People used to think it was common sense in the past to believe that the world was flat, but eventually science proved this “common sense” assumption wrong and that the planet was a sphere. In fact as more evidence came in, it showed that the earth was more like an ellipsoid and so the spherical earth assumption was falsified.
Throughout history, science has demonstrated to us many times that, what we may thought to have considered common sense, was in fact false and there is no sign of this trend stopping.
Therefore, the notion of common sense is an ILLUSION. As Albert Einstein once put, “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”
As an excellent example: When Collin Turnbull, an anthropologist, was studying pygmies in 1961 he took one of them, who had become a friend, out of the forest on a trip. The pygmies he was studying had spent their whole lives in the forest – they were known as ‘the forest people’ – so to go outside it and see for miles across the plains was a new experience. Normally we use size constancy to interpret things that are a long way away but the pygmies had never experienced long-distance views before. When he saw a herd of buffalo in the distance he thought they were ants and refused to believe that they were buffalo because they looked so small. And when he saw a boat some distance away across a lake he thought it was just a scrap of wood. As it got closer he could see people on board and he became very agitated and thought it must be magic. (Nicky Hayes and Sue Orrell, Psychology: An Introduction 2nd Edition, Page 48)
If greed really were the root cause of wars and acquisition of more material things, why is it, when we place people in an environment where scarcity is removed and resources are abundant, people don’t express that behavior?
It is the culture, the socioeconomic system, the environmental situation, and how it interacts with our genetic make-up, that is at the root cause of “selfish”, “greedy” behavior. Our present culture reinforces and rewards greed, training people to consume, compete and cheat and steal and neglect everyone and everything else. In a culture where greedy behavior is not reinforced, where sharing and cooperation is in fact rewarded, in an environment where there is plenty of food, water, and all the natural resources necessary for survival, greed will not be expressed, until harsh conditions forces them to act in greedy ways (i.e. there is suddenly a famine).
Video to better explain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCF0aQn7mHs
Simply put, greed is NOT the root cause, and even if you still believe it is, this assumption isn’t a practical method to solve the problem of it.
How do we define “root cause”, well according to Wikipedia:
A root cause is an initiating cause of a causal chain which leads to an outcome or effect of interest. Commonly, root cause is used to describe the depth in the causal chain where an intervention could reasonably be implemented to change performance and prevent an undesirable outcome.
While it may be true that our genetic disposition sets tendencies towards our wide range of behaviors to which we are all capable of expressing (i.e. the “warrior gene” [variants of the MAOA genotype] that makes males [only applied to males so far] more prone to committing violent and aggressive behavior), it is the environment that pushes the triggers (so for those that have this “warrior gene”, if punched in the face, may have a higher probability to respond violently, while those without this gene, may be more likely not to respond violently, but these propensities can be influenced from past experience, and can be changed over time through exposure to cultural/mental programming).
Over time, if the environment no longer reinforces a particular behavior, such genetic tendencies may simply be reduced or eliminated altogether within the population’s gene pool until the behavior becomes less likely or very difficult to express at all even when conditions like scarcity manifests (assuming the culture doesn’t intervene to reinforce the behavior despite the absence of the gene(s) responsible, if any).
Genes drive behaviour, but culture can select genes: study (Oct 28, 2009)
‘Warrior Gene’ Responsible for Gang Membership, Weapon Use (June 5, 2009)
Genes and Cultures – What Creates Our Behavioral
“Cultural evolution, a process very different
from genetic evolution by natural selection, has played
a central role in producing our behaviors.” (Cavalli-Sforza
and Feldman 1973, 1981; Ehrlich 2000; Feldman and
Cavalli-Sforza 1976; Feldman and Laland 1996).
Selfishness May Be Altruism’s Unexpected Ally (May 2, 2008)
Evolution of Fairness Driven by Culture, Not Genes (March 18, 2010)