A while back, I wondered aloud on the Discord about the massive pit bull signalling.
Dude, the signalling on pit bulls is so intense it’s making me question my racism. Maybe it’s not so much about genociding white people as putting your head in a lion’s mouth to prove that heaven is already here and the lion lays down with the lamb.
Thankfully, a quick trip into the land of behavioral economics has solved my brush with non-racist normieness. (*Ding* Oh awesome, tendies are done…)
Wanting versus Liking
• Research on the association between dopamine and reward has led to a general conception that dopamine is the “pleasure chemical” in the brain. But does the activity of dopamine neurons really correspond to pleasure?
• Facial expressions associated with pleasure and with aversion are similar in rats, monkeys, humans, and many other mammals. Psychologist Kent Berridge and colleagues realized that they could rely on facial expressions to assess whether a rat found some juice pleasant or unpleasant. So, they ran the critical test to evaluate where dopamine neurons were associated with pleasure.
• They used a very selective neurotoxin that lesioned, or selectively damaged, neurons in part of the dopamine system in their rats. Without those neurons in good working function, the rats became aphagic, meaning that they wouldn’t eat. More specifcally, they wouldn’t exert any effort to obtain food or even juice, even if they were hungry or thirsty. Without an intact dopamine system, these rats no longer wanted rewards like food or juice.
• However, they would still eat or drink if the food or juice was placed into their mouth.
Behavioral Economics guidebook
This may remind you of the autistic-like final generation of mouse utopia.
Reduction of bodily death (i.e. ‘the second death’) culminates in survival of an excessive number of individuals that have developed the potentiality for occupying the social roles characteristic of the species. Within a few generations all such roles in all physical space available to the species are filled. At this time, the continuing high survival of many individuals to sexual and behavioural maturity culminates in the presence of many young adults capable of involvement in appropriate species-specific activities. However, there are few opportunities for fulfilling these potentialities. In seeking such fulfilment they compete for social role occupancy with the older established members of the community. This competition is so severe that it simultaneously leads to the nearly total breakdown of all normal behaviour by both the contestors and the established adults of both sexes. Normal social organization (i.e. ‘the establishment’) breaks down, it ‘dies’.
Young born during such social dissolution are rejected by their mothers and other adult associates. This early failure of social bonding becomes compounded by interruption of action cycles due to the mechanical interference resulting from the high contact rate among individuals living in a high density population. High contact rate further fragments behaviour as a result of the stochastics of social interactions which demand that, in order to maximize gratification from social interaction, intensity and duration of social interaction must be reduced in proportion to the degree that the group size exceeds the optimum. Autistic-like creatures, capable only of the most simple behaviours compatible with physiological survival, emerge out of this process. Their spirit has died (‘the first death’). They are no longer capable of executing the more complex behaviours compatible with species survival. The species in such settings die.
So now we understand where NEETs come from. Returning to behavioral economics…
When these rats with damaged dopamine systems received something pleasurable, like sugar water, they leaned forward, made a round mouth, and licked their face and paws—exactly like neurologically normal rats. In other words, they liked sugar water.
• When the aphagic rats received a bitter solution, like lithium water, they gaped their mouth, protruded their tongue, and shook their head—again, exactly like neurologically normal rats. They disliked the bitter solution.
• So, if part of a rat’s dopamine system is disabled, it will not walk across its cage to consume food, but it still shows normal hedonic responses to pleasant and unpleasant stimuli. These results are compelling evidence that dopamine neurons are not associated with experiences of pleasure, or liking, but for motivating animals to seek out rewards—what researchers call wanting.
• What causes liking, if not dopamine? Current research suggests that feelings of liking are associated with the activity of a different sort of neuron—one that uses opioids as neurotransmitters—but there’s much more to be learned. Parkinson’s and Pathological Gambling
• Parkinson’s disease is associated with the death of dopamine neurons. As the disease progresses—and more and more of those dopamine neurons die—it impairs movement, disrupts balance, and causes motor tremors. Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, but its symptoms can be alleviated by drugs that replenish the brain’s supply of dopamine and intensify the effects of dopamine in the brain.
• Based on the properties of dopamine neurons, side effects of those drugs might include amplifying the inﬂuence of unexpected changes in reward and increasing wanting, or reward-seeking behavior. If you have these two side effects, probably the worst place for you to go would be a casino.
• By the late 1990s, some neurologists were noticing that a few Parkinson’s patients were also exhibiting uncontrollable pathological gambling; they would regularly go to casinos and spend much more than they should. But there wasn’t any sort of general appreciation of this link. Many clinicians still thought of Parkinson’s as a movement disorder and didn’t appreciate the connections between dopamine and reward.
• However, in 2003, researchers at the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Research Center in Arizona conducted a comprehensive study and discovered that those patients who had been treated with the particular drugs that intensify the effects of dopamine had a greatly elevated rate of pathological gambling.
• Since this research, neurologists now recognize that some medications for Parkinson’s disease can increase the risk of problem gambling, so they warn their patients of those risks and watch for signs of gambling or other compulsive behaviors.
This explains why people are risking attacks on their children by traumatized pit bulls. It’s because they started out as virtue signallers, taking small risks but generally escaping catastrophic consequences (usually by externalizing them), but with greater and greater dopamine overexposure they’ve become pathological gamblers who are all desire and behavior and no longer capable of taking pleasure in the ding an sich. Almost makes you sorry for them. Almost.
This may be what Mary Shelley was intuiting when she wrote:
A human being in perfection ought always to preserve a calm and peaceful mind and never to allow passion or a transitory desire to disturb his tranquillity. I do not think that the pursuit of knowledge is an exception to this rule. If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind. If this rule were always observed; if no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquillity of his domestic affections, Greece had not been enslaved, Cæsar would have spared his country, America would have been discovered more gradually, and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed.
or, the Modern Prometheus
End of chapter 4
Curious then, that the doctor was warning us about hubris.
Anyway, what I’m getting at here is that the underlying mechanic of mouse utopia is probably the division of pleasure and motivation into two classes: one of hedonic aphagia and the other of anhedonic hyperphagia (that is, mass despair and ennui).