Scattered sparsely among the incredibly vast, cold, and dark space-time were billions of billions of stars. The stars maintained a high flux of usable energy from their entropy engines, which spilled out into the surrounding darkness. The light energy dissipated into the kinetic energy of charged particles within the interstellar dust. Throughout the universe, these excited dust atoms and molecules recombined into more varied structures. However, on larger specks of dust, planets, these first molecular structures lasted longer in a stable environment.
It is known that one such speck had an abundance of energy flux raining down on a great diversity of elements in various phases. These conditions together with the planet's narrow temperature range enabled the element Carbon to exist in extremely varied chemical combinations. These combinations could form intricate and varied structures. Those structures that survived better increased their abundance. In time, the abundance of these structures allowed sheer chance to develop better chemical perpetuation reactions among them. These advantageous structures spread better at the expense of disadvantageous structures. As their chemical strategies improved, fierce competition developed between all the varied structures for carbon containing molecules and energy from the nearby star. The major strategy of all structures had to be "Eat it, before it eats you."
The structures soon filled the thin film of liquid and gas on the surface of the planet. They swarmed thru the liquid and gas, and across the land, filling every niche that allowed survival. Over billions of years, a continuous supply of replication "accidents" (only occasionally!) gave the particular structure that retained the accident a competitive advantage over the structures around him. If these changes remained in replicated structures they competed and reproduced better than their contemporaries. In this fashion, particularly successful structure types evolved into races and species and orders. Chemical strategies for competitive advantage increased in bewildering profusion --reproductive fidelity, more efficient chemical and energy metabolism, larger and larger structures to manipulate increasingly complex molecules, cooperation among cells, cellular differentiation, capacities for immediate adaptation to the environment... One especially beneficial type of immediate adaptation was "behavior".
Generally no species (particular type of structure) retained a distinct advantage over their competitors; if they did, if the predator ate all his prey, he starved to death. But finally, one species acquired the capacity to make structures exterior to themselves (called "tools") that helped them compete. The survival advantage of tool use was so great that the species proliferated to cover the entire planet in a few tens of a thousand years. Since the usefulness of the tools depended on the ability to construct them, the capacity to store information about their tools and the world around them was strongly selected along with tool use. Their tools became more and more efficient to compete against and overwhelm all other species...and especially to coerce and kill each other..
With increasing security about basic survival and a large capacity to develop strategies (of tool use), a fierce competition arose between behavioral programs for the individual structures. Despite their vast knowledge about the world around them, the structures' programs were only intricate delusions to compel them to compete against their fellow structures and to blindly reproduce; these after all were the programs that were successful. So their tool knowledge became ever greater than their self-knowledge. Naturally, this instability could not last. In the space of a few days, a chain reaction of lethal tool use killed every life form on the tiny planet. Ever after, the planet was still and silent, like any other dust floating thru the vast, cold, Dark. It might have been sad, but no one was left to care...
PrefaceIs this Earth? Could we really be "just" chemical structures? Yes. We are programmed gene machines. We can now understand the essentials of human nature. We have the fundamental explanations for the existence and behavior of life on this planet. Life is a particular self-perpetuating chemical accident --a continuing chemical reaction started billions of years ago. In a statistical manner, some reactions work better than others. In the peculiar structure, "organism", this represents a differential ability on several levels: faster reaction time, fewer side reactions, appropriateness for function, greater accumulation of organic molecules and energy, synergy of function, responsiveness to environment, replication, being or not being... The accidental alterations of the organism's chemical composition which 1) are permanent but not fatal, 2) can be reproduced in replicated structures, and 3) work better than before are selected advantageously relative to the previous type. This is evolution. Evolution -specifically, natural selection- is often expressed tautologically; "that which is better at surviving and spreading does just that." The essential points (the surprise was human recognition of the fact) are that the elements of the phenomena account for the phenomena, that is, a necessary mechanism, and that things either exist or do not, and this state can change in time. Animal behavior is the expression of strategies for the perpetuation of "structure type". But their behavior does not? have? to be this; it's only that when we observe them at a particular time, we see the results of all behaviors in the past. The behaviors which were not strategies for perpetuation, or even not as good strategies, caused their possessors to be selected against (ceasing to exist in time).
