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The Serengeti Problem

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Jan. 29th, 2010 | 11:35 am

Assuming you believe that human beings emerged out of something like the Serengeti and Olduvai Gorge then the Serengeti Problem is simply a situation where the biological instincts of human beings take precedent over the things that civilization has spent 5000 years in development. Ignoring the Serengeti Problem in things like economic modeling or social policy only produces theories that assume a kind of cold, logical, rational behavior that is only found in fictional Vulcans. While we would like everyone to be driven by a sense of community, civic pride, national responsibility, or even law and order, people are also driven by pesky things like fear, survival, animal self-interest, tribal bonds, and greed. The Serengeti Problem is also exacerbated by the limitations of human perception of space and time (i.e. people can make very "rational" local decisions that have harmful long term or far reaching impacts.)

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