The Agenda of the Gene
Summary: Throughout our lives, in almost all circumstances, we humans are actors on a stage. The stage has changed countless times in history and will change countless times again (if we remain on the stage), but in each generation the actions that we choose are distinctly tethered to our biological heritage. In the same way we don’t like to be hot or cold, but instead at a temperature “just right,” our assembled horde of brain modules steers us towards being well-liked, well-fed, entertained, taken care of, supportive of our tribe, fearful of outgroups, dismissive of abstract threats, etc. In each of our daily routines, when we do
things that “feel right” without much deliberation or self -observation, we are generally following what your authors refer to as the gene agenda. Simply put, we seek the same emotional state of our ancestors, but in a modern, novel world. The evolved brain’s highly distorted worldview is the emergent result of the “ gene agenda ”. It was distorted to relentlessly err on the side of survival , but to err nevertheless. So, we worry more about snakes than car crashes, about being unpopular rather than nuclear war, and about acquiring “stuff” rather than preserving a healthy environment. Just like a fish doesn’t understand it lives in water, neither do we consider that we adhere daily to “an agenda of the gene,” but we do. As our bodies and experiences walk forward in time, the genes which programmed our behaviors are effectively looking backwards, because they were shaped solely by past survival success.
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