Cynic or Empathic? Whats most powerful?

I'm not too sure those two things are incompatible, but cynicism got defined as a form of bullying at one workplace meeting I attended.

The claim was met with much cynicism.
The question was actually not about whether they are compatiable.
It is why is the most powerful of the 2.
 

Crocodile

Legend
If you are looking at power from a virtuous perspective then empathic would be spiritually considered more powerful due to its positive intended outcome. Off course this is under the impression that one is being genuine.The problem
occurs when one is demonstrating their empathic traits in a non genuine way or is seeking something in return or has an ulterior motive.
 

van_Loederen

Professional
under the impression that one is being genuine. The problem occurs when one is demonstrating their empathic traits in a non genuine way or is seeking something in return or has an ulterior motive.
wowowowomen pretty much! that's my experience!
 

Mike Bulgakov

G.O.A.T.
I see both as very useful traits, on both an individual and a societal level. Cynicism is a defense against manipulation by con artists in personal lives, business and politics, and an inoculation against the most basic tricks of propaganda. Empathy is the key to feeling some connection and compassion towards others. Interestingly, the level of both empathy and cynicism towards others is largely defined by an us/them dynamic. Societies tend to be more empathetic and less cynical towards others when they are not broken down into many antagonistic groups that see people outside of their group as threats.


How Reading Fiction Increases Empathy and Encourages Understanding
There might some truth to the beloved quote, "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies." Researchers say reading fiction can show us different viewpoints — and shape how we relate to each other.
By Megan SchmidtAug 28, 2020

Perspectives on Empathy
Psychologists have found that empathy is innate, as even babies show it. And while some people are naturally more empathetic than others, most people become more-so with age. Beyond that, some research indicates that if you're motivated to become more empathetic, you probably can. Although there are many ways to cultivate empathy, they largely involve practicing positive social behaviors, like getting to know others, putting yourself in their shoes and challenging one's own biases. And stories — fictional ones in particular — offer another way to step outside of oneself.

Fiction has the capacity to transport you into another character’s mind, allowing you to see and feel what they do. This can expose us to life circumstances that are very different from our own. Through fiction, we can experience the world as another gender, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, profession or age. Words on a page can introduce us to what it's like to lose a child, be swept up in a war, be born into poverty, or leave home and immigrate to a new country. And taken together, this can influence how we relate to others in the real world.

“Fiction and stories do a lot of things for us,” says William Chopik, a psychologist at the University of Michigan. “They expose us to uncomfortable ideas ... and provide us with the opportunity to take other peoples’ perspectives in a safe, distanced way. In that way, fiction serves as a playground for exercising empathic skills.”

The End of Empathy?
Sometimes, empathy is described as the glue that holds society together. Without it, humankind probably wouldn’t have gotten very far. Our ancestors depended on acts of caring for survival — such as sharing resources, help with healing the sick, and protection from predators. And we’ll probably continue needing empathy to move forward. Yet, at this particular moment in history, it can feel like empathy is on shaky ground.

In 2010, a meta-analysis by Konrath found empathy among college students declinedbetween the 1970s and the 2000s, as measured by standard tests for the trait. During this time period, the average level of “empathic concern,” or sympathy for the misfortunes of others, declined by 48 percent. “Perspective taking,” or the ability to imagine others’ points of view, also declined by 34 percent. Konrath says she’s working on an update to the 2010 study, and that it can be difficult to pinpoint the complex reasons behind these statistical shifts.

Chopik says a common culprit that often gets blamed is a generational shift in parenting styles, such as a hyper-focus on personal achievement and high self-esteem. Critics say these trends might compromise empathy so individuals can get ahead. Another is the rise of social media and the erosion of meaningful, in-person connections.

But Chopik also notes that things might not be as dire as they seem.

