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Understanding The Effects Of Hierarchy In Society

photo of Kevin Flanagan

Kevin Flanagan
3rd April 2014


Professor Robert Sapolsky’s baboon studies offer insight into the negative effects of hierarchy in society:

“So what do baboons teach the average person, don’t bite somebody because your having a bad day, don’t displace on them in any sort of manner, social affiliation is a remarkably powerful thing and that’s said by somebody who lives in a world where ambition and drive and type-A-ness and all of that sort of thing dominates, those things are real important, and one of the greatest forms of sociality is giving rather than receiving and all those things make for a better world.

If they(baboons) are able to, in one generation transform what are supposed to be textbook social systems sort of engraved in stone, we don’t have any excuse when we say that there are certain inevitabilities about human social systems.”

Professor Sapolsky also gave a fascinating course entitled Human Behavioral Biology at Stanford which is available online http://youtu.be/NNnIGh9g6fA

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2 Responses to “Understanding The Effects Of Hierarchy In Society”

  1. Carlos Boyle Says:

    I heartily recommend to follow these conference to have a complete spot of Sapolsky´s view. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Oa4Lp5fLE in minute 30’ he speaks about prisoner’s dilemma as one of the strategies “to pass my genes to the next generations”. From this point of view, the new network science has an anchor in biology. Cooperation happens to be the third way of doing that job. Self selection, the individual way, kin selection, the egalitarian tribal way, and the prisoner’s dilemma as a way to avoid the Tit-for-tat, a mutual extermination. In terms of the French Revolution has the same meaning o the moto Liberté, égalité, fraternité

  2. dirtyfrank Says:

    the lesson here is clear: if the plutocrats are all killed-off (the necessary precondition), then there will be less stress-inducing inequality and barbarism among people, creating a more healthy psychological, social, and biological system for all.

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