We are not talking about "sterile fact" or "remote science". This is Us and existence ...or not existence. Almost all of the structure types that have existed on Earth no longer exist. They could not adapt or were replaced with superior types. When animals fail to adapt, they have usually chosen the wrong behavior. Perhaps they don't jump in the split second that they perceive a tiger jumping toward them. Or perhaps, in a social organism possessing self-awareness, they intentionally ignore the malicious grin on their neighbor's face... We are pitiful indeed if we allow ourselves to continue our self-destructive behaviors, all the while touting our "superior" brains. Given this initial mood of realism, I will discuss in here the human predicament, its explanation, and its origin in human ignorance. More of us need to increase our self-knowledge relative to our tool-knowledge. Before it's too late...
IntroductionSociobiology represents the most fundamental understanding of human behavior at the present time. The principles of this scientific discipline are usually stated as 1) behavior is influenced by genes, in varying degrees, but at least to the extent that reproducible behavioral traits are selected for; 2) effective behavior maximizes inclusive fitness; 3) inclusive fitness is survival and reproductive advantage for all perceived gene copies. Each of these principles needs to be delicately and precisely examined, for such concepts are normally absent from human awareness. Numerous books treat these topics in the detail they deserve, and the reader is referred to them (especially the books of E. O. Wilson). The main difficulty in understanding human behavior originates in the human propensity to color experience with emotion and rationalization. Defective or biased explanations are much more willingly accepted by the not disinterested. An example of a faulty explanation we are more willing to recognize these days is imputing intention to a thunderstorm, the sun, gravity, etc. Others unfortunately still predominate in the explanation of human behavior. A great deal of inflated controversy surrounded the recent appearance of sociobiology. Almost none of the opposition, though, seriously challenges the essential truth --not that they haven't tried, of course.
As in any academic controversy, the critics of sociobiology are merely defending their illusory dilemmas and conventional doctrines, their accustomed manner of justifying their research program. As an example, the nature/nurture dilemma makes no sense: nurture is the effect of culture on the developing human, and culture is predominately the result of four major biological influences 1) being a human animal 2) competition 3) reproduction and birth and 4) mortality. As for nature, it is simply impossible for a biochemical reaction to proceed (that is, depart from equilibrium) without an environment -- the physical/chemical/historical influences on it. The opponents of sociobiology apparently are incapable, or unwilling, to recognize the mechanism of genetic influence for they fix upon the specifics of culture and ignore the generalizations of animal behavior. Such a reaction is to be expected from social scientists whose conventional program is simple data-collection and labeling.
But unlike all other scholarly disputes, they are humans who are (ludicrously) denying the very biological nature which compels their denial. They can accept only "a few minor traits as perhaps 'instinctive'". "Sociobiology is wrong because it's deterministic, reductionistic, etc." It's an "ethical, political, economic threat" (choose one), only because it threatens their concepts of "should". "Evolutionary arguments are untestable, and therefore wrong." "Sociobiology ignores and degrades all the best in humanity --his pure charity, his aspirations, his complexity. Man is complexly motivated by hope, love, daring, and drive --not just those bad things." No great insights will be lost here by avoiding specific rebuttals of these intentional misunderstandings. A number of books have already done this to which the reader is referred (refs).
The issue though is not about mere opinion, viewpoints, or even a "better research program". The rapidly accumulating scientific evidence, even if incomplete, is indisputable and spread across many levels --biochemical, behavioral, ecological. I would also argue that sociobiology is philosophically confirmed. Given this short list of obvious genetically influenced traits --sleeping, hunger, reproducing, emotions, socializing, and morality- don't these seem important?! The most obvious support is the fundamental realization that all human behavior is a very narrow range of the infinite spectrum of possible behaviors. In addition, a necessary mechanism, a chain of causality starting in the genes, underlying ontogeny, structure, and function, must be recognized. The existence of this mechanism and its observable effects suggests a basic, crucial conclusion: a perspective with objective criteria of truth is possible. The fact of man's biological nature disallows any other dependable understanding of himself.
