I'm feeling alone... but not for the reasons you would think of.

68 posts / 0 new
Last post
David Killens's picture
@ FreakyGin

@ FreakyGin

"I believe when Nature vs Nurture, Nature always win, hands down."

On that sentence, I disagree 100%.

That was once the prevailing opinion. The famous author Edgar Rice Burroughs who wrote the Tarzan series of books operated from the position that a white child raised in the jungle by apes would somehow rise above his environment. He was wrong.

Ask any reputable sociologist or psychologist and they will confirm that personality and many behaviors are driven by the environment.


"But that won't change that kid's nature (e.g if the kid have rebellious streak)
It just simply make the kid better at acting."

My wife is a psychologist and she could easily dismantle a "rebellious streak". This is know as "behavior modification". It works.

freakygin's picture
@David Killens

@David Killens
Tarzan story would be a bad example.
Human vs Gorrila..
Even the world strongest man (Let's say, for instance Hafþór Björnsson A.K.A The Mountain) won't have a chance fighting a gorilla with his bare hands
Gorilla is obviously far stronger than a man
That's why, Tarzan took out the Alpha Male is just unlikely, unless tarzan could somehow have an access to a shotgun
My point being, Nature wins (The nature of gorilla being physically stronger than a man)
Being nurtured in Gorilla activities won't make human as strong as gorilla.
So, let's just say, I agree that Tarzan story is highly unlikely

"Ask any reputable sociologist or psychologist and they will confirm that personality and many behaviors are driven by the environment."

Nah man.. By that logic, i should be a Muslim / Christian. But here i am.
Once, my parents adopted a child, because my family wants a daughter
Me and my 3 brothers was so happy, excited to finally have a little sister. (Perhaps 4 boys is a bit boring for my parents, i'll say)
Let's just say, her biological father is a thief, and her mother is a simple housemaid (We checked)
They have 4 children and gave them all away, let's say their name was Dana, Reno & Rene (Twin), and Tony (Not their real names, of course)
My Aunt (Different city) got Dana
My cousin got Reno
My family got Rene
My distant family (Differen island) got Tony

The interesting things is....
Rene is so different from us (Me & my brothers)
We gave her everything she needs (Without spoiling her). We loved her (as the only girl in the family)
And yet, we found her often stealing things. How did i know? Because i didn't do it. (My brothers already moved out at this point)
We were shocked when we found her begging for money like a hobo on the streets.
(Who on their right mind would do that? It's not like we didn't gave her any money)
No, she's not on drugs (We tested her)
My aunt gave her a new phone for her birthday, she sold it. Never knew why.
Laptop? Gone
If nurture matters. Shouldn't she be like me? Or like my brother? (We're obviously different, but similar in some way)

To make things more interesting.
We tried to call our family who got the other siblings
Guess what.. Dana, Reno and Tony's behaviour is similar to Rene.
Dana stole a lot of money from mother's purse (Why? My aunt give her allowance and everything she needs)
Reno somehow loves to grope a nun, and of course, caught stealing his friends phone
Tony is already on runaway from home.
Obviously they were raised by different family
different house rules, but the results are somehwat similar
Heck, they've never even met each other
Finally, my mother said "Perhaps we can't fight the blood after all."
to deny this, you might as well denying how DNA affects our behavior

"This is know as "behavior modification". It works."

How do you know it really works?
And not because the patient just saying whatever things the shrink wanted to hear?
Just to end the "Therapy" sooner
Lying is a part of human nature after all, easy as pie too..

David Killens's picture
So any examples of adopted

So any examples of adopted children from dysfunctional families that went on to achieve great things is an exception? It can;t happen?

Whitefire13's picture
There’s this:
raphael28589's picture
//1- Objectives / Goals//


//1- Objectives / Goals//

Discussing about "objective" win is pointless.
It all depends on the persons involved, and their respective objectives.

If I want to die, and I get killed by somebody who didn't want to.
I win, he lose.

If I want that cake, somebody else eat it before I can, he win, I lose

If I want to settle a camp, somebody want to, and we annoy each other so nobody has a camp by the end of the day, we both lose.

Winning is the act of reaching one's goal by the end of a restricted period of time (otherwise there is no possibility to "lose")
And losing is the opposite, not being able to reach a goal when the time runs out or when somebody prevents us to do it.

However, nature does not have goals, because it does not have a human like consciousness deciding of specific objectives.
If the man wanted to feel dominant over the gorilla, and the gorilla didn't let him, then he lose.
But that's all.

