Newsletter Vol 11, No 1
March 2003
Does genetics determine that men not women make war? Page 5

Page 1

Is the Statement up to date?
Page 2

Page 3

Yanomamo data - fraudulent?
Page 4

Genetics, men, women and war
Page 5

Do primates make war?
Page 6

War abroad, violence at home
Page 7

The newest available book on peace education calls into question the Seville Statement on Violence based on the idea that the higher levels of war and violent crime by men prove that their violence is genetic in origin. Here is the quotation, which comes from pages 118-119 in Peace Education, Second Edition, by Ian M. Harris and Mary Lee Morrison, 2003, McFarland and Company, Jefferson, North Carolina, and London:

"Recent work by psychologist David Barash [Note below] seems to contradict some of the precepts inherent in the work of Adams and in the Seville Statement. It is Barash's contention that in virtually all human cultures of the world, the ratio of male to female perpetration of violence indicates a vastly higher rate of aggression among males. Barash concludes that there are evolutionary and biological reasons for these much higher rates, connected with competition for procreation. "The power of reproduction explains why males are often so eager to dominate, occasionally carrying their eagerness to extremes." [ibid.] Barash also points out that men have overwhelmingly higher rates of drug use and other serious crimes. He makes the case that despite this biological-evolutionary evidence, or perhaps because of it, humans must do all that is possible to ameliorate conditions over which we do have control. Thus it is important for those who desire to educate for peace to understand the important implication in the findings that war and aggression are not inevitable. The focus can be on the possibilities of peaceful behaviors imbedded within our cultural learning."

Note: David Barash, "Evolution, Males and violence," The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 24, 2002. See also Barash and Judith Eve Lipton, Gender Gap: The Biology of Male-Female Differences (Transaction Books, 2002).

Unfortunately, the authors ignored, despite correspondence with one of them, the counter-evidence, which is referenced in the following rebuttal of Barash published by the Chronicle on Higher Education on May 29 with a great deal of editing cuts on June 28, one month following the original article:

To the Editor:

There is by no means a consensus on the evidence presented ... by David Barash ... I have considered the relevant evidence and come to the opposite conclusion: that female mammals are as aggressive as males.... In humans, it is evident that men are more aggressive than women, but there is evidence that this derives from sociological rather than biological factors. ... The culture of war became so prevalent in the course of human history that, to use the image of Professor Barash, it is like the sea in which we are swimming... Readers are invited to examine relevant articles, arguments, and background evidence for themselves online (see This is more than an academic argument, as it has important policy implications for the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace.

David Adams
Visiting Professor of Psychology
Wesleyan University
Middletown, Conn.

Note: The articles online referred to in the letter are the following:

Biology Does Not Make Men More Aggressive Than Women
Why There Are So Few Women Warriors

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