Wednesday, 27 December 2017

The culture of outrage

Controversially, I'd like to suggest that people are now narrower, less receptive to new ideasm, if not than ever, certainly than they have been since the 17th century.

Certainly they accept the ideas of their group and insist that those show high intelligence, and a moral compass.

What's really happening? We if you look at the evidence immediately people are faced with unfamiliar ideas they assume that if those don't fit into their own camp they must be the enemy - who are by definition stupid and immoral - maybe bigoted or worse. Very little cogntion need occur - they can go straight on to fight or flight. Even reading this many are reacting in exactly that way.

So what happens?

  • The hypothalamus ramps ups and signals the pituitary gland to get to work.
  • The pituitary gland releases hormones to the adrenal medulla.
  • Adrenal medulla releases cortisol.
  • Cortisol promotes muscle contracture; pupil dilation; suppression of GI tract (digestion); increases heart rate; amygdala becomes hyper-aroused which can lead to emotional tagging in the hippocampus This sets them up sets to repeat this response in the future.
  • Prefrontal cortex becomes inhibited (this is where present-time awareness, planning, motivation, decision making etc happens - this blocks any actual thinking about the intellectual challenge that is being presented).
It will be interesting to see where that's taking us - but it hasn't worked out well in the past.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Rural poverty & the brain drain.

So Americans are worried about rural poverty and the brain drain from rural areas. Germans have told me the same and it is implicit in conversations with people who I meet from developing countries. This might just be an urban myth in some countries - urbanite imaging that they must be smarter than people in communities which are following sustainable long-term protocols rather than short-term trends - but overall this seems to be a widespread issue.  Yet I live in an archetypal rural environment in England (with a 17th-century pub and an 11th century Church) - and education and sophistication seems substantially higher than say a typical point sample of New York, Paris or San Francisco. The last conversations that I had in the village have been about dark matter and missing mass, models of the multiverse, and some banter about the science of color vision. Roses are nurtured and grown, horses are ridden on but actually, that doesn't lower the intellect level. Maybe for us though access to a major megacity and the coming of superfast broadband allowing high-value work from home is a key factor. Whatever it is, it isn't a given that rural life is nasty, brutish and short. With an information economy, there is no reason that it can't just be a healthier, more civilized way to live.

Friday, 24 March 2017

How to call police if it isn't safe to speak on the phone.

I found this out recently and thought I'd pass it on

In the UK Silent Solutions (also know as the Police Voice Response system) is an agreed protocol which decides whether or not police are dispatched to any silent emergency call. In the UK the emergency number is 999.

If you dial 999 the BT Operator will ask which emergency service you require. If there is no request, the operator will ask you to cough or make some form of indication that the call is an emergency.
If there is still no request then the call will be put through to an automated system which asks the caller to press '55' if the call is an emergency. If this is not done then the call will be terminated and police will not attend.

A police spokesman said :"Please do not think that just because you dial 999 that police will attend. We totally understand that sometimes people are unable or too afraid to talk, however it must be clear that we will not routinely attend a silent 999 call. There must be some indication that the call has not been mis-dialled."

Alternatively 112 is the pan European standard number for contacting the emergency services and runs in parallel with 999.

You can also register for Emergency SMS in the UK