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Old September 3 2012, 12:04 AM   #47
Location: Kentucky
Re: Why isn't Internet free for everyone yet?

Deks wrote: View Post

Blaming bad behaviour on 'human nature' (or even genetics) is a tiresome cop-out that has been repeated over and over again by those who keep perpetuating the ridiculous myth in question (yourself included).
So why do people form lynch mobs or riot? I can't recall a single class in grade-school or college called "rioting and looting 101". Police are increasingly trained to quickly suppress excessive behavior after college sporting events, to prevent riots and vandalism, yet none of the educated, upper-class, rioting students has ever even been in a riot before. How did they all learn a new and spontaneous group behavior, and how did they all simultaneously learn it in 30 minutes when they were drunk?

How come almost all college bars have bouncers when none of our schools teach fist fighting, brawling, or bottle bashing?

How come we routinely drive cars that could kill us, park and walk across street (traveled by cars that could kill us), to sit in a bar filled with smoke that could kill us, next to an outlet that could kill us, which power a neon sign that could kill us (10 to 15 kilovolts) , and do all of this without the slightest fear or anxiety, yet freak the f**k out when we see a spider or a snake? The answer is that our innate brains know the spider or snake is a potentially lethal threat, but doesn't have a clue about cars or electricity because those didn't exist when we finished evolving our fear instincts. In study after study, we can be taught to fear new things (with difficulty), but come to fear traditional threats with ease.

Other emotions, like anger and disgust, have similar cues (transgression for anger and toxins or "unclean" behavior for disgust), and those emotions in turn are wired to produce responses appropriate to our distant past. When you're suddenly angered by transgression, your first impulse is to punch the guy in the face, not sue him. When you see or smell something disgusting, your first impulse is to get away from it and vomit, not turn a control valve. That's because we didn't evolve with lawyers and chemical process equipment. When we drink, we're even more likely to rely on our innate responses, which is why most police calls involve people who'd been drinking (and either threatened somebody, punched somebody, smashed something, or stole something stupid).

Oh and, in case you hadn't noticed, humans who received relevant general education (I'm not talking about industrialized academic education) are not prone to competitive behavior, selfishness, or greed.
I'm sure all those Ivy League educated people on Wall Street will be delighted to hear they're not greedy.

Academics, even clerics, are some of the most competitive, selfish people out there (if nothing else, look at their salaries and their competition for better postings, tenure, etc). Even Soviet academics were intensely competitive and hoarded every perk they could get.

How does your 'human nature' explain notions of people volunteering their free time, ideas an energy to help others expecting nothing in return and getting nothing in return?
Because it's human nature. Earlier I talked about how we evolved to help members of our hunting party and tribe because that in turn benefits us. Instead of wiring us with a very complex understanding of how this benefits us, evolution just took a short cut so helping others makes us happy. Also keep in mind that what we're wired to do for a small group, helping and sharing, does not work at all well with large groups where free-rider problems occur, along with insurmountable difficulties to to keep personal mental notes of who owes what favors to whom.

How do you explain the premise that when I repair people's computers and assist them in certain educational aspects (and generally help other people because I like doing it) I don't ask for compensation of any kind (in fact I refuse it outright)?
And if you opened a website where thousands of strangers sent you their computers so you'd fix them for free, some of them sending your computers that they were charging their own customers to repair, you'd quickly stop, realizing you were being exploited by people who were not part of your social circle and network of friends (your tribe). If you opened a business where a constant stream of strangers walked in with computer problems, you'd quickly start charging them. As I said, many ideas that work well in tribe sized groups break down when the group gets large.

If all humans were greedy and selfish by 'nature' (followed something that couldn't be changed), then I certainly wouldn't be doing anything of the above without asking for anything in return, nor would millions around the globe volunteer for nothing.
We are all greedy and selfish by nature, and we are also all compassionate and sharing by nature. These are emotions that are triggered by particular thoughts and circumstances, and in turn these emotions trigger particular responses (helping, sympathizing, listening, etc).

As I said... if human behavior couldn't be changed, we'd still be living in caves.
"Human nature" is quite simple, a fallacy.
We still live in caves, but now we build them with wood, brick, and stone, because the supply of caves was extremely limited and because caves actually suck. I'm a caver. They are drafty, often wet, often cold, always dark, and not expandable. But they do get you out of the rain.

They also tend to be quite small, and thus aren't very well adapted to whole tribes. However a cave is great protection for small groups (singles, family sized, and sometimes extended family sized) where the group doesn't have enough members to maintain an adequate watch and defense against predators.

There are some interesting dynamics at work with camping. I'm one of the few people I know who will just lay down in the woods alone and go to sleep (whisky helps). Almost everyone wants to sleep in a tent, even if there's not the slightest threat of rain, and even though rain doesn't actually hurt you if you're dressed for it. On most expeditions the tent is just dead weight, but very few hikers will chuck the tent in their quest to shave every last ounce from their packs.

Many people won't sleep in the open (just lay down and close your eyes) unless they're part of a defensible group, because when we were evolving it would put them at risk of attack. The tent is a make-shift cave, and offers the illusion of security with walls and a roof, even though almost any dangerous animal can tear right through it. A good tree can offer almost as good a protection against rain and wind, but a tree doesn't seem like a cave. So we have a thriving tent industry.

But even with the illusory protection of tents, most campers still cluster together in campgrounds or prepared camping areas where other campers will be setting up, and even armies group their tents together for mutual protection. But people in an RV will stop and sleep just about anywhere, as will truckers, because they're traveling with a cave, and nobody feels dangerously exposed in a hotel room, even if they're the only guest in the whole place.

With modern, synthetic materials like Goretex and hollow-fill, boots and helmets, flashlights and cook stoves, and a nice Browning pistol, we don't actually need shelter. But we evolved knowing we need shelter and feeling quite naked and exposed without it, as if some cat or other beast, or an enemy scout, is sure to tear us apart in our sleep. We can't shake that feeling because it's hard-wired into us, and so we'll always build shelters.

Without them, we'll always sleep in groups, usually around a fire like they did in the old West. By day, hunters will split up and wander the woods alone, but they always return to the campsite and their friends to sleep - even though it involves extra walking and is an inefficient way for modern people to conduct a hunt, even in areas where the most dangerous animal is a rabbit.

In our minds, the dark night is still prowled by big cats, jackals, bears, spiders, snakes, and enemy raiding parties, and there's not much we can do about that except make our tents lighter and easier to pack. Education doesn't work.
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