Hi! I’m new here.
I’ve only glanced at this article but I find what I’ve seen to be very interesting and compelling.
I’m a dog trainer, using Natural Dog Training techniques (which Willem has written about here). And I’m interested in the site’s subject matter from a very specific perspective. I’m writing a piece on the “12 Reasons Dominance Hierarchies Don’t Exist in Nature.” And one of the 12 reasons springs from the work of Christopher Boehm.
In his book, Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Societies, Boehm theorizes that “humans are innately disposed to form social dominance hierarchies similar to those of the African great apes, but prehistoric hunter-gatherers, acting as moral communities, were largely able to neutralize such tendencies—just as extant hunter-gatherers do. The ethnographic basis for that hypothesis was that present-day foragers apply techniques of social control in suppressing both dominant leadership and undue competitiveness.”
In other words, Boehm believes that hunter-gatherer societies evolved away from the template of the dominance hierarchy seen in apes. But I don’t think that makes any sense. It makes more sense that pre-historic human and animal societies were both egalitarian. Once we developed agriculture and formed permanent settlements, I think that’s when we developed the concept of social
dominance. I also believe that dominance wasn’t a behavioral trait we inherited from apes, that, in fact, apes developed what appear to be dominance hierarchies as a result of human observation and expectation.
It’s interesting to note that when female researchers are left to their own devices they generally don’t see the dominance hierarchies that male researchers do. (It took Jane Goodall 10 years before she saw any aggression in chimpanzees.) Thelma Rowell and Shirley Strum, who both studied baboons in the wild saw no dominance hierarchies, rather they saw affiliative hierarchies run by the females of each troop. Yet Robert Sapolsky saw some really mean, totally unnecessary dominance behaviors in the male the baboons he studied. Interestingly, when the troop he studied was decimated by food tainted with tuberculosis, the only monkees that died were the “most dominant.” And the troop re-formed itself in such a way that any baboon who showed dominant tendencies was quickly shunned.
Anyway, you guys may already know all this stuff. I just found this topic fascinating and can’t wait to read the entire article.
Lee Charles Kelley