Monday, March 22, 2010
It was a tough life for our early ancestors. There were all sorts of scary creatures out there... hyenas as big as bears, saber-toothed tigers, and many other mega-sized carnivores... all on the prowl for a nice juicy dinner of australopithecus. The only way our forefathers survived was by living in social groups and looking out for each other. That's why we are such peaceful, cooperative and social animals today (in spite of what you might conclude if you've been watching some of those Tea Party protests recently.)
At least that's the current theory proposed by many anthropologists. For example, check out Early humans on the menu.
This is a problem if you are competing in a sailboat race. You may think you are trying to win but really much of what you do is based on your inheritance of unconscious dogmas that require you to behave in accordance with principles that were essential to the survival of your primitive, pack-living ancestors. You accept being controlled, you acquiesce in being beaten, and you restrain your aggressiveness. You are embarrassed by winning, you think that the current pecking order in the fleet is OK, and you feel that losing is a satisfactory outcome.
At least that's what Stuart Walker writes in his latest book, The Code of Competition. Walker claims that we amateur sailors are handicapped by an innate need to comply with an altruistic Code of Competition. We can't help it. It's in our genes. It's how our ancestors avoided being eaten by that scary saber-toothed tiger. How strange!
I like the concept. It's yet another excuse I can use for not winning. My genes made me do it.
However, it's not clear to me from the blurb at the above link whether the learned Doctor Walker tells us in his book how to overcome our genetic Mr. Nice Guy problem and win some races in spite of ourselves.
Damn, I guess I'll just have to buy the book to find out.