Category Archives: Psychology

Images the Human Brain has not Evolved to See

With the advent of the modern entertainment industry, human beings are exposed to a myriad of images each day. Many of the images or sequences of images would have been impossible in the distant past. For example a picture of your grandmother as a teenager, next to a picture of her as an adult approaching senior years. Seeing images of the same person as simultaneously young and old would have been an extremely foreign experience to our ancestors. This luxury of being able to see, compare and contrast an individual’s change over decades, at a glance, is new.

Decades Condenced into Milliseconds

Decades Condensed into Milliseconds

We also encounter an over abundance of gruesome images, sexual images and computer enhanced images. Our evolutionary environment bared only a passing resemblance to the things we see every day on the screen and real life.

Almost everyone reading this will have witnessed a murder or brutal act of violence via television. Yet only a small, small fraction of people would have witnessed such things in primeval times (during peace time). To witness such things they would have had to see them in person. What was once reserved for the unfortunate few who witnessed violent acts, is now seen by nearly all, at least monthly.

Humans also evolved to be in villages of only a few 100 people with tens of potential mates to see and choose from over the course of their entire lives. Now the average person will see 1000s of members of the opposite sex by the time they are 25. What effect does this have on our mating practices?

Mate Selection within the Mega-Tribe

Mate Selection within the Mega-Tribe

Our minds did not evolve experiencing many of the conditions that are so familiar to us now in modern society. We still have the same brains our ancestors had 1000s of years ago. How do these new types of conditions effect the way our brains operate and evolve?

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A Reset Button for the Human Ape – World “Peace” in a Few Years

Have you ever noticed how children tend to be so much more open minded than adults? Their minds are like little sponges that absorb information and view points. It seems that as we age, we have a tendency to be less open minded.  This phenomenon has been quantified.

Open to New Ideas

Open to New Ideas

We are all the products of our biology, the environment and the interplay between those two forces. The old saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” comes to mind. In many ways, most of us have always had basically very similar values to the people we grew up around. Those values were bestowed upon us during an impressionable time in our brain’s development.

What if we could “reset” adults so that they were as open minded and impressionable as children again? Of course we should leave their existing memories in place. Our memories make us who we are to a point. How we view past events depends as much on how we feel at the time of recall as it does on how we felt during the initial event. Nostalgia is an example of this phenomenon. We often recall events far in the past as “the good old days”, “when times were simpler”.  Even when those times were not good at all and far from simple.

Good Old Days  Weren't Always Good

Good Old Days Weren’t Always Good

Many adults get locked in to a pattern of thinking from which they never escape. A destructive example of this can be seen in what I like to call “Kamikaze’s on Autopilot”. They are the people who continue to carry on unhealthy habits like not exercising, smoking, eating too much junk food etc even when they know it shortens their life span. No matter what you tell them, they never change. People in sustained conflicts show similar traits.

I believe one of the root causes of sustained world conflicts is the inability of the participants to change their minds (mind change) and decide not to be in conflict.  If all sides in a conflict decided to stop disagreeing and harming each other, the conflict would cease. It sounds simple. Yet we know it is very difficult. It is possible that inability to mind change is a limitation of our biology that can be overcome with a “reset” drug or treatment.

The pharmaceutical and military industry could spearhead research into a “reset” drug.  Working hand in hand they could come up with the best delivery method and chemical composition. It would most likely have to be administered clandestinely to entire communities at a time.

Potential Delivery Mechanism

Potential Delivery Mechanism

What would the effects of a working “reset” drug look like?

It would be essential that the drug only have an effect for a limited time. The drug would have to be partnered with a social outreach component. A campaign designed to expose the communities to new ideas. Imagine entire communities, cities or countries filled with adults as receptive to new ideas as children.

Major conflicts in the effected communities might not cease overnight. The saturation of the community with new ideas coupled with techniques for managing internal states of mind and disagreements would be needed.

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Harnessing the Power of the Social Animal

I recently read “The Social Animal” by David Brooks. It’s a fascinating book that could hold the key to unlocking our greatest resource. Human potential. To give you a sense of what I mean by “Human Potential”, imagine a world where every adult has the equivalent of a PhD in their field of interest. Look at the advances that have been brought about with only a tiny fraction of the earth’s population being educated.

