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Thread: What is hatred, how did it evolve, what is it's purpose?

  1. Top | #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    I'm very open to changing my mind, and not convinced of the explanation either. But this:



    Doesn't sound like a tenable rebuttal.

    I'm not trying to make this into an argument where I defend a position, which you seem to be primed for. I'm just interested in understanding the psychological phenomena of hate.
    Not recognisably. You seem to be very much married to the idea that hate has an evolved function that it still fulfills better than any alternative, and ignore any and all statements explaining to you why you cannot and should not presume that, and that evolution simply doesn't work that way.
    No, I'm pretty much open to the idea of hatred having no evolved function, I just haven't heard a convincing argument that this is the case yet, just that it's possible.
    It's the default, the null hypothesis. The opposite would require an argument. Also, as far as I can tell, "hatred" is not even a trait - it is a part of a spectrum that is genetically and developmentally not distinguished from the rest of it. Not being a trait, it cannot logically be an evolved trait.

    You could nullify the latter objection by providing a definition that makes it clear that what you want to talk about is an independent entity with clear demarkations, but you won't (and can't).

  2. Top | #22
    Deus Meumque Jus
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    No, I'm pretty much open to the idea of hatred having no evolved function, I just haven't heard a convincing argument that this is the case yet, just that it's possible.
    It's the default, the null hypothesis. The opposite would require an argument. Also, as far as I can tell, "hatred" is not even a trait - it is a part of a spectrum that is genetically and developmentally not distinguished from the rest of it. Not being a trait, it cannot logically be an evolved trait.

    You could nullify the latter objection by providing a definition that makes it clear that what you want to talk about is an independent entity with clear demarkations, but you won't (and can't).
    I'm not trying to have a royal rumble, prove any particular point, or prove any particular point wrong, I'm just trying to talk about a topic that I don't know much about. You're free to add to the topic if you like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    No, I'm pretty much open to the idea of hatred having no evolved function, I just haven't heard a convincing argument that this is the case yet, just that it's possible.
    It's the default, the null hypothesis. The opposite would require an argument. Also, as far as I can tell, "hatred" is not even a trait - it is a part of a spectrum that is genetically and developmentally not distinguished from the rest of it. Not being a trait, it cannot logically be an evolved trait.

    You could nullify the latter objection by providing a definition that makes it clear that what you want to talk about is an independent entity with clear demarkations, but you won't (and can't).
    I'm not trying to have a royal rumble, prove any particular point, or prove any particular point wrong, I'm just trying to talk about a topic that I don't know much about. You're free to add to the topic if you like.
    I have - here, here and here, for example. You apparently didn't like the answers and continue to assume without argument, almost religiously, that it has some function, some value, skipping most of my argument in your responses.
    Last edited by Jokodo; 03-10-2020 at 02:09 AM.

  4. Top | #24
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Traits persist if they don't make it sufficiently less likely for those that exhibit them to reproduce.

    If there's no easy mechanism whereby a more successful sub-population could arise that is free of a given trait, then it will persost even if harmful - that's probably why we don't see a large population of humans born without an appendix.
    So you'd claim that this is true of our propensity for hatred then? It's never a useful quality for those who hold it?
    I wouldn't make any such claim. It's a psychological trait, so it's probably as easy to tease out its evolutionary basis as it is to forecast the 2030 Coral Sea Cyclone season. It's almost certainly a trait that had (and/or has) some kind of benefit to some population at some time in the last four billion years. But what that benefit was, how long it persisted in being a benefit, and whether it still is is impossible to know - the system under discussion is both complex and chaotic beyond any reasonable possibility of being accurately determined.

    Most of biology is like that. And evolutionary biology doubly so. Simple and obvious cause and effect links between traits and reproductive success are the exception rather than the rule, even where the trait in question is mediated by a single gene with few other major phenotypic impacts. And such single gene traits are few and far between.

    Many people falsely believe that the network of traits and genes we have is fairly simple to unpick, but this is an artefact of the use of the rare examples which are sufficiently simple to grasp in education.