//2- Another approach of behaviors//

I propose defining stealing as "taking something that another people claims his property"

People which claim something as their property don't want to lose it.
They will get mad at anyone who takes it against their will.

The direct consequence of this is that stealing causes people who agree on the owner of something you stole to dislike you.

Being disliked by people cause disadvantages.
They tend to trust you less, and help you less.
You might even get excluded from the community, or imprisoned if there is a law system.

Why would anybody steal then ?
Well, stealing something provide ressources, one way or another.
If you can't use directly what you stole you can still sell or exchange it.

When you take a decision, you weigh in pros and cons.
For the case of stealing these are mainly "is the profit worth the hatred caused (+ judicial issues possibly) ?"
That's a choice everybody has to make every time they see something they'd like to have.

But most of time you choose to remain liked by the others.

It depends on the person though, but it is easy to understand that a child who didn't experience people disliking him/her might not fear it enough not to steal. (I'm really doubting of the understandability of my sentence)

The youngest people does not even know the concept of property,
Over time they learn this concept,
that taking owned things will annoy people,
that annoyed people won't be nice to them.
They discover rumors, and that rumors can cause a lot of people to dislike them.
They see how trust builds overtime, and that trusting people can become very beneficial (for emotional balance, for co-funding trips that you couldn't afford alone.. etc)
They understand the law, and how
problematic are fines. (and I didn't have any fine yet, still too young, my parents would have to pay for me)

You see the thing.

If Rene decides to steal, meaning that getting the item is more important to her than other things (like trust) she might think of, then maybe you didn't teach her (with words like I just did) how the people work.

Education is not (only) a matter of love.
It is matter of teaching, talking about life experiences, describing social structures, human psychology,
so the child can understand, and act in a way that won't get him/her imprisoned.
(unless he/she deliberately wants to, but that's another weighting question)

Whitefire13's picture
Nature/nurture... ohhhh, I

Nature/nurture... ohhhh, I love these topics!!!! Geez kid...

Ok ... my take (again, personal experience - in no way have I studied this academically)

My sisters are identical twins. Born raised in the same household. Different “mindsets” “personalities” and “life-choices”. They value different “things” in life.

Both have mental health issues, but only one is “stable” (sought medical help). One joyfully works. One works resentfully. One immerses herself in fantasy, the other, reality.

One, obviously, is still in contact with me in a regular basis - the other - nothing, unless “she” is in “need”.

I’ve personally never settled on or bought into a nurture/nature argument.

Too many factors involved. Too easy to lay blame at the feet of one or the other.

raphael28589's picture
I just discovered the english

I just discovered the english name of this debate : "nature/nurture"
I always knew it as "innate/acquired" (still find these words clearer tbh)

One of the issues with that is that most people tend to forget about the acquired part of the debate.
When you try to find the cause of an "acquired" trait, you have to search for a proof through the people's life.
When you say it's innate, you feel like you don't need to search anything. (even though you're supposed to prove a genetical cause)

But thanks to all of the soul magic, and even DNA's incredible understandability (that's irony),
Innate became a kind of argument from ignorance, just like the god one.
But anyways, when you don't know, you don't know.

freakygin's picture
I'm sorry, but that's just

I'm sorry, but that's just stupid

By that kind of "Acquired" logic
That's basically saying I could train 100 football player to copy Lionel Messi
They have same height, same weight, same age, eat the same thing, train the same course, sleep and wake up at the same time, play the same game
Heck, i'll even go as far as to make them shower with the same soap, have the same haircut & facial hair
They met and talk to the same people (Let's forget girlfriend thing for a moment, that's just cruel)
Everything that Lionel Messi does. 100% "Acquired"!
By simulating perfect replica of Lionel Messi environment, education, training, social life.
Could I have 100 player who's as good as Lionel Messi?
Same speed, same instinct, same technique, same accuracy, same temperament?

That one is rhetorical

You're right btw, when you don't know, you don't know

raphael28589's picture
But if course I didn't say

But if course I didn't say everything was acquired, as people have genetical differences at birth.

In some ways that's also acquired, from their parents...
So if you give birth to baby lionels from the same parents and reproductive cells, and raise them exactly the same way, they should behave and have the same skills as him.

If they are the same thing (even though not made out of the same matter) structurally speaking, they should be the same.

My point is still that people forget about the "I don't know, this could be any combination of properties and interactions lived by the guy"

boomer47's picture


"Can it be argued that Altruistic behavior does not exist? "

Although that is not my position, it can be and is argued. See "Egoism and Altruism".Ronald D Milo. He argues that all human behaviour is based on self interest, although his definition of self interest is pretty broad.

