Human Nature not a constant ?

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ravingdave
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Post by ravingdave »

Nanos wrote:I can't remember if I've told this story or not here, but once when I was working in a government department my manager was telling me that we was due to spend a morning sorting a list, by hand!

Yes, thats right, printing out a list, cutting every line into strip of paper, and then hand sorting thousands!

I gently pointed out that sticking the list into a spreadsheet and clicking sort would perform the same task in a fraction of the time...

At which point I was granted the title of IT liaison officer, so I could help point them to ways to use computers to help reduce their workload.

(At one point, they gave me 3 months of data entry work to do, upon which I came back half an hour later after finding out the data was already in the system in another place, and all I had to do was write a short script to copy it to the right place.)

It was really quite stunning how little IT training they do in government departments..

You do not have to convince me about the incompetence of government to perform the least of tasks. I've seen so much of it that I consider it remarkable when they DON'T demonstrate incompetence.


David

Nanos
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Post by Nanos »

But your be glad to hear they met all their government targets :-)


One of my favourites was the delivery time target, something like 1 hour, but thats only from ordering to delivery to the warehouse, the time you wait in the queue at the warehouse to pick up the item you ordered could well be another hour if there is only one member of staff on the counter..

But that wasn't included in the offical figures, so didn't matter at all..

Customers could complain, but such forms always ended up shredded by lower management, so upper management rarely got to hear the truth..

Oh the fun I had passing information to the top :-)

They really should do more government comedy shows, isn't it about time South Park took a turn..

ravingdave
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Post by ravingdave »

Is Racism a naturally occuring human instinct ?


In a word... Yes. Although the instinct isn't specific to race, per se, it's more along the lines of hatred of people who are different. Since the most obvious differences between people nowadays are racial ones, the instinct to hate people who are different manifests itself as racism.

If there were humanoids of a different species ,perhaps with two extra arms, or some such, they would be hated too. We would just call it Specism.

It's completely genetic. Babies grow up looking at people who are genetically similar to themselves, and therefore identify with people who resemble them. (loading the drivers) As distinctly different looking people are obviously not part of the immediate family, or the larger "kith" then they represent a possible threat and therefore someone to be feared.

It is perfectly reasonable for humans to instinctively hate people who are different from themselves because the vast bulk of human evolution created circumstances in which other "tribes" represented a threat of extinction. The naive people were likely wiped out and only the suspicious and untrusting one's survived.


Nowadays we teach children better than to judge people on account of their race. We call this "Morality."




David

MirariNefas
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Post by MirariNefas »

ravingdave wrote: It's completely genetic. Babies grow up looking at people who are genetically similar to themselves, and therefore identify with people who resemble them.
What you just described is completely environmental. And having been raised in a highly multicultural, multiracial area, I'd like to point out that none of the ones I was raised next to arouse even the slightest hint of xenophobia in me.

Countries with a high degree of ethnic homogeneity are kinda scary.

ravingdave
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Post by ravingdave »

MirariNefas wrote:
ravingdave wrote: It's completely genetic. Babies grow up looking at people who are genetically similar to themselves, and therefore identify with people who resemble them.
What you just described is completely environmental. And having been raised in a highly multicultural, multiracial area, I'd like to point out that none of the ones I was raised next to arouse even the slightest hint of xenophobia in me.

Well, you are absolutely right, this aspect is environmental. The instinct part is to look around you and assume what you are faced with is "normal", and accept it as such. Tribalism is inherent in people, even if it's a tribe made up of people who look different. It is a testiment to civilizing influences that has made multicultural\Multiracial areas possible.

The modern conditions of differing ethnic groups living in close proximity to each other is not the norm for most of human history. The primary causes of disputes between peoples have been food or the ability to create it. (Land\Water) Likewise genetic competition. (Offspring\Women)

Address all of the serious concerns people have, and people are a lot more willing to like each other. There is also the fact that with a plentiful enough supply of food and comfort, the lion will lie down with the lamb, but what happens when times get bad ?

Even today there are tendencies for people to settle among people who are similar to themselves. Studies have shown that college students tend to congregate with people who are similar to themselves.

Even for yourself, were you to face fear from people, (such as a jury) would you prefer them to be similar to you, or different ?

MirariNefas wrote: Countries with a high degree of ethnic homogeneity are kinda scary.

