Are we becoming more peaceful as we become smarter?

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Bells, Oct 23, 2011.

  1. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    Agitated over certain things for sure but never out of control. I believe that certain things like child molestation or the media lying is a few of the reasons I get agitated for there's nothing I can do about the problem.
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Surely there is a nice politically correct quote you can think of that should mend any agitation that you feel?
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  5. 420Joey SF's Incontestable Pimp Valued Senior Member

    In the very near future a point in singularity will bring the need to strip away a persons rights for sure.

    We will for sure be a one world goverment. Depending on where eugenics and other elitist influenced constructs takes us we may see a huge reduction in the world populations.
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  7. Ripley Valued Senior Member

    Okay. Okay Mister Know-it-all. Just kidding. But still, I get the feeling that you'd be able to trump any argument, albeit eloquently, that I can muster onto the playing field—so I'll briefly return to my original post; my original impression of the topic "are we becoming more peaceful as we become smarter?"

    Where you see peacefulness—I can almost see it: like the season's first major blanket of snow, sparkling and all innocent, and just in time for Christmas, too—I see a simulation of it, a contrived semblance of civility, a temporary passage—an act.

    The exclusion of mass aggressive violence in our time doesn't exclude the type of passive violence we see and even partake of on a daily basis. I mean, people sue one another for saying the wrong thing. The alcohol industry is huge, as is the pharmaceutical industry. People don't enact their violent streak, but I'm sure they think it—isn't the horror-movie genre a great success now-a-days, axe murderers and all that?
  8. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Interesting, we didn't talk about this in my cultural anthropology class...

    According to that article, we did not really get into hierarchy and structure until we became agriculturists.
  9. 420Joey SF's Incontestable Pimp Valued Senior Member

    Suppose any of the following take place :

    We realize immortality and preserve our physical appearances (young like the movie "in time").

    Disease and other population stabilizers are completely eliminated.

    Technology advances so rapidly that currency of money becomes null, etc.

    Obviously a restructuring will take place within the next hundred years on a global-scales as a consequence of exponential advancements in technology and power (elitist groups )
  10. BlueBaby Banned Banned

    If not more violent I can't help but wonder if we aren't becoming more cruel?

    I have no statistics to share, but I've often heard from veteran teachers
    and from veteran police officers that we are not getting more civil or peaceful.

    I would think a smarter individual would be more likely to weigh the personal consequences of a violent action and may thus resort to more clever criminal behavior.

    In the distant past, one couldn't commit a crime against another human unless you were within a short physical distance of your victim and your crime would -most likely?- be a violent one - robbery or bodily harm.

    But now days I can be the victim of a crime by someone half-a-world away = "nonviolent". But is this offender a "better" societal member than a violent member? Should we be proud of our progress?

    I actually think of nonviolent crimes over the history of mankind as being invented by the smarter individuals.

    We are targets every day. Identlty theft statistics are sobering.

    So, should I find comfort in the fact that my business partner embezzled from our company rather than shot me?

    I don't know the answers to my questions. Humans are complex and our crimes are complex as well. I'd rather be yelled at than manipulated but that's just my opinion.

    (I am in no way intending to devalue the cost and pain of a violent act on it's victim and the victim's family)
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2011
  11. Wexler Gadfly Registered Senior Member

    Here's something to consider. Paul J Zak claims that oxytocin is the "morality molecule". What is interesting here is that he also claims that 5% of the population do not have the propper receptors to actually be "moral" - in which he calls that portion of humanity the "bastards".

    As the overall population grows, so grows the quantity of "bastards" - the morally disconnected.

    This should not be confused with Pinker's point.

    My interpretation of all this is that overall, the world is a much more peaceful place, but there is still a very small portion of the population that is morally corrupt. This will always be true.

    In today's information age, we hear about the morally corrupt and their acts much more frequently, thus under the assumption that society is degrading and that the world is an incredibly violent and dangerous place.
  12. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    When my depression hit a certain point...I forget when last year, I just stopped watching the news. I think something I heard -maybe about a school getting blown up-made me sit there at my desk at work and start crying, and I said...Ok, nope, not able to take that anymore.
    If there's nothing you can usefully do, is it useful to know?
    Well, if your taxes are paying for it, maybe it's moral that you know.
    Not that you, by yourself, can actually change it.

