Friday, February 21, 2020

829: Reasons of our negativism....

Eight out of ten western adults spend an hour on average on news. News means here the reporting of recent, incidental and sensational events.
Why does it fill our hearts with gloom? Why do we have such low expectations?
There are two simple explanations. The first one is what psychologists call the NEGATIVE BIAS. it is a simple fact that we are more sensitive to the bad than the good.
It has its roots in our evolution. Millennia ago, when we were still hunters and gatherers it was wiser to be a hundred times too often afraid  of a spider or snake than one time to little.
Secondly, we are burdened by the AVAILABILITY BIAS. What does that mean?
If people can easily give an example of something, they are inclined to think that such an event happens more often.
Thence the fact that we are bombarded by a continuos stream of atrocities, accidents, political disasters, airplane crashes and so on,
reports you not quickly forget, it is easy to understand, how we get such a twisted view of the world.
What is the most valuable asset of today? YOUR ATTENTION.....
Google, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Netflix, they all WANT your attention, so that they can burry you under personalized advertisements.
We have to be young and adventurous. Life has to be exciting and sensational, even though the live of the most of us is sympathetic, but rather dull and ordinary.
This negative view of man also trickled down in sciences like biology and economy. Altruistic behavior among primates was interpreted as driven by self-interest,
Our whole economy is based on this negative view of man. Economists invented a nice name for us: homo economicus.
It was assumed that we constantly are busy with our own gain, as selfish and calculating robots. 
Economists built an abundance of theories and models on this view of mankind, on which a lot of legislation is based.
The concept of the Homo Economicus was more or less regarded as obvious and self-evident. It wasn't till the year 2000, 
that scientists asked themselves the question: does this homo economicus really exist?
Joseph Henrich, born in 1968,  is an anthropologist. He is the Chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology of Harvard University and a professor of the department. 
With a few colleagues he visited 15 small communities in 12 countries on five continents, They asked farmers, nomads, hunters, gatherers 
to participate in certain tests in search of the confirmation of this selfish man driven by self interest, this homo economicus.
Without result. Time and again people turned out to be too social and sympathetic. The article begins with the statement:
"Recent investigations have uncovered large, consistent deviations from the predictions of the textbook representation of Homo economicus (...). 
One problem appears to lie in economists’ canonical assumption that individuals are entirely self-interested..."
Here you find the article:
Thucydides, Augustine, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Luther, Calvin, Bentham, Nietzsche, Freud, the American Founding Fathers,
they all believed that civilization is just a thin layer of veneer.
This line of thinking is so consistent through history, that people who claim the opposite are regarded as lunatics.
Fortunately slowly but steadily scientists begin to realize, that most people are in fact OK.
Thank you for your attention..

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Rutger Bregman, "De meeste mensen deugen",, 2019

