When Does Life Begin?

"When does life begin?"

Or more precisely, when does HUMAN life begin? THAT is crux of it all, and is a matter of tradition, convention, and opinion. To say that "Science" tells that human life begins at conception is rhetoric not science. That is not how science works, and to claim otherwise is to make it not just a an opinion but a theological opinion.

A zygote may contain DNA but that zygote is patently NOT a human and to declare when a human is “ensouled” is by definition theology since it deals with the soul (not science).

And current views about abortion are “relatively” recent and “conservative” religious thinkers once held other theological views.

St. Augustine declared that abortion is not homicide but was a sin if it was intended to conceal fornication or adultery.

Resolution On Abortion, adopted at the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention), June 1971: RESOLVED, That we call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother

When the Roe decision was handed down, W. A. Criswell, the Southern Baptist Convention’s former president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas—also one of the most famous fundamentalists of the 20th century—was pleased: “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person,” he said, “and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.”


Certainty in an UNcertain World

Thinking about why people entertain questionable conspiracy theories yet ignore actual documented and quite bad conspiracies throughout history. And thinking ther is a connection to some leaping from believing unproven (to my mind) conspiracies to wanting to take up arms to the point of violence to others. Below is some of me talking to myself

. . . . .

Conspiracies with ambiguous or tenuous evidence can prompt different paths of thought in response… but if you go “all in” and double down on the belief, it gives a “believers high”. AND the bigger the leap, the more complex the conspiracy, the more tenuous the claim, the better the emotional “high”

To believe in conspiracies there is a psychological Alchemy formula that is different for each person, but to end up with this “believer’s high” a key ingredient in the mental potion is the LACK of absolute proof. Perhaps it is the very act of “connecting the dots” that gives off some endorphin or hormone, but whatever…it requires a physiological response that allows emotions and reasoning to combine and produce the “sacred belief”. Once in place it allows someone to achieve a blissful state and exalt in self righteous confidence.

And once something becomes a “sacred belief” then contrary evidence, or illustrations of illogic actually harden the conspiracy in the mind.

It is this self righteous confidence that pushes away the ever present fact that to live,is to live with uncertainty, to live with ambiguity.

To be sure, there ARE conspiracies. Some with big government, or big corporations, or even biases of cultural worldviews. BUT conspiracies with clear, documented, evidence, don’t give the same “high”. So Iran/Contra, tobacco companies and cancer, oil companies and climate change, may be noted, then ignored. Those conspiracies are in a sense accepted and relegated to the mundane while JFK conspiracies,ludicrous voting claims, all with dots just waiting to be connected IF you only take off your blinders…THAT requires making a commitment, declaration of sorts, and this commitment gives back many times over with the emotional alchemy of turning ambiguity into certainty.

Interestingly it is the act of committing oneself to a belief in a vague theory wholeheartedly that makes the belief “real”. To believe you simply have to believe, THAT is where the fun is. Proof is not fun, connecting the dots IS.

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On the violence of it all…to return to the psychological, once you have the confidence in the conspiracy THEN the next level of commitment is to hate some other. So once the leap to connecting questionable dots is done, then comes the audacity of HATE, and the more audacious, the more hate, the better the "high". To fuse self righteous certainty of a disovered injustice and blame it on somebody else takes another audacious commitment. To be self righteously confident of the injustice, AND to have that "other" as the cause of the injustice… Then all that is left is action. Sweet, sweet, self righteous action

Final thoughts.

I suggest that we live in an uncertain world, most knowledge is an illusion*, life is complicated, ambiguous, even contradictory. And almost everybody seems to have a different opinion on what the rules should be. And no one wants to submit to somebody else’s view.

So, how then do we live in a world with people who don’t believe what we believe and may actively hate us for some imagined injustice.

What then is to be done?

For me the starting point is Compassion for all things, including people. And that takes recognition from the start, I, like the world, am flawed…I want to be compassionate but fail so often.

But you have to start somewhere so I start with that.

* the illusion of knowledge is a post for another day


Why Are People Doing This Crazy Stuff!!

Just trying to understand the society around me and thinking about people who believe "the Big Lie" as a rationilztion for even more crazy beliefs and actions...Came across this reseracher, Karen M. Douglas, and found this article online by her and some other people about why people believe in crazy conspiracy stuff (NOT theories in their minds)

Social Motives

Causal explanations, conspiracy explanations included, are also informed by various social motivations, including the desire to belong and to maintain a positive image of the self and the in-group. Scholars have suggested that conspiracy theories valorize the self and the in-group by allowing blame for negative outcomes to be attributed to others. Thus, they may help to uphold the image of the self and the in-group as competent and moral but as sabotaged by powerful and unscrupulous others. If this is the case, we can expect conspiracy theories to be particularly appealing to people who find the positive image of their self or in-group to be threatened (Cichocka, Marchlewska, & Golec de Zavala, 2016).

These findings suggest that conspiracy theories may be recruited defensively, to relieve the self or in-group from a sense of culpability for their disadvantaged position. In keeping with this defensive motivation, conspiracy belief is associated with narcissism—an inflated view of oneself that requires external validation and is linked to paranoid ideation (Cichocka, Marchlewska, & Golec de Zavala, 2016). Conspiracy belief is also predicted by collective narcissism —a belief in the in-group’s greatness paired with a belief that other people do not appreciate it enough (Cichocka, Marchlewska, Golec de Zavala, & Olechowski, 2016). Groups who feel that they have been victimized are more likely to endorse conspiracy theories about powerful out-groups (Bilewicz, Winiewski, Kofta, & Wójcik, 2013).


