Human Nature not a constant ?

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ravingdave
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Human Nature not a constant ?

Post by ravingdave »

The bootstrap program for all creatures now existing is the product of 4.5 billion years of evolution. The firmware in human babies is fairly consistent, ( consisting of whatever "I" want is GOOD!!!) but the operating system is dependent upon the people who load it during the development period while the infant brain wires itself into adulthood.

The normal result is that the infant evolves (in software) from "whatever is good for me is good !" to "whatever is good for my kith and Kin is good, but whatever is good for ME is best !! "

Make no mistake, the firmware will often override the software. :)


In any case, the end product is highly dependent on nature, and somewhat dependent on nurture. This results in a wide degree of variation with a statistical "norm" in the form of a bell curve.

The spectrum of humanity's individuals are roughly predictable in broad sorts of ways. They are motivated by urges, which many act upon without constraint, and which many more manage to self control for the benifit of themselves and their community.

Civilization is the suppression of destructive natural urges for the benefit of the bigger tribe.





This is one aspect of my world view.


David

Mike Holmes
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Post by Mike Holmes »

Seems mostly reasonable. Instead of "destruction" of the urges, however, I think canalization is often the key. Pointing out to an individual how, in fact, acting in the best interests of all is acting in their own best interest.

And, to that extent, I think that humans are actually naturally altruistic in at least slight ways. Mothers and their infants come to mind. If they were purely about what's best for me, we'd die in a generation. You don't develop completely incapable immature versions of a species without some altruism built into the model.

As the "most altruistic" species, I think this is what defines humans. Intelligence, to me, is the ability to understand your environment to the point where you see the benefits of altruism. Which, it turns out in the analysis of Game Theory, is often the superior strategy. Evolutionarily speaking. Not to be tautological, but, uh, here we are in charge of the planet (if any species can be said to be so).

Mike

(Edited to add this link to a study on altruism in primates: http://www.livescience.com/animals/0706 ... ruism.html)

JaMorg
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Re: Human Nature not a constant ?

Post by JaMorg »

ravingdave wrote:The bootstrap program for all creatures now existing is the product of 4.5 billion years of evolution. The firmware in human babies is fairly consistent, ( consisting of whatever "I" want is GOOD!!!) but the operating system is dependent upon the people who load it during the development period while the infant brain wires itself into adulthood.

The normal result is that the infant evolves (in software) from "whatever is good for me is good !" to "whatever is good for my kith and Kin is good, but whatever is good for ME is best !! "

Make no mistake, the firmware will often override the software. :)


In any case, the end product is highly dependent on nature, and somewhat dependent on nurture. This results in a wide degree of variation with a statistical "norm" in the form of a bell curve.

The spectrum of humanity's individuals are roughly predictable in broad sorts of ways. They are motivated by urges, which many act upon without constraint, and which many more manage to self control for the benifit of themselves and their community.

Civilization is the suppression of destructive natural urges for the benefit of the bigger tribe.





This is one aspect of my world view.


David
Hello! Lurked for quite awhile and this is actually a subject I have found fascinating for quite awhile (former Biochem major/Genetics)

You are fundamentally correct barring certain genetic/developmental defects (sociopathy, malignant narcissism etc)

This hardwiring and evolutionary programming is however why certain governmental and societal forms such as communism or socialism can never work unless all power is ceded from humans to another entity for several generations and that entity raises humans from birth at the optimum method.

My favorite nutshell saying in the last few months has been Capitalism and a Republic form of Government are the only systems currently known that can survive with the fewest number of honest people in charge. Socialism and Communism as forms of Government and Society require that EVERYONE be honest because the unscrupulous few can easily take power and crash the system. Capitalism, however, can survive and function with nearly everybody corrupt and dishonest as long as there are a few honest people in power to referee the system.

Nanos
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Post by Nanos »

> Pointing out to an individual how, in fact, acting in the best interests
> of all is acting in their own best interest.

