Tribalism and Cooperation

Today’s topics:

  • How tribalism, evolutionary evolved, solved some problems and created others, especially in the modern world;
  • The counter idea of “coöperism”;
  • Current events about Chick-fil-A and Republican condemnation of anti-racism.

I talk of politics as manifesting ‘tribalism’ a lot; tribalism is a real thing, and it evolved for a reason. But the world has expanded, and many of the problems of the world today come from competing tribes, who by definition don’t want to cooperate. So are we doomed to the corrosive effects of competing tribes forever? Can the world never come together to solve global problems? Here’s an excerpt from a recent book that I noticed as interesting, but haven’t decide to buy, at least not yet.

Big Think, David R. Samson, 30 May 2023: Humanity solved the “trust paradox” by going tribal — and paid a horrific price, subtitled “Evolutionary pressures drove the formation of tribes who encoded their values in myths and symbols. Was this cooperation cursed?” Continue reading

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The Lies that Bind

  • How the Christian curriculum ACE lies about science;
  • How some people are happy to submit to tyranny;
  • Wondering if it matters children are lied to about reality, and concluding that it doesn’t, given certain purposes of life;
  • And reflecting again about how the religious right’s support for Trump completely discredits their moral authority;
  • And music for today: an early film score by Hans Zimmer.

Yesterday there was an item about the lies some home-schooling parents tell about public schools. Today we have an item about the lies taught by a popular Christian homeschooling curriculum.

Hemant Mehta, Friendly Atheist, 31 May 2023: How Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) denies science and cheats students, subtitled “New research highlights how the ACE curriculum leaves students with no real understanding of science, including evolution and climate change”

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Narrative Bias and Control

  • Another take on why conspiracy theories have become so popular;
  • How home-schoolers who decided to send their kids to public schools exposed the three lies about home-schooling that convinced them to do so;
  • The Week on the state of book banning and criminalizing teachers;
  • Heather Cox Richardson on fascism;
  • And today’s music: a film score by Alexandre Desplat.


First, familiar material. The human inclination to cast everything in terms of narrative (stories) has always been with us. So why is it they seem to be taking over? The effects of social media? No, something more, this writer says.

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Then They Came for the Meteorologists

Today’s items.

  • How conspiracy theorists are attacking meteorologists;
  • Naomi Oreskes on how the right attacks Social Security because it’s a “big government” program that actually works;
  • The connection between American Christians and Uganda’s “kill the gays” policy
  • And today’s music: The National: I Should Live in Salt


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Sausalito, and Heartstopper

Missed posting yesterday because we took a day drive, on the first day of a three-day (Memorial Day, in the US) holiday weekend. On such weekends (Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day) most Americans don’t celebrate the event so much as use the extra day off from work to travel or shop. Local news is always about traffic, on the roads and in the sky, and how bad the airports will be compared to last year, over the holiday weekend; and TV and newspaper ads are all about holiday sales, with the American priority, always, to shop, and buy more stuff.

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Groupthink, Reason, and Conspiracy Thinking

  • An apology/defense of groupthink;
  • My thoughts about how religion undermines the ability to reason;
  • A Republican who believes globes are a global conspiracy;
  • How Republicans take advantage of laws they voted against;
  • And how they’re trying to disappear gays and lesbians

This first item is interesting because I can’t tell from the title and subtitle what the claim is, exactly, and wonder how what it seems to claim might be true. Is the “in partnership with John Templeton Foundation” (a group that rewards those who conflate science and religion) shown under the byline a clue?

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Moving Toward One Kind of Science-Fictional Future

Working from home vs. commuting, a slow social trend we thought might be temporary, but which may be inevitable, and for the good.

I have a laptop connected to two big monitors, but otherwise this photo is apt. My cat Potsticker — not unlike this cat, but with more orange — lies on my computer table as I work. Usually in the late afternoons when he’s expecting his dinner.

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Three from SciAm

Scientific American is a magazine I’ve read intermittently for 50 years.

  • A new take on the difference between liberals and conservatives;
  • How most Americans think they are better than most people, but people in Asian countries do not;
  • How there are bizarre numbers that even most mathematicians don’t understand.

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Fox News Admits They Were Wrong; Reviews by Michael Dirda

First, a follow up to my Media Literacy post three days ago. Stop the Presses! Something amazing has happened!

Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 23 May 2023: Fox News falls for another hoax, as the Dominion defamation settlement pays off, subtitled “The most surprising part of the “homeless veterans” hoax? Fox News admitted they were wrong”

Apparently the Dominion defamation settlement had consequences, lest Fox News keeps getting sued for lying. The photo here… with her expression…. seems appropriate.
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More Examples of What MAGA Really Means

Items today:

  • How Florida has been designated a dangerous state for blacks, Latinos, and sexual minorities to visit, with Tennessee close behind Florida and Texas on implementing similar policies;
  • Marjorie Taylor Greene’s hypocrisy about drag (she condemns it, except when her boyfriend does it);
  • Horror stories from Texas about women with failed pregnancies;
  • My thoughts on the potential banning in Florida of any alternatives to white bread and American cheese;
  • And quote from Saul Bellow.


More and more it seems clear that MAGA is about reasserting the dominance in America of straight white Christians, which seems to entail going back to the eras of Jim Crow, of homosexuality being illegal and gays worrying their careers would be ruined if they were found out, and abortions being performed in back alleys. The 1950s, or even before.

NY Times, 21 May 2023: N.A.A.C.P. Issues Florida Travel Advisory, Joining Latino and L.G.B.T.Q. Groups, subtitled “The N.A.A.C.P. urged people to consider Florida’s policies on diversity and race under Gov. Ron DeSantis when thinking of traveling there.” Continue reading

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