Thursday, January 5, 2017

Modern tribalism.

Neuroscience has only recently started unlocking the human phenomenon of belief. One thing that is certain is that we're not the free thinking intelligent beings we thought we were. So much so that in situations where we deffer to an authority, we'll be in the likely position to follow instructions without much objection.

In the early years that humans have been around, and even because of our evolutionary ancestors before us. we've adapted to favor a model of compliance within tribes to ensure our survival. Equally essential to our survival was the distrust of competing tribes who may want to press an advantage for their collective. This is not to say that competing tribes didn't work together or eventually merge due to there being a strength in numbers. The larger one's tribe, the better one's chances of surviving. Ultimately, it was still better to be prudent, especially of smaller groups that may be looking to do something out of desperation. The less people one tribe had, the more likely it would be for these people to look to other methods of survival due to disease, failure of crops, inexperienced hunters, etc. Perhaps by sneaking into a neighboring village and pillaging wares while they slumber. Or worse. This could be where the initial distrust of minorities originated from.

Our brains haven't really changed much within the 200000 years homo sapiens have existed. We still have all of those instincts programmed into our heads, influencing our decisions. Findings in neuroscience have already started to confirm this as a reality. Political affiliation, nationality, race, religion, sex, family; these are all tribes we subscribe to and when presented with complications to that identity are quick to dismiss said evidence. This is also where one's belief system starts to manifest depending on the level of compliance of the individual. And, thanks to the model our ancestors used to increase their survivability, those tribes are likely to have a lot more followers than leaders.

It's incredibly important to be mindful of this in our current landscape as we're no longer dealing with the ancient world however we do still possess our ancient and fallible brains. We may think we've arrived to our beliefs out of rationale & critical thinking yet in reality these were only a product of groupthink due to our affiliation to certain modern tribes. We're also susceptible to overlook distressing behavior coming from groups that we're affiliated with, which are glaringly apparent to competing modern tribes.

In order to have an intellectually honest picture of our world perhaps it's time to do away with this kind of thinking, if that's even possible. If the one and only tribe one subscribes to is humanity, perhaps we'll be better off.