One of my self descriptions is egoist. It is my position that most human behaviour is based on self interest. Because I can't read minds, I must depend on behaviour to tell me what a person's motives might be.

From a life time's observation it seems to me that there are such things as altruistic acts, many. I have seen and have been the recipient of acts which seemed compassionate to me. I have even been guilty of such acts myself from time to time.

My conclusion is that there are altruistic acts, but that as far as I know, I've never met an altruistic person.

As tends to be the case with metaphysical propositions, I think any claims about egoism are unfalsifiable so far.

Addendum: The nice guy's reward may be a sense of satisfaction in having acted morally, and the awareness that others will see him as 'a nice guy'. My perception is that altruism tends to be immediate , almost without thought, rather than measured and considered. .

There is a saying; " Bis dat qui cito dat" (He who gives quickly gives twice)

Cognostic's picture
@Cranky: I'm actually in

@Cranky: I'm actually in agreement with you. Sometimes we help for no other reason that it is the right thing to do in our own minds. I agree with the immediacy of an altruistic act. Those are the acts I don't think about, expect nothing from, and generally forget about them as quickly as they were acted upon.

Whitefire13's picture
Cog - agreement from me.

Cog - agreement from me. Best explanation of altruistic acts (IMO)

Roll over ;)

raphael28589's picture
//1- If your altruism is the

//1- If your altruism is the one I defined, It definitively exists//

I would define altruistism as acting to help others without getting a noticeable profit. (noticeable by others and yourself) (the noticeable aspect is really important)
I already did acts that I called altruistic (helping at the school bar, helping to store the food, gifts, friendly talks...).
Because I didn't think and still have no idea about the profit I made (maybe now a little bit...). I just know I was happy after I did that.
But if I tried first, that was because other people already helped me, and they looked as happy as I were from doing it. So I tried and got happier as expected. (but not really expected consciously, that's why I call it true altruism)
That's somewhat like acting fast. When you act fast you don't have time to think about the consequences.

//2- About egoism//

Claims about egoism are falsifiable.
If egoism is "acting to satisfy your own will", you just have to find somebody that just follow orders and don't particularily feel happy when helping others or doing any task.
If egoism is "always thinking about the reward", then you being part of the humanity, you just have to state that you once did something not thinking about how it will make you happier. (if the feeling of happiness is excluded from "reward"; only seen as a consequence of it)

//3- Thoughts about will//

My claim was more about the will.
What does motivate people to do whatever, if not feeling good ?
How far would you go if you were threatened with torture ? (I know there are "survivalists instincts", but that's not what I want to show, I want to show that people prefers what is more agreable to them. There is like a balance. Maybe living knowing you killed your children is more painful than dying, for whatever reasons. So you chose to get tortured and die.

My claim is that Will originates from preference. Preference exists because there are limitations. You can't talk with two people in the same time, so you have to choose one; and you choose the talk in the way that [You Think] will make the overall situation better for you.
(you can choose to talk with the lonely one, because you know the others will wait for you at the end of class anyways, or at least won't be mad at you; or maybe you think you won't have other opportunities to talk with him later, etc...)

David Killens's picture
@ cranky47

@ cranky47

I am in full agreement we are driven by selfishness. But we are also social animals and at times understand (probably mainly subconsciously) that the interests of the group are more essential than of the individual. That is how we convince young men to leave their homes and risk death for war.

Whitefire13's picture
David ...doesn’t also the

David ...doesn’t also the idea of taking young boys (brain development isn’t complete until age 25-26) and having a “manly” authority figure tell them (when they are putting their ideas together on how to be “men”) that to be “men” - you “step up to the plate” - be disciplined, respected, protective, strong ...

Oh, and during “war time” have the women view the men that don’t go as cowards and weak.

raphael28589's picture
I think our social specie

I think our social specie nature manisfests in the fact that we organize in governments (to protect our rights and coordinate our activities) (I include tribal chiefs in "government"; I could've said "leaders")

(in a state of war)
The government then choose to put pressure on individuals with propaganda, glory, the threat of disrespect from the community, religiosity and heaven promises, money, free retreats, lies on security, etc...

I really think the "I would die for my country" is more propaganda than... why would anyone choose to die.

=> Leading entity we give the burden of making the society work so we can enjoy the work of everyone.

That's my standpoint.

Whitefire13's picture

And I would add, “go to war to defend”

This to me, is the clincher. I would in a heartbeat kill anyone in defence of my boys and myself (say an intruder). And morally this is acceptable.

