Statesmen understand human nature. Why not psychologists and social scientists?
Most psychologists don’t like human nature, or at least not the idea of it. Clinicians, life coaches, and corporate motivators dislike it because it implies unchangeability. Anyone who took college psychology knows how to modify behavior, from direct instruction to manipulative advertising.
And then, what fool surveying the huge variety of human personalities, needs, and tastes would dream of trying to characterize all that as one thing? Well, some fool might, but not the philosophers, evolutionists, historians and political leaders who have long used the phrase. They’ve always meant something complex, varied, and big-but not limitless.
Barack Obama, for instance. Read more
Is Barack Obama an evolutionary psychologist?
Since I criticized President Obama’s speech last year in Cairo (and even “rewrote” it) and later pointed out the names and deeds of those who did not get the Nobel Peace Prize because he did, I think it’s only fair that I resume this blog after a long hiatus by writing about his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in December.
I have to say that it stunned me. Read more
Whatever we think of the choice for this years prize, the runners-up deserve some attention.
Since even Obama reacted with disbelief to the news, saying in effect what everyone else said—that it was based on expectations, not accomplishments—I thought I would look into other nominees who were in effect runners-up.
One was Hu Jia, a Chinese dissident and AIDS activist Read more
Because I was involved in health care reform in the ’90s–two books, four or five New York Times op-ed pieces, a couple of essays in Newsweek , and two testimonies before U.S. Senate committee—a lot of people ask me to help them separate fact from fiction in the current debate.
Tensions are high. When a congressman from South Carolina, long and widely known as a fool and a boor, yelled, “You lie!” Read more
A government in the nature of things, with intelligent (human) design
I could not make the inaugural, but I had to be in Washington on Friday, and I decided to make a pilgrimage. After walking halfway across the city (dragging a rolling bag all the way) I stood in a happy, multiracial crowd before the White House fence,
Three stunning current examples of human character reflect our evolutionary history
Yesterday’s New York Times had three remarkable specimens of humanity on the front page, and together they say much about the human species and our long evolution. They say a lot too about human nature, and perhaps even more about human culture.
Champagne bubbles, dot-com bubbles, credit bubbles, and bursting dreams.
After a lecture in Poughkeepsie in mid-November I had take a car down to the White Plains airport at 3 AM in order to meet my class in Atlanta. The driver—let’s call him Don—was a big, burly, solid man around fifty with a New York accent that made me feel right at home.
He turned out to be a retired police officer, pro-Obama, a classic New York Democrat like his father and grandfather before him. Don could care less about Obama’s name or race, but as a struggling entrepreneur with two daughters in college he was very, very worried about the economy.
Now I get it: This is their generation's March on Washington.
My son Adam Konner is a senior at the University of Michigan who, like so many other young people, has been working to elect Barack Obama.