Wednesday, June 10, 2009

sex and war?

The Scientist | War has most often been studied by social scientists -- anthropologists embedding themselves with hunter-gatherer tribes, archaeologists teasing evidence of past epochs of war and peace from the ground, and psychologists and sociologists poking and prodding the minds of warriors and others. But one question often goes unasked: Why war? Why do we humans, almost alone among the animals, band together and intentionally kill members of our own species?

That is a question only biology can answer -- and as Theodosius Dobzhansky famously said, "nothing in biology makes sense but in the light of evolution." Humans, of course, are descended from a long line of ape ancestors, including a common ancestor with chimpanzees some five to seven million years ago. As Jane Goodall, Richard Wrangham and others have shown, we also share with chimps the bizarre propensity to attack and kill others of our own species. And evolution explains why.
I haven't read it, so the answer is that I don't know. Being a student of pernicious killer-ape tendencies, my interest is piqued. However, one thing I know for certain, is that it's being propagandistically marketed. Note the second part of the full title; Timely Book Puts Finger On Terrorist Attacks in the Gaza and Elsewhere. Chances are that there's a profoundly unscientific agenda undergirding this presentation of yet another killer-ape hypothesis.