The human brain is responsible for the greatest and the worst of humanity. Here is my list of the top 10 reasons why we are in a bunch of hot water as a human race.
1. The brain lacks the ability to naturally think critically.
As it turns out, our brains do not naturally know how to evaluate life critically. To the brain, no matter how outrageous the thought or belief, it's all true - or at least possible. This is a big problem. From the brain's perspective, the second coming of Jesus is evaluated exactly the same way as the bill that's due at the end of the month; to the brain it's all the same.
2. The brain lacks the ability to determine inside from outside.
So many of the problems we have in life come directly from our inability to realize that just because we have a thought or a vision, doesn't mean it's true. Because the brain lacks the ability to determine inside from outside, so many of the thoughts and visions that we have appear to be coming from outside of our "self". The reason for this has to do with the way the brain works. Much of the brain tissue is devoted to processing the external data coming into the brain from the senses. We use the same tissues to process internal data coming from the brain itself. So here's the key; to us, it all feels like it's coming from outside. It's not.
3. The brain is awful at determining causation.
We lack the ability to logically follow and clearly determine causation. Most of religion and religious thinking revolves around this incredible lack of ability. I was recently speaking with a friend about the Annunaki - a completely fictional story about aliens that bred us to be a "slave race". Apparently aliens like human pussy as much as the rest of us.
The Annunaki story introduces the idea of alien gene tampering to explain the accelerated growth of the human brain. We suck at determining causation, we can't imagine the possibility that our brain grew for other reasons. There is some pretty clear scientific evidence that the genes themselves are responsible for the accelerated growth in the brain and central nervous system.
4. Just because it feels real doesn't mean that it is.
Our feelings and emotions make us very susceptible to being duped by our own brains. We feel something strongly inside, so we "know that it must be true." If we learn to evaluate our feelings critically, we would find that our feelings are wrong most of the time. So what. It's part of the limbic brain's need to make quick and dirty perceptions about what it sees in an effort to keep us alive. Our ancestors evolved to be wrong and alive than wrong and dead. From the brain's perspective, it's better to be paranoid and overdo it - and survive.
5. The brain is endlessly susceptible to hypnosis.
The brain goes in and out of trance states all day long. Even reading this blog, we are already in an altered state of consciousness. We are naturally susceptible to having our ideas altered. In trance, access to the unconscious mind is direct and unfettered. It makes is super easy for other, and our own emotional brain to manipulate our perceptions.
6. The brain lacks the ability to recognize a shift from one part of the brain to another.
The brain seamlessly moves from one function to another without our conscious awareness. We may become conscious of a psychological change after the fact, but this is bad for us. The shift from the prefrontal cortex, the rational self, to the limbic system, the emotional self can be instantaneous and seamless. Consciously have no idea. One minute we're driving down the freeway, the next, our blood is boiling and we're screaming at somebody. The brain shifts behind the scenes, but we become conscious long after the fact. This is not good. The emotional brain will always trump the rational brain.
7. The brain believes in absolute truth. We lack the ability to understand shades of grey.
By believing in absolute truths, we lack the ability to recognize that there are none. There is no absolute truth because we are constantly changing. As soon as we think we can stick a flag in it, life has changed. Life is a continual evolutionary process. There is no absolute anything. However, our brain lacks the ability to handle this reality. Therefore we believe that our beliefs are the true beliefs, the right beliefs, the only beliefs. By believing in absolute truth, we have to bend others to our beliefs. The brain's belief in absolute truth is responsible for most of the wars on the planet - but it is absolutely incorrect.
8. The brain believes what it sees.
Every magician in the world recognizes how easy it is to trick the brain using the natural limitations of the brain. The mistake that we make is thinking that reality seems so simple. It's as if we just open our eyes, and bam - there it is. The reality is that reality is constructed in the brain, by the brain for the brain.
9. Consciousness is nothing more than a bi-product of the brain.
What we call consciousness is really a squadron of idiots in a constant battle for the resources of our brain and central nervous system. We are no more conscious of consciousness than we are of our dreams. That's why we are so easy to dupe. We simply can't be "conscious" of everything. There's too much stimuli. So our brains take shortcuts. The shortcuts are where we all get into problems. We end up constructing symbols of reality with simple algorithms for what we expect reality to look like. Basically, our brains interact with reality to create the feeling of consciousness.
10. We believe that we are the center of the universe. Everything happens to us for a reason.
This is a particularly bitter pill to swallow. We all want to think that we are living in the most important time in our history. That's why everybody is making such a big deal of 2012. Since the beginning of time, human's have believed in the end of times. Every generation of christian believed the end of times would come in their time.
It makes sense when you consider that we all believe we are the center of the universe. When we say "things happen for a reason," what we're really saying is "I'm so important that the entire universe is devoted to and conspiring for or against me.
That's one of the sad effects of conscious awareness. We believe consciousness actually means something. We believe we are so important that arguably the most important event in human history - the end of the world - will happen in our lifetime. Now that really is funny. But for those of us currently suffering from this brain limitation, I promise - we can relax. For better or worse, there will be a January 1st, 2013, and the world will still be a crazy mess. Hopefully British Petroleum will figured out a way to plug the ocean floor oil leak by then.
Unfortunately for us, my list could go on and on. We have a long way to go yet in our neuro-sexual evolution.