Sure, I'm Offended— I'm Human!

People are extra sensitive these days, and science knows why
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2008 7:30 PM CDT
Sure, I'm Offended— I'm Human!
John McCain says, "I've been known to forget occasionally the discretion expected of a person of my many years and station when I believe I've been accorded a lack of respect I did not deserve."   (AP Photo/Scott Olson, Pool)

From Larry David to John McCain, we’re all getting a little touchy these days, writes Emily Yoffe in Slate: “People are like tuning forks, ready to vibrate with indignation.” While economists argue humans are rational, “it seems we live in a culture devoted to retribution on behalf of the thin-skinned,” writes Yoffe, who delves into the science behind our over-active tempers.

Researchers believe humans, guided by “the three R’s: respect, reputation, and reciprocity,” have a capacity for morality, but retaliate when slighted. Religion moderates, but it doesn’t trump our instincts. “A paradox of human life,” Yoffe observes, “is that the evolutionary forces that have made us cooperative and empathetic are the same ones that have made us prickly and explosive.”
(More John McCain stories.)

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