Monday, 9 May 2011
While contemplating the phenomenon of third-worlders gang-raping Europeans, and their astonishingly disproportionate share in statistics related to gang rape, I wondered whether there might be a genetic basis for empathy and whether it is empathy that prevents us from committing the most atrocious crimes against one another.

It seems there is indeed a genetic basis for empathy. This scientific study demonstrates that we naturally feel greater empathy for those who are members of the same race (although the concept of race is questionable and could be replaced with genetic affinity). And it demonstrates that the genetic basis for empathy is far greater than that of any other socially-constructed concept of togetherness that might also exist:

It should be noted that not any in-group membership results
in enhancement of empathy. For example, university
group status (shared vs unshared) does not have an impact on
empathetic induction (Batson et al., 1997b). Racial group
membership defines coalitions and alliances during evolution
(Cosmides et al., 2003) and thus results in strong modulation
of the neural substrates of emotional components of empathy.

...

It appears that, relative to cultural influence on empathy,
if any, the modulation of empathy by racial group membership
is more fundamental and plays a more pivotal role in
shaping social behaviors.

It is important to understand what is going on here. Brain activity is being measured. The "circuits" of the brain that regulate empathy responses are being monitored. This is not a choice people make. It is not mediated by the intellect or by the faculties of moral choice. It is a purely instinctual response. In other words, people cannot help feeling this way. Here is another study showing the same thing.

Empathy is the glue that holds a nation together. It is what makes possible collective sacrifice in wartime, indeed the sense of solidarity that underlies any great national endeavour, redistributive taxation and welfare systems; it inhibits crime and, ultimately, sustains democracy itself by inducing a willingness to allow politicians we did not vote for do things we believe to be outrageous and wrong. As diversity increases, empathy evaporates. As empathy evaporates, the nation falls apart. It becomes a wilderness of atomised individuals and balkanised factions competing against one another for dominance.

The attempt to construct a nation on a basis that runs against the grain of human nature is the most epic folly in the history of the world.

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