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Beer Drinking Networks In Amazon Tribe Help Explain Altruism

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the have-one-on-me dept.

Beer 157

KentuckyFC writes "The Tsimane tribe are hunter-gatherers living in the forested region between the foothills of the Andes and the wetland-savannas of the Llanos de Moxos in Bolivia. They drink beer made from boiled manioc (a type of sweet potato) which they chew and spit into the mix to trigger fermentation. After a week or so, the resultant brew is about 4 per cent alcohol. Now anthropologists studying this tribe say the way they host beer drinking events for each other offers important clues into their culture. At issue is the question of altruism: why people spend considerable time and effort doing favors for others that don't directly benefit them. The answer from studying these beer drinking events is that the favor is quickly returned by the guests in the form of another beer drinking event. This helps to build good relations with neighbors and family. And when the beer drinking invite is not returned, the researchers speculate that this is probably because there is some other favor involved, such as helping to gather or prepare food, suggesting mates or political co-operation."

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157 comments

most violence here a 2AM bar closing (4, Funny)

peter303 (12292) | about 5 months ago | (#45514747)

counter example lots of fights, rapes, and mruders just after 2AM

Re:most violence here a 2AM bar closing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45514969)

counter example

lots of fights, rapes, and mruders just after 2AM

wat?

Re:most violence here a 2AM bar closing (4, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 months ago | (#45515125)

What counter example? As you point out, after 2 AM is *after* closing. Therefore beer=good, no beer=bad.

Re:most violence here a 2AM bar closing (1)

nightsky30 (3348843) | about 5 months ago | (#45515931)

What counter example? As you point out, after 2 AM is *after* closing. Therefore beer=good, no beer=bad.

"No beer and no TV make Homer something something..."

Re:most violence here a 2AM bar closing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45516051)

Go crazy?

Re:most violence here a 2AM bar closing (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45516131)

Don't mind if I do.

Re:most violence here a 2AM bar closing (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about 5 months ago | (#45515271)

see the problem isn't the beer, the problem is when you stop serving people beer.

solution. let bars stay open all nite

Re:most violence here a 2AM bar closing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515551)

That is how it is where I live. Hell, we have clubs that open up at 7AM in preparation for people from the clubs that close at 8AM. I have had many a "night" going out at 10PM and not getting home until afternoon the next day. I have seen very few fights and the ones that did happen were minor.

Re:most violence here a 2AM bar closing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515639)

Hypothesis: I suspect a bunch of bars are all closing at a certain not-market-chosen time, as a result of a law. Remove the law, and do the bars all still close at the same time, resulting in an all-at-once surge of buzzed people out on the sidewalks, with suddenly nothing to do?

I can tell you that in my town, the evidence is overwhelming that a lot of crap seems to be tied to a government-created concentration of people, which wouldn't have happened naturally.

So now we know the origin of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45514755)

FREE SHIPPING on orders of $35 an above.

Supply chain engineers in Seattle hoisting cold ones for Jeff Bezos.

It's not altruism if a favor is expected in return (4, Informative)

trout007 (975317) | about 5 months ago | (#45514777)

Doing something for someone else with no expectation of it being returned is altruism.

Re:It's not altruism if a favor is expected in ret (2)

sideslash (1865434) | about 5 months ago | (#45514881)

That's a truism. But on the other hand, they're not some kind of beneficence cult. All true "ism"s would attach other kinds of baggage to the favors.

Re:It's not altruism if a favor is expected in ret (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 months ago | (#45517029)

No, not really. Selfish gene theory explains why somebody would do something even if it actually does have a negative expected value for the individual - because it has a positive expected value for (some of) the individual's genes, which are also in the benefitting individuals. (The boxes we draw around ourselves as "individual" are significant, but i still ultimately a philosophical construct, and to some degree arbitrary.)

Re:It's not altruism if a favor is expected in ret (4, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | about 5 months ago | (#45515041)

I don't know if a favour is expected in return, but there's something in us that makes us want to help others who've helped us anyway.

It seems obvious that altruistic behaviour would be a result of the fact that a species that helps each other is more likely to survive. It might also have side effects, like wanting to help any living creature to survive.. but as long as that doesn't damage the original species' reproductive abilities, there's no reason for that behaviour to be selected out.

Re:It's not altruism if a favor is expected in ret (1)

fche (36607) | about 5 months ago | (#45515405)

See also pathological altruism: "behavior in which attempts to promote the welfare of another, or others, results instead in harm that an external observer would conclude was reasonably foreseeable"

Re:It's not altruism if a favor is expected in ret (3, Insightful)

sudon't (580652) | about 5 months ago | (#45515857)

Doing something for someone else with no expectation of it being returned is altruism.

