Essays and Theories
Evolutionary Psychology: A Possible Solution to the Taiwan Problem from
an Evolutionary Perspective?: An Open Letter to Chinas Civilian and Military
William A. Spriggs
July 28, 1998
This is an open letter that appears only on the internet and does not involve
influence by any governmental agency of any nation. It is my hope that the intelligence
community of China will intercept this evolutionary perspective solution and pass the
information to those higher individuals involved in the decision-making process. There is
no need to respond to, nor acknowledge receiving, this open letter.
I am a independent scholar who is trying to establish my credentials in using
evolutionary psychology to resolve what some people believe are seemingly unsolvable
international problems. We in the evolutionary community believe that this newly forming
science gives us the strongest resources to date for solving problems that involve not
just individuals, but stretching to include nations as an example of a group acting
through collective thought processes.
I strongly suggest that you refer to our main web site at Evolution's Voyage:
additional information and continued study of the fundamentals of evolutionary psychology.
Lets get something straight and be blunt: Your country cannot reach out and
invade Taiwan and still remain a member of the international community at your present
level. This is not 2,000 years ago when military strength determined a nations
hierarchical standing with the rest of the world. Your global neighbors, with whom, you
have painstakingly worked so hard to gain their trust, would most likely reject and
condemn your actions. Invading or continuing to bully Taiwan could possibly lead to
containment, and with containment your country could once again plunge into darkness and
repression. Again, the world would be denied your ancient art, folk medical knowledge, and
philosophy that it so desperately needs.
Yes, in a few years your military build-up would most likely allow you to take over
the island by force and hold off any international military reaction. However, the
terrible loss of a large percentage of your forces by a entrenched Taiwanese military and
civilian defense motivated to protect their island seems like a terrible waste of
Chinas male youth. I am not privy to Taiwans military secrets, but I imagine
that there could be terrible hidden self-destruct weapons awaiting any invasionary force.
In this rapidly shrinking world where global communications can be flashed to any
other point on the globe in seconds, we are all neighbors in a global village. Now, in no
more than seconds, ones countrys actions become visible on the global stage
for all to see, criticize, or praise where once large-scale national action could have
been done in anonymity.
Since neighbors live separate lives according to the dictates of each of their local
environments, we are bound to be different from each other in only cultural beliefs. Our
behaviors have been shaped by the evolutionary rules of natural selection and the
conscious cultural teachings of our forebearers
What amazes me the most about all of my evolutionary studies is that the remarkable
sameness of everyone on the planet. I am an American male living in Lakewood Colorado,
USA, and I share 99.988% of the same genetic make-up as one of you in China who happens to
be reading these words.
Studying the elementary core of evolutionary psychology shows us that we seem to have
a reached a consensus that our ancient ancestors emigrated north out of Africa and evolved
from the old world primates. It was at this time in our primate past that there was a
literal explosion in the size of our brains. It has been strongly suggested that forming
hunter-gatherer groups was the main thrust of this escalation due to language, hunting,
mate selection, and alliance formations. In particular, the male gender evolved the
complex but not too subtle method of using violence to dominate others since it had
immediate short-term advantages. But this created a problem. If the male lost a battle in
competition , he was finished. It did not take our ancestors long to realize that
violence was not beneficial to anyones continued existence, so a new behavior
evolved in which the losers acknowledged the superiority of the winning male, and the
result would be the that the dominate male would spare the losers life. Despite the
temporary set-back (loss of face) and the disadvantages that the position brings, the
losing male accepts the fact that survival is better than dying, which allows for another
attempt at becoming the dominate male at another time. We call this acknowledgement
behavior by the loser in deference to the dominate male as submissive acknowledgement.
In your ancient Chinese cultural, I believe that the evolved behavior would be similar to
bowing deeply to an acknowledged superior.
These superior and submissive positions produced what we call hierarchical position
status. The obvious connection here is that the higher ones hierarchical status,
the more beneficial would be the resources one could obtain. With our common ancient
ancestors, it most likely meant more access to higher-ranking or multiple females with
whom to pass ones genes. After we domesticated plants and animals about 10,000 years
ago, we also evolved cultural beliefs that contributed to the equivalent of achieving
status. Throughout history these might include the possession of jewels, property, wives,
or herds of animals. All these items must be subject to the same test: is the item at that
particular longitude and latitude perceived to have substantial value with the culture
that dominates the society at that location? Evolutionary psychology is, of course, more
complex than all this, and for the sake of brevity, again I strongly suggest that
you continue your investigation by studying other areas of our web site that appeal to
your interest to gain a better foothold of the concepts that I will present here
Leaping forward from hunter-gatherer bands to international politics, we find the core
of evolutionary psychology still with us.
Like our primate ancestors, we understand at an innate level the fundamental principle
of strength over weakness. It is everywhere in our modern political world. To cite a
perfect example, on July 10, 1998, Indias prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee told
his parliament that his country is eager for talks with Pakistani leaders concerning ways
in which to discuss ways to ease nuclear tensions between their two countries. I quote him
here: "However, nobody should feel that we are ready to participate because
we are weak." Does anyone in your military and civilian leadership not understand
what he means about the concept of a nations strength and weakness?
Another example of international understanding of strength and weakness: On March 24,
1999 Operation Allied Force, a joint NATO coalition of 19 allied countries began an air
campaign against Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic for his brutal campaign of ethnic
cleansing in Kosovo providence. British Prime Minister Tony Blair had this to say at the
beginning of the campaign: "Our response to these appalling acts, far from
halting or slowing the allied action, must be to intensify it and see it through to a
successful conclusion. For every act of barbarity, every slaughter of the innocent,
Milosevic must be made to pay a higher and higher price. I hope no one who has seen
the utter, callous brutality with which the Kosovo Albanian people have been treated is
under any remaining illusions about the nature of the Serb regime. The proper
answer to it is not weakness but strength."
It should be fairly obvious that the core belief of any nations military force
is to project an image of strength and send shivers of fear (weakness) down
the spine of any possible foe. The problem lies in inaccurate or blatant disregard of
information acquired by a nations intelligence gathering community, which leads to
delusional beliefs in ones own military invincibility. If a nations military
is dominated by aggressive military leaders who use nationality (or some other excuse) to
force confrontations in order to advance their own personal fiefdoms, the action could
result in disaster, resulting in a setback for the nation who perpetrated the action.
Iraqs Saddam Hussein comes to the fore in my imagery over this scenario.
Unfortunately, the majority of our planets inhabitants are not always
consciously aware of these dominance and submissive behavior mechanisms. The main
point that I want to stress, however, is that I strongly believe that once most of our
planets population becomes aware of this behavior it will create a paradigm shift in
national behaviors, after which military violence and unrest will soon become part of our
past. ("Soon", in terms of an evolutionary timeline could mean twenty or more
I feel strongly about this is because, even in my lifetime, I can see that all
responsible, democratic nations are becoming more and more directed, in their diplomatic
and military actions, toward preventing military confrontations from spreading into larger
conflicts on any place on the planet. It is happening at an ever accelerating rate due to
increase global communications. I am referring to incidents such as Bosnia and elsewhere,
where a united international community has stepped in and made peace. Any form of conflict
is being rejected as the norm for behavior in global membership of the international
community. It is in everyones best interest, the right thing to do, and a sign of
evolved human intelligence at its highest and most refined behavior. We dont like to
see our neighbors killing each other needlessly.
Now I could be wrong, but I fear that you may be at a momentary loss of which
direction to travel in a non-military course of action in facing the Taiwan situation. If
one particular plan falters, one could, in frustration, fall back on the behavior that has
worked in the past. That usually means that the prevailing voices are those that insist
that strength of military action be the only means of achieving ones goal.
