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Posts Tagged ‘Steven Pinker

What makes you believe that you are more altruistic than others?

Someone once saved my life by putting his own life in danger

Giving a kidney to a stranger

Why do some people do selfless things, helping other people even at risk to their own well-being?

Psychology researcher Abigail Marsh studies the motivations of people who do extremely altruistic acts, like donating a kidney to a complete stranger. Are their brains just different?

Abigail Marsh. Psychologist. Question: If humans are evil, why do we sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to help others even at a cost to ourselves? Full bio

There’s a man out there, somewhere, who looks a little bit like the actor Idris Elba, or at least he did 20 years ago.

I don’t know anything else about him, except that he once saved my life by putting his own life in danger. This man ran across four lanes of freeway traffic in the middle of the night to bring me back to safety after a car accident that could have killed me.

And the whole thing left me really shaken up, but it also left me with this kind of burning, gnawing need to understand why he did it, what forces within him caused him to make the choice that I owe my life to, to risk his own life to save the life of a stranger?

what are the causes of his or anybody else’s capacity for altruism?

0:58 But first let me tell you what happened. That night, I was 19 years old and driving back to my home in Tacoma, Washington, down the Interstate 5 freeway, when a little dog darted out in front of my car. And I did exactly what you’re not supposed to do, which is swerve to avoid it.

And I discovered why you’re not supposed to do that. I hit the dog anyways, and that sent the car into a fishtail, and then a spin across the freeway, until finally it wound up in the fast lane of the freeway faced backwards into oncoming traffic and then the engine died.

I was sure in that moment that I was about to die too, but I didn’t because of the actions of that one brave man who must have made the decision within a fraction of a second of seeing my stranded car to pull over and run across four lanes of freeway traffic in the dark to save my life.

after he got my car working again and got me back to safety and made sure I was going to be all right, he drove off again. He never even told me his name, and I’m pretty sure I forgot to say thank you.

 before I go any further, I really want to take a moment to stop and say thank you to that stranger.

Patsy Z and TEDxSKE shared a link.|By Abigail Marsh

I tell you all of this because the events of that night changed the course of my life to some degree. I became a psychology researcher, and I’ve devoted my work to understanding the human capacity to care for others.

Where does it come from, and how does it develop, and what are the extreme forms that it can take?

These questions are really important to understanding basic aspects of human social nature. A lot of people, and this includes everybody from philosophers and economists to ordinary people believe that human nature is fundamentally selfish, that we’re only ever really motivated by our own welfare.

But if that’s true, why do some people, like the stranger who rescued me, do selfless things, like helping other people at enormous risk and cost to themselves?

Answering this question requires exploring the roots of extraordinary acts of altruism, and what might make people who engage in such acts different than other people.

But until recently, very little work on this topic had been done.

The actions of the man who rescued me meet the most stringent definition of altruism, which is a voluntary, costly behavior motivated by the desire to help another individual.

So it’s a selfless act intended to benefit only the other. What could possibly explain an action like that?

One answer is compassion, obviously, which is a key driver of altruism. But then the question becomes, why do some people seem to have more of it than others?

And the answer may be that the brains of highly altruistic people are different in fundamental ways.

to figure out how, I actually started from the opposite end, with psychopaths.

A common approach to understanding basic aspects of human nature, like the desire to help other people, is to study people in whom that desire is missing, and psychopaths are exactly such a group.

Psychopathy is a developmental disorder with strongly genetic origins, and it results in a personality that’s cold and uncaring and a tendency to engage in antisocial and sometimes very violent behavior.

Once my colleagues and I at the National Institute of Mental Health conducted some of the first ever brain imaging research of psychopathic adolescents, and our findings, and the findings of other researchers now, have shown that people who are psychopathic pretty reliably exhibit three characteristics.

First, although they’re not generally insensitive to other people’s emotions, they are insensitive to signs that other people are in distress. And in particular, they have difficulty recognizing fearful facial expressions like this one.

And fearful expressions convey urgent need and emotional distress, and they usually elicit compassion and a desire to help in people who see them, so it makes sense that people who tend to lack compassion also tend to be insensitive to these cues.

The part of the brain that’s the most important for recognizing fearful expressions is called the amygdala. There are very rare cases of people who lack amygdalas completely, and they’re profoundly impaired in recognizing fearful expressions.

