4

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Tribalism in Paleo

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 19, 2012 at 4:46 AM

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071026173536.htm

http://numerons.in/files/documents/13The-Psychology-of-Prejudice.pdf

I'd like to discuss Paleo as a movement, as a culture, not just a diet. Specifically I'd like to address two specific sorts of issues that are closely related.

The first is discussed in the articles posted above, and other places, and deal with our tendency to Love the "in-group" we are in (be it Paleo, Vegan, Christian, Atheist, Plushy, whatever) while having the tendency to come to hate the "Other" or to at least devalue them. I've seen this a lot in Paleo...we had people who loved Jack Kruse only to turn on him when he became the other. We have factions forming with Safe-Starch Vs. Low-Carb. To a lesser degree we have Crossfit Vs Other training modalities. In some cases we are family who argues, in other cases it becomes almost tribal and people get roundly attacked for not adopting the Tribes view.

Similar, and related, is something that was discussed after AHS 2012. That is the "in-crowd" and the sense that Paleo (the movement) was less inclusive then it could be. That in some ways Paleo was quite cliquish. This was discussed in a blog post I can't find now, and in the one called "The Fattest Couple in Paleo".

So this is a question! I promise. What are your thoughts? Is this natural? Separate question, Is it desirable or something we should strive against? If, so...how? If not...why not?

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on November 19, 2012
at 10:30 PM

I'm not sure altruism has ever been proven definitively, and even when present, it is strongest toward genetically similar groups. Many cultures throughout history, for example, have had protocols for disposing of unwanted infants during stressful times like famine. It seems cruel, but it is in fact an altruism of sorts in service of protecting the existing group and extending already scarce resources. As for reverting to our "base" nature, I always think of Holocaust survivor stories and how many of them regretted their actions or inactions during that time of survival. Heartbreaking stuff.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 19, 2012
at 06:27 PM

On the program last night they found that babies even have prejudice against "the other". Its a self preservation mechanism that we can likely attribute to natural selection. The interesting thing is that we are also born with altruism. Babies also show preference to "helpful" individuals over "unhelpful". Civilization and society try to shape and replace our more base character in terms of "the other" and when tested again at age 10 it seems to have worked. Interesting though, is that in times of stress we tend to revert to our base nature.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 19, 2012
at 06:23 PM

I don't know about effing it up. I'm fascinated by the English Civil War, in which a bunch of people who were initially disturbed by the idea of having to kneel in church ended up taking the head of Charles I. This event was the beginning of government as we know it today, from Napoleon to to Disraeli to Stalin to Obama. The end of monarchies started with funny monkeys fighting among themselves. Is it a better world? Not necessarily, but typical.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 19, 2012
at 06:21 PM

haha...did you watch 60 minutes last night?

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:44 PM

I should add that it's the very distance (psychological and physical) provided by our computers + internet that result in this behavior. If we had to hash it out in a room face-to-face, we just wouldn't see this nastiness. Or we might, but there would be great pressure to make up and smooth it out for the good of the group.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:42 PM

So doesn't this just prove that no matter what topic we funny monkeys glom onto, we're going to eff it up by being funny monkeys? Which, conversely, is also why it's fun (i.e. because we're funny monkeys)? I think we have to accept the good with the bad, because one can truly not exist without the other. Why does this remind me of a song? "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have The Facts of Life, the Facts of Life."

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:39 PM

I have to say, having interacted with several leaders in Paleo, I just don't get cliquishness or mad power grabbing from them. They have all been gracious and friendly for the most part, if a bit reserved as they should be in what for them is a professional setting. I'm pretty sure Sisson is independently wealthy and this is a fun side-project for him in his retirement. Wolf has said often that if he wanted to be rich and popular, he should've peddled hookers and drugs. I honestly think these people are driven by wanting to help others.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:34 PM

So when that happens, it's just time to unplug. Reconnect with real people who matter in my life. Go outside into the world. When you do, it's amazing how all this virtual stuff disintegrates and seems so petty and small. We can put out the fires by starving them of oxygen.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:33 PM

I've spoken about this a bit on my blog. The whole Kruse situation, Nikoley vs. McEwen situation, McEwen vs. everyone...all of it just smacks of bullying from all angles and sides, getting passed around until I don't know who is innocent and who is guilty anymore = shitshow. I just think a lot of this could've been handled differently, for instance, with a simple blog post denouncing said so-and-so for specific not-personal reasons that could be signed by others who agree. My own comments have been taken out of context by people who ought to know better. It's frustrating.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:50 PM

