Man has lost control of his brain

Published 12:53 am Wednesday, November 5, 2008

These are unprecedented times in which Wall Street is imploding, our next president is being selected by our national news media, illegal aliens are crossing our border in hoards to arrive and vote, and the global economy, based upon our financial system, is failing.

During all this, I attempt to transcend such mundane occurrences and think of higher things. I try to dwell on art.

Art, as the adage proposes, is in the eye of the beholder. Most people think of art as paintings and music. To me, the art of science is enthralling. While I greatly admire things of beauty and music of magnificence, the workings of the art of science captures my attention.

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The Krebs’s cycle, is an example. This is a set of chemical equations that occur mostly in the liver, that give us this special gift that living organisms possess — the chemistry of life. One wonders on pondering this chart, just how much work and devotion was made in determining these intricate chemical pathways. How diligent were they to determine the intermediary reactions that led to the final products? To me, it is a truly a thing of beauty.

From our meager beginnings of about four million years ago when we were simple hunter-gatherers, we have made great strides in grappling with the abstract. We have moved from a never-ending search for wild barley to attempt to “see” the steroid nucleus, without ever having seen it. How can anything be more beautiful?

Encased in each of our skulls, there are two separate and distinct brains. One is the limbic or “primitive” brain. It is not far different from that of a fish or bird. It controls our basic functions, i.e. self-preservation, respiration, heart rate, desire for food, desire for water, sex, urge to pro-create, etc.  Superimposed over our limbic brain is a later development, the cerebrum. It has to do with logic, compassion, long-term memory — the things we consider to be uniquely human.

We can see an expression of each brain in the example of a fire breaking out in our building. Our first impulse is to stampede ahead of everyone else and save ourselves, but upon second thought, we return to save others.

Unfortunately in our early battles with others to survive, we have been forever hard-wired with animalistic traits. We will only do the right thing for two reasons — respect or fear. Respect comes from our logical brain in the form of compassion and regard. Fear, on the other hand, is derived from our limbic brains for the repercussions of disrespect.

Greed, gluttony, hate for other men, etc. things that assured our ancestors success in continuing their life’s quest is coming back to haunt us. We see people today who will not control their primitive urges. Since they do not respect anything and fear nothing, all stops are out.

Man, with his innate ability to produce beauty, seems to be fixated only on the fulfillment of his desires. There-in goes things like the stock market crash. Who will be the last man standing and what will he truly gain?

Ed Field