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523 pages, Paperback
First published September 3, 2019
“Contact engenders more trust, more solidarity, and more mutual kindness. It helps you see the world through other people’s eyes.”He also notes that,
“It’s when a crisis hits…that we humans become our best selves.”
Drie Amerikaanse neurologen zetten in 2014 zowel machtige als niet zo machtige mensen onder een 'transcraniële magnetische stimulatie-machine', een moeilijk woord voor een apparaat waarmee hersenfuncties worden getest.
Kitty heeft haast, omdat ze sinds middernacht één jaar verkering heeft met Mary Ann. Kitty verlangt ernaar tegen haar vriendin aan te kruipen.
An idealist can be right her whole life, and still be dismissed as naive. This book is intended to change that. Because what seems unreasonable, unrealistic, and impossible today, can turn out to be inevitable tomorrow. It is time for a new realism. It is time for a new view of humankind.
There is a persistent myth that by their very nature, humans are selfish, aggressive, and quick to panic. It's what Dutch biologist Frans de Waal likes to call “Veneer theory”: the notion that civilization is nothing more than a thin veneer that will crack at the merest provocation. In actuality, the opposite is true. It's when crisis hits – when the bombs fall or the floodwaters rise – that we humans become our best selves.
I'm going to be honest. Originally, I wanted to bring Milgram's experiments crashing down. When you're writing a book that champions the good in people, there are several big challengers on your list. William Golding and his dark imagination. Richard Dawkins and his selfish gene. Jared Diamond and his demoralizing tale of Easter Island. And of course Philip Zimbardo, the world's most well-known psychologist. But topping my list was Stanley Milgram. I know of no other study as cynical, as depressing, and at the same time as famous as his experiments at the shock machine.
Data show that a mere 10 percent of people picked up for misdemeanors are white. Meanwhile, there are black teens that get stopped and frisked on a monthly basis – for years – despite never having committed an offense. Broken windows has poisoned relations between law enforcement and minorities, saddled untold poor with fines they can't pay, and also had fatal consequences, as in the case of Eric Garner, who died in 2014 while being arrested for allegedly selling loose cigarettes.
Could this be the thing that the Enlightenment – and, by extension, our modern society – gets wrong? That we continually operate on a mistaken model of human nature? We saw that some things can become true merely because we believe in them – that pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When modern economists assumed that people are innately selfish, they advocated policies that fostered self-serving behavior. When politicians convinced themselves that politics is a cynical game, that's exactly what it became. So now we have to ask: Could things be different? Can we use our heads and harness rationality to design new institutions? Institutions that operate on a wholly different view of human nature? What if schools and businesses, cities and nations expect the best of people instead of presuming the worst?
"Remember that cynicism is just another word for laziness. It's an excuse not to take responsibility. Because if you believe most people are rotten, you don't need to get worked up about injustice. The world is going to hell either way."
“But the people behind Facebook, Twitter and Google know you well. They know what shocks and horrifies you, they know what makes you click. They know how to grab your attention and hold it so they can serve you the most lucrative helping of personalised ads.”
"It's also one of the insidious mechanisms behind racism, because when you're subjected to low expectations, you won't perform at your best, which further diminishes other's expectations and further diminishes your performance."