On the Last Word On Nothing, a debate on whether or not war is an innate part of the human makeup. Scientist John Horgan says no:
There is no evidence of hominid or human group violence (as opposed to isolated acts of violence) dating back millions or even tens of thousands of years. The oldest evidence of deadly group violence by humans — a mass grave in the Nile Valley — is about 13,000 years old, and the vast bulk of evidence dates from 10,000 years ago or less, leading scholars such as Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, Doug Fry, and Erik Trinhaus to conclude that war is a relatively recent cultural phenomenon, associated often with agriculture and permanent settlements.
In response, some skeptics say, Well, we don’t have good evidence of any human behaviors more than 10,000 years ago. Actually, we have evidence of many complex cultural behaviors — tool-making, hunting, cooking, art, music, religion — emerging far back in the Paleolithic era, but not war. The evidence is clear: war is a recent cultural phenomenon that culture can help us transcend.
Modern hunter-gatherers such as the !Kung and Hadza are largely nonviolent, and archaeological digs show that many early societies — including in the American southwest and horticulturalists in Abu Hureya, near the Euphrates — endured for centuries and even millennia while leaving no signs of warfare.
The fact that extremely warlike cultures — notably Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany — can become pacifistic virtually overnight shows the degree to which culture, more than innate impulses, drives militarism. Most men are NOT natural warriors; they become warriors because they are sheep, who adopt their culture’s values, rather than wolves.
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