AQ&A Topic 7 Date: 30 October 2017 : Humans as Predators - a net plus or a minus?

 

Focus questions

(feel free to add more of these) . Clearly not all of these questions can be properly covered in a meetup, but they give us a conscious choice about what to talk about while making the background context clearer.

1. How exactly can we apply the term 'predator' to humans, literally and as a metaphor?

2. Are Super-Heroes usually predators or anti-predators?

3. Predators in the animal kingdom play a critical ecological role in controlling overpopulation by other species. What role have humans played in this sense?

4. While other animals kill to eat, humans kill other humans for advantage,  or subdue other humans for advantage. What are some positive and negative outcomes from this kind of human predation?

5. The struggle for human advantage is often most clearly expressed in sexual competition (compare to chimpanzee bands). When does sexual competition become predatory (in either gender)?

6. Companies, countries and other organizations can be 'legal persons' but are not human. Of course they are driven by humans. Is human behaviour behind the shield of a company, nation etc typically more, or less, predatory than that of an individual acting alone?

7. By the latest count (that I've seen) a person' body is built from about 37 trillion cells - 37 trillion little animals holding hands and cooperating. I think of it as a living hotel, and hanging out in the corridors of this cheap hotel are perhaps 90 trillion bacteria. Some bacteria are bad guys, predators breaking up the furniture and eating the walls, but whole armies of 'good bacteria' are needed to keep the 'hotel' going. It is a symbiotic relationship. Projecting these patterns into human societies, if the predators will always be with us, what roles should we allow them to play?

8. News, the media, as we know it is pretty much about a) people, singly or in groups, acting badly; b) accidents; c) natural disasters; d) celebrity promotion. In other words, the consensus seems to be that heaven would be a very boring place, but we would like, and even want to see trouble in other people's houses, not our own. Is this schadenfreude (pleasure in the pain of others) a kind of displaced aggression? By moving our predatory instinct from real-world acting to the imagination, do we become nicer people?

9. Computer games should be a gift for teaching useful ideas and skills. In fact, most of them are very poor at this. I have asked programmers, why? Their reply has been that there is not much financial return on putting the best brains into educational programs. Electronic murder and mayhem is far more profitable. As in life, in virtual worlds  predators rule supreme. Is it a waste of time trying to change this? Should we resign ourselves to such 'hard wired' preferences for dystopia?

10. The original scriptures of almost all religions promote harmony, peace and tolerance. The lead practitioners and most enthusiastic adherents of almost all religions have violated these proscriptions generation after generation, and generally adopted highly predatory attitudes towards those 'not of the faith'. What is going on here in the psychology of believers?  Has the subduing their own critical thinking led to them being taken over by predatory instincts, regardless of doctrine?

11. In mythologies ancient and modern, the wolf is perhaps the most deeply embedded symbol of a predator. Deceptive, powerful, dangerous, the wolf is an ambiguous figure. From werewolves to the Wolf of Wall Street he has supposedly been irresistible to young women, but also the focus of many a cautionary tale. Versions of Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf have been traced as far back as the 1st Century AD ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Red_Riding_Hood ­ ). I suspect that the primal attraction of the wolf is a core dilemma for some versions of feminism. So what is your take on this?

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Comments & Links

Thor May

Employer Predators: Predatory behaviour by employers is an age-old problem in every country. Some of the worst examples in Australia come from the bad treatment by farmers of backpackers on working holiday visas. Backpackers are exploited because they are not citizens, and so not covered by the usual labour laws. This article is a shocking description of what goes on: "Exploitation of backpacker labour", The Saturday Paper, 28 October 2017 [this journal allows you to read one article per week free] at https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/law-crime/2017/10/28/exploitation-backpacker-labour/15091092005415

 