I agree with that. It seems little different than the "round buying" that goes on in bars/pubs. When one buys a round, there's a reasonable expectation that everyone in the group will in turn buy a round. Unless you have a guy like Bob, who's always broke, but he's very entertaining to drink with, and a good guy. I guess we're buying him rounds for entertainment and companionship, so even that's not pure altruism.

Because the Tsimane don't have local bars, and making up a batch of brew is such a pain, it looks like they came up with a way to take turns being treated so that one is treated more often than one has to treat. Hardly altruism.

Re:It's not altruism if a favor is expected in ret (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 months ago | (#45517123)

I agree that doing behavior research on traditional cultures confers an unwarranted aura of respect. They could conduct the same study on a gang in LA, or a church congregation in the midwest, and the results would be just as valid. There seems to be some assumption that they are a fountain of truth because they are primitive and without guile, whereas we are so cultured that our instincts rarely manifest themselves.

Re:It's not altruism if a favor is expected in ret (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | about 5 months ago | (#45517365)

Having not read TFA and barely skimmed TFS, I do feel like adding an anecdote here regarding American culture. I have many friends that brew beer. They generally enjoy the process and really like sharing their beers with their friends, even those of us who don't brew. Sure, they're probably more likely to get invited to bbqs and dinners, but it's not like they actively expect something in return. These guys are definitely treating more often than they are treated.

You may notice among your friends that some of them host bbqs or dinner parties more often than others. It's not that they're after some tangible gain from you, it's usually that they either genuinely enjoy cooking or your company. Or they want to sleep with your wife.

Re:It's not altruism if a favor is expected in ret (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45516125)

I agree. But the thing that, at least in the summary, seems to be glazed over is that these people could choose to make their own beer and keep it to themselves. Instead of being purely selfish, they're choosing to do something for their community (which will still help themselves).

I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45514855)

why do researchers feel they need to study tribal communties to learn about society? I mean, couldn't we get the same inferences by asking any 22 year old college student why he throws a kegger at his house?

Also, TFS doesnt seem to indicate the obvious answer (for both tribal and modern societies). Parties are just fun...even for the host who might be the one who buys all the beer/food/entertainment.

Islam (3, Funny)

sycodon (149926) | about 5 months ago | (#45515001)

I bet if Islam allowed alcohol they'd all be a lot less cranky.

Re:Islam (1)

Bongo (13261) | about 5 months ago | (#45515333)

There's actually a pretty long history in the monotheistic faiths that, the way to make a good world is to ban all the bad stuff. Some traditions, however, eventually twigged that this doesn't in the end, actually work quite how they intended, and so the "tantra" paths were created, basically, you can't eradicate aggression, but you can transform it into something more productive. I'm told there is a huge amount of repression of sex in the Middle Eastern cultures, and this is all driving people a little nuts. Anyway, now they have the internet. Anyway, going back to paleo man, wasn't there another story that beer drinking allowed them to relax the tribal social rules, which in turn made possible some creative thinking? Inspector Morse may have been the erudite educated type, but he shared that basic human practice with his pale ancestors. Drink, and think. Gee, maybe the crazy woman who fancies me did it...

Re:Islam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515559)

>There's actually a pretty long history in the monotheistic faiths that, the way to make a good world is to ban all the bad stuff.

I'd say that if you believe the monotheistic god is good and that he reportedly says not to do this, by not doing this the world should become a better place.
All good till now, it's common sense.
Then, if some people substitute themselves to the god and force people to abide, we have a problem, since the god doesn't force his will on people, and if god itself does not, who the fsck is everybody else, to try that?

Re:Islam (1)

Bongo (13261) | about 5 months ago | (#45515701)

And that's a place where religions differ somewhat: do they advocate converting others?

Re:Islam (2)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 5 months ago | (#45516349)

I can't speak to other religions, but Judaism has always equated wine with happiness. (Anyone who says Jews see wine as blood is just repeating centuries-old blood libel lies.) While it might frown on abusing alcohol, there's nothing that says alcohol is bad by nature. In fact, there's one holiday, Purim, where you get dressed up in costumes, give each other presents, and are religiously commanded to get drunk. (So drunk that you can't tell the difference between "Blessed is Mordechai" and "Cursed is Haman.") I think of it as Halloween, Christmas, and St. Patrick's Day all rolled into one.

