From “The Strange Order of Things – Life, Feeling, and the Making of Culrures” by Antonio Damasio
— Will Durant
— Richard Maybury
We have 21st century minds, but our brains and bodies are from the Paleolithic. That’s when humans became humans.
Compared to the condition of our ancestors, we of the modern unnatural world are fantastically hale and hearty. But — my key point — today’s male is walking around with the amount of testosterone necessary to cope with the poverty of the natural Paleolithic.
I don’t write about women, here or anywhere else, because I’ve never been one and don’t know enough about them. So this article is mostly about men. I find us rather simple and transparent.
After being a man and watching them for 70 years, I think everything about our behavior boils down to just two words, testosterone toxicity. Well, not everything, but plenty.
I truly mean toxicity, poisoning. In my opinion, the removal of natural stressors makes our Stone Age level of testosterone poisonous — so much so that this is the most dangerous — and unrecognized — medical and behavioral problem in today’s world.
I believe this poisoning explains, for instance, both world wars, the Vietnam War and the Cuban Missile Crises.
Think about it. Males have not only enough testosterone to generate the gumption to charge a mastodon, but enough to win the fight using just sticks and rocks. What would we expect from such people when they’re given control over tanks, artillery and aircraft carriers?
Ask any doctor. Testosterone is a powerful psychotropic chemical. It can warp judgment just as surely as alcohol and cocaine. History offers many examples.”
— Hippocrates (Greek physician 460-377 BC)
— Steve Jobs
One of the very few silver linings about me getting sick is that Reed’s gotten to spend a lot of time studying with some very good doctors… I think the biggest innovations of the twenty-first century will be the intersection of biology and technology. A new era is beginning, just like the digital one when I was his age.”
— David Eifrig Jr.
It feels good to make the right call.
Maybe you predicted the Super Bowl champ at the start of the season or backed the winning presidential candidate early on. When you look back and can say you knew what was going to happen, it gives you bragging rights. And in the financial business, it can make you money.
But recognize that the human brain wasn’t built for modesty…
We tend to trumpet our insights, but brush off all the wrong forecasts we make. You don’t deserve much credit for your Super Bowl prediction. One dropped interception by your young defensive back could have changed the entire outcome. And what about the other years when you’ve gotten it wrong?
Even worse, you can fool yourself into thinking you called something that you didn’t… Today, the number of folks who claim to have known that Donald Trump would win the election far exceeds the number who predicted it publicly beforehand.”
— Daniel Dennett From “Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking” P. 21
‘I guess I used to think of myself as a lone agent, who made certain choices and established certain alliances with colleagues and friends,’ he said. ‘Now, though, I see things differently. I believe we inherit a great river of knowledge, a flow of patterns coming from many sources. The information that comes from deep in the evolutionary past we call genetics. The information passed along from hundreds of years ago we call culture. The information passed along from decades ago we call family, and the information offered months ago we call education. But it is all information that flows through us. The brain is adapted to the river of knowledge and exists only as a creature in that river. Our thoughts are profoundly molded by this long historic flow, and none of us exists, self-made, in isolation from it.’
‘And though history has made us self-conscious in order to enhance our survival prospects, we still have deep impulses to erase the skull lines in our head and become immersed directly in the river. I’ve come to think that flourishing consists of putting yourself in situations in which you lose self-consciousness and become fused with other people, experiences, or tasks. It happens sometimes when you are lost in a hard challenge, or when an artist or a craftsman becomes one with the brush or the tool. It happens sometimes while you’re playing sports, or listening to music or lost in a story, or to some people when they feel enveloped by God’s love. And it happens most when we connect with other people. I’ve come to think that happiness isn’t really produced by conscious accomplishments. Happiness is a measure of how thickly the unconscious parts of our minds are intertwined with other people and with activities. Happiness is determined by how much information and affection flows through us covertly every day and year.’ ”
– E.O. Wilson
The real problem of humanity is the following: We have Paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology. And it is terrifically dangerous, and it is now approaching a point of crisis overall.”
We are dual process thinkers. We have two interrelated systems running in our heads. One is slow, deliberate and arduous (our conscious reasoning). The other is fast, associative, automatic and supple (our unconscious pattern recognition). There is now a complex debate over the relative strengths and weaknesses of these two systems. In popular terms, think of it as the debate between “Moneyball” (look at the data) and “Blink” (go with your intuition).
We are players in a game we don’t understand. Most of our own thinking is below awareness. Fifty years ago, people may have assumed we are captains of our own ships, but, in fact, our behavior is often aroused by context in ways we can’t see. Our biases frequently cause us to want the wrong things. Our perceptions and memories are slippery, especially about our own mental states. Our free will is bounded. We have much less control over ourselves than we thought.”