Show 498: War, Peace, and Human Nature

We are a culture besieged by violence. Everyday we hear stories of mass shootings or stabbings, of a rising violent crime rate, of vigilantism, and we have been marred in one war or another since the birth of this nation… resulting in the maiming or killing of millions (usually far less Americans than those we target).

When peace activists, humanists, or even average citizens – tired of all the violence and war – try to speak out against the insanity, we are told human beings are violent by nature.  We are shown right-leaning works of social science which prove our bloody history to be the norm, not an anomaly, and told it goes back 50,000 years or more. We are told that war is either in our genes, or even something which is needed for homo sapien sapien to have balance in our societies. Even those who admit “war is hell” are pretty sure it is also inevitable; consequently they, and many in our society, feel those of us looking toward a peaceful, egalitarian, humanistic society without warfare are utopians living in a reality of our own inception… peaceniks left over from the radical 60s who have not grown up and who would be better served trying to help others within our current, often dysfunctional society, rather than demand another kind of world…

But what are humans REALLY like? What does the science ACTUALLY say? We will be speaking with evolutionary anthropologist Douglas Fry and psychologist Darcia Narvaez about these questions and more on the next edition of Equal Time for Freethought!

Show 289: “On Human Nature and the Potential for Peace”

“On Human Nature and the Potential for Peace” w/ Anthropologist Douglas Fry

This program aired in honor of Universal Peace Day!

A few weeks ago on Equal Time for Freethought, Arnell Dowret interviewed two social scientists and a bio-engineer on the validity and importance of social science – what it can tell us about human nature, whether or not it was a rigorous enough a science to inform us on how to develop healthier societies, and if all the recent attacks on it by skeptics, evolutionary psychologists, and indeed some social scientists, have been deserved or not.  It is perhaps not unreasonable to suggest that by the end of the program, the validity of the social sciences had been fairly proven – with all due respect to the bio-engineer participant.

Still, if my experience discussing social science and human nature – particularly with regards to violence, warlike behavior, authoritarianism and selfishness – with scientifically and politically serious people on Facebook is any indication on where many people today stand on the validity of social science… things look weak at best for those defending sciences like sociology, anthropology and psychology.

And while I have found, without much surprise, that most people who reject social science tend to be political centrists, conservatives or r-libertarians, I have also found what seems to be a deep suspicion of the merits of these sciences even from those left of center. – Barry F. Seidman

Douglas P. Fry teaches in the Faculty of Social and Caring Sciences at Abo Akademi University in Finland and is an adjunct research scientist in the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology at the University of Arizona. A renowned anthropologist and a leading authority on aggression, conflict, and conflict resolution, he has worked in this field for over twenty-five years and has published many articles and books on this subject. His latest text is ‘Beyond War: The Human Potential For Peace.’

This program aired on WBAI on July 26th and August 2nd, but the full audio can be found here!

Show 175: Harold Barclay; Anthropologist

Harold Barclay discusses his book People without Government: An Anthropology of Anarchy

Over the last three weeks, Equal Time for Freethought has asked scientists basic questions about human nature.

Is it within human nature to be aggressive, or is aggression the result of environmental circumstances?

Is war inevitable because humans have a natural tendency to inter-societal violence, or is there something unique in modern culture which brings out the soldier in many of us, particularly our males?

What if peace was closer to the “natural state” of human nature, and we have lived though an aberration of violence over the last few centuries?

Continue reading “Show 175: Harold Barclay; Anthropologist”