Re:Islam (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | about 5 months ago | (#45517397)

Good lord, first I grow up jealous that all the Jewish church songs are so much better than Christian hymns, now you tell me this!?!

I may have to seek religion again...

Re:Islam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515461)

Officially it isn't in most Mideastern countries, so the typical perception is that the people don't drink. But if you ask a lot of people what they do at home behind closed doors - let's just say it's not much of a secret that baker's yeast isn't only good for making bread. Just mix that with some other drinkable thing that's starchy or sugary, and after it ferments for a month or two you're good to go. As long as you aren't stupid and don't try selling it or going around stumbling drunk, there shouldn't be any problems.

Anyhow the alcohol rules are fairly easy to workaround, so there must be a lot of other things that factor in towards the crankiness.

Re:Islam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515809)

I have a friend who used to work for a French company that exported "orange perfume" to the Saudis in container-loads. Basically, it was vodka with a bit of orange extract, but by labeling it as perfume, they were allowed to sell it.

Re:Islam (3, Funny)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 5 months ago | (#45515577)

I bet if Islam allowed alcohol they'd all be a lot less cranky.

Some of the crankiest people I knew were fundies living in dry counties in Texas. You may be on to something.

Re:Islam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45516649)

many islamist countries use prohibition just as a way to prop up a semi-secret alcohol monopoly(ran by someone with ties to authority, so a bottle of whisky instead of costing 50 bucks is 200 bucks)...

Re:I don't get it... (2)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 5 months ago | (#45515339)

I'm more concerned that /. will get taken down by Coors, Bud, et al. for disclosing their secret recipe. I had always assumed it was cat urine, but I stand corrected.

Do you wan't to know how you can tell a Queer? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45514889)

Do you know how you can tell a queer?
He drinks Pimms while we drink beer

Re:Do you wan't to know how you can tell a Queer? (1, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | about 5 months ago | (#45514963)

Do you know how you can tell a queer?
He drinks Pimms while we drink beer

I don't know if this is a universal rule, but I'd say in British University bars at least there is a pretty strong correlation.

Re:Do you wan't to know how you can tell a Queer? (2, Insightful)

ah.clem (147626) | about 5 months ago | (#45515151)

I'm not certain I see the positive point of this comment; personally, it just seems like bashing to me. Perhaps you meant it as a joke? Still, at what point do we stop picking on people for being different? As IT workers, we're the brunt of a lot of "less than funny" jokes; why continue that practice on another group? I just don't understand it.

Re:Do you wan't to know how you can tell a Queer? (1, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 5 months ago | (#45515209)

Sorry it was meant as a joke. I apologise if I offended you

Re:Do you wan't to know how you can tell a Queer? (0)

righteousness (3421867) | about 5 months ago | (#45516333)

Wuss! Why apologise? People should be discouraged from being Queers. The more queer jokes the better, if they can help drive the Queers back to the path of righteousness!

I see what you did there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515297)

Different vs deviant... nice choice of words.

I wouldn't spit in your beer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45514931)

unless I didn't like you

Explain how? (3, Insightful)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 5 months ago | (#45514957)

I don't see how this explains altruism, this explains self interest. It's no different than chimps taking turns picking lice off each other. (Disclaimer: I had chimp-like ancestors. Also, I am not saying chimps and the people in TFA are equivalent). Altruism is jumping on a live hand grenade, or taking on a predator while the rest of the troop flees.

Re:Explain how? (1)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 5 months ago | (#45514985)

Somewhere I read about studies that found that altruism in birds or something was based on the likelihood of the recipients being genetically similar to the altruist. i.e. the bird might sacrifice for 2d cousins or of course its own children, but for total strangers no way. The idea was that altruism was a mechanism to provide for one's genes to survive.

Re:Explain how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45516233)

Genetic similarity or kin selection. You're conclusion is spot on.

Re:Explain how? (5, Informative)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 5 months ago | (#45515007)

Another point, it seems TFA doesn't use the word "altruism" it uses "reciprocity". So jeers for the submitter on that point.

Re:Explain how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515229)

Another point, it seems TFA doesn't use the word "altruism" it uses "reciprocity". So jeers for the submitter on that point.

Actually it does. 4th paragraph starts with "Altruism is difficult to reconcile..."

