Human Nature Redux, Redux

By Jason Marsh | February 21, 2007 | 0 comments

Following up on Jeremy Smith's post (below) about David Brooks's recent column in The New York Times, he and I, along with Greater Good co-editor Dacher Keltner, sent this letter to the Times:

To the Editor:

In his Feb. 18 column, "Human Nature Redux," David Brooks would have us believe that there's no such thing as "natural human goodness"–that human genes condemn us to lives of evil and nastiness. Yet cutting edge research supports the opposite conclusion: that we are wired to be good.

Consider these empirical findings: When people perform altruistic acts, the same regions of their brain light up as when they receive rewards or experience pleasure; humans are equipped with specialized "mirror neurons" that enable us to empathize with others; we produce the hormone oxytocin, which promotes social bonding, trust, and generosity; and activation of our vagus nerve, a bundle of nerves near the spinal cord, increases compassion and cooperation.

Indeed, contrary to Mr. Brooks's ill-informed column, these scientific findings reveal the deep biological roots of human goodness—which promote the kindness and cooperation vital to human survival and progress.

Dacher Keltner, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, UC Berkeley;
Co-editor, Greater Good magazine

Jason Marsh
Co-editor, Greater Good magazine

Jeremy Adam Smith
Managing Editor, Greater Good magazine

Tracker Pixel for Entry
 
 
 
About The Author

Jason Marsh is the editor in chief of Greater Good.

  

Like this article?

Here's what you can do:

Donate
 
  
 
blog comments powered by Disqus
 

Most...

  
  

Greater Good Events

The Greater Good Gratitude Summit
Craneway Conference Center, Richmond, CA OR Live Webcast
June 7, 2014


The Greater Good Gratitude Summit

A day of science, stories, and inspiration, featuring a keynote by Jack Kornfield and Brother David Steindl-Rast. CE credit hours available.


» ALL EVENTS
 
 

Take a Greater Good Quiz!

How compassionate are you? How generous, grateful, or forgiving? Find out!

» TAKE A QUIZ
 

Dr. Christine Carter's blog on the science of raising happy kids.

» READ MORE
 

Watch Greater Good Videos

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.

Watch
 

Greater Good Resources

 
 
» MORE STUDIES
 
 
» MORE ORGS
 

Book of the Week

Making Grateful Kids By Jeffrey Froh and Giacomo Bono Two experts explain how to foster gratitude in children, drawing on new research and compelling real-life stories.

» READ MORE
 
Is she flirting with you? Take the quiz and find out.

Sponsors

The Quality of Life Foundation logo Special thanks to

The Quality of Life Foundation for its support of the Greater Good Science Center

 
"It is a great good and a great gift, this Greater Good. I bow to you for your efforts to bring these uplifting and illuminating expressions of humanity, grounded in good science, to the attention of us all."  
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program

thnx advertisement