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(作者为英国雷丁大学应用生态学教授Tom Oliver,《THE SELF DELUSION(自我幻觉)》的作者)

Is bigotry in our DNA, a remnant of our fear of “the other” way back when that was necessary? If so, why do some battle with their instincts while others embrace them? Peter, 71, Darlington

偏执是否存在于我们的基因之中?是否是我们在很久以前害怕“他者”(这在当时是必需的)留下的一种残迹?如果情况是这样,为什么有些人会与他们的本能作斗争,而另一些人则会悦纳它们呢?-彼得·达灵顿

Humans are the most cooperative species on the planet – all part of a huge interconnected ecosystem. We have built vast cities, connected by a global nervous system of roads, shipping lanes and optical fibres. We have sent thousands of satellites spinning around the planet. Even seemingly simple obxts like a graphite pencil are the work of thousands of hands from around the world, as the wonderful essay I-Pencil, quoted above, by Leonard Read describes.

人类是这个星球上最富有合作精神的物种,全都是一个巨大的互相连通的生态系统的一部分。我们建成了巨大的城市,由道路、航路和光学纤维组成的全局神经系统互相连接。我们已经发射了数千颗绕这颗星球旋转的卫星。正如莱昂纳德·里德所引用的美文《I-Pencil》所描述的那样,哪怕看似简单的物件(比如石墨铅笔)也是全世界几千双手的作品。

Yet we can also be surprisingly intolerant of each other. If we are completely honest, there is perhaps a little bit of xenophobia, racism, sexism and bigotry deep within all of us, if we would only allow it. Luckily, we can choose to control and suppress such tendencies for our own wellbeing and the good of society.

然而,我们不容忍彼此的程度也可以高到惊人。如果我们能允许自己做到完全的诚实,那我们所有人心底可能都深种着一些仇外心理、种族主义、性别歧视和偏执。幸运的是,我们可以为了自己好乃至为了社会福祉,去选择控制和压制这种倾向。



Modern civilisation in general encourages the extension of attitudes such as respect and tolerance beyond those who look similar to us, to those who we have no relation to. We reinforce and codify these values, teaching them to our children, while religious and secular spiritual leaders promote them in their teachings. That’s because they generally lead to a more harmonious, mutually-beneficial society.

一般来说,现代文明鼓励人们将诸如尊重和宽容之类的态度延伸到看起来与我们相似的人以外,并推及到那些与我们无关的人。我们会强化这些价值观并加以编纂,把它们教授给我们的孩子,与此同时,宗教和世俗的精神领袖则会在他们的教义中促进它们。这是因为它们通常会带来一个更为和谐,互利双赢的社会。

The trouble with tribalism

部落主义之祸

This is exactly what has made us such a cooperative species. But sometimes our cultures can be less progressive. What people around us say and do subconsciously influences the way we think. We soak up this cultural context like a sponge, and it subtly shapes our attitudes and behaviours. If we are surrounded by people that stigmatise those different to themselves, this also encourages distrust or aggression in us.

正是这一点,使我们成为了一个如此富有合作精神的物种。但有时候我们的文化可能没有那么进步。我们周围人的言行在潜意识层面影响着我们的思维方式。我们像一块海绵,吸收着这种文化背景,而后者会微妙地塑造我们的心态和行为。如果我们被那种(会污蔑不同于他们的人)的人包围,那也会助长我们之间的不信任或攻击性。

It presses the buttons of certain deep-seated xenophobic attitudes within us. In fact, it discourages hard-learned inhibitory responses in the brain’s prefrontal cortex that get built up under more progressive contexts.

它按下了我们心底那些根深蒂固的特定仇外心态的按钮。事实上,这会阻止在更进步的环境下大脑前额叶皮质中逐步确立且由来不易的抑制性反应。

Movements such as Nazism have openly promoted xenophobia and bigotry. They encourage a strong tribal loyalty to the “in-group” (one’s own group), while stigmatising (and in the case of Nazism, executing) others. Taken too far, a healthy pride in one’s country can easily tip into unhealthy nationalism, where we identify with our own nation at the exclusion of others.

诸如纳粹主义等运动公然推动仇外和偏执。他们会怂恿一种对“小集团”(TA自己的集团)的部落式死忠,同时污蔑(要是纳粹主义的话就是处决了)他者。如果做过头了,一种健康的对国家的自豪感就很容易沦为不健康的民族主义,在这种情况下,我们对自己国家的认同是排除了他者的。

Things seem to be moving in this direction today. Leaders such as US president, Donald Trump, Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro and Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, are more frequently taking centre stage. In the UK, figures such as Nigel Farage, a key architect of Brexit, uses media platforms to promote naive and bigoted views.

如今,情势似乎在朝着这个方向发展。诸如美国总统唐纳德·特朗普、巴西总统贾尔·博尔索纳罗和印度总理纳伦德拉·莫迪等领导人越来越频繁地占据舞台的中心。在英国,英国脱欧的关键设计师奈久·法拉格等人物在使用媒体平台推销其幼稚而偏执的观点。

When the media, and especially people we trust, talk in such a way, it has a profound effect on our receiving minds. It can even shape our beliefs in what we might think are purely rational issues. For example, the belief in whether humans are causing climate change is strongly associated with US political party membership.

