human nature

human nature

  • Evolution has no goal, it is a blind mechanism that builds on what is already in place.

    Evolution Has No Goal

    The mechanisms of evolution can be difficult to understand because evolution does not follow any defined plans and thus gives rise to adaptations whose paths are sometimes surprising. This video shows an example of this "blind" and "imperfect" evolution : the course followed by the laryngeal nerve in giraffe. This example clearly shows that evolution doesn't follow the most direct path nor the most logical or effective one... Evolution is a blind mechanism which builds on what is already in place. As long as it's working, it's working!   Learn more:  watch a short animation that aims to rectify common misconceptions about evolution such as the "survival of the fittest" or evolution's "goal"...

    Read more...

  • The SVT: an answer to the current political deadlock

    The SVT: an answer to the current political deadlock

    The Single Transferable Vote is a method based on a counterintuitive strategy able to conciliate two factors generally seen as incompatible: The STV overcomes wars parties by allowing each elector to vote for an individual candidate or candidates, without relying on closed party lists. The STV is proportional, meaning that the elected candidates proportionately reflect the voters' choices. So far, the STV is the only type of ballot able to ensure these two basic principles required to build more democratic societies. What if it was neither the politicians nor the political parties, but our intuitions that led us to the current political deadlock? What if the most direct solution was to become aware of our cognitive biases, and to learn to question our moral intuitions?    

    Read more...

  • Better understand evolutionary psychology

    Evolution Has No Goal

    Evolutionary psychology is not really a sub-discipline of psychology as it's a new way of approaching the questions of psychology from the special perspective of evolution.  Instead of regarding the human brain as Tabula Rasa, a kind of blank slate on which everything (or nearly) is written (as the main current in social science do), evolutionary psychologists see it more like a Swiss Army knife: a collection of various tools, each of which performs a specific function. Those tools would be over the course of time selected by evolution Naturally, evolutionary psychologists do recognize that all individuals develop their own personal preferences and abilities in the course of their lives. But according to evolutionary psychology, behind these personal attributes, that can be learned, lie certain innate, universal attitudes that are found in all cultures. This matrix is the “human nature”. This human nature is the result of the long evolutionary process, the fruit of the history of...

    Read more...

  • How can we identify a belief when it is everywhere and seems intimately linked to the existence of good?

    How can we identify a belief when it is entranched everywhere and associated with the good ? Google is no exception

    Google designed an interesting animation in July 2014 to celebrate the 96th Birthday of Nelson Mandela. We find it both interesting, because it reflects the values we share, and dangerous, because it promotes biased conceptions of human nature which threaten and discredit these values. These beliefs about human nature have serious social consequences, but they are so deeply rooted in the moral foundations of our time, that these foundations seem now intimately linked to the good. So the arguments that could contradict these foundations look like doors leading to the evil. And questioning their validity seems immoral ...     1   This statement suggests that “man in the state of nature is virtuous” (naturally tolerant, wise...). This belief that began to spread in the 18th century through what is called the “Noble Savage” has been refuted by history and science...   2     Is intolerance a “perversion”, or the natural state? cf. Image 1   Yes, we...

    Read more...

  • Are we hardwired to see patterns and links where there isn't, to believe?

    Evolution Has No Goal

    Photo credit: Aiwok  Empathetic behavior, the notion of justice, and reconciliation signs, once thought to be limited to humans, are also found in other species, especially in primates. Among these traits we found both in humans and in other species, some, in some circumstances, can play tricks on us and even have dramatic consequences. This is the case of the hot-hand fallacy. This cognitive bias is the deceptive belief that a person who has experienced success with a random event has a greater chance of winning the next attempts. This fallacy is well known by casinos, but much less by players...   Researchers at the University of Rochester had the fun idea to set up for rhesus monkeys a gambling game —which they quickly loved! They were surprised to discover that the macaques, just like people, seek and establish patterns between sets even when they are totally random!   Benjamin Hayden, a co-author of the study, explains why we humans (but also apes)...

    Read more...