I agree, it was supposed to be a sarcastic statement.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:43 PM

Unfortunate, because this type of guru mentality heads us toward the vegan side, where everyone sings in the same choir. I found out about Christopher Hitchen's passing on this site, which means a lot more to me than wearing hemp sandals or gagging fat people.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 19, 2012
at 03:58 PM

That's interesting but not my experience. I've watch moderators, not here, ban people for disagreeing with the Paleo wisdom (actually it wasn't even Paleo wisdom...), I've seen, on Robb Wolfs page people suggest FLAT OUT that fat people not be allowed to speak at PaleoFX etc... there is some ugly stuff in PaleoLand.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 19, 2012
at 03:55 PM

Sorry, no, it isn't. Paleo Drama is a symptom of the problem. It is the ultimate in hatemongering.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on November 19, 2012
at 06:20 AM

Awesome question. The psychology and social theory of a species so far beyond its evolutionary context is fascinating to observe, if one can keep the frustration at bay.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 19, 2012
at 06:04 AM

Gotta read that one twice. +1 and WELL SAID!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:31 AM

I've read a fair bit about them, but we are as closely related to Bonobos who don't display the same amount of aggression and hostility. Perhaps we need to to all get it on?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:15 AM

Any thoughts on how to control the fires that pop up as people get particularly evangelical or dogmatic?

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6 Answers

4
0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:53 AM

Commonalities, points of connection, are the absolute core of our social matrix [as humans], and when we aren't seeking food - there is a good chance we're seeking connection.

In modern society this has its routine incarnations: mutual interests in sports teams, bands, television shows (incidentally, these interests are often massive markets - in fact I would argue that providing something that people can connect over is a fundamental way to sell otherwise unnecessary crap, media especially), etc - the stuff you find on folk's t-shirts is one of the more blatantly observable displays of the above interests, worn there in hopes of attracting another user of said media, so that one may share in a connection of some degree.

Now, with that preface in mind, I'd like to postulate the theory that the concept of the common enemy is another category of the same drive towards connection. In this case, I can theorize of primal origins in our inherent nature as a tribal animal, a hunter, existing for thousands of years in packs; working together against common prey in order to assure mutual survival. Its in our very nature to select a target by weakness and proceed to hunt from there.

I think it would be taking a very narrow viewpoint to assume that modern aggressive behavior per se is born from this unfulfilled urge; moreso I would argue that processed foods, chemicals, sugar and its accompanying dopaminergic affects, alcohol and hormonal imbalance, and the entirety of the cocktail of modern toxins consumed [especially] by the impoverished create an aggressive and anti-social individual - but that is only vaguely relevant in this theory - though perhaps quite pertinent to paleo at large.

However, I still argue that the existence of these roots (whether fulfilled in one's current life or not is irrelevant in this equation) presents a primal, root, urge towards what we see in modern society expressed as: bullying in schools, the formation of so many groups/cliques that are actually based upon their opposition to another group, the predatory tendencies of any given gathering of humans (such as the treatment towards Kruse around here at times), discrimination, stereotyping, and all of the other forms of targeting that exist - are almost exclusively attempts at connection, attempts at creating commonality, even if it dehumanizes another.

This is, of course, fostered by our modern societal mindset, in the media especially. Our entire world is presented to us as a series of dichotomies. You're either one of us, or one of them; beit democrat vs republican, paleo vs SAD, vegan vs meat-eater, Bronco vs Cowboy, nerd vs jock, gay vs straight, white vs black, working class vs bourgeois, the 99% vs the 1%, Christian vs Muslim... I could go on for a while. Everything that we are presented inherently has a mirror, a reflection, the good to oppose their evil. We aren't presented non-biased reality; we aren't encouraged to think, to question, explore and learn and consider for ourselves.

One could optimistically hope that presentation of such shouldn't be necessary, but given that we're here having this conversation, I think one can say that the examination isn't taking place on the scale that it needs to. And without this cultivation of nondualism, of thinking things through and making informed personal choices, we're left with something like an animalistic consumer; a mixture of our root urges that haven't been recognized for what they are (meaning they still have control), and the influence of marketing filth we've been inundated with since we were plopped in front of the television as toddlers.

