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Thread: How Societies Commit Suicide

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    Costly Punishment Across Human Societies

    Costly Punishment Across Human Societies
    Recent behavioral experiments aimed at understanding the evolutionary foundations of human cooperation have suggested that a willingness to engage in costly punishment, even in one-shot situations, may be part of human psychology and a key element in understanding our sociality. However, because most experiments have been confined to students in industrialized societies, generalizations of these insights to the species have necessarily been tentative. Here, experimental results from 15 diverse populations show that (i) all populations demonstrate some willingness to administer costly punishment as unequal behavior increases, (ii) the magnitude of this punishment varies substantially across populations, and (iii) costly punishment positively covaries with altruistic behavior across populations. These findings are consistent with models of the gene-culture coevolution of human altruism and further sharpen what any theory of human cooperation needs to explain.
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    How Societies Commit Suicide

    In an effort to ensure that no Muslim doctors ever again try to bomb Glasgow Airport, bureaucrats at Glasgow’s public hospitals have decreed that henceforth no staff may eat lunch at their desks or in their offices during the holy month of Ramadan, so that fasting Muslims shall not be offended by the sight or smell of their food. Vending machines will also disappear from the premises during that period.

    Apparently the bureaucrats believe that the would-be bombers were demanding sandwich-free offices in Glasgow hospitals during Ramadan. This kind of absurdity is what happens when the highly contestable doctrine of multiculturalism becomes a career opportunity for the semi-educated and otherwise unemployable products of a grossly and unnecessarily swollen university system.

    Meanwhile, the highest court in Italy was confirming an appeals court’s acquittal of the father and brother of a Muslim girl, whom they beat and locked up for becoming too Westernized—that is to say, for having a Western friend. The court ruled that, though they had undoubtedly beaten her and locked her up, this was not because of any culpable ill-feeling toward her. It was, rather, because of “her lifestyle, which did not conform to their culture.”

    The sound of a civilization committing suicide can be heard in these stories; for civilizations collapse not because the barbarians are so strong, but because they themselves are so morally enfeebled.

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