In the EEA, Tactical Nuclear Weapons Were Highly Fitness-Enhancing

by Kieran Healy on March 11, 2008

For those of you who keep track of Satoshi Kanazawa—evolutionary psychologist, co-author of Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters, and the Fenimore Cooper of Sociobiology—is now blogging at Psychology Today Magazine. Let’s turn the mike over to him:

Both World War I and World War II lasted for four years. We fought vast empires with organized armies and navies with tanks, airplanes, and submarines, yet it took us only four years to defeat them. … World War III, which began on September 11, 2001, has been going on for nearly seven years now, but there is no end in sight. There are no clear signs that we are winning the war, or even leading in the game. … Why isn’t this a slam dunk? It seems to me that there is one resource that our enemies have in abundance but we don’t: hate. We don’t hate our enemies nearly as much as they hate us. They are consumed in pure and intense hatred of us, while we appear to have PC’ed hatred out of our lexicon and emotional repertoire. We are not even allowed to call our enemies for who they are, and must instead use euphemisms like “terrorists.” … Hatred of enemies has always been a proximate emotional motive for war throughout human evolutionary history. Until now.

Here’s a little thought experiment. Imagine that, on September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers came down, the President of the United States was not George W. Bush, but Ann Coulter. What would have happened then? On September 12, President Coulter would have ordered the US military forces to drop 35 nuclear bombs throughout the Middle East, killing all of our actual and potential enemy combatants, and their wives and children. On September 13, the war would have been over and won, without a single American life lost.

And there you have it.

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1

Brian Schmidt 03.11.08 at 4:13 am

Does this argument even deserve comment? I’ll just note from a foreign policy realist view that 35 nukes wouldn’t be enough 90% of the Arab world, which is only a small fraction of the total Muslim population on the planet.

Maybe he’s just not ambitious enough.

2

John Emerson 03.11.08 at 4:16 am

London School of Economics. Not an American.

3

Orin Kerr 03.11.08 at 4:37 am

From Kanazawa’s work bio: “A common theme in his otherwise varied work is the . . .limitations of the human brain . . . . “

Perhaps this is just an illustration?

4

Delicious Pundit 03.11.08 at 4:49 am

Yeah, why can’t this war be more like World War I? Everything worked out great after that.

5

Righteous Bubba 03.11.08 at 4:50 am

without a single American life lost.

I imagine the Americans in the places bombed would know how to duck and cover.

6

Kieran Healy 03.11.08 at 5:05 am

Incidentally, I believe WWII lasted six years.

7

Righteous Bubba 03.11.08 at 5:10 am

Incidentally, I believe WWII lasted six years.

Not for AMERICANS, which is the point, you potential cinder you.

8

Kieran Healy 03.11.08 at 5:15 am

In that case he should have said WWI only lasted eighteen months, then.

9

dan 03.11.08 at 5:22 am

World War III, which began on September 11, 2001… On September 13, the war would have been over and won, without a single American life lost.

Goodnight, everybody!

10

Righteous Bubba 03.11.08 at 5:27 am

In that case he should have said WWI only lasted eighteen months, then.

But that was because…well… Oooh, you’re in trouble. Nuclear trouble.

11

j@ne futzinfarb 03.11.08 at 5:35 am

Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!

12

Jenna (not that one) 03.11.08 at 6:11 am

A Modest Proposal?

13

Kadin 03.11.08 at 6:14 am

We are not even allowed to call our enemies for who they are, and must instead use euphemisms like “terrorists.”

Oh my god, did he just say what I think he said?

14

Bruce Baugh 03.11.08 at 7:26 am

My brain exploded. I’m now a fluffy popped-popcorn-like headed Bruce.

15

thompsaj 03.11.08 at 8:00 am

I think the point was that it would be a slam-dunk if we fostered more hate in our hearts. World War III would be a slam-dunk, that is, just like World War III.a.2 [Iraq] is.

16

nick s 03.11.08 at 8:16 am

Sadly, that may be the most coherent piece written for Psychology Today in the past decade.

17

Naadir Jeewa 03.11.08 at 8:33 am

He is working on the assumption that any American living in the Middle East who can’t escape in two days is not a real American, and as an apostate to American values is a legitimate target of the ensuing nuclear holocaust.

