Author Topic: "Primate Behavior"  (Read 1493 times)

Bebek Sincap Ratatosk

  • Probably
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 8974
    • View Profile
"Primate Behavior"
« on: April 02, 2011, 03:28:00 pm »
Baboons are among the more aggressive species of primates. Much like humans, chimps and others, they tend to have a strong hierarchy where the top male picks on the lower males, which in turn pick on lower males, etc etc until you get to the poor shitheels at the bottom that have no one else to pick on, occasionally these bottom males try to make a little alliance and get back at the alphas, but this usually fails and results in beatings. Robert Sapolsky studied a Baboon group called the 'Forest Troupe' for many years and saw this sort of basic second circuit behavior in action. In fact, after years of studying the primate he said that he didn't like them because they were so cruel and violent. Just like humans.

However, the Forest Troupe underwent a strange transformation. They began eating out of a garbage dump near a hotel and the top dogs always ate first. Unfortunately for them, eating first meant that they ate contaminated food, leaving none for those poor schmucks on the bottom rungs. The end result was that the most aggressive, most violent, most "top dog" baboons died. This changed the dynamic of the troupe. Now there were more females and not many males... and the males that were left were imprinted (to use a learyism) with a weak second circuit.

Sapolsky stopped studying them for a number of years. When he returned, the troupe was extremely different. There was much less violence, much more grooming between all of the primates. Blood tests showed drastic decreases in stress indicators. Adult males still occasionally fought, but not as violently, and often immediately groomed each other after. Now here is the really interesting part... these males were NOT the survivors of the poison food event... these were 'next generation' baboons. These were males that had come to the troupe from other groups (young males leave their troupe and find a new one). Not only had the overall behavior of the troupe changed, but the selection of new males had changed as well. Violent 'normal' males were chased off, males that were accepted tended to be these more cooperative males. Compared to other troupes in the area (as a control) this group was extremely different.

If we are "hard wired to be monkeys", then surely so are baboons. Yet if a tribe of baboons can change in such a fundamental way, can it be said that we are truly "hardwired to be monkeys"? Is it possible that alpha behavior, shit flinging, fighting etc, etc... are learned behaviors? If they are learned behaviors, can they be changed? Leary and Bob Wilson thought so... the study of the Forest Troupe seems to indicate that there is something other than just hardwiring going on.

Could this inform us as to why humans became less violent and more social in the distant past? Could it indicate that we have a choice to be or not to be shit flinging monkeys?

I don't know, but I found it a very interesting story.

http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.0020124

Also one of Sapolsky's talks (not directly related, but an awesome talk): http://www.ted.com/talks/robert_sapolsky_the_uniqueness_of_humans.html


- I don't see race. I just see cars going around in a circle.

"Back in my day, crazy meant something. Now everyone is crazy" - Charlie Manson

Lord Cataplanga

  • Outlandish
  • ***
  • Posts: 2315
  • Saint Fiasco
    • View Profile
Re: "Primate Behavior"
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2011, 04:29:36 pm »
Well, it's not like the baboons chose to change and become less violent, it's the environment that changed.
Of course, humans have the unique ability to alter their own environment, but a change like that would probably require the cooperation of the alphas.

Bebek Sincap Ratatosk

  • Probably
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 8974
    • View Profile
Re: "Primate Behavior"
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2011, 04:33:08 pm »
Well, it's not like the baboons chose to change and become less violent, it's the environment that changed.
Of course, humans have the unique ability to alter their own environment, but a change like that would probably require the cooperation of the alphas.


That may be... the talk I linked to discusses the differences between humans and other primates... what makes them unique. A number of those unique behaviors would seem to indicate that we have the capacity to evoke this kind of change in ourselves. After all, if its environmental, then its not genetic/nature/hardwired. To me, thats the interesting part, if we don't accept the idea that "We're monkeys, we have to act like this" then where can we take it?

- I don't see race. I just see cars going around in a circle.