In this sociobiological world, human behavior seems to be almost entirely programmed. How can this be if we are "all conscious and possess free will and choose what we will do from moment to moment"? The primary means by which our behavior and decisions are channeled for biological purposes is thru "ranking of importance"- priorities. About the most obvious example is the mind's obsession with particular members of the opposite sex when the possibility first exists for sex (commonly referred to as "infatuation"). We can be conscious only of what we have not forgotten. We attend to things only as they seem "important". We can choose only between options that our brains allow us to possess. And then, what are the criteria upon which our decisions are made? The "best choice" is only the choice which will best satisfy a purpose -- and what is that "purpose"? The human creature rarely performs a mental operation which does not have attached some "emotional", "motive", or "attentive" coloring. Perhaps the most "shocking" observation of sociobiology is that all emotions are genetic motivations to commit biologically advantageous behavior. If we would objectively observe the interactions between social elements of our human society, we would find most notably species-specific strategies to maximize inclusive fitness. Some behavior would be oriented toward helping self and family; other behavior would be reciprocating with select others. By reciprocating with a few, they gain advantage over the many non-select . Typically, everyone would be seeking relative advantage over others, as the successful fitness strategy must if it is to be selected. Since society is entirely a product of its members, all its most important characteristics are the expression of the biological motivations of humans. These characteristics fall under the labels of social, economic, or political institutions.
The Most Significant Characteristics of SocietyIntentional confusion dominates consideration of the most important aspects of human culture. Such beliefs typically glorify man's achievements, social "progress", "noble" institutions, beneficent cooperation, "virtuous" aspirations... An aside adds disapproval for a few unfortunate problems- like crime, maybe. To the contrary, the manifest characteristics of human society are hierarchies of human types. Each human ant stuck in his position; each frantically trying to gain relative advantage in the competition of life. Practically all interactions between the behavior-producing structures are inducements to commit particular behaviors- from solicitations to buy the latest spring fashions to fines for letting your pet crap on the sidewalk. If a given structure is not coercing another structure, he is probably submitting to coercion from another. The hierarchy in fact is obviously divided into what can be called ruling classes and ruled classes. Typically, these four observations describe the situation: 1) the ruling classes are the wealthy that 2) acquire their wealth disproportionately from their abilities --almost invariably by 3) coercing the ruled classes to give them their 4) earned wealth. It is also very apparent that the "most important things" to the human creature are: reproducing, wealth, power, and prestige. Far from ubiquitous beneficence, the unspoken common attitude is "Let them oppress, murder, steal from Others- only let Me reproduce." Man's "progressive noble" institutions in fact are simply increasingly subtle organized manipulations of behavior. His virtue and morality are behavioral rules to perpetuate the hierarchy and enforce conformity, if not simply expression of common genetic propensities. All his beauty, creativity, monuments, and "esthetic expression" are display for the purposes of increasing prestige and/or the likelihood of sex. And all these characteristics are strategies to increase survival fitness. No other explanation, or rationalization, is necessary. Quite contrary to an aside, the problems we are commonly aware of are only the surface result of a profoundly archaic and inadequate programming, of an intrinsic and immutable ignorance.
Reciprocal Utility NetworksOne of the most amazing delusions of humans is that friendship is "nice" and virtuous. "If only everyone in the world were friends and brothers." They never wonder for one moment what "friendship" means. Friends "just share and help" each other. Friends reciprocate favors, but does this mean that they transfer equivalent advantage between themselves so that "everything is equal" and nothing but beneficence remains? Hardly. An individual is not going to simply hand over advantage (in whatever form) that he could derive as much or more benefit from than the other individual could. Consequently, benefit is created for the other by cooperation. In addition, each friend of course tries to give less advantage then they receive in turn (only one loses). But by far the most important aspect (the most ignored, too) is that these two friends have gained relative advantage over non-friends by their cooperation -this is the major selective advantage. This is the net result of fidelity, gratitude, favors, trust, "emotional involvements". Lest this treatment seems shaky, consider the tremendous biological underpinnings of human reciprocal altruism: facial expressions, language (all our words for obligation, coercion, should, condemn/approve, and unending ad hominems), heavy emotional investments, individual identity and recognition, unfriendliness/xenophobia/prejudice, gregarious groupings, ritualized socializing, abundance of relevant social norms...
