Posts Tagged ‘The Moral Animal’


Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

– I love articles that reveal just how illogical the human mind is, in spite of how logical and rational we human may think we are. Those beliefs are just part of the illusion.

– I’ve written about this before here

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

In today’s excerpt-evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers (b. 1943) argues that, consciously or subconsciously, we keep our rationales for our actions and beliefs carefully arrayed near the surface-ready as necessary for our defense:

“The reason the generic human arguing style feels so effortless is that, by the time the arguing starts, the work has already been done. Robert Trivers has written about the periodic disputes … that are often part of a close relationship, whether a friendship or a marriage. The argument, he notes, ‘may appear to burst forth spontaneously, with little or no preview, yet as it rolls along, two whole landscapes of information appear to lie already organized, waiting only for the lightning of anger to show themselves.’

“The proposition here is that the human brain is, in large part, a machine for winning arguments, a machine for convincing others that its owner is in the right–and thus a machine for convincing its owner of the same thing. The brain is like a good lawyer: given any set of interests to defend, it sets about convincing the world of their moral and logical worth, regardless of whether they in fact have any of either. Like a lawyer, the human brain wants victory, not truth; and, like a lawyer, it is sometimes more admirable for skill than virtue.


– Research thanks to Lisa G.