"Back in my day, crazy meant something. Now everyone is crazy" - Charlie Manson

Dysfunctional Cunt

  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 54764
    • View Profile
Re: "Primate Behavior"
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2011, 04:58:27 pm »
Was it environment as much as a change in leadership?

In general females are less violent, more "group or family" oriented.

 

Bebek Sincap Ratatosk

  • Probably
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 8974
    • View Profile
Re: "Primate Behavior"
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2011, 05:04:37 pm »
Was it environment as much as a change in leadership?

In general females are less violent, more "group or family" oriented.

 

There are a number of theories that they were discussing... from maternal direction to the other males being imprinted in a less aggressive way and thus accepting only other males that were similar. In the talk he has a picture of two of the males grooming each other. He said that was stranger than a flying Baboon because no male baboons will groom each other except for this singluar troop. I dunno if they ever finalized a single theory... only that it flies in the face of the previous strong belief that it was hardwired.
- I don't see race. I just see cars going around in a circle.

"Back in my day, crazy meant something. Now everyone is crazy" - Charlie Manson

East Coast Hustle

  • Missile Command
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 46213
  • Omnimalevolent Polyfather of Exsanguination in Red
    • View Profile
Re: "Primate Behavior"
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2011, 06:40:08 pm »
The OP seems to imply that our innate hardwiring cannot be overridden. One outlier group managing this does not, IMO, necessarily make a statement one way or the other about our basic biological imprint.
Rabid Colostomy Hole Jammer of the Coming Apocalypse™

The Devil is in the details; God is in the nuance.


Some yahoo yelled at me, saying 'GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH', and I thought, "I'm feeling generous today.  Why not BOTH?"

Bebek Sincap Ratatosk

  • Probably
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 8974
    • View Profile
Re: "Primate Behavior"
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2011, 07:37:38 pm »
The OP seems to imply that our innate hardwiring cannot be overridden. One outlier group managing this does not, IMO, necessarily make a statement one way or the other about our basic biological imprint.


Yeah I just kinda summed up the stuff I saw on the documentary... Sapolsky seemed pretty convinced that it indicated a stronger correlation between the alpha behavior and nurturing, rather than something hardwired. Obviously I think thats probably a concept that would require much more study to determine anything finite. The big thing of interest for him though, was that the monkeys he observed were monkeys from other groups that had come to this group after adolescence. It wasn't like all the Baboons were born in this tribe and exhibited this behavior, but that the outsiders who came in (from groups that showed normal behavior) were also less violent and would groom other males.

I agree that it isn't proof, but I think its a pretty interesting exception to the previously held belief.

His talk I linked to has some other really interesting points about primate behavior, like that some primate groups show empathy... not the complex form of empathy that humans show, but still empathy that was (until recently) thought to not exist among monkeys. The example he used was that weak monkey A might decided to pick on alpha monkey and get his ass kicked. The monkeys kinda ignore him. However, if weak monkey A is just chilling out and the Alpha comes over and beats the shit out of him, over the next hour many members of the group go groom the weak monkey (grooming being a calming gesture etc).

As though they could say "That monkey deserved his ass beating, this monkey did not"
- I don't see race. I just see cars going around in a circle.

"Back in my day, crazy meant something. Now everyone is crazy" - Charlie Manson

The Good Reverend Roger

  • Horrible Bastard
  • One-Armed Jizz Moppers
  • Deserved It
  • **
  • Posts: 36736
    • View Profile
Re: "Primate Behavior"
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2011, 08:27:18 pm »
So, great.  All we have to do is find "Bob's" dumpster, and get all the bankers to eat out of it...
" It's just that Depeche Mode were a bunch of optimistic loveburgers."
- TGRR, shaming himself forever, 7/8/2017

 "Billy, when I say that ethics is our number one priority and safety is also our number one priority, you should take that to mean exactly what I said. Also quality. That's our number one priority as well. Don't look at me that way, you're in the corporate world now and this is how it works."
- TGRR, raising the bar at work.

Freeky

  • Can't breathe anymore.
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 187789
  • wat
    • View Profile
Re: "Primate Behavior"
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2011, 09:11:07 pm »
So, great.  All we have to do is find "Bob's" dumpster, and get all the bankers to eat out of it...

