Re: How rational is nonconformity?
Mon, 31 Mar 1997 01:48:53 -0500 (EST) (The Low Golden Willow) writes:
>On Mar 30, 10:50pm, wrote:
>} (Carl Feynman) writes:

>} The punishment for a wrong idea was much more likely to be death. In our
>} benign society you can make a lot of boo-boos and come out OK. Without

>On the other hand, the punishment for not being inventive in a hostile
>environment can _also_ be death. Make a mistake (run out of water) and
>you die; but if you don't explore every option available you may not
>make it either.

Generally only an issue when a crisis occurs (famine, drought, etc.) Even
then the best options may well be recorded from the last time that happened,
300 years ago.

>Especially in competition with braver bands who have
>found twice as many edible species to gather as you.

Over hundreds of years of trial, error, accident, and emergency, most bands
know most of what's edible around them.

>} In point of fact, "primitive" cultures are typically very conservative,
>} their members are typically very conservative as well. This is part of
>} reason they have such trouble when pitched into contact with developed
>} societies.

>Primitive == subsistence farmers or primitive == hunter-gatherers?

Both, really, but I was thinking of hunter-gatherers (HG), as agriculture is
very recent in our evolution.

>Jared Diamond feels the latter are likely to be more intelligent by
>culture if not by marginal evolution than humans living in more
>artificial, hence nicer, environments. Specifically that many of them
>are more generally exploratory and playful than modern humans, though
>outhinking a couch potato or McTourist is not difficult.

That's an interesting speculation, but factually HG groups don't do well,
even though theoretically their knowledge should give them a tremendous
advantage wrt nature films, plant botany, cult leadership, nature retreats
and no doubt many other things as well. There aren't many HG, for biological
reasons; I think there should be enough room in our enormous society for all
of them to do well.

>I'd suggest H-G problems stem more from massive technological
>inferiority and more deadly, massive immunological inferiority leading
>to societal wipeout, with which few people will deal well. Amerinds
>adapted to horses, guns, and applicable Eurasian agriculture quite
>well. Cherokee successfully adapted to US legal system, which was
>ignored by Andrew "fuck the Court" Jackson. Hard to adapt to being
>outnumbered and outgunned by people willing to destroy, not conquer,

Can't argue with any of that. The Cherokees learned everything they could
from the Europeans, but their numerical inferiority was so great they hadn't
a chance even against a distinct minority of US society.