“The consequences of negative changes like these — and the exact extent to which people are changing in recent generations — can be a bit overblown sometimes," he says. "There seems to be a moral panic about young people becoming less empathic or more narcissistic."
https://www.discovermagazine.com/mi...ncreases-empathy-and-encourages-understanding
 

Bartelby

Bionic Poster
Basing leadership on the paternal relationship was a political theory overturned by liberalism, and it wasn't thought of as an empathic relationship needless to say.

There used to be large literatures on democratic parenting, but I lost interest in where that took us as it's not my field.

I do think the empathic/cynicism distinction is not a good way to think that relationship.

Arent parents generally empathic rather than cynical toward their babies /kids?
To me that indicates that its a powerful way to lead..
 

Larry Duff

Hall of Fame
In 2010, a meta-analysis by Konrath found empathy among college students declinedbetween the 1970s and the 2000s, as measured by standard tests for the trait. During this time period, the average level of “empathic concern,” or sympathy for the misfortunes of others, declined by 48 percent. “Perspective taking,” or the ability to imagine others’ points of view, also declined by 34 percent. Konrath says she’s working on an update to the 2010 study, and that it can be difficult to pinpoint the complex reasons behind these statistical shifts.
Worth pointing out this was American college students.
 

van_Loederen

Professional
I see both as very useful traits, on both an individual and a societal level. Cynicism is a defense against manipulation by con artists in personal lives, business and politics, and an inoculation against the most basic tricks of propaganda. Empathy is the key to feeling some connection and compassion towards others. Interestingly, the level of both empathy and cynicism towards others is largely defined by an us/them dynamic. Societies tend to be more empathetic and less cynical towards others when they are not broken down into many antagonistic groups that see people outside of their group as threats.


How Reading Fiction Increases Empathy and Encourages Understanding
There might some truth to the beloved quote, "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies." Researchers say reading fiction can show us different viewpoints — and shape how we relate to each other.
By Megan SchmidtAug 28, 2020

Perspectives on Empathy
Psychologists have found that empathy is innate, as even babies show it. And while some people are naturally more empathetic than others, most people become more-so with age. Beyond that, some research indicates that if you're motivated to become more empathetic, you probably can. Although there are many ways to cultivate empathy, they largely involve practicing positive social behaviors, like getting to know others, putting yourself in their shoes and challenging one's own biases. And stories — fictional ones in particular — offer another way to step outside of oneself.

Fiction has the capacity to transport you into another character’s mind, allowing you to see and feel what they do. This can expose us to life circumstances that are very different from our own. Through fiction, we can experience the world as another gender, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, profession or age. Words on a page can introduce us to what it's like to lose a child, be swept up in a war, be born into poverty, or leave home and immigrate to a new country. And taken together, this can influence how we relate to others in the real world.

“Fiction and stories do a lot of things for us,” says William Chopik, a psychologist at the University of Michigan. “They expose us to uncomfortable ideas ... and provide us with the opportunity to take other peoples’ perspectives in a safe, distanced way. In that way, fiction serves as a playground for exercising empathic skills.”

The End of Empathy?
Sometimes, empathy is described as the glue that holds society together. Without it, humankind probably wouldn’t have gotten very far. Our ancestors depended on acts of caring for survival — such as sharing resources, help with healing the sick, and protection from predators. And we’ll probably continue needing empathy to move forward. Yet, at this particular moment in history, it can feel like empathy is on shaky ground.

In 2010, a meta-analysis by Konrath found empathy among college students declinedbetween the 1970s and the 2000s, as measured by standard tests for the trait. During this time period, the average level of “empathic concern,” or sympathy for the misfortunes of others, declined by 48 percent. “Perspective taking,” or the ability to imagine others’ points of view, also declined by 34 percent. Konrath says she’s working on an update to the 2010 study, and that it can be difficult to pinpoint the complex reasons behind these statistical shifts.

Chopik says a common culprit that often gets blamed is a generational shift in parenting styles, such as a hyper-focus on personal achievement and high self-esteem. Critics say these trends might compromise empathy so individuals can get ahead. Another is the rise of social media and the erosion of meaningful, in-person connections.

But Chopik also notes that things might not be as dire as they seem.