And whereas healthy adults and children usually show big spikes in amygdala activity when they look at fearful expressions, psychopaths’ amygdalas are underreactive to these expressions. Sometimes they don’t react at all, which may be why they have trouble detecting these cues.

Finally, psychopaths’ amygdalas are smaller than average by about 18 or 20 percent.

all of these findings are reliable and robust, and they’re very interesting. But remember that my main interest is not understanding why people don’t care about others. It’s understanding why they do.

the real question is, could extraordinary altruism, which is the opposite of psychopathy in terms of compassion and the desire to help other people, emerge from a brain that is also the opposite of psychopathy?

A sort of antipsychopathic brain, better able to recognize other people’s fear, an amygdala that’s more reactive to this expression and maybe larger than average as well?

As my research has now shown, all three things are true.

And we discovered this by testing a population of truly extraordinary altruists. These are people who have given one of their own kidneys to a complete stranger.

So these are people who have volunteered to undergo major surgery so that one of their own healthy kidneys can be removed and transplanted into a very ill stranger that they’ve never met and may never meet.

“Why would anybody do this?” is a very common question.

And the answer may be that the brains of these extraordinary altruists have certain special characteristics. They are better at recognizing other people’s fear. They’re literally better at detecting when somebody else is in distress.

This may be in part because their amygdala is more reactive to these expressions. And remember, this is the same part of the brain that we found was underreactive in people who are psychopathic.

And finally, their amygdalas are larger than average as well, by about 8%.

together, what these data suggest is the existence of something like a caring continuum in the world that’s anchored at the one end by people who are highly psychopathic, and at the other by people who are very compassionate and driven to acts of extreme altruism.

I should add that what makes extraordinary altruists so different is not just that they’re more compassionate than average. They are, but what’s even more unusual about them is that they’re compassionate and altruistic not just towards people who are in their own innermost circle of friends and family. Right?

Because to have compassion for people that you love and identify with is not extraordinary. Truly extraordinary altruists’ compassion extends way beyond that circle, even beyond their wider circle of acquaintances to people who are outside their social circle altogether, total strangers, just like the man who rescued me.

I’ve had the opportunity now to ask a lot of altruistic kidney donors how it is that they manage to generate such a wide circle of compassion that they were willing to give a complete stranger their kidney. And I found it’s a really difficult question for them to answer.

I say, “How is it that you’re willing to do this thing when so many other people don’t? You’re one of fewer than 2,000 Americans who has ever given a kidney to a stranger. What is it that makes you so special?”

They say, “Nothing. There’s nothing special about me. I’m just the same as everybody else.”

I think that’s actually a really telling answer, because it suggests that the circles of these altruists don’t look like this, they look more like this. They have no center.

These altruists literally don’t think of themselves as being at the center of anything, as being better or more inherently important than anybody else.

When I asked one altruist why donating her kidney made sense to her, she said, “Because it’s not about me.” Another said, “I’m not different. I’m not unique. Your study here is going to find out that I’m just the same as you.”

I think the best description for this amazing lack of self-centeredness is humility, which is that quality that in the words of St. Augustine makes men as angels. And why is that?

It’s because if there’s no center of your circle, there can be no inner rings or outer rings, nobody who is more or less worthy of your care and compassion than anybody else.

And I think that this is what really distinguishes extraordinary altruists from the average person.

I also think that this is a view of the world that’s attainable by many and maybe even most people. And I think this because at the societal level, expansions of altruism and compassion are already happening everywhere.

The psychologist Steven Pinker and others have shown that all around the world people are becoming less and less accepting of suffering in ever-widening circles of others, which has led to declines of all kinds of cruelty and violence, from animal abuse to domestic violence to capital punishment.

And it’s led to increases in all kinds of altruism.

A hundred years ago, people would have thought it was ludicrous how normal and ordinary it is for people to donate their blood and bone marrow to complete strangers today.

Is it possible that a hundred years from now people will think that donating a kidney to a stranger is just as normal and ordinary as we think donating blood and bone marrow is today? Maybe.

10:46 So what’s at the root of all these amazing changes?

In part it seems to be increases in wealth and standards of living.

As societies become wealthier and better off, people seem to turn their focus of attention outward, and as a result, all kinds of altruism towards strangers increases, from volunteering to charitable donations and even altruistic kidney donations.

But all of these changes also yield a strange and paradoxical result, which is that even as the world is becoming a better and more humane place, which it is, there’s a very common perception that it’s becoming worse and more cruel, which it’s not.

