Due to the political chasm that seems to divide our nation, I’ve been pondering and revisiting and reworking ideas related to human nature and Us vs Them.
One realization that I got recently, though I should have known: it feels good to hate. I don’t like this fact, but it is apparent if you look for it. Our entertainment almost always has a villain or group to hate, someone to “boo” when they come on stage, someone you are happy is defeated in the end. Art may not be mimicking life in this case, but playing on simplifications. But… hate…
For the process of hate to provide the mental feel-good reward that we get, for hate to be as deep as it is in mammalian psyche (I’ve seen various pets that hate specific people, hate isn’t a human-only realm), it must have been important for survival to hate. It may even remain important to survival to hate, as it is a driving force and a component of passion. Since adrenalin has been noted to interact with the formation of memory, hate may be (currently) a core piece of learning. Hate may even help with understanding, if correctly used as motivation for learning.
The trouble is that hate often inspires violence, hate is a precursor to rage, and very often hate will shut down rationality. We as a species WANT to hate, as sad as that is. The catch, the snare, the trap, the pit that some have fallen into is to expect people not to hate. That can’t be done. Humans hate.
The way out is to give people something to hate, and a (safe, yet possibly violent) physical outlet for that hate, that directs and utilizes that energy rationally. If there were something to hate, and that something was also more technologically advanced that we are, then hate would spur technological advancement. The arms races of the past, the concept of “war is good for the economy” (false, by the way, Vietnam didn’t help the economy at all), that came from hating the Nazis and “Communism” enough to build a better military, with the technology that came with such development.
Historically (and currently (sadly)), leaders would point to “other” countries or skin tones or belief systems, accuse “them” of “evil” acts (that they may or may not actually be guilty of), and fan the flames of hate to cause their people to act. But war isn’t safe. Especially after the innovations of WWII, war isn’t safe for any life on the planet. I am not advocating war. I am using it as an historical example of the progress possible due to hate. But now, rationally, we need to become a united race, the human race, before our self-hate and high intellect cause the destruction of all life on Earth.
But then, what is “safe” to hate? What can we hate that could drive us all (ALL) to be better? What could we ALL hate, together?
…and all of the above is a digression from the original thought: Occam’s Razor is wrong.
In looking for the word-for-word definition of Occam’s Razor, I found that it is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or scientific result, and my reaction was toward the simplified vernacular version anyway.
Everything is complex. The simplest explanation is not necessarily the right explanation. There is almost always more to it. None of these statements are making my point.
The idea is that the concept of Occam’s Razor is deeper than Occam. People want the simple explanation, the black-and-white picture, the US and THEM. Why did that peasant die in 800ad? Simple answer: the devil made him sick. Real answer: bacterial infection of uncleaned sores, bacteria came from polluted local water source. The effect of the different answers: “Pray to God for salvation” or “Wash regularly, boil your water”. The simple answer only gives fear, the simple solution only gives false hope, but we WANT that answer and that response, because the real answer requires WORK.
It takes less mental energy to condense the complexities of reality into simple structures and anthropomorphisms. God or devil is a simple answer to everything that is too complex to think about. Humans LIKE simple answers, simple explanations, step-by-step instructions (headlines, sound bites, meme images…). We like Occam’s Razor, because it claims that the simplicity we desire is also truth.
It is not.
“Just love.” “Just don’t hate.” These are as easy as “Just be perfect.”, because humans hate and humans love and humans crave simple answers to complex questions. When we were growing up as animals in the wild, before there were even millions of us, simple answers were all we had access to, and simple rules were all we needed to survive. We’ve grown beyond the simple, hunter-gatherer life that can ignore complexity, we’ve changed the face of the planet, both on purpose with our fences, roads, dams, and cities, and accidentally with our emissions. No other animal on this planet has that kind of power, so no other race has the responsibility to find the complex answers.