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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Open Brainstorm: C.R. Hallpike

Tonight is the Open Brainstorm event featuring C.R. Hallpike, the anthropologist and the author of DO WE NEED GOD TO BE GOOD. The event starts at 8:00 PM Eastern and is open to everyone. To attend, register here.

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42 Comments:

Anonymous JRL March 22, 2016 6:11 PM  

Looking forward to it.

Anonymous 5343 March 22, 2016 6:30 PM  

Likewise. Just re-read Chapter 3 ...

Blogger TheDanielsaur March 22, 2016 6:36 PM  

I'm reading the book now and looking forward to the brainstorm!

Blogger SciVo March 22, 2016 7:18 PM  

Already found something to disagree with in chapter 1.

"And as I write, yet another evolutionary kneeslapper has appeared, in Biological Reviews 6 , this time maintaining that men’s faces and jaws are more robust than women’s because for millions of years men have engaged in fist fights. The problem here is that we know from anthropological studies that hunter-gatherers are not recorded as engaging in fist fights but in physical conflicts typically use weapons like clubs, spears, or rocks because they are so much more effective than trying to use one’s bare hands. Boxing as such is a skill that has to be deliberately taught and is only found in a small minority of societies which makes it extremely unlikely that it was an important form of human combat for millions of years."

He makes it sound complicated to throw a fist. It is not. His argument is unsound.

Blogger S1AL March 22, 2016 7:29 PM  

@SciVo - It's a much more complicated thing to use ones fists so satisfactorily as to preclude using weapons. This is observably true.

Blogger SciVo March 22, 2016 7:35 PM  

And so is the use of fists to establish order within a tribe. I even read an article about how back in the day, a gym teacher eliminated bullying by mandating boxing. So right at the beginning of the school year, everyone knew his place.

Blogger SciVo March 22, 2016 7:37 PM  

And yes, I'm using an example of boxing to demonstrate that it isn't needed. That's because there was a social norm against punching people otherwise.

Blogger VD March 22, 2016 7:52 PM  

He makes it sound complicated to throw a fist. It is not. His argument is unsound.

No, your objection is unsound. Boxing involves far more than "throwing a fist". It takes years to develop the skills and learn to box effectively.

I've done it. You haven't. His argument is fine, and moreover, supported by the anthropological evidence.

Blogger SciVo March 22, 2016 8:02 PM  

His argument is misdirected, because punching is mostly intra-tribal. I've studied boxing, kung fu and karate, and I've never had to use any of them against a real enemy. And the training isn't much use in bar fights, since you've been drinking.

He isn't wrong about evo-psych having a lot of bullshit. But that wasn't a good example.

Blogger Student in Blue March 22, 2016 8:08 PM  

Dr. Hallpike sounds like quite the saucy Brit.

This is not a bad thing by any means.

Blogger Student in Blue March 22, 2016 8:13 PM  

@SciVo

Throwing a fist effectively and safely requires training that simple weapons don't. Kung Fu, Karate, etc only developed because of governmental crackdowns on weapons.

To look at it a different way, consider how gangs operate. If they want to apply force to maintain their cred or get something they want, they're not going to train to throw a punch well, they're going to try and grab a weapon. Even if they can throw a punch well they'll grab a weapon.

In Darwin terms the weapon users are going to genetically murder the fist users regardless so that's a nonstarter.

Blogger SirHamster March 22, 2016 8:20 PM  

Student in Blue wrote:Dr. Hallpike sounds like quite the saucy Brit.

This is not a bad thing by any means.



Hope we get a transcript. Having a little trouble following his speech.

Blogger Rusty Fife March 22, 2016 8:21 PM  

Student in Blue wrote:In Darwin terms the weapon users are going to genetically murder the fist users regardless so that's a nonstarter.

However, inside the family group or within the band; you'll need something less damaging that still demonstrates dominance. It will probably end up being ritualised like MMA.

Blogger Student in Blue March 22, 2016 8:38 PM  

However, inside the family group or within the band; you'll need something less damaging that still demonstrates dominance.

That's when you use your belt.

Blogger jaericho March 22, 2016 8:41 PM  

I hope there will be a transcript or recording. I would love to revisit this after I read the book. This book is definitely going near the top of my queue.

Blogger Cataline Sergius March 22, 2016 8:54 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger praetorian March 22, 2016 8:54 PM  

HOLY SHIT THIS IS GREAT STUFF

Blogger praetorian March 22, 2016 9:05 PM  

"Who up until then was The University of Oxford Press"

BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS.

Blogger SouthRon March 22, 2016 9:17 PM  

This is just incredible. Anthropology, linguistics, philosophy, ideology, psychology. Absolutely wonderful.

My anthropologist wife is absolutely in awe and loving this.

May I have some more please.

Dr. Hallpike, thank you very much. And, Vox thank you for reaching out to him.

Blogger Aquila Aquilonis Fulminata March 22, 2016 9:25 PM  

Thank you Vox for setting this up.

Blogger Doseux March 22, 2016 9:28 PM  

Thank you.

Vox, you should consider starting a podcast, if you haven't thought about it already!

Anonymous JRL March 22, 2016 9:32 PM  

Thanks Vox and Dr. Hallpike. Great interview.

Blogger Durandel March 22, 2016 9:46 PM  

That was great! Thank you Vox and Halpike (I also just went and bought his book).

