Are humans cruel by nature?

Historian Rutger Bregman argues that the persistent theory that most people are monsters is just wrong.

  • How have humans managed to accomplish significantly more than any other species on the planet? Historian Rutger Bregman believes the quality that makes us special is that we "evolved to work together and to cooperate on a scale that no other species in the whole animal kingdom has been able to do."
  • Pushing back against the millennia-old idea that humans are inherently evil beneath their civilized surface, which is known as 'veneer theory', Bregman says that it's humanity's cooperative spirit and sense of brotherhood that leads us to do cruel deeds. "Most atrocities are committed in the name of loyalty, and in the name of friendship, and in the name of helping your people," he tells Big Think. "That is what's so disturbing."
  • The false assumption that people are evil or inherently selfish has an effect on the way we design various elements of our societies and structures. If we designed on the assumption that we are collaborative instead, we could avoid the "self-fulfilling prophecy" of selfishness.
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Are animals 'persons'? New York court hears the case of Happy the elephant

An elephant at the Bronx Zoo has become a cause célèbre for animal rights activists.

Credit: Kevin Tadema/Unsplash
  • A 47-year-old Asian elephant's final years are at issue in legal proceedings.
  • The larger question is whether or not animals are entitled to habeas corpus rights.
  • Several judges have gone on record stating that courts need to face the issue of legal rights for animals such as Happy.
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Isolated island group is now one of the world's largest animal sanctuaries

One of the world's most isolated island groups has just been made one of the world's largest ocean reserves.

Credit: RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)
  • The small island group of Tristan da Cunha has created one of the world's largest ocean sanctuaries.
  • Neither fishing nor extractive activities will be allowed in the area, which is three times the size of the United Kingdom.
  • Animals protected by this zone include penguins, sharks, and many seabirds.
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Psilocybin rapidly promotes neuroplasticity in the brains of rats

The compound found in "magic mushrooms" has significant and fast-acting impact on the brains of rats.

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  • Psilocybin and psilocin are chemical compounds found in "magic mushrooms."
  • A recent study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found very interesting results when psilocybin was administered to rats to research the potential impact the chemical could have on the human brain.
  • Several studies have suggested that psilocybin could be a treatment for depression.
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9 of the most shocking facts about global extinction - and how to stop it

Across the world, wildlife is under severe threat.

Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash

Earth's fate and the devastation of the natural world were recently put under the microscope with the release of Sir David Attenborough's Netflix documentary A Life On Our Planet.

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