And I don’t know exactly why this is, but I think it may be that we now just know so much more about the suffering of strangers in distant places, and so we now care a lot more about the suffering of those distant strangers.

But what’s clear is the kinds of changes we’re seeing show that the roots of altruism and compassion are just as much a part of human nature as cruelty and violence, maybe even more so, and while some people do seem to be inherently more sensitive to the suffering of distant others, I really believe that the ability to remove oneself from the center of the circle and expand the circle of compassion outward to include even strangers is within reach for almost everyone.


The Psychology of Defeating Fear: Low Self-Esteem and Hate Live in the Mind

Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life.

No correlation between facts of lower crime rates and our feeling of increased fear?

August 18, 2016

Fear has always had a hold on us, but never with such fervor. Welcome to the end of times.

We cannot sink lower. ISIS is at our door, our elected leaders are malevolent man-children, amber alerts are lighting up our phones, immigrants are bringing a plague of violence, someone was murdered while playing Pokemon GO, climate change is flooding our homes and starving our crops. How can we go on?

But, breathe deep and let the clouds of panic part; it turns out there’s very little correlation between the above mindset and reality.

Terrorism, despite it reported epidemic, is less prevalent in the Western world now than it was in the 1970s and ’80s. Crime is decreasing.

Immigrants actually lower crime in gateway cities, and don’t affect crime rates elsewhere.

Rates of rape and sexual assault have been declining for decades, and are now a quarter or less of their peaks in the past.

Despite Zika and Ebola hype, infectious diseases are down. The list continues and is wonderfully documented at length in Steven Pinker’s book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.

However, that’s not what we like to hear, because we don’t feel safe. This good news feels inaccurate. Why?

we have the non-stop news cycle to thank for that, and social platforms that turn every smartphone user into an independent correspondent capturing every horror from the grocery aisle to the protest march.

We are experiencing an oversaturation of fearful messages.

“What is really fascinating when we look at the brain research around fear is that our brains proxy anything that feels unfamiliar, incoherent or inaccessible as being unsafe,” says Harvard psychologist Susan David, author of Emotional Agility.

We like familiarity. We like it so much that hearing that terrorism is likely to strike us personally at any moment is somehow more comforting than the message that it’s not, because the fear is more familiar to us at this stage.

We’ve come to trust it. If we hear something often enough, we associate familiarity with truth.

It even works on a personal level, where people are drawn to those who hurt them and belittle them purely because the message is familiar. It feels cozy and you’ve been there before. You know how this works. It’s scarier to try something new.

And of course fear is heavily embedded in politics.

We have politicians who are effectively demagogues, who aim to inspire fear and cement our bond to them by hyperbolizing a threat to our mortality.

So how can we repel deceptive messaging and see clearly?

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman identified two kinds of thinking systems:

“System 1 thinking is the intuitive response, the emotional visceral ‘us’ and ‘them’ that can sometimes arise out of fear. System 2 is the deliberate thoughtful examination of: what is this person saying? Is it in line with how I really want to be? Is it connected with how I really want to raise my children? Is this a world that I want to support?’

David says that if we can step back from our fear and see it for what it is – manipulated panic rather than data – we can protect ourselves from the demagoguery message and re-align with our true values.

It is difficult to do, and the repetition makes it harder to see straight.

Here David draws on the 2016 US election as an example. “… We used to hear things that the politicians would say and we would be like, ‘Oh my goodness how can the person possibly say that thing?’

But what happens over time is the more familiar something sounds… even if the story is inaccurate, even if the story doesn’t serve us, the more we are likely to become immured to it and immune to it.”

Things that were said in the election six months ago that horrified people are now being met with a light-hearted ‘Oh, there we go again’.

David questions the media ethics in pushing out stories that overexpose inaccurate messages of fear that could incite violence and hatred. It familiarizes us to an incorrect message, leaving our values open to corruption.

Susan David’s most recent book is Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life.

How long is the reach of reason? Pretty slow and forgotten in the shorter terms?

Here’s a TED first: an animated Socratic dialog!

In a time when irrationality seems to rule both politics and culture, has reasoned thinking finally lost its power?

Watch as psychologist Steven Pinker is gradually, brilliantly persuaded by philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein that reason is actually the key driver of human moral progress, even if its effect sometimes takes generations to unfold.

