Are modern humans "domesticated"?

Dunno about all the meekness and submission to authority, but on other bases humans can apparently be said to be “domesticated”. I quote (from memory) from Larry Gonick’s Cartoon History of the Universe (first collected volume):

When animals become domesticated their bone structure becomes “more refined”. Modern man has thinner bones than his Cro-Magnon ancestors, who could probably withstand blows that would do in you or me." (Picture of a Cro-Magnon being hit so hard over the head that his feet get driven into the ground, followed by one of his pulling himself out of the ground and going after his attacker.)

And pray, tell me dear Thea, how exactly making a Chevy in 5 years and selling it for $20,000 is any better than working in a factory for 5 years and making $25,000 per year.

And if you think that any one man is capable of even assembling a model T ford by himself with little or no help, you must be delusional. A modern car contains upwards of 100 computers, exotic alloys, fine machining and 100 different regulatory standards. No way in hell you could build that sort of infrastructure from scratch.

Who said anything about an assembly line worker? You said “all the skills to make a Chevy”. To make a Chevy, first, iron has to be smelted, then tempered into steel. Well, I suppose you could just use cast iron, but it would rust a lot sooner…

And Chevys go along fine for umteen years without silicon chips and transistors. You just said a Chevy, you never said what year. And anyway, you said someone with all the skills…


Never said it was better, just said it was possible.

Dogface said a Chevy, period. In other words, a funtioning car. If someone had all the raw materials availble, and the skills to convert them into the necessary parts, yes they could assemble a functioning car. They would probably end up divorced, their tribe would whisper to the neighboring tribes that Urgnat had gone insane, they would be very thin and very hungry, but eventually, they would get the car built. Of course, then there would be the little matter of fuel…

Sure…whatever…and your the one “enlightened” mind who has escaped all media influence?

I recommend decaf for you.

Probably was at first. But what agro did allow was STABLE and PERMENANT settlements. It freed up some resources to work on other aspects of society - building, medicine, etc. Society was no longer restricted to what could be carried long distances on the back of pack animals.

And Thea, one does not “hammer” a Chevy into shape. It takes a lot of precision machining to put together a working engine. All modern businesses are part of a “supply chain”. That is to say, there are thousands upon thousands of companies that must create all the tools, parts, and other secondary equipment required to transform several tons of iron ore into a working Chevy. No factory can operate alone in isolation so comparisons between your crogmagno-communist utopians and a modern industrial (capitalist or not) economy is like comparing apples to dino eggs.

Stable and permanent settlement didn’t necessarily go with agro. In Precolumbian Central America, there is evidence of a sort of “wandering” agriculture, where people would take care of crops at one site for several months, move to another area to harvest the crops there, then return to the original site for harvest time. This was back when crops more closely resembled their wild counterparts and didn’t need as much human intervention in their development.

But yes, farming did free up more energy to be used in other areas. Factory workers, for example, spend most of their days not procuring food, and yet manage to survive thanks to having their food already procured for them by someone else.

Yes, that book is fun, but I hope you know that the human evolution stuff is already way out of date by now.

Also, I think it’s a bit misleading to say that Cro-Magnons could survive blows that would kill modern “man” today, and that picture gives the wrong impression. First, which “men” are we talking about? Considering that the majority of humanity today is malnourished, either not eating enough or not eating enough of the right food (note that this definition can include obese people eating too much junk food), then I suppose you could say that the average modern is less healthy and less resilient than the average prehistoric person.

Second, Cro-Magnons were anatomically modern humans, meaning that they had the same physiology and contained practically the same genetic information as you or me, meaning that you or I could be as tough as Cro-Magnons, had we lived in their environment.

I also managed to find a paper that deals with the difference between pre- and post-agricultural human populations, and luckily enough, it’s on the Internet, at Whoa... That page has been archived. | CAST | University of Arkansas

About the change in human skeletal robusticity, it has this to say:

So yes, thanks to our environment, we have weaker bones than our ancestors. But anyway, the debate was over whether human behaviour, not human bodies, had become “domesticated.”

Another thread, “Is Morality Hardwired?” addresses similar issues to this op.

As we evolved in small social groups certain features were selected for. Selection worked to develop those traits that allowed for successful tribal living (cooperation, compliance with group norms, punishment of cheaters, some forgiveness, concern over your local reputation, etc.), and at the cultural level selecting for groups whose mores led to more successful function and thus more resources. That new environment, a tribe with distinct mores, selects for characteristics as well. Certainly the mores of civilization have had some effect on what genetic tendencies to particular behaviors we have because that became the new environment to adapt to. (The population of organisms changes in reponse to changes in the environment and the environment is changed by the population of organisms … especially the social environment.) But most likely not in the ways that this op presents.

There never was a time “when no one answered to anyone but their immediate superior” We lived in groups from the earliest hominids on. We are a social animal. We always answered to the many. We always cared about not standing out from the norms of the pack and what our social status in the group was. There has always been the conflict between the advantages of compliance to group norms of “fairness” and the advantages/risk of cheating/freeloading and a variety of game tactics played out with varying success.

BTW, Cro-Magnon Man was modern Homo Sapiens anatomically you and me, not some thick skulled brute of the cartoons. Before agriculture he likely had a code of ethics and the desire to fit into his group. He probably had those who tried to cheat and those who felt it their duty to punish the cheaters. Sure certain traits became more valuable in larger civilizations: communication skills for example; the ability to become a skilled subspecialist craftsman rather than a generalist; so on. Maybe having those skills led to the ability to attract better mates and to better produce offspring who could survive to reproduce as well, and thus maybe we have become domesticated by way of selecting for those traits. But meeker? I don’t see it … especially when I watch how people drive!

Be careful not to fall into the functionalist trap. The functionalist answer to the question of why North American blacks are poorer than whites, for example, would be that black culture is less functional than white culture, and is actually dysfunctional (a so-called “culture of poverty”). Therefore, it is the fault of blacks that they are so poor, for it is their own culture – which glorifies pimping, drug dealing, and violence – that make them poor. It is therefore not the fault of slavery, or of institutional racism, or of white employers who discriminate against blacks. You should always keep in mind, if something is said to be functional, who is it being functional for? Functional for whom?

You could even argue that the particular cultural trait of racism is functional for white people, since it justifies domination of other “races,” but it is clearly dysfunctional for those being dominated.