Most (if not all) go to war “defending” against the “other” ....

I don’t know, off hand, of a war being sold “not in defence” of something - maybe Genghis Khan?

Just looked him up ... short script:

Mongol leader Genghis Khan (1162-1227) rose from humble beginnings to establish the largest land empire in history. After uniting the nomadic tribes of the Mongolian plateau, he conquered huge chunks of central Asia and China. His descendants expanded the empire even further, advancing to such far-off places as Poland, Vietnam, Syria and Korea. At their peak, the Mongols controlled between 11 and 12 million contiguous square miles, an area about the size of Africa. Many people were slaughtered in the course of Genghis Khan’s invasions, but he also granted religious freedom to his subjects, abolished torture, encouraged trade and created the first international postal system. Genghis Khan died in 1227 during a military campaign against the Chinese kingdom of Xi Xia. His final resting place remains unknown.

I don’t know...usually people kill “for” something (to protect, an ideal or people) weighing out that the end result, if successful is more beneficial to the “society, tribe or culture”.

I don’t take the view that all war is “bad” or that reasons to go to war are “lies” - however, when a society is getting to that point, a high “cost” (in my opinion), then the
“Facts of the matter better be accurate” and not emotional rhetoric...

raphael28589's picture
//1- I need to improve my

//1- I need to improve my english so I'll be understandable...//

I just learnt the word "clincher" thanks to you. Seems really useful.

//2- morality//

War is only bad to the people who *Think* they suffer from it more than they get rewarded (in both camps (because people are put to the war effort, and lose their ("loved ones" <= thanks google)) [+ you can also suffer economically, it can reduce your sales, [hinders](new word) discussions with researchers from other countries, delay your projects...]
I'm a full moral relativist. It seems like objective moral is very hard to argue, so just like god, moral relativism is the atheism of morality.

And I'd add that war, defensive or not, is still as objectively moral as brushing my cat. But thousands times worse by modern ethical standards.

//3- decision making//

The weighing process is one of the two subjects I wanted to develop, the second one was a generalization for darwinism.
Sadly, weighing for decisions is still a lot based on emotions rather than science, despite how big governments became (look at Trump and the raise of extreme right wing opinions). That's an unstable situation.

Whitefire13's picture
Raphael ... I was re-reading

Raphael ... I was re-reading your thoughts and posts and caught this beauty -

“ > Leading entity we give the burden of making the society work so we can enjoy the work of everyone.”

I took my boys through a “thought” exercise (not original...Family Guy ran an episode)

Exactly. “We” are our “governments” and our “financial systems” and our “religious organizations” and whatever else we may justifiable so “fling poo at”...

I had no idea that New York even had this in place to begin with to be repealed:


Societal pressure works...as does every individual person’s choice (the ocean is made up of individual “drops”). Societal institutions are important but only a group dynamic of our “collective values”.

boomer47's picture


"That is how we convince young men to leave their homes and risk death for war."

Not sure I completely agree about that.

My perception is that wars occur when cynical old men send gormless young men to other countries to kill their gormless young men.

In modern wars, the average age of dead soldiers was about 19.

One reason young men go to war is that it is virtually impossible for them to believe that they personally might actually die.

In World War's One and Two there was a stultifying amount of jingoism , with "truth being the first casualty"

Young blokes came over all unnecessary and rushed to join up. This was done in a haze of jingoism and maudlin sentimentality. Also from the the very real fear some one might think they were a coward, especially in WW1.. A great many young men saw war as an adventure.

My perception:

My dad was a WW2 vet, Australian Air Force, North Africa. He flew reconnaissance in Lancaster bombers. He had a hard war. So did all of his mates. I grew up surrounded by damaged men who had fought. The only motive I ever heard expressed was to protect their own life and the lives of their mates.

Although I was fortunate enough to avoid combat, I served in a combat battalion, immediately after it had returned from Vietnam. I got to know a lot of Vets .Regulars as well as conscripts. I never once heard any of those blokes speak of duty or nationalism . They fought to protect their own lives and lives of their mates. These were blokes who could and did die to save their mates.

Although fragging was not a thing in the Australian army, it DID happen. I was told it was always the 'gung ho' type of officer, whose attitude got people killed. Although I DID hear about a supply sergeant who was stealing from the blokes. He came to his tent one night to find a claymore set up under his bunk. Apparently he took the hint.

Whitefire13's picture
For me, my observation of

For me, my observation of “what motivates people” (and this is no expert opinion, just my own)...

