Saturday, November 28, 2020

Big Brains

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Whose plan was it? It was Capitalism’s. Not, of course, the plan they thought they were implementing. All these percolating disasters are unintended consequences of an economic system the sole purpose of which is to grind the living world to powder for money; a system without one single provision for the care and preservation of life in any form other than as a source of monetary gain. It is a system for which life itself has no intrinsic value. With this as its foundational principle, it followed that whatever was done to humanity and the living world was of no concern to Capitalism. And it hasn’t been. The fouling and pillaging of the living world and the evisceration of our society are simply collateral damage.*

- What would you like to talk about tonight?
- Counting lives. Last time** we said that supporters of our president wouldn't look for evidence of his claims because appeals to evidence were restraints on their freedom to improvise their way to acquiring money. While many among them oppose lockdown as another infringement of their freedom, the majority of Americans accept the restrictions in the cause of saving lives. They watch the numbers of deaths each day lessen with lockdown, but don't consider the costs, the untreated diseases, evictions, domestic violence, depression, suicides, the small business and individual bankruptcies, the trillion dollar bailouts of big business and banks, nor will they consider the possibility that, in the absence of closed borders and effective tracking down the contagious and then their isolation, lockdown only delays deaths from the epidemic which rapidly increase when restrictions are lifted. Lockdowns repeatedly are imposed and relaxed, deaths pile up while waiting for a vaccine. I don't want to go into this now.*** What interests me is that countable lives are functioning to the lockdown supporter like money does to a supporter of our president: more money is better, no matter how acquired; more lives saved is better, no matter the lessening quality of lives, no matter that it is not certain that more lives are actually saved, just as it is not certain that with indifference to evidence more money can be made.
- Wanting more at the cost of better. Americans, both supporters of our president and the president's opponents, suffer from this disease.
- Yes. We're dealing with mind breaking down, and this being so, permit me to look to our physical nature for an illustration of our predicament.
- Our predicament of mindlessness.
- Yes. It seems reasonable to assume that a larger brain makes for more intelligence, but there are too many exceptions to take this seriously. The same fate meets the suggestion that a larger brain in proportion to body size supports greater intelligence. It appears now that not brain size, but number of neurons, counted in the cerebral cortex, site of decision making and problem solving, and perhaps the density, speed and means of communication between neurons in general, is what is correlated to intelligence. A big dog and a little dog have different size brains, roughly the same in proportion to body size, but big or small, they have the same number of neurons in their cerebral cortex. Do you see what I am getting at?
- Thinking that big brains means more intelligence is like thinking that the more lives saved today the better and the more chance now to make more money the better. Behaviors that make little use of decision making and problem solving.
- And explain the depths of nullity and dullness we are drowning in.

Further Reading