02 Jul Evolutionary Psychology
Dr. Steve Mason
“We make some of our greatest gains when we see old things in new ways.”
Contact Dr. Mason by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s no secret that the nation is deeply divided. There’s a Liberal Left, a Conservative Right and little sign of anything in the center. Both sides are convinced that they alone know the truth and that they alone should be in control. Clearly, this is no way to run a country. But how did we ever get into such a sorry state?
Evolutionary Psychologists see it as the inevitable result of hundreds of generations of adaptive behavior. But to better understand this concept, it’s necessary to understand that simply staying alive in the distant past was a full-time job and that fear was a constant companion. The fear of strangers, for example, was well-founded when a mere microbe from a distant village could wipe out your village. And that’s not to say the strangers themselves might not have had similar aims in mind, such as killing all the males and stealing all the females.
Today we hear about building a wall to keep out diseased immigrants who want to rape our women. This updated message resonates well with Conservatives who appreciate the old time suspicion of foreigners. Those on the Liberal side are more sensitive to messages of inequality. An authority figure with too much authority might decide to gather all the wives into his harem so let’s instead pretend that everyone is equal and thus of no threat.
Obviously, both sides, Conservative and Liberal, are primarily motivated by ancient fears that may have no bearing on the present. They see different but equally menacing threats and they vote accordingly. Indeed, emotional rhetoric can easily overcome reasoned opinions as laboratory MRI’s of the brain’s emotional center (the Limbic System) show. Politicians know this. Their constituents don’t…except, of course, for those who are Evolutionary Psychologists.
But can you trust what the shrinks say? Studies say you can:
Looking at geographical positioning you find that people living closer to the equator where germs are more prevalent are less accepting of aliens than Scandinavians might be.
Looking at POTUS elections, the taller candidate almost always wins. This goes back to the Conservatives who want a big guy on their side when strangers come to take their stuff.
Looking at Liberals who, in their effort to keep everyone more equal so less threatening created the Police-person in place of the Police-man and now add IQ points to college candidates from impoverished neighborhoods.
Looking at testosterone, people with more are less likely to share. This prompted Ann Coulter to say she was more of a man than any Liberal male which shows the folly of ancient adaptations influencing modern realities. Not wanting to share fats and sugars when it made sense makes no sense in an obese populationsuffering Type 2 diabetes.
Look At It This Way
Truth be told, I personally have no preference Conservative or Liberal, Left or Right. Both, hopelessly outdated as reasonable responses to assorted fears, have devolved into emotional remnants. There are legitimate threats to life and limb. These include nuclear missiles, religious fanatics, vulnerable power grids, shifting magnetic poles, wayward asteroids and Black Swans I can’t imagine. But as the one side tries to stop abortion and the other tries to speed diversity, nothing much will happen until both are faced with a bigger problem…perhaps a much bigger problem.