Precisely!
If someone does the “Fine, you’re right, I’m clearly a terrible person, I’m Satan, I’m the worst person alive, I should just die” thing in response to criticism of their harmful behavior, they are trying to manipulate people and flip the situation around so that they look like a victim.

As a neuroscientist I have to disagree with the perception that anyone is doing mathematical modeling of cognitive intelligence, yet; intelligence as an economist defines it, yes, but economists are worlds away from actual cognition.


Although it is outside the purview of this organization to offer personal advice, we can say -- without assuming any liability -- that previous experience indicates (and recent market studies corroborate) that given the present condition of the marketplace, continuing with your present course of action is likely to result in substantial in

Bebek Sincap Ratatosk

  • Probably
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 8974
    • View Profile
Re: "Primate Behavior"
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2011, 08:24:07 pm »
So, great.  All we have to do is find "Bob's" dumpster, and get all the bankers to eat out of it...

I APPROVE OF THIS PLAN!
- I don't see race. I just see cars going around in a circle.

"Back in my day, crazy meant something. Now everyone is crazy" - Charlie Manson

President Television

  • Told You I
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 26105
  • Chupacabra of Internet Sex Crimes
    • View Profile
Re: "Primate Behavior"
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2011, 09:36:31 pm »
So, great.  All we have to do is find "Bob's" dumpster, and get all the bankers to eat out of it...

"Bob"'s dumpster... I like the ring of that.
It occurs to me that the "alphas" when it comes to humanity might be entire countries rather than individual leaders. Since value is an abstract concept represented by the medium of currency, it seems unlikely to me that this would be any thing in particular to be purchased by leaders themselves. It seems more likely that the contents of "Bob"'s dumpster would be some kind of resource or technology that only wealthy countries can afford, that ends up ruining them. Or perhaps the contents of the dumpster are themselves abstract. Maybe the contents are success. It makes sense, given what you in particular have predicted to occur over the next ten years.

Just toying with the idea.
My shit list: Stephen Harper, anarchists that complain about taxes instead of institutionalized torture, those people walking, anyone who lets a single aspect of themselves define their entire personality, salesmen that don't smoke pipes, Fredericton New Brunswick, bigots, philosophy majors, my nemesis, pirates that don't do anything, criminals without class, sociopaths, narcissists, furries, juggalos, foes.

Elder Iptuous

  • Professional Discordian and Physiognomist
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 56216
  • terribly tedious
    • View Profile
Re: "Primate Behavior"
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2011, 03:15:36 am »
the premise seems like a false dichotomy imo.
i would assume that we are 'hardwired' to have various behaviours in various contexts, some of which are rarely, if ever seen.  but just because some circumstance arises such that the monkeys do not behave in the way that they previously had, doesn't mean that they won't revert to the previous behavior if the circumstances go back to their previous condition...


BabylonHoruv

  • Infectious Projectile Faecalator
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 38685
    • View Profile
Re: "Primate Behavior"
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2011, 06:19:59 am »
So, great.  All we have to do is find "Bob's" dumpster, and get all the bankers to eat out of it...

"Bob"'s dumpster... I like the ring of that.
It occurs to me that the "alphas" when it comes to humanity might be entire countries rather than individual leaders. Since value is an abstract concept represented by the medium of currency, it seems unlikely to me that this would be any thing in particular to be purchased by leaders themselves. It seems more likely that the contents of "Bob"'s dumpster would be some kind of resource or technology that only wealthy countries can afford, that ends up ruining them. Or perhaps the contents of the dumpster are themselves abstract. Maybe the contents are success. It makes sense, given what you in particular have predicted to occur over the next ten years.

Just toying with the idea.

Going from a simple food approach developed countries do have a huge obesity epidemic.....

Of course undeveloped countries are starving, so that doesn't quite work.
You're a special case, Babylon.  You are offensive even when you don't post.

Merely by being alive, you make everyone just a little more miserable

-Dok Howl