by Dr David, Editor / Publisher
My neuroanatomy professor told us, "The brain is best thought of as a reducing filter."
Generally we screen out the humming of the refrigerator, the dog barking down the street or the jake brakes sounding distantly on the libramiento.
There is a gate in our brain that stops most perceptions from entering our awareness, the thinking part of our brain, the frontal cortex. The person who stopped to admire the way the sunlight glinted off the fangs of the saber-tooth tiger did not live to pass on his genes.
Our brain every moment of every day is in danger of being overwhelmed... and not only by perceptions. On the other side of this cerebral gate, in the thinking part of our brain, there is also too much going on. Even for the unthoughtful among us, there is just too much to think about.
The brain spends a lot of energy not thinking, trying not to think, reducing the number of thoughts we have. No wonder people get dogmatic, adopt intellectual cliches, refuse to consider other points of view.
Back there in naturopathic medical school, where there was just too much to remember, I became well acquainted with mnemonics, memory aids. One of these, helps me now remember the Big Five personality traits, OCEAN, an acronym of openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
That we have fixed personality traits goes against the utopian belief that we are all blank slates to be psychologically programmed in any direction that Social Justice Warriors or other Marxist authoritarians see fit. Taking but one example, the measure of two of these Big Five traits reliably predict a person's political persuasion: liberals are high in openness, while conservatives are high in conscientiousness.
If a system is working you would want a conservative to be in charge of it, because she will conscientiously keep things the same. Liberals will come along and, open as they are to new possibilities, will want to change things. Traditionally we determine when the established way of doing things must change through free debate. People, including the government of France, worry about the health of American society because, having limited political and even academic debate, we are not allowed to talk about certain things.