Let’s create a new hypothesis. What if the cruelty and fighting and intolerance and immorality we see all around us in the world isn’t happening because human nature is intrinsically bad? What if these things are self-fulfilling prophecies – at least in part – that are based on a mistaken view of the real nature of the human being?
What if the examples of truly awful human behaviour we see everywhere don’t show the true nature of human beings? What if they show what happens when we go against our true nature?
Ice-cream and Swimming
All scientists and statisticians agree that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. In other words, just because you can relate two things to each other it doesn’t prove that one caused the other. The most famous example used to demonstrate this is the fact that as ice cream sales rise, so too does the rate of drowning. Any sensible person can work out that the cause of the drownings has nothing to do with the consumption of ice cream but there is a correlation as both ice-cream sales and drowning rise in the summer when more people both eat ice-cream and take part in water-sports. The ice-cream/drowning example is obvious but correlation and causation are very often easily confused.
For example, in May, 1999, a study was published that suggested that babies who sleep with a night-light are more likely to develop myopia – near-sightedness – in later life. However, a year later, studies at Ohio State University, showed that the biggest indicator for myopia in children is not night-lights but myopia in parents. This study also found that near-sighted parents are more likely to leave a light on in their child’s bedroom – thus creating the apparent link between myopia and night-lights.
So, in spite of all the evidence of truly awful human behaviour perhaps it is not the case that human beings are intrinsically bad but that we have caused a lot of our own problems because we have been operating our systems from this basis, mistaking correlation for causation?
It is possible that factors such as fragmentation and negative expectations etc are actually more causative factors in the dysfunction we see all around rather than any ‘fact’ about the incorrigibility of humanity. It is also possible that if we understand how our systems work we may actually have a better chance of dealing with the problems that will naturally crop up.
Because if it is the case that the examples of aggressiveness and selfishness that we see all around are examples of dysfunction not function, then we are never going to succeed in correcting the dysfunction by treating the outcomes as inevitabilities.
Tomorrow – Hard-wired for Oneness?
- Helping out strangers is hard-wired into human nature [Psychology] (io9.com)
- Human Nature and Therapy Talk (emotionalfitnesstraining.com)
- It is human nature to cooperate with strangers (newscientist.com)