Man, the Social Animal

Thomas C. writes:


Question: I was just watching a conservative news report. I got to thinking, and I know this isn't an original thought, I was wondering whether there have been any genetic/evolution studies on homosapien's need to form groups.

Conservatives and liberals square off constantly, and this only polarizes our country! Niether group is 100% correct! Yet, a conservative always defends his/her agenda and liberals do the same. It is the same with religion and other groupings.

As a high school teacher I see how cliques form. I see how dangerous they can become. Adults are no better. We form our cliques around like minded people and defend them to the hilt!

I wonder if it is somehow connected to evolution. As a history teacher I know that groups were important for survival. All people seemed to have formed groups to hunt, gather and protect. I wonder if today that same mechanism leads to the staunch religiosity of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc? Is this adherance a part of our evolutionary past? Reaching back to an earlier time when grouping together was a survival instinct?

What do you know? Think?

Thank you,


ED: Instinctive defense of one's territory runs deep in many species.
That goes for mental territory as well. *smile*

Also, speaking of mental territory, it is a most satisfying animal impulse to get other people to share one's ideas. It's also a logical fallacy that no matter how many people you get to agree with you, that doesn't mean your ideas are true -- not even marginally truer than fewer people who share a different idea.

I think agnosticism is the only way to bring greater groups of people together into larger groups. Unfortunately agnosticism doesn't seem to be a very Evangelical faith, in some cases it lay close to indifference, but they are not the same thing. Though if even a marginally greater percentage of people were a bit more indifferent to the most dogmatic and unproven ideas of our religious and political alpha males, then I think that would be a good thing.

Two books come to mind concerning the need to expand one's mental territory and the need to form groups, and they are both by the same author, the first book is called The Lucifer Principle, which points out that just as bacteria seek to fill a petri dish, even mental ideas of a most nebulous and unproven sort, seek to fill as many minds as possible. The book compares mass movements in politics and religion to the simplest needs of single celled organisms. It also compares organisms in between as well. *smile*

Oh, one more thing, the more dogmatic and unproven a hypothesis, the more likely it is that its advocates will seek to demonize those who believe differently. Because it's relatively easy to bring a group of people together in love if they have an "out-group" upon which they can project their fears and anger.

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