“The consequences of negative changes like these — and the exact extent to which people are changing in recent generations — can be a bit overblown sometimes," he says. "There seems to be a moral panic about young people becoming less empathic or more narcissistic."
https://www.discovermagazine.com/mi...ncreases-empathy-and-encourages-understanding
unfortunately it becomes clear early on in life who will become a reader in the first place.
to many people, reading is like imprisonment. they are capable of digesting snippets on Twitter.

on internet forums you get people who do read, but still don't learn, but that's the exception. ;)

Empathy in leaders is admired and draws followers. Cynicism does the opposite. Thus empathy is more powerful.
simple people simply don't get cynicism, and they are in a majority. ;)
 

Dolgopolov85

G.O.A.T.
You need both, so what is more powerful depends on what the circumstances call for. You cannot uplift suffering without empathy and you cannot unmask charlatans without cynicism. If nobody had gone, "Really, what?" to Elizabeth Holmes' claims, Theranos would still be a thing.
 

Mike Bulgakov

G.O.A.T.
. . . random postmodernism and absurdity . . .

............................?
If you want a serious answer to what brings out empathy or hostility towards others, it is important to remember the primitive tendency of the human mind to divide others into in-group/out-group (us/them) dynamics, and how profoundly that affects how we treat others. Political organizations and groups interested in manipulating and shaping individuals and societies have long been aware of this dynamic. Robert Sapolsky is respected by organizations interested in human behavior.

“Us vs. Them” Thinking Is Hardwired—But There’s Hope for Us Yet
Our implicit biases are rooted in biology, but they can be easily manipulated. That's both really good and really bad.
Robert M Sapolsky

Robert Sapolsky: So when you look at us—us as humans, as apes, as primates, as mammals—when you look at some of the most appalling realms of our behavior, much of it has to do with the fact that social organisms are really, really hardwired to make a basic dichotomy about the social world, which is those organisms who count as Us’s and those who count as Thems.

And this is virtually universal among humans and this is virtually universal among all sorts of social primates that have aspects of social structures built around separate social groupings. Us’s and Thems: we turn the world into Us’s and Thems and we don’t like the Thems very much and are often really awful to them. And the Us’s, we exaggerate how wonderful and how generous and how affiliative and how just like siblings they are to us. We divide the world into Us and Them.

And one of the greatest ways of seeing just biologically how real this fault line is, is there’s this hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is officially the coolest, grooviest hormone on earth, because what everybody knows is it enhances mother-infant bonding and it enhances pair bonding in couples. And it makes you more trusting and empathic and emotionally expressive and better at reading expressions and more charitable. And it’s obvious that if you just, like, spritzed oxytocin up everyone’s noses on this planet it would be the Garden of Eden the next day.

Oxytocin promotes prosocial behavior. Until people look closely. And it turns out oxytocin does all those wondrous things only for people who you think of as an “Us”, as an in-group member. It improves in-group favoritism, in-group parochialism.
What does it do to individuals who you consider a Them? It makes you crappier to them, more preemptively aggressive, less cooperative in an economic game. What oxytocin does is enhance this Us/Them divide. So that, along with other findings—the classic lines of Us versus Them along the lines of race, of sex, of age, of socioeconomic class: your brain processes these Us/Them differences on the scale of milliseconds, a twentieth of a second, your brain is already responding differently to an Us versus Them. But we are incredibly easily manipulated as to who counts as an Us and who counts as a Them.

Good news with that: we can manipulate us out of some of our worst Us/Them dichotomies and re-categorize people. Bad news: we could be manipulated by all sorts of ideologues out there as to deciding that people who seem just like us "really aren’t.

Okay, so a fabulous study showing this, this double-edged quality to oxytocin, and this was a study done by a group in the Netherlands. And what they did was they took Dutch university student volunteers and they gave them a classic philosophy problem, the runaway trolley problem: “Is it okay to sacrifice one person to save five?” Runaway trolley: can you push this big, beefy guy onto the track who gets squashed by the trolley but that slows it down so that five people tied to the track don’t... Standard problem in philosophy, utilitarianism, ends justifies means—all of that. So you give people the scenario and people have varying opinions, and now you give them the scenario where the person you push onto the track has a name. And either it’s a standard name from the Netherlands, Dirk I think, this is like a meat-and-potatoes Netherlandish name. Or a name from either of two groups that evoke lots of xenophobic hostility among people from the Netherlands: someone with a typically German name—oh yeah, World War II, that’s right, that was a problem—or someone with a typically Muslim name.

So now they’re choosing whether to save five by pushing Dirk onto the track or Otto or Mahmoud and, in general, give them those names and there’s no difference in how people would rate them if they were anonymous. Give people oxytocin, where they don’t know that they’ve gotten it—control group has just placebo spritzed up their nose—give people oxytocin and, kumbaya, you are far less likely to push Dirk onto the track, and you are now far more likely to push good old Otto or good old Mahmoud onto the rails there.

And you are more likely to sacrifice an out-group member to save five, and you are less likely to sacrifice an in-group member. All you’ve done there is exaggerate the Us/Them divide with that.
https://bigthink.com/videos/robert-...king-is-hardwired-but-theres-hope-for-us-yet/



 
Last edited:

Mike Bulgakov

G.O.A.T.
More from Sapolsky:

There's this part of the brain for example called the insular cortex. And in any normal, boring mammal out there what it does is tell you that was a disgusting rancid taste and it triggers reflexes. Your gut heaves, you reflexively spit out the rotten food. It's a great thing for keeping you from like poisoning yourself with toxic food. And then in humans you contemplate the Rwandan genocide. And remarkably it's the same exact neurons that activate and thus this metaphor is not so metaphorical at that moment because your gut is indeed getting messages suggesting that it start feeling queasy.

Our body turns those metaphors into very literal states and that's where they get their power from. When we're disgusted by some appalling act, we truly are feeling a bad taste in our mouth and feeling sick to our stomachs and feeling queasy and that gives an enormous power. For better or worse.

. … We don't figure out who's one of "us" and who's one of "them" by smelling their pheromones the way a hamster might. We think about it and thus we're subject to being manipulated and how we think and pseudospeciation is this process by which we are propagandized into thinking that they are so different they hardly even count as human. The flip side is pseudokinship, when we are manipulated into feeling more related to someone than we actually are.
https://www.cbc.ca/radio/quirks/gre...phors-literally-with-deadly-results-1.4457133

Still further back, Sapolsky traced the roots of our actions to the cultures developed by our ancestors, and those cultures’ roots to the ecosystems where they originated. Before that, aeons of evolution shaped behaviors key to survival, including the sense of “Us” and “Them.”

Throughout life, however, the brain’s remains malleable. “It can change in response to experience, but neuroplasticity is value-free: it can make you a better saint, or better at ethnic cleansing,” Sapolsky said.

“The single most important thing,” he said, “is that things change.”

Cultures evolve over centuries, but people can change in days, hours, even minutes. Such a dramatic shift was the Christmas truce of WWI, when a few hours’ halt in bitter trench warfare allowed both sides to bury their dead. The soldiers spontaneously extended the truce, had Christmas dinner together, exchanged addresses, and agreed to shoot over each other’s heads when fighting resumed (which they did, until dire threats from their officers got them back to the business of killing one another).

“After decades of nationalism, jingoism, military training, it just took a few hours to change who was ‘Us,’ who was ‘Them,’” Sapolsky said.

“These men had the same brains, the same biology as we do,” he concluded, stressing the need to study the science behind events like this, if we hope “to repeat such moments of human magnificence.”
https://www.dana.org/article/sapolsky-on-the-biology-of-good-and-evil/
 

Bartelby

Bionic Poster
This kind of story about ordinary people putting aside their differences is all very well, but it functions as an ideological smoke-screen to forestall any real work directed to resolving conflict.

