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Wed Nov 21, 2012, 02:22 AM

Scientists Probe Human Nature—and Discover We are Good, after All

Scientists Probe Human Nature-and Discover We are Good, after All
When it really comes down to it—when the chips are down and the lights are off—are we naturally good? That is, are we predisposed to act cooperatively, to help others even when it costs us? Or are we, in our hearts, selfish creatures?

This fundamental question about human nature has long provided fodder for discussion. Augustine’s doctrine of original sin proclaimed that all people were born broken and selfish, saved only through the power of divine intervention. Hobbes, too, argued that humans were savagely self-centered; however, he held that salvation came not through the divine, but through the social contract of civil law. On the other hand, philosophers such as Rousseau argued that people were born good, instinctively concerned with the welfare of others. More recently, these questions about human nature—selfishness and cooperation, defection and collaboration—have been brought to the public eye by game shows such as Survivor and the UK’s Golden Balls, which test the balance between selfishness and cooperation by pitting the strength of interpersonal bonds against the desire for large sums of money.

But even the most compelling televised collisions between selfishness and cooperation provide nothing but anecdotal evidence. And even the most eloquent philosophical arguments mean noting without empirical data.

A new set of studies provides compelling data allowing us to analyze human nature not through a philosopher’s kaleidoscope or a TV producer’s camera, but through the clear lens of science. These studies were carried out by a diverse group of researchers from Harvard and Yale—a developmental psychologist with a background in evolutionary game theory, a moral philosopher-turned-psychologist, and a biologist-cum-mathematician—interested in the same essential question: whether our automatic impulse—our first instinct—is to act selfishly or cooperatively.

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Reply Scientists Probe Human Nature—and Discover We are Good, after All (Original post)
joshcryer Nov 2012 OP
6502 Nov 2012 #1
Surya Gayatri Nov 2012 #4
bhikkhu Nov 2012 #2
Surya Gayatri Nov 2012 #3
rocktivity Nov 2012 #5
roguevalley Nov 2012 #6
joshcryer Nov 2012 #7
Fantastic Anarchist Nov 2012 #8
RainDog Nov 2012 #9
Overseas Nov 2012 #10
nolabels Nov 2012 #11
Tutonic Nov 2012 #12
TheAmbivalante Nov 2012 #13
Shankapotomus Nov 2012 #14
ehrnst Nov 2012 #15
ehrnst Nov 2012 #16
CanSocDem Nov 2012 #17
FiveGoodMen Nov 2012 #18
joshcryer Nov 2012 #19

Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 05:32 AM

1. [VIDEO] On the topic: RSA Animate - The Empathic Civilisation



This sums it up in a really enlightening video.

I have come to believe this as well.

The "7 Deadly Sins" is not about original sin.
It is really a description of the traits associated with a sickness of the mind, features that makes up the pathologies of selfishness -- a best attempt at describing both the learned forms (learning to ignore the poor or the hungry, etc...) as well as the innate forms (sociopathy, narcissim, etc.).

Enjoy the video.

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Response to 6502 (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:12 PM

4. Thanks so much for this link, 6502. I've studied

Jungian psychology and the "collective unconscious" a bit, and am fascinated by the notion of "homo empathicus" discussed in the video.
We're at an incredible moment in human evolution. Will we be able to turn our new technologies to empathetic ends?

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 11:08 AM

2. Good article, and here's another excellent source (of encouragement) -

http://www.amazon.com/Better-Angels-Our-Nature-Violence/dp/0143122010/ref=sr_1_fed0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353514033&sr=1-1&keywords=pinker+better+angels

(link to Amazon, but our little library has it, so its probably pretty easy to find). One of the best books I've read this year.

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 11:45 AM

3. Fascinating article, joshcryer. Thanks so much for

posting.
You turned me on to scientificamerican.com as well, where I've been immersed for several hours.
Who knew that "opsin", the sight protein, evolved 700 million years ago? Astonishing...

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 12:30 PM

5. Of course we're fundamentally good

We would have long since rendered ourselves extinct otherwise.


rocktivity

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Response to rocktivity (Reply #5)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 07:09 PM

6. if i believed in hell augustine is there

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 07:11 PM

7. If you have the time, Nice Guys Finish First (Dawkins):



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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 11:42 PM

8. Amazing. Thanks for posting.

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 02:05 AM

9. k&r

and happy thanksgiving, brother!

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 02:40 PM

10. That's why the GOP needs their 24/7 propaganda network and spends billions on PR.

They have to try hard to inculcate selfishness and pretend we don't want our tax dollars to go for Medicare for All, stronger social safety nets, environmental clean up and greener energy improvements.

Big oil has had a lot of success in pushing our citizenry to think we are mostly selfish creatures out for ourselves and that's the way it has got to be.




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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 08:38 AM

11. Guess they never learned of the study..........

that when you go looking for something you eventually find it. Actually quite the crazy idea they had here, maybe next time they should try to study why man survives in spite of his stupidity. Now that would be study with a real oxymoronic impetus


Also i don't think these people doing the study have ever met some of the people i have known

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 08:47 AM

12. Good for nothings.

n/t

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Fri Nov 23, 2012, 12:07 PM

13. Outstanding! Another great set of insights...

I could listen to Jeremy Rifkin all freaking day.





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Response to TheAmbivalante (Reply #13)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 07:45 PM

14. Welcome to DU!

So good to see so many fellow Jeremy Rifkin (the anti-dote to Ayn Rand) fans on DU!

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 11:05 AM

15. Wait - you mean that whole "original sin" thing has been debunked?

Get. Out.

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 11:19 AM

16. Attention, Paul Ryan and all you Randian acolytes

She was WRONG.

Or as Rodgers and Hammerstein put it:
"You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!"

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 01:42 PM

17. Who's been telling us we were 'bad'...???



All these years. And what have they been up to? Aside from making us into Weak Dependants, that is...

.

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Response to joshcryer (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 04:34 PM

18. Doesn't the need for a site like DU pretty much debunk the idea that most people are good?

We're all here talking about the evil people (a third to a half of the US pop.) who are trying to destroy democracy.

How good (on average) could humans really be?

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Response to FiveGoodMen (Reply #18)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 07:20 PM

19. The argument is about quick intuitive actions.

A site like DU facilitates reflective responses, that is, responses where people can sit down and think about their actions. In that vein, because everyone must be "right" on the internet, people descend into rhetoric, and it can get heated and cruel at times.

This is more a nature of the hierarchical HTTP environment than anything else.

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