People believe they've gained "worldly experience" when they begin to realize that "friendship" is important for getting life's goodies; they do not realize that it is practically everything. In fact, "reciprocal utility networks" account for almost all social relationships. This network of varying social bonds that result in survival advantage reciprocation ranges across pair bonds, social cliques, clubs, fraternities, associations, groups, and clans. The essential nature of these social bonds is that advantage is conferred differentially among individuals. In short, the important consequence of being "nice" to friends rests on not being nice to not-friends. A few examples of the advantages traded are gift-giving, special consideration, "little" favors, inside information, loans and contracts, jobs, opportunities to make wealth, facilitation of other social bonds... We can predict, for instance, that seeking power is motivated in large part by the "favors" one can then bestow --which eventually result in reciprocated benefit. Also, as we shall see, the ruling class in Washington represents this country's "dominant reciprocal utility network". The greater portion of human attention is directed at forming significant social bonds, appraising social bonds, assessing or influencing the assessment of the social bonding worth of another, attempting to manipulate behavior thru the social bond, deciding how and to what extent to reciprocate, and of course, denying particular social bonds (e.g.., by unfriendliness or ostracism). Although most are familiar with this aspect of human nature, they refuse to acknowledge the full import, say, of "man is gregarious and avoids loneliness", "the power of the many exceeds the power of the few or the one", "it helps to have contacts", or even, "campaign workers are rewarded with government jobs or contracts". So the abuses of "political machines", "oligarchies", "nepotism", "old boy networks", and innumerable other features of our civilization in common result from reciprocal utility bonds. The very existence of our human hierarchy is enabled thru this same sociobiological network (see Part 2). Perhaps the worst consequence of this human trait is that the system skews rewards away from merit/competence/productivity and towards subservience/conformity/deceit/social bonding.
The Advantage of Any TraitA subset of social reciprocation is the conferring of advantage upon family and kin. This reciprocal relationship is distinguished by the absence of any overt reciprocation. Only sociobiology can explain the seemingly "pure altruism" in raising children, supporting a wife, helping increasingly distant relatives for nothing in return... We have come to the profound realization that behavior is not so much for the advantage of the individual self as it is for our gene copies spread among many related individuals- the inclusive self. The successful biological organism, i.e., at our point in evolution, "the most likely", is itself a successful strategy produced by its genes. "Genes" are jargon for the "information" found in the DNA of chromosomes which are the determining reactants in the chemical perpetuation of structure type. Genes are often further defined as the smallest unit of DNA which can result in a theoretically selectable effect (trait, characteristic, or chemical reaction). Recall that traits are selected according to their ability to continue to exist and to replicate relative to other competing traits. In practice, the organism is the unit of selection- either existing or not existing; therefore, the effect of many traits together is selected. However, across many generations, it is the successful gene which is perpetuated. Distinguishing between copies of the successful "thing" is senseless, and self-defeating. Applied to behavior, animals are going to behave in such a way as to increase the representation of their reproducible, selectable selves -their genes. These are the behaviors which are most successful in time. In humans, the seemingly pure altruism is actually conferring advantage on self, essential, inclusive self. The reciprocated advantage is increased survival fitness of one's own genes. And predictably, the animal's altruism is proportional to the fraction of its gene copies in the object of its help. (refs)
We are forced to limit the successful "thing" to phenotypes (expressed genes) only when maintaining a correspondence between function and replication. This correspondence does not necessarily exist for many "selected traits" in man. The important determinant of such a "thing" (that spreads and/or continues) is that it affects this result itself or is correlated with something else which affects this result. The "thing" no longer must be a gene; it might be a stretch of chromosome, a jumping genome, a virus, an entire organism (during its lifetime), or a gene/culture complex... An example will best illustrate. A frequent remark is that the wealthy aren't reproducing as much as the poor. How can the motivation to be wealthy then seem "so unfit"? Besides the suspect nature of the assertion, it is certainly only a recent phenomena of the past century and also correlates with how developed the particular country is, how removed from the basic life/death struggle the people are. We may be observing a strongly disequilibrium process, but can any other explanation account for man's acquisitiveness for wealth?
In the developed democracies, every human organism is almost guaranteed survival and reproduction. Under these circumstances, gene/culture complexes will have greater "play", and the apparent competition will come to be between particular behavioral programs that fit into (are allowed and influenced by) genetic behavioral tendencies. Wealth, power, and prestige enable their possessor's particular behavioral programs to influence other genetic engrams (that is, individuals) into reconfiguring to their programs (or parts of it). If then the program encourages behavior that spreads the program, it will be favored over ones that don't necessarily affect the program's influence (its spreadability). In this manner, a "thing" is selected capable of self-propagation. It motivates behavior in proportion to its perceived biological advantage, but is otherwise unlinked to genetic survival fitness. Such behavioral programs can obviously "jump" generations- even exhibit Lamarckian evolution. Note the importance of influencing self and others. The explanation for acquisitiveness then would be that it has helped a behavioral program be selected for, of which it is an aspect. Many generations hence, the poor may have increased in proportion to the wealthy (biologically selected for), but this does not effect the selection of behavioral programs in the here and now.
