Bees in a Hive

Question: Do we see meaning where there is none?

Jonathan Haidt: I believe that we are shaped by group level selection processes so that we can be like bees in a hive. We are not just primates who evolved to fight it out with other primates. We are part way through a major transition evolutionary history that allows us to be temporarily like bees in a hive.

We see this after attacks. We saw it after 9/11. We can come together. Our propensity to find meaning, even though it may have evolved from simpler cognitive mechanisms, as Richard Dawkins and others maintain, I believe that our ability to find connection, to see connections in the stars.

If we look up at the sky, we see stories about people wandering around and going on missions. I believe that our ability to find connections and meaning helps us merge together into groups that can function as one. So this is part of the psychology that allows us to create these emergent super organisms, at least temporarily.

Anyone who’s ever been in a chorus or a band, or played a team sport, or been initiated into a fraternity, knows the joys, the ecstasy of losing yourself in part of a larger group.

I think this is the next frontier for psychology and for the social sciences, is understanding that we are not radical individuals. We are actually, in part, bees in a hive, but we don’t live that way, and that’s the reason for much of our unhappiness.

 

Recorded on: May 9, 2008

 

 

We did not evolve simply to fight with each other.

Four reasons not to run a marathon

If your New Year's resolution was to get in shape, signing up for the marathon is a bad way to go about it.

Photo Credit: Quinn Rooney / Staff / Getty Images
Personal Growth
  • Marathons gained popularity over the last decade. In 2018, 456,700 Americans completed a marathon, an 11 percent increase in participation from 2008.
  • Training for and racing 26.2 miles has been shown to have adverse effects on the heart, such as plaque buildup in the arteries and inflammation.
  • Running too much can lead to chronically increased cortisol levels, resulting in weight gain, fatigue, and lower immune function.
Keep reading

A healthy sex life can help minimize depression and anxiety symptoms

When you struggle with anxiety or depression, sex may be the last thing on your mind. But understanding the physiological and mental benefits of a healthy sex life can help it become a tool for well-being.

Photo: Getty Images
Sponsored by Sofia Gray
  • The physiological responses our bodies have to sex can minimize the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Deficiencies in nitric oxide are associated with irritability, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and less energy. Having sex increases your body's nitric oxide levels.
  • Sex also increases epinephrine, oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin, all of which are linked to mood, behavior, and well-being.
Keep reading

The joy of French, in a dozen maps

Isogloss cartography shows diversity, richness, and humour of the French language

Strange Maps
  • Isogloss maps show what most cartography doesn't: the diversity of language.
  • This baker's dozen charts the richness and humour of French.
  • France is more than French alone: There's Breton and German, too – and more.
Keep reading