Genetics and Warfare in the Age of Non-State Actors?

Yesterday, Mark of ZenPundit linked to a conference announcement for an upcoming (September 2007) get-together by the Combat Studies Instituteof the US Army on “Warfare in the Age of Non-State Actors: Implications for the U.S. Army.” I have to admit, it sounds exciting. The call for papers asks for a 300-word abstract. My thoughts:

Genetics and Warfare in the Age of Non-State Actors

For the past half century, social sciences generally and military studies in particular have belonged to the Standard Social Sciences Model (SSSM) of research. Under the SSSM, all of “human nature” and all variations within human populations are the result of learning, socialization, and outside influence. The SSSM teaches that the keys to understanding an individual actor’s behavior, whether a soldier, a terrorist, or a politician, was his personal environment, group environment, and social environment.

Recently, the SSSM has come under renewed attack by researched who look at genetic factors of behavior. Taking a Environment-Genetic interaction view of human behavior instead of environmental determinism, these scientists have found evidence for human-universal and intergroup-variation resulting from genetic genetic-environmental interactions. An environmental-determinist perspective blinds us to true cause-and-effect, and may lead us to treat symptoms instead of diseases.

These findings have immediate findings for military studies, both from established findings and original research. Classic findings, such as the human-universal “modules” for injustice-detection,injustice-avoidance, and injustice-punishment; inter-population-variations in the Dopamine Receptor D4 (7 Repeat) (“DRD4 7R”) allele associated with hyperactivity; and intra-population variations in predispositions for political beliefs and political obsessions are analyzed. Additionally, recent findings by the authors are presented. “Pentagon’s New Map” theory is presented as an example of SSSM research, and original criticisms which may help harmonize it with genetic factors are presented. Likewise, an ongoing experiment with altruistic super-punishment is presented and its implications for dealing with “suicide bombers” are discussed.
All findings are tied back to the new world of non-state actors and American army intervention.

The SSSM cripples our attempts to understand how non-state actors operate and how to defeat or co-opt them. In the future, research and action must take into account the genetics of the populations it deals with just as much as scientists and practitioners worry about the populations’ environments

Any suggestions? Advice?

6 thoughts on “Genetics and Warfare in the Age of Non-State Actors?”

  1. I especially liked the part “inter-population-variations in the Dopamine Receptor D4 (7 Repeat) (“DRD4 7R”) allele associated with hyperactivity” and feel the abstract would benefit from more citations referring to other Dopamine Receptors. Also, not enough big words, for example try to include 'neurophysicalogical' and 'ethnomethodology' especially in the same sentence.

  2. RevG,

    The discussion on the other drd4's may be too involved for the abstract, but probably would be cool in the paper. DRD44R is the most common, and drd41r-drd46r (which are easy-to-make variations) appear as one would expect in the human population. DRD47R is difficult to evolve out of DRDR4R, however, and the “transitional allelles” are nowhere to be found. Indeed, it seems as though more time is needed for DRD47R to evolve than could be possible…

    There was a footnote to learning evolved [1] that I forgot to post online, that is relevant here. The second sentence was a killer:

    “The precise effects of DRD4 7R on the psyche is under current research, and interested readers are urged to sample some of it by following the footnotes. Additionally, my second paragraph's claims may be somewhat qualified, as a specifically human origin of DRD4 7R is under some doubt. See, for example, Harpending and Cochran, 2002, 10.”

    I'll consider the big words… 🙂



    “Thus, the research on neuroplasticity points to the brain as a growing organ that responds structurally not only to the demands of the external environment, but also to internally generated states, including aspects of consciousness. As such, neuroplasticity may further elucidate the effectiveness of the techniques like meditation, which human cultures have developed over the centuries in order to optimize our state of being.”

    I would suggest considering adding this to “genetic-environmental interactions” to round out the scope of your argument.

    And also consider dopamine effects across the dimensions of happiness, attention, extroversion, self-confidence, and goal-direction. Since you are suggesting increasing the view of human nature there is no profit in limiting yourself, it just leads to being trumped on the next round.

  4. Thank you for the enthusiastic agreement.

    “EXACTLY right. The thing is not genetic determinism, or environmental determinism, but genetic-environmental interaction. You understand perfectly.

    “I tried to make this point about genetic-environmental interaction in the second full paragraph of the proposal, but it's definitely something I could strengthen.”

    Actually I was trying to make a point about “internally generated states” which I distinguish as being other than either environmental or genetic or a result of genetic-environmental interaction. Volitional acts of will, the engagement of our counsciousness, independent of environmental or genetic influences also have a profound influence. This could be mapped to a 3×3 matrix. I know it makes things a bit more complex but nonetheless I think it more accurate. Just my $0.02.

    Perhaps you see “internally generated states” a product of genetic-environmental interaction?

  5. The conscious state is heavily dependent on genetic-environmental interaction [1]. Likewise, I am not convinced that there has to be a reason outside of genetics and environment for our will. God did not create us as ethereal, astral beings. He formed us out of clay in his image — not out of his image in clay (for the alternative, see John 1:14 [2])

    We are inherently limited creatures, even apart from sin. The first man and the first woman were tricked and they had no “original sin” excuse, because their sin was the first. It seems that the Serpent was created with a greater reasoning capacity than were humans!

    But lucky, for us, that doesn't matter. Whatever God is after, it's not rationality. We don't have access to a heavenly debating society or easy interdimensional travel [3,4] But luckily for us, God promises us victory against our abler enemy [5,6]!

    So yes, I do see internally generated states as a product of genetic-environmental interaction. And that's fine by me.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *