How Human Beings Work
I have a hunch - that the way human beings work, i.e. what makes them tick, the emotional drivers that create our behaviors, may be quite simple. Much simpler than most psychologists believe but nothing like the way that a pseudo science like psychoanalysis describes, and that the best way to derive the variables at play is from an anthropological view but over a long timescale, i.e. much of our cultural development over the last ten thousand years is irrelevant.
Here are my, work-in-progress, notes:
A brief summary of hairless apes:
Human beings are generally opportunistic scavengers although we are partial predators and enjoy hunting and killing for food, including, perhaps, our own species. If anything, we are multi-purpose mammals. Our natural habitat is, say, a forest clearing by a lake. We are nomadic pack animals with natural groups of around 50 and family groups with one female and one young per litter. Our lifespan means that in addition to parent child relationships there are grandparent relationships. Males split into two principal types, relatively monogamous family providers and opportunists (who don’t help rearing children and maximize their DNA through having children that are raised unknowingly with help of other males). Our unique ability with symbols means that language is independent of the speaker/listener pair (i.e. can be relayed, intact, to a third party) and has enabled us to abstract emotional responses to ourselves and the environment as fear and superstition which lead to religion (permanent belief in fictional abstraction), art (temporary belief in fictional abstraction) and science (deconstruction of abstraction to its underlying rules).
Some core drivers:
People are instinctively tribal - to win them over in an argument you must become one of their tribe, rather than appeal to reason. In other words the vast majority of people don’t vote for politicians based on policy, any more than people supports a sports team based on their tactics. There are some people who natural tribal allegiances have been damaged (I am one of these - I am Scottish with an English accent and have lived outside of the UK much of my life, hence my national tribal allegiance is weakened, and I was brought up non-Jewish in a predominantly Jewish cultural environment, so my religious tribal allegiances are also weakened). People with weakened tribal affiliation are the only people that politicians can ever attempt to change their minds, which is why stable democracies (where there is no big perturbation causing unrest and extreme politics) rarely have to worry about losing the base, just winning over the margins.
Within tribes there are leaders - we evolved on the African Savannah in bands of, say 50 people and clearly most of us are followers with a few natural leaders. Today we are exposed to people (celebrities) who can act as virtual leaders of millions of people. They are powerful in a way that we have not evolved to immune ourselves against the danger of their influence, whether it be the relatively harmless use of celebrity for marketing or the very dangerous effects of extremist political leaders.
As well as leaders there are shamen. Shamen/religious leaders are to parents as peers are to leaders - the role of the leader seems to be different from the role of the cleric. Perhaps the role of the cleric is just the physical example of the abstract drivers of superstition and religion, which in turn are an abstraction what happens when the human mind gets creative with the emotional need for parents. In other words, clerics are part of the parental emotional driver complex and leaders/celebrities/heros are part of our friends/peers emotional driver complex. The evidence for their being two separate complexes comes from the fact that there are two separate forces when it comes to identity - our accent always comes from our peers in preference to our parents, crystalized at the point of an child/adult rite of passage (Kissinger vs his brother) whereas our religious allegiance is almost always dictated by our parents over our peers.
The difference between a shamen and a leader is that a shamen pretends he is a tool of an invisible leader, i.e. the leader becomes abstracted as a religion and the authority appears to come from outside the system. it’s possible to say that a the world just consists of leaders and followers where the leader is sometimes an imaginary god, but the difference between accent (always overridable by peers) and religion (always overridable by parents) suggests there is something more complicated.
Deriving the underlying model from the core drivers:
The categories and words we have to describe our emotional drivers are fuzzy and overlap, as such there is an underlying statistical model for predicting the human response to sensory input (you see a movie about x,y.z [input], you will cry [output]) which is possibly based on an underlying syntax that is both fuzzy and doesn’t map exactly to specific concepts or words, but literally to overlapping patterns of neural connections that have both a tendency to and have been strengthened by sensory input.