12.13.2004

Lobotomy Revival

We humans are a strange bunch. Work is progressing on a Nuclear Fusion Reactor called ITER that would solve a bunch of humanity's problems but Japan and France are fighting over who gets to host the project. We have brilliant minds creating something that has stalled because of political tomfoolery. Why is it that we can be so incredibly short sighted and at the same time capable of such amazing technical feats?

After thinking a lot about democracy I've come to the conclusion that it's broken. How can something that's the best alternative be broken? Because it's derived from an imperfect species known as people. A very few people are proposing Parecon as an alternative. It's basically Socialism 2.0. Here's a quote:
Based on that experience we can predict, with great confidence, that private enterprise market economies in a “second coming” would generate inequality and alienation just as they have the first time around. The only difference would be that “born again” capitalism would surely kill us all since it would begin with “initial conditions” — 5 billion people, modern industrial technology, and an already damaged ecosystem — that would do in mother earth in fairly short order. God has given capitalism the rainbow sign. No more water, the fire next time!"

Sounds great in theory but people, even smart ones, on average tend to look out for numero uno. And if you apply the rationale behind democracy to thoughfulness then the only thing that matters is the average. Yes the occasional Ghandi and Mother Teresa arrive and become famous precisely because that are so different from the norm. I'm sure we'll eventually be able to rid ourselves of our impulsive heritage, maybe through surgery, a lobotomy revival?
"One of the core findings, Davidson says, deals with the interplay between several distinct brain regions, namely the orbital frontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex and the amygdala. The orbital frontal cortex plays a crucial role in constraining impulsive outbursts, while the anterior cingulate cortex recruits other brain regions in the response to conflict. The amygdala, a tiny but highly influential portion of the brain, is involved in the production of a fear response and other negative emotions."
The only problem is that we would become horrendously boring, spontaneity would be another relic of our caveman past.

I don't love the theory of Evolution because it contradicts religious beliefs. I love it because if you choose to really believe that we're just hapless, upright walking, fur-deficient apes then everything starts to make sense. It's the equivalent of the awareness that we're all sinners in religion, a guilt pressure release valve. The death penalty becomes irrational because the only reason to incarcerate people is to keep them away from the rest of society. You can replace remorse with a newfound awareness of what exactly we're made of. Ego flies out the window because 0.0001 times 2 is twice as big but still gets rounded to zero most of the time. All of the bizzare social norms based on puritanical idealism (teaching abstinence in school) get replaced with more sensible alternatives. Heaven and Hell are illogical if we're all capable of good and evil depending on our surroundings and upbringing. It's really kind of refreshing even though on the down side I don't think I'll see my parents in heaven or even my future kids. If eternal bliss is awaiting us somewhere up in the sky then it makes sense to take our time here for granted.

Maybe that's what a loss of innocence is. Reaching the age where you realize that finding out about santa was just the tip of the iceberg. As I get older I hear words like faith, hope, redemption, etc. thrown around. Linguistic braincandy for people who can't afford Prozac? I don't think so. Faith I have a problem with but I do have hope, hope that technology will improve education, possibly enough that young people won't just freak out, close their eyes and grab the nearest holy book when the going gets rough. Sure, this paragraph is bound to piss off the majority of my readers but I write to figure things out.


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