Particular behavioral programs that have worked so well, they have in time changed genetic distributions are language and religion. In the most successful religions, the behavioral program contains a motivation to spread (to proselytize). Of equivalent importance, religion has often contained the motivation to disadvantage if not extinguish those not possessing the program. No one can deny that religious intolerance and purges (genocide) have radically altered genetic populations. Aspects of the phenomena of behavioral programs are often misunderstood; the "meaning" of a particular genetic program should not be said to exist- only do the reconfigured chemicals of a deeply mechanistic neural structure and the obvious, consequent behavioral tendencies of the organism. Nor for the most part, can the main structure of a behavioral program be said to be rationally arrived at either in origin or transmittal. In religion, again, the particular belief in a "god" fits into genetic programming for "authority" and strongly influences the organism's behavior even though "god" obviously does not exist.
Another prediction from a generalized "selection of inclusive fitness" theory, is that animal motivation includes a continuous unconscious cost/benefit analysis. When perceived cost to self falls below likelihood of benefit to the fraction of inclusive self in another organism, such behavior will be advantageous (for the spread of "self"). We can predict in this situation that perception of "like me" is strongly motivated by genetic influences. No real necessity to limit such "altruism" to one's own species exists, for our chromosomes have a very high degree of similarity to all organisms around us. For example, 98% of human nucleotides match (in the sense of a recombinant DNA matching index) those of our nearest primate relative, the chimpanzee. While a major source of "not-me" may originate in competition between alleles, the issue is too complicated to say exactly how much a behavioral trait will select for "self". Does the behavioral gene(s) select for all the genes of the organism (out of some favor for the advantageous synergism of many functions, for instance)?. Even in the theory of kin selection of "identical genes", there must be an "essential link" between the gene(s) responsible for such altruism and other self genes. In any case, the principle can predict that even a general capacity to perceive "like me" (and its consequent behavioral "favoritism") will be strongly selected as "like-me's" proliferate.
Major considerations in our ancestral past have been acquiring enough chemicals for life maintenance (or, "eating other organisms"). We can see that hunger effectively informs the organism of the urgency of fitness advantageousness. As the chemical requirements of human organisms are increasingly satisfied they will feel a decreasing inclination to eat (and terminate) more closely related organisms (in man, the most recent tendency towards "vegetarianism" is observed). Rationally in contrast, eating more genetically related (healthy) organisms is desirable because you are assured of the nutrient ratios your own body needs --although of course this must be qualified by the evolutionarily expected diet. In our past, our ancestors were more likely cannibals; in "the worst of times", of their own offspring (a guess: when the likelihood of own copies' termination exceed 50%, the fraction of exact "self" in offspring). In better times, an increasing "humanitarianism" develops toward increasingly distant humans. It's very important to include all costs and benefits in the analysis. For example, the cost may be very high of allowing a future competitor (someone who could eat you, kill you, take your mate, or steal your resources), even if related, to survive and reproduce...
The Survival Advantage of DelusionFor those of you who are reacting negatively to these words - Why?! Are you rationally weighing the evidence, considering the possibilities, testing the explanatory power of a new theory when your stomach is in knots, and you are outraged by blasphemy and despising the author of such ideas? While these statements are "just observations" (with a little bit of association thrown in), they seem outrageously novel to you because of: 1) strong genetic programming for delusion and deception, 2) beliefs in the "good of man", the importance of mankind, the virtue and justice of Our Rulers and dominant institutions, and 3) "What Should Be", what is "good, fair, just, nice, desirable, humanitarian, noble, moral, virtuous..." A major species-specific trait of humans is not so much understanding and thinking, but ignorance and emotion --self-delusion, subterfuge, and zealous deception. Humans uncritically assume their biological priorities are reality. An aspect of this is the philosopher's distinction between "ought" and "is". Never do we hear that almost all of our cherished characteristics are illusions strongly influenced by our genes. A useful "rule of thumb" to distinguish these traits are their appropriateness for biological survival, their species-specificity (i.e., cross-cultural), and their typically deeply irrational, emotionally colored, and difficult to change nature. The resulting programmed mindset is typically oriented by illusory motivations, biological prioritization (fundamentally, the maximization of inclusive fitness), and a highly "emotional" (read, "irrational") defense of selfdelusion. Contradicting the usual "cultural learning/ human knowledge" paradigm, we do not observe our motivations around us, nor do we develop our beliefs and "morality" after carefully weighing the "evidence". We do not go around attempting intercourse with rocks, animals, or plants "until we learn better", nor do we eclectically choose from the world's religions that which best fits our personal knowledge of the external world.