The dialog was recorded live at TED, and animated, in incredible, often hilarious, detail by Cognitive

Steven Pinker. Psychologist
Steven Pinker questions the very nature of our thoughts — the way we use words, how we learn, and how we relate to others.
In his best-selling books, he has brought sophisticated language analysis to bear on topics of wide general interest. Full bio

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein. Philosopher and writer
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein writes novels and nonfiction that explore questions of philosophy, morality and being. Full bio
Filmed in Feb. 2012

[“Rebecca Newberger Goldstein”] [“Steven Pinker”] [“The Long Reach of Reason”]

Cabbie: Twenty-two dollars.

Steven Pinker: Okay.

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein: Reason appears to have fallen on hard times: Popular culture plumbs new depths of dumbth and political discourse has become a race to the bottom.

We’re living in an era of scientific creationism, 9/11 conspiracy theories, psychic hotlines, and a resurgence of religious fundamentalism.

People who think too well are often accused of elitism, and even in the academy, there are attacks on logocentrism, the crime of letting logic dominate our thinking.

1:07 SP: But is this necessarily a bad thing? Perhaps reason is overrated.

Many pundits have argued that a good heart and steadfast moral clarity are superior to triangulations of overeducated policy wonks, like the best and brightest… that dragged us into the quagmire of Vietnam.

And wasn’t it reason that gave us the means to despoil the planet and threaten our species with weapons of mass destruction? (Kind of needing a taxonomy for defining various basis for reasons?)

In this way of thinking, it’s character and conscience, not cold-hearted calculation, that will save us.

Besides, a human being is not a brain on a stick. My fellow psychologists have shown that we’re led by our bodies and our emotions and use our puny powers of reason merely to rationalize our gut feelings after the fact. (All kinds of biases?)

Patsy Z and TEDxSKE shared a link.|By Steven Pinker and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

 RNG: How could a reasoned argument logically entail the ineffectiveness of reasoned arguments? Look, you’re trying to persuade us of reason’s impotence. You’re not threatening us or bribing us, suggesting that we resolve the issue with a show of hands or a beauty contest.

By the very act of trying to reason us into your position, you’re conceding reason’s potency. Reason isn’t up for grabs here. It can’t be. You show up for that debate and you’ve already lost it.

SP: Can reason lead us in directions that are good or decent or moral? After all, you pointed out that reason is just a means to an end, and the end depends on the reasoner’s passions.

Reason can lay out a road map to peace and harmony if the reasoner wants peace and harmony, but it can also lay out a road map to conflict and strife if the reasoner delights in conflict and strife. Can reason force the reasoner to want less cruelty and waste?

 RNG: All on its own, the answer is no, but it doesn’t take much to switch it to yes. You need two conditions:

The first is that reasoners all care about their own well-being. That’s one of the passions that has to be present in order for reason to go to work, and it’s obviously present in all of us. We all care passionately about our own well-being.

The second condition is that reasoners are members of a community of reasoners who can affect one another’s well-being, can exchange messages, and comprehend each other’s reasoning. And that’s certainly true of our gregarious and loquatious species, well endowed with the instinct for language.

 SP: Well, that sounds good in theory, but has it worked that way in practice? In particular, can it explain a momentous historical development that I spoke about five years ago here at TED?

Namely, we seem to be getting more humane. Centuries ago, our ancestors would burn cats alive as a form of popular entertainment. Knights waged constant war on each other by trying to kill as many of each other’s peasants as possible. Governments executed people for frivolous reasons, like stealing a cabbage or criticizing the royal garden. The executions were designed to be as prolonged and as painful as possible, like crucifixion, disembowelment, breaking on the wheel. Respectable people kept slaves. For all our flaws, we have abandoned these barbaric practices.

 RNG: So, do you think it’s human nature that’s changed?

SP: Not exactly. I think we still harbor instincts that can erupt in violence, like greed, tribalism, revenge, dominance, sadism. But we also have instincts that can steer us away, like self-control, empathy, a sense of fairness, what Abraham Lincoln called the better angels of our nature.

RNG: So if human nature didn’t change, what invigorated those better angels?

4:41 SP: Well, among other things, our circle of empathy expanded. Years ago, our ancestors would feel the pain only of their family and people in their village. But with the expansion of literacy and travel, people started to sympathize with wider and wider circles, the clan, the tribe, the nation, the race, and perhaps eventually, all of humanity.