This is the voice of all our common ancient ancestors: the barbarian warrior who
took what he wanted and did not offer any alternatives. Both my country and yours have a
history of such behavior. I know that it is now time to look for peaceful solutions for
any political matter; be it for small, local disagreements within our own countries, or
over disagreements between a nation and a rouge territory. I would like to offer several
small steps that could be taken to "get the creative juices flowing;"
suggestions that lead to real, constructive, positive advances that do not require use of
As my fist suggestion, I would like to offer the most basic of interpersonal
behavioral mechanisms that all humans share and desire. To be treated with respect and
dignity. My mother was a folk philosopher extrodinaire and she always seemed to have
a simple solution to difficult problems. One particular jewel of wisdom that stood the
test of time in my memory: "You can attract more flies with sugar than you can
with vinegar." The implication, of course, is that toning down harsh rhetoric
that you have used regarding Taiwan and beginning to speak in a respectfully and
non-threateningly to your desired objective will elicit a more receptive reaction to your
ideas that you bring forward. Oh, and by the way, it would be a good idea to apologize for
any past behavior and action that you have committed against your desired objective.
Words are not as important as deeds, but they are essential if you wish to
demonstrate your non-threatening intentions and therefore further encourage any possible
consideration of your proposals.
As a second suggestion, if we study our primate cousins, we learn that our evolved
behavior includes the behavior mechanism of "Tit for Tat." The principle of the
behavior is also simple: when resources are low, if you have something of perceived value
you could spare, you offer food, advice, or a cooperative alliance effort to an individual
with the hopes that when your resources become low, that individual will return the
favor and you will benefit from their act of reciprocal kindness. Of course, if your
friend or ally does not return the favor, then they become what we call a cheater. This
person receives the benefit of your actions without having to sacrifice his resources;
he gains twice with no required effort on his part. However, we do tend to learn
from the experience by being able to detect any such cheaters, and we adjust our behavior
accordingly. Nevertheless, offering assistance and resources without the expectation of
reciprocal action is very important because it helps to reverse years of strained
relations between individuals, groups, territories, and nations. A perfect example of
non-assistance can be seen with both Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland today.
They are still using deep remembered battles of more than 600 years ago as excuses
for their political maneuvering.
What I am driving at in this second suggestion is this: Do you have anything that
Taiwan needs? Do you have any raw materials from the earth, manufactured products, or
intellectual services that China can offer Tit for Tat to Taiwan in the hopes of receiving
something in return? It has been indicated recently that Taiwans economic affairs
ministry may relax its policy of restricting direct investments in China. Is this
something that is beneficial to China? If so, then why not offer them something in
exchange, something that could be to their advantage to ensure their investments? If so,
offer if with a tone of genuine friendship in your vocal transmissions. Remember my
mothers advice about sugar and flies. You could receive nothing back, but this could
have an upside as well: Not only will your friendly gesture land you squarely in the
international spotlight, but a non-reciprocal response from Taiwan will do the same for
them as well.
The third thing that you should do is to establish cultural exchange programs for the
youth of your two countries. These exchanges can be sent up immediately with little costs.
Remember the Ping-Pong matches with the U.S. some twenty years ago? They really did help
to establish contact with the wider world. But, even this method is not really effective,
and would just be too slow for some political and military leaders of your country. Quite
frankly, what you need to do is to establish a genetic interest in each other. Yes, you
read that correctly, Im talking marriages, babies, and households.
If you were to break down your problem of uniting your two territories into the
smallest significant parts, the crutch of the problem that you both face is that the two
territories have been separated by five generations of two populations not linked
biologically. This creates a cultural separation that widens every day. It is
genetic predisposition, in combination with culture, that rules our modern day behavior.
The very spirit of a nation is propelled by citizens that do nothing extraordinary but
adapt to their local environments and live each day as it dawns. The most fulfilling
motive for all groupings is the innate desires to generate new populations of children and
to give those children the best possible future that one can provide. It is no different
for you, Taiwan, the USA, or wherever people have developed a culture and have passed that
culture down through the generations to the present. We all want the same basic things at
a biological level -- only our cultures divide us.
This is most important: I strongly believe that unless China and Taiwan have
biological relatives living in each other's territories in large numbers where the basic
concerns of health, safety, education, and the future potential of those biological
entities are closely linked, then any political or industrial attempt at unity would be
superficial at best. Each side would remain defensive of each others territories and
be suspicious of each others motives.
One suggestion I have flows naturally from the cultural exchange programs I outlined
above; I call it Operation Romeo and Juliet.
