The debate about whether human nature is naturally good or naturally bad has been raging for as long as we have wondered about ourselves.
The latest twist is good news for peaceniks: scholars at Abo Akademi University in Finland claim to have established that human beings are not inherently warlike creatures, after all. In fact, they say, the hand-to-mouth hunter-gatherer life led by the vast majority of our ancestors might have been entirely free from organised conflict.
The research certainly looks like a cheery riposte to the darkly violent picture of the past posited so convincingly of late by the likes of Steven Pinker, Jared Diamond et al. Then again, maybe not. After all, for all the warm glow of a prelapsarian beginning, how much jollier to think that we might be making progress?