Can't we live peacefully?

Evolution of violenceCivilized humanity has not become more peaceful

Dean Falk has studied hundreds of brains over the past few decades. This includes not only that of Albert Einstein, but also that of many human ancestors and distant early human relatives - such as the brain of Homo floresiensis, the type of human being known as the hobbit, whose representatives lived on the Indonesian island of Flores until around 60,000 years ago and only around one Meters tall.

"There aren't that many fossilized brains from the early days of humans, but enough to study the evolution of the brain over the past millions of years. In addition, there are studies on chimpanzees, both with regard to the brains and their behavior."

No signs of more peacefulness

The paleoneurologist from Florida State University in Tallahassee researches the origins of language and the beginnings of human intelligence.

"We know when the brain got bigger, that began around 3.5 million years ago. The human brain has not only changed in size, but has also developed special features, such as the function and shape of the Broca center in the This is where the language center is located. We do not see this feature in monkeys. "

Many researchers consider the complex spoken language to be one of the prerequisites for the global expansion of humans. During the hikes, our ancestors also met other groups and these encounters were not always peaceful.

"But we can be sure that the violence was there earlier, because even chimpanzees wage wars and kill each other. The origins of war and violence go very far back. War involves the development of weapons and strategic planning - both products of one Brain that has become bigger and more powerful over time. So today's wars are also the result of the evolution of our brain. "

Compare chimpanzees, hunters, gatherers, and modern states

In order to investigate the origin and extent of the violence, Dean Falk analyzed the data of armed conflicts. To do this, she took the figures from eleven groups of chimpanzees, as well as 24 conflicts between hunter-gatherer communities, the surveys of 19 states that fought in World War I, and data from 22 states from World War II. She wanted to find out how the conflicts differ. The main criterion was the number of people killed per year compared to the size of the population. She has just presented her results in the journal "Current Anthropology".

"There is a view that humanity is peaceful and civilized, that is the thesis of Harvard researcher Steven Pinker. I am concerned about this feel-good message because it is not true. This peaceful thesis cannot be derived from our data."

In 2011 Steven Pinker dealt with this topic in his book "Violence: A New History of Humanity". His result back then. The larger and more civilized the groups, the fewer people die in percentage terms. His conclusion: at least civilized humanity has become more peaceful. Dean Falk cannot understand this argument.

Civilization has not become poorer in war. Only the chance of surviving an armed conflict increases with the size of a population. However, in the course of their development, humans have developed more and more powerful weapons that can kill more and more people, sometimes in one fell swoop. "Civilized people", concludes Dean Falk, are therefore no less violent than their ancestors.