And also this

"Conspiracy theories tend to be particularly prominent in times of crisis," said Prof Karen Douglas, a social psychologist at the University of Kent who specialises in the psychology of conspiracy theories.

"People are looking for explanations that help them cope with difficult situations when there is a lot of uncertainty and contradictory information. They might also be looking for simple answers that make them feel better, and conspiracy theories might seem to offer those simple answers."



The Power of the Absurd

I happened upon this and wanted to save it here for future reference. Another explanation of the in-explainable

this time by Scott Atran found as a chapter in "This Explains Everything" an anthology from different writers


A Plausible Explanation

I can't vouch for this Kimmel guy but this article certainly sounds plausible and would explain the crazy

I am a violence researcher and study the role of grievances and retaliation in violent crime. Recently, I’ve been researching the way grievances affect the brain, and it turns out that your brain on grievance looks a lot like your brain on drugs. In fact, brain imaging studies show that harboring a grievance (a perceived wrong or injustice, real or imagined) activates the same neural reward circuitry as narcotics.

This isn’t a metaphor; it’s brain biology. Scientists have found that in substance addiction, environmental cues such as being in a place where drugs are taken or meeting another person who takes drugs cause sharp surges of dopamine in crucial reward and habit regions of the brain, specifically, the nucleus accumbens and dorsal striatum. This triggers cravings in anticipation of experiencing pleasure and relief through intoxication. Recent studies show that similarly, cues such as experiencing or being reminded of a perceived wrong or injustice — a grievance — activate these same reward and habit regions of the brain, triggering cravings in anticipation of experiencing pleasure and relief through retaliation. To be clear, the retaliation doesn’t need to be physically violent—an unkind word, or tweet, can also be very gratifying.

Although these are new findings and the research in this area is not yet settled, what this suggests is that similar to the way people become addicted to drugs or gambling, people may also become addicted to seeking retribution against their enemies—revenge addiction. This may help explain why some people just can’t let go of their grievances long after others feel they should have moved on—and why some people resort to violence."

James Kimmel, Politico 2020



I Found My Guy!!!

“Free man is by necessity insecure; thinking man by necessity uncertain.”
Erich Fromm

I mentioned him before but this quote, from "the Sane Society", that I just found today is the fulcrum of all my thinking balances. For how we veiw the world balences on this point all humans live whether they know it or not.

Or rather from this truth flows all human psychology, politics, and love. So one can take this begining and deny it and say there IS certainty or one can live honestly.


Escape from Reason

I was thinking about how our brains work and we (all of us) are prone to think emotionally and it takes effort to override that to make reasoned deciscions. And as the Repulican party is the most obvious example I Googled the pschology of ex president and found some old articles.

Emotions are powerful motivators of behavior. For most animals, emotion, not rational thought is what drives behavior, and this remains true for our esteemed species, self-christened as Homo sapiens—“the wise one.” But our decisions are not made solely by reasoning. In fact, in the most complex and momentous decisions we make we rely on emotion—gut feelings. Whom to marry, where to live, or even what entrée to select from a dinner menu, are decisions we make not by reason, but rather by how we “feel.”

Most of these circuits are deeply engraved by evolution in the brains of our primate and mammalian ancestors. A mother’s instant reaction to respond with unlimited aggression if necessary to protect her child is a familiar example. The human brain shares this same neural circuitry with other animals, and that circuit is separate from the neural circuit that launches us into defensive aggression in response to another type of danger, facing an intruder for example. To understand this election you must understand the brain’s threat detection mechanism.

This neuroscience perspective explains the seemingly incomprehensible situation of a privileged billionaire becoming the champion of working class men and women who are feeling angry and threatened. It is boggling to provide a logical explanation for this improbable hero of the working class, but his appeals to the anger, fear, and frustration that many feel—an appeal to the brain’s limbic system—is perfectly consistent with how the human brain makes complex decisions by relying on emotion when faced with momentous decisions. Perfume is not sold by describing how it will make us smell; it is sold by how it will make us feel. So it is with selling real estate. And rationally we know that all cars travel at the same speed on our roads. How then can we rationally explain the need to purchase a 500 horsepower Corvette, when it will ride the bumper of a jalopy in traffic, but cost 10 times as much? Marketing skillfully manipulates emotion—tapping into how we feel—to nudge our purchasing decisions.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/trump-s-victory-and-the-neuroscience-of-rage/ Another surprise victory is unlikely to happen again if this election is looked at from the same perspective of neuroscience that I used to account for the surprising outcome in 2016. Briefly, that article explained how our brain provides two different mechanisms of decision-making; one is conscious and deliberative, and the other is automatic, driven by emotion and especially by fear. Trump’s strategy does not target the neural circuitry of reason in the cerebral cortex; it provokes the limbic system. In the 2016 election, undecided voters were influenced by the brain’s fear-driven impulses—more simply, gut instinct—once they arrived inside the voting booth, even though they were unable to explain their decision to pre-election pollsters in a carefully reasoned manner.

Trump’s dismissal of experts, be they military generals, career public servants, scientists or even his own political appointees, is necessary for him to sustain the subcortical decision-making in voters’ minds that won him election and sustains his support. The fact-based decision-making that scientists rely upon is the polar opposite of emotion-based decision-making. In his rhetoric, Trump does not address factual evidence; he dismisses or suppresses it even for events that are apparent to many, including global warming, foreign intervention in U.S. elections, the trivial head count at his inauguration, and even the projected path of a destructive hurricane. Instead, “alternative facts,” or fabrications, are substituted.

Anyway I wanted to save these links


And to tie it to some other thoughts I see this along the lines of Erich Fromm's "Escape From Freedom" https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3671847252