Berreby shows how our "tribal'' sense is a part of human nature, expressing itself in every aspect of life, effecting our thoughts, our health and our society more than we realize.
There are so many ways to sort people. We all do it, all the time. From
everyday decisions (whom to invite to dinner?) to life choices (whom to marry?)
to the great turning points of history (whom to war against?), we're guided by
an ever-present sense, in any situation, of who belongs with whom, and what that
belonging means. Everyone is part of many groups at once, of course - you might be
a woman, a parent, a Republican, an American, and a Hindu. So, how do we decide
which identities matter? Why do they matter so much? What makes people willing
to die, or to kill, for a religion, nation, race, or caste?
In this groundbreaking book, David Berreby shows how science tackles these questions of group identity. Drawing on new findings from anthropology to neuroscience, he argues that this "tribal'' sense is a part of human nature, expressing itself in every aspect of life.
The effects run deep, shaping our lives and opportunities. Us and Them elegantly explains how this tribal sense:
We can't live without our tribal sense. It tells us who we are and how we should behave. It frees us from the narrow confines of the self, linking us to others and the past and the future. Some condemn this instinct, as if it were only a source of evil. Others celebrate it, as if loyalty and faith were never misused. David Berreby brilliantly describes a third alternative: how we can accept and understand our inescapable tribal mind.
"THAT'S OUR BIGGEST DIFFERENCE"
All good people agree, And all good people say, All nice
people, like Us, are We And every one else is They.
- Rudyard Kipling, "A Friend of the Family".
Scientists, when they turn their attention to people, usually talk
about the entire human race or about the individual human being. Those
are two faces of the same idea. Truth about all is truth about each; a
theory about the mind or morality applies to everyone who ever lived, as
well as to you in particular. Either perspective yields big
explanations, which make many predictions to test and suggest many
experiments. It's where researchers like to be - working on
"the" genome, or "the" brain, or "the"
They aren't nearly as comfortable with the categories in between one person and all people - the ones that ...
David Berreby says, "Us And Them is a book about research and ideas. But I suppose its emotional
roots are in my struggles to cope with people who think their way of dividing up
humanity must be the only one around."
If you enjoy the except at BookBrowse, you might also enjoy Berreby's Us and Them Blog.
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