当这些媒体,特别是我们信任的人以这种方式谈话时,就对我们接受思想的过程产生了深远的影响。它甚至能够塑造我们对自己眼中那些纯理性问题的信念。举例来说,是否相信人类正在导致气候变化,与他们所属的美国政党紧密相关。

This is because we tend to adopt a common position on a topic to signal we are part of a group, just like football fans wear certain colours or have tattoos to show their tribal loyalty. Even strong individuals who stand up to oppressive regimes typically have shared ideals and norms with other members of a resistance movement.

这是因为我们会倾向于在某个话题上采取共同的立场,以表明我们同属一个群体,就像球迷们会穿特定颜色的衣服或是用纹身来声明他们对部落的忠诚一样。哪怕是坚决抵抗压制性政权的强大个体,通常也会与抵抗运动中的其他成员抱有共同的理想和准则。

This tribalism can all feel very visceral and natural because, well, in a way, it is. It fires up the primal parts of our brain designed for such responses. Yet, there are other natural attitudes, such as compassion and consideration for others, that can be suppressed in such circumstances. Imbalanced cultures produce imbalanced brains.

这种部落主义,感觉上全都是发自肺腑的,也非常自然,好吧,从某种程度上说确实如此。它激发了我们大脑中专为这种反应而设计的原始部分。但在这种情况中,也会抑制其他一些自然的态度,比如对他者的同情心和体贴。失衡的文化造就出失衡的大脑。

This combination of nature and nurture shaping our attitudes and behaviour is apparent in many human characteristics, and unpicking some of these examples can help us see opportunities to steer the process.

这种塑造了我们态度和行为的自然与后天养成的组合,在很多人类特征中都是昭然若揭的,而对其中的一些例子进行拆解,可以帮助我们发现引导这一进程的机会。



When we understand how our hardwired urges interact with an unhelpful cultural context, we can begin to design positive interventions. In the case of obesity, this might mean less junk food marketing and altering the composition of manufactured food. We can also change our own behaviour, for example laying down new routines and healthier eating habits.

当我们了解了硬性的强烈欲望与无济于事的文化背景间的互动方式时,我们就可以开始设计积极的干预措施了。在肥胖的情况中,这可能就意味着要减少垃圾食品的推销并调整食物制品的成分。我们还可以改变自己的行为方式,比如制定新的日常习惯和更健康的饮食习惯。

Climate change could boost bigotry

气候变化问题可能会促进偏执的滋长

But what about bigotry and xenophobia? Can’t we simply design the right fixes for them? That may depend on how big the problems we face in future are. For example, growing ecological crises – climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss – may actually lead to more bigoted and xenophobic attitudes.

但是偏执和仇外的情况又是如何呢?我们就不能直接为它们设计正确的修复办法吗?这可能取决于我们在未来面临的问题有多严重。例如,愈加严重的生态危机-气候变化、污染和生物多样性丧失-事实上可能会导致更为偏执和仇外的态度。

Cultural psychologist Michele Gelfand has shown how environmental shocks cause societies to become “tighter” – meaning the tendency to be loyal to the “in-group” gets stronger. Such societies are more likely to elect authoritarian leaders and to show prejudice towards outsiders.

文化心理学家米歇尔·盖尔芬德已经向我们展示了环境的冲击会如何把社会变得“更致密”,也就是说,忠于“小团体”的趋势会变强。这样的社会有更大的可能选出专制领导人,并对外人示以偏见。

This has been observed under past ecological threats such as resource scarcity and disease outbreaks, and under climate change scenarios we expect these threats, in particular extreme weather events and food insecurity, to only get worse. The same goes for the coronavirus pandemic. While many hope such outbreaks can lead to a better world, they could do exactly the opposite.

在过去的生态威胁(比如资源短缺和疫病爆发)中,已经观察到了这一点,而在气候变化的剧本中,我们会预期这些威胁,特别是极端天气事件和粮食不安全状况,只会变得更严重。新冠病毒瘟疫也是同理。虽然有很多人会希望这等规模的爆发可以带来一个更美好的世界,但他们所做的可能恰恰相反。

This enhanced loyalty to our local tribe is a defence mechanism that helped past human groups pull together and overcome hardship. But it is not beneficial in a globalised world, where ecological issues and our economies transcend national boundaries. In response to global issues, becoming bigoted, xenophobic and reducing cooperation with other countries will only make the impacts on own nations worse.

这种对我们本地部落的忠诚提升,系属一种防御机制,它在历史上帮助过人类群体团结起来,并克服困难。但它并不会给一个全球化的世界带来益处,在这样一个世界中,生态问题和我们的经济问题是超越国界的。在应对全球问题时变得偏执、仇外并减少与其他国家的合作,那么对本国的冲击就只会变得更严重。

Back in 2001, a United Nations initiative called the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment sought to take stock of global environmental trends and, crucially, to explore how these trends might unfold in future. One of the scenarios was called “Order from Strength” and represented “a regionalised and fragmented world that is concerned with security and protection … Nations see looking after their own interests as the best defence against economic insecurity, and the movement of goods, people, and information is strongly regulated and policed”.