    On topic: technology is making it so much easier to kill people and not have to look them in the eye while you do it. Now our operators can kill people remotely from another continent and go home to their wife and kids when their eight or twelve-hour shift of killing maybe-terrorists or maybe-civilians is up. Killing as a videogame, except it's not pixel-people dying like when I go kill things on the computer. No refresh button.

    It's not so much individuals who are randomly violent that bother me, it's the violence inherent in systems...Has anyone ever thought of a government as a system of real and implied violence? Maybe necessary, yes. Humans can only handle so much novel input before they go nuts. Nevertheless, all power does grow from the barrel of a gun.

    Right now I'm reading a book on family systems theory...We all think our parents are gods at first and can do no wrong, we love them helplessly. A good parent tries to lead, and model behavior, but many parents practice rule-by-fear. A system of real and implied violence. I could never reasonably tell what would set mine off. It wasn't strict-but-fair, it was random violence based on what kind of day they were having combined with what it is I just did to piss them off.

    Alright, I stop rambling at you...

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    Last edited: Nov 16, 2011
  13. RJBeery Natural Philosopher Valued Senior Member

    Ahh Chimpkin such a lovely post and all I can do is stare at this one line.
  14. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Beery, Beery, *shakes head ruefully*
    Just because a watery tart threw a sword at you...

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  15. BlueBaby Banned Banned

    (Bolding in quote is mine, Blue Baby.)

    I still wonder then, how are we a more peaceful people if the quantity of these bastards grows with our population?

    I still don't believe if you ask most people that they would actually say their country, neighborhoods, schools, etc have become more peaceful.

    I also don't believe the world seems more violent because I get more news easier. I used to travel a lot and I am glad I did when I did because many of the beautiful countries I loved so much are unsafe to return to.

    I do believe the US sucks at peacekeeping and embassadorial (right word?) endeavors, but --- I can't blame the world's leaders for all the world violence.

    And as far as the military, today it is also easier to kill more people in one shot because of populaton densities.

    From those "who know" I've heard criminal behavior has become much more cruel and nasty with no rhyme or reason needed. Sorry, I did not word this last sentence the way I wanted but maybe one can decipher my meaning anyway.

    I am not arguing just offering my layman's point of view. More in a question format than facts, I don't know the answers or even all the questions.

    Interesting topic

  16. convivial Registered Senior Member

    Most news is negative apparently because it gets better ratings, so I've read. I've been avoiding most news for a while because of the decisive negative lean in content.

    Yes, but it's also even harder to get away with it, and crime in general. You followed up with a military example, but I wanted to note that.
  17. Wexler Gadfly Registered Senior Member

    Good questions.

    We need to keep all of this in context - I am saying that more "peaceful" is relative to witnessing murder or being murdered, raped or violently injured at the hands of another.

    My position is that as long as the "bastards" are not in power (ie Hitler, Moa, Stalin, Pol Pot etc...) the world is a more "peaceful" place. Thanks to today's incredible level of connectedness the global accountabilty will only increase (as long as there is electricity).

    Egypt, Lybia and Tunisia are perfect examples of what revolution now looks like in the information age. The fall of major regimes without mass casualties.

    What I think is often confused on this point is that this has nothing to do with "mood" or "sentiment" or "ethos", but more about nature of dying.

    The global population has doubled since 1964, and while there are still horrible slums on the planet, the standard of living has increased dramatically as well. Better medicine, less war, longer life spans, more people - it amounts to something (from a natural selection perspective) going "right".
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Civilization is advancing steadily and violence is decreasing steadily... steadily but not monotonically. There have been setbacks throughout history and there's no reason to assume there won't be more setbacks in the future. Yet over time, we have indeed become smarter and less violent. I think it's rational, based on this evidence over twelve thousand years, to have faith that we will continue to become even smarter and even less violent.
    I don't know anyone who's ever been part of the pot culture or an observer of it, who would not agree that marijuana knocks off some IQ points, perhaps as many as 20. This is a good reason not to recommend it to stupid people. But it appears to have its major impact on the left hemisphere, the site of linear thinking and logical reasoning. People who have enough IQ points to spare typically find their right hemisphere, the site of holistic thinking and creativity, suddenly able to take a more active role in their thinking. They paint, compose music and poetry, design furniture and landscaping, plan vacations... and of course do some really creative cooking.

