imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

The Evolution of Morality

by Ezra Niesen Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006 at 8:50 PM
tylermaudib (quit sending me junk mail and get a real job!)

Scientists who study human evolution have discovered the evolutionary origins of morality. The concept of morality exists in every culture on Earth, but the morals themselves are different, which causes a lot of conflict in the world. Now that the Democrats own Congress, I’m sure that conflict is about to get very interesting…

The Evolution of Mor...
ezra_niesen_05.jpg6czf4t.jpg, image/jpeg, 240x350

Human evolutionary science is a relatively new approach to studying human behavior. Tracing characteristics of humanity down to the origins of our species sheds a lot of light on where ideas that everyone takes for granted came from, and why ideas that people take for granted cause problems no one can figure out how to solve.

One example is morality. Every group of people has a concept of morality, but the morals themselves differ from group to group. Now that the Democrats have won back the Congress, I expect we’re going to hear a lot of people arguing about morals for the next couple of years…

All human behavior revolves around the attempt by the individual to preserve the survival of his or her DNA by the most effective means perceivable to him or her. All human consciousness is the product of an interaction of five mental characteristics of humanity: the instincts for survival and reproduction, and the abilities to imagine, remember, and communicate abstract ideas among members of our species.

The first two are characteristics that our species shares with all other animal species. The last three are characteristics that set our species apart from all other species and combine to form human intelligence. (Other animals can do the last three things also, but humans have a clear advantage at all of them.) These characteristics interact with each other in many, many ways on many, many levels.

I know it sounds draconian to a lot of people that a handful of scientists should think they can dictate what people’s brains can and can’t do. So I should probably point out that they aren’t telling people what to think, they’re studying what people DO think and figuring out how those thoughts are being created.

I’ve been invited to give a lecture at Arizona State University in February on human evolutionary science and its uses in human equality, personal empowerment, civil rights, environmental sustainability, and world peace. The following is an excerpt from my free online lecture, which can be found at

There’s a funny story about my recent adventures in human evolutionary science after the lecture excerpt…


A lot of Christian fundamentalists like to try to prove that evolution can’t account for every characteristic of humanity by asking, “But where do morals come from?” Well, since this is my lecture, here’s the answer.

Dr. Steven Pinker has a chapter in his book The Blank Slate—The Modern Denial of Human Nature on the evolution of morality. It’s pretty simple.

People inherited their social instincts from their primate ancestors. Every group of primates works together toward their common interests, but they still compete against each other for their individual interests. So even though the group members work together to keep themselves safe from competitors, there is still competition within the group.

All life depends on energy, which means all life depends on the efficient use of energy. People have figured out that everything else being equal, a group of people who cooperate better will have a greater net energy output than will a group of people who don’t cooperate as well. If those two groups compete against each other, then whichever group’s members work together better will win.

Every group of people in the world has discovered that they can get their people to cooperate better by teaching them to feel that acting in ways that advance the interests of the group is better than acting in ways that advance the interests of the individual at the expense of the group. Basically, every group of people in the world has discovered that they can artificially boost people’s social instincts.

People teach their group members that acting in ways that support the interests of the group is good and right, and that acting in ways that harm the interests of the group is bad and wrong. People teach their group members to attach positive emotions to the idea of acting in ways that benefit the group and to attach negative emotions to the idea of acting in ways that harm the group.

Take adultery, for instance. If members of your group run around having extramarital affairs with each other, it will destabilize your group, because it will create conflict within your group when men start fighting other men, women start plotting against other women, and spouses start fighting with each other. All the energy your group members are devoting to fighting each other is energy they could be spending on competing for survival against another group.

Why do soldiers throw themselves down on hand grenades and sacrifice their lives to protect their comrades? There are a number of different reasons they could do it that don’t have anything to do with artificial morals. If they do it because they feel it’s the moral thing to do, they do it because they’ve been taught to attach positive emotions to the idea of protecting their group, and they’ve learned it so well that at least at that moment in time their social instinct exceeds their survival instinct. That is, they’ve been taught to perceive that protecting the survival of the group best benefits the survival of their DNA. That could be true, if sacrificing his life to keep ten other soldiers alive helped win the war and keep his children safe. On the other hand, it might not be true. But either way, the soldier has been taught to feel that it’s true.

