Why Humans Worry Too Much - A Handbook For Life?
From a time more than 50,000 years ago, one in three of our ancestors most likely died at the hands of another, much like the conflict scene between two bands of proto-humans in 2001: A Space Odyssey. But today, human aggression has greatly diminished, at least statistically.
Killing today though, is different. Now the news reports mass murders regularly, while humans killing one another is most likely a premeditated act.
So say Peter Baumann and Michael W. Taft, co-authors of EGO: The Fall of the Twin Towers and the Rise of an Enlightened Humanity. The authors of the new book say motivations for killing come from mental concepts, and these mental ideas lead humans to plan combat against others.
The 9/11 terrorist attackers were trained to kill for an idea, say Baumann and Taft.
The authors' tale leads from prehistory and proto-human's evolution through the 9/11 attacks and how the speed of discovery and invention is increasing faster than our biology. Our brains are stuck in thinking much like our ancestors of thousands of years ago.
Science is pronounced by the authors as the savior for our slower evolving biology and the mistakes make by the ego, the ego attaching unreasonable fears to ideas in our minds.
How the invention of science reformed our thinking:
"Science refashioned how people decided something was not true: not based on our feelings and intuitions (which are subject to biases) or based on the proclamations of an authority (which can be wrong), but instead through reproducible experiment and debate."
Baumann says evolution has wired our brains to be riveted to bad news, bad outcomes, and worst cast scenarios. Known as negativity bias, humans err on the side of caution, a bias toward safety.
Taft explains how humans brains are wired to "better-safe-than-sorry worst-case scenarios" focusing on what can go wrong. We often feel more worried than warranted, he says and react to small concerns as though they were life threatening.
We tend to react with fear or violence when our beliefs are challenged. Strong emotions take over when we hear or read opinions not our own. Our brains are also triggered by noise, strangers, and large moving objects.
These emotional signals were fine when thousands of years ago we lived in small tribes, needed to be aware of dangerous animals, and a loud noise most likely meant danger. But, today noise, crowds, and difference of opinions, are not uncommon in daily modern life.
The authors say our brains are not built to deal with it all, our ancient emotional reactions tell us something is wrong, when in reality nothing is.
The ideas expressed by the authors are not easy to comprehend, most likely an example of the dissonance our ancient brain feels in reaction to new ideas.
As human evolution continues, the authors say, our brains may develop a stronger sense of conscious awareness, and we will no longer "take things personally" and move to what some call "enlightenment" or liberation from the ego, an enlightenment revolution.
The new viewpoint will reveal that political ideas and even religious beliefs are only supercharged emotional concepts, as the authors say, "evolutionary leftovers from the days when common interests meant survival in the wild."
The new awareness and non-attachment to judging will allow us to refrain from overreacting to viewpoints different or foreign to us. "We give up the illusion that we can manage conditions and will someday have everything under control."
The authors do not dismiss the value of the ego, the conceptual mind, as it allowed the creation of art, culture, science, and language. It is only warned that we should remain capable of seeing situations needing improvement and move without overreacting.
The new way of seeing means although we will still feel pain and suffering in the world, we refrain from becoming "rattled by even the most intense emotions." This way of looking, and acceptance relieves stress in our everyday world of coping with the volume of information we must mentally digest in continuous streams.
Ego, the book, based on new science of the brain, is not an easy read, but is recommended for the jolt it gives to our Stone Age Brain. It has made me pay attention a bit more often to the distractions of daily life and my reactions to stressful events.
I would hope the authors continue writing about the practical ways to use the message found in the pages of Ego, and more on an "Enlightened Humanity." A "Handbook for Life" might just be what our Stone Age Brains can use in the 21st century.