Dopamine – Life’s Compass
It won’t come as any surprise to those reading this blog that technological civilization and the ecosystem are incongruent. In short-hand what this means is that they cannot co-exist for long. Again, using high-powered logic, what this means is that either one or the other or both will collapse. The ecosystem has several advantages, being fueled by solar energy and adapted and integrated into existing biospheric chemistry and climatology. The human technological civilization on the other hand is neither adapted nor integrated into the existing relationships and is in the process of upsetting a delicate homeostasis. The cancer of technological civilization has one goal, passing as much material and energy through its metabolism as possible in the shortest period of time possible using a myriad of ever improving tools to accomplish that goal. Eat and grow and shit. Unfortunately there’s only so much for a technological cancer to eat, only so far it can grow and only so much shit it can create before it destroys itself and its parent system. Humans, manning their RNA stations in this cancer want more, always more – more salary,more sales, more jobs, more profits, more entertainment, a bigger house, another car, cheaper gas and naturally they think new high efficiency fracking tools and processes will deliver the goods.
Being dissipative, humans really must keep their eyes on the ball and their brain helps with this greatly, maintaining attention and focus upon getting more of the good stuff while avoiding anything which may garner the attention of the amygdala. Humans have no choice but to focus upon getting more and the brain helps by preferentially focusing attention on those things that can release a little dopamine into the neuronal synapses. What would happen if humans weren’t preoccupied with eating, sex, and making money? They would waste their energies on trivial pursuits and eventually die of starvation. Evolved brains don’t give humans a choice. All information coming from the senses goes through the limbic system’s thalamus first. Lets consider it a primitive brain, one that can think at only a subconscious level but being tuned into reward. It’s where our senses were first and continue to be attached first, before conscious thought or language evolved. It pretty much keeps us focused on things that result in dopamine release or rewards. It makes the emotional decisions before sending direction to the prefrontal cortex which must conceive a strategy to obtain the reward, especially taking into consideration complicating social factors and potential pitfalls. There are dangers in the environment, like mad dogs, bankers, murderers, spiders and snakes. The brain has another limbic organ, the amygdala that can attach the emotion of fear to various memories so that you’ll avoid them in the future. You watch a friend being mauled by a mad dog, so you form an emotional memory and avoid mad dogs from then on. That doesn’t require conscious deliberation either. So each day you stumble along searching for rewards and avoiding danger, running on automatic for the most part. Perhaps you have half a dozen strategies – for advancement at your job which includes schmoozing the boss and gossiping about coworkers, or perhaps you have a strategy to invest your way to early retirement and an entirely different strategy to gain admission to heaven by following the ten commandments. The prefrontal cortex can come up with all kinds of strategies for obtaining rewards distant in space and time but for the most part it cannot be bothered with thinking about unrewarding things like death and climate change or the poor people in the third world. It must seek positive reward on a continual basis or literally be left in the dust by the competition.
To make a long story short, when evolution equipped the human limbic automatons with technology, it set us on a course for explosive growth and involuntary self-destruction. So dispel your fears, run over that spider and snake on the road and propel yourself towards those dreamed-of rewards, because to the human brain, that’s all that can really matter.