Since the development of sociology by people like Max Weber, there’s been a continuing debate regarding nature/nurture. While it’s nice to imagine we have some control over what we believe and how we act, more and more research seems to indicate we’re largely unconscious of our motivations and behaviors. Although we love abstractions like “the patriarchy” and “the elite” any analysis of what these abstractions could actually be tends to reveal them as empty phrases. Our addiction to unconsidered abstractions is part of what makes us so vulnerable to manipulation, both intentional and accidental.

When we understand that we invent reasons post-hoc to explain to ourselves why we’ve just done something, and when we understand that something as simple as the weather or the performance of our sports team influences who we vote for, we begin to realize that we’re largely unconscious actors in a drama we don’t even begin to comprehend. This realization would be very uncomfortable (which would be maladaptive from an evolutionary perspective) so our brains “fill in” reasons just as the brain “fills in” the two holes in our field of vision so we’re entirely unaware of them.

Personally I believe our only hope as a species is to understand our many cognitive and behavioral limitations, accept that we can no more change these than a butterfly can decide to become a tiger, and then develop structures to mitigate our constraints. Today, few are even aware of the problems we create for ourselves because of our fundamental limitations.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.