Big Questions Part 4: Shit for Brains

Shit for Brains or,
Big Questions part 4 Who Am I? Who Is What?

Who gives a shit? You might, and if you don’t… well perhaps that calls for a faecal transplant. That’s right a shit transplant. It sounded pretty far out when the subject first came up, but before getting into that let me recap:



More Monkey Biz: loneliness

Interesting bit of monkey business. Researchers claim that older adults run a 14% greater chance of premature death if they feel social isolated.

Anyone acquainted with my scribblings or my conversation may well have heard me make use the phrase: monkey business. You can find an entry under money business in the glossary section of this website.

I use it to refer to the “mechanical” behaviours that are our biological inheritance from our pre-human ancestors, which underly seemingly rational activities. It covers almost everything given by our biology and our culture.

On the second day of the journey outlined in the Inner Look, Silo points out that not only do my thoughts, feelings and actions not depend on me, but even “I” and my desire to change are all dependant on external forces.

Here’s some current research that strikes me as an interesting anecdote to add to that discussion. It seems that they’ve discovered at least one biological mechanism that explains how loneliness can make you ill.

Lonely Shadow of a Man

mutation biological and otherwise

Here’s another lesson from biology. Again it’s not a biology lesson but a cursory, semi-informed look at scientific research that, I for one find, inspiring or possessing (non-scientific) existential value for further meditations.

In this fascinating, real-life experiment it’s discovered that a life-enhancing mutation was made possible by a seemingly meaningless mutation thousands of generations earlier.

cobra mutant

Maybe I should present it in a fictional style — perhaps something along the lines of
Zelazny’s Bridge of Ashes. Not that I disagree with the critics who said it wasn’t Zelazny’s best and seemed to agree about its flaws.

Here’s the science story.
It’s one I find especially intriguing. Not so much for the implications it has for biologists (not being one myself), or because it may help settle a widely disputed detail in the theory of evolution. For me, it is fascinating as some kind of metaphor, or allegory, or trope — even though I’m not sure what it’s an analogy for. Nonetheless, it strikes me as something very cool and I suspect very important in realms far outside of the field of evolutionary biology.


Inheriting the consequences

Here’s a lesson from biology. It’s not a biology lesson but a cursory, semi-informed look at scientific research that, I for one find, inspiring or possessing (non-scientific) existential value for further meditations.

There’s lots of lessons to learn, because there are lots of questions that are looking for answers.

Am I afraid of spiders, or snakes because people around me, inadvertently perhaps, taught me as an infant to fear them? Recent headlines suggested that scientists have discovered that my fears may be based on memories inherited from an ancient (perhaps prehuman) ancestor. Could that be true?


Is it nature or nurture? It’s an old debate. What conditions us more, our biological inheritance or our social conditioning? Are intelligence, sensitivity, creativity, tolerance, kindness, mental health, etc a result of our genes or our up bringing. “Both” is a legitimate answer but leaves pending the question of which is the deciding factor. Can one of them override the other?



Observing the Three Pathways part 2

Three Pathways continued.

pavlov and sacred space

Filming in Israel, site of so much concentrated faith, violence, hope and despair – no wonder I found myself ruminating on the question of sacred space. A theme close to the heart of all us involved with the Siloist Parks of Study and Reflection.

In that state I stumbled across this article, which made a connection between “place” and the mind/body response. I found it very thought provoking and so I mentioned it on Twitter @dzuckerbrot :