Good Vs Bad

Sunday Thoughts: Getting Political, Are People Fundamentally Good or Bad?

Are people fundamentally good or bad? This is a question that has been asked throughout the ages of time. For thousands of years, philosophers have pondered whether we have a basically good nature that is corrupted by society or a basically bad nature that is kept in check by society. Answering this question may tell a lot about yourself.

Are you a good person?

On a scale of 1 to 10, you probably think you’re a 7. In studies, most people overestimate their IQ. For instance, in a classic 1977 study, 94% of professors rated themselves above average relative to their peers. In another study, 32% of the employees of a software company said they performed better than 19 out of 20 of their colleagues. This is the phenomenon known as illusory superiority. Illusory superiority is a condition of cognitive bias wherein a person overestimates their own qualities and abilities.

Are we born good or bad?

On answering the issue of “Original sin,” what are some common beliefs? Original sin is the Christian doctrine that humans inherit a tainted nature and a proclivity to sin through the fact of birth. Consider the following three beliefs of human nature at birth.

  1. We are hard-wired for goodness. Our innate sense of good over bad is where we all start.
  2. We are hard-wired for selfishness – evil. Our innate sense of survival will cause one, when necessary, to perform evil acts to achieve our needs.
  3. We are born neutral, but we are easily influenced. This means that we can be swung to one side or the other via our environment.

Here is an interesting video that suggests babies already know good and bad – no need to teach them anything. But is this example really just self-serving to the participants? Do babies merely want to feel good about their environment and hence choose outcomes that make them happy selfishly?

Let’s get political.

Answering this question can often shape your political views. “The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe people are fundamentally bad, while Democrats see people as fundamentally good.” With that philosophical premise, former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts (R) isolated the differences between members of the two political parties in the clearest manner I’ve ever heard, and the implications of his statement are considerable, as it explains many Republican policies for at least a generation.

As a proxy for this issue, one can ask the question: What makes someone rich or poor? Most Republicans link a person’s financial standing to their own hard work – or the lack of it. Most Democrats say that whether someone is rich or poor is more attributable to circumstances beyond their control. See more here and in a summary chart below.

Democrats vs Republicans - Why Rich or Poor

Overall, positivity really does pay.

Staying optimistic about others might literally pay off. People who believe others are fundamentally good make an average of $45,078, and 63% report getting a raise in the past year. Comparatively, those who think everybody’s fundamentally bad make just $40,296, with just 52% getting a raise.

Studies suggest that we are not intuitively selfish creatures. But does this mean that we are naturally cooperative? Or could it be that cooperation is our first instinct simply because it is rewarded selfishly?

Ut-oh, getting religious.

Atheists and non-religious folks roll their eyes when we bring Biblical text into these discussions, but we either are believers or marinated in a society of believers, so its consideration can be useful. Given this, consider the following.

  • Romans 3:10: “None is righteous, no, not one.
  • Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
  • Psalm 51:5: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Ouch, we are evil at birth?
  • Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
  • James 2:26: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Biblically it seems to say, “we are hard-wired for selfishness – evil” at birth and can extend through our lives without any adjustments to correct the behavior. In other words, to become “good” takes self-sacrificing effort. Is that not the purpose of religion – and acting as a guide? Do you see any Biblical text that would suggest something else (place your response in the comment section below)?

Looking at a real-world example.

Regardless of your religious affiliations (or none), your worldview on human nature (fundamentally good or evil) will often determine your political views. Consider this interesting video from Dennis Prager – “Are People Born Good?”

In the Prager video, it suggests in an example – those who believe poverty causes crime and the individual is considered basically good – it is the society that did wrong, and society must change to correct evil to help the individual. It was evil rich people, systematic racism, or bigoted people that caused the evil to occur. The individual does not need to do any effort to correct the evil.

The other way to look at it is – crime causes poverty. The individual must take responsibility and change themselves (that human nature that is not naturally good), thereby eliminating the evil in the world. Effort on the individual is required. This prompts Prager to say, “You have to first believe it is necessary to work at being good.”

