Feelings of supremacy can drive altered feelings for objects over humans study suggests.
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Cho Oyu current: Study may explain sympathy for alps over humans

Posted: Sep 13, 2012 11:36 pm EDT
(Tina Sjogren) Himalaya fall season full throttle, once again there have been issues with climbing visas to Cho Oyu.

Not much has changed in Tibet since the Olympic uprisings in 2008. People keep fleeing the country over Nangpa La pass where a few years ago mountaineers silently watched soldiers shoot teenage refugees.

Victims buried and the mountain closed, unanswered questions linger like silent ghosts behind the gun smoke.

Why were there no attempts to intervene and more importantly; why was the only guide who reported the murders on his satellite phone punished by the leaders of the other climbing groups?

Other questions posed by the mighty peaks: Why (only months before) did some Everest climbers openly suggest that a mountaineer left to die had himself to blame for not being attached to a strong outfit?

This year: why not invite at least some "tourist climbers" to the bigwig (Messner et all) roundtable about the future of mountaineering (on the most popular peaks and routes) in Himalaya and the Alps?

And how come every spring there's a debate on Everest about who should, and should not, "be there"?

In our community, while there are trophies and certificates for every rock on the planet, there are no awards for social courage. Adhering to the right tribe is what counts.

A study by researchers at Duke University and Princeton University suggests feelings of supremacy could explain some of the behavior.

Medical imaging showed that a part of the brain that's critical for social interaction may disengage when people encounter others they consider worth less.

From the article in Sciencedaily:

"Social neuroscience has shown through MRI studies that people normally activate a network in the brain related to social cognition -- thoughts, feelings, empathy, for example -- when viewing pictures of others or thinking about their thoughts."

"But when participants in this study were asked to consider images of people they considered drug addicts, homeless people, and others they deemed low on the social ladder, parts of this network failed to engage."


High profile mountaineers often work hard to raise awareness about climate change in the alps but there are no slideshows in Everest base camp about the continuous plight of the Tibetans. Crowding on popular routes is a hot topic; human rights is not.

Feelings for objects over people are not uncommon, the study showed.

"What's especially striking, the researchers said, is that people will easily ascribe social cognition -- a belief in an internal life such as emotions -- to animals and cars, but will avoid making eye contact with the homeless panhandler in the subway."

Recognizing what's going on helps us handle when we are targets of condescending behavior as well as resist the flaw within ourselves.

Ideally, one day our love for the peaks wil level with our respect for each other.

The full study.
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