5:02 RNG: Can hard-headed scientists really give so much credit to soft-hearted empathy?

5:07 SP: They can and do. Neurophysiologists have found neurons in the brain that respond to other people’s actions the same way they respond to our own. Empathy emerges early in life, perhaps before the age of one. Books on empathy have become bestsellers, like “The Empathic Civilization” and “The Age of Empathy.”

5:25 RNG: I’m all for empathy. I mean, who isn’t? But all on its own, it’s a feeble instrument for making moral progress. For one thing, it’s innately biased toward blood relations, babies and warm, fuzzy animals.

As far as empathy is concerned, ugly outsiders can go to hell. And even our best attempts to work up sympathy for those who are unconnected with us fall miserably short, a sad truth about human nature that was pointed out by Adam Smith.

 Adam Smith: Let us suppose that the great empire of China was suddenly swallowed up by an earthquake, and let us consider how a man of humanity in Europe would react on receiving intelligence of this dreadful calamity. He would, I imagine, first of all express very strongly his sorrow for the misfortune of that unhappy people. He would make many melancholy reflections upon the precariousness of human life, and when all these humane sentiments had been once fairly expressed, he would pursue his business or his pleasure with the same ease and tranquility as if no such accident had happened. If he was to lose his little finger tomorrow, he would not sleep tonight, but provided he never saw them, he would snore with the most profound security over the ruin of a hundred million of his brethren.

6:38 SP: But if empathy wasn’t enough to make us more humane, what else was there?

6:43 RNG: Well, you didn’t mention what might be one of our most effective better angels: reason. Reason has muscle. It’s reason that provides the push to widen that circle of empathy. Every one of the humanitarian developments that you mentioned originated with thinkers who gave reasons for why some practice was indefensible. They demonstrated that the way people treated some particular group of others was logically inconsistent with the way they insisted on being treated themselves.

7:17 SP: Are you saying that reason can actually change people’s minds? Don’t people just stick with whatever conviction serves their interests or conforms to the culture that they grew up in?

7:27 RNG: Here’s a fascinating fact about us: Contradictions bother us, at least when we’re forced to confront them, which is just another way of saying that we are susceptible to reason. And if you look at the history of moral progress, you can trace a direct pathway from reasoned arguments to changes in the way that we actually feel. Time and again, a thinker would lay out an argument as to why some practice was indefensible, irrational, inconsistent with values already held.

Their essay would go viral, get translated into many languages, get debated at pubs and coffee houses and salons, and at dinner parties, and influence leaders, legislators, popular opinion. Eventually their conclusions get absorbed into the common sense of decency, erasing the tracks of the original argument that had gotten us there. Few of us today feel any need to put forth a rigorous philosophical argument as to why slavery is wrong or public hangings or beating children. By now, these things just feel wrong. But just those arguments had to be made, and they were, in centuries past.

8:45 SP: Are you saying that people needed a step-by-step argument to grasp why something might be a wee bit wrong with burning heretics at the stake?

8:52 RNG: Oh, they did. Here’s the French theologian Sebastian Castellio making the case.

8:58 Sebastian Castellio: Calvin says that he’s certain, and other sects say that they are. Who shall be judge? If the matter is certain, to whom is it so? To Calvin? But then, why does he write so many books about manifest truth? In view of the uncertainty, we must define heretics simply as one with whom we disagree. And if then we are going to kill heretics, the logical outcome will be a war of extermination, since each is sure of himself.

9:19 SP: Or with hideous punishments like breaking on the wheel?

9:22 RNG: The prohibition in our constitution of cruel and unusual punishments was a response to a pamphlet circulated in 1764 by the Italian jurist Cesare Beccaria.

Cesare Beccaria: As punishments become more cruel, the minds of men, which like fluids always adjust to the level of the objects that surround them, become hardened, and after a hundred years of cruel punishments, breaking on the wheel causes no more fear than imprisonment previously did. For a punishment to achieve its objective, it is only necessary that the harm that it inflicts outweighs the benefit that derives from the crime, and into this calculation ought to be factored the certainty of punishment and the loss of the good that the commission of the crime will produce. Everything beyond this is superfluous, and therefore tyrannical.

SP: But surely antiwar movements depended on mass demonstrations and catchy tunes by folk singers and wrenching photographs of the human costs of war.