Except, whilst I would agree with that, and try to promote the idea myself. I find that the vast majority of people always try to scam the system and look for ways to gain something at someone elses expense.


> Capitalism, however, can survive and function

It might be best to wait a few hundred years before saying it works :-)


When was Socialism and Communism invented/discovered ?

I'm just wondering, if our view of the choices is limited to the forms of management we have found out so far, might there yet be new forms we haven't thought up yet ?


(Its just the, a few at the top with everyone else being slaves at the bottom in often less than pleasent living conditions, doesn't strike me as yet the utopian model you might expect a civilisation to be able to achieve and that we might still have some distance to go before we reach a good management system..)

Mike Holmes
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Post by Mike Holmes »

JaMorg, the way I've heard it put more simply is that Capitalism is the worst system except for all of the other systems.

It's interesting that the Indian Vedas say that the first virtue is prosperity because a poor man can afford no other virtues. The debate is largely over the best way for people to become able to afford their virtues.

Mike

Nanos
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Post by Nanos »

Whilst I would agree that capitalism works in making progress, because it uses some of the basic human nature parts such as greed, which is a powerful motivating force.

I'm also reminded of cooperatives, which also work, but which can be run in a way that people get an equal share of the profits, so no one is really anyone elses slave.

It interests me hugely to see how you might run a whole country based on some kind of cooperative..

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

Nanos wrote:Whilst I would agree that capitalism works in making progress, because it uses some of the basic human nature parts such as greed, which is a powerful motivating force.

I'm also reminded of cooperatives, which also work, but which can be run in a way that people get an equal share of the profits, so no one is really anyone elses slave.

It interests me hugely to see how you might run a whole country based on some kind of cooperative..
You run into the problem Hayek discussed in "The Road To Serfdom". Information/knowledge/expertise is not evenly distributed. And there is also the problem of incentive.

"No one is any one else's slave" is a really good sounding idea until you need to go looking for a brain surgeon.

Do we really want the same incentive for a grocery clerk as we want for an aircraft designer?

Capitalism really has an image problem. Socialism has better slogans - market economies produce better results. Share the wealth vs greed.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

ravingdave
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Post by ravingdave »

Mike Holmes wrote:Seems mostly reasonable. Instead of "destruction" of the urges, however, I think canalization is often the key. Pointing out to an individual how, in fact, acting in the best interests of all is acting in their own best interest. )

Absolutely! However you can't do that until the drivers for that application have been loaded. Some level of intelligent understanding of the cost vs benefit equation are required for this to work.
Mike Holmes wrote: And, to that extent, I think that humans are actually naturally altruistic in at least slight ways. Mothers and their infants come to mind. If they were purely about what's best for me, we'd die in a generation. You don't develop completely incapable immature versions of a species without some altruism built into the model.

As the "most altruistic" species, I think this is what defines humans. Intelligence, to me, is the ability to understand your environment to the point where you see the benefits of altruism. Which, it turns out in the analysis of Game Theory, is often the superior strategy. Evolutionarily speaking. Not to be tautological, but, uh, here we are in charge of the planet (if any species can be said to be so).

Mike

(Edited to add this link to a study on altruism in primates: http://www.livescience.com/animals/0706 ... ruism.html)


As altruism is genetically favored in terms of supporting other organisms with a closely related genetic pattern, it is instinctive to protect and support closely related individuals at one level of thinking provided they are not in direct competition to you. When it comes to competition between an individual and it's close relatives, the individual favors the individual, but when it comes to competition between other outside forces and the group, the individual supports the group as a means of supporting themselves.

High level altruism is the intellectual application of the (us) concept to other people.

The love of a mother for it's offspring is a particularly powerful altruistic instinct. As the offspring is the mother's only hope for extending her genetic pattern into the future, individuals that evolve out the motherly instinct will likely go extinct. (at least their genetic mutation will)


David

ravingdave
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Re: Human Nature not a constant ?

