Don’t Get Suckered

A boatload of notes which mostly focus on sucker aversion, a basic component of Hibbing’s theory of Man as a Wary Collaborator.

Representational Altruism: The Wary Cooperator as Authoritative Decision Maker,” by Kevin Smith, American Journal of Political Science, October 2006, Vol. 50 No. 4, pp 1013-1022,

Orbell et al. (2004) suggest a likely adaptive response to group living is the evolution of these characteristics: a preference for cooperation, amodest level of mistrust, an ability to persuade others of one’s own good faith, and an ability to detect lack of good faith in others. These act as a social lubricant, making cooperation easier and reducing the potential for individuals to selfishly maximize at the expense of the collective. (Smith 2006 1014) [reminds me of friction]

Thus the underlying preferences that drive behavior are not necessarily predicated on maximizing individual gains and are often based on minimizing potential losses, both in termsof reputationwithin the group and in terms of being played for a sucker (the latter postulate has considerable cross-disciplinary empirical support, e.g., see Hoffman, McCabe, and Smith 1996; Kahneman and Tversky 2001). (Smith 2006 1015)

Rather than utility maximization, what drives the behavior of wary cooperators is “sucker aversion.” (Smith 2006 1015)

In short, the otherregarding, social aspect of decision making that drives the preference to appear fair should take precedence over any preference for individual gain. (Smith 2006 1015)

We should not expect Lord Acton’s famous aphorism that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely to fully apply to a wary cooperator. (Smith 2006 1016)

To operationalize the research design outlined in Table 1, a group of N=132 undergraduates at a largeMidwestern university were recruited for the experiment. The payoff promised for participation was extra credit points for the course they were taking (participation was voluntary, not participating had no impact on an individual’s grade, and at the end of the experiment all students, regardless of the divisions made in the games, received the same, maximal extra credit payoff ). Subjects were asked to divide a “pot” of extra credit points between themselves and another student (the latter were laboratory fictions) in any way they saw fit. (Smith 2006 1017)

In short, this finding would support the notion that authoritative decisions are driven by an internal behavioral predisposition that is centered on others, rather than on individualistic gain. (Smith 2006 1018)

Decisions made by those who crave power are viewedwith less legitimacy that those who do not overtly seek positions of authority. (Smith 2006 1019)

Specifically, these conditions have less to do with external constraints on behavior such as veto threats or institutional limits on power and more to do with an internal constraint on any action the decision maker believes will be viewed as unfair. (Smith 2006 1020)

Third, while itmay be hard to institutionalize the conditions that elicit representational altruism, transparency in decision-making processes is almost certainly an effective means to limit selfish behavior by policymakers. (Smith 2006 1021)

More articles and notes below the fold…

Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments,” by Ernst Fehr and Simon Gachter, The American Economic Review, September 2000, 980-994,

Is Political Cognition Like Riding a Bicycle: How Cognitive Neuroscience Can Inform Research on Political Thinking,” by Matthew Lieberman et al, Political Psychology, 2003, Vol. 24 No. 4, 681-704,

The Evolution of Altruistic Punishment,” by Robert Boyd et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 18 March 2003, Vol. 100, No. 6, pp 3531-3535, (se also my notes on Boyd’s article, In Search of Homo Economicus: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies).

“Evolutionary Theory and Political Leadership: Why Certain People Do Not Trust Decision-Makers,” by Kevin Smith et al, Presented at the 2004 Midwest Political Science Association Conference in Chicago, 2004, 1-42.

The Implications of Prospect Theory for Human Nature and Values,” by Robert Jervis, Political Psychology, 2004, Vol. 25, No. 2, 163-176,

Eusociality: Origin and Consequences,” by Edward Wilson and Bert Holldobler, PNAS, 20 September 2005,

A Political System Based on Empathy,” by Simon Baron-Cohen, The World Question Center 2006, 2006,

A Natural History of Peace,” by Robert Sapolsky, Foreign Affairs, January/February 2006,

In addition, we provide evidence that free-riders are punished the more heavily the more they deviate from the cooperation levels of the cooperators. (Fehr and Gachter 2000 980)

To rule out such material incentives we eliminated all possibilities for individual reputation formation and implemented treatment conditions with an ex ante known finite horizon. (Fehr and Gachter 2000 981)

For each punishment point assigned to i the first-stage payoff of i, pi^1, is reduced by 10 percent. (Fehr and Gachter 2000 982)