The discussion

[13:16] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman
[13:16] herman Bergson: The floor is yours....:-))
[13:16] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): glad someone took the time to check it out
[13:17] herman Bergson: It is amazing indeed that no one ever before questioned the idea of the Homo Economicus
[13:17] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): never was more easy tho to do it as when the media was so easy to check up on it
[13:17] Shiloh Emmons: Why do you think altruism was not integrated into economic theory but predicated on the idea of self -interest?
[13:17] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): the economists themself probably have this idea because that is how themself are, greedy bastards just wanting MORE MONEY and basing upon that that we all are like that
[13:17] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): luckily it is not the case
[13:18] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and they have had this view because if it was like that they would make most profit
[13:18] herman Bergson: To answer is because the basic belief through many centuries was that man by nature was bad....
[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats my theory, its a made up utopia for the greedy ones
[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): that luckily is not true
[13:19] Florimell Farstrider: It's not just the economists, though. Egotism was a motif for evolutionary psychologists for a long time too. Social Darwinists and the like.
[13:19] herman Bergson: And like Adam Smith bake a bread to please your customer, but it is primarily to create your own income
[13:20] Florimell Farstrider: Herman even mentioned Thychidides. This goes back a long way
[13:20] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): hmmm
[13:20] Shiloh Emmons: Hmmm  I might have to re-read Spencer now.
[13:21] herman Bergson: Well to be honest....I was quoting someone...didn't check Thucydides myself today ^_^
[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ohoh
[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): well  believes it probably did go that far back
[13:22] herman Bergson: no no, may accept what an authority  in the field says....
[13:22] Shiloh Emmons: The idea of self-interest would be the under girding of capitalism, would it not?
[13:22] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it is as old as man had religious beliefs anyway
[13:22] herman Bergson: but must be able to check it yourself too if necessary
[13:22] herman Bergson: Yes Shiloh, I"d agree with that...
[13:23] herman Bergson: But the point self interest really what we are?
[13:23] Shiloh Emmons: Do you interpret Spencer has having postulated self-interest as a factor that organizes society?
[13:23] herman Bergson: The belief in greed.....the greed is good idea...
[13:24] Shiloh Emmons: [I am thinking:  I may have to re-read Durkheim , as weell]
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): lots of homework
[13:24] herman Bergson: Indeed....
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): bookmarked the article for later
[13:24] herman Bergson: and I am not that close with Spencer that I can answwer your question Shiloh
[13:25] herman Bergson: I should have to re-read him myself :-)
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): will let you both reread and report
[13:26] herman Bergson: The basic idea here is still that the belief that we are mainly driven by self interest (and greed) is a misperception of reality
[13:26] Shiloh Emmons: a discussion w one of my teachers, years ago, about co-operatives:  he said, in theory they work.. but in reality.. people are motivated... by their own self -interest.. and will take more than what is allowed... but is that greed?
[13:26] herman Bergson: But it has a long long tradition in Western thinking
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): greed is when u want all for yourself without sharing and never gets satisfied, just MORE MORE MORE
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats greed
[13:27] herman Bergson: I think greed is a psychological equivalent of the need of security....
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): the pinnacle example of it
[13:28] herman Bergson: the more food you gather the bigger the chance on the caveman thought
[13:28] Shiloh Emmons: ah... good point.. so.. security... whether food -security.. or financial security.. drives the behavior?
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it seems some do actually take on that
[13:29] herman Bergson: That is what we are made to believe Shiloh....and the thesis of today is that that belief is wrong....
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): who runs huge corporations
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): abd why
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): not charity
[13:30] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): good thing there are charities
[13:30] herman Bergson: LEt me give you another example
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:30] Shiloh Emmons: okay... *listening...
[13:31] herman Bergson: The Economist Robert Frank wondered how the view that man is primarily an egoist affected his students....
[13:31] herman Bergson: With tests he discovered that the longer students studied economy the more egoistic they became....
[13:31] Shiloh Emmons: but.. I also hear a value-judgement... see, I wonder, How is "sharing" being qualified... and how is "need" being viewed or assessed..... but.. *listening
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): interesting
[13:32] Shiloh Emmons: I wonder what made them increasingly ego-istic?
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes me too
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): never studied economy
[13:32] herman Bergson: We are no saints...but what we believe, we make or accept as truth
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): very true!!
[13:33] herman Bergson: I guess the idea that the primary goal of good economics is to make profits....
[13:33] herman Bergson: to gather as much as you can
[13:34] herman Bergson: and so we are back to the caveman and his feeling of security :-)
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well I guess the study books was like a bible stating that "thou shall be greedy and make as much profit as possible at all measures possible"
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I bet there is nothing about sharing in that study material
[13:34] herman Bergson: You may be right indeed Bejiita
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): just making profit for whatever company they will work for
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): CAN be a reason
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I suspect
[13:35] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): the economy has to grow and grow..untill how high??
[13:35] herman Bergson: question too, Beertje....
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): exactly thats also the primary goal I also bet are in that study material
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): infinite growth forever is your goal
[13:36] herman Bergson: There have been experiments with self supporting economies....not grows but maintaining a status quo as goal
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats how all companies more or less base their goals
[13:36] herman Bergson: and it worked...
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): never to get satisfied
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako) whispers: just MORE MORE AND MORE
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and logically that can not hold
[13:36] Florimell Farstrider: I would think that good economics would be to accurately describe how values are generated and propagated, but looking at the state of economic science, I must be wrong.
[13:37] Shiloh Emmons: well said, Florimell
[13:37] herman Bergson: I am no expert on that Florimell :-)
[13:37] Florimell Farstrider: More likely it's about dressing political ideology up in mathematics.
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): these economic collapses that have occures is a direct result of the strive for infinite growth and when not succeeding the entire worlds economy falls like a card house
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): like the collapse 2008
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): everything stopped and shut down even here in sweden