Have you ever noticed that when two groups of people get in an argument about morals, they always accuse the other side of being immoral? Everyone always feels that their own side in the argument is moral. That’s because different groups of people who have lived in different conditions at different times have figured out different sets of morals for people to live by in order to make the group function.

Since each group of people is taught to attach positive emotions to certain courses of action and negative emotions to other courses of action, if people in one group act on what they have been taught to feel is right, but people from the second group have been taught to feel that course of action is wrong, then the people in the second group will perceive what the first people are doing to be immoral, even though the people in the first group are acting in whatever way they’ve been taught best benefits the survival of their own group.

Another type of moral dilemma is one in which when people’s living conditions change, and the people have to start doing something to make their group function that previously would’ve harmed their group. That means that first they were taught to attach negative emotions to a certain course of action, but now they have to do that thing in order to protect the interests of the group.

Take soldiers fighting a war, for example. People have been killing each other for all of human evolution. To make civilizations function, people have learned to teach the members of their groups to feel that killing each other is wrong. But then if they join the military and get shipped off to fight a war, suddenly killing people becomes right, because that’s what they have to do to protect the survival of their military unit. A lot of soldiers have serious problems with that.

Or take abortion, for another example. If parents treat their own children’s lives as though they’re disposable, how is that supposed to contribute to a stable society? Especially when other people see Americans coming into their countries and telling them what to do? If Americans treat their own children’s lives as though they’re disposable, why should it come as such a surprise that foreigners don’t trust Americans and perceive that the most effective way to preserve the survival of their DNA is to try to fight the Americans off while they still have the chance?

On the other hand, we’re in a population explosion right now. People require resources to live, and people getting resources has an impact on the environment. If you saw the movie An Inconvenient Truth, you saw how the population of the Earth is going to break 9 billion people around the year 2050, and at about that same time the polar ice caps are going to completely melt in the summer. (And I already learned both of those things elsewhere before I saw the movie.) That is a potential disaster beyond reckoning, because people who live in costal areas are going to be displaced, people who live near mountains and depend on the water runoff from mountain glaciers are going to be displaced, and there’s no telling how the changing weather patterns are going affect farmlands. If all the rain stops falling in places it used to fall and starts falling in places it didn’t used to fall, that means all the rain could start falling in places that doesn’t have good soil for planting crops in. So abortion is one way to help fight overpopulation. If we keep saving lives one individual at a time, we could kill ourselves as a species.

On top of that, consider this: A rapist is a man who forces a woman to reproduce against her will. (A lot of people believe that rape is purely an act of violence and has nothing to do with sex, but that’s total bullshit, and I’ll tell you why when I get to gender differences.) A man who forces a woman to reproduce against her will forces her to reproduce in a way that she doesn’t perceive best preserves the survival of her DNA. If the government forces a woman to reproduce against her will, it forces her to reproduce in a way that she doesn’t perceive best preserves the survival of her DNA. So for all intents and purposes, a woman who is prevented from getting an abortion is getting raped by the government. And that definitely doesn’t contribute to a stable society.

The concept of morality exists in every single culture on Earth, with no exceptions. When a characteristic of humanity exists in every culture in the world with no exceptions, that makes it a direct product of human evolution, because in every place on Earth where human DNA exists, these things also exist.

That’s how morals work in secular terms that are universal to the human race. For most people in the world, the easiest way to teach morals turned out to be by attaching them to religions…


The story of my involvement in human evolutionary science took an unexpected turn this past week.

Human evolutionary science began at a secret meeting in Budapest in the summer of 1987, of scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain. They were trying to figure out what it is about our species that made our own extinction seem like such a good idea to so many people. Literally, human evolutionary science started as the Science of How to Not Have a War with Each Other. (You can find out more at The Club of Budapest at

Over the past 20 years, scientists have made monumental discoveries into commonalities people everywhere share by membership in the Homo sapiens species, and how to recognize their differences. That makes it the ultimate weapon for civil rights activists and international peace activists. Basically, human evolutionary science is Sesame Street for adults.

For a year and a half I’ve been trying to tell people about this and not having nearly as much success as I’d expected. When someone says he knows a lot of important things about life that nobody else knows, most people think of Charles Manson, not Charles Darwin.

