In an era when it seems like political, social, and cultural thinking has never been more polarized, this smart and incisive series asks one question: Why? Does hate come from nature? Nurture? Scarce resources? Is it part of our biological imperative? In its quest to tease out the roots of the hatred that results in all manner of human conflict, Why We Hate interviews many different types of experts: an evolutionary anthropologist who talks about the difference between peaceful bonobo apes and aggressive chimpanzees. An expert in infant cognition, who talks about studies gauging the moral drives of babies. An activist who abandoned the controversial Westboro Baptist Church. Two teens who talk frankly about what it's like to be bullied -- and to bully others.
What emerges is a fascinating portrait of the human race, both our worst qualities, and, paradoxically, our best. The worst is easy to illustrate, of course, and Why We Hate shows plenty of disturbing examples: Nazi rallies, street riots, the aftermath of genocide. But we also learn more what motivates those who lash out against others: scarce resources, insecurity, a wish to feel a part of a group, and the intense pain that's experienced by those who are left out. On a more cheering note, the series also looks into what can defuse hate. As a psychologist points out, our plastic brains can change with new experiences, and humans have the capacity for great cooperation and love. It's hard to see people treating each other terribly, even through the distance of a TV screen. But if Why We Hate has one overriding message, it's that hate isn't inevitable -- and understanding what hate is and what it means may be the first step towards unraveling it.