I would venture that a significantly higher proportion of people reading these words have tried skydiving than experienced one day of absolute solitude. What to do to fill the waking hours? Unless you've spent time in a monastery or in solitary confinement it's unlikely that you've had to deal with this issue. The only activity not proscribed is thinking. Imagine if everyone in this country had the opportunity to do nothing but engage in uninterrupted thought for one full day a year! A national day of absolute solitude would do more to improve the brains of all Americans than any other one-day program.
I leave it to the lawmakers to figure out a plan for implementing this proposal. The danger stems from the fact that a 24 period for uninterrupted thinking could cause irrevocable upheavals in much of what our society currently holds sacred. But whether that would improve our present state of affairs cannot be guaranteed. Serotonin-enhancing antidepressants such as Prozac and many others can jeopardize feelings of romantic love, feelings of attachment to a spouse or partner, one's fertility and one's genetic future. I am working with psychiatrist Andy Thomson on this topic.
We base our hypothesis on patient reports, fMRI studies, and other data on the brain. Foremost, as SSRIs elevate serotonin they also suppress dopaminergic pathways in the brain. And because romantic love is associated with elevated activity in dopaminergic pathways, it follows that SSRIs can jeopardize feelings of intense romantic love. SSRIs also curb obsessive thinking and blunt the emotions--central characteristics of romantic love. One patient described this reaction well, writing: "After two bouts of depression in 10 years, my therapist recommended I stay on serotonin-enhancing antidepressants indefinitely.
As appreciative as I was to have regained my health, I found that my usual enthusiasm for life was replaced with blandness. My romantic feelings for my wife declined drastically. With the approval of my therapist, I gradually discontinued my medication. My enthusiasm returned and our romance is now as strong as ever.
I am prepared to deal with another bout of depression if need be, but in my case the long-term side effects of antidepressants render them off limits". These sexual responses evolved to enhance courtship, mating and parenting. Orgasm produces a flood of oxytocin and vasopressin, chemicals associated with feelings of attachment and pairbonding behaviors.
- Upcoming Events.
- Reading in the Brain!
- Willpower vs Motivation: 9 Ways to Finally Get Things Done?
Orgasm is also a device by which women assess potential mates. Women do not reach orgasm with every coupling and the "fickle" female orgasm is now regarded as an adaptive mechanism by which women distinguish males who are willing to expend time and energy to satisfy them.
Why Pure Willpower is Bad
The onset of female anorgasmia may jeopardize the stability of a long-term mateship as well. Men who take serotonin-enhancing antidepressants also inhibit evolved mechanisms for mate selection, partnership formation and marital stability. The penis stimulates to give pleasure and advertise the male's psychological and physical fitness; it also deposits seminal fluid in the vaginal canal, fluid that contains dopamine, oxytocin, vasopressin, testosterone, estrogen and other chemicals that most likely influence a female partner's behavior.
These medications can also influence one's genetic future. Serotonin increases prolactin by stimulating prolactin releasing factors. Clomipramine, a strong serotonin-enhancing antidepressant, adversely affects sperm volume and motility. I believe that Homo sapiens has evolved at least three primary, distinct yet overlapping neural systems for reproduction. The sex drive evolved to motivate ancestral men and women to seek sexual union with a range of partners; romantic love evolved to enable them to focus their courtship energy on a preferred mate, thereby conserving mating time and energy; attachment evolved to enable them to rear a child through infancy together.
The complex and dynamic interactions between these three brain systems suggest that any medication that changes their chemical checks and balances is likely to alter an individual's courting, mating and parenting tactics, ultimately affecting their fertility and genetic future. The reason this is a dangerous idea is that the huge drug industry is heavily invested in selling these drugs; millions of people currently take these medications worldwide; and as these drugs become generic, many more will soon imbibe — inhibiting their ability to fall in love and stay in love.
And if patterns of human love subtlely change, all sorts of social and political atrocities can escalate. In all times and in all places there has been too much government. We now know what prosperity is: it is the gradual extension of the division of labour through the free exchange of goods and ideas, and the consequent introduction of efficiencies by the invention of new technologies. This is the process that has given us health, wealth and wisdom on a scale unimagined by our ancestors.
It not only raises material standards of living, it also fuels social integration, fairness and charity. It has never failed yet. No society has grown poorer or more unequal through trade, exchange and invention.
Willpower vs Motivation: 9 Ways to Finally Get Things Done
In every case, weak or decentralised government, but strong free trade led to surges in prosperity for all, whereas strong, central government led to parasitic, tax-fed officialdom, a stifling of innovation, relative economic decline and usually war. Take Rome.
