Man is not a wolf to man: why it's time to stop looking for an explanation for your behavior in animals

In any discussion of human behavior, sooner or later the argument will be made that people do things “by nature”. True, opponents do not often cite long-term scientific research. At best, this is an argument “they always lived like that”, at worst – references to wolf packs, lion prides and other animal communities. And if the first can still be discussed, because life strategies do not arise from scratch (but often do not remain effective forever), then the second is not worth starting. Here are a few reasons.

1. Animals vary from species to species

We will start from this point, although it could also end with it. It is possible to compare animals with each other in order to note the differences and similarities in their behavior. Randomly endowing one species with the qualities of another is like stringing an innocent owl onto a globe.

A simple example: prairie voles are prone to monogamy, they become attached to partners. And males, like females, spend time with cubs. The life of meadow and mountain voles is full of promiscuity. That is, even from rodents of different species, we cannot expect the same behavior.

Finding the similarity of a person with some animal by one criterion and expecting that all patterns of behavior will be the same is at least strange. Even if you really like the animal.

Let’s say it could be objected that voles are too unlike humans. Wolves and lions, by the way, too. According to DNA , chimpanzees are closest to humans, which are represented by two species: common chimpanzee and bonobos. And there is a big difference between them. For example, the common hunts in packs, but the bonobo does not. The second monkeys are less likely to resort to aggression to eliminate conflicts, and most controversial issues are resolved by sex – a male with a female, a female with a female, a male with a male. Common chimpanzees have a kind of patriarchy; bonobos have a high social role of females.

And is it really possible to say that this or that behavior is “by nature”, if everything in it is very different. Comparisons are more convenient for defending one’s point of view than justified by anything. After all, under any behavior you can find your animal.

2. People are very different from each other

Some time ago, it was believed that a person is the only one who can use tools, build logical conclusions, be aware of himself, and so on. It was these intellectual heights that made him the crown of creation. But all these statements are not entirely true. Use objects as tools are able, for example, bears . And even aquarium fish are able to draw some conclusions from the circumstances. And elephants, dolphins , humanoid apes perfectly recognize themselves in the mirror.

What really distinguishes a person from an animal is culture, more precisely, the ability to effectively process and transmit information from generation to generation. This is what we call mentality.

Sometimes the word “mentality” is mistakenly understood as a set of qualities that are inherent in a particular people by nature – that’s how they are, there’s nothing to be done. But it is more correct to talk about the cultural characteristics inherent in a particular society. Representatives of this people, who grew up in a different culture, will already be carriers of completely different traditions, habits, and so on.

And if we are trying to justify human behavior through the actions of an animal, then with whom are we comparing? With a respectable middle-aged European from the middle class or a New Guinea tribe? They are, to put it mildly, quite different. And the influence of nature on man should not be overestimated.

3. Animals don’t always fit our idea of them.

Animal epithets and comparisons did not appear on a scientific basis. More often we use the beast we like and our ideas about it. For example, we say “strong as a lion.” But in essence, what is outstanding in the strength of a lion?

So, an ant can carry a weight several tens of times more than its own. And studies have found that the tissue that forms his neck joint can withstand 5,000 times the weight of an insect. And what about the lion? Did he ever carry at least a couple of tons somewhere? Or what is his strength – does not scream when he hits his little finger on the furniture?

Or take the popular quote “The wolf is weaker than the lion and the tiger, but does not perform in the circus .” Speaker.

That is, such comparisons and “profound” quotes are again an unjustified attempt to beautifully defend one’s idea and substantiate it with something. Although even a superficial study of the issue says that it is better not to do so.

And now let’s take a swing at the sacred, let’s break the bonds, get ready. Surely many have heard about the theory of alpha and omega males. It’s usually about wolves. The former rule in the pack and collect the attention of the best females, the latter are content with what they have and fulfill any whims of those higher in the hierarchy. Various male communities are building a whole philosophy on this idea, trying to portray themselves as alpha males.

True, the idea turned out to be more fantasy than reality. In the wild, packs most often consist of parents and wolf cubs of different ages. So an experienced father and mother “rule” everything.

Moreover, the creator of the “alpha” theory, Rudolf Schenkel, himself suggested back in the middle of the 20th century that a pack usually consists of a monogamous pair of animals and their offspring. But, apparently, it did not sound revolutionary, so the information was neglected. And the popularizer of the idea, wolf researcher David Meech, says on his website that he repeatedly asked the publisher to withdraw his book The Wolf: Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species precisely because it describes a theory that does not correspond to the truth. “Alpha means competing with others and getting the lead at the end of the battle. However, most pack-leading wolves achieved their position simply by mating and producing pups, which then became their community. In other words, they are just breeders or parents,” he says.

So all real boys, in order to become an alpha, should abandon the public with wolf quotes and subscribe to portals about conscious parenting , it will be more useful.

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