We conjecture that, in addition to purely selfish subjects, there is a nonnegligible number of subjects who are (i) conditionally cooperative and (ii) willing to engage in the costly punishment of free-riders. (Fehr and Gachter 2000 984)

We believe, in particular, that subjects strongly dislike being the “sucker.” that is, being those who cooperate while other group members free ride. This aversion against being the “sucker” might well trigger a willingness to punish tree-riders. (Fehr and Gachter 2000 984)

RESULT I: The existence of punishment opportunities causes a large rise in the average contribution level in the Stranger-treatment. (Fehr and Gachter 2000 984)

RESULT 3: ln the Stranger-treatment with punishment no stable behavioral regularity regarding individual contributions emerges, whereas in the no-punishment condition full free-riding emerges as the focal individual action. (Fehr and Gachter 2000 985-986)

RESULT 7: In the Stranger- and the Partnertreatment a subject is more heavily punished the more his or her contribution falls below the average contribution of other group members. (Fehr and Gachter 2000 990)

In both the Stranger- and the Partner-treatment the punishment opportunity initially causes a relative payoff loss. Yet, toward the end there is a relative payoff gain in both treatments. (Fehr and Gachter 2000 993)

Punishment is. however, clearly inconsistent with mtxlels of pure altruism or wami-glow altruism (e.g., James AndreonI, 1990) because an altruistic person never uses a costly option to reduce other subjects’ payoffs. (Fehr and Gachter 2000 993)

“Because behavior is often driven by automatic mechanisms, self-reports of mental processes are notoriously unreliable and susceptible to many forms of contamination (Bem, 1967; Wilson & Brekke, 1994).” (Lieberman et al 2003 682)

For the most part, conscious cognition is set in motion only when other aspects of nonconscious cognition sound an alarm that something has gone awry (Whitehead, 1911). (Lieberman et al 2003 684)

In each case, many will disagree with particular decisions made by experts, but few would prefer to turn the decision-making process over to the masses. It is unlikely that we would have more accurate weather forecasts if they were decided by vote. (Lieberman et al 2003 685)

Research by Wilson and colleagues (Wilson et al., 1993; Wilson & Schooler, 1991) suggests that when novices must provide explicit reasons for their preferences, they tend to focus on features that are easily described in words rather than the features that contribute to their natural preferences. Indeed, novices later regretted their preferences if they had originally been required to express them linguistically. (Lieberman et al 2003 685)

Political issues are often relevant to us precisely because of the personal experiences we have had (e.g., discrimination) that are encoded as episodic memories. Similarly, the factsthat we learn about any issue are likely to be stored as semantic memories. Thus, the extent to which the lateral versus the medial temporal cortex is active during political attitude assessments may reveal the extent to which individuals retrieve personal experiences or learned facts; moreover, these activities can be measured without ever asking participants to list the thoughts relevant to their attitude, a procedure that is contaminated by having just provided the attitude measure itself (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977). (Lieberman et al 2003 687)

In other words, the overall attitude and its constituent considerations constrain one another such that changes in one tend to promote changes in all. (Lieberman et al 2003 690)

First, imaging could be used to identify the use of common or dissimilar processes during the expression of different types of attitudes (Cacioppo et al., 1996). … For instance, are different neural systems recruited when reporting one’s attitude toward affirmative action as a function of whether the previous question primed racial fears or principles of fairness? Fear-based primes might increase reliance on the X-system, whereas fairness-based primes might lower the conflict threshold at which the C-system starts contributing to the construction of an attitude. (Lieberman et al 2003 693)

For instance, the neural activity associated with expressing one’s attitudes toward charity could be used to predict response to a charity soliciting outside the neuroimaging facility. (Lieberman et al 2003 698)

In laboratory experiments, people punish noncooperators at a cost to themselves even in one-shot interactions (10, 11) and ethnographic data suggest that such altruistic punishment helps to sustain cooperation in human societies (12). (Boyd et al 3531)

If the frequency of punishers is y, the expected payoffs become b(x + y) – c to contributors, b(x + y) – py to defectors, and b(x + y) – c – k(1 – x – y) to punishers. Contributors have higher fitness than defectors if punishers are sufficiently common that the cost of being punished exceeds the cost of cooperating (py > c). Punishers suffer a fitness disadvantage of k(1 – x – y) compared with nonpunishing contributors. Thus, punishment is altruistic and mere contributors are “second-order free riders.” (Boyd et al 3531)

Two simulation programs implementing the model were independently written, one by R.B. in Visual Basic, and a second by H.G. in Delphi. Code is available on request. (Boyd et al 3532)

