Quote note (#239)

‘Monkey business’ is not even remotely metaphorical:

Punishment of non-cooperators is important for the maintenance of large-scale cooperation in humans, but relatively little is known about the relationship between punishment and cooperation across phylogeny. The current study examined second-party punishment behavior in a nonhuman primate species known for its cooperative tendencies — the brown capuchin monkey (Cebus apella). We found that capuchins consistently punished a conspecific partner who gained possession of a food resource, regardless of whether the unequal distribution of this resource was intentional on the part of the partner. A non-social comparison confirmed that punishment behavior was not due to frustration, nor did punishment stem from increased emotional arousal. Instead, punishment behavior in capuchins appears to be decidedly social in nature, as monkeys only pursued punitive actions when such actions directly decreased the welfare of a recently endowed conspecific. This pattern of results is consistent with two features central to human cooperation: spite and inequity aversion, suggesting that the evolutionary origins of some human-like punitive tendencies may extend even deeper than previously thought.

The abstract to this paper, cited by Tyler Cowen in its entirety.

With leftism dug-in so deeply, monkey torture is unfortunately mandatory if intelligence is to escape. The howling will be hideous.

(Also worth emphatic note: “Spiteful inequity aversion” is as exact a definition of leftism as we’re ever going to get.)

April 18, 2016admin 27 Comments »


27 Responses to this entry

  • wu-wei Says:

    Leftism then represents the dual monkey algorithm of “spiteful inequity aversion” with respect to the group, while simultaneously attempting to accumulate as much power as possible for oneself.

    This describes the high-low mechanism perfectly: utilize the far (the mob) against the near (your direct competitors), equalizing the former and neutralizing the latter, and raising your relative status higher in the process.


    Posted on April 18th, 2016 at 3:10 pm Reply | Quote
  • Brett Stevens Says:

    We found that capuchins consistently punished a conspecific partner who gained possession of a food resource, regardless of whether the unequal distribution of this resource was intentional on the part of the partner.

    Keeping the group together is more important than fair — good to the good, bad to the bad — distribution of food.

    Groups love the idea of everyone being included. So do women, pacifists and twisted old geeks like Bernie Sanders.

    In reality, structures are more complex than uniform (equal). Giving the best more creates an ecosystem which benefits everyone.

    But the surly groundlings won’t understand that, so they won’t hear of it!

    Humanity, always the self-destructive, pointless animal.


    Posted on April 18th, 2016 at 4:05 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    But… what about polyamory? They don´t feel jealousy or spite!


    Posted on April 18th, 2016 at 4:46 pm Reply | Quote
  • J Says:

    spiteful inequity aversion makes perfect sense in homogeneous societies, like apes and monkeys that live in a society of blood brothers and cousins. In a diverse society – say bulldogs and chihauhas it is divisive.


    SVErshov Reply:

    parrots living in flocks of up to 300 and no one dominates, even tamed parrot both male and female will not tollerate patronising attitude, absolutely no question about panishment.


    wu-wei Reply:

    Trying to force the immutably unequal to become equal is the true calling of the sincere progressive. A very frustrating pastime, it would seem. Almost makes you feel sorry for them.


    SVErshov Reply:

    you can interpret it in any way you wish, but you would never will be able to force a parrot like African Grey to do something he dont agree to do. so, equality in homogenouse society is something possible, just a matter of reaching an agreement.


    Posted on April 18th, 2016 at 4:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • wu-wei Says:


    What if a requirement of “keeping the group together” entails convincing the monkeys that the status-quo is “fair”?

    So you need a lie, a “just world fallacy” (eg. “because God made it so”). Democracy is such a fallacy, because any polity which claims to be a democracy is a lie; democracy is not “real”.

    If the lies are to be exposed, and the natural inequality of reality revealed as the objective and immutable truth, then you had best have a very strong sword with which to keep the monkeys passive.

    Gunpowder was a destabilizing ‘sword’, because it gave the untrained masses real power against the former military caste. It was an equalizing technology, and therefore destabilizing. Modern warfare technologies reversed this trend somewhat. I wonder, is the future Drone Army an equalizing (destabilizing) technology, or a disequalizing (stabilizing) technology?


