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March 04, 2008

Apocalypse in Slo-Mo? (Speculative)

For those paying attention, "speculative" is a new category and the drift of this blog over the past several months has been that the widespread acceptance of such a lame and unscientific drug policy suggests that the unique human cognitive abilities that have allowed the extreme planetary dominance achieved by us since the Industrial Revolution may be seriously flawed.

 Once the possibility of such an unsettling notion is admitted, the mechanism by which that flaw may have developed becomes (relatively) easy to understand; as do the consequences of failing to recognize and deal with it.

Unfortunately, our species’ penchant for denial of unpleasant (“inconvenient”) truth is both attributable to the same flaw and so universally manifest in America that, once recognized, it can seen in any TV news broadcast or  newspaper. In essence, the more an idea is sensed as a threat to human existence, the more we seem to need to deny it; both as individuals and as societies. An important corollary is that the creation of some means for deterring such doctrinal heresy has also been favored throughout history. Nearly every successful human society devised some means for punishing those who think “outside the box.”

Finally; the major monotheistic religions all regard doctrinal heresy as anathema and the mere suggestion that a divine error  could be compromising Intelligent Design would be categorically unacceptable to most fundamentalists. Just for the sake of argument, and realizing that most Creationists will not have read this far, what could possibly account for the presence of such a flaw in our highly evolved brains?

The answer lies within the process Evolution itself and will be outlined in due time; first, it's necessary to  recognize one other easily overlooked fact: the brain is a visceral organ. Over the several thousand years of human existence that we were lacking any ability to examine brain function directly, most languages developed a conceptual framework and vocabulary that dealt with thoughts as products of some mysterious disembodied process;  closer to religion than to chemistry.  Even now, although we acknowledge that a physiological process accounts for our cognitive function, we still have as much dificulty defining consciousness as we do accounting for gravity.

To return to the phenomenon of denial; further evidence of its pervasive and subtle nature is that another concept, one that recently commanded considerable attention at a time when its consequences were more speculative, but now that they are better defined, is hardly mentioned, is human overpopulation. That others have also noted the recent loss of interest in Malthusian fears is gratifying; similarly, the fact that scattered references to the planet’s carrying capacity are now being heard is a second comforting bit of evidence that all may not be lost.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at March 4, 2008 08:26 AM