On 4/2/13, Jon Anderson <[address removed]> wrote:
> 3/27/13 questions and discussion
> 1-why are we so interested in saving things?3
> 2-what might history teach us about change?3
> 3-what meaning have we found in life?2
> 4-how anxious should we be?3
> 5-what will it take to make the US school system the best in the world?4/2
> 6-cooperation vs dog eat dog: which wins out? What is more natural to
> humanity than selfishness?4
> cooperation vs. dog eat dog: which wins out? What is more natural to
> humanity than selfishness?
Ha ha FALSE DICHOTOMY.
The two aren't mutually exclusive, and so if one is natural, it
implies the other.
The fulfillment of any non-trivial selfish objective will inevitably
require cooperation w/others, and the fulfillment of any non-trivial
altruistic objective will inevitably involve eliminating (w/out mercy)
anyone who impedes it (i. e. dog-eat-dog). People who fail to do
either in pursuit of of their (selfish or unselfish) objectives will
Consider a candidate running for office to tackle a specific social
problem. To win, he needs financial and voter support, as well as the
will to destroy the other candidate's and/or threaten to do so. If he
doesn't do both, he'll have little money to run his campaign OR the
other candidate will use nefarious tactics against him that will go
unanswered, and that will cause him to lose.
So are cooperation and selfishness/maliciousness natural? The answer
is YES--those abilities are a legacy from our primordial ancestors.
What's regrettable is that too many of us are taught to suppress them
in cases where they are beneficial to us; IMHO this teaching is
equivalent to de-clawing someone. I could offer examples of such
attempts to goad people out of there (beneficial) natural instincts,
but unfortunately, I would be banned from the group for promoting
> Eric: I was in a Super America recently and there were two registers behind
> glass. I'm in line and another cashier comes, opening a new line. Customers
> rushed to it. I've seen this happen there often. Other times people are
> eager to allow others to go ahead. I've read research and books describing
> us as programmed to be cooperative. Let's face reality! People are very
> self-interested. Some is cultural. Sometimes cooperation is needed but what
> reasons do we use for being one or the other? I have no answer. Sometimes
> I've worked hard to cooperate. Sometimes I end up being a door mat.
> RAchel: are we discussing manners, or etiquette?
> Erid: yes, it is manners but it passes on to morals and values. How do we
> operate? The intersection at Snelling and University, I've seen very old
> pictures where they used very few signs/traffic controls. Was this so
> because we were more cooperative then?
> Bob: those years were the highest accident rates ever (1930s).
> Eric: we don't realize that even stopping for lights is a form of
> Rachel: but isn't that also selfish, to not die?
> Eric: are we cooperating for selfish reasons? I had a friend who says she's
> a people pleaser, agreeing when she really doesn't agree. I asked her why --
> to be a better person, or to be liked. She said to be liked.
> Jon: can cooperation and selfishness not be exclusive to each other?
> Eric: then why do we back stab?
> Bob: might some of us enjoy being cooperative?
> Myron: isn't cooperation a form of selfishness?
> Tor: almost any species has a pecking order that they establish quickly.
> Without it leaves them more vulnerable. With people the pecking order is
> more the result of nurture. The oldest child is to be the cooperative one,
> the social grease. The second one is the rebel. These are the great
> explorers. The third had to get along with the elders and became a
> politician. The nurturing part usually only works if it's emotionally
> inspired. What's interesting is where people are made able to kill
> (military/law enforcement) discipline is heaviest.
> Bob: I wonder about the occasional people I've run into who've marched to a
> different drummer. Once I almost came to blows with just such a person. I
> later learned he lacks the ability to sync his behavior with others
> (autism). When someone hasn't the capacity for syncing how does that play
> into this? If we were cooperative first doesn't that make selfishness wrong?
> visa versa? Is it really more gray, murky? It's attractive to say it's
> either/or, but how many things in reality are simply either/or?
> Tor: in cultures different from our own the definitions of these two things
> can be radically different. Nurture vs. nature. Nurture can be powerful
> Myron: I get into a line every day. Mainly I want to pay attention. If I get
> angry I need to decide what to do about it. My health is of primary
> importance. I find that by letting everybody else go first I have an
> advantage. In the bus line, I wait. This lessens the stress of elbowing,
> pushing, shoving. Is it worth the stress? In my household I have roommates
> and I've learned to best get their attention by getting between them and
> their food/cigarettes! Cooperation is very valuable, but not primary.