18

MFB 03.11.08 at 8:38 am

No-one loves us — I dunno why;
We may not be perfect, but Heaven knows we try;
But all around, even our old friends put us down —
Let’s drop the Big One and see what happens!

We give them money, but are they grateful?
No, they’re spiteful and they’re hateful!
They don’t respect us, so let’s surprise ’em —
We’ll drop the Big One, pulverise ’em!

Asia’s crowded, Europe’s too old,
Africa’s far too hot and Canada’s too cold,
South America stole our name —
Let’s drop the Big One, there’ll be no-one left to blame us!

19

Roy Belmont 03.11.08 at 8:38 am

He doesn’t mean the entire Middle East, only the parts where the euphemisms live.

20

Matthew Kuzma 03.11.08 at 8:39 am

Who would have imagined his insights streteched so far beyond his area of expertise!

21

dc 03.11.08 at 8:47 am

What? Nuke the oil supply?

22

rev.paperboy 03.11.08 at 8:49 am

By gosh, I think he’s right! And if we had the police summarily execute on the spot anyone they suspected of a crime – even parking violations – and their entire extended family, well heckfire, we’d have the whole crime problem licked in a matter of months.

Man oh man, but that is some world class stupidity.

23

Elliott Green 03.11.08 at 8:49 am

You should all know that Kanazawa is considered an embarrassment by most of us at the LSE; see more here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/nov/05/highereducation.research

24

laurence 03.11.08 at 9:11 am

psychology today. insanity tomorrow.

25

Great Zamfir 03.11.08 at 9:23 am

He is working on the assumption that any American living in the Middle East who can’t escape in two days is not a real American, and as an apostate to American values is a legitimate target of the ensuing nuclear holocaust

But they are mostly working for oil companies. Surely they are truer Americans than the rest?

26

Z 03.11.08 at 9:26 am

Sublime. Anyone else slightly distressed by the fact he recommends, not only once but actually twice in the piece, that “we” should killed our enemies and “their wives and children”?

27

abb1 03.11.08 at 9:26 am

we appear to have PC’ed hatred out of our lexicon and emotional repertoire

He’s lucky that we did, otherwise he would have suffered a bloodied nose.

28

Stuart 03.11.08 at 9:27 am

Impressive, but it seems he accidentally posted it three weeks early.

29

qb 03.11.08 at 9:47 am

i love how the thought experiment ends two days after it begins without considering any potential ramifications of dropping “35 nuclear bombs throughout the Middle East.” like world war iv, for instance.

30

A. Y. Mous 03.11.08 at 10:16 am

You guys are being too harsh on him. He’s just a regular Joe, with a regular job. An average white, suburbanite slob.

31

Martin Wisse 03.11.08 at 10:21 am

This is the guy who earlier wrote that Asians cannot create original contributions to science, isn’t?

32

stet 03.11.08 at 11:13 am

How many children does he have? Just wondering after having had a look at this great article.

33

Deadra 03.11.08 at 11:31 am

…wow…I fell contaminated by stupidity.

Luckily, Ann Coulter would never *be* President, because she thinks that women shouldn’t vote, let alone stand for office. So I don’t even have to think about all the other things that are wrong, wrong, wrong with this article.

34

ajay 03.11.08 at 12:30 pm

Funny, you’d expect a Japanese guy to be a bit more wary of nuclear warfare.

How did the policy of massive hatred and near-genocidal cruelty work out for his countrymen in 1937-45, anyway? Not well, I seem to recall.

35

Russell Arben Fox 03.11.08 at 1:05 pm

Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!

Dammit! Herr futzinfarb got to the Dr. Strangelove reference seven hours before me. Now I feel all deflated and useless. If only I could hate something, like those nameless euphenisms: that would make me feel all powerful and erect again!

36

smaug 03.11.08 at 2:43 pm

Thanks a lot, Kanazawa. Now that the terrorists know about this alternate plan, they’ll be able to adapt like they did with water-boarding.

Why do socio-biologists hate America?

37

Bernard Yomtov 03.11.08 at 2:52 pm

London School of Economics. Not an American.

Thank God for small favors.

38

Dave 03.11.08 at 3:18 pm

Check his bio. Definitely one o’ yourn…

39

Kieran Healy 03.11.08 at 3:23 pm

Check his bio. Definitely one o’ yourn…

Oh, I know. He got his PhD from my department.

