Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The tool is democracy

in response to this article: 

1- As we advance in our ability to ask better questions and expect, through technology, to receive reliable answers in the neurosciences our assumptions about ourselves are going to evermore butt up against new found realities. Much of what we find will be anti-intuitive and/or unflattering. I don't find this surprising. It would seem to me that a hopeful rosy assessment of ones self (despite obvious or subtle evidence to the contrary) is likely built-in to our psyche. This would make sense from an evolutionary standpoint as self confidence would be a component of generalized success.

2- The answers that we are beginning to find will cause us re-evaluate our historical choices and responses to various situations including those in the political arena. Barring an apocalyptic collapse, we will face an increasingly complex and globally interrelated society in which we can expect heightened pressure to make advantageous, rational, evidence based decisions. This will be difficult enough under the best conditions and we can presume that we will not be operating under the best conditions. One of those conditions is that even the most intelligent and rational humans (upon whom we depend for answers) themselves depend upon a brain design evolved over millions of years to live in a simpler and more brutal environment.

3- It is clear to those who work in the neurosciences or read about this work, that humans are not what we imagined ourselves to be. This is problematic in that we have, in large measure, arranged our societies and institutions based on our "hopeful rosy assessments" of ourselves.

4- I would suggest that even the best and brightest among us do not possess enough evidence to fully advise us. However, I can say with some confidence that direct Democracy was not favored by the framers of the Constitution. Illustrative of the foresight displayed in that document is the fact that centuries later our current scientific evidence is largely coinciding with their thoughtful intuitions.

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