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Human Societies Starting to Resemble Ant Colonies - Comments

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 1 by Schrodinger's Cat

Hmm......I'm a bit ant-agonistic towards these sort of comparisons. Some factors will be similar simply because certain factors are properties of large numbers. I don't think that really justifies 'human are like ants'.

Sat, 05 May 2012 22:34:52 UTC | #939990

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 2 by Neodarwinian

"As a result, modern humans have more in common with some ants than we do with our closest relatives the chimpanzees "

Perhaps, but we have more in common with dogs than either ants or chimps and in so many more ways.

Sat, 05 May 2012 22:49:46 UTC | #939993

78rpm's Avatar Comment 3 by 78rpm

This is pop---very pop---science.

Sat, 05 May 2012 23:19:40 UTC | #939998

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 4 by Helga Vieirch

Oh, for Pete's sake. Well, I suppose it was a cute essay and appeals to the common feeling you get watching films showing speeded up views of city traffic and masses of pedestrians pounding the concrete jungle. This is hardly a new comparison.

On the other hand, we could do worse than be like ants, I suppose. They nothing if not diligent. Anyone remember Antz?

Sun, 06 May 2012 00:03:51 UTC | #940004

Starcrash's Avatar Comment 5 by Starcrash

I think it's an interesting and fascinating article, but I was misled by the "tool tip text" that showed up when my cursor hovered over the link to this page (taken from the subtitle of the article).

The similarities offer a look at just how ever-growing societies could collapse.

Where did the author get that idea? Ant culture has evolved along with their physical characteristics to handle the problems of proliferation and massive population density. They seem to be doing just fine. The article ends with a suggestion that ants "are arguably among the most successful organisms on the planet."

She seems to have an agenda that wasn't supported by the facts... it hasn't happened with the ants, but is rather drawn from a hypothesis from David Queller and Joan Strassmann at Washington University.

Sun, 06 May 2012 00:07:05 UTC | #940008

MAJORPAIN's Avatar Comment 6 by MAJORPAIN

Sam Harris should like this. Another nail in the coffin of free will?

I recently visited a place on the planet where the ancient people who once populated it had built these massive mounds. Our guide explained that these had evidently been sacrificial altars upon which these ancient people left food, art work, and animals as sacrifices to their gods. They did look like massive ant hills and this need to sacrifice to a "higher" authority sure began to look a bit more "hard wired" into us as humans. It raises some interesting questions.

Sun, 06 May 2012 04:41:10 UTC | #940073

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 7 by Peter Grant

I dunno, this article seems to be confusing genes and memes. We don't have sterile workers, for instance.

Sun, 06 May 2012 08:59:28 UTC | #940111

goddogit's Avatar Comment 8 by goddogit

Paging Michael Ellis...

Sun, 06 May 2012 09:34:33 UTC | #940117

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 9 by Carl Sai Baba

Everyone thinks that their favorite animal is just like humans. Now let me tell you about how clever my cat is...

Sun, 06 May 2012 09:46:38 UTC | #940119

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 10 by Alan4discussion

Side stepping from ants to termites, there are definite resemblances to city towers!

Green Building in Zimbabwe Modeled After Termite Mounds

Eastgate Centre, Biomimetic Architecture, Biomimicry, Biomimetic Design, Biomimicry of Termite Mounds, Green Building With Termites, Eco Building, Sustainable Design, Harare, Zimbabwe, Africa, sustainable architecture, biomimicry, termite mound, construction, natural cooling, natural ventilation

Biomimicry’s Cool Alternative: Eastgate Centre in Zimbabwe The Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, typifies the best of green architecture and ecologically sensitive adaptation. The country’s largest office and shopping complex is an architectural marvel in its use of biomimicry principles. The mid-rise building, designed by architect Mick Pearce in conjunction with engineers at Arup Associates, has no conventional air-conditioning or heating, yet stays regulated year round with dramatically less energy consumption using design methods inspired by indigenous Zimbabwean masonry and the self-cooling mounds of African termites!

The Eastgate Centre, largely made of concrete, has a ventilation system which operates in a similar way. Outside air that is drawn in is either warmed or cooled by the building mass depending on which is hotter, the building concrete or the air. It is then vented into the building’s floors and offices before exiting via chimneys at the top. The complex also consists of two buildings side by side that are separated by an open space that is covered by glass and open to the local breezes.

Air is continuously drawn from this open space by fans on the first floor. It is then pushed up vertical supply sections of ducts that are located in the central spine of each of the two buildings. The fresh air replaces stale air that rises and exits through exhaust ports in the ceilings of each floor. Ultimately it enters the exhaust section of the vertical ducts before it is flushed out of the building through chimneys.

The Eastgate Centre uses less than 10% of the energy of a conventional building its size. These efficiencies translate directly to the bottom line: Eastgate’s owners have saved $3.5 million alone because of an air-conditioning system that did not have to be implemented. Outside of being eco-efficient and better for the environment, these savings also trickle down to the tenants whose rents are 20 percent lower than those of occupants in the surrounding buildings.

