Archive for December, 2011

Taking Stock Philosophically: Overcoming Primitive Group Dynamics is the Solution

December 29, 2011

Here is another outstanding, thoughtful, well-written comment on our previous posts about social evolution that I decided should run as a featured post.

By Mike Nichols

The great scientific and technological advances of the twentieth century have enabled an unprecedented quality of life for many in the more developed nations of the world. But at the same time they have provided tools of destruction and mayhem that abet and even encourage humans’ tendencies to move from zealotry to irrational nationalism to warfare to genocide.

Evolutionary psychology, a relatively new field, has done much to explain why we humans behave as we do. Concepts such as altruism, reciprocity, kin selection and group selection are theorized to be characteristics that were evolved in humans to ensure both individual and group survival.

However, the most worrisome feature of the discoveries of evolutionary psychology is that they seem to present the social traits evolved in humans as an immutable fate, something so imbedded in each of us that it is a near-futile task to sublimate them.

Standing in opposition to this Darwinian determinism are those who point to the many aspects of our primitive nature, such as the urge for men to impregnate as many women as possible, that have been largely overcome in many societies. The ability to accept another group, work peaceably with them, and even meld with them is not uncommon in modern history, though these arrangements sometimes fall apart.

And almost all of the world religions have as their foundation the belief that humans can rise above their flawed nature toward better actions and attitudes. However, the continual crimes against humanity done in the name of religion seem to make the good effects of religion doubtful to some. (I must insert here GK Chesterton’s famous statement that “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”)

The main problem, as I see it, is that humans are still trapped in the group dynamics of our forebears fifty or even one hundred thousand years ago. My group is good, righteous, upholders of Truth, superior, while the other group is radically opposite. The other group is demonized, accused of egregious acts, and made subhuman – justifying violence against them. These group dynamics are observable in everything from local government and race relations, to the current petty politics in Washington to the animosity and violence between nations and religious groups.

Whatever the final solution to the problem, it will take the universal recognition that humans have these primitive destructive tendencies working against the common good, coupled with a universal societal commitment to overcoming them. This need not and should not be imposed by government, but through our many institutions, religious groups, social groups and political groups – primarily and most importantly on the local level.

This may seem like pie-in-the-sky thinking, but it – or something like it – seems to be the only solution for breaking free of our evolutionary bonds to enjoy a world where war is unheard of and the good of all humans in all places is a primary virtue.

Taking Stock Philosphically: Social Evolution

December 28, 2011

While we have come a long way in scientifically explaining how we have evolved from a fish to a person,  what I want to know is why, if we are so smart, can’t we evolve socially? Why do we continue the insanity of wars? Why can’t we learn to work as the human family for the common good?

The superb PBS NOVA program on Charles Darwin’s explanation of the evolution of living species and how science is now answering questions that Darwin could not made me reflect, not only on natural evolution, but also, on social evolution.

  Darwin figured out that species do adapt to their environments, do mutate. But he could not explain how. But now, as I learned watching “What Darwin Never Knew,” another superb program in the NOVA series on PBS, scientists are now cracking nature’s biggest mysteries at  the genetic level.  They are, as a NOVA explanation says, “linking the enigmas of evolution to another of nature’s great mysteries, the development of the embryo.”

I do not doubt that humans have physically evolved, that our brains have enlarged over the eons, and that we have some incredibly brilliant scientists, but where we seem to have  not evolved is in our ability to work as a human family to make the world a better place for the human race. Why?

I welcome your thoughts on this, and I have more of my own on which I will elaborate in future posts on this subject.

Taking Philosphical Stock: Firepower says the Problem is Lack of Education and Literacy

December 27, 2011

Firepower – that’s his online nom de plume – offered such a well-written and thoughtful comment to the previous Dick’s World post that I decided to also run it as a featured post.

I’d offer a lack of education and literacy as a great deterrence to any advancement of world peace.  When we look at the countries that are troublesome in this world, most of them are led (and I do mean led) like a herd of cows.  Most 3rd world country inhabitants have a high percentage of people that can barely read, or can read at all.  Thus, they listen to leaders, many of whom are clerics, and they believe every word they’re being told.

We, in the US, are quite often the same way, though it’s not entirely due to illiteracy.  If main stream media says something enough, literally millions will believe it, right or wrong.  Many do not take the time to verify what they’re hearing to determine for themselves if it’s correct or not.

I saw an interview during the ’08 election where the individuals were asked where they received their news.  A bunch of them said, “Jon Stewart”!!!!  He’s a comedian, for Christ’s sake!!!!  Some things can be extracted as news or the truth, but it’s still a show for comedy’s sake.

I’m a Christian, but just because a preacher stands in a pulpit and says something doesn’t make it true.  Quite the opposite, I’ve found.

