Re: Privacy and Human Nature (was: Gingrich, Moynihan step down)

Scott Badger (
Thu, 12 Nov 1998 17:17:18 -0600

I wrote:

>>Really? A desire for privacy is part of human nature? Are there any
>>studies that support that hypothesis?

Dan replied:

>To throw in my own two cents on this...
>I don't have to show that a desire for privacy is a part of human nature in
>order to justify Lorrey's claim. Acting in accordance with one's own
>desires IS a part of human nature.

Acting to satisfy one's perceived desires could practically be a definition for simply being alive. Every creature does this. So, of course it's a *part* of human nature. That's not saying much, though. IMO, examining human nature is about identifying those human attributes favored by natural selection and "hard-wired" into our neural systems. It's the difference between those needs which we are predisposed to experience (trans-culturally) and those which we learn.

>Since lots of people like privacy (for *whatever* reason!),
>forcing them to give it up is contrary to human nature. That's
>all there is to it.
>Hope this helps settle the matter. ;)

Sorry, but not really.

Once again, I'm not against privacy. I'm just curious about it's genesis and its role in human development, and I'm having difficulty understanding the logic of your statement. Think of other words that could be inserted into this similar statement:

                Since lots of people like ___________ (for *whatever*
           reason!), forcing them to give it up is contrary to human nature.

How about:

drunk driving
child abuse

Maybe this is too much. Sorry. I get carried away. All I was trying to say was that IMHO a need for privacy is most likely tied to cultural factors, not neural ones.

Just a little more . . .

Mike Lorrey wrote:

>For example, when a primitive female human was having
>her period, she would be sequestered from the rest of the
>tribe, to the point that females prefered the privacy. Do that
>for thousands of years and women are going to feel very private
>about their reproductive health. I could go on and describe
>many other evolutionary advantages to privacy.

Interesting. Is this from David Buss' book, "The Evolution of Desire"? Does it imply that women have a greater need for privacy than men? Or are you saying that there are scores of reasons why both sexes have a *need* for privacy? If so, are most of these reasons pro-social, anti-social, or asocial?

Like Max, I'm not a very private person. In fact I'm quite a self-discloser.