    And they remain smart enough to know better than to make an important business decision.
    I personally never saw anyone, no matter how stoned, decide to drink more than he would have on a normal night. Now if you want to talk about ice cream and doughnuts...
    I don't understand what you mean by "small scale" and "large scale." Most people would use those terms as a measure of the death toll. Today's wars have much lower body counts than those of the past. The Congo Civil War was the last one to kill more than one million people, and it was extremely localized.
    Yes: communication. The Electronic Revolution, which began in 1833 with the first commercial telegraph, was a quantum improvement in communication technology, ultimately making instant, affordable, high-bandwidth communication possible between virtually any two people on earth. This is why I refer to the Electronic Revolution as the latest Paradigm Shift, putting it in a class with the Agricultural Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. (Even Toffler agrees with me on this one, although he refuses to count the dawn of civilization and the discovery of bronze metallurgy and then iron metallurgy, which I do.)

    Electronic communication has brought more of us together, from larger distances. You may be tired of me pointing this out, but as an American I was astounded that my people cried over the real-time cellphone videos of Neda dying in Tehran, when our government tries so hard to make us hate Iran. We even wrote songs about her! Country-western songs!

    It's not so easy to make war on somebody you know. And we know all these people now!
    It's hard to gauge the intelligence of an entire population because the bright ones usually get the attention. But if you haven't been convinced that we are more peaceful, I'd like to see how you rejected all the evidence in this one thread. We're killing each other at a lower rate. Isn't that what "peaceful" means?
    Vigilantism has a high component of revenge, our species's worst emotion. It blinds us to evidence and reason and leads us to a mob mentality. All those Rednecks who were lynching Afro-Americans between the Civil War and WWII were convinced that they were guilty of crimes and deserved to be executed. In many cases the "crime" was to stare just a little bit too long at a pretty Euro-American woman.
    That's a pretty trite statement from a prominent member of a science discussion board. Didn't we all study statistics in college? Don't we all know the red flags that make a figure suspicious? Don't we all understand the common tricks? Can't we all discard the statistical analyses that were obviously done to prove a point rather than to find the truth? And the ones that were just done poorly?

    My wife is an English major and she figured out that subprime mortgages were going to cause an economic crisis.
  19. Ripley Valued Senior Member

    It just occurred to me that violence, the act, doesn't stand alone.

    Much is at play for a violent act to be put into motion—deliberation, planning, motivation, will, decisiveness, impetus, is also very much involved.

    And if the paintings at Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave suggests anything about the process of preparedness involved in which ancient man apparently understood something of before committing an act of aggression, they also exercised in that preparedness… spirituality.
  20. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    But it's easy enough to whip up a mob to murder them. Close association sometimes breeds contempt.
  21. elte Valued Senior Member

  22. Pineal Banned Banned

    We aren't less violent today. We do our violence via proxy. We have specialists for violence, and even these specialists often do not need to directly engage their opponents. So instead of hot skills - the ability to be worked up and harness that anger - detachment, coldness and precision are the main parts of the training. And this can go further down the line of command than in the past where the generals usually had hand to hand weapons, were on the field of battle, and knew they might in fact actually use these weapons.

    But we kill and we are much better at it.

    And really it pisses me off, this whole 'civilization is less violent than the savages' jingoism self-congratulatory BS.

    Like when European civilization encountered Native Americans the best way to sum it up is to point to how much less violent the Europeans were. Duh.

    It's like if the way we kill involves less yelling and we have shirts on, we are less violent.
  23. Pineal Banned Banned

    The 20th century, in my mind, makes a mockery of this. Civilization kills rationally. It uses abstractions, which allow millions to be killed and killed efficiently with technology. I see nothing in our civilized behavior to indicate we will not kill on a mass scale rationally in the future.

    And yes, there are irrational premises in these rational mass killings. A priori get used in rational formulas and killing is carried out effectively and efficiently using rationality. Where the barbarian run out of rage, rationally design killing machines keep the process going.

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