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Old September 2 2012, 08:02 PM   #39
Location: Kentucky
Re: Why isn't Internet free for everyone yet?

Deks wrote: View Post
scotthm wrote: View Post
No, of course not. It's just an amazing coincidence that throughout the various cultures of Earth people laugh when they're happy and cry when they're sad.

That's your 'explanation' behind 'human nature'?

Humans are capable of wide range of emotions (a biological trait) - but we are NOT intricately 'pre-programmed' to be (for example) greedy, selfish and competitive - those are learned behaviors that stem from our environment.
I might as well wade in.

Human nature definitely exists. It's genetic (clue - cats don't build amusement parks and monkeys don't build banana farms) and many of the same patterns appear in all societies and cultures.

For example, all humans build tools to build tools, something never observed in other species, even species that use tools. All humans shake their heads up and down for yes and side-to-side for no, even though that should be a random and arbitrary behavior, and even though head shaking isn't logically connected to the truth or falsity of a proposition, nor to desires. Laughing and crying could likewise be flipped around, but aren't.

All human societies display vengeance, jealousy, compassion, greed, ostracism, etc, and these some of these social emotions were hardwired into the brain by grafting perceptions to our existing circuits that respond to physical pain, parenting, etc.

Most police calls are the result of innate behaviors (vengeance, jealousy, rape, gang warfare, murder, theft, looting, rioting) which are often beneficial to members of primitive hunter-gatherer tribes, but cause severe problems in modern society. We haven't had a society that encourages or rewards those behaviors in centuries, in many cases for thousands of years, yet the behaviors beneficial to cave men are still stubbornly with us, waiting to be triggered in the right circumstance.

People who've never stolen anything in their lives will line up to loot big-screen TV's during a riot (two innate behaviors), and people will honk horns, bang pots, and get out of their cars to form a packed mob that screams at a large predator threatening a human, even if they've never seen a large predator attack anyone before. Monkeys do the same thing, minus the car horns.

All humans have innate social behaviors, tuned for tribe sized groups that were sometimes competitors with other tribes, sometimes attacked by predators, and always hunting.. From these come our intuitive sense of fairness, sharing, mutual exchanges, suspicion of strangers, hierarchies, and really odd behaviors like lynching and hanging dismembered bodies in trees (one of the few ways to send a message to large cats and other predators).

Fairness and sharing have recently been traced to the need to maintain a strong tribal hunting party, because well-fed hunters make the entire group more successful in subsequent hunts. Like many of our social behaviors, it breaks down when the group size passes about 150 people, which is wear more advanced behaviors like profit have to step in, otherwise the free-rider problem becomes unworkable. Hundreds of attempts at utopian socialism over a century and a half have slammed into the wall of group size.

Also, emotions are nothing more than a series of reactions to external stimulus (do NOT mistake this for 'instincts' though as those don't exist in humans either - motor functions and reaction to external stimulus is NOT 'instinct'). Our behavior (which stems from the environment) dictates which emotions will manifest (if they will at all) and how will they manifest.
When an actor bawls like a baby for a scene, thinking of the dog that was run over when he was six, the only external stimulus is his smoking hot co-star in a night gown. Human's think, and thoughts can produce emotions.

Different cultures exhibit different reactions at stimulus - if 'human nature' existed, they would exhibit them in exactly the same manner - but see... they DON'T - some even don't exhibit or feel emotions in situations where others would.
Then how come people all over the world can watch each others' movies and understand exactly what's going on internally to the characters? When we watch wildlife documentaries we have no idea what the gazelle is actually thinking and feeling, or the lion, or how it feels to be either. Yet everyone understands characters written by Homer, Aristophanes, Shakespeare, the Brontes, Kurosawa, and Chuck Lorre.

If a human is for example a homophobe... or essentially intolerant of others... do you really think that having growing up in an environment that fosters those kinds of behaviors has 'nothing' to do with it?
Even though we have direct evidence (arrived at through the scientific method) that supports that?
Furthermore, how about those who grew more tolerant after being educated?
That's some poor 'human nature' if it basically crumbles and changes in the face of relevant education.
That's simple in-group/out-group familiarity. Hunter-gatherer's go through the same process in learning to trust adopted or captured members of other tribes. It's also a fluid system that can run the other way, such as during a civil war when people who used to be "one of us" become "one of them." It's not retraining human behavior, is taking easy advantage of its immutable existence.

Homer's Illiad is full of in-group/out-group dynamics, along with rage, jealousy, greed, pride, arrogance, vengeance, courage, shame, and fear. Thousands of years later, and thousands of miles away, we still read it because, like Shakespeare, he described innate human behaviors and emotions in a way that an audience of humans, all humans, can well understand.

If it weren't for our innate behavioral and emotional wiring, we'd react to something as old and alien as the Iliad with perplexed astonishment, like a person trying out a computer operating system with a horrible user-interface built on a completely different an unfamiliar paradigm, where we play with it like a Rubik's cube until we give up in frustration. Our reaction to the Iliad would be "WTF? That doesn't make sense. Why doesn't Achilles play jumping jacks with Hector? Why isn't Agamemnon talking about casual Fridays? Why doesn't Paris do a stand-up comedy routine while juggling sea turtles?

If you were taken at birth and left with the Amazon head hunters... you would grow up to adopt the values, notions and behavior of that culture and would also speak their language - especially if you were never exposed to anything else.
And you'd greedily hunt, then share the game with your hunting party, try to catch the eye of the chief's daughter, fly into a rage when someone steals your favorite clay pot and hunt them down and beat them to a pulp. Then you'd get married, have kids, and teach them how to hunt, and someday be in charge of trade negotiations with the neighboring tribe. If you wrote a good poem about your life with the tribe, the translation might hit the New York Times' bestseller list.

You think an Eskimo dreams of a mansion, fast cars or similar notions?

An Eskimo has 0 knowledge of what any of those things are - they don't even have a frame of reference.
Yes they do. Sarah Palin's husband is an eskimo, as are NHL hockey players, singers, painters, sculptors, and a film producer who was at Cannes. Some of them hop on a snowmobile and go bear hunting with a Remington, and some prefer a pickup truck. Many of them work in the oil and gas industry.

If the cultural differences were so vast, I don't think the US would've had a Kaw Senate Majority Leader and US Vice President who grew up on a reservation, spoke Kansan as his first language, French as his second language, and English as his third. I don't think we'd have had Indians and immigrants serving as military commanders from the Revolutionary war on.

Just as an example, in WW-II a Cherokee who'd grown up in a log cabin commanded many of our aircraft carrier task forces, including the one that attacked Okinawa and sank the Yamato, and later commanded the US 7th fleet, with 225 warships and 70,000 men. He retired a full admiral, and became chief of the Cherokee and Sioux nations.

Cherokee values and Navy values must not be all that different or the admiral and his captains wouldn't have understood each other's thinking, or the Cherokee and Sioux couldn't have figured out what the chief was talking about when he told them about his fast carrier air-support strategies for ground troops in Korea, which the Army called "Cherokee strikes."

Getting back to economic behaviors, why do lions defend a kill if they're not greedy? Why won't they share with hyenas and vultures? Why do human hunters do the same, having a precedence of who they'll share with, never sharing with lions and vultures, and trading food for status in the tribe?

Why, under Soviet communism where free-trade, market capitalism, and material want weren't supposed to exist, did a worker have to haggle with a coworker over the black-market price of a bottle of vodka? They hadn't had a market ecnomy in generations, yet it stubbornly refused to die, even among people who'd never grown up with it and were taught from childhood that it was inefficient, evil, and wrong.
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