40

Anderson 03.11.08 at 3:30 pm

Good lord, what is an example of legitimate work by this guy? I mean, how did he get this LSE job?

41

Crystal 03.11.08 at 4:11 pm

Ah yes, Satoshi “Africa is poor because it’s full of stupid black people” Kanazawa. I’m amazed he has a job in somewhere other than politics. However, mentioning “Psychology Today” is likely to make genuine psychology-types giggle, snort, and guffaw.

42

c.l. ball 03.11.08 at 4:12 pm

Not a big socio-bio fan largely because many of its proponents draw ethical conclusions from the naturalist data, and because there are major inconsistencies the behavioral outcomes of conscious reasoning and instinct, but Kanazawa isn’t falling into either trap here:

what is natural is not necessarily ethical
hate is a basic human emotion
hatred of enemies was openly propagated by governments during those times (have you ever seen the WWII-era Bugs Bunny cartoons or Dr. Seuss
hate led governments with societal support to act savagely toward their enemies in WWI & WWII.
hatred is not propagated as policy now
a hateful person like Coulter would have acted in a violent, hateful way after 9/11

I don’t think any of this is a good idea, in large part because there’s no chance in hell that al Qaeda or its off-shoots have any chance of defeating the US and its allies in any meaningful way. And hating Muslims would be stupid as well as immoral because Muslims qua Muslims don’t attack the US. Only those enamored of or persuaded by violent radical Muslim fundamentalism do.

But let’s face it, the “war on terror” usage is widespread in US and European political discourse (I simply don’t know what is the case other areas), and with little concern about what this means in terms of military violence. Blackwater gets heaped with scorn, but there is little discussion of US or other countries use of aerial attacks in Afghanistan or Iraq. This is not a new issue: on the US side, it came up in Panama, Iraq (1990), Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. There has been little political will to confront it. Not surprisingly since the solution would probably be male adult conscription to provide man-power to return to high-casualty, house-to-house raid methods.

In WWII, we had to hate the people we were bombing to justify bombing them. Today, we don’t even have to hate them to bomb them; we just have to find it too inconvenient to do otherwise.

That’s “progress..

43

mpowell 03.11.08 at 4:18 pm


that would make me feel all powerful and erect again!

Careful, Russell. You risk altering my impression of Mormons!

44

John Emerson 03.11.08 at 4:38 pm

LSE! LSE! LSE! LSE! LSE! LSE! LSE! LSE! LSE! LSE!
NOT USA! NOT USA! NOT USA! NOT USA! NOT USA! NOT USA! NOT USA! NOT USA!

Sorry guys, but this shit is yours.

45

Xanthippas 03.11.08 at 4:58 pm

Indeed, history convincingly demonstrates that there was never a war that couldn’t be won with more hate and reckless killing.

46

Anderson 03.11.08 at 5:19 pm

Use your aggressive feelings …. Let the hate flow through you.

Satoshi Kanazawa … or the Emperor Palpatine?

47

rodeobob 03.11.08 at 6:22 pm

Breathtaking stupid.

Because a “war” waged against geographically dispersed, ideologically-motivated, decentrally-organized fanatics attempting to disrupt social and economic structures is exactly the same as a war fought against a nationalized army intent on capturing land and tactical resources. Why should one take longer than the other?

Oh, that’s right. We really, really hated the second bunch, not so much the first…

The Coulter reference is quite telling; it’s not about saying things that make sense, it’s about saying things that get attention. And for some folks, any kind of attention is better than no types of attention.

48

ajay 03.11.08 at 6:33 pm

44: The London School of Economics, although it is in London (which is not in the US), does from time to time hire Americans. And given that Kanazawa got both his MA and his PhD in the US before teaching at Cornell and Illinois-Urbana, one becomes suspicious that he is one of them.
Sorry. We let him into the country, but he’s one of yours.

49

Craig Ewert 03.11.08 at 6:51 pm

Sorry, ajay. You took him, and you can’t give him back. He’s yours now.

50

Dave 03.11.08 at 7:04 pm

Perhaps we could come to some agreement about a suitable set of mid-Atlantic coordinates to deposit him at?

So long as it was a long way from where the bones of the immortal Thomas Paine lie….