Yeah, unless you're in THEIR group ! Thats the whole point. They are naturally and instinctively scary because you aren't sure they will treat you fairly should they ever get in a position of power over you. Like that jury thing.




David

MirariNefas
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Post by MirariNefas »

Even for yourself, were you to face fear from people, (such as a jury) would you prefer them to be similar to you, or different ?
Well, if they were all white, it would make me uncomfortable. I'd feel that any system that selects monoethnic groups can't possibly represent my views.

And would I want them all to be from California, or all have the same level of education as I? Not really. I'd hope they have better education, frankly. I'm barely out of undergrad. And I don't care if they're from the East Coast or Canada or England, but I would draw the line at a place with fundamentally, radically different ethical and political values, like, say, Iran.
Yeah, unless you're in THEIR group ! Thats the whole point. They are naturally and instinctively scary because you aren't sure they will treat you fairly should they ever get in a position of power over you.
Agreed, but I think the point isn't just that they're scary because they look different, but they're scary because of what that means. I think that my upbringing has allowed me to base my sense of a tribe more on ethical philosophy than on appearances or customs. I assert that this is superior and a good goal for the whole world, because of course my tribe knows best.

But those people from those darn ethnically homogenous tribes... their values are just too different from my tribal values of tolerance and multiculturalism.

Nanos
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Post by Nanos »

> place with fundamentally, radically different ethical and political
> values, like, say, Iran.

I'm curious to know how you know what its like in Iran ?

To me, having spoken to people from all over the world, people from Iran strike me as just like the same people from around the corner, or any other place on earth.


> Well, if they were all white, it would make me uncomfortable

Probably me too, even though I am white, I have to say that living in a non-white neighbourhood is actually better than living in a white neighbourhood. (As such, it interests me to discover the reasons behind this, is it due to a higher rate of religion, more cooperative nature of folk, or what ?)

MirariNefas
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Post by MirariNefas »

Nanos wrote: I'm curious to know how you know what its like in Iran ?
Knew a few people from Iran, one was a long time friend. He told me they murder gay people, and nobody cares. I heard stories from him and the few others. I see stories on the news. I see the stunts their president pulls to maintain popular support.

The people I've known from Iran were great people and could be on my jury, or most of them anyway. But those are the ones who left Iran, and I think of them as Americans. I wouldn't be comfortable with just any Iranian citizen, and there are many other countries that I have similar negative attitudes about.

Many of these countries, I should say, I have less knowledge of as well, as I think this is the point you were trying to make. Yes, fear of the unknown and offhand judgments play a role. Trust requires information. At the same time, if you told me I could choose to have a juror from a country that I haven't heard of (searches for a moment) like Lesotho, my first impulse wouldn't be to recoil in horror and call them unfit barbarians. If I had no more effective way of learning about the juror, I'd go look up Lesotho... (searches for another moment)... and then I'd say no.
Nanos wrote: > Well, if they were all white, it would make me uncomfortable

Probably me too, even though I am white, I have to say that living in a non-white neighbourhood is actually better than living in a white neighbourhood. (As such, it interests me to discover the reasons behind this, is it due to a higher rate of religion, more cooperative nature of folk, or what ?)
You and I no doubt have very different experiences and perspectives. What you describe does not sound particularly appealing to me. Which ethnicities are you living around, if I may ask?

Betruger
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Post by Betruger »

Nanos wrote:> place with fundamentally, radically different ethical and political
> values, like, say, Iran.

I'm curious to know how you know what its like in Iran ?

To me, having spoken to people from all over the world, people from Iran strike me as just like the same people from around the corner, or any other place on earth.


> Well, if they were all white, it would make me uncomfortable

Probably me too, even though I am white, I have to say that living in a non-white neighbourhood is actually better than living in a white neighbourhood. (As such, it interests me to discover the reasons behind this, is it due to a higher rate of religion, more cooperative nature of folk, or what ?)
In a hurry, dont mean to come off as condescending with the bullet format:

1) Ive grew up with people from maghreb. Many of them were and probably are (were they still around) like brothers to me.. I knew one that was from Iran, one of my best friends. He was normal, like you say. Except for a few times where he'd get excited about them Iranians being enough to take up arms and take over Toronto (where I lived at the time). He argued that it was possible, kalashnikovs and gerilla tactics, etc. Very weird to hear and see that out of the blue, at the time. And he was like you said, a 'normal' guy.

