related fatal accidents has decreased by a far greater number. We earn our bread at a much safer way nowadays.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Sam L
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 09:48 AM

Pretty good! When's recess?


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Amos
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 07:30 PM

Fred:

OK, can do -- you deserve encouragement!! You have really nice insights. I like your posts a lot!!

(Actually, all very true).


Howzzat?

A


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Sam L
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 07:25 PM

Sounds like a good essay. The way I read Lear, it's entirely about proportion, and sanity. Starting with the division of the kingdom, the heaps or measured love. If I sound pleased with my insight, it's just because I'm dense, and hope for the occasional schoolboy encouragement.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 07:23 PM

"The urge to destroy is also a creative urge" Count Bakunin, the Russian anarchist wrote.

Which is true enough in certain circumstances, as any builder or worker in wood knows.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Amos
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 06:48 PM

Well, so looking like you're willing to defy harm for the sake of your fellow-man is the secret good impulse behind some acts of violence? Hmmmm -- I once speculated in an essay that at the bottom of every insane act was a sane impulse badly blown out of proportion. Mebbe there's a constructive intention behind destructive violence, just hidden by a lot of confusion and misdirected thinking...


A


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Forum Lurker
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 08:38 AM

Amos-You are quite likely right about looking for circumstances where violence is justified. I think part of the reason for considering such violence acceptable is that it appears altruistic; you are risking your health to defend another, presumably one who cannot or should not have to defend themselves.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 05:46 AM

I don't think there is actually much connection between the kind of individual fights mentioned there and organised high level violence, such as wars.

When people get angry that interferes with efficiency. Cool detachment from what what you are doing is surely necessary for an efficient sniper, someone dropping or planting a bomnb, or for a commanding officer ordering an attack, in which there are going to be heavy losses. I doubt if you get much of the kind of adrenalin rush you get in a fight from that kind of thing.

It's possible to be a fist-fighting pacifist, and what Mark described there is an example. To quote myself from a previous post: "War is about killing people you don't know with whom you have no personal quarrel, on then orders of people whom you may well not respect.

A pacifist is someone who refuses to take part in waging war. You don't actually need to be non-violent in all circumstances to be a pacifist.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Amos
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 02:42 AM

Are we trained into the sense that what Mark describes is the ultimate chivalric response, and the Genuine Cowboy Way? This one puzzles the hell out of me -- there are some cultures where lifting a finger in defense of a woman is considered incomprehensible; in ours, violence in defense of such interesting abstractions as a lady's honor are quite defensible -- and as Mark demonstrates, they are much more "satisfactory" than an eductaed, non-violent answer, but....why?

It is almost as if we are on the look out for key events which "call for" the use of physical force ande can justify it adequately in our minds, and once we find such a corcumstance, we pick up the old bat and look around for a target. But what is ibnteresting is the predisposition to keep a sharp eye out for the right circumstances so we can turn on all the appropriate mechanisms the minute whatever circumstances we need are detected. CUltural radar tuned for the signature of good justifications.

What's that all about?


A


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Little Hawk
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 12:07 AM

Hmmmm...well, most of the violence I've ever personally seen was committed by boys in school against other boys. There was a lot of that in the 50's and 60's.

As for the world in general, by far the greatest amount of violence (and the deadliest) is practiced by governments on the general public...but it is not usually given recognition as such, except by opposing governments...or protestors and nonconformists (who are frequently the targets of it).

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Mark Clark
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 02:41 PM

That was the second point in my post above; that giving in to our violent instincts feels good. We may soon regret a violent act but at the moment it happens, it feels great.

My own violent outbursts were, predictably, before I had become properly socialized. Life for a teenager in the mid to late 1950s contained quite a lot of violence. Most young males were on a hair trigger just because it was the accepted norm among our peers. As in Tweed's experience, there were gang fights following sporting events between rival schools. But there could also be gang fights between loosely organized groups of kids based on turf. Violence or the possibility of violence was also needed to seem sexually attractive to the girls. That isn't to say one needed to be a bully, but you definately couldn't be a victim. You needed to seem a little dangerous and you needed dangerous friends.

