The Dangers of Tribalism


Here’s the first in a series of sketchbook-style videos I’m doing on the topic of tribalism and critical thinking.

I really do think a certain degree of tribal literacy needs to be a part of everyone’s critical thinking toolkit.

Below are some links to relevant readings.

“What is a tribe?”

  • I’m using the word “tribe” to refer to social networks of people who share common interests or other features, and who (ideally) enjoy the many benefits of social connection through interaction and participation within these networks.
    • This usage combines two independent features that are not always combined in the literature:
      1. being a member of a social group based on shared characteristics and interests
      2. being a beneficiary of psychological and physical benefits in virtue of participation in such groups
    • “Tribe” also has a historical usage within internet culture, where it assumes that these groups are virtual communities (“digital tribe”). My usage is more general.
    • Marketing guru Seth Godin popularized the term in his 2014 Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us , where he connected it to new business models that revolve around serving a tribe.
    • Journalist and novelist Sebastian Junger’s 2015 book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, which focuses on the psychological experience of soldiers abroad and at home, reviews the anthropological roots of human sociality in tribal bonding, and makes broad claims about the negative effects of fragmentation and alienation in modern society. Worth looking at.

“Us vs Them” Psychology

Tribalism and Moral Psychology

Tribalism and Human Cognition


Social Connection and Social Cohesion

I welcome suggestions to add to this list in the comments below.