[Video] Brainwashed - A Norwegian documentary series on nature and nurture

by GLaDOS 2 min read2nd Mar 201315 comments


Related: The Blank Slate, The Psychological Diversity of Mankind, Admitting to Bias

"Hjernevask" a well known (in Norway at least) documentary series that I am sure will be interesting to rationalists here is now available with English subtitles online. Produced by Ole Martin Ihle and Harald Eia a Norwegian documentarian and comedian, it casts a light on both ways in which we know people to be different as well as the culture that is academia in the Nordic country and probably elsewhere as well.


The Series

  1. The Gender Equality Paradox - Why do girls tend to go into empathizing professions and boys into systemizing professions? Why does the labor market become more gender segregated the more economic prosperity a country has?
  2. The Parental Effect - How much influence do parents really have on their children? To what degree is intelligence inherited?
  3. Gay/Straight - To what extent is sexual preference innate? Are there differences between heterosexual and homosexual brains? Is homosexuality a result of a choice or is it innate?
  4. Violence - Are people from some cultures more aggressive than others?
  5. Sex - Are there biological reasons men have a greater tendency than women to want sex without obligation?
  6. Race - Are there significant genetic differences between different peoples?
  7. Nature or Nurture - Is personality acquired or inherited?

The link go to the YouTube videos with English subtitles. Because linkrot sucks I'm providing another source for the videos.


Some Commentary

There was very little in the series that I found new and disagreed with some presentations. But this is not surprising given my eccentric interest in humans. (^_^) I found the interviews with the scientists and academics interesting and think that overall the series presents a good overview something well worth watching especially considering some of the debates I've seen taken place here recently. (;_;)

I'm somewhat frustrated by the frequent posts warning us about the dangers of Ev. Psych reasoning. (It seems like we average at least one of these per month).

It seems like a lot of this widespread hostility (the reaction to Harald Eia's Hjernevask is a good example of this hostility) stems from the fact that ev. psych is new. New ideas are held to much higher standard than old ones. The early reaction to ev. psych within psychology was characteristic of this effect. Behaviorists, Freudians, and Social Psychologists all had created their own theories of "ultimate causation" for human behaviour. None of those theories would have stood up to the strenuous demands for experimental validation that Ev. psych endured.


But science started to suffer. With so much easy money, few wanted to study the hard sciences. And the social sciences suffered in another way: The ties with the government became too tight, and created a culture where controversial issues, and tough discussions were avoided. Too critical, and you could risk getting no more money.

It was in this culture Harald Eia started his studies, in sociology, early in the nineties. He made it as far as becoming a junior researcher, but then dropped off, and started a career as a comedian instead. He has said that he suddenly, after reading some books which not were on the syllabus, discovered that he had been cheated. What he was taught in his sociology classes was not up-to-date with international research, and more based on ideology than science.

-Bjørn Vassnes

The latter wrote that in a 2010 article on the documentary series that I would also recommend reading. HT to iSteve where it is quoted in full.