• Posted: Apr 02, 2016 12:50:47
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Current research has yielded some remarkable findings regarding how the human brain works. We now better understand how memories are formed, strengthened, extinguished, and revived if lost. There is also considerable progress being made understanding how humans recognize, analyze, and act upon patterns within sensory data.
Remember the Rorschach test? And Gestalt psychology? And, I’d bet you’ve heard of face recognition software, AI, big data, and self-driving cars. All of those area of inquiry make use of the human brain’s innate talent for recognizing patterns, a talent each of us use throughout our entire day, from recognizing the time of day, to understanding speech, to navigating throughout our homes, neighborhoods, and places of employment, to making and viewing photographs. We not only recognize how things are the same as they were before, we recognize how things have changed or are different from before. And in recognizing how things have changed, we infer that new patterns are emerging, trends arising, and we venture to make predictions.
That predicted emerging pattern we imagine is not something that concretely exists. It is an idea. And the interesting thing about ideas is the more vivid they are, the more likely it is we will have an emotional reaction to them: anger, fear, desire, wonder, or possibly amusement. And when we experience strong emotion, we tend to act, to head off or capitalize upon the trend we believe to be emerging. The problem for all of us is that some perceived patterns are actually false representations of the underlying truth. We fool ourselves by jumping to erroneous conclusions. Secondly, and potentially more tragically, actions have consequence.
While we may not always understand or appreciate what the consequences of our impetuous actions may be, the good thing is that consequences are not arbitrary. They arise out of rules and laws the physical world follows invariably and without exception.
Such a pity so few of us recognize and appreciate the underlying beauty and power of those physical laws, and the fact that they so intimately connect not only each of us to the physical world and all its creatures, but that they connect each of us to every other individual on the planet. We are all quite literally entwined with each other by the laws that govern the physical world we live in.
Hate, distrust, fear. Whatever perceived pattern invokes those emotions, the consequence of acting upon those emotions is always the same: hurt, destruction, and distance. On a societal level, acting out of hate, distrust, and fear has consequence very much akin to that of “dark energy”, the recently discovered but not yet understood force that appears to be accelerating the expansion of the universe, pushing all the stars and galaxies so far apart that at some point we won’t be able to see them anymore.
Within a finite world, our Earth, there is only so far we can move apart from each other in order to dissipate the hate, distrust, and fear that motivates some of us. Depopulation becomes the looming solution. Fewer people, more space between us, less hate, distrust, and fear all around.
Depopulation, you say? Oh my.
Yes, oh my, indeed. News reports from AP, Reuters, BBC, and others are filled with stories of unbearably stressed people running, migrating for more space, or turning on their neighbors in bloody violence to depopulate the space around them.
But, what if the pattern prompting hate, distrust, and fear were differently perceived? What if connection and entwinement and kinship were perceived instead? What then would the consequence for all of us be? Is the human brain really so hard wired that it cannot learn a different tune, appreciate a richer symphony, dance a more efficient, bountiful, and coordinated ballet?
I wonder, what would prompt such a world saving change of ideation in the patterns being perceived? Any ideas? More insight laden education, perhaps? More scientific research? A soothing lullaby and soft caress from someone trusted and respected? Less mind polluting advertising? Fewer poorly researched and presented news stories? Less inflamed political and religious rhetoric?
I’d go for those last three.
Thursday, March 13th, 2014