The Key to Altruistic Reciprocity: Religion?

I wondered back in grad school while reading about the evolutionary origins of speech and music if religion hadn’t played a role in the evolution of civilization, and more to the point, man’s desire to be charitable to his fellow man. I remember reading that evolutionary scientists had struggled to discover why people were charitable. Game-theory experiments result in a single selfish player adulterating the entire population within a handful of generations.

The idea really congealed for me several years back when I traveled to Japan for the first time. That was my first encounter with a Buddhist culture, and I saw that karma played the same role in a Buddhist culture that the concept of an all-knowing God does in western society—that is, it gave people a reason to be honest and play fairly. If our pre-historic ancestors developed a fear that they would be punished, either by karma or an all-seeing/all-knowing God, then even the selfish might have followed the rules in exchanges of altruism. And it’s precisely these rules that make society work.

A biological-wiring theory might explain the prevalence and resilience of religious belief around the world, even in light of overwhelming evidence regarding the inaccuracy of virtually every religious origin mythology.

It might also explain cultural phenomena, such as the fact that people, even the non-religious, statistically have difficulty trusting atheists.

Anyway, it’s fascinating to see that evolutionary psychologists are pursuing this line of reasoning.

On Trump’s Tweets . . .

If his tweets seem oddly and unintentionally comical, remember they’re not for you. Understand them the way you understand pronouncements from North Korea—that is, intended for a constituency that lives in a bubble—only receiving information from its leader and lacking access to reliable media.

The sad thing being that for Trump voters, the bubble is willfully self-imposed.

Trump Nominees: Coached to Feign Autonomy?

Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch (right) arrives with former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., for a meeting with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Wednesday.; Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images Ted Robbins

NPR Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch told a U.S. senator today that he found President Trump’s recent attacks on judges to be “demoralizing” and “disheartening.” Gorsuch made the comments during a private meeting and was quoted later by Democratic Sen.

Source: Gorsuch calls Trump tweets about judges ‘demoralizing’ and ‘disheartening’

Senator Schumer indicated last night on The Rachel Maddow Show that these comments were solicited from the SCOTUS nominee by the Democrats. As such, to say the President’s behavior is “disheartening” amounts to more of a coaxed admittance of wrongdoing than a disappointed rebuke of the President’s egregious and threatening attitude towards our judiciary.

The people of the United States can take no solace from Gorsuch’s comments that he will be anything but a shill for Trump—as are all of Trump’s other nominees.

It really speaks to the dire state of things that the former Exxon CEO in the cabinet is among the least problematic of the nominees.