The Unintended Consequences of Dopamine Appeal and Repel

by Charles Lyell on December 18, 2012

“Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know.” – Aldous Huxley

The dopaminergic reward system that successfully delivered our species into the 21st century is:

  • Destroying our species’ chances of making it into the 22nd century.
  • Keeping even the smartest of the most (potentially) sentient species on the planet from figuring out, or wanting to know, that a brain chemical is responsible for the self-destructive behaviors undermining our chances of survival.

How? By reducing all choices down to dopamine appeal and repel.

Dopamine appeal and repel continues to keep dumb creatures in natural environments alive. Chimpanzees don’t know, or have to know, that salt is an essential electrolyte or that rancid foods are life-threatening. That’s because life-sustaining salt is dopamine appealing and life-threatening toxins are dopamine repellent.

Dopamine appeal and repel are the reason primates spend their waking hours acquiring power, seeking approval, elevating status, and avoiding pain — behaviors that increase their chances of surviving and achieving dopamine appealing orgasms.

Our ancestors found dopamine so appealing they figured out how to trigger gratuitous dopamine by acquiring power, winning acceptance, elevating status, and smoking, ingesting, and injecting drugs. Along the way, they added addictions to money, gambling, and belief systems, then passed down their habits, self-deceptions, denials, and insatiable dopamine cravings required to end withdrawal pains that come with all addictions. In turn, their offspring developed a taste for enjoyable (and often frivolous) dopamine appealing activities and esteem-elevating deceptions, along with powerful aversions to dopamine repellent, fear inducing, esteem reducing facts.

Examples of dopamine appealing deceptions:

  • The existence of free will.
  • Hereafters filled with eternal rewards.
  • It’s normal, logical, and even admirable to obsess over power (fear/safety), peer approval (attention), esteem (status), money, and/or religion.
  • War, corruption, greed, pollution, bigotry, racism, famine, economic bubbles, addictions of all kinds, and aberrant behaviors are unavoidable consequences that can be blamed on “the human condition.”
  • Our species will make it through the next decade(s).
  • Individuals who speak out against environmental destruction, war, corporate malfeasance, greed, animal cruelty, or other depressing topics tend to be misguided, hopeless do-gooders, kooks, cranks, malcontents, and/or annoying pessimists.

Examples of easy to dismiss dopamine repellent information:

  • Dopamine repel makes it difficult / impossible for humans to understand that, why, and how dopamine appeal and repel usurp free will.
  • There is only one addiction and it’s to dopamine — power (fear/safety), peer-approval (attention), esteem (status), money, and religion addictions exist and are more common and destructive than all of the acknowledged addictions combined.
  • Power (fear/safety), peer-approval (attention), esteem (status), money, and religion addictions aren’t considered addictions because power, peer-approval, esteem, money, and religion addicts control the institutions that determine what are and aren’t addictions.
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