Reality Blind - Vol. 1

sweatshirt, I immediately strike up a conversation and, at that moment, we have a great deal in common. At the same time, we implicitly agree on a hated outgroup (e.g. the Chicago Bears). Such human bonding is not necessarily rational, as it is possible that I disagree with this stranger on many issues of substance -like climate change. But it is adaptively useful because as soon as someone is ‘ of our tribe, ’ we, at least temporarily, proffer them ‘ most favored human ’ status, and we both derive the immediate benefits of becoming a temporarily larger and more formidable organism. In addition to the physical benefits of greater numbers, group delineation affects our psychology as well. Within our own groups, we tend to attribute our successes to our own smarts and personalities, and our failures to misfortune or the bad actions of outgroups — termed in psychology as ‘ fundamental attribution error ’ . 72 Yet we attribute success by those in “ out groups ” not to skill or talent, but to unsavory actions such as cheating, and their failures to flaws or lack of intelligence. We also tend to caricaturize outsiders using simple, broad-swath stereotypes, while treating in-group members as unique and valued individuals. 73 This prevalent and intense favoritism for our in-groups — whether they are political, a hobby group that likes collecting rocks, or fans of a favorite sports team — is one of the most powerful remnants of our evolutionary past. TaaL: This is all quite true, and it is not lost on those humans who seek to steer others ’ behaviors. While you like to imagine that what moves your societies is enlightenment and ideas, in fact, it is usually the deep core “ gene agenda ” drives being triggered by largely unconscious associations. Most wars and genocides involve shifting members of human populations into a highly polarized phase in which outgroup hatred acquires extra intensity, much like the “ fight ” pheromones which ants and bees release to phase- shift their members ’ behavior. This works really well if what you want is a war, or to overwhelm logic with mass emotion. It works less well if one wishes to try running a fragile planetary existence in a stable, logical way. Eventually, those species which attain sapience realize that the in- group/outgroup thing is one of the more toxic legacies of the gene agenda, and simply learn to be aware of it and correct for it. This is difficult, but necessary. For where does it leave humans if they do the in-group-outgroup thing on the downslope of the green revolution, as they are now primed t o do?

The Bottom Line: We ’ re fanatically loyal to whatever group we happen to find ourselves in and think bad things about those outside


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