51

magistra 03.11.08 at 9:33 pm

But surely this is his answer for the great strategic problem? If They hate America because We are Good, then if We stop being Good, surely They will stop hating us?

Meanwhile, let’s try to stay serene and calm, when Kanazawa gets the Bomb.

52

Herr Doktor Bimler 03.11.08 at 10:07 pm

I remain unconvinced that 35 nuclear warheads are enough to kill all “potential enemy combatants, and their wives and children”. Many countries would remain whose citizens might one day look sideways at the US.

53

Tomas 03.11.08 at 10:42 pm

Ah but you see. That why we have more nukes!

Hitler had the right idea, he just didnt have enough hardware.

54

dsquared 03.11.08 at 11:11 pm

“Psychologies” magazine has certainly got spicier over the last couple of months; when I picked up a copy on a train [1] it was all full of quizzes like “Is He Really Committed To You?” aimed at the soppier kind of bird.

[1] yes that is how I got to read it, do you think I’m lying or something?

55

Naadir Jeewa 03.12.08 at 12:05 am

@51 I know a good mid-atlantic fault.

56

Nick Valvo 03.12.08 at 2:01 am

This has always been my little thought experiment about sociobiology as a discipline. Can you imagine a feminist sociobiology? What would that be like?

57

cosma 03.12.08 at 2:54 am

57: Read Sarah Blaffer Hrdy.

58

RobW 03.12.08 at 3:24 am

OK, so when everybody got sociobiology’s number they rebranded as “evolutionary psychology” to avoid the flak – now what are they going to call themselves?

59

Paul Gowder 03.12.08 at 4:17 am

Holy shit.

Well, I hate Kanazawa now. Can we contribute that hatred to the war effort? Perhaps we can drop Kanazawa off in Tehran to give us a good incentive to nuke it?

60

Johnny Pez 03.12.08 at 7:17 am

OK, so when everybody got sociobiology’s number they rebranded as “evolutionary psychology” to avoid the flak – now what are they going to call themselves?

Doesn’t matter. Pick two science-y sounding words that don’t actually go together. Like . . . (picks up Asimov’s Guide to Science, closes eyes, points twice) molecular economics.

There you go. Brand new name for the same old crap. Enjoy.

61

Naadir Jeewa 03.12.08 at 8:05 am

proteoeconomics

62

dsquared 03.12.08 at 8:12 am

I think the really interesting thing is the assumption that the USA would not only have survived nine months of a Coulter presidency, but done so with its nuclear weapons roughly intact. Seems unlikely to me.

63

Dave 03.12.08 at 8:59 am

Heck, they have *lots* more than 35. Wouldn’t have taken mopre than a dozen to deal with the PRK, just one for the ICC at the Hague…. Cuba? Hmmm…. depends on the prevailing winds, after all, Coulter has a house in Florida, doesn’t she?

64

john m. (not the other guy who has appeared recently) 03.12.08 at 9:34 am

“He got his PhD from my department”

Somebody gave this moronic fucker a PHD? Bet they feel proud…

65

ajay 03.12.08 at 1:07 pm

63: good point. Certainly something dramatic would have happened around April or whenever it was that that ELINT plane ended up on Hainan.

66

Chris Williams 03.12.08 at 6:20 pm

Moving on from that nutter, #65 opens up a point that’s gradually becoming more clear to me as I have more to do with PhD examinations.

Though in theory it’s the external examiner’s job to ensure academic rigour, in practice, the internal is more keen about this. After all, it’s not immediately obvious who K’s external was, but any fule kno that he got his PhD from the University of Arizona.

Draw your own conclusions about the University of Arizona. I know I just did.

67

Andrew 03.13.08 at 3:53 am

It’s entirely possible I’m missing something here, but how’s Israel faring with 35 big ‘n’ heftys let off in the neighborhood?

Don’t guess that President Coulter’s too particular about wind directions ‘n stuff.

Mmm-kay. We can let the no-good Americans travelling in the Middle East go. Brits, Canadians, Old Europeans, Indians, citizens of every other nation – you just got in the way. Sorry about that. Guess you won’t hate us, ‘cos we acted out of virtue.

Plus, last I checked – and I’m English, so no, I can read a map – Afghanistan isn’t in the Middle East. So Osama Bin Laden is saying “WTF?” along with the rest of the still-living.

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