Internet Bias and the Amity/Enmity Complex

Articles about the tendency of ideologues to gravitate to like-minded sites on the Internet, creating a bubble around themselves that shuts out alternative points of view, have been popular of late. As noted in this example by educator Gregory Ferenstein, the residents of these bubbles tend to evince a high level of hostility towards outsiders. Recent examples cited in the article include Sarah Palin (no kiddin’?) and Andrew Breitbart. The phenomenon is certainly real, as any habitué of the Internet can attest, and is an excellent example of the Amity/Enmity Complex in action. Unfortunately, to see the connection, you have to be willing to admit the possibility that such a thing as the Amity/Enmity Complex actually exists. It does exist, as all human history demonstrates, but, for all the progress we’ve made recently in demonstrating the innate origins of human morality, that blatantly obvious fact is one that the current generation of scientific and academic experts continues to studiously ignore. By and large, they are believers, either implicitly or explicitly, in the “moral progress” of mankind, hoping against hope that the atavistic behavioral traits associated with the expression of morality in humans can be successfully tricked into guiding us all to a brave new world of “human flourishing.” It ain’t gonna happen, the Amity/Enmity Complex is one of the primary reasons why. They can continue to ignore it, but it isn’t going anywhere.

Let’s assume we all agreed to establish “human flourishing” as a common goal. To achieve that goal, wouldn’t a useful preliminary step be to acquire understanding of ourselves as we really are, and not as we want ourselves to be in an ideal world? The Complex has induced us to fight countless irrational wars in the past. It may induce our self-destruction in the future. Would it not be useful to at least make a serious attempt to study the phenomenon? If it’s not there, what do we have to fear by looking for it?

Author: Helian

I am Doug Drake, and I live in Maryland, not far from Washington, DC. I am a graduate of West Point, and I hold a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin. My blog reflects my enduring fascination with human nature and human morality.

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