It is important to see that punishment leads to increased cooperation only to the extent that the costs associated with being a punisher decline as defectors become rare. (Boyd et al 3533)

However, because people live in long-lasting social groups and language allows the spread of information about who did what, it is plausible that monitoring costs may often be small compared with enforcement costs. This result also leads to an empirical prediction: people should be less inclined to pay fixed than variable punishment costs if the mechanism outlined here is responsible for the psychology of altruistic punishment. (Boyd et al 3533-3534)

The importance of group selection is always a quantitative issue. There is no doubt that selection among groups acts to favor individually costly, group beneficial behaviors. The question is always, is group selection important under plausible conditions? (Boyd et al 3534)

“Perhaps the most striking finding — which of course is not beyond dispute — is that above some treshold, increases in income do not produce increases in happiness. And yet, quote obviously, most people do seek greater wealth. This is an impulse that, while driving capitalism, does not seem to be restricted to the people under it. (Jervis 2004 164)

But in fact much of what people and states seek cannot be deduced from the need to survive. At least in a failry rich country, most people can meet their bare necessities quite easily; in international politics, most states are quite secure. (Jervis 2004 164)

Fortunately, here I need only stress that conceptions of human nature form the background for many of our beliefs. (Jervis 2004 165)

The most famous implication of prospect theory is loss aversion — not the trivial point that we do not like losses, but that losses inflict psychological harm to a greater degree than gains gratify, which means that people are more willing to run risks to avoid or recoup losses than to make gains. (Jervis 2004 165)

Closely related to loss aversion is the endowment effect [sources]. A series of striking experiments shows that the value a person attaches to an object increases substantially when he or she takes possession of it. (Jervis 2004 167)

International stability may be enhanced, as many states are similarly prone to settle for the status quo rather than undertake risky actions that could bring gains if they succeed but lead to war if they do not. (Jervis 2004 168)

The other side of the coin is that once things begin to go badly, arrangements can unravel as actors are willing to run the risk of an even worse outcome in order to have some chance at recouping their lsoses. (Jervis 2004 168)

Human happiness might have been increased had the states expanded their spending at a slower rate during those years and avoided drastic cutbacks as the times became harsh. (Jervis 2004 169) (Prospectic Keynesianism?)

We may also treat gains and losses differentiyl on moral questions. We are likely to see penalties levied against a person or group as mor esevere and less fair than rewards for the actor’s competitor, even if these are functionall equiavelent. (Jervis 2004 169)

It apears to be the existence of change more than its magnitude that hurts or gratifies, and this explains why gains and losse map onto utility in a way that displays diminishing sensitivity. Finding a $20 bill does not make me twice as happy as finding $10. (Jervis 2004 171)

This framing effect is striking and can explain significant behavior and policy debates, but raiess a major methodological difficulty. In the laboratory, the experimenter can manipulate the frame by which the question is posed, and the subsequent difference in choice shows the independent effect of framing. (Jervis 2004 172)

It appears that we adjust or renormalize much more quicly for gains than for losses. Very soon after we have gained territory, influence, status, or wealth, we consider our new position to be the status quo from which we will judge future gians or losses. (Jervis 2004 173)

This means that at any particular time many states are likely to feel themselves in the realm of losses because they can look back at an earlier ‘golden age.’ (Jervis 2004 174)

People value certainty. It technical terms, the decision dweights are nonlinear: Raising the probability of an outcome from .44 to .45 has much less impact on utility than raising it from .00 to .01 or from .99 to 1.0. (Jervis 2004 174)

In eusociality, an evolutionarily advanced level of colonial existence, adult colonial members belong to two or more overlapping generations, care cooperatively for the young, and are divided into reproductive and nonreproductive (or at least less-reproductive) castes. (Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13367)

We suggest that each force can be heuristically classified as binding or dissolutive in its effect on colony cohesion and either strong or weak in its relative power. (Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13367)

Relatedness can also increase variance in presocial and eusocial alleles among groups, thus quickening the pace of colony selection. (Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13367)

When in evolution does eusociality become irreversible? We infer that this comes very early in the evolution of that condition, in particular when an anatomically distinct worker caste first appears, hence when a colony can most meaningfully be called a superorganism. (Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13368)

If these alleles are favored by sufficiently powerful colony selection, eusociality can originate when founding members of the primitive colonies have low relatedness or, in theory (and albeit unlikely), none at all (18, 19). What counts is the common possession of eusociality alleles, not relatedness. (Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13368)