Like the enduring English play by William Shakespeare, two young lovers from two
competitive clans (Substitute China and Taiwan) wanted nothing to do with politics and
only wanted to be bonded together forever. This is universal with all young people on the
planet. The biological urges that swirl through their young bodies dictates to them
instructions to mate and usher in the continuation of their genetic code to the next
generation. DNA chemistry has nothing to do with political organizations. Its goal is to
replicate and multiply. For China and Taiwan, instead of standing by and watching the
tragic ending to the Romeo and Juliet play, your two territories should be doing
everything to bring young lovers together, and then support them with the best resources
that your two territories can create.
The reason that I stress youth in this exchange is important. By youth, I mean those
who are neither married, nor have established a household with a mate. Why is that
important? Because, if you look at the very essence of your two political organizations,
you will find that you and Taiwan disagree about territory. In primate studies, we call
this territorial defense. The biological root of this behavior comes from what I
call D.A.D., or The Darwinian Area of Defense. The biological primate knows, innately,
that his territory offers him the best advantage for his survival and, hence, he strongly
defends that territory for all its worth. But, what is more important, the primate
will become even more defensive once the primate has selected a mate and children are
involved. We humans are no different.
This is where parts of this proposal begin to get exciting or ridiculous depending on
your age, socioeconomic rank, or political status. I know that your youth will find the
proposals exciting because, to them, it offers amazing possibilities. As for your elders,
it would be to their advantage to delay any radical changes for fear of losing control
over anything that may be a threat to their own and ultimately their families', financial
standing.. That is why if new territories and opportunities are opened, there would be no
gatekeepers blocking entrances to these new territories (as they do now) by standing in
the doorway of their present fiefdoms and collecting entrance fees. This proposal is about
the future, and the future always belongs to the youth.
What I suggest in this section is that large areas of real estate be created and set
aside on both the Chinese mainland and the Taiwanese island, perhaps facing each other
across the Formosa Strait, and designated as mutual exchange zones. China would build its
zone on Taiwan, and Taiwan would build its zone on the mainland. Each zone will be under
the control of the territory or country that built the zone from their territorial
capitals that would be built from scratch.
These zones would be highly-developed areas in which both territories would put their
latest industries and their best educational systems, from elementary through university
level, and all staffed by the best teachers and professors. The latest environmentally
safe methods should power all entities, including as much solar and wind power as
possible. I would also suggest developing public and private housing with all the latest
gadgets that your two great territories could create. I would make them showcases of your
mutual talents. I would link all private and public housing into an intranet, and this
would be connected to the internet. As for the size of the exchange zones, I dont
know; whats a good hunk of real estate? The size of Disneyland in Orlando Florida?
The size in circumference of Paris?
Pretty serious stuff, huh? Well, thats why we have elders and their collective
wisdoms. Now, how do you pay for something like this? Well, since the biological link that
I suggested is so important, then it seems logical that the people involved should be the
ones who help to contribute the largest amounts. I would have special "exchange
zone" lotteries, for which the winning prize is the opportunity to live in the
opposite exchange zone. Chinese winners must relocate to Taiwan, and the reverse for
Taiwanese winners. The winners get a house, job retaining, financial planning assistance,
and of course, free higher education for their children at the exchange zones, middle
schools and universities. Oh, yes and a monthly allowance to pay for the
minimum of expenses. The winners would still be expected to work or create for a living.
Basically, the lotteries would pay for people to relocate and give them secure footing
once their arrived in the new territories, with the majority of the prize going to the
future and any children.
Now, this is also most important. Anyone can enter and win an allotted, sizeable sum
of money, but only unattached youth can relocate. Those not eligible to relocate, could
sell their winning tickets to others for the highest price, or sell them to appointed
agencies who would then resell the prizes with long term financing to those who would be
eligible for relocation.
There could be several layers of prizes, such as free transportation to the exchange
zones as tourists, or vacation homes as second homes, escalating up to the weekly grand
prize of complete family assistance after relocation and the marriage to a mate. This is
very important to a young male from, say, your interior, who has no formal education. You
see, as evolutionary psychology teaches us, he would instantly becoming a high-ranking
male and would become very attractive to eligible females. For it is the female that is
interested in the male who can provide the best possible situation for her unborn
children. Each female inspects and weighs the factors of each of her male suitors, and
then selects the male with the best advantages. And to protect the male who perhaps is not
sophisticated, the female could not take the winnings away from the male because the prize
is only located in the future in a new territory.
