Why there are not any civilizations without temples – Video featuring Jonathan Haidt

October 31, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More

Jonathan Haidt explains why there are not any civilizations without temples, starting at minute 14 of this video. This is the 2013 Boyarsky Lecture at Duke University. About 10,000 years we went from an almost instantaneous transition from hunter-gathers to Babylon. A huge part of our evolutionary development is this newly learned ability of humans to circling around sacred objects (religious and political objects are two dominant examples) in order to form teams. As we circle around, we generate a social energy that knits the social fabric, but also encourages Manichean thinking–us versus them, blinding us to our own faults and faulty thinking. No shades of gray are allowed when we are intensely groupish. This kind of groupish thinking is radically incompatible with scientific thinking. Science is squeezed out, replaced by sacred objects, groupishness and authoritarian obeisance.

At min 24, Haidt gets to the crux of his talk. Those of us who focus on the “care” (empathy) foundation of morality, often circle about it bonding with others like us, rejecting and denigrating the impulses and ideas that tend to drive those who are politically conservative.



Category: Anti-science, Biology, cognitive biases, Cultural Evolution, Evolution, Human animals, Ingroup/Outgroup, Patriotism/Nationalism, Politics, Psychology Cognition, Science

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Xtech says:

    Honestly I cannot quite follow this fellow’s thinking. He makes some good points about how groups rally around a flag or other sacred object, but he seems to feel the need to thrash some liberal straw man for denying a fair hearing to conservatives. His generalizations are painful, as is the assumption that there ‘should’ be symmetry wrt the peculiar American political bi-polarity we unfortunately live within. David Sloan Wilson makes much clearer points wrt the sacred; Daniel Kahnemann wrt our psychological blind spots. I’m sorry but there are good reasons the tribal tendencies of conservatives should be transcended.

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