I have a deep and abiding suspicion why Homo sapiens exploded out of Africa about 50,000-100,000 years ago through the fertile crescent, and came to cover the planet in a few thousands of years.
Remember, there were other brothers sharing our genus elsewhere in the world. They rapidly got gone around the time H.s. showed up.
If it is so, it suggests the answers to the riddles of our modern plight, our dark side that we cannot see without the greatest of patience and objectivity.
I call us Homo cruans, slaughtering man. It is as much of a definition of our species as Homo sapiens. We are still in a restless battle between which one will define our future.
The Face Dancers
Our most prodigious and intense skill in infancy, one which is certainly more hardwired than language and grammar, is the ability to recognize faces – to assign an identity to a face. Newborns can do it with amazing precision – they begin before they even master conjugate vision.
We are face dancers. Not only do we genetically mix our facial features so rapidly as to allow for individual identification, we also recognize characteristics of faces, categorical classes of faces. It is hardwired – it is the underpinning of the biological fiction of race.
The Explosion of the Races.
A hundred or two hundred years ago, there was no argument about races. They could be classified into categories. Mixed with their customs, the other “races” could be identified clearly as certain aggregates of not-me, not-White, not-European.
I postulate that this is an innate skill, if you wish to call it a skill. It is one of the ways we are most inhuman, most like computers. We are programmed to see faces, and identify them as ours, and not-ours.
Consider the massive range of cultures existent in the world, and consider that they all arose upon the departure from Africa. In fifty thousand years, we split into Finns and Greeks and Arabs, Inuit/Eskimo and Australian indigenous. The Navajo look nothing like their Arizona neighbors; they emigrated from central Canada.
The face makes the race. this plethora of scattered cultures arises from the xenophobia and fear of the Other. They are different; they are even inhuman, perhaps.
The evolutionary benefits of psychopathy.
A most peculiar book by a Polish psychologist, Andrew Lobaczewski, postulated ponerology – the science of modern governments and places where the psychopaths come to rule.
It is postulated that between 1% and 5% of individuals are psychopaths or have predominantly antisocial Cluster B character defects, such that they are devoid of conscience.
If one plays a simple Mendelian inheritance game, and assume that the psychopaths have two alleles for a certain trait, that would suggest the presence of an allele for that trait at 10%-23% or so.
In general, traits are sustained when the heterozygote, pq, provides enough benefit to the population to offset the burden of the population which is p². In this case, the population of heterozygotes is 2pq, or 18% to 35%.
What are these heterozygotes like? First, to round out the population math, the q² homozygotes without the psychopathy gene would be 60%-80% of the population.
The genetics of killing
These numbers surprisingly parallel the findings of Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, in his book, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. He finds that the human population that goes to war is divided into two groups, which I call the Children of Abel and the Children of Cain. The Children of Abel have a deep, instinctive inability to kill other human beings, even different ones. No matter how one dehumanizes the enemy and makes them foreign beasts, the The Children of Abel will even, at the extreme, tolerate death over killing.
The Children of Cain seem not to be affected by killing the Other. They are able to separate it from murder, which would be killing one of one’s own, one’s friend, one’s tribe, one’s race.
Psychopaths seem unbothered by killing anyone, including one’s own tribe.
Killing in war
This phenomenon has been part of the silent knowledge in all wars. In the Civil War, in WWI and WWII, the Children of Cain – perhaps half of the platoon or company – did the firing and the bayonet work; the The Children of Abel did the supply and support work that every military detachment requires.
In Vietnam, the military challenged the tradition, and insisted that the The Children of Abel could be trained to be killers. This caused the The Children of Abel to come back insane, whereas the The Children of Cain were not all that distraught.
I say it is human wiring, not human character, of Homo cruans. It was a distinct evolutionary advantage for tens of thousands of years. Now, after we carpet the globe and need mutual interdependence, it is a gene defect in need of addressing, as is sickle cell disease – another disease which benefited the heterozygotes, but not so much anymore.
I strongly recommend the Grossman book, and ambivalently so, Ponerology by Lobaczewski; it is less insightful about the nature of ‘race.’
We are conditioned to be slaughterers – it is our evolutionary advantage. I purport that the Neanderthals were wiped out because they were race-blind. They lacked the hard-wired acuity to recognize facial difference between Ours and Them. Or perhaps they did not develop psychopathy as an evolutionary trait.
One thing about them – they are forever gone, extinct.