Another way of expressing the process is that as the degree of relatedness drops, the dissolutive effect of individual selection and kin selection increases, and as the degree of relatedness rises through group selection, the dissolutive effects of individual selection and kin selection decline. (Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13369)

Also arguing against a strong biasing role of relatedness and binding force of kin selection in the origin of eusociality is the collapse of the ‘‘haplodiploid hypothesis,’’ an early and once persuasive stanchion of the standard model, due to the discovery in recent years of enough phylogenetically separate lines (9) to render the association of haplodiploidy and eusociality originations statistically independent. (Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13369)

It includes the rarity of male production by workers in colonies of social hymenopterans (ants, bees, and wasps), with one single-mated queen, contrary to the prediction from models of narrow kin selection (25); the lack of favoring bias by workers of their respective mothers in colonies with multiple queens, also at variance with traditional expectation (26, 27); and the existence of unexpected low degrees of relationship, in some cases approaching background values, in many species of ants (27). (Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13369)

In an ant checked for such correlations (Pogonomyrmex occidentalis), colonies with low relatedness among the workers have overwhelmingly higher growth and reproduction rates than those with high worker relatedness (29). (Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13369)

Because six of the eusocial families are termites, the living species of which apparently derived from a single phylad, whereas eusociality of halictid bees originated in three independent events (15), the total number of known origins of eusociality in arthropods is 12. (Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13369)

A second rule is consistent with the first: the key adaptation that led to eusociality is defense against enemies, specifically predators, parasites, and competitors (9, 45). (Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13370)

The most important predictor of evolved social complexity is mature colony size (25, 46). (Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13370)

The origin of colonies with mature colony populations of 105 and higher, bolstered by major innovations in colony organization, is a rare event, like the origin of eusociality itself. The weaving of arboreal nests from larval silk has originated in ants only three times worldwide. Army-ant behavior, marked by mass foraging, has appeared perhaps six times (Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13370)

Fungus gardening has evolved only once in ants, in the New World Attini, and within this tribe, it has advanced to the use of fresh foliage only once also, in the monophyletic leafcutter complex of Acromyrmex and Atta (25). Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13370)

Rarity of occurrence and unusual preadaptations characterized the early species of Homo and were followed in a similar manner during the advancement of the ants and termites by the spectacular ecological success and preemptive exclusion of competing forms by Homo sapiens. (Wilson and Holldobler 2005 13371)

“This way of doing politics is based on “systemizing”. First you analyse the most effective form of combat (itself a system) to win. If we do x, then we will obtain outcome y. Then you adjust the legal code (another system). If we pass law A, we will obtain outcome B.

My colleagues and I have studied the essential difference between how men and women think. Our studies suggest that (on average) more men are systemizers, and more women are empathizers. Since most political systems were set up by men, it may be no coincidence that we have ended up with political chambers that are built on the principles of systemizing.

So here’s the dangerous new idea. What would it be like if our political chambers were based on the principles of empathizing?” (Baron-Cohen 2006) (my take: more anarchic. “Systemic” doesn’t mean combative, any more than “Empathetic” means peaceful)

Just as social psychologists have demonstrated that people are inclined to elevate and to obey authority figures (see Sherif 1937; Milgrim 1974), anthropologists have revealed the universality of what they frequently call “anti-big-man behavior” (see Diamond, 1997, and Boehm, 1999) (Smith et al 4)

Monitoring leaders is a time-consuming task, one that could be expected to detract from the ability of the group to perform other necessary tasks; thus it may be best for a subset of the population to be sensitive to inappropriate leader behavior while others in the group go about their business unburdened by such concerns and safe in the knowledge that others will sound the alarm should it be needed. (Smith et al 4-5)

Whether we like it or not, recent research suggests behavioral types are both evolutionarily useful and in evidence empirically. (Smith et al 5)

A beautiful illustration of the evolutionary advantages of having varying types of individuals within a social unit (or at least domain-specific molecules in the brain) is provided by Smirnov, Arrow, Kennett, and Orbell (2006). Using computer simulations and recognizing that altruism directed outside of the group (heroism) is quite different than altruism directed at other in-group members (communitarianism), this research team demonstrates the advantages accruing to the group when heroes and communitarians are not the same individuals. (Smith et al 5)

