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Elucidating the behavior

In case the stink of racism still makes you feel uncomfortable about exploring this subject, just reflect on the underlying reason that so many people accept racist explanations of history's broad pattern: We don't have a convincing alternative explanation.Until we do, people will continue to gravitate by default to racist theories.

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Or, you could read his book on the topic—Guns, Germs, and Steel.Research on the neural systems underlying emotion in animal models over the past two decades has implicated the amygdala in fear and other emotional processes.This work stimulated interest in pursuing the brain mechanisms of emotion in humans.The second is the myth of the Noble Savage—that evil motives are not inherent in people but spring from corrupting social institutions.The third is the Ghost in the Machine—that the most important part of us is somehow independent of our biology, so that our ability to have experiences and make choices can't be explained by our physiological makeup and evolutionary history." From "Getting Human Nature Right," by Helena Cronin: "Certainly, human nature is fixed.That leaves us with a huge moral gap, which constitutes the strongest reason for tackling this uncomfortable subject." From "A Biological Understanding of Human Nature," by Steven Pinker: "I believe that there is a quasi-religious theory of human nature prevalent among pundits and intellectuals which includes both empirical assumptions about how the mind works and a set of values that people hang on those assumptions.

The theory has three parts: [T]he Blank Slate—that we have no inherent talents or temperaments because the mind is shaped completely by the environment (parenting, culture, and society).

It's universal and unchanging, common to every baby that's born, down through the history of our species.

But human behavior, which is generated by that nature, is endlessly variable and diverse.

I include below some material that the late John Brockman published on his website,, along with a few other interesting ideas that I found while reading Science at the Edge.

All the authors cited below have books to their credit.

A Note from Sarah-Neena-Koch: Depending on your background, some essays in this book may be easier to understand than others.