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Even the Most 'Committed' Fans Distance Themselves from Their Teams after a Loss
Super Bowl season illustrates a deep part of who we are, not just as sports fans.
We're CORFing all over New England. And they are BIRGing big time in Denver. We are Cutting Off the Reflected Failure of the New England Patriots, and they are Basking in the Reflected Glory of the Broncos in Denver, (and the rest of We Hate The Patriots Nation, a vast fan base that probably exists because the Patriots win so much.) CORFing and BIRGing. Using the third person pronoun they to disassociate from the failures of the tribe with which you identify, or the first person we to associate with your tribe’s success. It’s a remarkable demonstration of how deeply dependent we are on our social and religious and political and geographical and cultural groups — our tribes — for our personal sense of safety and well-being.
Patriots fans are saying things like “They couldn’t stop Denver’s pass rush.” and “The Patriots lost this game when they lost home field advantage and had to play in the thin air of Mile High Stadium.” Them. Third person. Those other guys. Not us. Not me. Not MY tribe. Of course these are the same fans (and I was one of them) who after last year’s Super Bowl victory all proudly declared “WE won.” (Sorry friends and neighbors. All we did was watch.)
Denver fans are saying the same things, just in the first person; “WE didn’t give Brady any time.” and “WE have the best defense in the NFL.” and “Mile High Stadium gives US a great home field advantage.” US. WE. OUR tribe. ME!”
The only things that vary in these similar analyses are the pronouns. And that reveals something way deeper than who knows how much about football. We have evolved as social animals to depend — deeply — on the groups to which we belong for our safety and survival. When our group is doing well, we feel better. We feel safer, more empowered. Whether it’s our political party, our nation or local community, our gender, our professional group... whenever any of the various tribes with which we associate are doing better, we feel better, stronger, more in control — and safer.
And when our tribe isn’t doing as well — when our political party is losing, when the cultural values we share with our friends are being overridden by the values of other groups, when our local or national team loses — we feel worse. We feel less powerful, less in control, less safe, because the group is supposed to give us the power to accomplish things we can’t achieve alone, and if the group is losing, it feels like we are too.
CORFing and BIRGing (identified in research by Robert Cialdini et. al in Basking in Reflected Glory, Three Football Field Studies) is just one bit of evidence of this. Research has found that as we watch sports, when our team is doing better, our testosterone levels rise... which is true of both genders. The more important the outcome of the game, the sharper the rise. And there are subconscious shifts in other hormones and neurotransmitters in response to the outcomes of games, especially big games. The moods of whole communities rise and fall markedly when championships are won or lost, and this starts deep in the biology of the human animal. Those massive pep rallies communities hold for championship teams? Those riots in communities where teams lose? That’s deep and ancient biology driving our behaviors and demonstrating just how much our personal sense of safety and well-being is tied to how well our groups are doing.
Sports may be the purest example of this phenomenon. Our teams represent our tribe, with their team colors and emblems and rituals and traditions and rivalries with other tribes. Our fertile women (we call them cheerleaders) dance at the edge of the battleground, to tribal music. Our athletes are our surrogate warriors, going to battle for us. They say so; “We won it for our fans!” or “We couldn’t have done it without the fans.” And we say so, in our language (“We’re the 12th man!”) and the team (tribal) clothing we wear and in the way we gather together into social (tribal) groups to watch the big battle (er, game), and even in all the superstitious things we do in the belief that somehow how we sit on the couch or wear our hats or what we have for breakfast can affect the outcome of the battle (er, game).
At its broadest, this phenomenon is a part of what evolutionary biologists and psychologists refer to as group selection. Individual selection is where some genetic mutation endows one individual with a trait or behavior that gives them an edge over other individuals. Group selection holds that any trait or behavior that arises in an individual that helps the group survive, also helps the individual survive.
The evidence for how group affiliation drives our behavior is hardly limited to sports. In politics, it’s Us against Them (this grows more strident in people who feel more disempowered and look to their political tribe for a sense of empowerment and safety). Around the world, and across history, evidence for group selection can be seen in “Our country (tribe) against theirs,” and “Keep the immigrants (them) out.” Don’t marry outside OUR religion, class, caste, race. Don’t disagree with the views of OUR group (environmentalists can’t support nuclear power or genetically modified food; Republicans can’t believe in climate change) or we’ll ostracize you and you’ll be out there on your own when the Indians attack and we’ll all be safe inside the circled wagons. It literally feels instinctively viscerally dangerous to be disloyal to your tribe, whatever it is.
In Denver it’s “WE won,” and in New England it’s “the Patriots (they) lost.” It’s all the same phenomenon... tribalism tied to nothing less than our deepest imperative, to protect ourselves and survive. Which explains why several of my New England friends this morning were posting “Only 25 days ‘til Red Sox pitchers and catchers report for spring training!”
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Philosophers have been asking the question for hundreds of years. Now neuroscientists are joining the quest to find out.
- The debate over whether or not humans have free will is centuries old and ongoing. While studies have confirmed that our brains perform many tasks without conscious effort, there remains the question of how much we control and when it matters.
- According to Dr. Uri Maoz, it comes down to what your definition of free will is and to learning more about how we make decisions versus when it is ok for our brain to subconsciously control our actions and movements.
- "If we understand the interplay between conscious and unconscious," says Maoz, "it might help us realize what we can control and what we can't."
Puerto Rico's iconic telescope facilitated important scientific discoveries while inspiring young scientists and the public imagination.
- The Arecibo Observatory's main telescope collapsed on Tuesday morning.
- Although officials had been planning to demolish the telescope, the accident marked an unceremonious end to a beloved astronomical tool.
- The Arecibo radio telescope has facilitated many discoveries in astronomy, including the mapping of near-Earth asteroids and the detection of exoplanets.
Bradley Rivera via twitter.com<p>In 1963, the concave dish was built into a natural sinkhole on the northern coast of Puerto Rico. The location was <a href="https://www.space.com/20984-arecibo-observatory.html" target="_blank">picked because it was near the equator,</a> providing scientists a clear view of planets passing overhead, and also of the ionosphere, which is the uniquely reactive layer of Earth's upper atmosphere where the northern lights form.</p><p>Since its construction, scientists have used the Arecibo telescope to map near-Earth asteroids, detect gravitational waves, study pulsars, detect exoplanets and <a href="https://www.seti.org/goodbye-arecibo" target="_blank">search for alien civilizations</a>, among other projects. Here's a brief look at some of the discoveries and accomplishments made using the Arecibo telescope:</p><ul><li>1964: Astronomer <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Pettengill" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gordon Pettengill</a> discovers that Mercury's rotation period is 59 days, significantly shorter than the previous prediction of 88 days.</li><li>1974: Physicists Russell Alan Hulse and Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr. discovers the first binary pulsar, for which they won a Nobel Prize in Physics.</li><li>1974: Scientists use the telescope to transmit the "Arecibo message" to <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Globular_Cluster_in_Hercules" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">globular star cluster M13</a>. The message, when translated into image form, contains basic information about humanity and human knowledge: the numbers one to 10, a map of our solar system, an illustration of a human being, and the atomic numbers of certain elements.</li><li>1989: Scientists use the telescope to image an asteroid for the first time.</li><li>1992: Astronomers Alex Wolszczan and Dale Frail become the first to discover exoplanets.</li></ul>
The Google-owned company developed a system that can reliably predict the 3D shapes of proteins.