    Erebus Reply:

    Not only is Democracy never genuine, it often descends into parody. I got the below in my inbox today, courtesy of NightWatch:

    Syria: “The Ba’ath Party won all 200 parliamentary seats it contested in last week’s elections. The Syrian government claimed that more than 5 million of the 8 million eligible voters participated.

    Comment: The CIA World Factbook carries the total population of Syria as 17 million. That includes about 7 million children too young to vote. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has registered 4.8 million Syrians living outside Syria and estimates more than 13 million Syrians are internally displaced persons.

    The government numbers cannot be accurate, which is hardly surprising. The election was an elaborate and expensive charade to enable the government to resist compromising in negotiations in Geneva.”

    …Just another example of democracy as farce and spectacle. These things seem to turn up on a daily basis. In the Middle East and Africa, particularly, it’s impossible to escape the impression that the purpose of democracy is to serve solely as a manipulative spectacle and public ritual. (This is also true for some EU member states.)

    In America, the Outer-Party seems to have just discovered “data-driven” propaganda and voter-manipulation. Para Bellum Labs — which is about as poorly-named as it could possibly be — just released this video. If nothing else, it displays an interesting lack of self-awareness.

    In any case, the future army won’t be comprised of manned drones. The drones will be autonomous — capable of making their own kill decisions without relying upon human input. This will be disequalizing, as the technology will be closely guarded & is non-trivial to develop. (Though the same goes for drones which carry missiles & other advanced armaments. Such things are unavailable to the common man. The masses might be able to pack cheap drones with homemade explosives or crude chemical weapons, but beyond that….)


    wu-wei Reply:

    (That comment was supposed to be in response to Brett Stevens. WordPress and I don’t interface well together.)

    Democracy is the ULTIMATE parody of monkey-behavior. Everywhere one looks, the continuing rationalizations of democracy and republicanism are disproved – from the theories of James Madison to Walt Whitman, and everyone in history both before and after. One theory is disproved, and another spontaneously emerges to take its place – somehow, each step actually INCREASES devotion to the cult of Democracy. And meanwhile, the null-hypothesis remains: the fate of societies is determined by the character of their people and its culture. The west has not thrived BECAUSE of democracy; it has thrived IN SPITE of it.

    I agree about the drones. I think it’s interesting to consider changes in historical power from the perspective of changes in technology. The printing press was the ultimate historical catalyst in this process, but surely not the last. I guess this is an application of ‘Historical Materialism’ as I understand it, but with wildly different (reactionary) conclusions.


    Grotesque Body Reply:

    In order to differentiate the two I’ve generally thought of it as ‘historical instrumentalism’ or historical informatics.

    Posted on April 18th, 2016 at 5:07 pm Reply | Quote
  • Patri Friedman Says:

    Shows how foolish is the “solution” of trying to argue monkeys into not being spitefully averse to inequality.


    wu-wei Reply:

    You can speak as quietly or as vociferously as you wish; in the end, it’s carrying the big stick that matters.


    Herbert Z. Oinlein Reply:

    It shows a whole lot more than that: it shows that every social problem is reducible to a sorting one. If you’re not sorting, you’re not solving (corollary: the greatest social good is social harmony).


    frank Reply:

    Precisely. That’s why we head for the exit.


    Posted on April 18th, 2016 at 6:22 pm Reply | Quote
  • ||||| Says:

    Neuroeconomics: Decision Making and the Brain

    talks at length about this and plenty of other interesting stuff ( http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/book/9780124160088 ). Find it and read it, seriously.



    ||||| Reply:

    ” When taken together, the comparative studies reviewed above suggest that two distantly related species of monkeys – brown capuchins and rhesus
    macaques – share a number of the non-standard preferences or biases that human decision makers show.

    First, although capuchins’ decisions appear to obey the human-like standards of price theory, this species also exhibits the same systematic biases as humans – capuchins evaluate gambles in terms of arbitrary reference points, pay more attention to losses than to gains, change their risk preferences in different contexts, and show market anomalies like the endowment effect.

    Second, although macaques track expected value during a risky choice task, this species also falls prey to ambiguity aversion in much the same way as humans.

    A review of the comparative work to date thus suggests that human behavioral biases may result not from species-unique market experiences or cultural
    learning. Instead, such biases are more likely to be far more basic, perhaps even evolved strategies present long ago in our common ancestor with other monkey species.”