2) I've lived in a lot of places. Mixed and not. Neither seemed to guarantee xenophobia or xenophilia. It was more education and culture that decided this. I am living in quebec since this september, and I was pretty surprised and now disappointed to see that for all their vaunted culture, they are snobbish and dont know much at all about lots of the stuff they preach on about. They brag about being open, and welcome lots of foreigners, but dont actualy know much more than that. Token multi-culturalism.

Nanos
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Post by Nanos »

> He told me they murder gay people, and nobody cares

One could easily describe the UK there.


> dont mean to come off as condescending

Thats fine, doesn't strike me that way, but then I'm thick skinned and often have trouble noticing things at the best of times :-)


> It was more education and culture that decided this

That seems to be my impression as well.


> Except for a few times where he'd get excited about them
> Iranians being enough to take up arms and take over Toronto

I hear the same thing from various other groups, be they white US folk, people from Ireland, except maybe less so in the UK on the whole as we are too apathetic to do anything nowdays but sit in front of TV and get fat..

If anything, its more my American friends who are constantly going on about needing to invade some country to free its people by dropping bombs on them first, that worries me...


> I see the stunts their president pulls to maintain popular support

That seems quite a universal thing that all presidents do, don't ours in the west go on about how they are doing gods work..

I find them all equally as scary..


> But those are the ones who left

That makes me think of the effect that if you have a bunch of people, that once the lets say nice ones leave, your left with a bigger and bigger ratio of less nice ones over time. (It might explain why my own country is going down hill because everyone nice is leaving it!)


> fear of the unknown and offhand judgments play a role

Indeed, the more I learn about all other countries, the more on the whole I find them more similar, rather than less.

But the more isolated they are by the international community, the less it seems to be good for everyone. (Also a lack of a voice does seem to harm the situation, it seems much better when people talk and share their thoughts, feelings, wants and dislikes, even if we all disagree at first, things do soften a little over time on both sides.)


> Which ethnicities are you living around, if I may ask?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southall

Gives a nice long list!

tomclarke
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Post by tomclarke »

Neither seemed to guarantee xenophobia or xenophilia. It was more education and culture that decided this.
Even education & culture do not guarantee this.

Take 1930s Germany where the National Socialists, and their policy of anti-Semitism, were very largely popular. OK, what I would call good education would prevent support for such a party, and there were educated Germans who hated the Nazi's. But also many apparently normal eduacted people who supported them. (Speer!).

The idea that you one's own tribe are better than others is deeply rooted in human society, its logical absurdity does not prevent this!

Best wishes, Tom

Betruger
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Post by Betruger »

Not guarantee, nope. But it had a larger effect, as far as I've seen.

Nanos
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Post by Nanos »

Education alone I don't think will do it, if you have inequality between groups where one is gaining far more than the other for no good reason.

I see the same thing happening here where new bands of immigrants are hated by existing groups because the newcomers are getting special privilages, like housing for example.

Though in the UK, we have a long history of hating people even if they have a good reason, usually on the basis that those in a better position got there by exploiting with the aid of modern slavery those beneath them. (Which might explain why music/film stars are more popular than say a wealthy businessman as they are perceived as to have less exploited people to get their money, eg. people gave more freely to buy a music track or see a film than working 12 hour shifts..)

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

Nanos wrote:Education alone I don't think will do it, if you have inequality between groups where one is gaining far more than the other for no good reason.

I see the same thing happening here where new bands of immigrants are hated by existing groups because the newcomers are getting special privilages, like housing for example.

Though in the UK, we have a long history of hating people even if they have a good reason, usually on the basis that those in a better position got there by exploiting with the aid of modern slavery those beneath them. (Which might explain why music/film stars are more popular than say a wealthy businessman as they are perceived as to have less exploited people to get their money, eg. people gave more freely to buy a music track or see a film than working 12 hour shifts..)
The British and Europeans have always been more into the class struggle than the Americans. The left overs of feudalism. And that idiot Marx. The folks most into the class struggle in America are descendants of slaves.

Those that wanted to get ahead on their own came to America. So we have a different culture. Mostly.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

MirariNefas
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Post by MirariNefas »

Nanos wrote:> He told me they murder gay people, and nobody cares

One could easily describe the UK there.
> I see the stunts their president pulls to maintain popular support

That seems quite a universal thing that all presidents do, don't ours in the west go on about how they are doing gods work..

I find them all equally as scary..
You seem to think that all evils are equal. You definately wouldn't be welcome on my jury.

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