It would take perhaps twenty to fifty years before the populations of these two
cultural, economic exchange zones help to provide enough inertial force to bond your two
territories together. All individuals involved would be aware and understand that the
objective of the relocations is ultimately the unity of the two territories under Chinese
rule at a future date. But it is simply the biological link with focused resource
allocations that would reinforce the benefits of any alliance and cooperation. Unification
would be inevitable.
Does all this sound a little too slow? Want to speed up the process? In order to speed
up the process something even more dramatic and on a larger scale must be done. The next
suggestion that I am proposing is highly controversial, but based on an evolutionary
perspective of human behaviors that we all share, could work and work within twenty
While Operation Romeo and Juliet is in the planning stages, both sides could begin to
define both areas and begin construction of elementary schools, middle schools, and
dormitories to house large numbers of young children from each territory. What Im
suggesting is that both territories each select 10,000 children ranging in ages somewhere
between 10 and 15, with the largest percentage being around ten years of age. Political
loyalty could be used, but would fall on deaf ears in this suggestion. Parents of the
children would only want to participate if it benefited their children. Offering the best
educational resources and the best possible future, would easily fill the quota.
It would be the goal of your two territories to educate these children for leadership
roles in the two territories The object is that these children would want to remain within
the two territories while the relocation transformation is taking place.
My theory is this: That you both would be so concerned for the safety and proper
education of your biological children that other issues such as trade disagreements,
political differences, and cultural unfamiliarities would become secondary. The high-risk
factor is so high, and the possibility of failure so great, that
international attention by your global neighbors would be drawn into the process and they
would also be interested in the outcome. It would be a great opportunity for China to do
the right thing, and to display to the world your unique talents.
The children would, of course, be in constant touch with their parents each day via
internet video technology, and I suggest that every three months, with the change of the
seasons, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, on the calendar, be allowed to go home for a
period of one week. Visitations by parents and guardians into the zones would be allowed
at any time, but they would be escorted into the exchange zones in accordance with the
agreements reached beforehand.
Initial costs would be within each governments reach, but expansion would start
to drain the resources of both. It is at this time that the lotteries would begin to kick
in and populate the areas. Even before both territories begin to map out planned
territories, I suggest that an establishment of a web site containing plans mapped out for
all to see.. The reason for this would be to allow suggestions from as many people as
possible to be aired from the two controlling parties. Then the people who are connected
to the web site can be polled for their views toward any particular idea concerning
matters within the exchange zones. This gets people involved and interested in the
process. And, if the people get to decide the direction of the exchange relocation
program, they will be more likely to accept the entire project. This process demonstrates
that a house build with a firm base will stand on a solid foundation. As my mother, the
folk philosopher, said to me: A hundred heads can come up with more ideas than one. This
would also demonstrate to the world that you are preparing for democratic elections
through this process, and this could help in your arguments for entrance into the WTO
another goal of yours.
Does this all sound all like fantasy? Not really. During World War II, the children of
London were rounded up and sent to the country side by the thousands. Perhaps your British
consulates could find out how they both accomplished the plan and overcame any problems
that they faced. I will not mention your own countrys mass population movements, but
I know that if you wanted to do something like this, it is not from a lack of will or
Im going to end these suggested solutions here, because these are merely ideas
to get you interested in viable options other than military conquests.. I think what is so
exciting about these ideas is that I know that they could work. The best part is that if
it works for China and Taiwan, it could work for the Jews and Palestinians, the Catholics
and Protestants, the Serbians and the Muslims, or any groups on the planet that are faced
with a conflict. All people on the planet are genetically the same; the solutions will
work for all.
China could provide the world with its valuable experience in creating peaceful
solutions to conflicts on the planet. It is an exciting prospect for China to show its
full potential and greatness.
Good luck, and whatever direction you take, enjoy the Voyage.
William A. Spriggs
Evolutionary psychology for the common person.
Origin: July 28, 1998
Updated: April 12, 1999
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