By William Markiewicz
I recently received a newsletter, "Wild Surmise," the print version of www.wildsurmise.com. The July issue discusses the link between genetics and History in the essay, "Introns: The Cause of War," signed Booty. If his material is well over my head because I don't have the mathematical talents nor inclination to juggle with the data, I can question the deductive logic:
According to the author, excavations show that Neolithic people enjoyed 200,000 years of practically uninterrupted peace and equality. Beside tools and models of housing are found a few anthropomorphic figures that give us an idea about their vision of themselves. The females, with well developed hips and breasts, were faceless, and so symbolised a collective womanhood, a "loveable nurturing female form." The male figures, also faceless, "seem lost in the deepest, most strenouos thought." The author concludes at the end of the essay that "human nature is to nurture and to think."
My two doubts: first, two hundred thousand years of peace seem to me impossible in the Darwinian universe. I can give a modest example of the latent aggressivity permeating everything and everyplace, probably familiar to everybody: There are two small Spanish villages, a few kilometres apart; I don't remember the place, in Aragon I think. The adolescents from one village ventured half way toward the other from time to time, shouting when in hearing distance: "You there are nothing but cowards and trash!" It was a call to war, and soon the challenged adolescents gathered for a reply with bloody noses. Nothing but a small distance separated them, enough to create a sense of territoriality, separate identity, and engender conflict. We don't know why neolithical conflicts were not registered in the excavations; maybe they didn't dispose of technology devastating enough to leave a mark.
A second doubt concerns the existence of deep Neolithic thought. Here I'll give an example from a discussion, not about prehistory, but about early antiquity.
I read a story once about two British men sitting and conversing in the shadow of the Egyptian pyramides. I don't remember where I read it but the style of the story was old-fashioned enough to conclude that it was written before the Second World War. One of the gentlemen, an enthusiast of the Old Hidden Science theory, explained to his enterlocutor the wonders revealed to those who analyse the various measurements in the pyramids; the cosmic distances, the celestial objects, the atomic secrets, etc. The other gentleman replied that intellectual deductions were not enough for him -- if they were so smart, why didn't they cover the earth with telegraphs and railways?
I side with the second gentleman. "Thought" is an abstraction, what you think and do with it is concrete. If the Neolithics were so thoughtful and had two hundred thousand years at their disposal, where are the fruits of their thoughts? I suspect that neolithic thoughts didn't go beyond the daily preoccupations of any primitive men in any time: next task, next skirmish, next "nurture..."