21st-Century Humans More Peaceful

With utter fascination last Wednesday night Nov. 20th, I watched one of my favorite PBS shows, NOVA. The title of the show was The Violence Paradox. The one hour show investigated how over the last 200,000 years Homo sapiens as a whole are living and dying less violently. In other words, comparatively speaking in the 21st century by the compiled numbers most human beings are living and dying more peacefully than in our past.

stevenpinkerIn his two published books The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (2011) and its sequel Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (2018), cognitive psychologist, linguist, and Harvard Professor Steven A. Pinker states on the show:

We’ve done something right. Let’s figure out what it is and keep doing it. The reality is that we may be living in one of the most peaceful eras in human existence. Violence has been in decline, but that just doesn’t count as news. You just never see a journalist saying, “I’m reporting live, from a country that’s at peace,” or “a school that hasn’t been shot up.” Once I stumbled upon this graph, I mentioned it in a blog post, and then I received correspondence from scholars in a variety of fields, telling me that I could’ve made an even stronger case. I saw data-set after data-set, all of which showed declines in violence, in different parts of the world, with different kinds of violence. And I realized there was a story that needed to be told.

Enlightenment Now_PinkerHowever, Pinker wants to be clear about the explicit and implicit meaning of his findings so as not to be painted as a deluded optimist.

To point out that things were worse in the past is not to say we should relax, our problems are all solved, quite the contrary. It’s by understanding how our predecessors were able to drive down rates of violence that we can be emboldened to try to drive them down even further.

And this is where I was personally intrigued! How. How has this downward trend of violence, on the global scale, been achieved? What various factors and events have contributed to humanity’s gradual increase to more peaceful existences with each other?

I found the entire 1-hour 53-minute documentary to be powerful and yes, hopeful with tangible solutions and methods offered and that are in fact tried and tested for success, offering more reasons to keep this peaceful trend rising. What I found especially intriguing from the scientific and statistical findings was of the many factors scientists have connected to violence or peace, seven modern societal conditions and their related sub-conditions which guided humans either toward, hate, prejudice, and violence, or on a path of peace, collaboration, and prosperity. They were:

  • Government or State — the rule of law kept better peace
  • The Civilizing Process — economic order went hand in hand with social norms and manners, etiquette, self-control, etc.
  • Equality — learning about others with the same experiences (with empathy below)
  • Literacy — not just reading, but how much could be read about from a diverse continent or around our diverse world (e.g. Uncle Tom’s Cabin)
  • Empathy — feeling deeply about someone else’s plight and/or prosperity (linked with equality)
  • Biggest World Powers — the top major powers/armies are not fighting, at the moment
  • Testosterone Levels — today violence is no longer an effective tool to get something done or achieve conquest as it was before. Non-violent movements are 2-3 times as successful as violent movements

However, without these seven conditions above or just two to four of them or one or more in fragile existence, the whole of a civilization could collapse, returning it/us right back to Medieval societal hardships when one ruler or small group of “Lords” could easily become sadistic tyrants willing, forcing their subordinates into heinous acts or genocide. From the show:

NARRATOR: At SWPS University, in Poland, Tomasz Grzyb and Dariusz Doliński are revisiting a famous experiment first conducted in the 1960s by the American psychologist Stanley Milgram. In the aftermath of the holocaust, Milgram wanted to understand how seemingly good people could follow terrible orders.

Just as Milgram did, the experiment starts by setting up a fake study.

TOMASZ GRZYB (SWPS University): There are two participants, and there is a guy who presents himself as a professor of psychology, and he says that, “Well, you are a participant in an experiment which is devoted to find out how memory’s working.”

NARRATOR: Grzyb is masquerading as a participant, the so-called “learner.” The other participant is the “teacher.” Grzyb pretends to memorize sets of letters, but his responses are scripted. The teacher is told that the student is hooked up to the machine, and they must administer a shock, if he answers incorrectly.

Because the experiment is highly stressful for the real subject, the so-called teacher, it’s controversial. So, it will be stopped at 150 volts, the 10th switch on the panel, which, if real, would be an extremely painful shock.

Will anyone go so high?