> There's a secret value, a higher value. Scientific American calls it the
> "snuggle for survival." Ants and bees are cooperative to an extreme.
> Eric: they'll sacrifice their lives for their group.
> Jon: there used to be a man where I work who was asked which he would rather
> do: make money fairly or make it illegally. He took along time to answer
> that. He really enjoyed getting away with stuff! I recently watched a
> documentary wherein a man decides to live for one month with only 3
> belongings: a laptop, a smart phone, and the clothes on his back. He wanted
> to test a feeling he had that modern technology had reduced our collective
> sense of connection and kindness. His primary tool would be using Craig's
> List. The results were surprising. Of those 31 days on the street he spent
> only two nights outside. He lost maybe twenty pounds, and he was deeply
> moved by all the support he received from strangers. The technology actually
> created connections! To Bob's point about Autism, that's a very ironic
> dynamic. Humans have survived as the result of cooperation. Left alone we
> are more likely to die. So successful social interactions are probably a
> hardwired desire for each of us. But for folks on the autism spectrum social
> interactions are typically extra stressful, making the satisfaction of human
> contact painful to a greater or lesser degree.
> Art: some native American cultures specify those who wish to be contrary.
> They are encouraged to do so. They do things like say things backwards, or
> say yes when they mean no. Like jesters in other cultures. It advances a
> culture by introducing the unusual. It's like a cooperative thing to
> accommodate the contrary. The contrary type is probably typical to our
> survival. Lenny Bruce. If one is in NY, where they seem rude, once they're
> out of the public spaces, they're nice. Holding doors kind of screws up the
> process -- the one holding the door might be there for a very long time!
> Lines in stores, if long, determine whether we'll bother at all to shop,
> whether we think we really need what we want there.
> Tor: I was on my way to Stockholm, needed to catch a flight. I was in the
> fast lane. In front of me someone was going too slowly. I honked and
> flashed, no go. I passed on her left side. She recognized me and I her.
> Twenty years later she still remembers this to me! This kind of anger eats
> away at us more than the one we're angry with. Once, in Stockholm, I learned
> of an airline boss who decided to change the company's power structure,
> giving front line employees greater freedom to solve problems. They (SAS)
> became the most successful, most popular airline. Empathy. They took a
> course/seminar. Difficult customer situations were re-enacted and it was
> made a sport to solve them. Human instincts must sometimes be tamed.
> Bob: inverting the pyramid. I wonder about those trying to climb the ladder.
> Avis used to "try harder" because they were the second best car rental
> company. Top executives in the were required to work the counters in order
> to best understand their customers. Most executives want to be removed from
> that trouble, be removed from customers. I have met ideological Libertarians
> who insist everything is individual! I ask them why they use language, or
> Jon: a friend at work told me he had a conversation with another friend
> about collectivism. Political rhetoric today includes a lot of the "I built
> that myself!" language. His friend has a successful flooring company and
> asserted he'd gotten no help building it. My friend asked him if he'd built
> the roads leading to his store, or the sewers and the power/telephone lines.
> His pal was dumbstruck but seemed unwilling to accept this.
> Bob: once one is an ideologue, moving away from beloved ideas is like dying.
> Too many of us want either/or. It's just stupid.
> Tor: Finnish schools have teaching, not testing. People aren't held back.
> Students aren't given identical lesson plans.
> Mike: cultural influences as a topic tonight have impressed me. We are
> swimming in our own affluence. This will likely change. If one gets elbowed
> out or cut off on the road, unless you're at fault, you'll say ok, I'm just
> gonna move on here, it's not worth the trouble, after all I live in
> affluence. It's different when there is a hurricane. People buy out stores.
> This happens before Thanksgivings too. Once our affluence abates we'll be
> less kind to one another.
> Rachel: I feel that for so many parts of our lives we'll do what's in our
> best interest. So collaboration is in self-interest. I agree with the
> interdependence angle as well. Like Mike I like to look at it globally.
> Resource allocations result in specific behaviors. Haves and have nots. It's
> not one way or the other. Depending on what we need we'll either cooperate,
> or not.
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