Thursday, May 7, 2020

848: A disappointing Observation.....

Yesterday it was Memorial Day in the Netherlands and today, May 5, we celebrate Liberation Day, the end of the Second World War 75 years ago.
We finally have concluded that homo sapiens is a friendly being by nature.But on days like these we are confronted with serious memories about human behavior.
And then there is that inevitable question: how do you explain Auschwitz and Sobibor and Buchenwald?
In other words, how do you explain raids and pogroms, genocides and extermination camps.
Who were the willing executioners of Adolf Hitler, of Stalin, of Mao, of Pol Pot?
After the murder of more than six million Jews, post-war literature and science became fascinated with the question how man could be so cruel.
Initially, it was tempting to think that the Germans were a different species, related to Neanderthals or something like that perhaps?
But the greatest crime agains humanity in history was not committed by some primitieve, barbarian country.
It happened in the country of  Kant, Goethe, Bach and Beethoven.
This throws us back again and in the arms of Thomas Hobbes. We are in fact animals and civilization is just a thin veneer.
Maybe you recall the veneer theory. It is a term coined by Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal to label the Hobbesian view of human morality that he criticizes throughout his work. 
In his 2005 book "Our Inner Ape", it denotes a concept that he rejects, namely that human morality is "a cultural overlay, a thin veneer hiding an otherwise selfish and brutish nature".
De Waal criticizes the veneer theory and sees our morality as a direct outgrowth of the social instincts human beings share with other animals.
He argues that the advocates of the veneer theory don't have any indications or empirical evidence which support the theory, 
and that it is highly unlikely that humans can deny their genes and improve morality merely by choice. 
In the 1950s and 1960s scientists of a new science, social psychology, tried to understand what you need to do to turn people into monsters.
In one experiment after another, they showed that ordinary people are capable of terrible things. 
All you had to do is change a few details in their situation and voila: there would emerge a Nazi in all of us.
Maybe you remember, I talked about the 1951 book "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding. A group of boys stranded on an island
and tried to survive there. They eventually showed their "true" nature: they turned into murdering savages. At least that is Golding's phantasy.
The empirical evidence of the opposite happened in 1965, when really a group of 6 boys stranded on an uninhabited island, Ata, and managed to survive that in peace and harmony.
Yet in psychological experiments psychologists tried to proof how easily we are manipulated and willing to do cruel things.
This was of course sensational news and these experiments you still find in standard psychology textbook.
When I was an educator, I myself have presented and explained these experiments to my students, assuming that these famous examples were waterproof.
But did these experiments really proof, that homo sapiens is cruel by nature, and not friendly as we have claimed in our previous lectures?
We'll see soon..... thank you for your attention again.