Our large brains, our consciousness, our great ability to know has in fact necessitated an extensive system of delusion. Imagine, if you will, a truly aware and un-deluded organism born among primates: he sees a raging chemical infestation, chemical structures frantically battling against each other, fighting to incorporate other chemicals into their structures, competing for the opportunity to surge hormones thru their brains as they replicate microscopic strands of chemicals from a single cell of their structures, only to die in a flash of time... Now the prize question: "Why behave?!" "Ought" ("Ot") does not exist; it can not even be learned! ["Ot" will be used to emphasize the capacity or mechanism for motivation as distinct from any particular motivation] Ot is fundamentally genetic: it keeps the organism breathing from moment to moment, seeking food, competing for survival fitness, behaving in the most biologically advantageous ways. Ot can be usefully regarded only as the compulsion for behavior. Indeed, we should expect that the greater an organism's capacity to perform varied behavior and develop adaptive behavior, the greater the necessity to create delusions to channel behavior into particular biologically advantageous strategies. Obviously, our behavior is very narrow and primitive even on the scale of conceivable possibility. Until recently, traditional strategies might have been expected to be more successful than novel strategies, simply because, by their very existence, they were the ones that had been successful in the past AND the likelihood of the new strategy to be more successful (while obviously not a flat function) was very small because it is chosen from the far greater range of possible strategies. Apparently unknown to humanity, the subset of "purposive biologically advantageous" behavior is an incredibly minute fraction of all possible behaviors. As a result, any sort of genetic compulsion to perform these advantageous behaviors will be strongly selected for.
In contrast, the conventional view is that man-inspired successful tradition --"selected just like genetic behavior"-- can adequately explain society. This view alone cannot account for the low probability of success in any choice of strategies. If one admits that a genetic propensity for imitability exists (as in, respect for tradition), a man-inspired strategy is even less likely (conformity opposes creativity). But still, "man is much more analytical and rational than that." On this abstract level everything seems so plausible; isn't it convenient to ignore the absurd and irrational nature of these strategies? How can simple imitability account for the blind acceptance of such strategies as: courtship, marriage, funerals, catholicism, cliqueishness, fashion, and anti-meritocratic hierarchies? Where is the "rationality"?! No, the rational derivation of the most successful strategies cannot be reconciled with the blind indoctrination and mindlessness characteristic of society. Now in the face of increasingly antiquated, destructive behavior for centuries, might we not have "rederived" another superbly successful strategy? The last wrench in this view is that the individuals who might derive these successful strategies are not conscious for the most part of exactly what would be biologically advantageous --something quite distinct from individually or socially advantageous.
Many implications of man's innate capacity for delusions can be drawn. A major evolutionary reason for delusion might be that the behaviors necessary for survival fitness are not primarily for the benefit of the individual, but instead, are for all his gene copies (e.g.., beliefs about marriage, family, sex...). Consequently, numerous delusions exist to create a feeling of individual importance in the organism. Examples are self-worth (and amongst philosophers, "self-esteem"), religious beliefs about life after death, personal "soul", and "free will". These conceal the organism's mortality and true biological purpose- survival and spread of gene copies. Perhaps the major example of this is the abundant delusions and rationalizations of "individual purpose" expressed in "fun". People sincerely believe they do things because "it feels good". Really! The programmed structure of the lower brain releases "opiates", neurohormones to "reward" and compel particular behavior, and human's "rational" response is "this feels good to my self". Again, a belief in individual benefit is compelled, when the genes are most definitely benefiting. Clarifying examples: That sex "feels good", that food "tastes good", that some perception is "funny", that excreting is "relieving", that friendship is "warm", that a female looks "sexy", religious "ecstasy"... "my life goal is happiness". Obviously, this list is endless. In every case, we see a biologically advantageous behavior "coincidentally" linked to an emotional feeling. In fact, all emotion is exactly and only a biological motivation for advantageous behavior; the very existence of such a thing as "emotion" could have informed the human that he was biologically motivated -compelled to do things he, as a rational individual, might not have done. In as much as emotion is our gene's major strategy for biological motivation, it is especially unlikely to be free of delusion. "Emotion" glaringly confirms that our behavior is genetically influenced, and makes opposition to sociobiological theory by some scientists utterly ludicrous.
