Human Nature Is Pretty Predictable
I’m not religious nor a believer in holy books of any kind, but there are a few stories in these old tomes that sound eerily familiar.
There’s just enough truth in certain stories to make it clear that humans, down through the ages, are sabotaged by their own brains. We often interpret life through the lens of denial. Noah’s Ark, while a rather ridiculous story scientifically, is a great reminder that humans often make poor choices despite a warning and even if it kills them.
Denial killed the people who lived in Noah’s village.
Picture this. A man called Noah was told by a god to build an ark because it would be his job to save as many animal species as possible from the wrath of a very pissed-off deity. Let’s not spend much time on why this deity was so mad at humans. Most likely they were acting pretty much like most humans down through the ages. You know, self-absorbed, selfish, greedy, ungrateful, and violent.
That about sums up the history of humankind.
Nevertheless, this god was pissed off so he decided to destroy all humans except for Noah and his family. He wasn’t so angry at the animals, which frankly makes perfect sense to me. Still, the animals suffered because the humans were stupid which makes me sad. To this day, I prefer the company of animals to people.
Dogs in particular.
At any rate, the rest of the humans were to be annihilated in the worse flood in history. It was going to be a humdinger, too. I suspect the only reason god allowed Noah and his family to escape death by the big flood was that he needed someone to first build the ark and then feed and care for the animals on board until the flood waters subsided.
It took Noah many years to build the ark.
Well, it was a HUGE boat because, you know, there were so many animals to save. Plus, if Noah was building it all by himself, then a lengthy project makes sense. I’ve heard that it took him years to finish this project. People in the village would pass by and ask Noah what the hell he was doing. They couldn’t help themselves. After all, he was the talk of the town, the old kook on Mulberry Lane who was building a HUGE boat in his own backyard. People laughed and made fun of him. We know how that goes. Humans love having someone to feel superior to and an old weirdo is THE best kind of person to terrorize and intimidate.
Needless to say, it didn’t help Noah’s standing in the community when he warned the village of impending doom.
What could he know? He was just an old kook. God was going to wipe out mankind? By way of a major storm with a flood no less? Noah’s words of warning fell on deaf ears. They’d all experienced floods before. But a flood so big that it would wipe everyone out? Now that was just an old man trying to plant fear in his neighbors’ heads.
Eventually, no one even listened to him anymore.
They’d become desensitized to his relentless warnings of doom. Who was he to think that he knew more than anyone else? Bah, humbug! Floods so catastrophic that there wouldn’t be one living creature left alive except for Noah and his family and, of course, all the animals stored on the ark? That was an over-the-top tale of extinction. And so they did nothing to prepare.
They had no arks of their own and no plans for what was coming. They partied, shopped, married, divorced, went on vacations, had kids, built big houses, and carried on with their everyday lives as though everything they were familiar with would go on forever.
You know the rest, right?
The predictions that Noah made may have fallen upon deaf ears but when the rain began and the waters started to rise, people changed their tunes. Suddenly, they were beating on the side of the ark begging to be taken aboard. Weren’t they as worthy as the giraffes or the bears on board? Help us! I’m sure they even tried to climb the side of the ark but to no avail. The waters began to rise and the ark moved away from the village. The shrieks of the villagers were only dim sounds in the distance. Eventually, they were no longer heard nor seen, even from the highest point on the ark.
It was too late. The day of reckoning had come and gone. It was over.
I’m the first to admit that the ark story is a bit over the top but the parallels to modern human reactions are astounding. The psychology of what makes humans do what they do is one of the most important fields of study, in my opinion. It’s so profound that we can almost predict the future through the reliable behaviors that psychologists have identified.
Thus, humans are no longer that difficult to figure out.
Once we understand that the brain has an innate ability to allow us to believe what we want despite facts to the contrary, we might be able to avoid making repeated mistakes. When we realize that certain scenarios invariably produce the same behaviors in the vast majority of people, almost without fail, that could help us predict outcomes and prepare for the worst.
We aren’t there yet. Many people aren’t self-aware enough to learn from their own mistakes.
I won’t go into the long drawn-out explanation of how the mythical story of Noah and his ark provides insight into our own modern-day existential challenges such as climate change. After all, it isn’t a subtle message. Noah wasn’t very well received by the village people. Neither are those today who deliver warnings, good advice, scientific findings, or share peer-reviewed studies with the masses. In fact, some of them are laughed out of town, ignored, and accused of just trying to ruin the party. Consequently, nothing much is done. Year after year as we get closer and closer to the tipping point, but the party goes on.
Ain’t nothing better than a party to make people forget their troubles. So, work and then party hard for tomorrow may never come.
Teresa is an author, world citizen, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.