by Rutger Bregman
A very readable, refreshing look at human nature. I didn’t expect to enjoy this quite so much. The author covers a fascinating array of studies and historical examples to show that, contrary to popular belief, people tend towards being good.
I cringe a little at the repeated reference to homo puppy – the moniker given to the empathetic humans we evolved to be.
Odds & Ends
- Availability Bias: if we can easily recall examples of a given thing, we assume that thing is relatively common.
- It’s suspected that, across history, the vast majority of soldiers never actually fire their weapons.
- There are many examples of studies that were skewed by the researchers to be more divisive and shocking. This includes the Stanford Prison Experiment and Milgram’s shock machine.
- Nocebo: Tell someone that they may experience symptoms from a harmless substance and they likely will feel those symptoms. Self-fulfilling diagnosis.
- Pygmalion Effect: beliefs we’re devoted to – whether they’re true or imagined – can likewise come to life, effecting very real change in the world.
- Golem Effect: when we have negative expectations around someone we distance ourselves from them. This will lead to poorer performance by that person. Negative expectation can result in negative results.
- Participatory budgets are used by some governments to allow citizens to have a direct input into the budget process for their municipality. These have been shown to improve engagement, inclusion, trust and transparency.
- Alaska has a “Permanent Fund Dividend” – unconditional money for citizens that fosters trust and ultimately reduces poverty.
- The author takes a dim view on the Broken Windows theory and highlights many criticisms and negative impacts of the application of the theory in policing.
Ten Rules to Live by
- When in doubt, assume the best
- Think in win-win scenarios
- Ask more questions
- Temper your empathy, train your compassion
- Try to understand the other, even if you don’t get where they’re coming from
- Love your own as others love their own
- Avoid the news
- Don’t punch Nazis
- Come out of the closet: don’t be ashamed to do good
- Be realistic