I remember punching a guy out one time at a hootenanny at the home of some adult friends. I was doing my best to embrace non-violene and pacifism as a philosophy and lifestyle when another guy decided to mock both me and my very hot new girlfriend by grabbing her in an inappropriate way as he passed her chair. Everyone was shocked and we tried just leaving quitely to avoid a scene. But in a bedroom, while packing instruments and donning coats, the guy came in with a big smirk on his face and I just let him have it. It fealt great! Still makes me smile to think about it. We were immediatly ushered outside where he seemed combative so I let him have it again. My girlfriend would have admired the pacifist response but she really admired having her honor defended.

But I think that just reinforces my premise that violent behavior is instinctive and is built into our genetic heritage. By the way, I think women are still attracted by the possibility of violence in a male partner. That may be genetic coding as well.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: NicoleC
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 02:20 PM

The only time I can think of that I acted violently (as opposed to reacting in self-defense) was when I was about 10 years old. As the only girl in the neighborhood (it was semi-rural -- neighborhood meant about a 1 mile radious), I was often hard pressed to be included; when I was, it was always as my 'brother's little sister' and I was at the very bottom of the pecking order.

So one day, we were playing baseball. I was, of course, relegated to the outfield, where "playing" meant standing there all day long. Also in the outfield was Clifford, who was the bottom boy in the pecking order. He was 2 or 3 years older and a bit bigger. He was being obnoxous and yelling taunts at they other players, and I told him to shut up.

He said, "Come over here and make me!"

I'm not 100% clear on what happened next, but my brother told me I threw down my glove, calmly walked over and punched him in the mouth and gave him a bloody lip. When I opened my eyes, my brother had the most astounded look on his face, the boys were all trying to see what happened, Clifford was crying and covering his mouth, and then he ran for home. I never saw him again.

There are all sorts of interesting ideas that could have led up to that act of aggression. Was I venting my race on the weakest possible target? Was I trying to establish a better place in the pecking order? Or did I just lose control?

Well, I always played shortstop after that.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Amos
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 11:53 AM

Tweed, that's a point -- there is an addictive combination of adrenalin and testosterone for some folks, and anyone who has survived violence knows the feeling of focus and "now" attention that comes with it.

And I guess the perversion of that -- where the feeling comes not just from survival challenge, but from destruction -- is the watershed of insanity.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Tweed
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 10:14 AM

And maybe their influence is one of the common widespread and undetected causes of violence -- folks needled to the point of madness by the secret whisperers of the world. !!! Amos, if you work for the Post Office I advise you to take all yore firearms and throw them into the bay before another day dawns!! ;~) Just kidding buddy, but I agree with you that they probably are responsible for violence in the workplace and in the schools as well. What do you suppose triggers spontaneous fighting between strangers? I think that we still are able to pick up on all the old posturing and eyeballing that our primate ancestors were privy to. Why one person can think beyond that challenge and another reacts in a violent manner is beyond me.

Looking back 30 years to the few fights I was in, just prior to the "battles", there was an overwhelming feeling of fear and dread, but after the first blow, that same emotion became like a lubricant/drug that shut down inhibitions and allowed the combatants to wade into the fray with no second thoughts about anything. Very intoxicating and powerful stuff and might explain why rival city gangs enjoy a good old rumble now and then. Mebbe there's a subconscious impulse to recapture the rush.

Yerz,
Tweed
P.S. The war planning politicians, who are educated and fairly well off and possibly have little personal experience with hand to hand combat in any form, seem to revel in arranging massive violence between peoples. Which group is less civilized then? The street gangs or the educated puppetmasters? Who would be the best representative of civilized thought processes becoming bent and disturbed?


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 09:11 AM

The real question, why is is that most of us don't get violent, or even feel particularly violent, in situations where some seemingly normal people flip, and is there anything in pareticular societies which nudge peopel over the line in one way or another?


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 08:50 AM

brilliant analyst of human nature that I am, I offer...