A good example of these points and their intentional misunderstanding can be found in sex and reproduction. It's often remarked, "people aren't sociobiologically influenced --see, they continue to wildly have sex for the pleasure of it when it's rarely reproductive anymore (because of birth control, etc.)" But that is exactly the influence: "the pleasure of it"! The nature of programming is to blind the "rational self" to all the influences necessary for biological fitness. One particularly good blinding influence is "pleasure". Can't you see how amazingly successful such a strategy is? The organism is "only pursuing pleasure" of self-gratification and, surprise!, look at the biologically fit behavior that is produced. The anthropoids who possessed merely "the rational option to reproduce" long ago became extinct. It's only further proof of sociobiology that such influences remain (from when they were evolutionarily selected for) even though the environment/culture has changed. (Only now does it seem unfit.) Indeed, the intensity of sexual pleasure and the frequency with which it is done relative to other animals confirm that man needs greater genetic influence to offset his mental capacities. Finally, even this "unfit" sex reinforces social bonds --as in the emotionally laden post-coital sympathy.
Delusion, as used here, means the conscious response to humans' genetic programming. As such, delusion can reach amazing depths of complexity and verbal nonsense. Sadly, the greater portion of man's intellect goes to rationalizing his subconscious motivations. The rationalization itself exemplifies delusion- an excuse offered as a reason for belief or behavior when it is not the reason, main reason, or primary motivation. Numerous behavioral programs will be incorporated that are perceived to gain the person inclusive advantage; specifically, if they appear to be superior strategies for surviving, competing, and reproducing. Some most obvious delusions are religious beliefs, morality, aesthetics, "acceptable social conduct", education/ subordination/ respect, and racism/ethnicity, but many more particular trappings are more "rationalized" such as: anthropocentrisms, "man's destiny", conscious purpose, vitalism and "sacredness" of life, "evolutionary pinnacle", or earlier, "man is 'better than' animals" and especially, "man is beyond biology and evolution".
The most prevalent delusions conceal the essential nature of human interaction, which is, coercion, compulsion, obligation, approval, etc. - the ubiquitous attempts to alter self and other's behavior to one's own advantage. [The Cult of Shud; "shud" will be used to emphasize the irrational nature of these attempted manipulations] Typical self-delusions might be "If we just wish hard enough, it will come true." or "I want" --simply an expression or reinforcement of a behavioral tendency. Whenever used as the reason for a behavior, "I want" begs the question. The most profound delusion preventing understanding of our biological natures is the consensus belief in intention, will-power, free will -- that ideas and decisions appearing in consciousness are one's own, rationally derived [discussed later]. Typical "culture-wide" delusions are "equality of wealth", charity, democracy (or fundamentally, egalitarianism, altruism, morality, or liberty). Their virtue or desirability is never even debated. Far from harmless "good-will", such delusions cause tremendous problems. Their continuous repetition and uncritical acceptance leaves the false impression that everyone believes in them and behaves by them, i.e., Our Leaders. In fact, "evil" behavior is not isolated in faraway times and places, it is intrinsically, continually ubiquitous. The very trust and acceptance of others' power over us results in all the abuses, corruption, and deceit of government, organized religion, and other ruling institutions. Similarly, contemporary "heights of awareness" about the interactions of humans ("ethics, justice, law, and order") are no more than verbalizations of Shud. There is nothing wrong with someone hurting, coercing, killing, stealing from anyone else. There is no such morality -- no such "natural, self-evident Rights". But neither are there any rights to harm someone else! People can and do aggress against others continually, and any verbal argument attempting to induce them to stop is only that, so many words, so many vibrations of the larynx or scratches on paper.
Instead, people might for once rationally agree on a purely pragmatic system that maximizes their own interest. People consciously, cooperatively living together can agree that the victim or his defender is justified in defending himself, repelling aggression, or demanding recompensation- or equivalent disadvantage- from the aggressor, without exception and especially without arbitrary codified morality. It will be objected that this seems "weak" compared to morality and social norms. If delusion, deception, and irrationality are not bothersome, then our genetic past demonstrates that such genetically inclined falsehoods are advantageous. But such cannot be inferred for the future; a morality grounded in hunter-gathering societies has already shown itself to be profoundly antiquated in modern society. Our capacity for rational change will become our only hope in a progressively complex future.