RNG: No doubt, but modern anti-war movements reach back to a long chain of thinkers who had argued as to why we ought to mobilize our emotions against war, such as the father of modernity, Erasmus.

Erasmus: The advantages derived from peace diffuse themselves far and wide, and reach great numbers, while in war, if anything turns out happily, the advantage redounds only to a few, and those unworthy of reaping it. One man’s safety is owing to the destruction of another. One man’s prize is derived from the plunder of another. The cause of rejoicings made by one side is to the other a cause of mourning. Whatever is unfortunate in war, is severely so indeed, and whatever, on the contrary, is called good fortune, is a savage and a cruel good fortune, an ungenerous happiness deriving its existence from another’s woe.

 SP: But everyone knows that the movement to abolish slavery depended on faith and emotion. It was a movement spearheaded by the Quakers, and it only became popular when Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” became a bestseller.

RNG: But the ball got rolling a century before. John Locke bucked the tide of millennia that had regarded the practice as perfectly natural. He argued that it was inconsistent with the principles of rational government.

John Locke: Freedom of men under government is to have a standing rule to live by common to everyone of that society and made by the legislative power erected in it, a liberty to follow my own will in all things where that rule prescribes not, not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man, as freedom of nature is to be under no other restraint but the law of nature.

11:54 SP: Those words sound familiar. Where have I read them before? Ah, yes.

Mary Astell: If absolute sovereignty be not necessary in a state, how comes it to be so in a family? Or if in a family, why not in a state? Since no reason can be alleged for the one that will not hold more strongly for the other, if all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves, as they must be if being subjected to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of men be the perfect condition of slavery?

RNG: That sort of co-option is all in the job description of reason. One movement for the expansion of rights inspires another because the logic is the same, and once that’s hammered home, it becomes increasingly uncomfortable to ignore the inconsistency.

In the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement inspired the movements for women’s rights, children’s rights, gay rights and even animal rights. But fully two centuries before, the Enlightenment thinker Jeremy Bentham had exposed the indefensibility of customary practices such as the cruelty to animals.

Jeremy Bentham: The question is not, can they reason, nor can they talk, but can they suffer?

 RNG: And the persecution of homosexuals.

JB: As to any primary mischief, it’s evident that it produces no pain in anyone. On the contrary, it produces pleasure. The partners are both willing. If either of them be unwilling, the act is an offense, totally different in its nature of effects. It’s a personal injury. It’s a kind of rape. As to the any danger exclusive of pain, the danger, if any, much consist in the tendency of the example. But what is the tendency of this example? To dispose others to engage in the same practices. But this practice produces not pain of any kind to anyone.

13:43 SP: Still, in every case, it took at least a century for the arguments of these great thinkers to trickle down and infiltrate the population as a whole. It kind of makes you wonder about our own time. Are there practices that we engage in where the arguments against them are there for all to see but nonetheless we persist in them?

14:00 RNG: When our great grandchildren look back at us, will they be as appalled by some of our practices as we are by our slave-owning, heretic-burning, wife-beating, gay-bashing ancestors?

14:13 SP: I’m sure everyone here could think of an example.

14:16 RNG: I opt for the mistreatment of animals in factory farms.

14:20 SP: The imprisonment of nonviolent drug offenders and the toleration of rape in our nation’s prisons.

14:24 RNG: Scrimping on donations to life-saving charities in the developing world.

14:29 SP: The possession of nuclear weapons.

14:31 RNG: The appeal to religion to justify the otherwise unjustifiable, such as the ban on contraception.

14:38 SP: What about religious faith in general?

14:40 RNG: Eh, I’m not holding my breath.

14:42 SP: Still, I have become convinced that reason is a better angel that deserves the greatest credit for the moral progress our species has enjoyed and that holds out the greatest hope for continuing moral progress in the future.

14:55 RNG: And if, our friends, you detect a flaw in this argument, just remember you’ll be depending on reason to point it out.

Note: Reason is a continuous process, for individual and generations, and is an integral part of our survival instinct. If the women are taught to reason and reflect early on, the new generations will be inducted to reflect and learn to be pessimistic on many idiosyncrasies.

The educated mothers will generate a developing survival instinct. Those left on their own with truncated and incomplete knowledge of facts and discoveries will generate a disintegrating survival instinct. In all cases, state governments play a central and critical function in developing a mature survival instinct for the species.




October 2021

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