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

The Discussion

[13:15] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman
[13:15] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): he leaves us up tree with or ladder
[13:15] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): no ladder
[13:16] herman Bergson smiles
[13:16] herman Bergson: indeed Gemma :-)
[13:16] herman Bergson: You know the Milgram experiments?
[13:16] CB Axel: I do not.
[13:16] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): no
[13:17] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): thinks not
[13:17] herman Bergson: lecture you will CB
[13:17] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): nods
[13:17] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): whenever you separate ppl into an US vs. a THEM
[13:18] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): and find someone to dislike
[13:18] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): true
[13:18] herman Bergson: But we have to deal with the was Auswitz and Sobibor possible
[13:18] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): there´s some neurobiological hardwire there
[13:18] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): even when there is any group
[13:18] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): which gets activated (the insula)
[13:18] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I don't think u could turn me into a mean murderous monster in any way. Well I HAVE a huge grudge against trump but he IS a bad douche
[13:19] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): Robert Sapolsky recently provided a really cool explanation on how these hatred dynamics happen
[13:19] CB Axel: I'll have to google that, Elisabeth.
[13:19] herman Bergson: Yes...this binary twist of our brain......the us -them feeling...
[13:19] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210):
[13:19] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): oops
[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well they were told that jews were monsters doing black magic and such
[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): brainwashing
[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Hitler was good at that
[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but still
[13:20] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210):
[13:20] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): (shorter)
[13:20] CB Axel: I'd like to think that I'd act better than those who followed the Nazis, but who knows.
[13:20] CB Axel: We often think that we'd act better than we actually would.
[13:20] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): loves fared
[13:20] herman Bergson: Yes CB....I wouldn't be too sure of it....
[13:21] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): are you able to harm Trump Bejiita, deep inside you?
[13:21] CB Axel: Like women who wonder why other women allow themselves to be sexually harassed.
[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well indeed I think I could
[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i say thi beertje i keep hoping he gets corvid!!!
[13:21] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): really? standing in front of him and shoot?
[13:21] CB Axel: We say, "I would never have allowed that. I would have spoken my mind," but when they do find themselves in a bad situation they don't act any better than the first woman did.
[13:22] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is true db
[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I have actually thought that thought a few time, I mean he is making the world a huge dangerous mess
[13:22] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): cb
[[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its a wonder he has not started WW3 and I DONT want a WW3
[13:22] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): maybe the world is a huge dangerous mess atm and thats why he got elected
[13:22] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): I blame those who elected him
[13:22] CB Axel: I fantasize about ripping Trump's throat out, but could I do it? Before the Secret Service shot me? I don't know.
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): to  make it even worse by increase hatred and misinformation, 99 % of what he says are lies and BS
[13:23] herman Bergson: You are contradicting yourself Bejiita...:-)
[13:23] herman Bergson: you said " I don't think u could turn me into a mean murderous monster in any way."
[13:23] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): ha
[13:23] herman Bergson: And now you want to murder Trump?
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I can't tell me to for ex murder all africans because they are woodo practicing child eaters, I have no info about that
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Trump I (think) I have enough facts about
[13:24] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): I see trump as a symptom of a severely unhealthy society
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): very true
[13:24] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): Trump is to society what a temperature is to a virus
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:25] CB Axel: I agree, Elisabeth.
[13:25] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): cos its not just trump, its Bolsonaro, its Putin, its..
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): so true
[13:25] CB Axel: There is no one answer as to why people voted for him.
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its surreal
[13:25] CB Axel nods
[13:25] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): a whole saga of narcissistic morons which have been elected in different nations
[13:25] herman Bergson: Let me add to this one thing.....
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): well his base really truely wanted him
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and still do
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is those
[13:26] herman Bergson: Neo-liberalism has lost its social heart.....privatization .....smaller government has become the ideal
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): they are there
[13:26] herman Bergson: and in this COVID crisis we are confronted with  the consequences....
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): h,,
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it has
[13:27] herman Bergson: there is no social administration anymore....everybody for himself...
[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): well there are those who are trying to change that thinking
[13:27] herman Bergson: Indeed Gemma.....
[13:27] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): covid is just speeding up processes and problems which were already there
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats a god thing
[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): the govts that got togeter the oother ay
