Category Archives: Big Issues

Thought #11. Change your mind.

 

I love people capable of enjoying and appreciating every moment to the full. There exists a food-related word that goes perfectly well with the act of lingering enjoyment: savour.

This afternoon I was savouring the embrace of a cosy wing chair when I started asking myself about the definition of thought. After a refreshing siesta, I’m back in front of the computer, determined to type in something aesthetically attractive about thinking and thoughts, brains and minds.

Obviously, thought is the act of thinking. To us, human beings, the brain seems to be the closest thing to a magic wand that almost every single creature has. As always, there are exceptions that prove the rule, though. Deep-sea sponges, for example, are devoid of brain and have lived for millions of years successfully. Some scientists now accept as true that they once had a brain but discarded it. Apparently, there are not the only animals without the organ controlling thought, memory, feelings, etc.

Seemingly, my mind is wandering again. Let me go back to square one. However, the reader must not expect an organised essay as this is just a memory dump.

“I think, therefore I am.” (Rene Descartes)

“You liar, look at sponges!” (Me)

Well, I wonder Descartes did not know about these new insights into thinking machines, aka “brains”. What appears to be more certain is that the ability to be sentient is not exclusive to human beings. Last year, Sir David Attenborough joined 21 signatories to an open letter calling for the end to cruel brain tests on primates. Mr Attenborough explained that there is enough evidence to conclude that primates not only have feelings but also can suffer, for all intents and purposes, like us. Therefore it is inhuman to treat them as mere animals.

Sooner or later, as expected, the obvious counter-argument to the above objection was raised. More than 400 scientists including two Nobel laureates signed another open letter letting it be known that brain experiments on primates are still useful for many purposes and, in particular, are crucial to medical advances.

I read those news items when they were published. After chewing the issue over since then, I have formed a clear mental picture of the crudely wired chimps. In the cold light of day, I realised how cruel and evil we can become. I can’t just bury my head in the sand. I would call on all scientists to think outside the box in order to come up with an alternative solution.

Being a layman in science, I should not judge experts. It just so happens that I keep going over and over the chimp’s picture in my mind and that is unbearable. I prefer to think back to when I saw a couple of chimps capering around in an Attenborough’s documentary, a vivid savouring memory which is still an intoxicating thought.

In conclusion, should scientists rack their brains, they will surely have second thoughts about torturing our closest ancestors. This way, my mind could be set at rest once and for all. It speaks for itself, to err is human and to change your mind is, more often than not, a wise choice.

Thought #5. Appearances can be deceptive.

The way something looks can sometimes mislead the viewer, making him get the wrong end of the stick. Appearances can be deceptive and often they are. 

Politicians have always lied, that’s a fact, a thing we can’t deny. Maybe that’s the reason why post-truth has recently become the Oxford Word Of The Year 2016 with Mr Trump and Brexit being the leading exponent of the collocation “post-truth politics”. 

We could define post-truth in layman’s terms as ‘the art of the lie’ although the politeness of the renowned dictionary has defined it as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

The problem arises when such a term is the mainstay of political commentary. It seems like the concern about fake news has diminished among the public opinion. Its a perilous time for journalism, at least for the kind of journalism that does not aim to hit the headlines at any cost. 

In my opinion, freedom of speech and thought must prevail over the blatant lies that Mr Trump has spread countless times. Let me take Global Warming as an example to illustrate his behaviour. 

These are some random Trumps’ notorious tweets: 

    • 6 November 2012: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”.
    • 5 February 2014: “When will our country stop wasting money on global warming and so many other truly “STUPID” things and begin to focus on lower taxes?”
    • 17 November 2014: “The entire country is  FREEZING – we desperately need a heavy dose of global warming, and fast! Ice caps size reaches all time high.”
    • 18 February 2015: “Among the lowest temperatures EVER in much of the United States. Ice caps at record size. Changed name from GLOBAL WARMING to CLIMATE CHANGE”

Trump may come up trumps winning the presidential election but he who laughs last, laughs longest. Fortunately, facts and figures overcome Trump’s campaign against Climate Change (or Global Warming) treats. Taking a look at NASA’s “Global Climate Change” website would keep more than one mouth shut.

Appearances can be deceptive. It might be bitterly cold in the USA but it doesn’t mean that devastating weather events are happening in every corner of the globe. Please, don’t let those post-truth statements undermine your trust.