Friday, December 18, 2015

Post No. 196: Why (I Suspect) DNA Trumps Everything in Determining Which Side of the Fence One Sits on Banning Muslims (Temporarily?)

© 2015, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

I am fascinated by people who take sides on an issue. In my view, taking a side means that you think that (1) you are right, (2) you have something to gain; (3) your position is the better or preferred position, or, perhaps (4) your God told you to do it. Even in the physical science realm, it is becoming far more difficult to be certain about one’s chosen position.

I admit that I do not possess the skills or wisdom of Samuel Clemens, but we are kindred spirits in terms of our attitudes about politicians. No group of citizens distresses me more. Not only are they absolutely certain about their positions, and that their positions should dictate the conduct and lives of all over whom they exercise dominion, but the logic they use and positions they take are so patently goal- determinant.

On those issues which affected my business, I was a staunch Republican, while with respect to issues which now affect me in my retirement, I am a Democrat. It is with this background that one of my buddies recently sent me a Washington Post article entitled, What Social Science Tells Us about Racism in the Republican Party.

After reading the article, I suggested to him the issue is far more complex than discussed in the article. He is aware of my position on racism, namely that although it is problematic, it has a pragmatic and utilitarian function, driven by DNA.

As for how we respond to the terrorist threat from certain factions of the Islamic faith, I think that where one stands is related to, and also derives from, our DNA. To a significant extent, it determines what we are fearful of, or paranoid about, and the whole fight or flight syndrome bears on our short-term concerns about our longer-term evolutionary survival.

Take for example the issue of guns. I used weapons while serving stateside in the Army, and appreciate what they can do. However, despite traveling in some very dangerous neighborhoods (in the U.S., and Mexico City, Rio, Caracas, Marseille, and Naples), I've never felt the need to have a gun on me or that a gun would make a difference. Yet, I respect those who feels differently.

It’s not that I see myself as Cordell Walker, Texas Ranger. It’s just that I don’t feel the need for a gun. Additionally, I could care less about the government coming to take away the gun I don’t have.

I am convinced that so much is emotion-driven (primarily dependent on our particular electro-chemical formula along with some environmental factors), and not logically driven. It should come as no surprise that so many support Trump's view of the world; they are on Trump’s side of the electro-chemical brain determinative fence, with respect to what we should fear and loath. It’s functional; it works for them, and the options in their toolbox which eliminate fears and threats (and thus makes them feel more secure) are those which decisively accomplish their immediate goal.

We here in America, in my humble opinion, waste far too much time, energy, and resources discussing race, prejudice, and discrimination. People are going to feel what they feel.

Right now, the more interesting issue to me is why so few have really challenged Trump on what he would practically be able to do as the Chief Executive of only 1 branch of government, within the confines of the Constitution. After all, he is not a dictator. The Constitution did not establish a monarchy. But that doesn't really matter, does it, if the reality is in the mind of the beholder? After all, arguably only the intellectual elite care about the legalities of what one elected leader can or cannot legitimately do.

Trump is perhaps the best thing to happen to America in a long time; he's laid bare our visceral concerns, taken off the intellectual veneer and fine clothes, and he's revealed us to be who many in our society really are. I want to know the true feelings and motivations of those who potentially pose a danger to me so that I can figure out what to do; not have a bunch of actors and actresses playing roles suggesting co-existence.

The reason America will have a difficult time winning the war on terror is because we want people to think that we will take the high philosophical road motivated by some higher moral authority. However, unfortunately that doesn't win wars, and we are not generally inclined to bomb civilians. A recent program on WW II suggests things really began to turn around when the Allies started bombing civilian areas occupied by Germans.

Ask the typical person whether, given the choice, they would rather be the noble loser, or the unethical winner. Check out nature shows about how dominant animals / predators handle themselves. We're just animals with larger brains.

For those of you who feel that I pulled this straight out of my rear orifice where the sun doesn’t shine, you are absolutely correct. However, there is a modicum of scientific proof, to support my position, upon examining the work of Robert Sapolsky. But then again, neither he, nor I, would ever considering running for political office.


  1. As you know, I agree with you about our prejudices but my take is that we have only instinct and that is the survival instinct. I believe that atruism is an extension of that... in terms of giving one's life to save another, for example. I also agree with you about politicians and was reminded of what a wise (though young) once told me about the 1964 presidential election: he was Black and I asked him who he was going to vote for (he was21, I was 17). Iwas taken aback when he said "Goldwater", he said he knew who and what Goldwater is but that he distrusted Johnson. I learned 2 things, that all black people didn't fit my stereotype and that some were wise beyond their years. I differ with you on our problem with people who firmly believe some things. Yes, Trump is echoing the psyche of many of us but I think we desire such, we want someone to not only believe something great about us but who convince us of that greatness.

  2. Thanks much, Douglas, as always, for weighing in. You make a very good point about the "black voter" not being monolithic. As for "convincing" the electorate of anything, I imagine that it depend on the eye of the beholder. Have a good holiday.

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