And distinct personality types, which are known to be relatively constant and correlated with specific genetic alleles (see Gosling and John 1999; Bouchard and McGue 2003; Carmen 2006), allow people to respond differently to similar environmental stimuli. For example, a gene relevant to a certain class of dopamine receptors (DRD4) is known to be associated (in males) with “risky ‘show-off’ behaviors” (Harpending and Cochran 2002: 12). Caspi et al. (2003) recently identified alleles of 5-HTT, a serotonin transport gene that affect the likelihood that an individual will be susceptible to environmental stressors such as child abuse. (Smith et al 6)

Experimental research invariably reveals people with consistent but different patterns of play in economic games (Komorita and Parks, 1995; Fehr and Gachter 2002; Cason, Saijo, Yamato, and Yokotani, 2003). A mix of types within a group, whether we are referring to heroes and communitarians or to conditional cooperators and defectors, makes the group stronger (for more on group selection, see Sober and Wilson 1998). (Smith et al 6)

Research in behavioral genetics has long reported clear findings that personal temperaments such as risk-taking, harm avoidance, as well as personality traits such as conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness, extraversion, and neuroticism are about 50 percent heritable with the remaining half coming from environmental factors (Bouchard and McGue, 2003).4 Moving to traits more conspicuously directed at other people, altruism appears to be strongly heritable (see Rushton, Littlefield and Lumsden 1986) as do opinions on social (Martin et al., 1986) and political (Alford, Funk, and Hibbing, 2005) issues. Preliminary evidence even suggests there is a genetic component to participation in the political arena (Fowler, 2006). (Smith et al 7)

Even though the instinct of many political scientists is to assume that people “care about ends not means; they judge government by results and are…indifferent about the methods by which the results were obtained” (Popkin, 1991: 99), oft-replicated empirical results indicate people often are surprisingly oblivious to ends and equally often care intensely about means and methods. People are rarely aware of specific governmental policies (see delli Carpini and Keeter 1996; Hibbing and Theiss-Morse 2002) and the connection between overall conditions and attitudes toward government appears weak (see, for example, Miller 1974: 952-6). (Smith et al 8)

More specifically, it concludes that, independent of substance, favorable perceptions of the decision making process on average markedly increase legitimacy, satisfaction, approval, and even compliance (Tyler 1990; Tyler 1994; Tyler 2001; Tyler, Rasinski, and Spodick 1985; Tyler, Casper, and Fisher 1989; Lind and Tyler 1988; for more on the fitness characteristics of procedural as opposed to substantive justice see Simon 1990; Wilson 1993: 23-24, 55-78). (Smith et al 9)

Humans have been reaping the benefits of social living for millions of years, probably since shortly after our last common ancestor with orangutans, our closest non-social relative (Lee and Devore, 1968: 3). (Smith et al 9-10)

For example, humans can identify subtle moods of others from photographs of their eyes, predict the game-playing behavior of others after visiting with them for just a few minutes, and detect cheaters on the basis of minimal information; even human memory works better when social as opposed to non-social factors are at play (Frank 1988, Frank, Gilovich, and Regan 1993; Chiappe, Brown, and Rodriquez 2002; Baron-Cohen 2003; Cosmides 1989, Cosmides and Tooby 1992). In short, group life requires a sort of “Machiavellian intelligence” and humans seem to possess it (see Byrne and Whiten, 1988; Orbell et al. 2004). (Smith et al 10)

If a leader’s decision on an isolated resource allocation matter is unfavorable to a given individual, the result is unlikely to be dire, but if the non-outcome factors involved in that decision suggest the individual’s status in the group is diminished or if they suggest the group itself is in danger (due to leaders whose motivations are not first and foremost the welfare of the group) the situation becomes much more serious. (Smith et al 10-11)

Strong, modest, reticent leaders are looked up to because of their actions and because such leaders lack political ambition. Leaders who can convince the public that they do not crave powerful positions–say, Cincinnatus, Dwight Eisenhower, or Churchill at one point of his career–are generally belowed. (Smith et al 11-12)

But if our expectation on “types” is correct, this sensitivity to leader traits (such as a desire for power) should be most in evidence for a predictable subset of the population. (Smith et al 12)

To distinguish the various types of people in terms of their sensitivity to decision maker traits, we asked each experimental subject whether they believe most people can be trusted or whether they believe “you can’t be too careful in dealing with people.” Even though this widely-employed survey item is battle-tested, this measure of “type” is far from ideal. (Smith et al 13)

