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.
An ordained Lama in a Tibetan Buddhist lineage, Lama Rod grew up a queer, black male within the black Christian church in the American south. Navigating all of these intersecting, evolving identities has led him to a life's work based on compassion for self and others.
- "What I'm interested in is deep, systematic change. What I understand now is that real change doesn't happen until change on the inside begins to happen."
- "Masculinity is not inherently toxic. Patriarchy is toxic. We have to let that energy go so we can stop forcing other people to do emotional labor for us."
We were gaining three IQ points per decade for many, many years. Now, that's going backward. Could this explain some of our choices lately?
There's a new study out of Norway that indicates our—well, technically, their—IQs are shrinking, to the tune of about seven IQ points per generation.
Here's why generalists triumph over specialists in the new era of innovation.
- Since the explosion of the knowledge economy in the 1990s, generalist inventors have been making larger and more important contributions than specialists.
- One theory is that the rise of rapid communication technologies allowed the information created by specialists to be rapidly disseminated, meaning generalists can combine information across disciplines to invent something new.
- Here, David Epstein explains how Nintendo's Game Boy was a case of "lateral thinking with withered technology." He also relays the findings of a fascinating study that found the common factor of success among comic book authors.
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