PBS NOVAThis experiment showed that with a powerful authority figure or figures ordering the “teacher” to commit this violence—by fear, coercion, or perhaps blackmail—of the 220 participants, about 90% of them obeyed the orders. Many of us think we would never commit such heinous crimes on another, a baby, child, or adult, but this test and others like it suggest otherwise. Similar to the soldiers of Genghis Khan or the Nazi SS of World War II, all of us have the capacity to commit heinous acts given our personal circumstances and surroundings. Peace and non-violence are not a forgone conclusion.

There were two other fascinating facts the show presented:  1) the Availability Heuristic, and 2) strong Gun Regulations, particularly on assault weapons, cut in half or more, crimes of homicide and mass killings.

Availability heuristic says that a diet of news stories will fool us into thinking that violence is much more prevalent than it really is. This is very much the case with social-media bombardments of a specific (viral?) topic. On the contrary, this very narrow propaganda or sensationalism (for revenues) does not factually represent the overall global or continental trends.

Gun regulations that are widespread and strong, e.g. in 1996 Australia, contribute to significant reductions in suicide, homicide, and mass-killing rates according to these studies, click here.

Cure Violence logoFinally, an international program called Cure Violence, ranked #9 in top 500 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) in the world, stops the spread of violence by using the methods associated with disease control. And cities around the world have turned to Cure Violence to prevent violence—from the United States to Latin America to the Middle East. One method utilized in Iraq (based upon Contact Theory) is through a football/soccer league where teams must have players of various ethnicities, religious beliefs, and/or social classes, even if historically opposed, in order to enroll and play the season. In football/soccer their are no national, ethnic or religious boundaries. Players and their families are also encouraged to socialize off the soccer pitch in restaurants and home-gatherings. The soccer league and additional off-field activities have been a huge success! How about that Ark! 😉

If you ever have the chance to watch this outstanding documentary, The Violence Paradox by PBS NOVA, I highly recommend you do it! It is well worth 2-hours of your time and undivided attention. Most of all, it shows us clearly how to understand our lesser nature for violence, but more importantly it gives us proven solutions and methods of stopping the spread of the violence disease and it becoming a repetitive epidemic.

————

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://professortaboo.com/contact-me/.

Does Size Matter?

My intelligence officer frantically bursts through my plastic door, salutes with the wrong hand and reports to me in broken sentences and insufficient oxygen-intake THE terrible crisis which has befallen us:

Highly General! We’ve been hit by a surprise attack that is of the scale and deadly precision of… yes… Dec. 7th, 1941… “A date which will live in INFAMY!

Stunned and not sure whether I left the refrigerator door open this morning or not, and whether I remembered to apply my under-arm deodorant, I asked my IO Alright, so how bad is it? What’s the damage report?

Sir of Highlyness, the reports are still preliminary, but all sectors are fighting gallantly in all directions! But there is just TOO MANY of them. We are being overrun!

I scramble to find somewhere on my big desk in front of my BIG chair underneath all my “kinky surveillance photos” and questionable magazines, Where is that file? I know it’s here somewhere! Shuffle, shuffle, push, push… HAH! There it is! My IO with the utmost attentiveness of a feline inside a pet-bird store snaps WHAT!? What is it your Highlyness!?

I open up the top-secret file labelled “Top Secret” to read valuable national security data for kitchens:

If you have been seeing small flies or gnats in your kitchen, they’re probably fruit flies. Fruit flies can be a problem year round, but are especially common during late summer/fall because they are attracted to ripened or fermenting fruits and vegetables.

There it is. The Coup d’état of preemptive covert preparations in early to mid-April. Yes, APRIL! What good does that do us in June under piles of kinky photos and unconventional magazine… research!? The extensive report continues:

Adults are about 1/8 inch long and usually have red eyes. The front portion of the body is tan and the rear portion is black. Fruit flies lay their eggs near the surface of fermenting foods or other moist, organic materials. Upon emerging, the tiny larvae continue to feed near the surface of the fermenting mass. This surface-feeding characteristic of the larvae is significant in that damaged or over-ripened portions of fruits and vegetables can be cut away without having to discard the remainder for fear of retaining any developing larvae. The reproductive potential of fruit flies is enormous; given the opportunity, they will lay about 500 eggs. The entire life-cycle from egg to adult can be completed in about a week. 

