Reality Blind - Vol. 1

Summary: “ In-group bias ” is giving preferential treatment to members of a group to which one belongs. Out of state students at the University of Minnesota are taken by surprise that when U of M plays their home state for a football game, they want to support their home state ’ s team. Since it ’ s their home state, they find it even more shocking to hear their new college friends ridiculing the competing state ’ s culture, teams, and stereotypes. The students wouldn ’ t take offense if it was some other (third) state and would probably join in. Everyone knows intellectually that such trivia is superficial in the scheme of things, but the intense feelings are very real, a limbic - system carryover we all share from our tribal past. What's going on here? The adaptive purpose of acting as-a-tribe is the ability to quickly self- organize into what is effectively a larger organism in a crisis. But that requires the organism ’ s boundaries be rigidly established. (If bees couldn ’ t identify their own specific hive, the whole system would break down.) Humans can self-assemble into a fairly cohesive superorganism very quickly, and once this has happened, it is surprisingly durable and intense. This isn ’ t because group members immediately fall in love with one another. It ’ s because if they couldn ’ t bond quickly, they wouldn ’ t be able to become a functional superorganism quickly, and their ancestors wouldn ’ t have survived. The hatred of outgroups has historically been a necessary “ glue ” to bond the in-group, and it is still one of the most powerful drivers of human behavior, particularly in times of stress. Since this hatred of outgroups taps into a core “ gene agenda, ” the pleasurable feelings can be intense. (When the Hutu killed the Tutsi in Rwanda, it was not with anger so much as with ecstasy. And you see it in chimp raids as well. It is a clear phase-shift of human behavior). 71 When you combine long formative periods of living in small groups with other unique aspects of human nature, our super-sociality and obsession with relative status, the result is intensely tribal behaviors, even for seemingly trivial group identities. I (NJ Hagens) am a member of a large number of modern tribes – many of which have no overlap with the others: Green Bay Packer fan, University of Chicago Business School Alum, rockhound, coonhound owner, mushroom forager, college professor, ecologist, Porcupine Tree music lover, and myriad others. When we meet someone that shares a similar like or history or pastime or professional affiliation, we instantly share a bond with them.

If I am in California and I meet someone wearing a Green Bay Packer


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