    “The work reviewed here further suggests that decision-making biases may arise in the absence of market experience not just in monkeys, but in the
    human species as well. Indeed, the results presented here provide hints about another possible and probably fruitful line of work on the origins of preference.

    Our studies to date have focused on the evolutionary origins of human preferences and incentives, but even less work has examined how they develop over the human lifecourse (for review, see Santos and Lakshminarayanan, 2008). Although some work to date has examined the development of loss aversion (e.g., Reyna and Ellis, 1994), the endowment effect (see Harbaugh et al., 2001), and ambiguity aversion (e.g., Tymula et al., 2012) in children and adolescents, there is still relatively little consensus concerning whether how and when behavioral biases emerge in human decision making.

    In addition, to our knowledge, all of the available evidence to date examining the development of revealed preferences has involved older children,
    participants who have had at least some experience with purchases in the real world. For this reason, older children are not the best subject pool if
    one wants to examine the role of experience in the development of loss aversion and reference dependence.

    To better get at the role of experience, researchers should focus their empirical effort on populations that really lack experience with decisions.
    One such population is human infants. Infants are, by definition, so young that they lack any market experience. Although human infants’ preferences are not currently a standard focus for economic experimentation, there is no reason they cannot become one. In the past decade, developmental psychologists have established a number of empirical methods that can easily be imported for use in economic studies with preverbal infants. Infant researchers have developed standard methods for assessing both infants’ choices (e.g., Feigenson et al., 2002) and their preferences (e.g., Spelke, 1976) all using non-verbal techniques. Using these experimental methods, economists could ask whether infants obey price theory (and thus, examine
    whether an obedience to price theory can emerge in the complete absence of experience a point of some importance in developing economies).

    Similarly, one could examine how and when biases like loss aversion and reference dependence begin emerging and again, explore the role of economic experience (of the kind societies provide) and other factors in the development of these heuristics.

    The fact that some behavioral biases are shared with non-human primates has a number of implications for practicing economists. The first of these involves how an economist might choose to treat behavioral biases in both positive and normative terms. For example, if biases observed in human behavior are the results of misapplied heuristics, then it seems natural to assume that what is learned can be un-learned, and that these mistakes are likely to disappear quickly in the face of market pressures, especially when stakes are high. The work we summarized here, however, suggests that
    these biases emerge in a relatively consistent fashion despite diverse experience, and thus hints that such biases are likely to manifest themselves powerfully in novel situations.

    The findings reviewed here also have important implications for non-traditional economists neuroeconomists interested in the neural basis of standard
    and non-standard economic behavior. In the past decade, macaque models have afforded neurophysiologists with a number of important discoveries concerning the neural basis of our representation of risk and value (discussed throughout this volume). Many of the neurophysiological studies to date, however, have concerned themselves with aspects of choice behavior that follow from classical economic models. In contrast, fMRI research with humans has focused on the neural basis of a variety of economic behaviors including those characterized by behavioral biases. While such fMRI techniques have already provided tremendous insight into the neural basis of both framing effects (e.g., de Martino et al., 2009; Tom et al., 2007)
    and ambiguity aversion (e.g., Hsu et al., 2005), these methods would undoubtedly be complemented by neurophysiology work at the level of individual neurons.

    Unfortunately, to date, little neurophysiological work in monkeys has addressed the mechanisms underlying behavioral biases, in part because designing framing tasks for use in non-verbal primate subjects is a non-trivial task (though see Seo and Lee, 2009). The behavioral methods reviewed here, however, demonstrate that such framing effects and paradoxical choices can and do occur in non-verbal species. These findings imply that a physiological investigation of behavioral biases is possible, and thus that it might be possible to examine prospect theoretic predictions in a primate neural model. Work demonstrating that monkeys exhibit an endowment effect further suggests that physiologists might be able to examine even more subjective changes in valuation such as those due to ownership in a primate model as well.”


