A Potpourri of Profound Psychological Pessimism

lemmings

The morning’s downer is from Thomas Edsall: No Hate Left Behind: Legal partisanship is taking us into dangerous territory.

Edsall introduces us to wide variety of social psychologists and other assorted experts, whose general consensus is that the modern world is a terrible place, and is generally going to hell in a handbasket.

For example, one of theseis Dr. John Tooby—a “Distinguished Professor” of “Integrative anthropological sciences,” a discipline made of up “evolutionary psychology, evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology, social psychology, economics, hominid-behavioral evolution, [and] evolutionary genetics.”

One might suppose, then, that Professor Tooby is one possessed of—in Edsall’s words—”high cognitive resources.” And, therefore, one might reasonably expect to find great insights flowing from the pen of such a sage. And that, I am overjoyed to report, is indeed the case. For Professor Tooby has employed his training in evolutionary psychology, evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology, social psychology, economics, and hominid-behavioral evolution—not forgetting evolutionary genetics—to conclude that, and I quote, “Honest reasoning about issues is inconsistent with group loyalty.”

Indeed, it is.

And “honest reasoning” is hard, too.

And anybody who tries it, does it imperfectly.

But people had bloody well keep trying to do “honest reasoning,” lest, like hapless passengers on a Boeing 737 jet, we all head straight for the ground at 500 miles an hour.