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24105Re: [evol-psych] Re: Suicide terrorism revisited

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  • Joao Sousa
    Apr 1, 2003
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      >Joao Sousa wrote:
      > >I saw some days ago in TV an Iraqi old man saying in tears and anger he
      > >will become a suicide terrorist to revenge his children who were killed
      > >during this war ..<snip>.. Since his children were already dead, I
      >wonder how is this
      > >fits in your kin selection hypothesis.

      Pete Carlton answered:

      >Perhaps it isn't the suicide itself, but the potential deterrence
      >caused by the threat of revenge, that has given benefit in the past.

      That's fine to explain the impulse of revenge, but relevant selective
      pressures in the past must be taken into account. What genes would benefit
      from this deterrence? Genes in close kin? Interesting, but these kin should
      be alive and with good reproductive prospects to generate a significant
      inclusive fitness (IF) benefit. In the case of long-lasting rivalries
      between large family clans (such as in Sicilian mafias or Yanomamo parties)
      even deterrence benefiting a large number of distant kin (belonging to the
      clan) could produce a significant IF benefit, and this could explain
      revenge at these levels. That's fine. However, even in these cases, it is
      hard to see how *suicide* could be included in the repertoire of such
      adaptations. How often situations arose in ancestral environments in which
      suicide would promote a better deterrence than, say, aggression without
      suicide? How often near or distant kin were really benefiting? My guess is
      that such revenge adaptations do exist, but their 'triggering' in modern
      war situations, promoting sacrifice for country, ethnic group, religion,
      etc, are not adaptive in modern times (they hardly if at all produce a real
      IF benefit).
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