Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Who Needs Fiction: Have We Evolved to be Fighters?

Below is an excerpt from an article at The Art of Manliness. It posits that we have evolved in the way we did, particularly men, to be fighters.

I'm not sure that I'm buying this, but it can make for some entertaining discussion. The full article may be read here.

Men seem to be drawn to combative athletics and physical jobs. Violent sports like mixed martial arts remain male dominated, and 85.5% of active duty military members are men.
Statistics also show that men are more likely to commit violent crimes than women. These violent crimes range from assault and battery in a barroom fight to straight-up homicide.

Why is it that men are more prone to violence, whether recreationally, vocationally, or criminally? Many academics would argue that it’s solely a matter of social conditioning — that men are violent and aggressive because society teaches them to be violent and aggressive.

But other researchers from the fields of evolutionary biology and anthropology suggest that while social conditioning may have some influence on male behavior, men are in many ways biologically and psychologically wired to fight.

In a 2012 paper entitled “The Importance of Physical Strength to Human Males, a group of academics from the fields of anthropology and evolutionary psychology compiled research from several domains that suggest that evolutionary and reproductive pressures in our distant past nudged males in our species to develop a propensity for risk taking and violence, as well as physical traits that would be valuable in violent confrontations. The features researchers think are the result of selection for fighting are those which testosterone turns on and grows — e.g., think of the way the surging testosterone in an adolescent male during puberty increases the size of his musculature and capacity for upper body strength.

Because the competition for resources and reproductive success was much more intense among males than females, being bigger, stronger, and more adept at fighting provided a big advantage for men.

Basically, the argument is that much of what makes men different than women can be chalked up to males’ need to fight other males.

The fields of evolutionary psychology and biology are often very speculative, and it’s impossible to say that X traits definitely developed for X reason. For example, there are researchers who say that the structure of the human hand developed to allow us to make a fist and punch each other better, while others say its structure evolved to allow us to make and use tools. The intersection of biology, psychology, and sociology is quite complex, and boiling down who we are to a simple matter of evolution would be short-sighted and reductionist.

Those caveats aside, the speculation is certainly fascinating to entertain! Just because you’re wired to fight, doesn’t mean you’ve got to become a full-time fisticuffer, but you might look for ways to scratch that primal itch. Plus it’s just cool to look in the mirror at your naked body in the morning, and realize that your unique features were designed for combat. 

You’ve got warrior DNA. It’s certainly good motivation to get to the gym and not let traits thousands of years in the making go to waste. Honor your ancestors!


Charles James said...

Actually, I don't feel we are natural born fighters per say but rather we have been provided instincts to survive. Survival means taking those steps necessary for you and your tribe to survive. Violence is just one of those tools and our aggressiveness is a part of that instinctual instinct we use to achieve the goal of survival. Add in other factors including our fighting methods being such that use actually don't, won't and shouldn't cause damage and death because that in and of itself is not a survival methodology.

We haven't evolved to be aggressive and use violence as a communications tool but we actually have that instinct at the very lizard level of our brains because nature is most excellent in its goals so that we all, especially the hunters of the tribe, as males have a natural aggression toward survival and procreation. Females tend to be gatherers and nurturers so that they can breed and raise offspring also toward tribe survival.

Where things get so complicated is our environment, especially in this tech-age, has far exceeded human evolving and that puts us in conditions way beyond our more linear thinking process toward survival. We are losing that connection to our aggressive side and how that is applied to survive regardless of the age in which we live therefore we have it but we don't see it, accept it and train/learn to use it appropriately therefore social conditioning, conditions it out of our conscious mind as unacceptable so that we lost the very coping skills that we could use then and now regardless of the age in which we live.

We are our own worst enemy, ourselves.

Rick Matz said...

Yeah, I'm not really buying this, but it makes for a discussion.

Zacky Chan said...

I think the article said it best at, "The intersection of biology, psychology, and sociology is quite complex, and boiling down who we are to a simple matter of evolution would be short-sighted and reductionist." It leads to interesting thoughts depending on the person, but any surface level generalizations will only convince us of what we want to believe. I agree more with Charles James' comment with it's inclination to survival rather than just mere fighting. And yet I feel we're still just chewing on the tip of the iceberg. Thanks for sharing!