Cruise Control

Sophisticated machines have perks…one of them is autopilot. Mum, if for some reason you ever read this, I’m sorry…in my old company car whilst driving late on the M6 past the beautiful Lake District, I would cross my legs and just go for hours on cruise control…don’t do this at home kids!

In the last posts we spoke about the analogy of the body as a vehicle, and then we looked at how the modern scientific view cannot logically get rid of the driver. That is, we concluded that we really are real people, and the body is the vehicle we use to try to enjoy this world. You see, I like the scientific method, but I often have a big problem with the way data is interpreted…you can imagine it a bit like this…

Rock stuck
Square peg, round hole

The only way you’re going to make this rock go down that crevice is if you break into pieces. (OK, I’ll be honest…I wanted to add a picture of a square peg in a round hole…but pixabay doesn’t do it; so you’ll have to settle with this one.) Sometimes, we have to step back and ask, ‘what on earth am I missing?‘ And I think the answer is very clear…consciousness. I’ll go on to explain this in great depth, but for now, just remember one important thing; the Neo-Darwinian paradigm (New Synthesis) doesn’t know what to do with it…why is consciousness important?…because it is the only thing in nature that we can say for sure adds information to a system.

Can you say that chance causes something? Yes...but you can’t prove it, because it isn’t a testable hypothesis. However, it is self-evident that when I decide to wake up in the morning, despite having snoozed 10x already…’I,’ as a conscious entity, am on some level causing a particular biological behaviour.

Here’s the 64 million dollar question (I decided to up the ante…64k isn’t so much nowadays!)…

“I know that my car has cruise control, and I know that I don’t often make conscious decisions whilst driving…therefore, what is the cruise control mechanism of the vehicle we call, the body?”

Meerkat on alert
Don’t mess with my gang

We’ve all been there…one minute you’re wildly singing along to Backstreet Boys (don’t be silly…I’m not that old) without a care in the world…and the next minute someone undertakes you on the motorway and you have to slam on the anchors (and perhaps some words exit the mouth as well). So, it seems that we do indeed have a cruise control for this vehicle we refer to as ‘my body’…welcome to the unconscious (mind). And I’m sure you’ve all heard of it…it’s becoming very popular nowadays to use the term ‘unconscious.’ But ever since Descartes, the word mind has been put a bit on the back-burner, or else it’s just used synonymously with the term brain. But brain and mind…are they the same?

Have you ever seen schematics like this?

Brain creative vs logical
Left and right brain

It seems like a fair thing to conclude from neuroscience research…the left side of the brain deals with the boring stuff (logical, analytical, and objective), and the right side deals with arty stuff (intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective).

I agree whole-heartedly with the correlation found in the data presented by neuroscience…but here’s the issue:

That’s all folks…in the brain you see loads and loads of specialised cells (mostly neurons…100 billion of them), some linked together by synaptic junctions (picture on right). An electrochemical gradient is transmitted from one neuron to another via the synapse. It is an incredible organ, and I don’t wish to downplay it, but I am stating the truth when I say that on a mechanistic level, what I just described is what the brain does.

So, do you see how easily we can be misled into becoming unscientific? I’ll leave you with this hint until the next post…I purposefully included a colour image of the ‘left-right brain,’ and a black and white image of the neurons and synapse…why did I do that? If you figure it out, well done! You have successfully switched off your cruise control and are now engaging your conscious mind into understanding, what on earth is consciousness?

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” — Mark Twain

2 thoughts on “Cruise Control

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