You’re Not In Control!

Most of us assume that we are in control: for example, most people believe that they’re consciously aware of and in control of pretty much all their feelings, actions, and thoughts. But neuroscience proves them wrong.

In fact, most of our brain activity stems from hardcore physical and biological processes of which we are not aware of it.

One shocking example was the case of a man who 40 years old. His wife who 20 years old noticed that her husband had developed an obsession with child pornography. Then they decided to go to the hospital. During the examination, something looked strange as it shouldn’t. The doctor said that he had a massive tumor in his brain. This tumor was in a part of the brain responsible for decision-making: the orbitofrontal cortex. After a successful operation, the tumor was removed. Result of that, man’s sexual appetites returned to normal.

Just like every other part of the human body, the way of brain works is largely determined by evolution.

Evolution has determined the limits of our cognitive functioning. Pleistocene was the age that had the greatest impact on us. All of our brain biases, all of our preconceptions, all of our way of thinking, the way we relate people, the way see nature… all of these things formed in Ice Age.

Here is the question: can you imagine a tesseract?

The range of thoughts we can think is actually limited to things that were useful for our ancestors. For example, if you try to visualize a five-dimensional cube, you will find it impossible. This is because the ability to see five-dimensional objects did not provide any evolutionary advantage.

Not just limits of our thinking capacity is formed evolution, also tasks we are adapt is also pretty limited. For instance, we are actually fairly bad at performing large mathematical computations. Can you multiply these two numbers in your mind: 468798465 * 165498315?

No? Why? Computers can multiple above numbers in a second even a fool calculator. The reason that you fail to multiply big numbers in your mind is just evolution. Because our ancestors never really needed them as hunter-gatherers. On the other hand, they did need the ability to navigate social problems like detecting and punishing cheaters.

Most people find things like apples, eggs, and potatoes tasty? Why? Because they contain sugars, proteins, and vitamins, all of which were useful for our ancestors’ survival.

If we look at what kind of creatures we’re sexually attracted to, this also tends to make evolutionary sense: we’re not attracted platypus, but rather other humans. This is because cross-breeding with other species is not possible, so being attracted to them would be pointless from an evolutionary standpoint.

All you see around you is not real. It’s just a hallucination. Let’s talk about why it is. Our vision perception is not like a video camera. It doesn’t faithfully reproduce an image of the world, but instead, it just interprets the electrochemical signals that reach the brain. And the same goes for other senses like hearing or perception of time. Our brain constructs reality from these signals.

The best example that we are deeply linked to what our brain shows us is Anton’s syndrome. People who have Anton’s syndrome are blind but they are not aware of it. Worse, they still believe they can see. They hallucinate a visual reality for themselves.

After all of these facts, do you still think “you are in control”?