Strong disagreement on "The Uniqueness of Humans", Prof. Robert Sapolsky

As a future TED fellow I watch TED lectures with a lot of attention
and pleasure ... but I needed to react to this one.

Really interesting talk about what makes us "uniquier" from other
animals, on the behavior, psychology and culture aspect as a specie.
I do agree that we have an immense OPPORTUNITY as educated, empowered
primates. The talk is addressed at Stanford University students on the
day of their graduation : I understand and highly value the
encouraging content of the message. Professor Robert Sapolsky explains
how privileged and responsible the soon-to-be-graduated  audience
members should feel, and the immense RESPONSIBILITY they will have in
the real world. In a sense it is very good to make young women and men
responsible and ambitious, but on the other hand, it does glorifies
the audience more than it does give it direction ... and that's the
greatest thing about this talk.
I highlighted the words "Opportunity" and "Responsibility" as a simple
equation. As a matter of fact, we have the opportunity to be in charge
of our lives and others, educated or not, and we all do in different
ways BUT the grand ambition that generations feed upon generations is
not necessarily healthy : as if we had to force-feed-forward, an
ideology of performance and sacrifice...

What's even greater in this talk is that the performance we are
encouraged to perform is the heroic figure of the PARADOX BELIEVER,
may it be Jesus or this nun working in the death row ... Volunteer
martyrs? Are these our moral models? Acting incoherently and negating
our animal tit for tap instinct  would be the ultimate mark of
superior intelligence, what makes us beyond "uniquier", but
"uniquierest"? Why do we want to pretend to be better than all other
animals? Where does this extravagant arrogance leads humans? What do
humans do to the other species? To the earth? What if we were thinking
a bit more like animals, maybe we wouldn't destroy our world as much
as we do as "super intelligent" specie? Isn't there anything to learn
from animals but that we are superior and responsible for everything?
This is why I think this talk is greatly wrong.

This talk tells you "you have immense power, so be responsible and
powerful" but it does pose the figure of the paradox believer as the
role model, when in the world we have so many NON-PARADOXAL problems
that need to be addressed humbly, with common sense and creativity. As
a scientist specialized in primate behavior (logic development of
social interactions), he could propose an other approach to
problem-solving but the paradox that usually leads to immobility or to
the dichotomic self-destructive psychologic profile (to cite the drone
pilot in Texas). We dont need no more paradox heroes, we need coherent
positive models, no more martyrs please.
What makes us different is not what makes us "uniquier" or superior
Professor Sapolsky. That's terribly wrong and non scientific.

I am very sorry but we are not "uniquier" or "superior", we are
different, and we should concentrate our efforts on observing and
studying other species and learn what good they do to themselves and
the environment, and try to implement these methods in our own lifes.
I am not claiming we should go back to being monkeys, but I think our
attitude toward the world must change so radically we might loose a
lot of human ego, as a specie, as individuals. It is another ego we
would gain, the ego of being part of this world, truly, among the
other animals. This new ego we should desire is what I wish you were
exploring professor Sapolsky. And this time, it is not so much about
being superiorly intelligent, it is about being good, in a true sense.

Cesar Harada, Paris, France. 2010/01/14

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