Anonymous 5343 March 22, 2016 9:46 PM  

Absolutely excellent evening. Thanks, all.

Anonymous Roundtine March 22, 2016 9:48 PM  

Great talk. Look forward to reading the book.

Anonymous VFM #6306 March 22, 2016 9:50 PM  

Brilliant. Thanks.

Anonymous VFM #6306 March 22, 2016 9:58 PM  

And yeah, Hallpike is dead on about the fist. A total laugher that the strong jaw was selected for due to boxing. A) As if female offspring of strongjawed boxers would not have strong jaws and B) as if the Michelle Obama-jawed amazons would not be highly prized for their production of boxingjawed sons.

Fairy tales are great, but they sure get ridiculous.

Anonymous VFM #6306 March 22, 2016 10:03 PM  

How thick is your jaw, SciVo?

Anonymous RC March 22, 2016 10:43 PM  

Shiners and Hallpike plus Vox make for an informative and thought-provoking evening for me and my son. Thank you.

Blogger Jon M March 22, 2016 11:22 PM  

Punching people in the face with unprotected hands is a great way to break a few fingers. Even a caveman understands that and would xgoose better ways to achieve the same ends.

Blogger praetorian March 22, 2016 11:35 PM  

And yeah, Hallpike is dead on about the fist. A total laugher that the strong jaw was selected for due to boxing.

Or observe how easy it is to break a knuckle with an untaped, bare-fisted punch.

Blogger praetorian March 22, 2016 11:42 PM  

Please tell me you recoded this and will make it available, vox. Amazing talk.

Blogger SciVo March 23, 2016 2:59 AM  

#6306, it turns out that your question is irrelevant since if you're standing with your back to a wall, it's very easy for someone to make your brain bounce around in its case.

I'm on the short side of American average, but I can take a hit. But you have to make a habit of being in a good position, because things can happen fast. Speaking from sour experience.

Blogger SciVo March 23, 2016 3:13 AM  

@ Student in Blue:

My plausible hypothesis is that our skulls could have been shaped by brawls between tribe mates, where still you can accidentally kill someone, so no expertise necessary to apply selective pressure.

Blogger Aeoli Pera March 23, 2016 5:07 AM  

This is ridiculous. If throwing a fist isn't instinctive, then why does every three-year-old boy in the world, regardless of culture and upbringing, know how to do it without being taught?

Blogger Aeoli Pera March 23, 2016 5:12 AM  

Sure, you can learn how to do it better and learn proper techniques and form, but that all goes for sex too.

Blogger Aeoli Pera March 23, 2016 5:24 AM  

Also, jaw strength is primarily a result of testosteronization in puberty (but not entirely, see Finnish women as counterexample).

Dr Ananya Mandal wrote:During puberty, an increase in testosterone levels in boys causes enlargement of the reproductive organs such as the penis and testes, increased libido, increased frequency of erection, and the growth of facial, chest, nipple and pubic hair. Some maturing boys may experience a loss of hair on the scalp, referred to as alopecia.

The fat content beneath the skin also decreases, while muscle mass increases, as do height and rib cage size. The voice also deepens, and the jaws, chin and nose start to take on a more adult appearance. The Adam's apple in the throat also becomes more prominent.

Blogger Student in Blue March 23, 2016 9:17 AM  

This is ridiculous. If throwing a fist isn't instinctive, then why does every three-year-old boy in the world, regardless of culture and upbringing, know how to do it without being taught?

The charge I brought was that it wasn't effective and safe. And it's also just as instinctive to grab a tool as it is to swing wildly.

Blogger praetorian March 23, 2016 10:52 AM  

If throwing a fist isn't instinctive, then why does every three-year-old boy in the world, regardless of culture and upbringing, know how to do it without being taught?

My boys mostly wrestle. When they hit, it is either a hammer fist or a wild swing that would easily break their hands once they are strong enough.

I do come from a long line of warrior hobbits, so perhaps our evolutionary pressures were different.

Anonymous WaterBoy March 23, 2016 3:32 PM  

Aeoli Pera: "why does every three-year-old boy in the world, regardless of culture and upbringing, know how to do it without being taught?"

Without being taught = Begging the Question

Just because somebody isn't necessarily actively teaching a child, doesn't mean the child isn't learning through passive observation of those around him...possibly even in his own home.

Blogger Aeoli Pera March 23, 2016 8:38 PM  

WaterBoy wrote:Without being taught = Begging the Question

Every assertion of fact is ultimately begging the question. If it's not cloudy outside, then why is it raining?

WaterBoy wrote:Just because somebody isn't necessarily actively teaching a child, doesn't mean the child isn't learning through passive observation of those around him...possibly even in his own home.

That's true and it's a good point. Regardless, I think my assertion is self-evident. We also learn to talk by observation, yet there is no controversy in saying humans are designed specifically for talking.

Here is the implied argument: If punching is not instinctive, it ought to be possible to find a boy who doesn't know how to do it. Maybe he was raised as a single child in a cabin by peaceful parents, away from civilization. And yet, we both know that when that kid gets angry he's going to make a fist and know how it works.

Blogger Aeoli Pera March 23, 2016 9:12 PM  

@Student, praetorian,

I agree that hammerfists, wrestling, and tool use are probably more instinctive than punching, and less risky. You have to be pretty worked up to smash hard parts of yourself against hard parts of someone else.

Kinda like biting- you have to be pretty upset to go for the throat after all that socialization against biting people.

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