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Sapolsky Wrong to Dismiss Hunter-Gatherer Violence



(p. 15) Sapolsky proposes 10 strategies for reducing violence, all reasonable but none that justify the notion that science is the basis for societal advances toward less violence and higher morality.


. . .


In this section Sapolsky becomes a partisan critic, including presenting a skeptical view about the supposed long-term decline of human violence claimed by Steven Pinker in "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined." Sapolsky asserts that Pinker's calculations include elementary errors, and that low rates of violence among contemporary hunter-gatherers mean that warfare did not predate agriculture. His arguments here are unbalanced. He fails to note that data on hunter-gatherer violence is relevant only where they are neighbored by other hunter-gatherers, rather than by militarily superior farmers.



For the full review, see:

RICHARD WRANGHAM. "Brain Teasers." The New York Times Book Review (Sunday, JULY 9, 2017): 15.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date JULY 5, 2017, and has the title "Insights Into the Brain, in a Book You'll Wish You Had in College.")


The book under review, is:

Sapolsky, Robert M. Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. New York: Penguin Press 2017.






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