Conscious Thought is Slow.

By Dr David Laing Dawson

My plasma screen big TV refreshes each and every pixel 200 times per second. Or is that every other pixel? And is there a formula that allows some of those pixels to rest in their current state for the full second? And this occurs after information has traveled from God knows where at close to the speed of light through copper wire and fiber optic cable.

My conscious mind cannot keep up.

But there are parts of our brain that must work almost as quickly. My optic nerve for instance. Or the message from burned finger to brain and then to muscle. Or from retina, to brain, to amygdaloid, to pineal to adrenal to heart and stomach so I might feel revulsion or delight or anger before my conscious brain manages to explain this.

Which is why most conscious thought occurs after the fact, after the action, after the experience, after the event. Which is why most conscious thought is rationalization, the explaining and organizing of an action already taken or a feeling already felt.

I am (slowly) thinking about this because I am trying to understand how it is so many cheered when Trump let fly those 59 missiles. The images of dead children on my plasma TV caused that very fast electrochemical chain reaction from retina to neuron to experiences of revulsion and anger. But how about we spend some time thinking and talking about how this civil war might be ended.

And every time I see Kim Jong Un on my plasma TV I want to slap him or deflate him. He, his terrified and sycophantic generals, and his strutting robot men, cause that same fast electrochemical reaction in my brain to produce hormones of disgust, of anger, and no small amount of incredulity.

And I know when I listen to the politicians and “experts” on CNN, I am hearing the thought processes that slowly justify the more instant wish to deflate this man. And then we cheer the armada, the threats, the bombast, and, God help us, we may soon be cheering the preemptive strike, or the overwhelming retaliation.

Please know this. Know this about our instant reactions and the slower thought processes that justify them. Know it is time to calm down, step back, and figure out how best to deal with such a man as Kim Jong Un and North Korea’s 25 million people to ensure we all have a future.


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