Well as it turns out, I’ve been an activist movement of one this entire time, without realizing it. Even after 20 years and all the discoveries that have been made in the Science of How to Not Have Wars with Each Other, it’s still so controversial that there is only ONE graduate program in human evolutionary science (properly known as evolutionary psychology) in the entire country. It’s at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Officially, the program doesn’t even have a budget. They’ve paid for it by making it an interdisciplinary study of human sciences and humanities, whose departments do have budgets.

After its foundation, the Science of How to Not Have Wars with Each Other became the Science of Solving Social Problems in General. Now, unfortunately, it’s been corrupted into the Science of Making Social Problems Worse. Now it’s become just another resource that a only a few materially wealthy people have access to. This ever-more-refined understanding of how people’s brains work has countless uses in things like Winning Elections for Politicians, Selling Ever More Materialistic Crap to Consumers, Oppressing Minorities, Waging Psychological Warfare Against Armies of Demonstrators at G8 Summits in Seattle or Miami, or… whatever.

Human evolution is not hard to understand, because everyone sees the results of it all around them every minute of their lives. The only reason I don’t have a Ph.D. in human evolutionary science is because it didn’t exist when I was in college. Instead I took the low road to studying human behavior, from just about every direction anyone’s ever thought of, from human sciences to theatre, fiction writing, philosophy, and religion. I seem to have made some important contributions to the field that nobody else has thought of yet, because I got such a big head start over everyone else at the interdisciplinary study of human behavior. Between that and my lifetime of adventure, menial jobs, being homeless, belonging to a street gang, being engaged to a political prisoner, getting photographed staring down phalanxes of riot police all by myself, etc., etc., I’ve lived through a lot of human behavior that most ivory tower academics haven’t.

So I wrote to one of the heads of the human evolutionary science department at UCSB. I told her how many people I’ve met who are trying to put the Science of How Not to Have Wars with Each Other to use without even knowing it exists. I said something about how averting global environmental catastrophe depends on radical alteration to society, and radical alteration of society means revolution, because any time anyone tries to make radical alterations to society, lots of people try really hard to stop them. So Plan A: I use what I know to show how the revolution could be carried out peacefully. Plan B: I tell everyone what I know so that whoever does make a revolution succeed, however they do it, will know what they’ll need to do differently in the new society to keep from making the same mistakes. Then I asked her if she’d like me to send her a copy of my book.

She never wrote back.

I wasn’t really surprised. When environments break down and wars break out, college professors aren’t the first ones to die.

Once upon a time, people believed the atom bomb would be the ultimate weapon for ending wars of imperialism. On the contrary, the ultimate weapon for ending imperialism turned out to be the AK47. Millions of peasant rice farmers who were willing to fight as long and as hard as it took to win succeeded where dozens of the world’s greatest scientists failed.

So I guess this makes me the Ho Chi Mihn of science.

You can download my free audio lecture from my website. I also have a free audio book there, and you can order printed copies of my book through my website, and read the entire lecture and the first half of the book there too. Then you can tell other people about it—like, parents, students, activists, teachers, and professors.

(I had a copy of my audio book on a bittorrent briefly, until the group got shut down. My friend who set it up for me doesn’t have time to set it up on another one now, and I don’t know how. If anyone would like to do that, I’d appreciate it. That goes for my lecture too, which I hadn’t recorded at the time. And you’re welcome to post my book and my lecture anywhere else for free too. Thanks.)

The only reason a lot of problems in the world aren’t getting solved is because people aren’t learning what they need to know to help solve them. But if students, parents, and teachers learn the right questions to ask and start asking them, what other people do or don’t want the public to learn in school won’t really matter any more, will it?

Considering that the whole point of public education is to teach children things they’re going to need to know as adults, shouldn’t the Science of How to Not Have Wars with Each Other be taught in public school?

And if school administrators don’t want to answer that question, they’re welcome to try to answer this one:

Why the hell did we have to learn this stuff from an Anarchist instead?!?!?!?!

Heh, heh, heh…

Find my website at:

And my free lecture at:

Report this post as:

Local News


lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

Two Podcasts on fbi corruption A06 10:13PM

Fbi assassins assault & try to kill DAVID ATKINS A06 7:29PM

EPA Head Scott Pruitt: Of Cages And Sirens A06 2:15PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy