In an experiment I've failed to recover documentation for so far (aside from a lecture at Stanton on the Uniqueness of Humans) the dopamine levels of chimps were recorded over time in relation to how often pressing a button gave them a banana. When bananas were given every other button press, instead of every button press, dopamine levels went up. Excluding the possibility that chimps love pressing buttons, this implies the chance of getting a reward (banana) being reduced increases the enjoyment of trying to attain that reward. Concluding humans behave likewise would explain several human traits.
1 Gambling Addiction
Firstly, it would mean we are hard-wired to favor risks. Surely we interpret the risks of the same situations differently, the available options and difficulty of executing plans varies between individuals so the estimation of risk is different in otherwise identical situations, and there's some tipping point at which the amount of risk increasing no longer increases the amount of fun being had but the basic premise that an unsure thing is more enjoyable than a sure thing innately incentivises risk taking in man. Because man takes more risks he discovers more and varies his behavior more. Because man varies his behavior and discovers more he grows in a greater multitude of ways, investing his health in a diverse portfolio.
Consider the implications were this not the case. People find picking berries yields a meal. They're completely satisfied w/this arrangement w/no curiosity or other desire to prompt attempts at alternative methods of gaining meals. Thereby man may continually be subject to predation (as he hunts no meat-eaters), never discover farming, and wander in huge hoards which forage very efficiently yet relegate mankind to a locust lifestyle.
2 Give an Inch, they Take a Mile
The furtherance of abuse by dominant parties in relationships. From governments instituting new oppressions at the highest levels to babies playing fetch w/their parents at the lower levels the abuser who enjoys his dominance is only really dominant so long as the submission is fresh. As a behavior becomes habitual and the oppressed accepts it comfortably, pulling to the side of the road when blue and red lights flash, it is more a stagnant than a living proof of the ruler's superiority. The subject has accepted his bondage as a fact of life, dissociated from himself and his captor, so the captor is no longer interpreted as a ruler but an enforcer of higher laws. The man who craves other men kneel before and be broken by him must push his abuse ever further so that the oppressed never gets used to it, never may rest, acculturate, and come to peace, but always feels his wounds unclosed, raw, cut open deeper than before. Thereby new laws are always imposed, the toy is thrown further from the cradle, a more important possession is going to be borrowed longer, no apology is offered for trashing your house at a party, etc.
3 Maybe He Really Has Changed
The lack of assurance that a promise will be kept to the abused makes playing along more exciting. A state of jeopardy is a turn on. Will your boyfriend really be gentle? Will he pull out in time? Will he move less forcefully lest your parents hear? Will your friend really return your hairbrush even though she still hasn't given back your makeup kit? Is he going to pay you back for that latest box of booze? If you let them force you to the ground and place their knees in your back, will the cops stop hitting you w/batons? If you vacate the swing for him will the bully do the same for you later? If you "share" your toys will you play with them as much as the borrowers?
4 Do you Wanna Live Forever?
Danger is the spice of life. Those fighting for their lives have their love of life, the ideal that life is good, more reaffirmed than anyone else. We all experience this situation through sickness. Never do we want health more than when we lack it. Never do we appreciate health more than at its' return. The soldier risking his life in lethal exchanges is more sure he's glad to be alive than the cushiest chair and tastiest food could make him. The novelty of a taste of sensation too is a lack of security. Will you ever taste such fine food again? But when it has come to be expected excitement leaves. Kobe beef again.
The man used to combat, who feels much skilled, seeks greater challenges. To be promoted. To be attached to more dangerous groups. To be assigned missions less likely to suceed. Men sacrifice themselves more often from taking on a threat they couldn't counter and being slain in a final rush than with the love of others in their breast.
Yet by danger I do not mean a risk of death. I mean any unsure situation. A housewife's thrill may be holding off on cooking for a while longer, waiting on checking the roast to converse with friends. Will the food be ready in time for when the party guests arrive? Will the roast be burnt? It's more fun to have doubt so the deciding facts seem truer. When you knew the meal would turn out fine and executed it well the truth of your fine meal is bland. What of chef's proud of their work, you may ask? Well, where does their final pride come from? The approval of others. Socializing is a great way to increase doubt. He knows he cooked it right but do the dinner guests like it? How much? When a man sees his end he hasn't anything to look forward to. Like opening presents before Christmas morning. The roar of a crowd's a thrill for the boos it masks or could become.
5 But I love My Safety Blanket
Now I see one of the counter-arguments that may be made. I use gov. as an example of this human behavior at the largest scale. But what about mothers against videogames? What about the nanny state? Isn't all this attempted hand-holding proof of a desire for security? No. The women involved convince themselves their children are in danger. They're already getting off to the thought little Timmy might be corrupted from Crackwhore Killers 5. They then hype in their minds their enemy: drugs, drunk drivivng, heavy metal, heathens, or whatever seeming threat, as something monolithic. It's so infectious, pervasive, monied, entrenched, etc. that it'll be difficult to root out. But these gals have the gumption to try! The actual protests, complaints on national tv about books never read, movies never seen, songs their friends told them about, videogames they heard a rumor of once, never-documented rainbow parties, etc. is just the motion coming after the excitement. Perhaps they're a-tingle at confrontation. Then, when nothing happens or changes, they can gear up to battle again, feeling the odds are even higher. If they get one repressive law passed they'll take it as evidence they can get a worse one through and move on to that. These are women who do not burn their roasts.
Man does not want to know as much as he wants to know something new.
Here's the lecture, which I enjoyed, though the study prompting this rant is only briefly discussed.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010