But how can I seriously suggest that genes majorly influence man's delusions? "The chromosome has not been built that can encode a Roman Catholic mass." This statement is typical of the strongest of all delusions -- the belief that humans are "free" from biology, utterly unaffected by their genes, their choices of behavior made freely and consciously, their culture rationally and humanly constructed- an evolutionary leap beyond evolution... Nothing more seriously destroys survival fitness than the knowledge that you are a gene machine. A common assumption is that we cannot even begin to examine the influence of genes on our brains and behavior. Indeed, the human brain is incredibly complex and we are far from understanding how it works. Nevertheless, many aspects of it can be known with certainty, for example: it is made of many discrete and invariant components each with a particular function; any event in the brain has a causal (and in principle, predictable) origin; the responsiveness of neurons account for all brain activity; the development and gross structure of the brain is always the "working out" of chemical reactions initiated by the genes... The fundamental point is that the brain is an entirely mechanistic structure- not a "little man" or a "link with the ethereal soul". We can postulate a "reward" system that responds to pattern-matching between internal events and pre-programmed genetic engrams by initiating various motivational states, such as, behavior, emotions or moods, or simply, memory. The "internal events" result from external stimuli or a particular link in the causal chain of "thoughts". The pre-programmed engrams are patterns of neural responsiveness within the brain. A most obvious example would be the strong "reward" to be attracted to a human female whose visually deciphered shape "matches" the deep pattern for "female figure" in the human male. [Note: "reward" is its popular label; however, "reward" assumes a little man in the brain responding to stimuli. This only begs the question without explaining why (or rather, how) the response.]
The overall structure of the brain is not so much "enabling function" as it is (anatomically apparent) control and feedback. While man has a highly developed associative cortex, and hence, "capacity" to associate mental representations, the cortex is heavily linked with neural bundles of control originating in the lower brain. We expect that this feature accounts for the nature of rationalizations --a typical ignorance of the general and essential nature of our observations and an arbitrary emphasis on the particular and trivial. The opponents of sociobiology are fond of saying something like "genes don't determine whether a person becomes a doctor or garbage collector, a person can choose any occupation he wants." Far more important than which particular occupation, the genes will influence the capacity to be athletically proficient, abstractualizing, creative, dominant or submissive, or sdevious, etc., etc. --each a particular survival strategy. A "free choice" delusion has utmost importance because it concerns the basic motivations of a conscious, biological organism. More than anything else, human's responses to their fundamental biological determinism have become selected to be "hardwired" for all sorts of emotional denial. Emotions are the "surest bet" our genes can use, for instance, to inspire disagreement with this essay. Hate, disgust, outrage, uneasiness, contempt, anger, exasperation, etc., are all manifestations of genetic strategies to influence thought (and consequently, selectable behavior) into the biologically appropriate.
What is the significance of "initiating various motivational states"? They absolutely determine the course of events within the brain! They enable intention and doing; things altogether distinct from "what is" and simply being. Despite the difficulty in accepting the fact, intention is a purely human construct. It is not Reality- to be examined and learned. "Pure thought", the causal flow of chemical reactions in the brain, only exists, and likewise, is entirely distinct from why the thought would cause any behavior- or even continue to exist. The motivational state "provides the reason". To be more precise, only the neurochemicals simply exist --the motivational state is the tendency for them to react in a particular way. In particular, "importance" does not exist; everything simply is. But "importance" is the human machines' label for "what is to be done", or remembered, or given attention... "Coincidentally", although humans do such extraordinary things as make coffee, go bowling, manufacture cars, and build bridges, the "most important things" are marriage, "having kids", "being with friends", "being happy"... This is how genes influence our "complex" behavior. Another example: sociobiologists have maintained that genes influence what is learned- "channeling" beliefs and behavioral programs. Predictably, their opponents have trivialized or ignored this mechanism, when in fact it affects everything that the human consciousness has (consists of) to manipulate. The genes do this by labeling every thought with a ranking of "importance". Less important mental events (patterns of neural response) become less recallable (the neural pattern is less likely to be "fired" by any future input). Below a particular level of importance, they are only "short term memory" --below that they are never even perceived! On the other hand, those "really important" thoughts, like the pretty girl who just smiled at you, are re-fired over and over again- reinforcing the neural pattern and increasing the likelihood of activation in the future.