WHY WE ENGAGE IN TRIBALISM, NATIONALISM, AND SCAPEGOATING

Robert Sapolsky reveals the biological basis for our most unfortunate traits—and insists change is possible.

A couple of weeks ago, at a speech before a friendly audience, President Donald Trump likened immigrants to poisonous snakes. To biologist and behavioral scientist Robert Sapolsky, it was a revolting but revealing remark.

"That's a textbook dehumanization of 'them,' he said. "If you get to the point where citing 'thems' causes your followers to activate neurons in the insular cortex—the part of the brain that responds to viscerally disgusting things—you've finished most of your to-do list for your genocide."

That sort of sharply stated, science-based analysis has made Sapolsky a popular and influential writer and thinker. A MacArthur fellow, he is a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, and the author of several books, including the 2017 best-seller Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst.

Sapolsky has spent much of his career in Kenya, studying baboons (among other primates), and he uses that knowledge to put human behavior into a broader perspective. In a recent telephone interview, he discussed the biological basis of our current political fault lines.

Read Article Here: https://psmag.com/social-justice/why-we-engage-in-tribalism-nationalism-...