Research in experimental economics consistently reveals that, compared to selfish and untrusting individuals, those who are generous and trusting are actually more wary and more willing to punish egoists (Fehr and Gachter, 2002: 137; Price, Tooby, and Cosmides, 2002; Peterson 2006). For evolutionary reasons, people are averse to being played for a sucker, and those people who are trusting and generous are more open to being victimized so it makes sense for them to be more vigilant of decision makers and more concerned with possible violations of the public trust. (Smith et al 14)

Trust needs to be seen as a biologically shaped manner one lives life, not as an environmentally driven response to perceptions of people’s trustworthiness (see Fehr et al. 2005). (Smith et al 14)

All that we varied in this first part of the experiment was the manner by which the subject believed the allocator came to hold the position of allocator (or decision maker).
There are two possibilities. Subjects in the first cell were told the individual with whom they had been paired was made the allocator because he or she wanted that position more than the subject. Subjects in the second cell were told that the individual with whom they had been paired was made the allocator because he or she had earned that position. (Smith et al 15)

As it turns out, level of satisfaction and perception of fairness were highly correlated (r =.75) so we combined these two measures into a simple additive “scale of negativity” ranging from 0 to 12 with higher values being greater negativity. (Smith et al 16)

Subjects report more negative reactions when decision makers wanted power (9.37 on the scale of negativity) than when decision makers earned power (7.93). Similarly, more subjects decided to reject the $3 allocation when it was made by an ambitious decision maker (47 percent) than when it was made by a deserving decision maker (30 percent). (Smith et al 18)

Trusting people are affected by the manner in which office-holders come to be office-holders while less trusting people are largely unaffected. (Smith et al 20)

Group viability and individual place are indicated to some extent by the absolute value of resource distribution decisions but they are better indicated by the relative value and by a variety of non-outcome factors (on the interaction between outcome and process, see Brockner and Wiesenfeld, 1996). (Smith et al 22)

People do not necessarily need to receive more resources to be happy, but they do need decisions to be made by decision makers who are not selfishly motivated and who are not driven by ambition. (Smith et al 24)

Across the 150 or so species of primates, the larger the average social group, the larger the cortex relative to the rest of the brain. (Sapolsky 2004)

Now known as bonobos, they are today recognized as a separate and distinct species that taxonomically and genetically is just as closely related to humans as the standard chimp. (Sapolsky 2004) (really?)

This is universally recognized among savanna baboons as an abject gesture of subordination, signaling an end to the conflict, and the conventional response on the part of the victorious male is to subject the other to a ritualized gesture of dominance (such as mounting him). In this instance, however, the winner, approaching the loser as if to mount him, instead abruptly gave him a deep slash with his canines. (Sapolsky 2004)

Tension-reducing reconciliation, in other words, is most likely to occur among animals who already are in the habit of cooperating and have an incentive to keep doing so. (Sapolsky 2004)

In-group cooperation can thus usher in not peace and tranquility, but rather more efficient extermination. (Sapolsky 2004)

At present, I think the most plausible explanation is that this troop’s special culture is not passed on actively but simply emerges, facilitated by the actions of the resident members. (Sapolsky 2004)

Voluntary economic exchanges not only produce profits; they can also reduce social friction–as the macaques demonstrated by being more likely to reconcile with a valued partner in food acquisition. (Sapolsky 2004)

Cole’s Oil Cartography

Bush Turns to Fear-Mongering: Creation of ‘Islamic’ Bogeyman,” by Juan Cole, Informed Comment, 6 September 2006,

The latest column by Juan Cole (a Professor at the University of Michigan) is his usual semi-factual self

Iran has not launched a war on a neighbor since the late 1700s.

True… ish. (Never mind that in the Tanker War, Kuwait required assistance of both the Soviet Union and the United States to protect her ships from Iranian aggression.

Another comment comparing the Syrian regime to California New-Agers must be read in context to be believed.

Next, Dr. Cole attacks the usual enemies — Christians and Texans

If you want to know what is really going on, it is a struggle for control of the Strategic Ellipse, which just happens demographically to be mostly Muslim. Bush has to demonize the Muslim world in order to justify his swooping down on the Strategic Ellipse. If demons occupy it, obviously they have to be cleared out in favor of Christian fundamentalists or at least Texas oilmen.

This paragraph leads to an interesting map where Cole defines a “strategic ellipse.” The map combines the best of Barnettian and Spykmanian geopolitics.

The Pentagon’s New Heartland?

Leaving aside Cole’s incoherent rant, what we are left with is the fact that much of the world’s oil and gas comes from countries we don’t much trust. Hopefully President Bush is serious about a geogreen gas tax.