Humans Are Naturally Good, But Institutions Make Us Wicked

How we view our fellow humans affects the way we treat them. 

Human’s natural inclination is for cooperation, connection, kindness, & empathy; if you believe the best, you’ll experience their best.

Dr. Jordan speaks about the findings in the book, Humankind, by Rutger Bregman. 

Disasters bring out the best in us

Disasters bring out the best in us, as we like to be part of groups & communities. Dr. Jordan cites examples such as the 1940 blitzkrieg bombings of London and hurricane Katrina

Myths debunked that humans are selfish & aggressive by nature

The origins of myths that humans by their very nature are selfish, aggressive, and quick to panic are explained, as well as the concept of original sin and god.

Dr. Jordan describes the mean world syndrome, negativity bias, availability bias, the bystander effect, and the Rosenthal effect and how it pertains to our views about mankind’s goodness.

Contact with those we perceive as different than us heals us all

Thomas Pettigrew’s massive review of 515 studies from 38 countries provided overwhelming support that contact with people perceived to be different than us works to engenders more trust, solidarity and mutual kindness, helps people see the world thru other’s eyes, and makes people more tolerant of strangers. Contact is contagious and helps us rethink our own biases iwhen we see others acting differently.

Final thoughts:

Human’s natural inclination is for solidarity and cooperation. So let’s start with a belief that people are good, cooperative, empathetic, and helpful by nature.

We can learn to overcome our negativity bias by reminding ourselves to assume the best in others, believe that most people mean well, and assume that we will occasionally be cheated. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t or can’t trust everyone.

Dr. Jordan concludes with the concept of Ubuntu as described by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Humankind: A Hopeful History, by Rutger Bregman

Dr. Jordan’s website and contact info:


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