  • A new view of human nature

    Our conceptions of human nature affect our daily lives, the way we raise our children, the political movements we embrace, all the way to our societies' organization. Sciences enable us to better understand, to better define the innate structures and the learning mechanisms that govern our thoughts and behaviors. Yet many fear these findings will be used to justify inequality, subvert social change, dissolve the very notion of freedom and personal responsibility. (Steven Pinker)

     

    Over the last few decades, discoveries in neuroscience and behavioral sciences undermine various modern beliefs about human nature. These discovering reveals its potential but also some limits. These limits initially shocked our human-centric tendencies and upset our ideological beliefs, but a better understanding of their mechanisms and impacts suggests some very promising new avenues for personal development but also for the development of societies.

    This evolutionary

    ...

    Read more...

  • The Stanford Prison Experiment prison raises the question of the origin of evil

    Evolution Has No Goal

    We like to believe that only few bad apples spoil the virtuous rest of humanity. The famous  Stanford prison experiment, conducted in 1971 by a team of researchers led by psychology professor Philip Zimbardo, will challenge this belief by suggesting that "the rest of humanity" could possibly not be as virtuous as expected. Zimbardo idea was simple: he wanted to study ordinary people's behaviors in an extraordinary environment, in a prison. He asked to twenty-four male students ―in good mental and physical health― to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. The participants adapted to their roles well beyond Zimbardo's expectations : one-third of the guards exhibited authoritarian behaviors and almost all prisoners accepted the humiliating treatments. The dramatic turn that the experiment will take will force Philip Zimbardo to end the experiment after six days, 11 days sooner than...

    Read more...

  • A human nature driven by some evolutionary impulses towards justice, empathy ... cooperation.

    Evolution Has No Goal

    Reconciliation, cooperation, fairness, caring about the well-being of others, seem to us uniquely human until Frans De Waal shared his experiments. You will find in this talk some surprising (and funny!) videos revealing different kinds of empathetic behavior in non-human primates and mammals.   Frans De Waal is the most famous primatologist in the world (in 2007, he was selected by Time as one of The Worlds' 100 Most Influential People Today).         Video on TED       Related articles

    Read more...

  • Human nature: unique?

    Evolution Has No Goal

    Robert Sapolsky is a professor of biology and neurology. His analysis is based on thirty years of studying baboons in East Africa. Humans can no longer be considered the only animal that: makes tool kills members of its own species (though we are the only one that kills remotely) has a theory of mind (though we are the only one with a "secondary theory of mind"*) understands something like the Golden Rule (we are the only one with the capability to understand it in a broader perspective taking into account the particular circumstances) shows elements of empathy (though we are unique in the range of empathy that we feel toward strangers, members of other species and even abstract representations) is motivated by reward, even uncertain one (but we are the only one that has long lag times between stimulus and reward that could happen even after death) cultural transmissions of behavior or cultures (but we are the only animal able to transmit complex cultures) Robert...

    Read more...

  • Are we really in control of our decisions?

    Evolution Has No Goal

      Dan Ariely presents some ideas from Daniel Kahneman in a more accessible way. Ariely uses different optical illusions to remind us how our senses deceive us. Our senses, our intuitions are tricking us all the time. Even more curious, he shows us how we persist in our mistakes even when we become aware of them.   Our intuitions consistently and predictably mislead us, and there is nothing we can do about it! We are making and repeating these mistakes, yet predictable, despite the fact that our sense of vision is the result of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. We can then imagine the difficulty we face when we have to make rational choices in areas where we are less trained and much less efficient ...    Unlike some critical capabilities ―that we practice several hours per day since tens of thousands of years (e.g. finding the words to make a sentence) and are supported by specialized parts of the brain (e.g. the Broca area)―, a multitude of complex decisions we...

    Read more...

  • Is the quality of our moral sense only influenced by the environment's circumstances or also  by our human nature?