New York Times Columnist David Brooks gives a TED Talk about “The Social Animal”

So what does this have to do with “The Social Animal”? In this brilliant book, David Brooks discusses some of the latest findings in regards to human nature. They give us the framework to create that key to unlocking human potential. I will briefly list some of the findings that I found to be fascinating:

  • Each of us consists of at least 2 “different minds”. Our conscious and unconscious mind. And the conscious mind is not always in the drivers seat. The unconscious mind has vastly more resources at it’s disposal than our conscious mind. And maybe what makes us more intelligent than other animals is the ability of our unconscious minds.
  • “Emotion is the foundation of reason because it tells us what to value. Educating emotions is a central activity of wisdom. A brain is a record of the feelings of a life.” – David Brooks
  • Good attachment with parents, especially mothers, is essential for a head start.
  • There are quite a few ways that human beings can be intelligent and not all of them are easily quantifiable. I.Q. is only a measure of one type of intelligence. New words and phrases had to be invented to name these new types of intelligence. Here are a few examples: Mind Sight – The ability to really learn from people. The ability to enter into a person’s mind and extract what that particular person has to offer. Equipoise – The ability to read the biases and failures in your own mind. The ability to be open minded in the face of ambiguity. To be curios. The ability to adjust opinions based on evidence. Metis – A sensitivity to environment. The ability to derive a gist….to see patterns. Sympathy – The ability to work within groups because groups can be smarter than individuals. Blending – The ability to take disparate concepts and combine them. For example, when a child says “I am a tiger”. She is taking to very different animals and combining their concepts in a creative manner. A genius like Picasso was able to blend Western Art and African masks to create a new paradigm.
Picasso blended African Masks and Western Influences

Picasso blended African Masks and Western Influences

I believe we have only scratched the surface on the number and variety of the types of intelligences that humans posses. I also believe that everyone was born with the ability to be a genius at something. People we know as geniuses were extremely lucky to be good at something that our society happened to value at the time. They were also lucky enough to live a life that eventually led to the fostering of their talents.

Had Albert Einstein been born to a pilgrim in early America, there is some doubt as to whether or not he would have come up with E=MC2 (squared). In fact, he may have lived his life as an average person making no world changing contributions once so ever.


If each person has their own genius, that means we need an educational society that actively engages children on an individual level. One-size-fits-all classrooms are quite possibly the exact opposite of what is needed. Mass production works well for cars, not so well for developing the talent of a brain. By educational “society” I mean the world culture at large. We want to develop individual genius while educating the emotions. A society with a well emotionally educated population does not wage war, it values reform over punishment, it measures it’s success based on GNP and the happiness of it’s population. We know happy workers are more productive workers.

A glimpse in to a world where we harness the power of human potential may look like this: Instead of a microchip or internet type of breakthrough happening every so often, it would happen every other day. There would be almost no lag between Science Fiction and science fact.

Smell-O-Vision (4D TV) Coming to You Soon

Smell-O-Vision will soon be a reality. You will be able to smell what is going on in your favorite movie or television show. Some refer to this phenomenon as “4D” since it adds another dimension to the 3D experience currently available.

Imagine watching TV at home and a commercial for McDonald’s comes on. You may be able to actually smell the Big Mac and fries. Or you may be watching Downton Abbey and catch a whiff of Lady Grantham’s perfume accompanied by a convenient button on the side of the screen that allows you to order her scent.

The Scent of Elegance

The Scent of Elegance

This new dimension in entertainment will remake and create industries. Especially once 4D TV makes it’s way in to a significant number of households. The perfume and cologne industry have much to gain from 4D. Food and dining establishments could also use this technology to promote their products. But what about the more subtle influences and uses of 4D TV?

Smell is a direct path to the emotional center of our minds. A familiar smell can spark an intense memory. A disgusting scent can cause instant dislike.

Smell Connects Directly to Emotion in the Brain

Smell Connects Directly to Emotion in the Brain

What would it be like to watch The President speak on TV and occasionally smell his after shave? That’s an endorsement Gillete might like to have! Or what if a political candidate decided to pipe in the smell of apple pie into your living room as you watched his speech? How might that effect the way you perceive that person? On the dark side of things, what if CNN brought you the smell of war and it’s aftermath? That memory might stick with you for quite some time.

In elementary school I did a science project that explored the link between scent and taste. I will never forget how participants in the project could be induced into having taste hallucinations simply by introducing a smell while they were eating. Smell has a big influence on how many of us perceive the world. The power of smell should not be underestimated.