Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Deep Freeze

The NYT is running a very interesting article about how humans and other mammals respond to threats, particularly predatory threats, by “freezing,” which is represented as interfering with rational assessment of the best response to the threat at hand. The author suggests that humanity could perhaps deploy the power of social media to allow us to thaw:

JOSEPH LEDOUX DEC. 18, 2015 ‘Run, Hide, Fight’ Is Not How Our Brains Work
Perhaps we could harness the power of social media to conduct a kind of collective cultural training in which we learn to reappraise the freezing that occurs in dangerous situations. In most of us, freezing will occur no matter what. It’s just a matter of how long it will last.

If we could come to use the fact that we are freezing to trigger a reappraisal in a moment of danger, we might just be able to dampen the amygdala enough to accelerate our ability to shift into the action mode required for “run, hide, fight.” Even if this cut only a few seconds off our freezing, it might be the difference between life and death.

This discussion has relevance for the epochal situation that we find ourselves within. The eco-system is collapsing. Human civilization is clearly in trouble and yet the majority of the population is frozen, unable to respond or even rationally process what is happening.

Humanity’s deep freeze is promoted and exacerbated by the looters and extortioners who are out to extract value while the rest of us remain frozen and unable to respond.

Looters and extortioners work simultaneously to instill more fear of tangential issues (e.g., hyped up fears of terrorism that deflect from deeper reflection about the complex of relations that give rise to terrorism) and to assuage concern on tangential issues with the mesmerizing offerings of a consumer culture largely devoid of values and conduct necessary for rational thought and action.

The author offers social media as a thawing solution. However, social media is infused with many threads, some aimed at instilling fear and immobilization, and others focused on mobilizing resistance to the deep freeze.

The most dangerous communication threads for human survival are those that aim to mobilize the mentally frozen into mechanized, coordinated action, like coordinated zombies:

The most rational courses of action are those that demand our highest mental functions – rational and collaborative assessment of facts and values aimed at ensuring our long-term survival.

Too bad the deep freeze has yet to thaw.

Fukushima steaming heavily this morning. Planet becoming more and more contaminated with genotoxins. Nuclear power making a "come-back" according to IAEA. Deep freeze worsening.

1 comment:

  1. It has been my observation that main stream media has as one of its most important jobs to soothe the savage beast in the populace. And no one does it better than NPR. Those soft primary school voices! The result is a fine shield against any adverse information of which there is much. A staggering amount in fact! I am not sure how the old time poisoners like Monsanto and the nuclear power industry deal with the fact that they too are getting poisoned. Self deception has its limits. We know the governments go right along usually with the poisoning projects for what are considered justifiable reasons. Maybe we just have way too high an expectation for human beings? Maybe in a more ideal world they would never have developed science so far so that the worst they could do was local and limited--swords, fire, rock, arrows, and so forth . . .and a few naturally occurring poisons. Ancient peoples seemed satisfied enough with the harm they could do. Brutus and Casius were apparently just fine about stabbing Caesar a few times -- he died. Would a modern pistol with a silencer have been any more rewarding? No, we walked through a door or crawled through a window into a fantasy world of powers and now must pay a dear price--unless we find a miracle.