Identity and Conflict

Topic: Identity and Conflict

Michael Porter: I think the thing that scares me the most – and this is well outside my area of expertise – is this enormous conflict across societies and religions which seems to be a battle for an ideology, or a set of values, or a way of living. And that’s very, very scary because I’m an inherently rational person. I believe that we ought to be deciding to do things rationally.

There’s plenty of room for societies to prosper, and individuals to prosper if we make good choices. And yet we seem to be caught in an era where people believe so deeply in certain values or ideologies – or they just want to win; or they just want to be respected; or they just want to exert power – that we’re kind of careening in various different directions that are very unsettling.

I think that’s got to be the big one.

There’s so many human needs that are complicated and difficult to achieve, like health, in various parts of the world where there’s only so many resources, and we have so many afflictions, so many problems, so many people suffering.

I would say this international, this cross-group. Terrorism is just one piece of this broader issue of the clash of societies, and values, and ideologies which we don’t have a good way of sorting through.

I would say, because it’s at the top of my mind, I’ve just been really, amazingly struck with how fundamental the issue of health is, and how to provide health to citizens, which is, I think, a very basic right. And then the just massive poverty, which I think may be the loop around that first issue. It may be that if there’s a lack of a sense of economic and personal opportunity in societies, then that leads us to these destructive kinds of activity where people are striving to give meaning to their lives because there’s no other way to get meaning. So there’s a loop here, but those are the things that really concern me as I look out.

Recorded on: June 11, 2007

Poverty is the groundwork for major ideological aberrations.

Malcolm Gladwell live | How to re-examine everything you know

Join Radiolab's Latif Nasser at 1pm ET today as he chats with Malcolm Gladwell live on Big Think.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to your calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

Ever wonder how LSD works? An answer has been discovered.

UNC School of Medicine researchers identified the amino acid responsible for the trip.

Credit: Motortion Films / Shutterstock
Surprising Science
  • Researchers at UNC's School of Medicine have discovered the protein responsible for LSD's psychedelic effects.
  • A single amino acid—part of the protein, Gαq—activates the mind-bending experience.
  • The researchers hope this identification helps shape depression treatment.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists uncover the brain circuitry that causes mysterious dissociative experiences

A team of researchers have discovered the brain rhythmic activity that can split us from reality.

Mind & Brain
  • Researchers have identified the key rhythmic brain activity that triggers a bizarre experience called dissociation in which people can feel detached from their identity and environment.
  • This phenomena is experienced by about 2 percent to 10 percent of the population. Nearly 3 out of 4 individuals who have experienced a traumatic event will slip into a dissociative state either during the event or sometime after.
  • The findings implicate a specific protein in a certain set of cells as key to the feeling of dissociation, and it could lead to better-targeted therapies for conditions in which dissociation can occur.
Keep reading Show less

There are 5 eras in the universe's lifecycle. Right now, we're in the second era.

Astronomers find these five chapters to be a handy way of conceiving the universe's incredibly long lifespan.

Image source: Pablo Carlos Budassi
Surprising Science
  • We're in the middle, or thereabouts, of the universe's Stelliferous era.
  • If you think there's a lot going on out there now, the first era's drama makes things these days look pretty calm.
  • Scientists attempt to understand the past and present by bringing together the last couple of centuries' major schools of thought.
Keep reading Show less

To be a great innovator, learn to embrace and thrive in uncertainty

Innovators don't ignore risk; they are just better able to analyze it in uncertain situations.

David McNew/Getty Images
Personal Growth
Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, was America's first female self-made millionaire.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast