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A psychology professor explains why humans are cruel

via Vox

But our desire to do well socially can have an ugly side. If you can earn respect by helping people, that’s great. If you can earn respect by physically dominating people with aggression and violence, that’s destructive. So a lot depends on our social environment and whether it incentivizes good or bad behavior.

Consider the rhetoric of white supremacy. White supremacists know about the humanity of Jews and black people and whoever else they’re discriminating against — and it terrifies them. One of their slogans is, “You will not replace us.” Think of what that means. That’s not what you chant if you thought they were roaches or subhuman. That’s what you chant at people you’re really worried about, people who you think are a threat to your status and way of life.

Ultimately, we need better ideas, better ideologies. We need a culture less obsessed with power and honor and more concerned with mindfulness and dignity. That’s the best we can do to quell our appetites for dominance and punishment. Am I optimistic that we can do this? Yeah, I am. But it won’t be easy.