Re:Explain how? (2)

rgbatduke (1231380) | about 5 months ago | (#45515437)

The point is that to explain altruism, one has to -- um -- show that it isn't really altruism. Even Christianity's take on altruism isn't that it is a truly selfless act, only that you get your reward later, in heaven. The closest you can probably come in human affairs is to consider an atheist (no karma-weighted rebirth, no post-mortem reward or punishment) who sacrifices their life to save the life of a complete stranger. And even there, one can come up with a sort of "happy people make for a happy world" and "it is better to live in a happy world than an unhappy world" and a "I'm going to die anyway and it is existentially a pointless coin flip whether I die now or die later, but I'll get a lot of momentary satisfaction from the process of sacrificing myself for others so that we overall can live in a happier world right now" argument that makes it if not expressed self-interest in the classic sense, a rational choice (mistaken or not) made by a self-aware entity and hence of some immediate "benefit" to the individual making the choice in a strictly utilitarian sense.

A variant of this happy people thing is the basis of Buddhism, an atheist altruistic philosophy. Suffering is bad, suffering is universal, we would individually be better off suffering less, but since we live in a collective society where we can inflict suffering on others and have others inflict suffering on us, it is in our own self-interest to at the very least be compassionate and act in a way that is both protective of our own happiness (minimizes our own suffering) and either avoids inflicting additional suffering on others or actively helps them to avoid suffering and thereby become more content. It's quite rational -- I'd much rather live in a world where people are for the most part contented with their lot, secure economically, safe physically, Maslow's hierarchy of needs well-met than to live in a world of chaos and backstabbing, war and robbery, where the strong impose their will on the weak and inflict endless suffering upon them. Even the lot of the strong in a world like that is less to be desired than life in a "just" society that strongly enforces the inverse golden rule (do not unto others as you would have them not do unto you).

At the end of the day, we'd all be a lot better off if we just sat around having a few beers with our neighbors, taking turns buying. Metaphorically if not otherwise -- allowing for the fact that 10% or thereabouts of the human species are potential or actual alcoholics, as we haven't finished evolving alcohol tolerance in only 10,000 or so years, and alcoholism is a moderately weak selection pressure (and one that for much of the last 6000 years, has been a survival advantage on multiple counts).

rgb

Re:Explain how? (2)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | about 5 months ago | (#45515583)

The point is that to explain altruism, one has to -- um -- show that it isn't really altruism.

No, the problem is that "to explain altruism" is taken to mean "altruism is the effect of something else". Yet the very definition of altruism is that it is an act without cause. Trying to explain altruism is like trying to explain random acts of violence. The truth is, a lot of acts aren't altruistic or random. And understanding those situations can help you know how to cause more or less of the desired behavior. But, clearly, there's plenty of altruism (and random acts of violence) in the world. I just find it sad that people are so quick to want people to justify their charity and that people don't respond appropriately: because.

Re:Explain how? (1)

rgbatduke (1231380) | about 5 months ago | (#45516601)

The point is that to explain altruism, one has to -- um -- show that it isn't really altruism.

No, the problem is that "to explain altruism" is taken to mean "altruism is the effect of something else". Yet the very definition of altruism is that it is an act without cause. Trying to explain altruism is like trying to explain random acts of violence. The truth is, a lot of acts aren't altruistic or random.

Ah, but you see, I'm a physicist and I don't really believe in effects without causes. So I have to assume that when you define altruism as an act without a cause, you mean an act without a known cause, just as random acts of violence aren't at all random, although it may be impossible to narrow down the cause to the day some poor child got Malibu Barbie for Christmas.

BTW, your assertion that altruism is an act without a cause does not appear to be correct:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism [wikipedia.org]

There is nothing in the definition that suggests that altruism is causeless or random. Altruism is defined to be the performance of good or self-sacrificing acts without the specific cause of some expectation of reward. To quote further:

Much debate exists as to whether "true" altruism is possible. The theory of psychological egoism suggests that no act of sharing, helping or sacrificing can be described as truly altruistic, as the actor may receive an intrinsic reward in the form of personal gratification. The validity of this argument depends on whether intrinsic rewards qualify as "benefits."