    Posted on April 18th, 2016 at 8:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • Mark Citadel Says:

    There is a great dragging effect from Liberalism, which always seeks to ‘subscend’ as Bertonneau put it, rather than transcend. In the aggregate then, all movement ought to be downwards according to the Liberal, towards the lowest common denominator,


    Posted on April 18th, 2016 at 10:13 pm Reply | Quote
  • Outliers (#2) Says:

    […] Altright terrifies normies and neocons (but, to quote the inimitable Ann Coulter, “I repeat myself”). Diversity harms self-esteem. Progress is dead, corpse sodomized. Progress is mental goo (archetype). Socialism = institutional HIV. In the meantime, blood is still thicker than water. Not just immigration; revanchism. Equal law is injustice. Glorious Simian heritage. […]

    Posted on April 19th, 2016 at 6:44 am Reply | Quote
  • NRK Says:

    Looks like you just implicitly refuted the classic NRx argument that progressivism must fail because it is in futile revolt against GNON. GNON, after all, can’t be expected to appreciate any difference between progressives torturing in-group preference and competition out of monkeys, and NRx trying the same with spiteful inequity aversion. The monkeys howl just the same, albeit in different regions of the internet.


    admin Reply:

    You’re assuming it won’t be Gnon torturing the monkeys.


    Posted on April 19th, 2016 at 7:03 am Reply | Quote
  • NRK Says:

    @admintrue, after all, monkey torture at the hands of GNON, i.e. selective pressure, is what caused the politically undesirable behaviours in the first place.


    Posted on April 19th, 2016 at 9:22 am Reply | Quote
  • Henk Says:

    Enter Bitcoin, not-very-anonymous public ledger of every cheating monkey’s ill-gotten loot…


    Posted on April 19th, 2016 at 1:56 pm Reply | Quote
  • Aristocles Invictus Says:

    Here’s the full paper in PDF form: https://my.mixtape.moe/afryql.pdf


    Posted on April 19th, 2016 at 4:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • Jesse M. Says:

    @Brett Stevens “Humanity, always the self-destructive, pointless animal.”

    But isn’t the implication of this study that the desire to punish hoarders is actually a Gnon-approved one that was selected for in some common ancestor of humans and capuchins, rather than a sign that humans are self-destructively ignoring the will of Gnon? (I suppose it could also be a spandrel, a non-adaptive side-effect of some other selected-for feature of social brains, but direct selection seems like the most natural default assumption.)

    I also think you’re relying on a false dichotomy in your argument–neither human societies nor monkey bands have to choose exclusively between the options “all portions must be perfectly equal at all times” and “no leaning on other group members for help acquiring resources, ever”.


    wu-wei Reply:

    I think this sort of analysis misunderstands the concept of GNON, at least as I interpret it.

    GNON is GNON; what is, is. To suggest that GNON is equilibrium is to suggest a tautology, but no less useful an analysis.

    Neoreaction, unlike the alt-right, is not activism – it is not GNON worship. It does not claim to know what GNON is, but perhaps claims to at least know what GNON is not.

    Neoreaction (broadly defined), through historical analysis, predicts that liberal-democracy is not GNON – it is not a stable equilibrium. Authority-decoherence will spiral into explosion. What comes next is unknowable, but sovereignty is conserved; the description of a polity, including however strongly ‘egalitarian’ it does or does not manifest itself, is ultimately the will of the authority which controls it – or, equivalently, the will of GNON.

    What this means for YOU, is that when you see the exit, RUN FAST, and DON’T LOOK BACK. Do not stop to proselytize, KEEP RUNNING.

    If, on the other hand, the end of history truly is an equilibrium of liberal-democracy for now and forever, then that is what GNON “wills” as well.


    Henk Reply:

    You are right. The most plausible function here is to recognize and punish cheaters such that cheating does not become viable enough to replace the cooperator genotype. The “inequality” part is a heuristic for recognizing cheaters. Taken this way, we are looking at part of GNON’s technology for stable cooperation.

    The fun starts when you suspect that there might not be much besides that GNON can do to get stable cooperation beyond close kin. The sickness of the West then would be that the equality heuristic has broken down for us. It works at equilibrium because evolution removes inequality, but we’ve been migrating, urbanizing, and outbreeding ourselves out of the necessary equilibrium state. We’re not homogenous enough anymore for Western style cooperation to work. It’s clannish (kin) cooperation at best, which may be the deep reason the West had a “Jewish Century” and is headed for Submission.

    Maybe progressivism was a (failing) attempt to fake equality because Western civilization is impossible without it.


    Posted on April 19th, 2016 at 10:25 pm Reply | Quote

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