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Has anybody read "Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence?"

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jpgray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-27-06 11:19 PM
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Has anybody read "Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence?"
If so, what did you think? If no, here's an article and -then- tell me what you think.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/boo...

"You will be killed!" the man at the Burundian embassy in Kampala said, in a bizarrely cheerful voice, as he stamped our visas.

But killing was the reason we were in Africa. Dale Peterson and I were exploring the deep origins of human violence, back to the time before our species diverged from rainforest apes, 5 to 6 million years ago. Not only ancestral to humans, those early rainforest apes were also part of a genetic line now represented by the four modern great ape species: orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos. Both of us had already observed orangutans in Borneo and gorillas and chimpanzees in Africa, but neither of us had yet seen the fourth and rarest ape, the bonobo, in the wild.

To get to the bonobos, we first had to reach Bukavu, a town on the eastern side of Zaire, just across the border from Rwanda. In Bukavu, we would pick up a single-engine plane and fly west for three hours across a sea of forest until, having passed more than halfway across the continent, we would find an airstrip and a little town isolated in that great green world. Near the town was the small pocket of rainforest where the bonobos lived.

To fly directly from Uganda to Zaire was impossible because the shaky Zairean government, fighting for control of the country, had closed all international airports, and driving overland was not advised because of discouraging reports about bandits and guerrillas. And so we had decided to fly south from Uganda into Burundi, then drive a rented van through Burundi and Rwanda, and on into eastern Zaire.
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-27-06 11:24 PM
Response to Original message
1. Are you telling me this is an article about violent bonobos?
Read Elaine Morgan: The Descent of Woman.
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jpgray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-27-06 11:31 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Are you? You might want to just read it.
But of course not--Bonobos tend to divert aggression into something other than violence. :D
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TheMadMonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 05:13 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. Seems I recall a few human societies went down this route.
(pun unintended)

Until the missionaries showed them the error of their sinful ways, and showed them the proper way for humans to resolve their conflicts as first demonstrated by a gentleman named Cain.
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jpgray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:58 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Non-violent society has yet to succeed on a large agrarian scale
I think, if I remember my history.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 05:51 PM
Response to Reply #1
8. Excellent book.
Get's too little attention. But then, it was way outside the box.
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Kagemusha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-27-06 11:36 PM
Response to Original message
3. If they wanna study violence, go there to study the humans.
Can write a doctorate on THAT.
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Crunchy Frog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 12:52 AM
Response to Original message
4. Yes.
I read it several years ago, and thought it was really interesting. I should probably re-read it, as I've forgotten alot of the details. It basically explores the evolutionary context of human's violent behavior by looking at our nearest relatives. I was amazed at how similar humans and chimpanzees are at the most basic level. Bonobos are used as an example of an alternate pathway, to show that it doesn't necessarily have to be this way.

I highly reccomend the book to anybody who is interested in looking at the big picture concerning the phenomenon of human violence
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Jim__ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 12:18 PM
Response to Original message
7. I read it. It's been a few years.
What I remember most about the book was the comparison of the "wars" between chimpanzee groups and the "wars" engaged in by the primitive Yanomamo. The type of fighting was almost identical.

If I remember correctly, at the time I was reading the book, I was getting the implication that the authors were saying that bonobos were peaceful; that they were led by females, that they were bisexual, and extremely active sexually; and that it was these behaviors of the bonobos, that were responsible for their peaceful lifestyle. It's been long enough that I can't swear the authors were actually trying to make that point. But, if they were, I wasn't convinced. It could just as easily be that bonobos were led by females, bisexual and very active sexually because they were peaceful.

But, the comparison between chimpanzee groups and Yanomamo tribes led me to believe that violence is extremely deeply embedded in who we are. The question for me became, can our rationality overcome our basic instincts. It seems that our only hope for survival is if it can. Our rationality has led to our building of weapons that can blow humanity off the face of the earth. If our rationality can't overcome our propensity for violence, then, there seems to be no hope for our survival.
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Jeffery Donating Member (53 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-05-06 08:32 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. It doesn't really even make sense...
...to say that because of those behaviors, the bonobos were peaceful. Doesn't make a lick of sense.
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