In sum: yes, I would say it is entirely natural, but it isn't a necessity of our nature; it is a product of under-education, under-examination of our realities, of hive-mind thinking, and the giddy desire to jump on the bandwagon so that we may share in mutuality for just a moment. We as a people need to take the time to think about those that we target, and at the same time put some effort into our personal lives to create relationships that fully satisfy one's need for connection, so that it doesn't end up being expressed in pathological ways.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 19, 2012
at 06:04 AM

Gotta read that one twice. +1 and WELL SAID!

3
F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:10 AM

Of course it's natural. Do I always agree with how it gets carried out? Of course not.

The whole post AHS12 cliquish thing needs to die. I don't know who was all hurt about it, but sometimes you have to make your own way. I came home from Paleo FX with only a few new friends, but after AHS12, I came home with a whole new group of buddies to share ideas with. And from now on are we going to be cliquish? You bet. Why? Because we enjoy each other and want to enjoy our chemistry together. Of course we'll meet new people along the way too, but we earned our group experience and bonded. If someone doesn't like that...um...sorry?

If you're not getting the experience you want from other people, maybe you're the problem? Kinda like that whole He's-Just-Not-That-Into-You sort of thing? Make your luck, be the person in Paleo you want to be, and you will find the others that resonate with you. But don't go and blame everyone else. Sheesh.

I think the big problem is that we're in an interesting transition point. Paleo is big, but not so big that everyone feels super removed from the big names. I mean, can you imagine someone being pissed that they didn't get to eat dinner with Tony Robbins at a conference with thousands of others? Of course not. And that's what we're looking at here. There are the authors, popular bloggers, gurus, chefs, etc. who get a lot of attention, but they've already made their friends and they deserve to hang out with those friends at these events without being badgered by every Grok-fiend who has some idea how this event is supposed to go for them. A lot of the more well-known names get some weird encounters and inappropriate comments, so no wonder they shut down a little and can seem unfriendly. They're just people and it can be overwhelming.

I think the biggest divide coming up that is beginning to show itself is Paleo science geeks vs. Paleo lifestylists. There are those who think you must believe in evolution to be in Paleo. And there are those who are in this for different reasons and they like to make Paleo cupcakes. I happen to fall in the middle and I'm looking forward to watching it unfold.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:15 AM

Any thoughts on how to control the fires that pop up as people get particularly evangelical or dogmatic?

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:44 PM

I should add that it's the very distance (psychological and physical) provided by our computers + internet that result in this behavior. If we had to hash it out in a room face-to-face, we just wouldn't see this nastiness. Or we might, but there would be great pressure to make up and smooth it out for the good of the group.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:33 PM

I've spoken about this a bit on my blog. The whole Kruse situation, Nikoley vs. McEwen situation, McEwen vs. everyone...all of it just smacks of bullying from all angles and sides, getting passed around until I don't know who is innocent and who is guilty anymore = shitshow. I just think a lot of this could've been handled differently, for instance, with a simple blog post denouncing said so-and-so for specific not-personal reasons that could be signed by others who agree. My own comments have been taken out of context by people who ought to know better. It's frustrating.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:34 PM

So when that happens, it's just time to unplug. Reconnect with real people who matter in my life. Go outside into the world. When you do, it's amazing how all this virtual stuff disintegrates and seems so petty and small. We can put out the fires by starving them of oxygen.

2
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 19, 2012
at 02:04 PM

I started with the Primal Blueprint. There are not factions there, Mark is the all-powerful overlord -- what he says goes. If he deems it primal, then it is thus. But often I find that he takes things beyond the point where normal people can implement (you know the ones who work 50+ hours a week providing for their families and who don't live beach front in San Diego selling nutritional supplements). That being said, MDA is still one of my favorite sites, and I think 90% of what he writes about is important. But the onus is on me to implement.

I think that extends to the various "gurus" and "tribes". Everyone wants to be the chief, everyone wants to be the "face" of paleo.

I went to a DC Paleo meetup and a NOVA Paleo meetup -- Those were the nicest, most inclusive people I have met ever. In the DC one I attended we discussed safe starches and the conversations was around, how can I learn what works for me... It was enlightening, engaging, and very positive. I wish I could attend more, but family/work commitments leave me with little available time.

The point is, I see the paleo community as a bunch of people seeking optimal solutions -- to diet, life, exercise, etc. Whereas the "Gurus" are a group of people seeking to earn a living in a high supply industry (there are hundreds of diets out there). So they are forced to discount one-anther and form "cliques" to survive -- Just like in Survivor -- you have to play the game if you want to win. Their goal, their ability to "win" does not match mine. I want health, they want success.