This set up two basic political ideologies and makes answering the question of basic human nature paramount. Please give us your thoughts on this topic in the comment section.

See more in this series of Sunday Thoughts – click here.

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 RWR original article syndication source.

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Written by Tom Williams

Born down on the farm in America's Midwest, my early life was spent climbing the ladder via a long career in information technology. Starting as a technician, and after earning a degree going to night school, I eventually found a place working at ATT Bell Laboratories as a software engineer.

Later moving into management and then a long stint in a major management consulting firm working with major banking, telecommunications, and retail companies. Working in various states in America, I also spent considerable time living and working in several European countries - currently expat in France. As a side career, I was heavily involved in real estate development and an avid futures trader. This experience can give one a unique view of the world.

The storm clouds of dark change are near. Today America is at a crossroads. Will it maintain its prowess as a national leader in the free modern advancing world, or will it backtrack in the abyss of the envy identity politics of tyrannical socialism, and the loss of individual freedoms. The 2020 election may have decided this. Join the Right Wire Report team and make a stand.


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  1. You answered your own question in the “Ut-oh Getting Religious” section. Don’t forget, “There are none good but God.” It’s extremely hard for us to be honest with ourselves. We want to think we are good or that we are not that bad or that we are a helluva lot better than most people—we’re not terrorists, or welfare cheats, or voters without IDs. But if we look at ourselves through the outside source of the Bible, we’re pretty much rotten. Check out Isiah 1. I think the best account in the Bible of the two types of people in the world is the account of the Pharisee and the publican found in Luke 18. My personal belief is that everyone is either a Pharisee or a publican, simple as that. A person is either self-righteous or gets their righteousness from God.

  2. I loved this Sunday Thoughts. I think this series is always so thoughtful and well written that it could make a great coffee table book! E-Book commerce here we come? lol.

    So… Scientific studies are deemed so because of specific parameters involved to support findings. Such as control study groups, repetitive outcomes, and most importantly factoring in all other variables that may impact conclusions.

    When looking at those who felt the exercise with toddlers and even a 7-month-old gave credence to the concept that the very young innately recognized highly complex concepts such as good and evil – a few things came to mind.


    1. Could the young child be responding solely to color? Vision develops in stages and infants still see blurry muted shapes for some time. Toddlers see more clearly but the edge on shapes as in (outside-in) is how they process sight spatially. Facial recognition is a jawline before nose kind of thing. One does not develop full sight until around 3.5 years some as late as 5 years in a healthy child. This is why the ability to track is such a developmental indicator in small children. What is pronounced in young children is an affinity for bright colors. Lightness or brightness is attractive to them visually.

    Could it be the dark blue square representing evil was less attractive and more muted than the bright Yellow one representing good?

    2. A Child’s motor skills and hand-eye coordination also develops at different stages of physical maturation. the specific abilities of the Palmer Arch, Wrist stability, pincher smooth grasp, intrinsic hand muscle development, and others come into play when watching a child touch or grasp an object. A 7-month-old will rake over an object and look for squeezable sections to use as a counterbalance to grip. While a toddler-aged child will be more progressed in gross motor skills, they will still be developing fine motor skills, yes more advanced than a 7-month-old but still utilizing tactile stimulus over eye-hand cord. to grasp objects.

    Could it be the that Yellow triangle provided more grasp points than the blue one.? The triangle provides a narrow tip to pinch as a grasping mechanism as a child tries to pick it up versus a square with 4 tips of equal widths. A child’s eye sees the blue block as one larger item than the pointed narrow topped Yellow item and gravitates towards the one that looks more manageable to grasp.

    There are a few more variables that came to mind but I will leave Just these few as possible variables that might change the conclusion.

  3. Fundamentally bad. We’re born into selfishness and most never truly grow out of it. Without God there is no good.

  4. John Calvin a Reformed theologian said that people were no damned good.. I believe this.. the evidence is before me. Greed , ingratitude, sexual deviation, murder, you name it. It has always been with us. * bidsin eat your gains now , your future is dark. What a day it will be when The evil ones will discover that their power is lost and eternal death awaits them.

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