"When an arrow does not hit its target, the marksman blames himself, not another person. A wise man behaves in the same way.

—Confucius

What a quote

I bet I could serve this quote up to 100 people, and 99 of them would think it's a reasonable statement.

But I wonder if even 1 of the 100 recognizes how this applies to themself. I wonder if 1 out of 100 would consider how they often blame rather than taking ownership.

It's an innate human tendency to blame. Our ancestors figured out a genius evolutionary strategy that moved us to the top of the food chain: group survival.

The individual homo sapien is conditioned to do things that are best for the group while avoiding things that could threaten his or her status in the group. This is a survival mechanism built into our species, and it's why we struggle so much with accepting our mistakes—because our mistakes could literally threaten our access to food, mates, and survival.

Long story short, we want things as equal as possible. We don't want people above us or below us. 

This evolutionary adaptation to the environment that moved our ancestors to the to of the food chain explains the innate human desire to bully and ridicule and blame. It is a form of weeding out weaker genes and keeping people on the same level.

Nature doesn't give a shit about morals. It only selects for those that survive. It's only the organism that figures out the best way to survive and procreate that wins in the long run.

What this means for you, the modern human, is this: The world you live in today is maladapted to your biology.

Pick any topic of contention today, and you'll find an evolutionary explanation for why we engage in these same struggles year in and year out.

What's interesting today is those that are seemingly maladapted to the way we are designed, the outliers as Gladwell may call them, exhibit some common traits.

First, the iconoclast is one that thinks differently and is willing to live differently than the crowd.

If you think different today, you have an advantage.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
-Mark Twain

This is something I've struggled with my whole life as a self-identified iconoclast. My thinking has got me into trouble in the past. My comments and replies get me into trouble sometimes today (though I'm better at modulating it).

Keep in mind that the purest form of hunter-gatherer way of life was fiercely egalitarian. There were no leaders, or "big men," as you see in some modern-day hunter-gatherers since these adaptations usually take on form as a result of fixed geography through population pressure or in the case of island peoples. When you have an area to protect, a natural hierarchy can sometimes form.

Every single thing we hold sacred today, whether that's religion, money, the nuclear family, have been invented since about 12000 years ago when our way of life shifted from nomadic peoples living off the land to farmers staying on a single plot of land, growing food, then acquiring resources to protect that land.

Every single thing we do is the result of that transition. Some call it our great mistake.

We must first understand our ancestral past os we can understand why we have a tendency to do things, like distrust strangers and anyone that is different from us. Our ancestral past is why humans are naturally tribalistic and tend to coalesce into groups with certain traditions and ways of thinking (see groupthink and the madness of crowds).

Our biology is designed to eat food whenever it is available, so we struggle with controlling what we eat and how much. This is why most people overeat, make poor food decisions, and have a shitty relationship to food in general. This is one of the primary reasons why the killers today are diseases of "abundance," or having too much.

Groupthink

Groupthink and the trappings of our human mind are evolutionary strategies useful for living in the wild as small groups yet are maladapted to our modern connected digital world.

There is research that shows presenting someone facts that contradict what they believe ends up making them believe what they believe MORE.

If you ask the average person if this kind of logical bias would apply to them, most would vehemently disagree, claiming they are different. Yet they'd be lying to themselves. 

Humans are masters at lying to ourselves.

You may also like

Join the AM5 weekly email to get updates and my favorite content from around the web

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.