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Blinding emotions

Science tells me that a tree absorbs about 25 kg of carbon per year from atmosphere, while a car releases 150 grams per minute. So, if a tree located on a busy road is obstructing 200 cars by even a minute, it is causing release of more carbon in a day than it can absorb in year.

When I posted this as a video on Facebook, response was predictable. Tree “lovers” were hurt. Even though I was talking only about tree in a specific situation, their brain managed a miracle of looking at it as a generic statement by insensitive-me against trees of the world. As I have questioned an emotional relationship, their brain saw no need to evaluate my statement rationally.

They were hurt, but I was not; because this incredible ability of instantaneous switching off of rationality by human brain when confronted by an emotive issue has a completely rational reason. And that is because this 4.3 billion year old Life on Earth is actually a massive data-crunching self-programming computer.

Emotions are not of divine origin, they are actually extremely condensed protocols generated by life after billions of years of processing.

We share our fear for snakes with most mammals because it is a brain protocol we have borrowed from the common pool of such a learning. Love, hate, joy or fear, these are actually small programs evolved by brain to prevent wasting of time in processing problems that it has learnt the answers of over billions of years.

The Munnabhai MBBS portrayed conflict between utilitarian/rational approach and emotional one is actually completely baseless one because emotions are nothing but highly condense forms of same utilitarian processing of billions of years.

If emotions are also utilities, why have we evolved a stigma for questioning their utility-value?

The answer provides an insight into the beauty of brain design. Life on Earth has crunched reality and found some common answers that it has instilled in the DNA to be passed on. Our brains know complicated things like how to walk or digest from birth. Our brain knows how to love, hate or fear from birth. This is because survival-benefits of these protocols are firmly established.

So, it is absolutely reasonable that brain is not keen that we question it’s billion year of work. Hence, when a brain is forced to confront any evidence questioning an emotional protocol, its reaction is of instantaneous rejection.

But, there is an even deeper insight in this process and that is about why emotional protocols are passed over generations while knowledge and learning is not. Why evolution did not ensure that a doctor or engineer’s daughter is born with knowledge of parents?

I suspect that answer is not just practical limitation of immutability of DNA during the life-time. It is more likely because brain has learnt about fickleness of abstract knowledge over the billion years. It has found out that it is wiser to relearn such information afresh each time.

So, brain has evolved a brilliant strategy to bifurcate the constant and the changing aspects of reality for its practical need of survival in the reality as it has cognised over billions of years.

While appreciating the brilliance of this time-tested method, we must realise that, through science, humanity has now acquired ability to cognise reality beyond what brains in past could.

We can now tinker with the grand old computing machine, and that we must, as evolution is always a work in progress. The solutions like emotions evolved by it can need correcting when new evidence is unearthed.

Objectivity is the latest achievement of our brain that we must put to use it to break free from shackles of blind auto-run programs like emotions.

DNA: 19/3/17

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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