Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Scale matters

Ever since looked down from a high rise building, watched pedestrians and cars lazily moving, but somehow skillfully avoiding each other just like ants?

If you stop and watch an ant colony they too seem busy yet not panicking, some carrying their cargo into tunnels, others returning to take more, again skillfully avoiding each other.

It takes only going up about ten floors or more in a high rise building to realise how insignificant human scale becomes with collective scale emerging in its grandeur.

From this height that guy crossing the street becomes like an ant, his complex frontal cortex1 setup, his desires, thoughts, worries and joys, his career, personal finances, kids, wife, boss, lunch, friends, next summer holiday, aging parents etc simply vanish.

Collective consciousness mercilessly takes over, averaging his behavior, and reducing the man to a crawling creature.

“Look at'em Dad!” cries a five year old. “They're like ants!”.

Zooming in and out of scales may change your perception, your views about life, the universe and yourself. You may start to think for instance maybe after all we are exaggerating our role in the universe.

About the time we evolved to have a sufficiently large frontal cortex we must have discovered that we were not going to make it here on earth indefinitely.

Hence  somewhere along the line of homo sapiens evolution our collective consciousness created a fictitious after life. We invented gods and religions of various forms to secure and extend our life span. A delusion that blinded our species for generations to come from making sense of scale transitions.

We wishfully think we are intelligent enough to deserve a purpose behind our own existence. Perhaps our chauvinistic attitude and megalomanic admiration upon our own species grew with our intelligence, a misfire of some sort.

Whereas from evolutionary perspective systematic delusions often work against mother nature’s tendency to favor a particular species.

We are so much obsessed with regarding ourselves as the most admirable, beautiful and intelligent of all species ever existed, so much so that, we ignore other scales and other metrics.

The chances are we may be ‘intelligent’ but we may not be as ‘successful’ as other species. Our species may not be able to survive despite our ignorance so long as we keep misinterpreting the scale of our own importance and undermining the impact we inflict on this planet.

Looking down at gigantic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from space should convince us how vulnerable and ‘unsuccessful’ we may be as species.

Scale matters.

1) Frontal cortex: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frontal_lobe

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