"Corporate Predators: The Hunt for Mega-Profits and the Attack on Democracy Paperback" – by Russell Mokhiber - "Of the world's biggest 100 economies [as of publication, 2002] , 51 are corporations, not countries. As the most powerful institution of our time, the multinational corporation dominates not only global economics, but politics and culture as well. But the mechanisms of corporate control and the details of corporate abuses have remained largely hidden from public perception-until now". Available from Amazon @ https://www.amazon.com/Corporate-Predators-Mega-Profits-Attack-Democracy/dp/1567511589 ­

Like · Reply · 3 days ago · Mute
Thor May
Thor May

Elites preying on the production of wealth by commoners: Safa Motesharreia, Jorge Rivas, Eugenia Kalnay have written a (long) really interesting paper which searches for a common thread in the collapse of hundreds of societies worldwide since the beginning of recorded history. Beyond all the individual reasons proposed for these collapses, they see a common, mathematically predictable cycle linking all of them to a tension between available resources and the unbalanced material and social distribution of those resources, leading to sudden catastrophic collapse. So our natural predatory inheritance comes with a price that we have not been able to escape. (The rise and collapse of animal predator populations follows similar cycles). Online @ http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800914000615 ­

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Thor May
Thor May

Human predators Vs the animal kingdom: "Humans are a 'unique super-predator'" by Jonathan Amos, BBC:http://www.bbc.com/ne... ­

Like · Reply · 3 days ago · Mute
Thor May
Thor May

John Steinbeck's famous novella, "Of Mice and Men" is a moving account of how those preyed upon also become predators. If you haven't read it, there is an outline of the theme at http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/micemen/themes.html ­

Like · Reply · 3 days ago · Mute
ian beutler
ian beutler

thx, Thor.. a truly moderate, yet scintillating response.

Like · Reply · 3 days ago · Mute
ian beutler
ian beutler

also, would a human-predator, the type of which i believe have been recognised by now, also include a zombie or psychic vampire-type, Thor?

Like · Reply · 4 days ago · Mute
Thor May
Thor May

A predator seeks prey (for consumption or advantage). Since actual cannibalism has been off the table for a while, it is not unusual for some victims to actually submit willingly. That can be a kind of 'Stockholm syndrome' or even a sexual fetish. Where both parties more or less willingly participate and survive, it can be hard to make moral judgements, except where they do damage to a wider ecosystem (e.g. Trump type voters annihilating rational governance in a country). Zombies (who are legion) by definition hardly reflect on the context of their actions, but can be driven by primal instincts like sex and dominance, so certainly seek victims to those ends.

Like · 3 days ago
ian beutler
ian beutler

again, a most apt & appropriate theme for today esp with this ssm so-called issue

Like · Reply · 4 days ago · Mute
Thor May
Thor May

Recognizing predator tendencies in others or yourself is one thing. Figuring out how to deal with them is a harder puzzle. But sometimes the most urgent need is to find a way into the mind of someone who has violated all the normal defences we have of law and custom. Terrorists, independents as well as state hired, in the true (versus political) definition of wreaking terror, come into this category of predation. So, in a sense, are those who prey upon themselves with destructive addictions. It turns out the the way of engaging with both terrorists and addicts is best handled by a similar method. [more ..], These words caught my eye: "During the years when she worked on police cases with Laurence, Emily Alison had come to see interrogation as a close relation of addiction counselling. Both involve getting someone who does not want to be in the same room as you to talk about something they do not want to talk about". The quotation comes from one of the best accounts of interrogation & interview techniques that I've ever read : https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/oct/13/the-scientists-persuading-terrorists-to-spill-their-secrets ­
.

 

 

convenor: Thor May thormay@yahoo.com https://independent.academia.edu/ThorMay

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1. All past topic questions are now listed at http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/DiscussionTopics/DiscussionIndex.htm

 2. From another meetup I run for English learners, twenty-four sets of 10x questions (from Thor) designed for students of  English as a Second Language are online at

http://thormay.net/lxesl/Discussion%20Topics/Adelaide%20ESL%20Meetup.htm

 



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