cult and paste

be careful where you clique

Self protective mechanisms in mammals

Wandering around in the land of the Balkanized,I’ve been thinking about self-protection.

Self protective mechanisms in donkeys make them stubborn. They avoid doing anything that may seem life threatening. Falling cats have hairs in their ears that orient them to the planet earth so they get their feet down and stick the landing.


Perhaps in humans our greatest self protective mechanism is memory.

By memory I necessarily assume selective memory. We don’t take in everything we encounter, we see what we’ve naturally conditioned ourselves to see. We simultaneously detect, process and evaluate

(this is one trick that machines still need to overcome, but when they do they will supercede us as conscious beings).


If we consider our individual lives as a series of successive separations and adaptations… birth, weaning, independence, puberty, (see below for the etc), we see the necessity of acquiring new modes of thinking to get through each new phase.

However there will be a number of skills or habits that we acquired as a reaction to the pain we experienced along the way. The most difficult dilemma a human being can have is first to identify the habits that no longer serve our present needs and then to unlearn or (better) relearn them in such a way that they give us a better outlook in the future.


I think it’s poignant how this understanding of our own thinking parallels the way we understand the progression of science and technology.

As we develop new forms of media we have to shove off old frames of reference that aren’t useful anymore and then decide what still applies i.e. what to be conservative and liberal about.

(recall that conservatives have larger fear centers)

Most of the mechanisms steering our thought processes are hidden to us.

The working theory of the brain is one of competing networks all vying for control. Consciousness is then the summation and vote counter of the centers. A good example of this is the kelp gull…

As a natural survival technique, the kelp gull is conditioned from birth to instinctually peck at red. This ensures food gets from the red beaked mother to chick.

The kelp gull also has another instinct to sit on any egg it finds. If you paint an egg red, the bird becomes neurotic- trying to both incubate and pick apart the egg.

This example is a great illustration of the the competing drives that underlie the continuity and character of our personalities. These internal conflicts can manifest in our physical and emotional flexibility (or lack thereof) and often, like the instincts of the gull, they diffuse into our social traditions and the culture we grow up and out of.


If we fail to evaluate the underlying limitations of our memory apparatus, if we take our memory to be something that it isn’t, then our self protective mechanism becomes our greatest flaw


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This entry was posted on December 11, 2011 by in Mind Games, Nature.
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