Christopher Davis

Santa Monica, CA, United States

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Comments & conversations

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Christopher Davis
Posted over 1 year ago
The Kony 2012 Controversy: Does this discussion apply?
While this is by no means an informed opinion, I can say that Kony2012 is the first thing that I thought of while listening to this talk. I think many of the criticisms of the Kony campaign are well refuted with this talk, at least the criticisms of exactly how much money was spent on field work as opposed to marketing or paying people (although I don't know all of the information about how much people were paid in the organization, ect.) Other issues were raised about Kony2012 though, which may or may not be easily refuted, such as how the money was used on the ground to try to catch Kony (who was armed, ect.). I really don't know enough about that to give a good opinion, however. What is true is that I think the Kony campaign may have ended up hurting people's belief in NPO's as a whole, and I wish the collapse of it hadn't happened, especially with the high-profile humiliation of it's founder. And I do think much of the criticism of Kony2012 is based on the idea that NPO's shouldn't market, which may have lead to the founder's emotional collapse (although this is supposition).
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Christopher Davis
Posted about 2 years ago
What does it mean that our ideas for success should come from within?
While I agree that examining one's own life is important, I don't necessarily believe that we have a free "choice" as much as society believes we do. In being human we are absolutely unaware of almost all the factors that are affecting us when making decisions, both environmental and biological, which leads to the belief that we have, to some extent, "free will". I'm more on the determinist side myself; meaning that we are only the sum of are physical entities, the neurons in our brain. Environmental and biological factors absolutely make us who we are, affecting how those neurons are fired and coded, but just by simple cause and effect logic I believe it is still all determined. As such, I'm having a hard time with the idea that we have to make sure that our ideas come from "ourselves", it is more that we should make sure that our ideas of success are what we actually want, regardless of the biological/environmental factors that made us the way we are.
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Christopher Davis
Posted about 2 years ago
Sam Richards: A radical experiment in empathy
I love this idea. I do have some problems with the way it was delivered, although obviously it needs to be succinct and non-philosophical enough to appeal to mass audiences. I think it may be a bit of a stretch to state that we totally understand others, ever. Sure, we may be able to project an idea of how we ourselves might feel if we were in another person's situation, how we may be affected if we were in similar situations, but if we had indeed grown up in Iraq as opposed to America we would be completely different people. I never liked the idea that empathy was "putting ourselves in another's shoes", because I don't think that's what empathy is; I believe true empathy requires the ability to completely adopt another's perspective (which is impossible). It would require the total deletion of any biological factor or environmental factor that has ever happened to ourselves and totally adopt those of another. Of course, that doesn't mean that there isn't a certain continuum of empathetic tendencies towards others. All this is a minor distinction, but I believe it's important, especially because these differences in meaning often motivate people not to appreciate the message as a whole. As a culture, we account for these environmental factors that affect each other much too little. We have the tendency to judge each other contemptuously, allowing single judgements to encapsulate the whole of a human being, making judgements that are rationally incorrect, and that always never account for all the environmental factors that make us who we are. I think there is too much contempt in our culture, it creates too many barriers to empathy. There is no act, no belief, no thought process, no difference, that warrants contempt for a fellow human being. Because when we allow ourselves to have contempt, we allow ourselves to act as though others are less than human. And it's never OK. Practice is an amazing way to foster empathy. And we need to hold empathy with higher regard
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Christopher Davis
Posted about 2 years ago
In an individualistic world where autonomy is a requirement for human-involvement, should conversation be mandatory?
(Part 2) response to that, I grew up to abhor Americans because of the culture around me that hated it. We are who we are not because we decided to be that way, but because of the arbitrary factors that affected us to make those decisions. So where does a human being deserve to be judged contemptuously? I argue never. Ever. Not in greed, not in murder, never. That is not to say judgments at all shouldn’t be made. You can say a person’s tall, a person’s short, without having it affect your overall judgment on the person; it is when we believe our judgments are important does it affect our ability to empathize. And I believe no judgment should be important enough to cause such a barrier to empathy. And I think we should be advocating for that more. Now this is all not say that people don’t need to feel as though they are responsible for their actions; we do, it is absolutely a needed social construct. But we don’t need contempt. And if we were able to change this culture of contempt, I think we would see a large change in stranger-engagement. Although it could also happen the other way around (:
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Christopher Davis
Posted about 2 years ago
In an individualistic world where autonomy is a requirement for human-involvement, should conversation be mandatory?
I love this topic. Empathy, compassion, is really what I believe allows us to create relationships, care about each other, love, motivate us to help each other. I think that the general norms of judgment in our society have played a large part in leading to this scarcity of stranger-engagement in our culture. The culture part, I believe, is important to point out. It is not as though all people who do not engage with strangers are apathetic. There seems to be a common uneasiness in personal engagement with those one doesn’t know, putting one’s self out there among those who do not. It’s scary, especially because it’s uncommon; the more common it is the more often people would be influenced to do it. Contemptuous judgment is the root problem, the reason why our culture has become this way. It’s an extreme barrier to empathy. And I argue that any judgment that allows one to de-value a human being is not only morally wrong, but logically as well. And morally wrong because it’s logically wrong. Sorry, I’m a little long-winded (: But, I posit this question: which should we judge a human being based on: the biological factors that were genetically pre-disposed without choice from the being, or the environmental factors that happened to affect them to make them who they are? Would you judge a person with a severe genetic learning disability for not being able to talk coherently? Likewise, don’t we all act and believe what we do because of the environmental factors that happened to affect us? Isn’t that why we see the trends we do across groups? These environmental factors are almost always impossible to trace, which I believe has led to this belief that people “deserve” the judgments that they receive. But all our actions and beliefs and thoughts were influenced by some environmental property. I grew up to be racist because that was the culture. I grew up to abhor racism because that was the culture. I grew up to abhor muslims because of 9/11 and the culture’s
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Christopher Davis
Posted about 2 years ago
The Intense World Theory and early intervention
Thanks for your response. Indeed, it is natural for people who are more similar to be able to empathize with each other more, simply because it is easier to identify with those that are more similar to yourself; it lays out a framework, common connection. On a side note, I'm not sure if the distinction should be made that all people with Asperger's syndrome can't empathize with "normal" people; I'm not sure if we should be so cut and dry: empathy is a very complex part in a person's character, and it's not as though some people have it or some people don't: it's always on a continuum, never on and off. I only mention because I imagine some people who have disabilities may be attacked for having "no empathy", and I think that that assumption may be harmful. What do you think?