早在2001年,一项名为《千年生态系统评估》的联合国倡议就力争对全球环境(变化)趋势作出估量,而至关重要的就是去探索这些趋势在未来会如何发展。其中有一个剧本名为《力量产生秩序》,代表的是“一个关切安全与保护的地区化、碎片化的世界……各国把顾好自身的利益视为抵御经济不安全的最佳手段,而且货物和人员的流动,以及信息,受到严格控制和监管”。

(译注:千年生态系统评估(The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment )是联合国于2001年6月5日世界环境日由世界卫生组织、联合同环境规划署和世界银行等机构等组织开展的国际合作项目,是首次对全球生态系统进行的多层次综合评估,约有1500名科学家、专家和非政府组织的代表参加)

Later iterations of the scenario have been dubbed “Fortress world” describing a dystopian vision where order is imposed through an authoritarian system of global apartheid with elites in protected enclaves and an impoverished majority outside.

该剧本的后续版本被起了个“堡垒世界”的别名,描述了一种反乌托邦的愿景,其中的秩序是通过执行全球种族隔离的威权体制强加的,精英在飞地中受到保护,而外面则是身陷贫困的大多数人。

When you think about how Trump talks about building a wall on the Mexico border, encouraged by chants from the crowd, we have to wonder how close we are to this scenario. On a larger scale, the rich “developed” countries primarily responsible for causing climate change are doing very little to address the plight of poorer countries.

当你想到,特朗普是如何被民众的赞美声怂恿,大谈在墨西哥边境修建一堵墙时,我们不得不去好奇自己离这种境况有多近。在更大范围内,那些对造成气候变化负有主要责任的富有的“发达国家”,在解决穷国的困境方面几乎没有什么建树。

There seems to be a lack of empathy, a disregard and intolerance for others who were not lucky enough to be born in “our” tribe. In response to an ecological catastrophe of their making, rich countries simply argue about how best to prevent the potential influx of migrants.

看似缺乏同理心,无视且不宽容其他那些没有幸运到能出生在“我们的”部落中的人。富国们只是在争论如何才能最好地防止潜在的移民涌入,以此来回应它们一手铸成的生态灾难。

Rewiring the brain

重置大脑

Thankfully, we can use rational thinking to develop strategies to overcome these attitudes. We can reinforce positive values, building trust and compassion, reducing the distinction between our in-group and the “other”.

谢天谢地,我们可以运用理性思维来创造出克服这种心态的策略。我们可以强化积极的价值观,构建信任和同情心,淡化我们的小团体和“其他人”之间的区别。

An important first step is appreciating our connectedness to other people. We all evolved from the same bacteria-like ancestor, and right now we share over 99% of our DNA with everyone else on the planet. Our minds are closely lixed through social networks, and the things we create are often the inevitable next step in a series of interdependent innovations.

重要的第一步就是:去欣赏我们和他者的联结。我们都是从类似细菌的同一个祖先进化而来的,而且现在,我们与这个星球上的其他每个人,有超过99%的DNA都是一样的。我们的思想通过社交网络紧密连接,而我们创造出来的事物,往往是一系列相互依存的创新中理所必然的下一步。

Innovation is part of a great, lixed creative human endeavour with no respect for race or national boundaries. In the face of overwhelming evidence from multiple scientific disciplines (biology, psychology, neuroscience) you can even question whether we exist as discrete individuals, or whether this sense individuality is an illusion (as I argue in my book The Self Delusion).

创新是人类伟大、相互联结、富有创造力的努力的一部分,是无视种族或国界的。面对来自多个科学学科(生物学、心理学、神经科学)的压倒性证据,你甚至可以质疑我们是否是以离散个体的形式存在的,或者这种感觉到的个体性是否是一种幻觉(正如我在《自我幻觉》中所主张的)。



We evolved to believe we are discrete individuals because it brought survival benefits (such as memory formation and an ability to track complex social interactions). But taken too far, self-centred individualism can prevent us from solving collective problems.

我们已经演进到相信我们是离散的个体,因为这给生存带来了好处(例如,记忆的形成和追踪复杂社会互动的能力)。但是太过分了,以自我为中心的个人主义会阻止我们解决集体问题。但如果做过头了,以自我为中心的个人主义就会妨碍我们解决集体性问题。



It is possible to steer our cultures and rewire our brains so that xenophobia and bigotry all but disappear. Indeed, working collaboratively across borders to overcome the global challenges of the 21st century relies upon us doing just that.

引导我们的文化乃至重置我们的大脑都是有可能实现的,这样仇外和偏执差不多就能消失。为克服21世纪全球挑战的跨界通力协作,确实要仰仗我们去实现。