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Author Topic: Why do we divide into groups?  (Read 2916 times)

Offline ConfusedHermit

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Why do we divide into groups?
« on: 17/06/2013 17:16:01 »
I often think that divisive terms are our worst enemy; that we should all be settled with the term 'human' above all specifications that make us create mental walls from one another. Such as race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. I think those specifications are useless when the bottom line is that we are all human.

So I imagined in my head something like a 'human pride parade' and my cynicism still led me to thinking 'Nope, there would STILL be dividing/group-separating thoughts in the human brain if an event like this ever happened.'


I just have a few questions:

1.) Why do we divide into groups (even amongst the most similar of us)? It seems all it has ever caused is war and inequality. And forgetting that we're all humans behind these online usernames.

2.) Is this as young as civilization (because societies always seem to have to put people into classes which probably just leads to even more specific sub-groups), or is this something old enough to be permanently embedded in us?

3.) Does this happen in the non-human kingdom? Is it more similar or different to the way we've done it?


Okay, I lied; one more question: While I doubt humans will last that much longer--If there exists a 'closed-minded/divisive/grouping' gene, would humans eventually breed this out and gradually divide into groups less over time? Will we ever, at our genetic core, see the furthest-from-the-majority description of a person as 'just another human like you or me?'

Or is that only likely when we're 100% mixed in race and one big global super-country? :{o~
« Last Edit: 18/06/2013 03:18:17 by ConfusedHermit »


 

Offline RD

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Re: Why do we divide into groups?
« Reply #1 on: 17/06/2013 22:37:37 »

I just have a few questions:

1.) Why do we divide into groups (even amongst the most similar of us)? ...

2.) ... is this something old enough to be permanently embedded in us?

3.) Does this happen in the non-human kingdom?

There is a genetic explanation ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_nepotism#Sociobiological_theory

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kin_selection
« Last Edit: 17/06/2013 22:42:09 by RD »
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: Why do we divide into groups?
« Reply #2 on: 17/06/2013 22:47:49 »
Perhaps we can see a sequence of events similar to the following:
  • Ambitious individuals want the best for themselves.
  • Almost universally, a group will be more succesful than an individual, so the ambitious and charismatic person will be more successful.
  • Evolutionary biologists point out that your genes will be more succesful if your siblings' & cousins' genes are also more successful.
  • Cohesive groups often form around ties at the level of immediate family, cousins, village, tribe, political party, sporting team, nation, language, company, etc.
  • In some areas there are limited resources, so a group which is both lazy and lacking in empathy will see the easiest way to get what they want is to take it off someone else, rather than working for it themselves.
  • Naturally, the group which has the bigger guns or the more subtle undermining of social institutions will be most successful in this contest.
So how can we start to overcome this?
  • Ambition is not bad in itself - but self-ambition that sees itself as more important than the rights of others is unhealthy ambition
  • By becoming aware of people outside our little group as real people with real feelings (removing blinkers - perhaps Youtube can help here)
  • By recognising that while weapons may be useful for restraining the small percentage of any population with a criminal bent, they are very destructive when applied to a whole population or a whole country.
  • By being willing to treat other people with the same respect as we want to be treated ourselves. This applies to people inside/outside our group as well as inside/outside our nation
  • Perhaps in 20 years we may start to overcome the implicit assumption that "my kids genes are inherently better than your kids genes" by collecting some real data and allowing genetic surgery to overcome some of the more severe genetic problems?
...and that brings us to the next level of human grouping: The species - My species is so important that every other species is worthless.
 

Offline RD

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Re: Why do we divide into groups?
« Reply #3 on: 18/06/2013 00:35:21 »
... Perhaps in 20 years we may start to overcome the implicit assumption that "my kids genes are inherently better than your kids genes"

Not necessarily "better" , it's just that there is natural-selection for the gene survival-machine that is you to give preferential treatment to those who also carry your genes.


...  allowing genetic surgery to overcome some of the more severe genetic problems?

You'll have to genetically-engineer the instinct for kin-selection out of the genome to remove nepotism.
« Last Edit: 18/06/2013 00:49:47 by RD »
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: Why do we divide into groups?
« Reply #4 on: 18/06/2013 11:58:44 »
In the 1950s, a experiment was done, which would probably be questionable today. Two groups of boys (age ten) at a "camp" were actually being studied by social biologists, without knowledge or consent of the boys or parents. At first the two groups were kept separate. Interfering as little as possible, researchers studied how they coalesced into a group with a name ("The Eagles" or the "Rattlers") and a flag, with preferred songs, jokes, slang, rules etc. During the second week, they allowed the two groups to become aware of one another, and studied the ensuing competition and hostility, which resulted in raids on each others camps, mass brawls and flag burning.
 

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Re: Why do we divide into groups?
« Reply #4 on: 18/06/2013 11:58:44 »

 

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