Fear and love. Fear can be positive or negative - and the love can be towards the self or another, again in with a positive or negative way.

And for me, the “positive” and “negative” isn’t meant as good or bad - but more like a “magnet” ...
draws closer/integrates (positive)
pushes away/ separates (negative)

The meaning for me is always weighing “am I motivated by fear or love - for myself or for another” and then “why” (what’s the gain/loss)...
and am I accomplishing what I personally value in this short life.

boomer47's picture


"Fear and love. Fear can be positive or negative - and the love can be towards the self or another, again in with a positive or negative way."

Yup, people have always done insane things for love (OK,lust)***

It is my cynical opinion is that self interest, through fear or desire, is the most dependable of motives. I'm not convinced that anyone has yet managed to overestimate human greed.

**IMO romantic love is another of those gigantic confidence tricks played on the gullible, and there are many millions of us.

IMO a cruel fate is to marry your true love, or at least someone with whom you are crazy in love. I didn't ,and in retrospect, I can't express just how grateful I am, twice. Instead I married a girl of whom I was quite fond. Also a disaster. You know, I'm beginning to suspect the fault may be with moi.

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde "to lose one is love is a misfortune. Lose two and it begins to look like carelessness."

Whitefire13's picture
Cranky ... perhaps “love” is

Cranky ... perhaps “love” is too broad a term - as yes, love can be used as a substitute word for lust, desire, want, need , etc...

Maybe “self interest” is a more specific term (?). It works the same “self-interest towards oneself or another” (perhaps this is what I’ve been too broadly using the “love” word to describe).

Again, for myself, the “love” usage I mean encompasses “self-interest but with an ‘integrity’ and an underlying “wellness” motivation”

For example, say I am beginning to get irritated with my kid for whatever reason - it may “feel” good to just let the irritation “out” verbally (self love; negative) but I take the time to go through the above before I respond (self-love; positive) and perhaps go have a smoke, think about how “important” the issue is, or “set it aside” for later - or if important, chose a consequence for the action. The “feedback” for myself creates a more peaceful life and conscious decision making (even over my “emotions”) from the small to the large.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Beinvenue Raphael,

Beinvenue Raphael,

I used to live near Lyon, in a small village. I loved France and the French people. Not so much the TRG....

Welcome to the forums. You seem to be intelligent and your English is way above normal standard. I look forward to your views.

I live in Western Australia. Beautiful, isolated and very large. Yes we have spiders, snakes but mostly beautiful parrots shrieking past every day. Galahs, 28's, Corella's, lorikeets, never mind the Kookaburrahs, Ravens. Magpies, Butcher birds, wrens, Mudlarks etc that visit our drinking fountain every day.

It is hot and dry most of the time here, but very beautiful.

Whitefire13's picture
“Mom and pop” stores?

“Mom and pop” stores? Influence?

Walmart? Influence?


Ironically, I remember the protests against how Walmart established themselves - yet who gave them their dollars? Do you remember?

Self-responsibility and participation is always occurring within “society”...

raphael28589's picture
I didn't know Walmart existed

I didn't know Walmart existed four months ago actually.
There is none where I live (and the site linked is not available in the EU)
So I really have no idea*

boomer47's picture


Mercifully, Wallmart is not in Australia either. We do have Kmart and Costco.

We also have Amazon, their owner is the world's richest man. Yet from what I've read he exploits his workers without conscience. I refuse to buy anything from Amazon on principle.

raphael28589's picture
I don't know Kmart and Costco

I don't know Kmart and Costco either x)
(this time I even never heard the names)

In my agglomeration (cluster of city (we have an airport)) the biggest markets companies I have are {netto, lidl, Leclerc, carrefour, géant casino}

dk if anyone is exported.

But I know Amazon and bought a lot.
I know there have been some strikes because they wanted them to keep their warehouses open during the confinement but there is a strong syndicalist pressure. Seems like it's improving.

Whitefire13's picture


(Wal-mart and “anti-sprawl” protest 1998);


And https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/S0733-558X(2010)0000031010/full/html?skipTracking=true
(1995-2005 Walmart “fight” in america)

For fucks sake, maybe my search engine, but Europe was “ahead” of Walmart and they didn’t start their grip there, moved it overseas- then back (when strong enough?)

Maybe Walmart’s lost fight in Europe is wiped from our “online collective memory” or hidden in some dark corner that I don’t know what to search - but it was the Europeans protesting against them first because of what they do to a community.

raphael28589's picture
Okay I understand now ✔️

Okay I understand now ✔️


Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.