According to your definition, only if I decide to give $100 to Unicef if I flip a coin and it comes up heads, then flip the coin (and it comes up heads) is it random, or causally linked to a truly unpredictable event, and hence "altruism". According to the correct definition, the altruism occurred in the decision to give money to Unicef in the first place (conditionally or not) without expecting any reward back from Unicef or the children it helps, and in order for that to be considered causeless or random all of my thoughts, decisions, actions would have to be considered causeless or random. In all cases, I have some reason for making the decision, because humans are mechanistic organism built on top of natural laws that are intrinsically causal. It could be a near-random reason -- the amplified outcome of a quantum fluctuation in my neural synapses (in which case it isn't real "altruism" because "I" didn't chose to be altruistic, a mechanistic accident resulted in the action) or it could be something that I could clearly enough articulate, explainable in human high level concepts, in which case it still has a cause, but the cause could be that I was raised to consider altruism a virtue and to wish to be virtuous through a complex system of conditioning -- rewards and punishments -- when I was too young to resist. I rather suspect that altruism is mostly "caused" by this latter process, somewhat and sometimes by the former process, and sometimes related to still older processes that are evolutionary in origin -- mammals sometimes adopt babies across species not necessarily because they are randomly altruistic towards another species, but because they are slightly miswired and repurpose a healthy genetic tendency to protect their own soft and furry offspring into the act of protecting some other animals soft and furry offspring instead. Humans do exactly the same sort of thing with puppies, and can often rationalize the actions elaborately using verbal reasoning.

So no, I don't think altruism is selfless action without cause, any more than random acts of violence are random or my decision to reply to your reply is random, although it is altruistic enough -- I get no direct benefit from you changing your mind, I get only the satisfaction of knowing that I've helped you (perhaps) towards a better/deeper perception of the nature of good and evil. It's a bit scary -- and both socially and scientifically pointless -- to assert that it is basically random, without cause. If you really want to understand altruism, study the Prisoner's Dilemma, the game Diplomacy, watch the movie Hunger Games. Cooperative behavior almost always has profoundly nonlinear rewards, and in real life non-cooperative behavior seeking short term benefits very often comes with long term costs and punishments that outweigh those benefits. Humans don't function and make decisions on a fine grained basis, at least most people don't. If one learns enough cooperative behavior to survive in society at all, the behavioral and social rules that one abstracts that permit this get crosslinked to cover "altruistic" cases where a detailed examination might have lead to a different rational decision. That's why we call people who lack these basic rules "sociopaths". A sociopath is basically an individual that lacks the altruistic conditioning necessary to survive in our society, and the societal superorganism has its own rules for identifying and punishing those individuals as they are a profound threat to it.

rgb

Re:Explain how? (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | about 5 months ago | (#45517145)

Ah, but you see, I'm a physicist and I don't really believe in effects without causes.

So I take it you don't believe in the Big Bang? Or is it turtles all the way down?

There is nothing in the definition that suggests that altruism is causeless or random. Altruism is defined to be the performance of good or self-sacrificing acts without the specific cause of some expectation of reward. To quote further:

Well, beyond the fact that you're not actually quoting the link you gave...the notion of self-sacrifice without some expectation of reward is precisely the point being challenged by the article: that a lot of activities spur a reward that, at least subconsciously is expected. Hence it's not a random act nor is it causeless--it's based upon past such behavior causing one to belief that future events will unfold a certain way. That is, after all, what expectations are all about. And hence to lack expectation is to either have no history to base upon, a history that proves a lack of reward, or to have some specific intent to act without a cause. So, perhaps not all altruism need be causeless, but most people have enough experience to see that (a) comparable circumstances operate similarly and so direct experience in one matter need not exist to form an expectation and (b) that generally the lack of reward for an act is a sign it's a "bad" act. But, I'd admit there's leeway in there. Never the less, a large part of the issue is just how much the subconscious plays a part in one's expectations.

According to your definition, only if I decide to give $100 to Unicef if I flip a coin and it comes up heads, then flip the coin (and it comes up heads) is it random, or causally linked to a truly unpredictable event, and hence "altruism".

Nope because then the coin flip caused you to give money to Unicef. :) Now, the decision to flip a coin to give money to Unicef in the first place could be altruism (something you speak of in the next sentence).

[Large winded speech about the body is physical and there's random (that's non-cause but also not intent) or reasoned (and hence has a cause)]

Out of curiosity, did you reason out every word you use? Or do you propose using "sort of things with puppies" instead of "sort of things with kittens" was a quantum fluctuation? Or would you recognize that humans have yet to reach the point of complete self-analysis and that when people speak of "intent" and "thought", they may all originate physically but it's currently impossible (I tend to believe simply impossible) to specify a cause for them all. That it is in some level "random" doesn't take away from intent because, as you argue, you believe you have reason in a physical universe that is founded on randomness. Obviously if you make a distinction at that level, you can make a distinction with altruism.

So no, I don't think altruism is selfless action without cause, any more than random acts of violence are random or my decision to reply to your reply is random, although it is altruistic enough -- I get no direct benefit from you changing your mind, I get only the satisfaction of knowing that I've helped you (perhaps) towards a better/deeper perception of the nature of good and evil.

