Archive for May, 2011

Nice Guys & Party Animals

May 18, 2011

Sociology Newbies:  Americans are practically indoctrinated with the idea that competition is the most basic fact of nature (then there is the common, question-begging assumption that what is natural is therefore to be endorsed).  Law of the Jungle.  Devil take the hindmost.  But as the eminent neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga shows (and as we discussed on Monday), much recent neuroscientific research suggests that cooperation is as much a part of our human hardwiring as competition is.

An even greater panoply of evidence is discussed in Gazzaniga’s most recent book.  But I want to draw your attention to an Op-Ed that came out (serendipitously enough) the day we discussed these topics.  David Brooks covers some even more recent studies of this kind and concludes that ‘Nice Guys Finish First’ (this will be news to the pickup artists depicted by Neil Strauss in an earlier reading, but that’s a topic for another day).  Pace Pinker, human nature may not be as Hobbesian as you might think.