Sapolsky, Primates, Poisoned Meat, Dudebros, & Patriarchy

Renowned neuroendocrinologist and professor of biology, neuroscience, and neurosurgery Robert Sapolsky explains in the 2008 National Geographic documentary Killer Stress, that, for primates*, “the higher up on the hierarchy, the less stress hormones present in your blood“—that is to say, in hierarchical socioeconomic systems, when one is low on the social hierarchy, by mere virtue of being considered less important socially, one tends to suffer from more conditions associated with chronic stress, namely chemical imbalances, a weakened immune system, impaired cognitive function, and even a decreased life expectancy.

*Don’t forget, humans are primates.

To summarize one of Sapolsky’s studies, as discussed in the film, the aggressive, patriarchal, alpha male baboons, because they were so competitive, were the first to die when they came across tuberculosis-infected meat in the garbage and promptly proceeded to stuff their faces. In their absence, the rest of the baboons created a much more egalitarian society, without high levels of stress and concomitant chronic stress-related conditions. When aggressive, patriarchal, alpha male baboons from other communities subsequently entered this society, they were promptly “cured” of their aggressive, patriarchal, alpha male behavior.

The implications of this study are that, if such an event were to take place in the societies of other primates (namely, those of humans)—if we were to get rid of the competitive socioeconomic system that preferentially treats and rewards aggressiveness and domination (namely, capitalism) and create more egalitarian, non-hierarchical societies—we can live much more peacefully, with much less stress and much more joy.

In the real world, in other words, this means that if all the aggressive patriarchal dudebros, in their rush to build some more “manly” muscle, are accidentally poisoned by eating tuberculosis-infected meat, and, in their absence, socioeconomic institutions and forms of political organization are created that look down upon and censure competitive, aggressive, and domineering behavior, we can cure the dudebros of their dudebroness.

The other words in other words, by changing the system, we can smash the patriarchy.

Hopefully there doesn’t have to be a large dudebro meat poisoning crisis in the meantime.

(Worst case scenario though, anyone know where we can get some tb-infected meat?)