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): shall do some reading up on economics i think
[13:38] herman Bergson: Just keep in mind that economy was a part of psychology long ago....the introduction of mathematics gave it an air of science...
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ah
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well in gonna check some theories and see if my theories hold up
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): missed that class
[13:39] Shiloh Emmons: well.. that was partly driven by people who did not have the money to own houses, but felt they had a right to do so, but defaulted ...  I have never owned a house, my income prohibited me from doing so.. but.. if people value it, and feel it is a right, then.. that is their choice to pursue home ownership... However
[13:39] herman Bergson: you got econometrics....
[13:39] Shiloh Emmons: at what point should they be responsible for their economic choices?
[13:40] herman Bergson: I lost you there Shiloh....what is your point? :-)
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): before they buy!!
[13:41] Shiloh Emmons: the economic collapse was in part driven by people wanting more more more, (2008), in part it was driven by not vetting home owner purchasers well enough... :  could they financially take on the responsiblity of home owner ship...
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): unless they are scammed into believing  something told tto them by an official
[13:41] Shiloh Emmons: I thought.. Fany mae and Freddy Mac helped precipitate the catastrophe.. on a global scale..
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and that has been proven in many of those cases
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): right
[13:42] Shiloh Emmons: but we are talking only about companies wanting more more more
[13:42] Shiloh Emmons: what about individuals?
[13:42] Shiloh Emmons: I was merely asking:  at what point should individuals be held culpable for their economic decisions and economic choices?
[13:42] herman Bergson: they are the victims, I guess
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm
[13:42] Shiloh Emmons: Are they?
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is so hard to answer
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): at what point
[13:43] Shiloh Emmons: I thought we have free will.... Or , are we swayed into making senseless purchases?
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): if hey are taking lessons, information from a liar and believing it
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): at least most, because just a handful have basically ALL the money
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): the difference between rich and poor are to great
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): is difficult to judge
[13:43] Florimell Farstrider: People need a place to live, and the price of housing is basically set by the banks, as they depend on the bank's willingness to lend. The borrower is the one who gets the shaft, unless there's inflation that's not priced in.
[13:43] Shiloh Emmons: Are our values on wanting more more more swayed by advertising
[13:43] Shiloh Emmons: ... go on:...  *listening..
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): thinks so shiloh
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): advertising is to separate us from our money by buying stuff we don't need (well not all commercials are like that but way  to much is)
[13:44] herman Bergson: To have the security of woning your own is a basic need of every individual...also the caveman wanted his own cave....
[13:44] Shiloh Emmons: so... apply this to the idea of self-interest....I am only inquiring, that is all....
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats true
[13:45] herman Bergson: It is easy to prey on basic needs of people....tell them fairytales etc
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I think its quite simply like this, we need to learn to get satisfied at some point
[13:45] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:46] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): was done by those  mentioned banks
[13:46] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): adn proven
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): sure a million would be nice but what are I as a single person to do with for ex a billion?
[13:46] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): later
[13:46] herman Bergson: The 2008 crisis was not about loans on cars....or bicycles....but on HOUSES.....personal safety
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats too much money for one person id say
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): there are other people needing too
[13:47] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): well at least we know we are mostly not all greedy people but well meaning ones
[13:47] Shiloh Emmons: yes, but that is your view, Bejiita... I mean, that one person might start factories or companies world wide that help out hundreds upon thousands...
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): id say when US house loans cause the entire world economy to crash there is a BIG problem going on
[13:47] herman Bergson: I agree Gemma ^_^
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but it is I guess because of EVERYONE depending on the dollar
[13:48] Shiloh Emmons: but I spoke with people in France, German, Italy.. they said it was global
[13:48] Shiloh Emmons: not only the U.S.
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): hangs on to that belief
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:48] Shiloh Emmons: but returning to the idea of self-interest...
[13:49] herman Bergson: yes yes....the sick loans were packaged in all kinds of derivatives thart were sold worldwide
[13:49] Shiloh Emmons: *nods..
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): near my work a door company had built a new factory and when the crisis struck they went out of business immediately before even moving in, the building now houses loaning of aids for handicapped instead
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): entire company just collapsed, I don't eve remember the name but it is not existing any more I think
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and indeed many house and building related companies shut down
[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): luckily there have been no more of this events after that crash
[13:51] herman Bergson: OK...back to the self - interest....let's see what we can say about that in coming lectures :-)
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): what more kinds of self interests are there
[13:52] herman Bergson: Unless you have the world saving remark of question. may I thank you for your participation again :-)
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): more then economics there are for sure
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well see that next time
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): great again
[13:52] herman Bergson: In deeed Bejiita ^_^
[13:52] Shiloh Emmons: very interesting talk and class, professor:  thank you.
[13:53] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ....
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): time to check a party
[13:53] herman Bergson: Thank you're always welcome
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu all soon
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:53] bergfrau Apfelbaum: Thanks for the interesting hour, Herman and class:-)
[1[13:53] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman
[13:53] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:53] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): hope to be here Tuesday sigh
[13:54] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): almost made it this week but no
[13:54] herman Bergson: Seems to be always a struggle, I guess, Gemma :-)
[13:54] bergfrau Apfelbaum: we too Gemma:-)
[13:54] Annie Oh (anniebrightstar): thank you Herman
[13:54] Annie Oh (anniebrightstar): Time to go
[13:54] herman Bergson: My pleasure Annie :-)
[13:54] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:54] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:54] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): me too
[13:54] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): bye for now
[13:54] herman Bergson: Bye Gemma :-)

[13:54] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): hope to see you next time Gemma

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