Post by ravingdave »

JaMorg wrote:
ravingdave wrote:The bootstrap program for all creatures now existing is the product of 4.5 billion years of evolution. The firmware in human babies is fairly consistent, ( consisting of whatever "I" want is GOOD!!!) but the operating system is dependent upon the people who load it during the development period while the infant brain wires itself into adulthood.

The normal result is that the infant evolves (in software) from "whatever is good for me is good !" to "whatever is good for my kith and Kin is good, but whatever is good for ME is best !! "

Make no mistake, the firmware will often override the software. :)


In any case, the end product is highly dependent on nature, and somewhat dependent on nurture. This results in a wide degree of variation with a statistical "norm" in the form of a bell curve.

The spectrum of humanity's individuals are roughly predictable in broad sorts of ways. They are motivated by urges, which many act upon without constraint, and which many more manage to self control for the benifit of themselves and their community.

Civilization is the suppression of destructive natural urges for the benefit of the bigger tribe.





This is one aspect of my world view.


David
Hello! Lurked for quite awhile and this is actually a subject I have found fascinating for quite awhile (former Biochem major/Genetics)

You are fundamentally correct barring certain genetic/developmental defects (sociopathy, malignant narcissism etc)

This hardwiring and evolutionary programming is however why certain governmental and societal forms such as communism or socialism can never work unless all power is ceded from humans to another entity for several generations and that entity raises humans from birth at the optimum method.

My favorite nutshell saying in the last few months has been Capitalism and a Republic form of Government are the only systems currently known that can survive with the fewest number of honest people in charge. Socialism and Communism as forms of Government and Society require that EVERYONE be honest because the unscrupulous few can easily take power and crash the system. Capitalism, however, can survive and function with nearly everybody corrupt and dishonest as long as there are a few honest people in power to referee the system.

You make exactly the point I try to make constantly. Communism is completely against human nature, and requires human beings with characteristics of extraordinary altruism, which may be the case for some small percentage of the species, but Normal (bell curve) people are basically self centered, and simply can't comprehend why they should work for someone with more tenuous genetic connection to themselves.

Communism\Socialism works within a family unit, but in larger groups there simply isn't a strong enough connection with others for people to be willing to sacrifice on their behalf. They revert to their natural self centered mode.

The reason communism is so compelling for some is because it represents something they can understand from having grown up in a family. They simply never stop to think about why it works in a family or tight community, but not on a larger scale.

It's quite simply against human nature, i.e. "Unnatural."


David

ravingdave
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Post by ravingdave »

Nanos wrote:> Pointing out to an individual how, in fact, acting in the best interests
> of all is acting in their own best interest.

Except, whilst I would agree with that, and try to promote the idea myself. I find that the vast majority of people always try to scam the system and look for ways to gain something at someone elses expense.
Plan for people to behave as if they are "Evil" and you will seldom be disappointed when they don't live down to the standard.
Nanos wrote: > Capitalism, however, can survive and function

It might be best to wait a few hundred years before saying it works :-)


When was Socialism and Communism invented/discovered ?


"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" is basically how families have worked as far back in history as we can see. In this regard, it is quite old. However, as a political movement it goes back to at least the French revolution.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité.
Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood.

Otherwise, it's most modern incarnation came from Marx and Engles.


Nanos wrote:>
I'm just wondering, if our view of the choices is limited to the forms of management we have found out so far, might there yet be new forms we haven't thought up yet ?


(Its just the, a few at the top with everyone else being slaves at the bottom in often less than pleasent living conditions, doesn't strike me as yet the utopian model you might expect a civilisation to be able to achieve and that we might still have some distance to go before we reach a good management system..)

The memistor was discovered because someone realized that there was a device missing from electronic theory forthe traditional capacitance, inductance and resistance components.

Perhaps there is a form of government that is a radicall departure from everything that has happened before, but I doubt it.

A form of Monarchy is the most natural form of government. All the others are late commers.