It prospered because it was a free trade zone. But it repeatedly invested the proceeds of that prosperity in too much government and so wasted it in luxury, war, gladiators and public monuments. The Roman empire's list of innovations is derisory, even compared with that of the 'dark ages' that followed. In every age and at every time there have been people who say we need more regulation, more government. Sometimes, they say we need it to protect exchange from corruption, to set the standards and police the rules, in which case they have a point, though often they exaggerate it.
Self-policing standards and rules were developed by free-trading merchants in medieval Europe long before they were taken over and codified as laws and often corrupted by monarchs and governments. Sometimes, they say we need it to protect the weak, the victims of technological change or trade flows. But throughout history such intervention, though well meant, has usually proved misguided — because its progenitors refuse to believe in or find out about David Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage: even if China is better at making everything than France, there will still be a million things it pays China to buy from France rather than make itself.
Because rather than invent, say, luxury goods or insurance services itself, China will find it pays to make more T shirts and use the proceeds to import luxury goods and insurance. Government is a very dangerous toy. It is used to fight wars, impose ideologies and enrich rulers. True, nowadays, our leaders do not enrich themselves at least not on the scale of the Sun King , but they enrich their clients: they preside over vast and insatiable parasitic bureaucracies that grow by Parkinson's Law and live off true wealth creators such as traders and inventors.
Sure, it is possible to have too little government. Only, that has not been the world's problem for millennia. After the century of Mao, Hitler and Stalin, can anybody really say that the risk of too little government is greater than the risk of too much?
The dangerous idea we all need to learn is that the more we limit the growth of government, the better off we will all be. The truth of this idea is pretty obvious. Environmental crises are a fundamental part of the history of the earth: there have been sudden and dramatic temperature excursions, severe glaciations, vast asteroid and comet impacts.
Yet the earth is still here, unscathed.
There have been mass extinctions associated with some of these events, while other mass extinctions may well have been triggered by subtler internal changes to the biosphere. But none of them seem to have done long-term harm. The first ten million years of the Triassic may have been a little dull by comparison to the late Palaeozoic, what with a large number of the more interesting species being killed in the great mass extinction at the end of the Permian, but there is no evidence that any fundamentally important earth processes did not eventually recover.
I strongly suspect that not a single basic biogeochemical innovation — the sorts of thing that underlie photosynthesis and the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the sulphur cycle and so on — has been lost in the past 4 billion years.
Indeed, there is an argument to be made that mass extinctions are in fact a good thing, in that they wipe the slate clean a bit and thus allow exciting evolutionary innovations. This may be going a bit far.
Meditation For Increased Energy: How & Why it Works – 5 Reasons – EOC Institute
While the Schumpeter-for-the-earth-system position seems plausible, it also seems a little crudely progressivist. While to a mammal the Tertiary seems fairly obviously superior to the Cretaceous, it's not completely clear to me that there's an objective basis for that belief.
In terms of primary productivity, for example, the Cretaceous may well have had an edge. But despite all this, it's hard to imagine that the world would be a substantially better place if it had not undergone the mass extinctions of the Phanerozoic. The change in mean global temperatures seems quite unlikely to be much greater than the regular cyclical change between glacial and interglacial climates. Land use change is immense, but it's not clear how long it will last, and there are rich seedbanks in the soil that will allow restoration.
If fossil fuel use goes unchecked, carbon dioxide levels may rise as high as they were in the Eocene, and do so at such a rate that they cause a transient spike in ocean acidity. But they will not stay at those high levels, and the Eocene was not such a terrible place.
The earth doesn't need ice caps, or permafrost, or any particular sea level. Such things come and go and rise and fall as a matter of course. The planet's living systems adapt and flourish, sometimes in a way that provides negative feedback, occasionally with a positive feedback that amplifies the change. A planet that made it through the massive biogeochemical unpleasantness of the late Permian is in little danger from a doubling, or even a quintupling, of the very low carbon dioxide level that preceded the industrial revolution, or from the loss of a lot of forests and reefs, or from the demise of half its species, or from the thinning of its ozone layer at high latitudes.
But none of this is to say that we as people should not worry about global change; we should worry a lot. This is because climate change may not hurt the planet, but it hurts people. In particular, it will hurt people who are too poor to adapt. Significant climate change will change rainfall patterns, and probably patterns of extreme events as well, in ways that could easily threaten the food security of hundreds of millions of people supporting themselves through subsistence agriculture or pastoralism.
It will have a massive effect on the lives of the relatively small number of people in places where sea ice is an important part of the environment and it seems unlikely that anything we do now can change that. In other, more densely populated places local environmental and biotic change may have similarly sweeping effects.
Secondary to this, the loss of species, both known and unknown, will be experienced by some as a form of damage that goes beyond any deterioration in ecosystem services. Many people will feel themselves and their world diminished by such extinctions even when they have no practical consequences, despite the fact that they cannot ascribe an objective value to their loss.