Monday, December 29, 2008



At December 30, 2008 7:15 AM, Anonymous Mairead said...

Ah, yes, the pathology of pathologising the normal.

Human beings - indeed all mammals and birds, at least - are superb physical-pattern matchers. It's been the key to species survival.

The ancestors of our species who reacted to false positives -- running away from harmless snakes, for example -- tended to live much longer than those who failed to run away from false negatives.

We're the product of that evolutionary advantage, and by now very, very skilled indeed!

Pattern-matching is such a vital skill that even in non-humans whose behavioral repertoire is largely hard-coded in instinct, individuals can learn to improve their matching skill.

Individual adult chickadees, for example can learn that a particular human is a well-intentioned source of food while the cat that lives with that human very much isn't. That's an astonishing level of discriminatory ability for a bird-brain!

Unfortunately, our ability to match physical patterns is far more highly developed than our ability to match emotional patterns. So we tend not to see emotionally-camouflaged predators until it's too late. Politicians are a good example of such predators. They lure us in with smiles and gentle talk of hope. And then exploit us mercilessly.

But we can improve our ability to see through their emotional camo.

If we make the effort.


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