Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman

March 1st, 2021 | Notes from Reading

Page xv: 1941 - After ~18 months of Luftwaffe "blitz," Lord Cherwell commissions a study of morale on hardest hit cities.

"There is no evidence of breakdown of morale."

This was ignored. Brits bombed the fuck outta Germany anyway.

Civilian bombings strengthened morale of the bombed.

Placebo/Nocebo in regards to people
"You get what you expect"

Mean World Syndrom
- George Gerbner

Negativity bias - More attuned to the bad than the good

Availability bias - Easily recall examples of a given thing, we assume it's common.

"News is to the mind what sugar is to the body."

It's easier to be a cynic - "Nothing has gone wrong...yet"

An idealist can be right her whole life and still be dismissed as being naive.

Hobbes - Leviathan

Rousseau - Essays

"The basic ingredients for the evolution of life are straightforward.
You need:
Lots of suffering.
Lots of struggle.
Lots of time.
Pg. 52

Dmitri Belyaev - Silver Foxes

"Our distant ancestors knew the importance of the collective and rarely idolised individuals ... Saw themselves as a part of something much bigger, linked to all other animals, plants and mother Earth."
pg. 70

Steven Pinker - The Better Angels of Our Nature

"War does not go forever backwards in time, it had a beginning."
- Brian Ferguson
pg. 91

Pinker misinterpreted data about "war" - usually foragers were being hunted/killed by other civilizations, he labeled these deaths as being related to "war," overinflating the numbers for hunter-gatherers who died in war.

Colonel Marshall - Most soldiers aren't trying to kill others.

Achievement based inequality.

"Scientists suspect that equality between the sexes offered homo sapiens a key advantage over other hominins like neanderthals."
pg. 97

Gobekli Tepe - Oldest temple, created via collective work event

15,000 years ago - end of the last ice age. Temperatures get warmer, people settle places. Possessions increase, inequality increases. Wars first break out.

Hadze Tribe in Tanzania, religion.

James C. Scott - Against the Grain(2017)

Easter Island - Jan Boersema (sp? my handwriting is god awful)
- Moai (Stone statues) created as "Guardians of the Quarry" and moved around as something to do - a collective work event. Myth of war, cannibalism, and decline in population was exactly that; myth. Population of 1,500 - 2,200 was as high and healthy as could be. No wars, no problem. Peruvian slavers took 1/3rd of the population, most of whom died in captivity. Those who survived long enough to ultimately be returned to the island (about 15) brougth back smallpox to the island. After the smallpox epidemic ended, only about 110 inhabitants were left. Finally, the myth was true. The survivors turned on one another, war and suicide became prevalent.

Robbers Grave Experiment - June 1954
- Two groups of boys at camp, spend one week unaware of the other group, then are introduced. Quickly the groups make enemies of one another.
- Turns out, the researchers made the groups play competitive games versus one another, which is how things escalated between the groups.

Stanford Prison Experiment
- The guards were primed to dehumanize the inmates, it did not happen organically.
- Zimbardo faked/forced the whole thing. Guards were "on his team" and were instructed to be rough to inmates.

BBC - "The Experiment"
- TV show with same premise as the Stanford Prison Experiment, but the guards were not prompted as they were in aforementioned expt.
- Nothing happened.
- Guards and inmates loung around, relax. They end up forming a democracy together.

Fuck Zimbardo.

Stanley Milgram, Shock Machine - Yale June 1961
- As per usual, the experiments were far less than "pure," subjects were repeatedly directed what to do/how to act by research team, results and constraints obfuscated for catchy headlines and such.
- Reality: People did bad things in service of doing good, ie, "This experiment will help people."

Convince someone they're doing good and they will do some bad.

Open resistance - human spirit actively refuts authority and evil.

Danish Jews were saved by their countrymen.

Bystander effect - bullshit.

Kitty Genovese - story exaggerated, shitty journalist doing shitty job, same with cops.

Why did the Germans fight so hard all the way to the end?
- Friendship. Human empathy for their fellow soldiers.

Adam Smith, Macchiavelli, Hume
- idk, modernity is kinda shit. The Enlightenment left us "The Free Market" womp womp.

Bertrand Russell - look up

Pygmalion Effect - High expectations on a subject lead to higher performances, despite being "normal" otherwise.

Golem effect - Opposite of Pygmalion effect, basically.

Pluralistic ignorance - individually, something doesnt make sense, but because no one else says anything, you assume you just don't understand it, so you let it go. "Go with the flow" but it's bad.

Ants can end up in marching circles after getting sidetracked. Because they instinctively follow other ants pheromone trails, they will get locked into a circle, walking laps until they die from exhaustion. Shitty life.

Extrinsic incentives Bias - we assume other people are solely motivated by external things, money for example.

Frederick Taylor - invented Scientific Management - managers can make a business more efficient by tracking output and externally incentivizing performance.

Extrinsic incentives tend to pay out in kind; pay by the hour, you get more hours billed. Pay by the weight, you get a heavier thing. Pay by the word, you get a lot more words. Quality is not a factor. Extrinsic incentives can undermine motivation and creativity in workers.

Edward Deci - stop trying to figure out how to motivated others; instead figure out how to get people to motivated themselves.

John Wesley - "He that plays when he is a boy, will play when he is a man."
- This was meant as a diss, but it actually sounds rad.

Carl Theodor Sorensen - created junkyard playgrounds for kids to play in, basically unsupervised and unstructured. No significant injuries, premiums for insurance were actually cheaper than for a standard playground. "Adventure Playgrounds" started in Emdrup.

Sjef Drummen - Agora School

Buurtzorg - Health Care system

Everyday Communism

Tragedy of the Commons - Garret Hardin
- Individual action done by all on shared resources would result in catastrophic failure. Ultimately this line of thinking leads to thinking of overpopulation as "the problem" and restriction of reproductive rights as "the solution."

Elinor Ostrom - Governing the Commons(1990)
- Design Principles for a Successful Commons (2009)
- Nobel prize in economics.

Contact Theory - We can only love what we know. Contact prevents prejudice.