[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): day
[13:27] herman Bergson: That is the positive lesson of this COVID crisis
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm its chaos
[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): where the US was misssig
[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): so embarrassing
[13:28] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): but, could we realy harm another human being?
[13:28] herman Bergson: I don't think so, Beertje....
[13:29] herman Bergson: You really need a special mindset for that...
[13:29] herman Bergson: That's what makes the criminal mind
[13:30] herman Bergson: or an uncontrolled outrage of anger or jealousy
[13:30] herman Bergson: But going to 5th Avenue and just shoot someone....humbug :-))
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I could not harm anyone (except maybee Trump) in that way. I could never strike anyone down just like that (unless he tried rob me of course or something similar)
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but I go by "be nice to me and im nice to you" mentality
[13:31] herman Bergson: and even then, Bejiita....maybe you would be scared primarily
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Im as unviolent in general as u can be I think, I rarley get angry
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): well bej
[13:32] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): to harm another human being or group of human beings you first need to re conceptualize them as less than human, as cockroaches, as low lives, which is what happened in the 3rd Reich with their final solution, once you´ve done that, violence is not an issue
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it is hard to do that
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes I think mostly scared actually cause I hate conflict and what if they have knives and other weapons
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): for me
[13:32] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): its super easy
[13:32] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): thats the point
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I would more likley try to flee
[13:32] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): given the appropriate conditions, its easy
[13:32] CB Axel: Yes, Elisabeth. I think it might be easier to go out on 5th Av and shoot someone at random that to shoot someone you know.
[13:33] CB Axel: *than to
[13:33] herman Bergson: Maybe you are right Elisabeth....
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): That is a thing I could never do
[13:33] herman Bergson: Just stimulate the US vs. THEM sentiments....
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): likes to think it is hard
[13:33] CB Axel: I view Trump as less than human, so maybe I could kill him.
[13:33] herman Bergson: It is happening in the US these days
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): me too CB, at least he is a very evil blabbering mutt!
[13:34] CB Axel: It's been happening in the US since Europeans first set foot on the continent.
[13:34] CB Axel: And maybe earlier.
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako) whispers: and im soo tired of his blabbering!
[13:34] CB Axel: I have no idea how native Americans treated each other.
[13:34] CB Axel: So I don't want to blame Europeans alone.
[13:35] herman Bergson: There must be historical reports on that CB....
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): oh yes
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): there were war like tribes
[13:35] herman Bergson: But if they were hunter/gatherers there is a good chance that they lived a relaxed and peaceful life
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): most were leave me alone and i will leave you alone
[13:35] CB Axel: Some, yes, But I don't think the native Americans wrote down their histories.
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): oral history was very common
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma.....
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and finally written down
[13:36] herman Bergson: Interesting subject to look into
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): go check
[13:36] CB Axel: Written down by Europeans who heard the stories and put their own slant on them. :)
[13:36] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): but oral history isn't necessarily true
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i sometimes watch old old westerns
[13:36] herman Bergson: Please do, for it might refute or corroberate our point of view, that most people are OK
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and the way they were presented was usually terrible
[13:37] CB Axel: That would be interesting, Herman. See if their lives demonstrated the idea that agriculture made us the mess we are today. :)
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa the cowboys and indians /Lucky Luke stuff
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): classic wild west
[13:37] herman Bergson: YEs I have seen some too...horrible white supremacist...
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indials seen as the evil ones
[13:37] CB Axel: I would not trust the old TV and movies Westerns.
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indians
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): some wre really pretty good tho
[13:38] herman Bergson: They are made by white men, severely biased
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yep
[13:39] herman Bergson: No respect for the real "owners" of America at all...
[13:39] CB Axel: White men who felt that anyone who isn't Christian is a savage who must be converted or destroyed.
[13:39] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): they were regarded as savages, not equals
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:39] herman Bergson: And they felt justified by their God.....
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that was part of the problem the native american did not see ownership of land
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): might have been able to negotiate if they did
[13:40] herman Bergson: hunter / gatherers didn't invent private property
[13:40] CB Axel: Which was probably because they were hunter/ gatherers.
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): right
[13:40] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true
[13:41] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): this whole process, which seems to have happened several times through history
[13:41] herman Bergson: this is our next mission.....
[13:41] herman Bergson: the old Rousseau - Hobbes controvery :-)
[13:41] herman Bergson: But now in modern times
[13:41] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): is more dangerous now than ever.. since we still have paleolithic emotions but we now have access to God-Like technology
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes Elisabeth.....
