Sunday, November 19, 2006

Frans de Waal forecasts the future

"Given that our brains absorb and reflect everything around us, they are barely our own. We all carry society's brains around, and the biggest advance in science will come from disentangling the feedback loop between brain development and the ancient primate tendencies that shape our societies.

We have the distinction of going where no species has gone before. Whether we make good use of that distinction depends on human nature and the way we choose to organise our societies. What is the value of medical discoveries if most people cannot afford them? What good does it do to harness power if we only use it to make weapons? Who can say that anti-science forces will not send us backwards in time?

This is why we need a deeper understanding of human nature, and this can be achieved only if the social sciences replace their ideology-laden, fragmented approach with objective science grounded in a unitary theory of behaviour. There is only one such theory around, which is why I predict that 50 years from now every psychology and sociology department will have Darwin's portrait on the wall."

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