Who would have guessed that the replication of designs created by termites would not only provide for a sound climate control solution but also be the most cost-effective way for humans to function in an otherwise challenging context?

Sun, 06 May 2012 12:01:03 UTC | #940137

labman's Avatar Comment 11 by labman

But, ants don t have Religion.

Sun, 06 May 2012 14:28:36 UTC | #940164

RobertJames's Avatar Comment 12 by RobertJames


Sun, 06 May 2012 16:57:54 UTC | #940182

cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 13 by cheesedoff17

I seem to remember seeing or reading that worker ants could just loaf if they felt like it, unlike money driven workers in our human world. One up for ants.

Sun, 06 May 2012 18:50:46 UTC | #940198

old-toy-boy's Avatar Comment 14 by old-toy-boy

Ant-thropology? Groan! That was a terrible pun, (wish I had thought of that).


"With a maximum size of about 100, no chimpanzee group has to deal with issues of public health, infrastructure, distribution of goods and services, market economies, mass transit problems, assembly lines and complex teamwork, agriculture and animal domestication, warfare and slavery."

Has a lesser number of chimps chimps ever achived even 3/12 of those mentioned? say 50 chimps? 20? 10? perhaps even 2? Or am I missing something?

Sun, 06 May 2012 21:44:45 UTC | #940218

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 15 by Alan4discussion

The obvious similarities to human societies, are roadways/paths for transporting resources, and the specialisation on particular jobs, along with building complex residences in some cases.

Mon, 07 May 2012 09:37:42 UTC | #940266

kriton's Avatar Comment 16 by kriton

There may be similarities in the anterior part of the brain.

Mon, 07 May 2012 10:07:31 UTC | #940269

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 17 by aroundtown

I will take George Carlin's view on this story and keep my fingers crossed that we are scheduled for the back door. The world will be a far calmer and better place without us around. The faster we depart the better.

Mon, 07 May 2012 10:31:35 UTC | #940272

mmurray's Avatar Comment 18 by mmurray

Comment 16 by kriton :

There may be similarities in the anterior part of the brain.

Perhaps we share antecedents.


Mon, 07 May 2012 10:57:09 UTC | #940275

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Comment 19 by Katy Cordeth

I wish someone would come up with an antidote for all these awful puns.

Mon, 07 May 2012 11:06:30 UTC | #940277

mmurray's Avatar Comment 20 by mmurray

Comment 19 by katy Cordeth :

I wish someone would come up with an antidote for all these awful puns.

If they upset you try an antacid.


PS: Just discovered this on the internet.

Mon, 07 May 2012 11:23:00 UTC | #940278

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 21 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 20 by mmurray

Ant-E-depressents perhaps too.

Mon, 07 May 2012 11:28:52 UTC | #940281

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Comment 22 by Katy Cordeth

PS: Just discovered this on the internet.

My goodness, that was a long list. I haven't clicked on any of them but I think I can probably guess what a few of the definitions were:

antarctic: a very cold ant.

antefix: someone who no longer does drugs.

antelope: to run off with a parent's sister.

anterior: a parent's sister who is somehow stranger than all the others.

anthological: an ant from the ant remake of Star Trek.

anthropocentric: a mad ant.

anticlimax: Sting.

antimatter: not really bothered.

antipodean: Some bloke called Michael who's just made me waste the last half hour of my life.

I'll leave out my definition of antecede as it's pre-watershed here in England.

Mon, 07 May 2012 12:40:48 UTC | #940288

KenChimp's Avatar Comment 23 by KenChimp

So, "pop-science" has discovered that modern human culture ("pop-culture"?) has become dangerously collectivist?

Go figure.

I'll just continue my sh!t-hoarder, rabid individualist ways, and continue to fling poo at the packs of other chimps in the tree on the far left and the tree on the far right. If the poo can't convince them to snap out of their specific insanities, at least it might convince them to stay the hell out of MY tree.


Mon, 07 May 2012 13:51:50 UTC | #940305

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 24 by Alan4discussion

Comment 22 by katy Cordeth

Don't forget the antediluvian creationist thinking!

Mon, 07 May 2012 14:53:26 UTC | #940312

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 25 by SaganTheCat

welcome to the ant-hropocene

Tue, 08 May 2012 11:36:21 UTC | #940519

78rpm's Avatar Comment 26 by 78rpm

Fron the 1920s:

I took my auntie driving

In the cold and icy breeze

I put her in the rumble seat

And watched my anti freeze

Wed, 09 May 2012 23:07:19 UTC | #940796

smitemeifudare's Avatar Comment 27 by smitemeifudare

Humans are just like ants, we have infested this planet and continue to breed at a ridiculous pace,we have rigid order and social rules build huge colonies,are teritorial,and take over areas without regard for the native populations.

Mon, 14 May 2012 18:06:09 UTC | #941441

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 28 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 21:20:07 UTC | #947243

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 29 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Sun, 01 Jul 2012 19:09:11 UTC | #948398