tribal drum
Tribalism can play a critical role in how we apprehend the world around us.

Whether or not we're aware of its influence, tribalism is deeply and all but inextricably woven into the way we perceive our environment--not just in discerning friend from foe, but throughout our understanding of the world and how it works.

For most of us, knowledge is based considerably less than we might suppose on direct understanding or first-hand observation (“If I bump this rock with another rock, here’s what happens”), and a good deal more on picking up on social cues (“When I say this type of thing, people tend to say I’m smart”).  We can turn so automatically to the tribe for feedback and validation that we may not even be aware we're doing so.  The tribe thus becomes, for all practical intents and purposes, a kind of supplemental sense organ.

It can be an extremely useful organ, when the type of information we need to assimilate has to do with the presence of a lion nearby, or whether we're holding a bow in a way that might enable us to bring down a deer.  But as we begin to get into subjects that are more at the frontiers of the tribe’s knowledge, turning to the tribe for validation can impair our ability to see things clearly.

This has been the case from the time when tribal religions encompassed virtually all ways of conceiving of human experience right up through our own age of ever-accelerating technological advances.  Today, no approach to knowledge is beyond the gravitational pull of some form of tribalism.