The relative size of a mammal’s brain seems strongly correlated to the size of troops in which they socialize. There are about 200 species of primates. They all vary in troop sizes and brain size. Baboon’s average troop size is about 50 while the average human troop size is about 150. The increased brain size is needed, among other things, to identify and remember traits of members of the troop.
One primate survival skill is cooperation. The downside of cooperation is the freeloader — the individual who exploits cooperation. Thus, along with cooperation evolved the ability to contain the cheaters. All thriving cooperative societies must thus have a way to identify and limit these cheaters, thus large parts of the brain are devoted to identifying and keeping track of other individual’s cooperation and cheating records.
As human societies expanded, they created laws and enforcers to supplement the brain’s natural tendencies to keep troop size around 150. But that troop brain (“Tribal Brain”) still serves as a strong calculating module in our minds. At its best, the tribal brain allows cooperation, but it also creates an “US vs. THEM” mentality — the tribal mind regulates the degree of hostility toward outsiders (those outside the tribe). When the Tribal Mind gets co-opted by theology, it become the “Tribal God”. The theology of a religion, among other things, regulates obedience to authority, tolerance and conventionalism which have strong impacts on the Tribal God.
- The Origins of Virtue (1997) by Matt Ridley
- Demonic Males (1996) Wrangham & Peterson
- Reciprocal altruism (wiki)
- Why Religion can lead to Racism: Epiphenom 4/18/10
- Goyology: how one views and treats those outside their tribe/troop