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9luke

Rule by authority (especially via threats of violence) is bad. Yes, there are degrees of bad, but those are often measured by in-group, out-group, tribal biases. When "our team" does it, we're okay with that because the outcome (we tell ourselves) aligns with our goals. It's amazing to me how often this plays out in politics again and again as each tribe vilifies their rivals while exonerating their heroes.

Right now, it seems more people are doubling down on their tribalism. It takes many forms. It might be religion or atheism. It can be seen in the political left, or the political right. It's liberalism (rarely the classical kind) and strong conservatism.

It's primitive.

We evolved to over-value our close tribal connections because those were the most beneficial to spreading our genes. Today it handicaps our rational, logical thinking. It's a shortcut we should consider working against as we use this tool we call our brain. Using terminology from Daniel Kahneman's book Thinking, Fast and Slow, it's a System 1 mechanism. We do it automatically without thinking because it saves glucose. It runs on optimized hardware compared to the slower software of rational thought.

Let's move beyond primitive tribal thinking.

If your identity is primarily defined by your "in-group," you may need to level up. You may be stuck in an older version of primate thinking.

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It happens all around us and mostly it's not really a bad deal by itself. We call ourselves "Steemians" because we're fans of this site. Same goes for sports fans or gamers or whatever. No real problem there. Some of us may also use terms like "Voluntaryist" or "Anarchist." I actually resisted those labels for quite some time because I think labels make us more stupid. I didn't finally accept them until enough people started using them to describe me, no matter how I described myself. I realized then it wasn't something I could prevent.

But now when I see "Voluntaryists" or "Anarchists" do stupid things or defend stupid things, I have to hang my head and sigh at the negative results of tribalism once again. It doesn't matter how individualistic our label is, it still hooks into a mode of thinking which lumps ideas and categories together to retrieve related ideas more easily. It's a primitive flaw, especially if our need to conserve glucose or react quickly enough to outrun a predator no longer matters for our survival.

Some might get confused about my position and think I'm against culture or cultural diversity. Far from it. Our differences, heritage, and groupings can bring about incredible beauty, diversity, creativity, and new ways of thinking. It's only when those things result in lowering wellbeing and are used to engage our primitive thinking that I ask we re-evaluate.

My plea to you is to recognize tribalism in your own life in all its forms. Recognize how much in-group and out-group thinking makes up your self-perception. Realize how often you make decisions, often without realizing it, because it's what someone "from your tribe" would do. See it in the media and information you consume. Try to see reality from a perspective that is not your own because that's when you're using the more advanced parts of your thinking.

That's when you grow.