Jason Dias: On Honeybees, Satanists and Climate Change Deniers

Want to guess what wagging honeybees, striking satanists and climate deniers have in common? BY JASON DIAS

aNewDomainjason-dias-a-cure-for-wellness — When a honeybee colony gets too big for its current digs, it migrates.

Before it does, though, the colony sends out scouts — when they return, they come back and do a sort of waggle dance to communicate in which direction and how far away a good potential new home is.

They waggle three times for an excellent location and only two for a moderately good location.

If a bee that has seen an excellent location comes across one that has seen the moderate one, it head-butts the two-waggle bee and makes a weird meep sound. It says, stop campaigning, there’s a better alternative.

Sometimes the two-waggle bee does, in fact, stop campaigning.

honeybees

What if climate change deniers can tell us something about how people think in groups?

And: What if climate change deniers are just exactly like honeybees trying to select a new hive?

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 8.46.57 PMWhat bees seem to do, after all, is mimic a neural-level process in the human brain.

Maybe you have to choose between two alternatives. Let’s say cake or pie after dinner. Some neurons choose cake, some choose pie. The strongest set of firing determines the decision.

But one neural network seems to act to overpower and override the other, causing it to quiet down. A decision is made.

When we have great difficulty making a decision, the issue might be that one network cannot silence the other. Both bees are waggling three times.

If the decision were between cake and broccoli, as in the PBS special, then cake would have a better chance of winning.

Bees seem to make decisions like human brains without human brains, by emulating at the macro-scale what is going on in the brain at the middle-scale. Is it possible that human politics also mimic micro-scale cross inhibition at the macro level?

satanistsNow, I personally think Satanism is silly. It seems like simple contrarianism to me.

Lately, though, I’m developing a certain, limited-scope admiration for some Satanists.

They’re out there fighting for American values.

When religious monuments get approved for public spaces, the Satanists are there trolling the decision.

If it’s okay to have a statue of the 10 Commandments in a park, it has to be OK to have a statue of Baphomet there, right?

If it’s okay to distribute Bibles to schoolchildren, it has to be okay to distribute paeans to Satan too, right?

These efforts are entertaining and exactly on point.

Intruding on the separation of church and state opens the door for all sorts of stuff we don’t want and the Church of Satan is happy to remind us of this.

I am not, of course, endorsing or signing up for Satanism or any other religion. But I have to admire the Constitution-defending actions here.

Continued below…

These efforts are entertaining and exactly on point.Intruding on the separation of church and state opens the door for all sorts of stuff we don’t want and the Church of Satan is happy to remind us of this.

I am not, of course, endorsing or signing up for this or any other religion. But I have to admire their actions that defend our Constitution.

Religion is an idea. Think of it as a collection of neural networks firing. And over here is reality, the more objective truth of the matter.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 8.43.48 PM
When religion doesn’t match observation, neural networks are going to compete, trying to silence one another. Evolution versus creation. Creation science versus geology.

Prayer versus medicine

And what about the issue of prayer vs. medicine?

These groups will shout over one another, try to shut each other up just as neural cross-inhibition helps us make decisions.

Are Satanists a natural reaction to religious ideology that increasingly doesn’t seem like the best way to experience reality?

And here come the global warming denialists.

For political groups, think tanks and publicity firms take money to represent the best interests of oil and gas companies. They follow the tactics of big tobacco, who slowed down smoking regulations for decades in the interests of more profits.

A whole breakdown of this lives here.

A small number of bees is meeping, trying to get us to stay on our track towards this one hive over here.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 8.34.44 PMBut there’s a better hive. The science is extremely clear on this now.

Global warming is real. The evidence is clear; the effects are creating an escalating global emergency. And we are the cause.

Now climate change deniers, like Satanists, offer a response that’s based on an even sillier competing view. There might be an important, macro-scale neural function at work, though.

It’s up to science to act with the same aggressive public campaign-season fervor as the oil and gas companies to inhibit the ability of those interests to keep getting the message out.

We see these contrary opinions on almost any topic. Anything you are sure of, there is someone out there with an equal and opposite opinion that they experience with equal fervor. Flat Earthers, Moon-landing fakers, 9-11-was-an inside-jobbers. Conspiracy theorists do explore all the possibilities.

Never mind a good sense of the science and data, somewhere is an internet troll reinterpreting reality.

The internet gives racists, alt-right groups, militias, conspiracy theorists and so many other the ability to promulgate their incorrect opinions by shutting out any other contrary opinions.

Without the 3-waggle bees there to meep them into silence, they can convert large numbers of other bees… er, people… to vote in their backwards, anti-science, homophobic, nationalistic manner.

It may be that these competitions for faith and trust are important. It feels very frustrating to always be at square one with simple arguments. For our evolutionary past, though, being conservative about decisions probably had survival value.

Changing our minds quickly could wipe us out when there were only a million or so humans on Earth.

Now we’re faced with fast changes. Global warming might have disastrous effects in a single generation.

We don’t have time for this macro-level cross-inhibition. There isn’t time for the Satanists to troll us into good legislative sense.

We’d just better act fast.

For aNewDomain and, still definitely not a Satanist, I’m Jason Dias.

Cover: Climate change deniers, by: David Suzuki, Flickr, All Rights Reserved. Inside images: animals.howstuffworks.com, All Rights Reserved; Blog.3BScientific.com, All Rights Reserved. thessantictempleseattle.com, All Rights Reserved.

 

About the author

Jason Dias

Jason Dias, PsyD is an existential psychotherapist who breathes words. He's a senior columnist at aNewDomain.

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