It’s interesting to watch Sapolsky in this video describing how toxoplasmosis can rewire the brain, shutting down amygdala fear response, keeping in mind the discussion of free will versus biological determinism.
From Discovery, Parasite Infection Linked to Road Rage:
People who display frequent bouts of extreme, impulsive anger, such as road rage, are more than twice as likely to be infected with a common parasite than are individuals who do not exhibit such explosive behavior, according to a new study.
“Our work suggests that latent infection with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite may change brain chemistry in a fashion that increases the risk of aggressive behavior,” senior author Emil Coccaro of the University of Chicago said in a press release.
Free will? Knowing that our brains may be rewired to alter our perception of the world around us, it tends to cast more and more doubt upon the idea of free will.
This just in from Curt Doolittle:
On this one point, Locke was Wrong and Hobbes was right: as a member of a polity, man is reducible to a ‘mechanical’ engine fed drugs by his genes as reward and punishment for advancing their interests. And those interests are advanced through acquisition, retention and reproduction of all sorts of things.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy the fulfillment of our genes interests. It’s the whole purpose of existence.
To make the most of it.
This further confirms to me the theory proposed in my Language and Genetic Self-Interest piece. We are moist robots and we are wired to serve the interests of our genes (until a pesky and precocious parasite like toxoplasmosis figures out how to rewire our neuro-pathways). We imagine that we are freely thinking thoughts and making arguments which are simply logical. We are doing as we are programmed. Our ancestors found a competitive advantage in truth and logic, so the machinery of truth and logic is built into our people. We are acting in service of our genes and our genetic self-interest (our reproductive strategy). We found a competitive advantage in universalized belief systems, and so we are prone to universalism. We found competitive advantage in reducing our ethnocentrism, so we are prone to openness to other ethnicities.
The men of the West used truth and logic, universalism, and reduced ethnocentrism to build large, productive orders of humans. There is a lot of accumulated capital. Of course, just as toxoplasmosis exists and can parasitically rewire our brains, other parasites exist and can rewire and hijack our systems. Marxism is such a hijacking. People with a parasitic reproductive strategy and a high-verbal IQ can manipulate our brains by repeating half-truths with high frequency and high volume. All they needed was majority control over a centralized communications network to reinforce their messages. Combine this with the incentives of democracy and you have a recipe for disaster: a machine built to eat the accumulated capital of the West.
The internet has broken the monopoly control over the communications network. We are in the process of rewiring ourselves (see ‘deprogramming’ in relationship to cults). We are building antibodies to the parasites. This is what I mean when I talk about being a ‘memetic warrior’. I mean engaging in the work of deprogramming the cult members who share our reproductive strategy. We can never convert those who do not share our reproductive interests (incompatible ethnicities and to some extent even our women). We can only change their calculation of genetic self-interest.
That’s what I think, which I think must mean that I intuit it to be in my genetic self-interests. Luckily, I share genetic self-interests with the most dominant men on the planet. That gives me hope.