Exploring the Myths of Human Nature

Myths affect how we view the world around us. Find out what the three major myths about human nature are and why we shouldn’t accept them as common sense.

| May 2013

  • Human-Nature1
    Being human is a lot more complicated than many of us think, but myths about human nature are powerful and remain quite popular.
    Photo By Fotolia/adimas
  • Race-Monogamy
    Race, aggression and sex, the three main myths about human nature, are explored in “Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You.”
    Cover Courtesy University of California Press

  • Human-Nature1
  • Race-Monogamy

This myth-busting narrative exposes three major myths about human beings. Author Agustin Fuentes challenges the misconceptions about race, aggression and sex in Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You (University of California Press, 2012). In this excerpt taken from part one, “Myth-Busting Tool Kit,” Fuentes explores what myths are and why we assume them to be part of human nature. 

There is a shared set of beliefs about human nature that shapes the way we see the world — common assumptions about race, aggression, and sex that are seen as just part of being human.

While we might not always admit it in public, most people think that there is a specific set of biological differences between various kinds of people in the world, and that if you strip away society and laws, humans become beasts, with survival of the fittest and the bigger, badder, more aggressive taking control. And of course, nearly everyone knows that it is natural that men and women want, and need, different things from sex and personal relationships.

These beliefs are myths based on misinformation, partial truths, and a large dose of ignorance as to what we actually know about our species. This book is focused on challenging what many people assume is common knowledge about what it means to be human. We are going to use information from a wide range of researchers and research projects to bust these myths and replace them with more accurate stories about who we are and what we do.

Why do these concepts about race, sex, and aggression seem to be common sense to so many people? It is largely because of the shared assumption that under the thin veneer of culture we have a basic set of instincts, a raw humanity. There is a popular perception of what human nature is, and common views of race, aggression, and sex permeate society. This can be encapsulated in three key myths:

1. Race: Humans are divided into biological races (black, white, Asian, etc.).
2. Aggression: Removing cultural constraints reveals the violent beast within us (especially in men).
3. Sex: Men and women are truly different in behavior, desires, and internal wiring.

Donato Cianci
5/24/2013 4:03:41 PM

Human nature has nearly , perhaps certainly, destroyed the habitat for nearly all life. If we were as benign as we are destructively aggressive, this would not have happened. Everything living creatures talk about and think about is mythology. If you debunk mythology, you debunk all thinking, by all creatures...

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