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 277b: On the Origins and Psychology of Dogmatic Thinking and Ideology II

What’s so Wrong about being Absolutely Right?: A Discussion on the Origins and Psychology of Dogmatic Thinking and Ideology.

Pt. 2 of 2

What does it mean when we say someone is being dogmatic?  Are only religious fundamentalists capable of dogmatic thinking?  Can science-based atheists be dogmatic?  What is the difference between dogmatism and ideology?  Why do people engage in dogmatic thinking in the first place; is it biological, sociological or psychological or all of the above?  And, what can we do to limit dogmatic thinking?

These questions and more will be discussed in a special two-part program with clinical psychologist Judy Johnson and social psychologist John Jost.  If we want to get to the reasons why some feel religion and politics are so contentious, and even dangerous, we probably should be focusing on how people behave within religious or political frameworks.  If we want to build a more humanistic, less dangerous world, we must then learn what we should be doing to avoid the potential dangers therein.  We hope this program will offer some of those answers as well as tools toward creating a healthier society.

The audio for this program, which aired in two parts on March 29th and April 5th, can be found BELOW. Please note that this audio is an EXTENDED version containing two questions not aired on WBAI-NY; one of these concerns the question of whether authoritarian persons or societies are a normal part of human nature, or a sign of either an unhealthy individual or society, while the other is a personal question the host asks regarding his own possible dogmatic tendencies.

Show 193: Darwin Day Special: David Buller

Darwin Day Special: Adapting Minds:Evolutionary Psychology and the Persistent Quest for Human Nature

From the Publisher:

Was human nature designed by natural selection in the Pleistocene epoch? The dominant view in evolutionary psychology holds that it was — that our psychological adaptations were designed tens of thousands of years ago to solve problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. In this provocative and lively book, David Buller examines in detail the major claims of evolutionary psychology — the paradigm popularized by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate and by David Buss in The Evolution of Desire — and rejects them all. This does not mean that we cannot apply evolutionary theory to human psychology, says Buller, but that the conventional wisdom in evolutionary psychology is misguided.

Continue reading “Show 193: Darwin Day Special: David Buller”