Notebook entries, September 2001

Notebook entry, September 28, 2001 

Stephen Jay Gould has a nice piece on the Op-Ed page of the September 26, 2001online issue of The New York Times. Not just witnessing ground zero of the WTC, Mr. Gould, his wife, and stepdaughter ran a sort of depot on Spring St. to collect and ferry needed items to the workers at ground zero. Mr. Gould, in his profound insight, reminds us that: "Good and kind people outnumber all others by thousands to one.  The tragedy of human history lies in the enormous potential for destruction in rare acts of evil, not in the high frequency of evil people. Complex systems can only be build step by step, whereas destruction requires but an instant. Thus, in what I like to call the Great Asymmetry, every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible as the "ordinary" effort of a vast majority."

And so once again, people, we are reminded that we are surrounded by good and kind deeds that go unnoticed. Perhaps, that is the real tragedy.

Notebook entry, September 26, 2001

An interesting little article in The New York Times today by Sandra Blakeslee, as reported in The Denver Post, p.2A. "How the brain works may affect way moral dilemmas resolved." In a study reported in the Sept. 14 issue of the journal Science, the report finds that how the brain solves different types of dilemmas that involve moral decisions are engaged in different parts of the brain. The decisions that are impersonal, such as throwing a switch which may kill someone but may save several others is processed by the part of the brain that deals mainly with memory.  In contrast, if the dilemma calls for, an individual to personally pushing a stranger to his death while saving several others activates the part of the brain that deals with emotions, temporarily suppressing the memory 

Notebook entry, September 19, 2001

I updated once again my updated essay (trick play on words, but true) on prejudice and racism by using the latest situation in Northern Belfast between the Catholics and Protestants as an example of discrimination that is not skin-color related.  You can read the whole essay and update at: http://www.evoyage.com/Racism.htm 

Notebook entry, September 16, 2001

I have been in shock and disbelief ever since the tragic events of September 11th having been seared into my memory forever and have found it difficult to make any notebook entries.

I am sure that I am not alone in this belief, and that all of us hope, whatever the future holds, it will be devoid of more of these dastardly deeds.

I have held back on making any comments as I knew that there was a needed separation of time from the closeness of the event to be processed with all the new information that is becoming available. The human brain is capable of only processing only so much information before it becomes utterly confused and numb. Some of us are passed the point of numb. 

Our American way of life has been changed forever; some it will be for the good -- as with our country becoming untied in one common cause; some will be for the bad -- as with the loss of our precious individual freedoms of expression as some become afraid to speak out against polices that they know to be wrong.  And most of all, the loss of free movement without being observed by someone in authority who has no one questioning their authority. The potential for abuse of power in the name of National Security can become a tempting goal. 

As the flames of immediate passions ebb into determination "do something" about the WTC attack, very little is still being said about "the why" of the attack. Why so much hate? How can men do such unspeakable horrors to others of their species who have done them no harm? What's their story, and what's their gripe?

Until I am exhausted and weary of the quest, I have decided to focus most of my studies and attention on those questions from an evolutionary perspective, and I will post them to this web site. The project may take many years, but I believe that I am on the right path with my decision. I want to know why some men of our species, (and the women who support them) do the evil that they do. Many people will not like what I have to say because it will step on the toes of many -- both high and mighty, and the lowest of the low -- but I write these words not for them, but for future generations who will come to save what remains.

There are many positive things to write about; and  the most obvious and overwhelming reason to continue to find hope for our continued existence as a species is to present evidence to you that over 300 police and firemen were lost when then rushed in to help those in need in South Tower of the WTC.  It is the ultimate show of altruism that our species can be proud of: Risking the termination of one's genetic line in order to save a strange person's genetic line.  It makes no evolutionary sense; but that is the wonder and magnificence of the human spirit that separate ourselves from our innate, genetic link to our nonhuman primate past.  It tells us that we all are not evil and that we choose the path of goodness. 

Notebook entry, September 2, 2001

A small article on page 7A of The 09-02-2001 issue of The Denver Post caught my eye: from the Associated Press, by Lindsey Tanner, "Laughs help ease pain." Pain lab UCLA researchers are using funny video clips from The Marx Brothers and the Simpsons to help youngsters endure the pain of a ice bath.  Hopefully, knowledge gained from the research will help kids endure the pain of chemo treatments for cancer.

Preliminary results indicate that the kids watching funny videos were able to keep their hands in the ice bath 40 percent longer. Some researchers believe that humor works simply as a distraction and that other studies have shown other kinds of emotion, even sadness or disgust have similar effect. However, the lead researcher firmly replies that the notion that humor might actually produce healing-enchanting changes in the body is gaining respect among some scientists in a field call psychoneuroimmunology, which studies interactions between the brain and the body's disease-fighting immune system.  

On the other side of "happiness" is stress, unhappiness, or depression, which some consider to be anger directed inward.  Research has show that stress can also inhibit the boy's immune system and make people prone to illness.

I also have discovered the body-mind connection in terms of evolutionary psychology with my recent purchase of Handbook of Emotions, 2nd Edition.  I will direct your attention to the following chapters under Part VI: HEALTH AND EMOTIONS  for your information if you wish to pursue this avenue further. 

And I suggest one chapter found in Part VII of SELECT EMOTIONS, study chapter 42., p. 663 on "Happiness."