Is good or evil more random? j/k :)

It's a bit scary -- and both socially and scientifically pointless -- to assert that it is basically random, without cause. If you really want to understand altruism, study the Prisoner's Dilemma, the game Diplomacy, watch the movie Hunger Games.

I'd suggest you watch Battle Royale. It's more entertaining.

A sociopath is basically an individual that lacks the altruistic conditioning necessary to survive in our society, and the societal superorganism has its own rules for identifying and punishing those individuals as they are a profound threat to it.

They make them CEOs of companies and pay them millions of dollars?

Re:Explain how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515685)

Altruism is jumping on a live hand grenade, or taking on a predator while the rest of the troop flees.

Even then, it's hard to be sure. Start studying these kinds of things in the wild, and you start finding weird statistical trends where the animal's relatives tend to benefit in proportion to their relatedness.

(..which was basically what "The Selfish Gene" is all about. Highly recommended reading.)

Re:Explain how? (1)

Endloser (1170279) | about 5 months ago | (#45515895)

Even jumping on a hand grenade isn't altruism if the user did it to either feel superior or prevent a feeling of guilt. To be altruistic one has to act without feeling. Otherwise self preservation is always the motivating factor.

Not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45514977)

This is hardly a new theory of 'altruism' and I fail to see how it is relevant to /. Marcel Mauss laid the foundation of such gift-giving rituals way back in 1925 and it's been a well-studied topic since.

free as in no fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515015)

best of intentions to our genuine spiritual allys, mostly hungry kids (millions (1,000,000 X~)) world wide again today we blame the fictional deities or complete innocents who have no (0) options left we pinksters tag as unambitious as we pretense behind our 'defense' of 'our way' (majority excluded) of life which looks like some kind of reverse polarity sci-fi nightmare to the vast majority of us uns not to mention the disregard for us & lowest motive misuse of OUR resources against us

Scratchy (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 5 months ago | (#45515021)

The answer from studying these beer drinking events is that the favor is quickly returned by the guests in the form of another beer drinking event.

You mean I scratch your back, you scratch my back? That's not not altruism, that's trade.

this study could be done at the local pub (1)

photo pilot (3425097) | about 5 months ago | (#45515093)

People who hang out and drink together get along. Sometimes. See Irish pub fights for the counter-example ;)

Re:this study could be done at the local pub (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515999)

I was living in a tiny mid-western US town {in Illinois} after a bad storm and I got roped in by a bunch of pub crawlers that were going from house to house covering broken windows, cutting back damaged trees, etc...

Apparently it's a town tradition to have all the able bodied men meet at the town's pub after a bad storm then go out check on everyone and fix things. They appeared to be having a great time of it too.

Umm.... duh. (-1)

Endloser (1170279) | about 5 months ago | (#45515113)

Altruism doesn't exist. This has been debated before and there is no proof that altruism is anything other than misdirection. This would be an actual story if they could support a claim that altruism exists. But this is just another report from the desk of Captain Obvious.

Re:Umm.... duh. (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#45515191)

Just because you've never done something nice for someone else while expecting nothing in return doesn't mean altruism doesn't exist; it means you're selfish.

To wit, the other night my wife told me a homeless guy helped her carry and load her groceries in the car; all he got out of the deal was a pleasant conversation, and still went away smiling.

Re:Umm.... duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515373)

So a homeless guy helps your wife with her groceries, she doesnt give him shit, homeless guy walks away laughing.

This means your wife is fucking selfish and the homeless guy thought it was funny.

"Selfish" is not thinking of yourself first. "Selfish" is expecting other people to think of you first.

Re:Umm.... duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515555)

Just because you've never done something nice for someone else while expecting nothing in return doesn't mean altruism doesn't exist; it means you're selfish.

Everyone is selfish. We do things to make us happy or to follow our instincts, essentially. When someone thinks that someone helped someone else out and didn't get anything in return, they're wrong; what they got in return could be something as simple as feeling happy.

Re:Umm.... duh. (1)

Endloser (1170279) | about 5 months ago | (#45515763)

If he left smiling, he received satisfaction. Therefore it is a selfish act. If you can show me how the person approached it without the intent of feeling satisfied with his actions, you have made an argument for altruism. Otherwise you have simply argued to my point.

Re:Umm.... duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45516565)

Maybe he was lonely? Conversation has value too.

