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October 27, 2012

Annals of Cognition (the Impact of Emotions on our Decisions)

That Man is a cognitive mammal and the brain our organ of cognition should be evident to any educated human in the Twenty-First Century, yet there is much disagreement over the details which, as it turns out, become important; if only because differences of opinion over key details may prompt humans- acting either as individuals or in groups- to disagree with lethal consequences. When one person kills another in such a disagreement, it’s called “murder” and in most countries considered a matter for the criminal justice system to decide. However, as is also quite evident, applicable law has varied considerably from nation to nation and era to era, with the result that murder in one culture can be considered an honor killing in another. One has only to recall the plot of Romeo and Juliet to get the point. Closer to modern times, it's clear that honor killings are still an intrinsic part of many cultures, as is demonstrated by simply Googling the phrase.

In that context, we can see that one of the important ways that have allowed the anomalous American “war on drugs” to become a respected concept in the modern world is that its advocates have succeeded in making the concept of being “high on drugs” such a shameful state that it must be discouraged, not only by families, but by society's institutions; also that if persistent beyond a certain age, being "high" on certain drugs becomes grounds for formal punishment by the criminal justice system in UN member nations. This is especially true with respect to “marijuana,” which once led to the arrest of an American billionaire while on a trip to New Zealand to watch the Americas Cup.

So much for hypocrisy and “equal justice under the law.” On another tack, we have Hurricane (or is it a Tropical Depression?) Sandy now bearing down on the East Coast of the US. Both Sandy’s dimensions and wind velocity are uncertain at this point, but what seems accepted by all weather experts is that it’s a huge storm carrying immense amounts of water and that it will have enormous impact on the Eastern US. Also, that its after-effects will probably last through Halloween, games three and four of the World Series, and Election day. In fact Sandy could even affect the outcome.

Talk about unintended consequences! I have long been troubled by the human tendency to deny obvious reality in favor of cherished irrational beliefs (one of which is that criminal prohibition of drug use is a viable national policy). In that respect I would hope that the arrival of Sandy and its after effects might prompt some second thoughts about Al Gore who, as soon as he was cheated out of the Presidency by a Supreme Court packed by Republican Presidents, lost all respect among the same Democrats who let it happen by not voting for him (or voting for Ralph Nader). Perhaps the post-Sandy soggy basements of Democrats living in the Northeast will remind them of how much the eight year reign of the Bush- Cheney "greed and idiocy" Administration have cost us, not only in terms of the economic disaster they and their oil patch cronies allowed, but also the time lost by a world that eight years of more effective US leadership might have accomplished.

If that sounds bitter, the effect is intended. I learned long ago as a practicing surgeon that failure to make a timely diagnosis of a surgically curable condition risks not only an uncomplicated recovery, but also the life of the patient. In this situation, humans are not just the doctors, they are also the likely causes of an iatrogenic planetary illness, one from which recovery is uncertain.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at October 27, 2012 05:47 PM