Tag Archives: violence

New evidence: Easter Island civilisation was not destroyed by war

Centuries ago, Europeans first visited isolated Easter Island and found more than 800 enormous stone statues. Europeans assumed that the island was once home to an advanced civilization called the Rapa Nui, which destroyed itself through war. More recently, Jared Diamond’s bestselling book “Collapsed” stated that the Easter Island civilization destroyed itself by consuming all the natural resources of the island, even cutting down all the trees so they couldn’t build canoes to get off the island, and imploded in an orgy of violence and cannibalism.

But new research shows that the statues could have been built by the existing population of the island, that there’s no evidence the population of the island was ever much larger than it is now, and that there’s no evidence of a massive population collapse caused by ecological exhaustion or brutal war.

The research shows that “systematic violence” between groups is not inevitable, even “in cases where resources are scarce (such as Easter Island),” archaeologist Carl Lipo tells Annalee Newitz at Ars Technica. “But when we look more broadly at human history, we find generally that we are pretty good at living in social groups and getting along with one another,” Lipo says.

Citing the evolutionary biologist Peter Turchin, famous for developing a theory of history called “cliodynamics,” Lipo believes that the common thread in human history is cooperation rather than war. The fate of the Rapa Nui on Easter Island is often used to illustrate how humans destroy their communities with environmental destruction and warfare. But it might actually provide a good model for sustainable civilizations of the future.

Trump resurrects worries on his character and nation’s violent past

Sahil Kapur, Bloomberg Politics:

Donald Trump’s latest controversial comments did more than make it harder for him to win over undecided voters concerned about his temperament—it resurrected an ugly history of U.S. violence at the presidential level.

An impromptu comment Tuesday about “Second Amendment people” stopping a President Hillary Clinton from appointing judges was described as a dog-whistle call to violence by critics even after Trump dismissed those interpretations, saying, “Give me a break.”

Accusing her of trying to undermine the Second Amendment, Trump said at a rally in North Carolina, “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what. That will be a horrible day.”

A wave of condemnations—including from the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., a U.S. congresswoman who retired after surviving an assassination attempt, and a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency—delivered yet another worrisome example to voters concerned about Trump’s temperament.

The Trump campaign’s defense is that the candidate was simply referring to the famous organizational abilities of gun rights advocates. This is bullshit. Not even Trump’s supporters believe that, based on conversations I’ve seen on social media. They are ready to kill anybody who comes for their guns, and they believe Clinton is ready to do just that.

Trump knew or should have known how his statements would be interpreted.


Attackers, victims, and bystanders livestream the attacks, and everybody else gets bombarded with instant outrage, says John Robb.

Anti-Trump violence

Trump protesters are carrying out his supporters’ most paranoid fantasies [Dara Lind – Vox]

Trump supporters see ethnic politics as a zero-sum game. For nonwhites to win, whites need to lose.

That’s not the case – as a matter of fact, the opposite is true. Better opportunity for everyone benefits everyone.

But the mobs attacking Trump supporters are making it true.

Trump’s supporters attacked protesters first. But that doesn’t make Trump’s opponents’ violence right. Especially when the opponents claim moral high ground. Ethnic war is wrong no matter who’s doing it.


Porn is a public health crisis

The scientific evidence is decisive – porn causes a broad swathe of harm across multiple segments of society.

There’s a significant positive association between porn use and attitudes supporting violence to women.

Gail Dines, professor of sociology at Wheelock College in Boston and author of “Pornland: How Porn has Hijacked our Sexuality,” at the Washington Post:

Because so much porn is free and unfiltered on most digital devices, theaverage age of first viewing porn is estimated by some researchers to be 11. In the absence of a comprehensive sex-education curriculum in many schools, pornography has become de facto sex education for youth. And what are these children looking at? If you have in your mind’s eye a Playboy centerfold with a naked woman smiling in a cornfield, then think again. While “classy” lad mags like Playboy are dispensing with the soft-core nudesof yesteryear, free and widely available pornography is often violent, degrading and extreme.

In a content analysis of best-selling and most-rented porn films, researchers found that 88 percent of analyzed scenes contained physical aggression: generally spanking, gagging, choking or slapping. Verbal aggression occurred in 49 percent of the scenes, most often in the form of calling a woman “bitch” and “slut.” Men perpetrated 70 percent of the aggressive acts, while women were the targets 94 percent of the time. It is difficult to account for all of the “gonzo” and amateur porn available online, but there is reason to believe that the rented and purchased porn in the analysis largely reflects the content of free porn sites. As researcher Shira Tarrant points out, “The tube sites are aggregators of a bunch of different links and clips, and they are very often pirated or stolen.” So porn that was produced for sale is proffered for free.