I know I went way off topic, but the two "face-to-face" meetups I went to were amazing, I wonder how the ability to hide behind the internet has hurt our ability to be an accepting tribe with "in-Group altruism"

That being said, Paleo Drama, is fun to read.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:50 PM

I agree, it was supposed to be a sarcastic statement.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 19, 2012
at 03:55 PM

Sorry, no, it isn't. Paleo Drama is a symptom of the problem. It is the ultimate in hatemongering.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:39 PM

I have to say, having interacted with several leaders in Paleo, I just don't get cliquishness or mad power grabbing from them. They have all been gracious and friendly for the most part, if a bit reserved as they should be in what for them is a professional setting. I'm pretty sure Sisson is independently wealthy and this is a fun side-project for him in his retirement. Wolf has said often that if he wanted to be rich and popular, he should've peddled hookers and drugs. I honestly think these people are driven by wanting to help others.

2
Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 19, 2012
at 01:19 PM

A study in contrasting tribes.... Paleo definitely has its religious/tribal aspects, veganism more so. Paleo focuses more on diet in its codification, like a secular kosher/halal, without the religious social aspects of veganism such as dreads, hemp sandals and PETA. I believe paleo's origins are more in Weston Price and Atkins, whereas veganism comes out of 1967 Haight Asbury.

Within paleo itself there's a lot of schism, reminiscent of Calvinist Protestantism, Enlightenment philosophy or Marxism. As something that's more cerebral than emotional, debating is expected. I prefer the paleo dialectic to lockstep ommm submentality.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:43 PM

Unfortunate, because this type of guru mentality heads us toward the vegan side, where everyone sings in the same choir. I found out about Christopher Hitchen's passing on this site, which means a lot more to me than wearing hemp sandals or gagging fat people.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 19, 2012
at 06:23 PM

I don't know about effing it up. I'm fascinated by the English Civil War, in which a bunch of people who were initially disturbed by the idea of having to kneel in church ended up taking the head of Charles I. This event was the beginning of government as we know it today, from Napoleon to to Disraeli to Stalin to Obama. The end of monarchies started with funny monkeys fighting among themselves. Is it a better world? Not necessarily, but typical.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:42 PM

So doesn't this just prove that no matter what topic we funny monkeys glom onto, we're going to eff it up by being funny monkeys? Which, conversely, is also why it's fun (i.e. because we're funny monkeys)? I think we have to accept the good with the bad, because one can truly not exist without the other. Why does this remind me of a song? "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have The Facts of Life, the Facts of Life."

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 19, 2012
at 03:58 PM

That's interesting but not my experience. I've watch moderators, not here, ban people for disagreeing with the Paleo wisdom (actually it wasn't even Paleo wisdom...), I've seen, on Robb Wolfs page people suggest FLAT OUT that fat people not be allowed to speak at PaleoFX etc... there is some ugly stuff in PaleoLand.

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:07 AM

I believe this is intrinsically part of human nature, as implied by the Articles. I think it is part of our primitive heritage and one we should want to move passed. To what degree that is possible I don't know. I think we are aided by the fact that we are all members of different tribes, several different ones in fact, and so we are not purely one identify characteristic.

I don't know how to make this more inclusive...I hope others have ideas.

I also hope that the cliques that form will not last or become to insular. I really don't have any idea how to aid that....

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 19, 2012
at 06:27 PM

On the program last night they found that babies even have prejudice against "the other". Its a self preservation mechanism that we can likely attribute to natural selection. The interesting thing is that we are also born with altruism. Babies also show preference to "helpful" individuals over "unhelpful". Civilization and society try to shape and replace our more base character in terms of "the other" and when tested again at age 10 it seems to have worked. Interesting though, is that in times of stress we tend to revert to our base nature.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on November 19, 2012
at 10:30 PM

I'm not sure altruism has ever been proven definitively, and even when present, it is strongest toward genetically similar groups. Many cultures throughout history, for example, have had protocols for disposing of unwanted infants during stressful times like famine. It seems cruel, but it is in fact an altruism of sorts in service of protecting the existing group and extending already scarce resources. As for reverting to our "base" nature, I always think of Holocaust survivor stories and how many of them regretted their actions or inactions during that time of survival. Heartbreaking stuff.

0
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:20 AM

You should read more about chimps and their behavior. It is all biological.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 19, 2012
at 05:31 AM

I've read a fair bit about them, but we are as closely related to Bonobos who don't display the same amount of aggression and hostility. Perhaps we need to to all get it on?

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