Interesting historical significance of Beer (2)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 5 months ago | (#45515117)

"This show traces the important role that beer has played in human history from the probable origins of the first beer at the dawn of history to the development of a special beer for use in zero gravity space missions."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1832368/ [imdb.com]

Really? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about 5 months ago | (#45515129)

You needed a study to figure this out? I think science jumped the shark.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515193)

Your tax dollars at work...

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515323)

On one hand, in order to call it science, and in order for science to have a say in such issues such as altruism, this is necessary.

On the other hand, I seriously doubt we'll find straightforward answers to such complex concepts. A beginning would be to recognize "warm fuzzy feelings" and empathy. On the other hand, often the researchers themselves are clueless about the subject, so waste time chasing their own shadows - preconceptions, prejudices and biases, instead of doing insightful research. It's unfortunate that science does not recognize insight and experience, because to disqualify those very people who are experts in a subject, even if not quantifiable, hinders further progress and insights. It's a bit better than the Randi Foundation, but not much.

IMHO, every scientist should be a meditator. Only then do you develop enough self-insight and experience necessary to recognize and appreciate more subtle phenomena.

Captcha: freest

The obvious comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515137)

They drink beer made from boiled manioc (a type of sweet potato) which they chew and spit into the mix to trigger fermentation. After a week or so, the resultant brew is about 4 per cent alcohol.

In before the first derpling herps up a comparison to American beer. Herp herp derp.

Re:The obvious comparison (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about 5 months ago | (#45515245)

I'd still drink that stuff before I drank american beer.

Re:The obvious comparison (1)

tinkerton (199273) | about 5 months ago | (#45515369)

I'd still drink that stuff before I drank american beer.

Any american beer? The most recent number I know is there are over 2700 breweries.

Re:The obvious comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515751)

You'd think with 2700 breweries, one of them would have managed to create a decent beer by now.

Re:The obvious comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515929)

Are there really so few breweries in such a large country?

Result of more stripped culture? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515185)

Is this strictly the result of their culture being more stripped of modern conviences, i.e. industrialization and technology, or rather that living in such a simplistic and repeatable manner is actually easier?

Having recently done a long-distance hike, several months and over a 1000 miles, where every day was the same repeatable events(wake up, eat, hike, stop, eat, sleep), I'd argue that it is a much simpler existence when exact daily repitition, to consistent weekly repitition with minimal distraction outside your environment, comes into play. I'd imagine beer, and the slight intoxication inolved with the tribes consistency, only makes such a minimalist existence quite enjoyable.

In contrast, if you take any one of the 100 or some people I could name off the top of my head, and remove them from society and all technology from them for a week, I'd say less than 5 would be able to mentally copy with such a situation.

In short: unplug from time to time. ALL OF YOU! And take some beer along while you do it!

Nonsense (1)

wangi (16741) | about 5 months ago | (#45515251)

What a load of bollocks. An hour in the pub watching how a round of drinks works could have saved a lot of time and effort.

Research blunder, answer right at home. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515261)

"The answer from studying these beer drinking events is that the favor is quickly returned by the guests in the form of another beer drinking event. "

  Uhm, DUH. Obviously these scientists stopped getting invited to parties when they couldn't figure out that they also needed to host every now and then.

Science leads to public policy (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 5 months ago | (#45515335)

> "The answer from studying these beer drinking events is that the favor is quickly
> returned by the guests in the form of another beer drinking event"

The professor, from the US or European intelligentsia, then rubbed his chin, "Government should force people to have these voluntary reciprocity invites! But not with beer. Or soda pop. Well, not sugar soda anyway. Or diet."

Group dynamics (1)

PPH (736903) | about 5 months ago | (#45515465)

Could be that drinking (beer or whatever) is an example of a shared group experience that enhances interpersonal bonding. So, is it the booze or the underlying culture that explains the altruism? Can one identify cultures that emphasize other shared experiences which also enhance such effects?

I don't have anything against drinking, per se. But if I can make a conscious decision to join a group that is characterized by some shared activity, I might want to select one that has fewer negative consequences and more positive than hanging around bars.

We know how altruism evolves (4, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 5 months ago | (#45515495)

I think we understand the evolutionary mechanism behind the development of altruism well enough now. The "tournament of algorithms" conducted by the U Mich in the late 1980s on the iterative prisoners dilemma provided the seminal breakthrough. Carl Sagan's article on the Golden Rule in the Parade mag in early 1990s and the newly added chapter 13 to "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins in the 30th anniversary edition of that book are easier to read. Game theory developed further. We are now able to explain the circumstances under which altruism develops, and we also understand why it is impossible to drive the "freeloaders" all the way down to zero. We are beginning to understand the role played by taboos and religion in reducing the freeloader problems. Some, like Steven Pinker, think evolution of the language 75000 years ago essentially needed a mechanism to check the freeloaders and religion was probably that mechanism.

