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June 11, 2006

Human Cognition, Emotions, and the  Rule of Law <br>

There is now abundant evidence that man isn’t the only cognitive species; several varieties of mammals— from primates to dolphins— are clearly able to communicate abstract ideas, learn new skills, and transmit at least some  knowledge thus acquired to their young. However, as we also know from our experience with human language, ‘word of mouth,’ is imperfect. Precisely because the quality of information passed from one generation to another can deteriorate so quickly,  literacy became one of the key developments required for humans to progress rapidly from planetary insignificance to the dominant species.

We can also see our own emotions clearly mirrored in animal behavior;  recent advances in our ability to observe and photograph their interactions, coupled with an increasing interest in ‘endangered’ species, has heightened our awareness of how similar their emotional responses are to our own; a perception that shouldn’t surprise anyone with some knowledge of comparative neuroanatomy.  

That brings me to another point: as knowledge of our environment and its complexity has accumulated, it’s become more specialized. We are thus increasingly dependent on various authorities to keep track of it all and help synthesize the rules and policies which determine how newly acquired knowledge affects daily life. That the process has been untidy and contentious is painfully evident: ‘sovereign governments’ interactating in a loosely knit ‘community of nations’ have produced a world which is arguably more polarized and dangerous than ever; in essence, we are reprising the Crusades of an earlier millenium––  only this time with nuclear capabilites.  As we confront the sorry melange of hypocrisy, exploitation, and violence being reported with increased speed and efficiency from all corners of the planet, it’s gradually dawning on some of us that along with an increase in the planet’s temperature, its humans are experiencing a rapid increase in ambient stress levels.

For me, at least, the obvious link with cannabis has come from four years of unique clinical interaction with a population that’s been chronically self-medicating with it, despite Draconian legal penalties. That experience has convinced me that of all the therapeutic benefits cannabis offers, its ability to quickly and safely relieve anxiety is what rapidly propelled it into third place  among all agents initiated by American adolescents in the early days oif the drug war–– and a mere decade after large numbers of ‘Baby Boomers’ first began sampling it in the mid- Sixties.

Alcohol and tobacco still retain shaky holds on first and second place. They are also seperately ‘regulated’ and not even considered by most to be ‘drugs,’ which gives them a decided competitive edge over pot; despite its obvious edge in both safety and efficacy.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at June 11, 2006 08:28 PM