How small tribes work

From a Skype conversation. Why not post it? I already put in the work to write it. I’ve stripped the other person’s name and some filler comments.

[14:53:23] Aeoli Pera: Doom told me to explain small tribes to you, though I feel underqualified.
[14:53:39] Aeoli Pera: Most of my theory on the subject comes directly from Koanic and company.
[14:55:13] Aeoli Pera: The idea behind a small tribe environment is very similar to extreme individualism, except with a small trusted group.
[14:55:52] Aeoli Pera: If you’re a radical individualist, you are self-interested and everyone else is part of the outer world that you’re dealing with.
[14:56:31] Aeoli Pera: Robinson Crusoe, basically. This is sort of an autistic way of living.
[14:57:25] Aeoli Pera: In an r-type social setting, this sort of person treats other people as objects to bargain with, as if they were natural forces.
[14:58:46] Aeoli Pera: This is a healthy mindset for surviving without other humans around, and somewhat healthy in r societies.
[14:59:17] Aeoli Pera: A small, trusted tribe is the best way to survive in an environment where resources are scarce.
[15:00:46] Aeoli Pera: So ice ages and such. People also tend to be more conservative in their politics and social lives when resources are scarce. They become more concerned with local politics and the selfish interests of their tribes, rather than the concerns of the larger city or nation.
[15:02:07] Aeoli Pera: This is like the specialization of larger civilizations on a much smaller scale. Depending on the size of the group and such, a certain amount of within-group altruism and open communication is necessary.
[15:03:05] Aeoli Pera: It requires an attitude of “all for one, one for all”. This is why it shows up in families more often, because genetic similarity increases the payoff of sacrificial altruism.
[15:04:49] Aeoli Pera: When resources are scarce, the payoff of small group sacrificial altruism outweighs the benefit of selfishness. So you occasionally see near-perfect altruism in these combination cases of scarcity+genetic coherence.
[15:07:16] Aeoli Pera: R-selected societies kinda blend the autistic view and economic specialization. It punishes altruism and honesty due to constantly shifting social networks. If your neighbors are different each day, it doesn’t do much good to do them favors.
[15:09:19] Aeoli Pera: Anyway, the proper manifestation of small groups is outward-facing, like the Robinson Crusoe case. Ideally, you fall back on your small group and everyone else is the “other”, like a natural force. Not to be trusted.
[15:10:33] Aeoli Pera: You see this stereotypically in “mountain peoples” and swamp people, and such. Tribal types, to whom outsiders are not welcome.
[15:12:50] Aeoli Pera: Problem with progressive thals is when everybody gets whitelisted into the “trusted group”, possibly due to the peculiar environment toward the end of the ice age, when all the survivors around are fellow intelligent, altruistic, trustworthy Amud-style thals.


About Aeoli Pera

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3 Responses to How small tribes work

  1. Heaviside says:

    I can’t believe Vox published that article you just commented on the other day. Discrimination against sociopaths is the last socially acceptable form of bigotry.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      In my head, I think of a “sociopath” as an amygdala-damaged person with a functioning frontal lobe, whereas a “psychopath” is the typical neocortex-deficient thug (though he may also be amygdala-damaged).

      I’m really curious to learn how you define sociopathy. I presume it would be a metaphysical archetype of some kind, who in practice would probably score pretty highly on Bob Hare’s test. Is that pretty close?

      • Heaviside says:

        ASPD and the more thuggish behaviour is, I think, mostly due to impulsivity caused by all-pervading boredom. I feel the same way when I’m bored.

        I think sociopaths lack empathy, or emotional attachment to exterior things, and an inner life, or an attachment to interior things. They’re schizoids sans the imagination. I find this condition easier to empathize with than most other psychological disorders. Of course, we’re still better than them.

        The more “metaphysical” definition you can find in the NH thread on getting rich.

        >(though he may also be amygdala-damaged).

        I hate using such autocentric language all the time, but the only way I can understand other people’s experience is by relating it to my own, so my opinion on the amygdala theory is that I might be amygdala damaged, but I don’t really know.

        Since you brought it up, I read Anonymous Conservative’s page on it and I realized that I might have accidentally amygdala hijacked a guy at a party a few days ago(and, I suspect something similar might explain why Illuminatus no longer visits our fine forum). In both cases this is something I would have avoided if I knew what was going to happen. You probably don’t want to hear all the details, but I learned this year from someone I trust to be honest that I had a flat affect, which is something I was not really aware of, and likely made the situation much worse in that Gary Busey-esque manner.

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