So we are pretty far along these directions. Research on reciprocal altruism like this beer drinking ritual by some tribals is minor compared to the extensive work done on the bats regurgitating blood to share food with bats who did not have a successful hunt.

Re:We know how altruism evolves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515607)

+1... my immediate thought was "Selfish Gene"... this response is much better.

Re:We know how altruism evolves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45516165)

We already understand how it works because some pompous idiot who does no research says so!

Richard Dawkins is more like an anti-source than a source. None of his stuff ever reaches the "tested hypothesis level" before he declares it as truth incarnate. Human evolution is the stupidest "science" on the planet, right now, (that anyone follows) because it's 1% science and 99% bullshit. "Science" literally means "dividing truth from nontruth" -- what truth have they shown? Nothing. It's all bullshit. It's all guesswork. None of it is actually supported. Gene selection and mate selection when it comes to humans? No. Let me show you just how bullshit it actually is:

A gene expresses itself that shows such stupid behavior that it is extremely hostile toward a human making it past the age of 30:
>This gene reinforces the fact that humans had to have a strong society in order to survive. With 80% of the parents dead by the age of 28, early man had to hold together, and therefore this gene was selected, because it bred social strength!
Oh, is that why we get itchy buttholes if we don't wipe correctly? Because scratching our buttholes before eating and feeding others is the fastest way to make everyone in our family deathly sick. Sorry, fellers, back to the drawing board. Hairy manbutts is not an evolutionary-viable trait. It is murderous, yet here we are.

A gene expresses itself that shows such strength that it is extremely beneficial to humans being incredible survivors:
>This gene made us stronger so blah blah blah, this one is obvious
You can't have this shit both ways, assholes. A few hundred thousand years is not long enough to change our species with our historically-recorded population sizes, generation turnover rate and litter sizes. Yet we ascribe tens of thousands of changes to positive gene selection. There is simply so much static with the signal it's hard to imagine how you guys can buy into this bullshit -- Unless you've been reading books by a manipulative twat that tells you that you're stupid if you don't agree with him, because he knows this all so much better than people that have actually studied this shit out or can do math.

And don't even get me started on dinosaurs. Those fuckers didn't evolve for 20 million years at a time, yet they had extreme evolutionary pressures on them. Their fossil records basically say "Humans evolving from tailed monkeys in a million years, and yet somehow every possible trait was selected positively? RAH HA HA HA HA!!!! OH BOY DO WE HAVE DIMETRODON OIL TOO SELL TO YOU!"

The Social Conquest of Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45515785)

Anyone interested in the sociology of altruism should read "the Social Conquest of Earth" by Edward O. Wilson. He uses Occam's Razor to attack kin selection theory, and supports his own theories of social cooperation.

Alternate Explanation (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#45515903)

And when the beer drinking invite is not returned, the researchers speculate that this is probably because there is some other favor involved...

A simpler explanation; they served really crappy beer.

How traditions start (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about 5 months ago | (#45516399)

Hey Neighbor,

I chewed up some sweet potatoes, spit them into a pot and left it sitting for a week or so. Wanna come over and have some? ...

And somehow this is now a tradition.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45516451)

1. Currying favor to be redeemed at a later date.
2. Release of chemical bliss, aka, smug superiority
3. Drinking with others is far more entertaining than drinking alone

There you go. Where's my research grant, which I totally won't spend on a boat?

Altruism, like everything else, is imperfect (1)

nmnilsson (549442) | about 5 months ago | (#45516955)

I think one stumbling block of evolutionary studies is the notion to consider anything to be perfected.
The reason that altruism does not always make sense (according to a pure 'selfish gene' standpoint), may well be that it doesn't.

We've developed a few genes that makes part our brain mirror what our fellow beings experience. If we see someone suffer, we feel bad too.
Most of the time, that makes sense from an egoistic standpoint. Some of the time, it doesn't.
Altruism is no more a mystery that our preference for certain kinds of food.
Enjoying sweet, fat and protein-rich food is good for humans - except for when it isn't.

On to pot! (1)

plopez (54068) | about 5 months ago | (#45517049)

Let's see if there is a similar effect amongst those sharing bong hits... I don't know I feel sort of unmotivated about that study....

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