Sunday, January 16, 2011

naturally racist?

Conservative Heritage Times | Are we hardwired to be ethnocentric? After all, birds of a feather flock together. Steve Sailer has tirelessly reported on findings in sociobiology that demonstrate the biological basis for ethnocentrism (i.e. preferring others of one’s own ethnicity/race), such as applications of William D. Hamilton’s theory of kin selection and inclusive fitness—the more genes we share with another individual, the more altruistic we feel toward him.

And now there is yet another study proving this insight. Nicholas Wade at the NY Times reports on a Dutch study where subjects were given oxytocin and then had to select their preferences.
Dutch students were given standard moral dilemmas in which a choice must be made about whether to help a person onto an overloaded lifeboat, thereby drowning the five already there, or saving five people in the path of a train by throwing a bystander onto the tracks.

In Dr. De Dreu’s experiments, the five people who might be saved were nameless, but the sacrificial victim had either a Dutch or a Muslim name. Subjects who had taken oxytocin were far more likely to sacrifice the Muhammads than the Maartens
Wade continues:
What does it mean that a chemical basis for ethnocentrism is embedded in the human brain? “In the ancestral environment it was very important for people to detect in others whether they had a long-term commitment to the group,” Dr. De Dreu said. “Ethnocentrism is a very basic part of humans, and it’s not something we can change by education. That doesn’t mean that the negative aspects of it should be taken for granted.”
If these findings are correct, then the war against ethnocentrism (often labeled as a war against “racism”) may itself be a war against human nature.

Updates:
Carsten K. W. De Dreu’s paper, “Oxytocin promotes human ethnocentrism

Allan C. Park’s take on the experiments. Fist tap Dale.