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Elements of Peace Obstacles to Peace
Human Psychology and Peace The Nature of Reality
The Climate Change Scam The Science of Global Warming

Our Flawed Psychology

What if we are doomed to fail to build peace, simply because humans aren't up to the job?

The human species evolved on the plains of Africa, probably in response to climate change. A basic principle of evolution is that organisms are not evolved to be good, they are evolved to be 'good enough'. Humans have to balance a comparatively gigantic head on top of a vertical spine: humans get a lot of back trouble. And who knows if woodpeckers get a lot of headaches?

I think there is a major defect in human psychology: we are not designed to effectively discover or believe truth if it goes against our community's social beliefs. That must have worked once. It makes no difference to evolution if once, on the African plains, our ancestors thought the tooth fairy creates lightning. They didn't have any means of making effective use of the truth, and the group cohesiveness must have had its own advantages. But today, that capacity for self-delusion is putting us and our planet at risk.

Perhaps the clearest example of this is the global warming scare. It can be proved, as near to conclusively as anything depending on observation and scientific hypotheses can ever be, that humans are not responsible for dangerous or unusual planetary warming, and yet it has become compulsory for mainstream media, government, etc., to pretend that we are in imminent danger and have only a few years to act (or sometimes, to say we are already too late). Major western governments are passing legislation that will cripple their economies, based on this fiction. When people are alone, such as when answering an anonymous survey, they now show only minority belief in this dangerous fallacy; but when they are put in front of a television camera, or asked to speak for an important organisation, or publish an academic paper, they typically include the compulsory nod to the group delusion. This is clear to those who, for whatever reason, failed to succumb to this particular mass belief - but then perhaps they have fallen prey to a different one? Are any of us immune?

And we have other problems: we are not perfectly altruistic, for one, and perhaps we shouldn't be.

The designers of the United States Constitution understood the fallibility of human nature very well, and deliberately spread power in the hope that, if one branch went bad, another branch would keep the rot in check. The legislature makes law, the judiciary can veto unconstitutional laws, but cannot pass positive laws themselves. The executive acts day to day, but cannot rule without law. And the people have specific rights reserved to themselves. At least that is the theory; like all human devices, it works somewhat, but has problems in practice.

On the other hand, the belief in human perfection is toxic. We are not infallible, not one of us, not any holy book, not any person, and whenever we act as if we are, or can be, we create misery. But to answer my starting question - are we doomed at the outset? - no, I do not believe we are, but I do think we have to keep our limits firmly in mind and act accordingly. In building a program for lasting peace, we must allow for our own inner defects. We need to call ourselves to account and call our collective beliefs to account. We cannot conduct 'business as usual'.

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