nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

Puritans in space vs. neurogenesis

The April/May issue of Seed Magazine has a piece (not online) about the Fermi Paradox (where are the aliens?) which suggests that one of the difficulties of getting into space is gettng too distracted by simulated satisfactions like electronic games, and perhaps the only species which will make it off their planets will be very puritanical.

I believe puritanism isn't the answer--it's going to be good sense, which is apparently even more difficult. Puritanism happens now and then, but it's unstable, which is not what you want on your generation ship.

Puritanism appeals to asceticism and the desire to not let other people have what they want, and these are instinctive drives which can be as strong and ill-considered as the desire for pleasure.

Any nominees for cultures or subcultures which are good at encouraging behavior which makes sense over the long run and discouraging behavior that doesn't?

Here's the other reason why Puritanism doesn't last. People need pleasure.

As modern materialists we may well need some scientific evidence, or at least like it very much. Mere personal experience of pleasure and its lack isn't good enough.

Behold! Admittedly, this all animal research, but it's all pointing in the same direction, and the direction is that brains grow new neurons in low-stress, enriched environments.

Some other important bits from the article: early and pre-natal stress matter. They lead to adults who have less ability to handle stress. Even if stress isn't consciously remembered, it can still make a difference.

Anti-depressants don't work by making more serotonin available--the serotonin floods the brain very quickly, but it can take a month or more for the depression to lift. It looks as though Prozac increases the trophic factors which help with neurogenesis. Perhaps the depression lifts when enough new neurons are online.

I've posted about this before, but the Seed article has a lot more detail.

The dark side: A podcast/video of a discussion about the tough love/boot camp approach to drug rehab, where the premise is that the imposition of pain and the deprivation of pleasure are legitimate tools for remaking personalities into more tolerable forms. Oddly enough, it doesn't work and it causes a lot of damage.

Podcast ink from The Agitator.

Sidetrack: Ayn Rand and Tolkien both wrote about the importance of pleasure. Anyone else?

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