Obviously I cannot confirm the red eyes because the little f*ckers never stay still, especially when I try to look up close directly at their eyes! Tan bodies? What!? Are they migrating here from Caribbean beaches of UV-coconut lotion? Wow, what a life!

Eggs on fermenting foods or organic materials? That is unequivocally wrong! I have nothing fermenting within my zone-of-defense and most grocers don’t sell anything organic, at least not at reasonable prices! Damn, these little pecker-pests have figured out another method of infiltration and penetration! And I am NOT talking about Karen McDougal or Stormy Daniels. HOLY SHIT! 500 eggs!? The entire life-cycle from egg to adult can be completed in about [30-seconds]. Well, at least that’s much much longer than Donnie T’s endurance.

As I am reading this Top Secret file I have three enemy flies/gnats buzz me. One tries entry into my nostril the other tries my ear like my skull is the Death Star and they have delusions of Luke Skywalker grandeur! OH HELL NO! I’m swatting my hands everywhere like M.C. Hammer on steroids firing laser-maching-guns! BAAM! BOOM! gnatty-ness carnage everywhere!

But within minutes there’s another wave of horny-for-500-more fruity flies flying to my kitchen and to every orifice on my body… I presume because I do not have enough organic produce! Hence, I am the fruiter’s target. I must read the rest of the Top Secret fruit-fly files FAST… EEER!

ERADICATION – or Counter-attacks:
Once a structure is infested with fruit flies, all potential breeding areas must be located and eliminated. Unless the breeding sites are removed or cleaned, the problem will continue no matter how often insecticides are applied to control the adults. Finding the source(s) of attraction and breeding can be very challenging and often will require much thought and persistence. Potential breeding sites which are inaccessible (e.g., garbage disposals and drains) can be inspected by taping a clear plastic food storage bag over the opening overnight. If flies are breeding in these areas, the adults will emerge and be caught in the bag.

Are you fuckin’ kidding me? I have to find areas with 500 eggs? And we thought Easter was fun!?

I scream at my IO, Corporal Klinger! It is time to call-in SEAL Team D-O. We have no choice, no hope of clean orifices if we do not call-in the Specialized DO-ers.

Cpl. Klinger stares forward and stares forward… KLINGER! He jumps to attention, SIR!? I give him the piercing reprimand-stare, This is no time for daydream believers and homecoming Queens! Make the call! He salutes proudly, Yes sir. Right away sir! I’m sure the Black-Ops of Drain-O squad will see to it that Operation orifice is a resounding success!

Well, it better be or we will become the 30-second breeding ground of eggs-galore! Can you imagine being violated like that in 30-seconds? Both of us pause a few seconds and remember the long, long history of patriarchal plunder. Cpl. Klinger begins to open his mouth to respond. STOP! Do not answer that.

Right now we have a formidable fruit-fly foray requiring our finest feats of ferocity! Are you fit for this forthcoming fatal function of fracas fruit-fly… I must pause to wipe my lip and chin… FARNAGE! the Cpl. blurts out! You are indeed my Intelligence Officer. Go call SEAL team DO-ers!

The Battle-Smoke Slowly Clears, the Smell of Apple Vinegar Lingers with Fly-Bodies Floating Lifeless Everywhere

💀  💀  💀  💀  💀

It was near disaster. There were so many. They just kept coming and coming and coming. Three bottles of apple-cider vinegar (squirted with Dawn dishsoap) gone, strategically dispersed throughout our fortress defenses, precision counter-attacks by the SEAL DO-ers, and orifices brilliantly booby-trapped… the war had been won, but at what cost? Would we be able to withstand the next attack? Unless we breed like our fruity enemy do we have a chance? Yes, we were victors, for now. Like the dinosaurs we are big and mighty, for now. But can we last?

Do numbers matter? Scary still, does size matter? We face an uncertain future with those levels of reproduction and libidos. I don’t think we hetero males will keep up. Have we been deluding ourselves over the millenia with dreams of superiority?

————

Live Well — Make Love Much More? — Laugh Often at our Arrogance — Learn Always from the Tiny Details

Creative Commons License
This work by Professor Taboo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.professortaboo.com/contact-me/.