“TO BE OR NOT TO BE?” REALLY ISN’T THE QUESTION, AND NEVER HAS BEEN. SO WHAT IS THE REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTION THAT THE BRAIN NEEDS TO BE TRAINED TO HANDLE ADEPTLY AND MATURELY?

The future of the human species, and the future of the many other species whose fate is tied to ours, however directly or indirectly, hinges on what the human brain can be taught to do with this question: Is there another way to explain or do this?

This has always been the question. Every advance in tool capability and efficiency has resulted because someone either imagined another way to do or explain something, or else simply stumbled onto it. The same is to be said for progress in religious thought. And in philosophy. And medicine. And all else.

At the biological level, if it has been a way better suited to delivering a result more useful or powerful or adaptive to general circumstances, or often to very specific circumstances, then the result has not infrequently been a reordering or a reconstitution of the biological pecking order or the biological mechanics.

Adroit handling of the question—is there another way to explain or do this?—seems not to come naturally to us humans. It is, for most of us, an acquired taste at best. What we think of the question, if we think of it at all, is most often a consequence of whether we were born to parents who were products of a culture that welcomed the question. Most cultures, and most parents, have not encouraged the question. So unless you found yourself living in a democracy, there has usually been a risk at asking the question. And even in a democracy as formally devoted to the idea that it is always permissible to ask “Is there another way to explain or do this?” as the United States of America, it can be sometimes dangerous to ask the question. It was pervasively so during the Civil War years, during the McCarthy Era, during the reign of Jim Crow in the South and can still be, to a disturbing extent, so in today’s obsessed-with-terrorism political environment.

We have spent years at Brain Technologies developing and perfecting, often assisted by the trenchant and imaginative work of others, ways to forecast how a given brain may handle the question.

Generally, or so it is our experience, the brain will react in one of four ways:

1) In most circumstances, it will reject the idea that there is anything to be gained in asking the question. Thus it will defend, sometimes to the death or to others’ dying, the explanations it already has.

2) It will accept the idea that the question is a good one, but typically be indiscriminate in seeking, judging and acting on answers to the question. The first answer that happens by that seems to work is, for this category of brain functioning, accepted and acted on, whatever the outcomes.

3) It will see the creation of hypotheses and the investigation of them as “end all and be all” of the process. So that the challenge becomes understanding a set of answers in great detail but not necessarily the efficient and imaginative use of any of them.

4) It will automatically assume that there is an infinite variety of ways to explain almost anything and will work to experience as many varieties of ways as possible, giving precedence to the newest and most novel.

Of course, the human brain being what it is, most any healthy and especially fully formed (adults over 30, for the most part) brain can and does move between these four approaches if coached, encouraged and provided with a safe haven for doing so. However, such safe havens, such encouragement and such coaching are in extremely short supply. It is so today, and it has always been so.

So nothing approaches in importance how human brains handle the question, “Is there another way to explain or do this?” At this stage in our development as a species, handling the question well and effectively and with political astuteness requires unusual pluck, luck and maturity. It is a most intriguing reality that while our species often seems to take three steps backwards for every half-step forward, we do seem to be making some progress in handling the question.

Now explaining the reasons for that has come close to antiquating virtually all foundations of religion and philosophy. Nor are suitable answers in immediate prospect. It may first be necessary to have some good explanations for such questions as what is the world made of (we still don’t know) and what happened before anything happened (we don’t have a clue) and is there conceivably any point or place or combination of circumstances in the universe when it will cease to make sense to ask the question, “Is there another way to explain or do this?”

Stay tuned as long and as healthily as you can. It has really begun to get interesting in these recent times.
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The above commentary has appeared previously on one of my blogs.<\strong>

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