Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Old Reality: Lizards, Chimps & A Dozen White Heterosexual Males...


"For the past eight years, conservatives have marched in lockstep to defend the indefensible. Just about everything that President Bush and his administration have done has been endlessly praised, defended and echoed. In fact, in their arrogance, Republicans have described Bush's actions -- to an increasingly skeptical populace -- as creating its own new reality.

I'm thinking of the unnamed Bush official who, in 2005, told reporter Ron Suskind, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Now that most of America has rejected Bush's version of reality, you have to ask, what were these people thinking?

Was it the lizard brain in action? That's the "Amygdala" , an almond-sized part of the right side of the brain that generates fear and blocks out the logical left side of the brain. When presented with a life-threatening situation, the Amygdala kicks into gear in the classic "flight or fight" mode. Reason becomes impossible and the subconscious looks for any nonverbal cue that communicates safety and security.

Since 9/11, the lizard brain of the white heterosexual male appears to have been in charge of the national psyche. Fear of terrorism, of "the other," of pointy-headed do-gooder liberals out to take your Bibles and guns away, of homosexuals and feminists and black people -- has been steering the ship of state. No questions allowed.

We like to think that this election was a triumph for the reality-based, multicultural community, the people who didn't believe we would be greeted as liberators in Iraq and who suspected that cowboy capitalism...just might not advance the greater good.


"Primatologists have known for some time that organized, lethal violence is common between groups of chimpanzees, our closest relatives. Whether between chimps or hunter-gatherers, however, intergroup violence is nothing like modern pitched battles. Instead, it tends to take the form of brief raids using overwhelming force, so that the aggressors run little risk of injury. "It's not like the Somme," says Richard Wrangham, a primatologist at Harvard University. "You go off, you make a hit, you come back again."This opportunistic violence helps the aggressors weaken rival groups and thus expand their territorial holdings."

What: -Joyce Marcel, "Lizard Brains,", 8.19.2008, Why: -Robert Holmes, "How Warfare Shaped Human Evolution," New Scientist, 11.12.2008. Image: Screenshot -"2001: A Space Odyssey," directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1968).

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