TROM Discussion: Environment

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We had an awesome meet up with my new English club on Friday night :) We watched and discussed this TROM video:

This video does a fabulous job in demonstrating how ridiculous and primitive our culture is. It also demonstrates why it’s difficult for us to see our own culture as primitive and ridiculous :) We have been brought up to believe that the way we live is normal. -So how can normal be ridiculous? And primitive? But we have iPhones! :D

How can consumerism not be ridiculous when you live in a system based on the consumption of an infinite amount of resources, yet your survival as a species depends on the finite resources that exist on our planet?

So many people tell me that they wish they could travel like me, but they can’t because they don’t have enough money. I’ll tell you over and over again that it’s not the money that’s the problem, it’s the mindset. “Consumerism” is one of the key factors in the difference between the mindset of a traveler and that of a “normal” person. See this page for more on this topic.

I think the most important thing to take away from this TROM video, however, is the fact that a person’s environment is what determines that person’s beliefs and behaviors. Genes do play some role in determining “who you are” but it is primarily your environment that determines how and what you think, and how you behave. Your environment causes you to become a racist, a Nazi, a Buddhist, a swimmer, whatever. Some people may be genetically more fit to swim well, they can become a champion if they practice swimming! But if they never get in the water, they’ll never be a good swimmer. Some people are more prone to alcoholism, but if they never drink alcohol, they will never be an alcoholic. Some people may be more prone to aggression, but if they grow up in a nice family where most of their needs are provided, they will have no reason to become a psycho-killer. You might have qualities that make you a great leader- but its your environment that determines whether you become a great leader of Nazi Germany or a great leader of a pacifist peace walk.

Genes have no mechanism for judging “good and bad” in fact, there is no such thing as “good” or “bad,” there is just behavior. Check out this awesome ebook :)

And this lecture on behavior:

I think this bit’s important (28:29):

First, we all think we know and understand behavior. I have a PhD in psychology. I have 3 degrees in psychology. I’ve published experimental work with nonhumans, with kids, with adults. I’ve written theoretical articles in a variety of different journals, I published 3 books, I’m invited to talk all over the world. I’m not bragging, I’m telling you that, when I am in a conversation with somebody about human behavior and they ask my opinion, it is an educated opinion. They frequently go, “well, I don’t agree with you.” Or, “that’s your opinion.”

Now imagine if I were an astrophysicist, and someone asked me about the recent discovery of gravitational waves predicted by Einstein’s theory. And I told them and they said “Oh well that’s cool, that’s your opinion, I don’t think that’s what really happened.” Nobody would do that. But, when you’re an expert on human behavior, ‘everybody’s equal’. Everybody’s a psychologist. I’m sure you all know this. I don’t even have to tell people what I do, to hear about this. Why is that? Because nobody pretends to be an expert in chemistry, physics or biology.  We all pretend to be experts in, maybe the thing that’s more complicated. First, we all behave. We seem to have intimate and personal knowledge of our own behavior. If you ask somebody why he or she did something, she can sort of introspect and look at what she was thinking or whatever and tell you that. Also, we’ve been told things about behavior ever since we could talk. The culture teaches us through our parents, about behavior. One of those things is that we have free will. We’ve been told that we are responsible for our own behavior and can make our own decisions. Obviously, since I’m telling you this, it means I disagree. Behavior science is a natural science, just like chemistry, physics and biology…

-Schlinger. Listen to the lecture for more!

Fresco-

So, having an understanding that behavior is caused by our environment has BIG implications! You see, it’s not humans themselves that are the cause of environmental degradation, poverty, war, etc. etc., it is their behavior. But their behavior is caused by their environment!

So long as we live in an environment where we are forced to compete for scarce (or artificially scarce) resources, we will not be able to solve the majority of the big problems in our world. -Because this environment causes the bad behaviors, which cause the big problems. In order to solve such problems, we have to deal with their root cause, not just the symptoms (symptoms meaning war, inequality, pollution, etc. etc).

This little book explains in very simple terms that this root cause is, in fact, trade –

Picture of our discussion group :)

* I will start having these same sessions online about one week from now. Anybody is welcome to join. Please see our TROM Discussions page for details.