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Old 01-19-2010, 04:54 PM   #27
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

William Hazen wrote: View Post
there is not simple statistical case to be made on this issue -- which was my only point.
Actually there is and with all due respect a couple of folks have made it...
No and with equal respect -- you have not -- and could not. I measure men as amenable to the idea of killing by the history of training them for it in WWII. They were (with only ~ 1 in 200 defaulters) readily trainable to killing -- 12 weeks of basic and then some months of advanced. The infamous "90-day wonders" for OCS. Ten million of them. I suspect that the contemporary bias of assumption to the contrary (a basis for statistical error) betrays a particular moment in history -- not an enduring change in human nature. People report what they think other people want to hear -- because self-reporting of violent tendencies is prejudged, and widely held to be aberrant now (both the self-reporting and the tendencies). It was not always so, and therefore the confirmation bias in the sampling is in play as a an indeterminate error bar (but presumptively large, because it is systemic).

More critically, while statistics matter in the efficient conduct of war -- war is fundamentally neither an efficient nor a statistical enterprise. It is a contingent and messy business, and it has ever been so. "For behold I saw that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but time and chance happeneth to them all."

William Hazen wrote: View Post
Actually survival is a more powerful instinct than love on the battlefield, and altruism among soldiers is the realization that one has a better chance of survival with the others so they combine their efforts.
Is this a Darwinian argument or an argument of rationale choice? While optimality can be judged externally, internally it is not so clear as a rational "survival" matter -- if one takes the individual rational perspective on survival. Maximum chance requires maximum risk -- which is a paradox for the individual rational survivalist. In game theory terms, the war hero risking all for his own guys is a supercritical case of the 'prisoner's dilemma' -- the only optimal outcome involves complete mutual trust at the risk of one's own life -- and if that is not "love" -- what is ?

Not sure where you're going with this other than to point out certain Western Romantic Myths about combat?
Not all myths are Western -- or Romantic -- and some are even true..


Erick Mead
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