It seems that there are two drives that must be satisfactorily....er...satisfied in order for us humans to be relatively content.

Security
Significance

If we feel either is threatened, we are likely to act. If we cannot regain our contentment by culturally acceptable means, we are most likely to try too recapture significance and security by abnormal/insane behavior...

Addictions
Eating disorders
Violence
Suicide

This behavior is only exacerbated by larger numbers of other humans who we (perhaps mistakenly, perhaps truly) see as threats to our significance or security --

take the mudcat for example.....

When it was a smaller, less populace place (as was the whole internet bulletin board atmosphere/community), there was much less incivility. But soon it grew, and those who were once secure in their role here as forum humorist, or folk trivia maven, or obscure lyrics master, or instrumental master, were rapidly becoming much smaller fish in a much larger pond.

Most accepted their roles being supplanted (with the great influx of new "experts") with the realistic view that understood, in perspective, how relatively insignificant participation on an internet forum is. They still chose to participate where they could -- or they left to live their already significance-satisfied lives.

But at the same time, the internet started to become a haven for those who had difficulty with significance/security issues in the real world. Suddenly, it seemed, they had a place to come and meet the minimum daily requirement for human fellowship (perhaps for the first time in their lives). Finally a place to come where you could be judged on the (more egalitarian) basis of what you knew, and how well you could express it -- NOT (finally) on what you looked like. Fat, bald, ugly, flatulent people with hair in all the wrong places had equal access to this world of communication.

But the increased traffic caused these ill-equipped (and even the not so ill-equiped) to have to deal with the significance/security issues in their lives -- and these people had already failed in the 3-D world. Hence, they had just closed another of the increasingly few avenues open to them for contentment.

Thus, the internet equivalent of violence is born -- Trolling and Flaming.

And thus, it is almost impossible to post a topic on this forum and not be showered with negative, contrarian responses. In order to feel more significant, one's posts must stand out from the rest. One can achieve this by:

1. Writing in a style superlative (like PeterT, Amos, JenEllen)
2. Truly being expert (like Frankham, Fielding, Mooh, Deckman,)
3. Having a reputation that exceeds the forum -- but is tied to its reason for existance (like Frankham, kytrad, Art Thieme,)
4. Being truly witty (like Catspaw)
5 Being positive, warm, caring posters (like mudlark, Mary from KY, Mark Clark)

The above are all positive ways to "be noticed" on a crowded forum street -- but they are either much harder, or require talent not achieved by most. So most people here choose to stand out the easy way -- go negative. -- works (almost) every time.

And this, just like violence, has only two solutions relative to the community:

1. ignore it. Jesus' "turn the other cheek", or the Eastern "remove the wall against which your enemy is leaning" (not in that childish "I'm just not gonna answer that!" kinda way that is actually returned violence) are ways that this means is expressed. If one cannot achieve the significance he is after by using violence -- he still gets no response -- he is much more likely to abandon the approach. Of course, with violence, the slap on the turned cheek is often soon escalated to socially unsafe behavior and that leads to the other means of dealing with the problem --

2. removal from society.

And this gets to my final point about the roots of violence -- it almost always excalates where there is a lack of justice. What an individual should not do -- strike back -- is required of the government.

When the individual does it, it is vengence.

When the government does it there is the due process necessary to change the "retaliation" to violence from vengence to justice. If the government acts as the individual (and thus abrogates this social role) the "retaliation" will default back to vengence....

......and more violence.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 08:28 AM

It's said that doves are vicious killers once they get in certain situations, with a confined victim, because they don't have the inhibitions built in that a predator would have, since they aren't equipped with what would normally be dangerous weapons.

I think the same applies with human beings. It's quite hard killing someone with bare hands and teeth (though of course it can be done); but put a gun or a car in our hands, or even a flint knife or a rock, and it's much easier. Too easy.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Roots of Violence in Humans
From: Amos
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 04:28 AM

A fine phrase for it, Met'! Management by lowest common denominator comes to mind as well, when groups get infected.

A


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