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Birds flock together: why?

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Recently, the US Senate saw each political party flock separately. A few outliers eventually rejoined their feathered-tribes. By not doing so, Romney is meeting a fate sometimes found in nature where the group isolates and sometimes destroys one of their own. Humans are animals. We have similarities. What can we learn?

Any behavior (viruses, plants, animals/humans) has complex explanations. Some elementary principles are worth examining. Any living organism (virus, human, polar bear) is built to maximize survival: (1) stay alive with sustenance (food), (2) have protective mechanisms (fight-or-flight), and (3) have a means of reproduction (continue that life-form).

Central to human behavior is a neurology of cell-linkage designed to transfer information among perceptions, pattern loops, imaginative models of the future, etc. A brew (enzymes, proteins) facilitates allowing (or not allowing) information to shoot through trillions of neuronal connections. Imagine getting from Seattle to London by all possible routes (plane, train, walking) through all cities on Earth.

Being a social animal has both positive and negative ramifications. Humans develop hundreds of “tribal groups” which (each moment) vary in intensity and priority. Humans are extremely attuned to the perceived opinions (real or imaginary) of other people. One theory is that at every moment each person is behaving as if “someone is watching.” Why? Because there is an innate fear of disapproval from some significant tribe – which can negatively affect survival and security (reputation, livelihood, food). This extends even to decisions made when alone – because “God is watching” or “What would my dead mother think”.

Given time-to-think, fickle humans naturally vacillate back-and-forth among options and differing tribal-group priorities. But when the final moment comes, the human plunges into a “decision” using some arbitrary personal format of risk-assessment. Romney picked a tribal priority. The fear of Hell must have been strong.

All humans (Democrats, Republicans, vegetarians) do what Romney did. We choose survival – as defined by some current personal risk-assessment. Decisions are often related to fears. Emotions (especially fears) eat pleasure-centers and rational-logic for lunch.

What does each Republican or Democratic politician fear? From whom? As a voter, what do you fear?

Gene Johnson



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