[13:42] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): bio-weapons, designer viruses which might even one day target specific groups, ugh
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is scarty too
[13:42] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): indeed
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): scary
[13:42] CB Axel: Thanks, Elisabeth. Now I have something else to have nightmares over. LOL
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:42] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): :p
[13:42] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): sorry
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well that true
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): has been for a while tho
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): not new
[13:43] CB Axel: I had my first Covid dream last night.
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): oh goodness
[13:43] herman Bergson: Don't forget the nuclear destruction power.......maybe a bit obsolete but still there
[13:43] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): oh?
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes still nuke silos everywhere around
[13:43] herman Bergson: A COVID dream CB?
[13:44] CB Axel: I've heard that people are having nightmares about things like being attacked by bugs.
[13:44] herman Bergson: How did that look like?
[13:44] CB Axel: That's not what mine was.
[13:44] CB Axel: Mine was I was traveling by car and needed to find a toilet.
[13:44] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:44] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:44] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): oh
[13:44] herman Bergson: a classic...
[13:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): lol
[13:44] CB Axel: But they were all closed.
[13:44] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i have those all the time
[13:45] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): lol
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): oki
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): lol
[13:45] herman Bergson: Me too :-)
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): after drinking too much beer
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it keeps you from pieing in bed:)
[13:45] CB Axel: I've had dreams about needing to pee before, but this time all the public toilets were closed because of the virus.
[13:45] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): that has been a dream come true for lorry drivers covering international routes these days in Europe :p
[13:46] CB Axel: I woke up and needed to pee, but at least I had access to a toilet.
[13:46] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): before they closed the frontiers at least
[13:46] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): they take a bottle with them Elisabeth
[13:46] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): or a diaper:)
[13:46] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): what a world
[13:46] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): right, but I heard they had nowhere to shower, or eat a hot meal
[13:47] CB Axel: I've wondered about truck drivers these days. I worry about them.
[13:47] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): here the stops stayed open
[13:47] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): for truckers
[13:47] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): in the US?
[13:47] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:47] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): nice
[13:47] herman Bergson: just your state Gemma, I guess?
[13:47] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): no
[13:47] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): others too
[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): they have to take 1,5 mtr distance from the touiletpot:)
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[13:47] herman Bergson: Interesting...
[13:48] herman Bergson: lol...Beertje
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): toiletpot
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): part of being considered essential
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): beertje what are you drinking today
[13:48] herman Bergson: transportation is essential indeed
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): cold tea
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:48] herman Bergson: How to confiscate and move the PPE around otherwise by Kushner
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ha
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): one of the most critcal things delivered by truck we don't think about is the chemicals used in the waterwork for keeping the drinking water safe to drink
[13:49] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): what is PPE?
[13:49] CB Axel: There's another person who needs to die.
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): if that fails
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well
[13:49] herman Bergson: Personal Protection Equipment
[13:49] CB Axel: Personal Protective Equipment, Beertje.
[13:49] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): ah
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): mask gown etc
[13:49] CB Axel: Gloves, gowns, masks.
[13:50] herman Bergson: Ok...time to resume our new mission in the next lecture...
[13:51] herman Bergson: For today we already saved the world again....
[13:51] CB Axel: What was that again? Killing Trump and Kushner?
[13:51] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:51] herman Bergson: Thank you for that ....and your attention :-)
[13:51] bergfrau Apfelbaum: it was very interesting!ty Herman and class!
[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): lol
[13:51] herman Bergson: Class dismissed....
[13:51] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): bye for now
[13:51] Elisabeth (elisabeth3210): thank you :))
[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and get rid of all these nukes AND Covid!
[13:51] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman. I'll try not to kill anyone before we discuss it on Thursday.
[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu next time
[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:52] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): lol CB
[13:52] CB Axel: Bye, everyone. Happy bank holiday and Cinco de Mayo and whatever.
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): he can stuff his sue upp his arse!
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I don't care
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): lol
[13:52] herman Bergson: Bye CB :-)
[13:52] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebyes :-)
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hugs all and be safe
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:52] herman Bergson: You too Bejiita :-)

1 comment:

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