October 30, 2008


Human nature:
Fritzl claims that his mother abused him as a child and never showed any love for him and beat and kicked him until he lay on the floor bleeding.

The psychiatrist says although Fritzl described his own suffering as a child in detail, he was absolutely unable to anticipate the emotions of others.


Bukko_in_Australia said...

It IS a wonder why, when some people suffer, it makes them want to pass on the suffering to other people. Like spreading the misery lessens it in your soul.

When science finally discovers the core behavioural code that makes human psychology tick, we'll find that we're not a nice species, even though we think we are. We've all got inner jackals. The instinct to love can overcome the one for revenge, a la Gandhi and the Buddha, but it's easier to go with the red rage of anger.

gandhi said...

This could be relevant too, from George Monbiot:

"How was it allowed to happen? How did politics in the US come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance? Was it charity that has permitted mankind's closest living relative to spend two terms as president? How did Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other such gibbering numbskulls get to where they are? How could Republican rallies in 2008 be drowned out by screaming ignoramuses insisting that Barack Obama was a Muslim and a terrorist?

Like most people on my side of the Atlantic, I have for many years been mystified by American politics. The US has the world's best universities and attracts the world's finest minds. It dominates discoveries in science and medicine. Its wealth and power depend on the application of knowledge. Yet, uniquely among the developed nations (with the possible exception of Australia), learning is a grave political disadvantage...

Ignorant politicians are elected by ignorant people. US education, like the US health system, is notorious for its failures. In the most powerful nation on earth, one adult in five believes the sun revolves round the earth; only 26% accept that evolution takes place by means of natural selection; two-thirds of young adults are unable to find Iraq on a map; two-thirds of US voters cannot name the three branches of government; the maths skills of 15-year-olds in the US are ranked 24th out of the 29 countries of the OECD. But this merely extends the mystery: how did so many US citizens become so stupid, and so suspicious of intelligence?"

Bukko_in_Australia said...

Picking up on Monbiot's theme of stupid Americans (although it applies to stupid people from many nations) -- have you ever noticed that ignoramuses usually think they're pretty damn smart?

You've shown me links to some of your online stoushes with reich wingnuts. Don't you find that they believe they have special insight into the way things REALLY are, and that you, their opponent, is naive? They KNOW Obama is a Muslim socialist or some such bullshit, and people oblivious to that hidden knowledge are fools.

No matter that you've probably got more uni education than them, have traveled more widely through the world than they have, and are able to debate them about politics in THEIR land when they know nothing of yours. They sneer at your stupidity. It never occurs to them to acknowledge that they might have some of their own.

It DOES tie back into religion. Any organised religion at its core depends on people being stupid. You'd have to be, to believe in invisible sky beings. Seeking knowledge (with the Jesuits being a possible exception) is discouraged because it just might lead an adherent to question the childish silliness at the core of any faith.

I find that the more I know, the stupider I realise I am. Take with medical practise, for instance. When it comes to the workings of the human body, I'd say I know more than many, but then I get to thinking about the basic nature of biochemical reactions, and the unexpected things that can happen with the human body, I'm humbled at my lack of ultimate understanding. Ditto for the financial world.

But if you only know a little, everything seems simple. You don't grasp the complexity of the world. It helps if they're actively biased against learning more, because that's just for elitist self-doubters. No need to study more if you've already got all the answers. So the stupidest people believe themselves to be the smartest.

gandhi said...

The Monbiot article is currently the most-read thing on Alternet, and the comments there make for an interesting read too. On lawyer who moved to the US South said the juries and even judges are all so stupid that he is forced to resort to puerile tactics in order to win a case!

In a similar vein, I posted that WaPo article about McKinney at Atrios last night and was slammed from pillar to post by idiots who thought that even just discussing the Greens might jinx the election.


Two days and a bit to go, then some hard questions will start to surface.

Bukko_in_Australia said...

Another reason ICBB with Atrios. The people there might be less malignant than fascists, but too many are still factional sycophants.


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