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Mission statement

What makes us human? What is it about our nature that allows us to create and destroy like no other animal? This site brings together a variety of views on humanity, how we give life to powerful ideas and sometimes use this power to take life away. To reduce human suffering, we must understand why humans, in some situations, cause such suffering, and why victims often lack the resources to fight back. I believe that the mind sciences have much to contribute to this discussion, and much to learn from those working in the humanitarian disciplines. Join the iHumanitarian movement. Nothing could be more important than our universal well-being.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

dehumanization: trigger to genocide

Scholars in theology, philosophy, history, political science, and anthropology have long recognized the importance of dehumanization in both triggering and sustaining genocide. Few of these scholars have, however, looked to the mounting empirical research on this topic. This is unfortunate. The sciences can help move us beyond a description of dehumanization -- unquestioned --  to a set of predictions concerning when it will arise, which kinds of people are most likely to lead the charge and which are most likely to follow like bleating sheep. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The LRA is alive and well, abducting children, killing innocents..

I posted a while back on the LRA, the pseudo Christian, mystical, child abducting, rogue group that has tormented innocent children, raped women, and destroyed thousands of lives, from the Congo to Uganda. Human Rights Watch has posted a gorgeous video, filled with tragic victims, vacant stares, and encouraging smiles that there is life for many even after the LRA's inhumane treatment. This is a plea to PResident Obama, but it is a plea to all humanity to recognize the horror that this group has instilled in helpless others. Please read and watch the video!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Education, not war

Nicholas Kristof's October 13 posting on the role of education in Oman ( was music to my ears.  It has become increasingly clear to many that education brings dramatic gains to areas of conflict and crisis, and yet, the amount of funding that goes into education pales relative to virtually all other categories of humanitarian aid. If you increase education, you decrease pregnancies by young girls. If you decrease pregnancies by young girls, you reduce infant mortality rates.  If you reduce infant mortality rates, you help families succeed, both because they have healthy children and because they invest less in the continued attempt to obtain surviving children. And if you have healthy children, because their parents are educated and know how to take care of them, then you have children who will achieve greater cognitive growth. Oman is certainly a success story, but so too are all the charter schools that have been popping up in the United States, including those in low income urban areas. In a study of the relationship between birth rates and education in North America, uneducated African American women had the highest birth rates, whereas educated African American women had the lowest. Whether it is areas stricken by poverty, war, or natural disasters, education is, in the words of Gerald Martone of  the International Rescue Committee, a lifeline out of exile. Bravo to Kristof....please read the article:

What Oman Can Teach Us

Monday, October 4, 2010

Humanitarian efforts begin in the womb!

Nicholas Kristof has a nice op-ed piece, clearly summarizing research showing how the uterine environment of the fetus critically affects its future well being.  This has monumental consequences for humanitarian efforts. Many humanitarian organizations rightly focus on the mother's nutritional status, the importance of breast feeding, and physical contact within the first few hours of life. But what this new research suggests (note: this work was actually in play over 20 years ago, and is still in the early stages... which is why the slight hedge with "suggests") is that the mother's general psychological and medical well being will directly impact her child's well being. If the mother is stressed, the "normal" state of affairs for women living in poverty, war afflicted areas, regions of oppression, and so on, the fetus will suffer during development, and so too will this fetus turned child, turned teenager, turned adult. If there has ever been a warning cry to humanitarian organizations, it is this: we must find ways to reduce the stress of women as they enter the journey of giving birth.  This journey starts with conception.

At Risk From the Womb

Some people think we’re shaped primarily by genes. Others believe that the environment we grow up in is most important. But now evidence is mounting 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How NOT to use military force

The New York Times reprinted an essay by Colin Powell entitled "How to use military force."  It was written on October 8, 1992.  Today, it seems so quaint, so deeply out of touch with reality, so, shall we say, delusional?  Powell seems to think that he can point to military successes to defend our use of force.  But he fails to recognize that many of our military interventions have, and continue to involve conflict that we created! What is sold as a humanitarian effort is none other than an attempt to gain control of key resources in a land of desperation and despair. Powell was either naive, in denial, or dictated by a dictator. Or perhaps all three. It is a dangerous mind, seduced by confabulation, self-deception, and brain washing. The sciences have explained how our minds fall prey to these processes. We owe it to the public to  explain these failings of the mind in order to enable every individual to cut through the grease of deception that our government representatives layer on top of reality.

Read for yourself, and recall that the smoke screen conveyed in 1992 has been puffed into the minds of Americans by every government since, continuing today......

Friday, September 24, 2010

The atrocities of the Lord's Resistance Army

3-2-1, L-R-A.  Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to the sight of several men carrying guns and rifles. You, a mere child, are snatched from your bed, and forced to join a spiritual movement that aims to undo the harms imposed by the national government.  The first part of your initiation involves a beating, often with sticks, centered on the soft spots of your body, including your head. You are then coated in shea nut oil as a protection ritual, and taught to use guns, clubs and machetes.  You start by killing neighbors and family relatives. You are also educated in the art of killing other children who have been abducted: anyone who refuses to follow the rules is encircled by other children, each taking a shot at bludgeoning the rule breaker until he or she is dead.  

Why the Millenium Development Goals need critical friends

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 2:45 PM by Alison Evans

It is easy to criticise the Millennium Development Goals . Some consider them, 
at best, naïve and, at worst, a sop to misguided global welfarism. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of sceptics who predict a damning failure to reach the goals by the 2015 deadline.