Look at teachers and some of the agendas they have.  Recently, my grand-daughter was introduced to “green” philosophy at school.  One of the things discussed was “saving a pumpkin”!!!!  The only way to save a pumpkin is to not plant it!!!!!  Then the same teacher went on and on about how bad the petroleum industry was…..not counting on how she was able to operate the air conditioner in her room, lights she was using or even how she got to school in the first place!!!

World peace?  Not until the earth is cleansed of people who DO NOT want to get along OR have an agenda far from what most people want.  We’re too many and too varied in our beliefs and customs to avoid these conflicts.  We just have to deal with what confronts us at the time.

Hell, our congress can’t even agree on anything!

Taking Stock Philosophically

December 27, 2011

As I sat and marveled at the incredibly spectacular animation achieved for the Tintin movie, I had to reflect on just far advanced technically mankind has become, but also had to philosophically reflect on how humans simply can’t advance in social skills enough to end war and make the world a better place for the human race.

I’ll have more on this subject during this last week of 2011, and I welcome your thoughts on the subject.

The Latest PIC QUIZ Winner is…

December 24, 2011

Jim Thorsen, who gets the  ATTABOY AWARD for correctly identifying that I was standing in front of Westminster Palace (home of the U.K. Parliament) in London, and that the statue behind me is Oliver Cromwell.  Congrats, Jim!  

When in London

December 24, 2011


You can probably easily guess where I am standing, but can you guess who that is behind me? How do you like my Brit hat? Right after arriving in London, I went to a department store in Kensington and, deciding that I wanted to fit in, not look “different,” and bought what I considered to be an English hat. Once I went out on the street, I noticed no one was wearing a hat like mine, and most people were wearing American style baseball caps, and a lot were wearing jeans.  It appears all I needed to do to fit in was to dress “American,” because that’s the way everyone except the bobbies and guards at the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle were dressing.

London was a lot of fun. The folks I met there were quite friendly. Being a really big city, I am sure there are plenty a person wouldn’t want to meet, but fortunately that was not my experience.

Brad Doughertry Says Stone Mountain

December 24, 2011

He is right, and now the winner of the famous ATTABOY AWARD for getting the right answer to our PIC QUIZ.

And the PIC QUIZ Winner is…

December 22, 2011

Linda Herron Hagberg is our ATTAGIRL AWARD winner for correctly identifying the changing of the guard at Windsor Castle.  She did call it a palace, but that’s close enough. Below is not the bagpipe band we showed in the quiz pic, but the pal…er…castle.

PIC QUIZ on Dick’s World

December 21, 2011

Milton Jone has suggested that I also put the PIC QUIZ on this blog as well Facebook. I told him I would see how much trouble that would be and if not too much, I would do it. So this is a test of how much trouble it would be.

What’s ths and where (more than just the country) is it?

The winner gets the ATTABOY or ATTAGIRL AWARD.

PIC QUIZ pictures are for the most part those that I took over 56 years, starting back in 1955 when I bought my first 35mm camera in Munich, Germany, where I was stationed when in the Army.

Having Fun with Facebook: PIC QUIZ

December 20, 2011

It took me a little while to really get involved with Facebook. I thought, I have a blog  and I have email so why should I fool with Facebook?  Still, I kept hearing so much about it from people I know that I decided to give it a try.  Now, it turns  out I’m having fun with it with my PIC QUIZ.

I submit one of the photos I took over the past 56 years and ask folks to see if they can identify it.  I do this, so far, on most days, but I can’t promise every day  because sometimes I have other things to do.

My first photo dates back to when I bought my first 35mm camera.  I had just arrived in Germany in 1955 courtesy of the United States Army and decided I couldn’t pass up  the opportunity to record what I saw in Europe.  Here’s the pic and the declaration of who won.

PIC QUIZ WINNER IS SUE NELSON. She guessed that it is one of the Munich, Germany city gates. It’s the Isartor gate. The center tower was built in 1337, and the octagonal towers in the 15th century. Congratulations, Sue. ATTTAGIRL!

Yes, as you can see, there is a prize. The winner gets the  ATTAGIRL or ATTABOY AWARD,  and sometimes when it takes a bunch of people to come up with the answer, the ATTATEAM AWARD.

The second one was when I was on leave in Italy.

And the winnah is…Dixie Close Turman. She correctly identified Mt. Vesuvius and wins the ATTAGIRL AWARD for PIC QUIZ #2. Congratulations, Dixie. I took the picture on a tour of some of Italy when I was on Army leave in 1956.  

Not all of them will date back that far.  Here’s my latest one.

… and the PIC QUIZ winnah isssss…..Keith Lovett, the first person to correcltly identify the picture of a London Eye capsule.
That one was taken on a 2004 visit  to London.  I’ll have a new one soon. If you’d like to play, just come to my Facebook wall (profile) and join in.