David

Nanos
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Post by Nanos »

Perhaps Communism might work in the future when most of the work is done by machines and people don't really need any incentives.


I do wonder if a brain surgeon cooperative could exist in reality..


An issue I do have with current 'incentives' for people is its not one which necessarly ends up with a good job being done, but instead corners are cut to fit within budget requirements, products are rushed out before much in the way of testing.

When I listen to friends of mine who do maintence on planes, it explains why they never fly themselves, as management operate on the cost principle rather than the safety one..


The family management style reminds me of gang culture, especially family run gangs which can end up controlling the black market in whole cities.

So I do wonder just how could you take it, run a whole country like that maybe.. ?

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

Nanos wrote:Perhaps Communism might work in the future when most of the work is done by machines and people don't really need any incentives.

I do wonder if a brain surgeon cooperative could exist in reality..

An issue I do have with current 'incentives' for people is its not one which necessarly ends up with a good job being done, but instead corners are cut to fit within budget requirements, products are rushed out before much in the way of testing.

When I listen to friends of mine who do maintence on planes, it explains why they never fly themselves, as management operate on the cost principle rather than the safety one..

The family management style reminds me of gang culture, especially family run gangs which can end up controlling the black market in whole cities.

So I do wonder just how could you take it, run a whole country like that maybe.. ?
An airplane system that was 99.99999999999% safe would be unaffordable. You want to be totally safe - don't get out of bed in the morning. Uh, wait. That has costs and risks too.

As to management of maintenance - no one and I mean no one in the industry wants an airplane to fall out of the sky. The paper work is horrendous. The FAA pokes into everything you have ever done, and you lose your job. Of course if the airline you work for goes broke you lose your job. So you make judgment calls.

Aircraft design is at minimum dual redundant. Some times it runs to redundancy factors of 7X for critical parts of the electrical systems. You have 2, 3, or 4 engines. An APU. Batteries. And and an emergency Ram Air Turbine (RAT). All designed to see that the aircraft can land even if a number of systems fail.

And in general you are in more danger from your auto ride to the airport than you are in danger from your flight.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

tomclarke
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Post by tomclarke »

Humans evaluate risk in a weird way.

We don't allow aircraft to fly which are slightly flakey - and get horrified by the very occasional accidents.

On the other hand we happily let use of asbestos and low-level background exposure store up future mesothelioma cases (cases rising in UK in spite of strict regulations). We even more happily encourage people to eat to excess, take no exercise, and die of an unhealthy lifestyle.

Regulation is a problem because the regulators often are no wiser than the regulated, and anyway it is (nearly always) centralised and inflexible. But nature red in tooth and claw does not necessarily make for a society any of us would want to live in. Cars, computers, internet, cheap food: all great advances of themselves, mean that Westen children now are much less healthy than they were 30 years ago. The changes are much too fast to be accomodated by evolution, or even societal adaptation.

Sometimes I feel like being a Luddite - contrary to the overall spirit of these forums!

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

tomclarke wrote:Sometimes I feel like being a Luddite - contrary to the overall spirit of these forums!
If you want to burn your own auto. Disconnect your phone lines. And destroy your own computer have at it.

There is nothing stopping you.

There are entirely too many fear mongers on the planet trying to stampede the herd.

I remember the last major world political figure who said that there was not enough productive land in the world. He met an untimely (well maybe timely is a better description) end at his own hand.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

Nanos
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Post by Nanos »

I remember my dad pointing out to me the dangers of crossing the road and assuming all cars had working brakes, when he reckoned from his experience of working in a garage fixing them that 1 in 10 cars on the road didn't have functional brakes.

I've heard and seen oddles of health and safety issues, enough to make me pretty sure that a large section of management don't care two hoots about safety, to them its just a job and they have targets to meet.

Sure some workers are lazy and don't do a good job, but having worked as a worker and as management, I'd say the finger of blames points more towards management than the workforce.

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