Versions of the armistice truce story are a dime a dozen in reporting on the ME, but the situation continues to deteriorate.

Cultures evolve over centuries, but people can change in days, hours, even minutes. Such a dramatic shift was the Christmas truce of WWI, when a few hours’ halt in bitter trench warfare allowed both sides to bury their dead. The soldiers spontaneously extended the truce, had Christmas dinner together, exchanged addresses, and agreed to shoot over each other’s heads when fighting resumed (which they did, until dire threats from their officers got them back to the business of killing one another).

“After decades of nationalism, jingoism, military training, it just took a few hours to change who was ‘Us,’ who was ‘Them,’” Sapolsky said.

“These men had the same brains, the same biology as we do,” he concluded, stressing the need to study the science behind events like this, if we hope “to repeat such moments of human magnificence.”
https://www.dana.org/article/sapolsky-on-the-biology-of-good-and-evil/
 

Mike Bulgakov

G.O.A.T.
This kind of story about ordinary people putting aside their differences is all very well, but it functions as an ideological smoke-screen to forestall any real work directed to resolving conflict.

Versions of the armistice truce story are a dime a dozen in reporting on the ME, but the situation continues to deteriorate.
In-group/out-group dynamics are a key to understanding conflict and war.
 

Bartelby

Bionic Poster
I can't agree. The major event shaping human history is the neolithic revolution and the invention of the state. The state is the key and other dynamics are subsidiary to it.

In-group/out-group dynamics are a key to understanding conflict and war.
 
It has been said that the most useful propaganda causes the target (individuals, populations) to move in the direction you desire for reasons they believe to be their own. It's usually more of a cynical process than empathetic.
Quite.
Have you read any of these 2 mens work/books?
 

Mike Bulgakov

G.O.A.T.
Quite.
Have you read any of these 2 mens work/books?
Edward Bernays: “The Father of Public Relations”
Bernays was famous for turning PR into a formal field of study. Another famous campaign of his was on behalf of Lucky Strike cigarettes, where he convinced members of the fashion industry to use the color green so that women would be more likely to buy the cigarettes (they were concerned the green package clashed with their wardrobe). When Bernays began working for UF, he helped create the famous Senorita Chiquita Banana character and persuaded the public that bananas cured celiac disease. But serious ethical issues were yet to come in Guatemala.
https://www.modernmarketingpartners.com/2017/06/01/chiquita-pr-campaign/

Bernays believed: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.”[4] As a result, Bernays stated that he could encourage women to smoke by linking cigarettes to notions of freedom and rebellion. Bernays sought to end the stigma around women smoking in public by creating the campaign “Torches of Freedom.”
https://biblio.uottawa.ca/omeka2/jm...n-in-tobacco-adve/torches-of-freedom-campaign



Bernays, and propaganda theorist Walter Lippman, were members of the U.S. Government’s Committee on Public Information (CPI), which successfully convinced formally isolationist Americans to support entrance into World War I. While propaganda was commonly thought of as a negative way of manipulating the masses that should be avoided, Bernays believed that it was necessary for the functioning of a society, as otherwise people would be overwhelmed with too many choices. In his words:
Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group.
[Source: Bernays, Propaganda, 1928, p. 52; available here.]

After WWI, Bernays was hired by the American Tobacco Company to encourage women to start smoking. While men smoked cigarettes, it was not publicly acceptable for women to smoke. Bernays staged a dramatic public display of women smoking during the Easter Day Parade in New York City. He then told the press to expect that women suffragists would light up “torches of freedom” during the parade to show they were equal to men.

“Cigarettes were a symbol of the penis and of male sexual power…Women would smoke because it was then that they’d have their own penises.”

The campaign was considered successful as sales to women increased afterward. Cigarette companies followed Bernays’s lead and created ad campaigns that targeted women. Lucky Brand Cigarettes capitalized on recent fashions for skinny women by telling women to “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet”:
https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2012/02/27/torches-of-freedom-women-and-smoking-propaganda/

 
Last edited:
Top