    Evolution Has No Goal

    Rebecca Saxe, a researcher in cognitive neuroscience, works on better understanding the right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) that allows us to perceive what others think. This area mostly develops throughout childhood and adolescence, but it still continues during adulthood(*) The differences in this area's development in adulthood explain the differences in the capacity to put oneself into someone's shoes. Depending on the level of this area's development, we will have more or less ease to perceive what another person thinks and feels, more or less capacity for moral discernment. The development of this area is crucial in the sense that it influences how we interact with others and the life choices we make. According to its level of development, we will make more or less individualistic or empathic choices.   The more there is activity in this brain region, the more people are able to take in consideration the circumstances of a situation in their moral judgments.   *...

    Read more...

  • Human nature: naturally generous and altruistic?

    RichardDawkins

    Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist. His very famous book "The Selfish Gene" (an international bestseller, translated into over 25 languages with more than a million copies) extends the explanation of evolution given by Charles Darwin by designating the gene, rather than the species, as the unit of natural selection.

    If much has been written on his approach, causing heated discussions, it's because this book disrupts the traditional conceptions on humans and proposes a pretty simple explanation to human tensions. Richard Dawkins considers that the living been serves as a survival machine for what pilots them : the genes. This approach is revolutionary because it proposes to look at the person no longer as an entity on its own, but as a multitude of entities, the genes, each pursuing

    ...

    Read more...

  • To put oneself in someone's shoes: an ability favored, or not, by the environment...

    Why teenagers seem less responsible, more impulsive, and globally less capable than adults to put themselves in someone's shoes? Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, a neurologist specialized in cognitive science, explore this question through particularly creative experiments conducted on teenagers and adults. These studies allow her to measure the ability of people to see things from someone else perspective particularly by measuring "perception conflicts". Sarah-Jayne explains behavioral differences by differences in the prefrontal cortex, which is still under development during adolescence. Her research on the prefrontal cortex shows the importance of the environment on the brain development during adolescence because the neural connections that are used are strengthened, while those that aren't, are "pruned away". Through her experiments, we now know that the ability to put oneself on someone else shoes is particularly difficult for teenagers since brain areas associated with that...

    Read more...

  • Our brains evolved for a very different world than the one in which we are living...

    Our brains evolved for a very different world than the one in which we are living. They evolved for a world in which people lived in very small groups, rarely met anybody who was terribly different from themselves, had rather short lives in which there were few choices and the highest priority was to eat and mate today. Dan Gilbert is a professor of psychology at Harvard University. His research in social psychology about affective forecasting, emphasizing on cognitive biases (errors of judgment), has been worldwide recognized.   We are the only species on this planet that has ever held its own fate in its hands. We have no significant predators, we're the masters of our physical environment; the things that normally cause species to become extinct are no longer any threat to us... And yet, the only thing -the only thing- that can destroy us and doom us are our own decisions -our limitation to make thoughtful decisions. If we're not here in 10,000 years, it's going to be...

    Read more...

  • When a monkey financial market goes bankrupt ... Crisis or limit?

    Laurie Santos, a researcher in cognitive psychology, had the fun idea to create the first financial market for some cute little monkeys, the Capuchin. Their currency, the Token, is used to buy food from different sellers, who are more or less honest, and whose sales strategies differ. It turns out that Capuchin monkeys are as gifted as humans when it comes to managing their money. They are looking for good value for their money and watch out for special offers. They also are as talented as us at spending money like there's no tomorrow and at spontaneously stealing their fellows and the sellers (which wasn't expect by the experimenters!). This experiment has highlighted two biases in our cousin, that were considered, until now, specific to human: • the fear of loss: loss frightens us so much that we are willing to go to great lengths to avoid it, even at the price of higher risk to lose everything. • emotive irrationality: we are naturally more likely to make emotional than...

    Read more...

  • "Human nature waits for suffering to do something really unique: to examine the way we think and behave"

      We waits to suffer from an accident, diagnosis or a mourning to begin to question our life.But we have the ability to change without having to suffer: by changing our way of doing things and our way of thinking...                         Video on YouTube       Related articles

    Read more...