    If typically complex genes and their resulting traits were taught, most students would give up in disgust; So really there's no choice but to dumb things down - but there's a reason why a handful of examples are constantly re-used. The vast majority of possible alternative examples are beset with more exceptions than rules.

  5. Top | #25
    Quantum Hot Dog Kharakov's Avatar
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    I agree with bilby's emphatically (well delivered like Hitler) position that hatred is a well defined Darwinian selection agent, as are all things.

    I also agree with his slightly less sober position (delivered more like Churchill) that it is a not at all well defined Darwinian selection agent, as are all things.



    I'd like to add that I hate not being able to code all night, due to my living situation. Maybe so much so that I'll try to move in with a roommate again.

  6. Top | #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    I'm not trying to have a royal rumble, prove any particular point, or prove any particular point wrong, I'm just trying to talk about a topic that I don't know much about. You're free to add to the topic if you like.
    I have - here, here and here, for example. You apparently didn't like the answers and continue to assume without argument, almost religiously, that it has some function, some value, skipping most of my argument in your responses.
    You're the one acting religious. First you were convinced that I needed to have something in mind when starting the thread. Then you got defensive when I probed into one of your points.

    It seems like you have some kind of aversion to the possibility of this being an inherent part of what we are, rather than a thing we just ignore because it doesn't serve the purpose you like. That we're not supposed to have the trait sounds more teleological than anything I've suggested.

    And you keep insisting I have an argument, and what that argument is rather than building on the topic.

  7. Top | #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    I'm not trying to have a royal rumble, prove any particular point, or prove any particular point wrong, I'm just trying to talk about a topic that I don't know much about. You're free to add to the topic if you like.
    I have - here, here and here, for example. You apparently didn't like the answers and continue to assume without argument, almost religiously, that it has some function, some value, skipping most of my argument in your responses.
    You're the one acting religious. First you were convinced that I needed to have something in mind when starting the thread. Then you got defensive when I probed into one of your points.

    It seems like you have some kind of aversion to the possibility of this being an inherent part of what we are, rather than a thing we just ignore because it doesn't serve the purpose you like. That we're not supposed to have the trait sounds more teleological than anything I've suggested.

    And you keep insisting I have an argument, and what that argument is rather than building on the topic.
    Your OP is a textbook example of how not to think about biology, and it only goes downhill from there.

    I was trying to be more diplomatic, but it didn't get through when I did.

    I do not have any "aversion to the possibility of this being an inherent part of what we are". Indeed, I assume it is an inherent part of what we are. I merely pointed out that the existence of a trait is no indication of its current function, and that the existence of a thing that we have a name for is no indication that the thing is a well-defined trait from a genetic and developmental perspective, i.e. at least moderately encapsulated from other things we have names for. (Also, maybe you need to look up what "teleology" means; doubting that for which no evidence or argument has been presented isn't it.)

    All we can say with reasonable certainty is that our capacity to develop hatred is not sufficiently selected against for it to have been purged from the population. This could be because it is beneficial to the individual; or because it has been beneficial until recently, where "recently" can still be millions of years away, and is still rarely enough deadly; or because it is developmentally linked with a beneficial trait, or one that used be beneficial. We simply don't know, and we should not be making assumptions unless we can motivate them independently. Biology is a whole lot messier than you have been made to believe.

    Your OP does exactly that: It makes the assumption that it has a recent origin as an independent trait which solves a current problem humans face. That's three bold assumptions, appearing as the presuppositions of your questions, none of which you motivate. Now, each of these might be true, but each of these might equally be false. When I point out that you shouldn't be making them, you complain that I didn't present a convincing argument.

    I don't have to, as I'm not the one trying to sneak in claims about the way things are. You are presenting unknowns as facts, so you better provide a solid motivation. Until you do, we have to assume that your assumptions might equally well be false, and thus your questions meaningless.
    Last edited by Jokodo; 03-10-2020 at 04:04 AM.

  8. Top | #28
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    I'll humour you and have another shot at your OP questions. Maybe you can see this time that they carry a heavy burden of unspoken and unproven assumptions.

