Why We Hate launches on Discovery Channel on October 20. The 6-part docu-series, executive produced by filmmaking heavyweights Alex Gibney and Steven Spielberg and directed by Geeta Gandbhir and Sam Pollard, explores one of humanity’s most primal and destructive emotions – hate.
Throughout history, hate and conflict have been part of the human experience. From horrific extremes such as the Holocaust or the Rwandan genocide, when hate has fuelled mass destruction, to everyday incidents like playground bullying or malicious trolling on social media, hate shapes our lives in myriad ways. And while all humans have the capacity to hate, few understand what sparks it and transforms it into a destructive force.
Drawing on cutting-edge journalism, deep historical investigations and ground-breaking research in psychology, biology, and neuroscience, Why We Hate traces the evolutionary basis of hatred and its powerful impact on individuals and societies throughout human history. The science behind the behaviour is a powerful tool to help us understand what drives conflict, enabling people to have real, tough conversations about these issues and behaviours.
Helping to unpack these complex issues in each episode are experts including cognitive scientist Laurie Santos, evolutionary anthropologist Brian Hare, journalist and author Jelani Cobb, extremism expert Sasha Havlicek, international criminal lawyer Patricia Viseur Sellers, and neuroscientist Emile Bruneau.
Discovery has provided a description of the six-episode season below:
Episode 1: Origins – Sunday 20 October at 8:30pm AEDT
Why do we hate? Humans are capable of love and cooperation, so why do we treat each other with cruelty and violence? Evolutionary anthropologist Dr Brian Hare searches for the origins of hate in our distant past, and in our contemporary environment.
Episode 2: Tribalism – Sunday 27 October at 8:30pm AEDT
Why do we divide the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’? Cognitive scientist Laurie Santos examines tribalism, asking why love for our group can make us hate other groups – in politics, sports, even warfare – and how tribal thinking shapes our perceptions.
Episode 3: Tools & Tactics – Sunday 3 November at 8:30pm AEDT
If we all have the capacity to hate, what does it take to awaken our worst tendencies and make us act on them? How can “hate tools” – such as propaganda, the internet and symbols – incite, amplify and spread hate and violence? Journalist and author Jelani Cobb investigates what makes these “hate tools” work, exploring the dehumanising propaganda that stoked the 1994 Rwandan genocide from the perspective of perpetrators, victims and neuroscientists.
Episode 4: Extremism – Sunday 10 November at 8:30pm AEDT
What drives us to embrace hateful ideas or join extremist groups? How does love for one’s faith become a reason to hate and attack others? Extremism expert Sasha Havlicek explores the complicated factors that draw people toward ideologies that fuel hate and violence from white nationalism to Islamic terrorism or toward deradicalisation.
Episode 5: Crimes Against Humanity – Sunday 17 November at 8:30pm AEDT
What makes humans take part in the worst extremes of hate – genocide and crimes against humanity? International criminal lawyer Patricia Viseur Sellers investigates the role of perpetrators, from leaders to followers, as well as those who resist the power of hate. From Cambodia to Nazi Germany to the Jim Crow South, Sellers leads us on a quest to understand how hate can push people to commit the most horrific acts.
Episode 6: Hope – Sunday 24 November at 8:30pm AEDT
How can we resist succumbing to our worst impulses and awaken the better angels of our nature? What can we do to prevent violent conflict from recurring in the future? Neuroscientist Emile Bruneau explores how we can employ our capacity for critical thinking, the plasticity of our brains, and strategies like education, mindfulness, and cooperation to help us combat hate.