The planet earth that we inhabit is estimated to be at least 100 Million years old. We as the dominant species as we exist today now live on this Planet with a life expectancy of at least 81.2 years.
We as humans are the alpha species with the most functional brains on the planet. That’s because we’re capable of controlling and rationalizing with any other living entity.
This is the basic biological determination for our existence as well as being our greatest conceit, that we’re uniquely intelligent, superior and display enough self awareness for us to be able to write and then read this.
Residing on the surface, this belief appears well-founded as the largest part of our brains is devoted to the neocortex. This is the focus of developing abstract thoughts as well as our capacity to be able to reason, use logic, and make future plans. Not surprisingly, it’s also the seat of our consciousness.
That Grey Brain Matter
We as humans are acutely aware of our own existence as well as having the sense of individual agency of displaying free will. In this same sense, we’re able to live in as well as out of our neocortex as we tend to think of it as being the command post of our thinking and being.
But this perception may be part illusion. The neocortex is a relatively new discovery on the human evolutionary scene. It resides over the much more familiar mid-brain or the limbic system and the ancient brain stem, both which still plays a significant role in shaping who we exactly are.
The midbrain is the source point where there’s complex human emotions which helps in shaping our most crucial value based judgements. The brain stem is further visceral, as it governs instinctive social based behaviors as well as other hard-wired type of behavioral predispositions such as the well known “Fight or Flight” response.
Normal rational human behavior usually emerges from the brain that’s fully integrated. The expressions of our personalities usually spring from the melding of conscious thought, realized emotions, and subliminal based instincts.
The critical point however is that in different or various circumstances, any one of the various sub-brains with their own distinctive capacities, motivations or limitations may plant itself as being most dominant. The owner of this brain then may end up not knowing or being aware of what or which part of the brain is in actual control.
Why Is This Not A No Brainer?
So to go beyond this context, consider our current global ecological climate change crisis, our rapidly eroding landscapes, the so-called energy crisis, or the recent food shortages, etc. As intelligent human beings, we’re all aware that these trends are all symptoms and a result of excessive human demand on our expiring finite planet. The thinking part of our brains know that any infinite growth on a finite planet is practically impossible.
Yet, against all odds, through logic and reasoning, we’ve created a global culture where the essential economic institutions, such as the current banking system to our individual pension plans, depend on perpetual material growth. So despite the cascade of evidence that humanity’s on a head-on collision course with reality, all the major decision makers are resisting making the “right” changes which are necessary to avoid catastrophe.
Wouldn’t an intelligence dominated species such as ourselves at least be asking, given the known finite productive capacity of this Earth that we live on, what’s the optimal size of the economy that we can survive on? or How can we properly distribute the products of this optimized economy so we can maximize human well-being as well as happiness for everyone on this planet?
Because Emotion Overrules Reason
The most obvious problem is that intelligence or logic isn’t the primary determinant of sociopolitical behavior. If the best of what science has to offer can challenge entrenched ideology or basic sacred beliefs, or the established social order, then it can be viewed that the science is worse off.
The masses has never really wanted to know the truth. They will constantly turn their heads away from any evidence which isn’t to their taste, as they prefer to deify error.
When political power, social status or national pride comes into question, emotional as well as survival instincts will usually kick in over intelligent analysis. The rise as well as the fall of cultures around the world has always been determined by human passion and emotion, and not by the truth or reasoning.
It seems that when we’re in times of crisis, or if we’re defending our status quo, the traditional known subliminal urgings of our mid brain as well as the brain stem usually overrides the reasoning and the deliberations of the neocortex.
What all this suggests is that humanity’s basic sustained behavior is partly rooted in human nature, a conclusion which is strongly supported by current findings in cognitive science.
Researchers has been able to identify a specific neural mechanism which further explains why it’s difficult for us humans to break away from our entrenched beliefs or behavioral patterns, but then, that’s a completely different issue.