    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    This is a question that I don't have any answers for, but where I'm curious about the perspective and insight of others. The questions are as follows -

    - what exactly is the definition of hatred?
    - why did hatred evolve as a psychological trait that exists in humans?
    Don't assume it did. Maybe hatred is an emergent property of our fight-or-flight response system without an independent evolutionary history, maybe it is an independent phenomenon; if it is the latter, maybe it was selected recently, or maybe very long ago. Only if it is the former do we have a good chance of discerning the why - if it is old, the selective pressures that brought it on might have long ago changed.

    One way to start answering at least the "when" part of the question is to operationalize "hatred" in such a way as to be able to test for its presence in non-verbal subjects - i.e. in animals you can't ask "how much do you hate X". Then, and only then, you can map its phylogeny and ecology, i. e. what other animals show hatred, did they derive it from a common ancestor or evolve it independently (a good indicator is whether it emerges through the same developmental pathways), what aspects of a species' environment and social structure does the strength of the hatred response correlate with?

    Without that data, all you have is futile speculation. With it, you might have a working hypothesis, but still no absolute knowledge.

    - what problem of ours does it solve?
    Maybe none. We don't know and likely never will, especially not before doing extensive comparative research. Your assumption that it solves an identifiable problem (because every trait must?) reeks of teleology. It's also a textbook example of why you shouldn't apply engineering reasoning to biology.
    Last edited by Jokodo; 03-10-2020 at 04:18 AM.

  9. Top | #29
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    Also, you literally put the word "purpose" in the thread title. What is that, if it isn't teleology?

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    As bilby said, examples of traits that are straightforwardly linked to a single gene or small group of genes with little other effects and where we can even hope to glean a good understanding of their benefit and cost are the exception, not the norm - and even those that appear to fit the bill often turn out to be more complex on closer inspection.

    Take blue eyes as an example. We know a lot about that trait: It is based on a single mutation of a single gene that occurred sometime 6-10 thousand years ago, someplace close to Ukraine or Southern Russia, and was subject to positive selection that helped it spread and become dominant in large swaths of Northern Europe within a relatively short time. We can tell because the genes and non-coding DNA close to it show less variation than the rest of the chromosome on which it sits in those populations - the signature you expect from recombination + selection: whatever genetic material sits next to the gene is likely to be carried along and not be spliced, and thus will piggyback on the gene's spread.

    However, even for the blue eyes trait, the "what problem does it solve" question doesn't have a straightforward answer. The genetic variant that causes blue eyes also causes lighter skin, so the most likely answer is "none at all" - the gene was selected for its effect on skin hue rather than for its effect on eye colour. This fits pretty well with the timing: Its spread correlates will with the establishment of agriculture in Northern Europe. We know from the study of contemporary hunter-gatherer (or reindeer herder) cultures in temperate and cold climates that vitamin D deficiency is less of an issue for people subsiding on pre-agricultural diets, so we expect increased selection pressure towards lighter skin just about that time. We also know from DNA samples of pre-agricultural (Northern) Europeans that they had much darker skin than the people living there today. Of course, there are other mutations to the melanin control network which effect skin tone only and leave the eyes their natural brown. From an engineering perspective, one might be tempted to expect that those and only those should have been selected instead, but that's simply not how evolution works - and this despite the fact that blue eyes not only lack a direct benefit but are actually slightly detrimental: apparently, blue eyes are somewhat more sensitive to light and thus more prone to get inflamed unless protected with sunglasses. Evolution doesn't care: The benefit of ensuring a better supply of vitamin D far outweighs the the occasional inflammation of the eye, deadly as the latter can be in a stone-age context.

    Now, this is for a clearly identifiable trait, linked to a single mutation of a single gene whose unique origin in time and place is known with relative precision - and your question still doesn't really make sense! Now imagine "hatred", which is most likely a term that doesn't even denote a coherent trait from a genetic/developmental perspective, that has almost certainly dozens of genes involved in its etiology, each of which having other effectsthat might be more relevant to their selection, for which little about the pattern of variation (if any) among human populations is known, and whose origin is almost entirely obscure - in what universe would we expect a straightforward answer?
    Last edited by Jokodo; 03-10-2020 at 01:13 PM.

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