Nautilus

No, You Can’t Feel Sorry for Everyone

The world seems to be getting more empathetic. Americans donate to charity at record rates. People feel the pain of suffering in geographically distant countries brought to our attention by advances in communications and transportation. Violence, seen on historical timescales, is decreasing.

The great modern humanitarian project of expanding the scope of our empathy to include the entire human race seems to be working. Our in-group (those we choose to include in our inner circle and to spend our energies on) is growing, and our out-group (everybody else) shrinking. But there’s a wrinkle in this perfect picture: Our instinctive tendency to categorize the world into “us” and “them” is difficult to overcome. It is in our nature to favor helping in-group members like friends, family, or fellow citizens, and to neglect or even punish out-group members. Even as some moral circles expand, others remain stubbornly fixed, or even contract: Just think of Democrats and Republicans, Sunnis and Shiites, Duke and North Carolina basketball fans.

Us and Them: Sometimes, punishment of an out-group is taken to colorful

Estás leyendo una vista previa, regístrate para leer más.

Más de Nautilus

Nautilus7 min. leídos
Paradox Is Illuminating the Black Hole: How reconciling opposites is driving the science of black holes forward.
This essay is one of the five winners in the 2019 writing competition held by the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard University. “The Black Hole Initiative offers a unique environment for thinking about the topic of black holes more creatively and comp
Nautilus6 min. leídos
In Quantum Games, There’s No Way to Play the Odds
Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. In the 1950s, four mathematically minded U.S. Army soldiers used primitive electronic calculators to work out the optimal strategy for playing blackjack. Their results, later publish
Nautilus9 min. leídos
The Beckoning of the Ice Worlds: We’ve been looking for life on Earth-like planets. Will Europa teach us better?
I have seen the future of space exploration, and it looks like a cue ball covered with brown scribbles. I am talking about Europa, the 1,940-mile-wide, nearly white, and exceedingly smooth satellite of Jupiter. It is an enigmatic world that is, in m