Category Archives: Acceleritis

Multitasking Increases Short-term Brain Fun at Expense of Long-term

Volume 3, Issue 13

Speaking at the recent Wharton Advertising 2020 Conference in New York (where I also had the honor of being one of the speakers), neuroscientist Carl Marci used his closed fist to illustrate the brain. He described the fingers, curved under to touch the palm, as the brain’s newest evolutionary part, the prefrontal cortex. He noted that this latest brain development curls back to reach for and touch the much older limbic system, the seat of motivation and emotion.

His interpretation of what the DNA is looking for in doing this, is that the service of the most intellectual part of the brain seeks contact with the primal driving forces that are the seat of the goals in the goal-seeking organism. As if the power of mind exists — like every other part of the organism — to serve the highest ends of the DNA coding the system.

It is all highly purposive and this interpretation lends greater respectability to the primal drives that for centuries have been characterized as “lower” aspects of our being. This also gets back to Freud’s depiction of the id as being the animalistic and gross, babyish and least acclaimed part of our selves. In an earlier posting I offered an alternative view of the id as being our true selves, our original essence divorced from the later layering of experience-driven neuronal nets of software that expand the true self into new territory, some of it counterproductive.

Carl went on to spellbind us with an outpouring of ideas, one of which is that multitasking is so popular especially among Millennials because it gives them a jolt of pleasurable brain chemicals (presumably oxytocin or adenosine, or serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, etc.) by maintaining novelty-driven attention on something again and again by adding in another element whenever boredom sets in, which it all too easily does.

This jibes with my theory that the Acceleritis-ridden culture shifts us into avoidance of going deeper into percepts. Due to the overwhelming daunting list of questions arising in our brains from all this stimulation, which one subconsciously wants to avoid opening like a Pandora’s Box. This avoidance of the deep makes us lovers of the breadth – seeking more brain-juice cocktails by taking the overdose of stimulation even further.

However, as Carl noted, we are less effective when multitasking. Single-pointed attention is the way to Flow state/the Zone. This means that the seeking of momentary brain pleasure actually works against the organism attaining the goals of its heart. In the long run this reduces brain pleasure more profoundly and in a more lasting way. Borrowing on the credit card of brain-juice by multitasking burns your credit in the end.

Best to all,

Bill

NOTE:  Learn more about dopamine in this article.

Heroes Outnumber Emotionally-Damaged Evildoers

Volume 2, Issue 18

What is it about the beautiful state of Colorado that explains first Columbine and now Aurora? The cowboys and today’s anarchistic militias, fiercely independent, have been associated with the Western frontier that started over 400 years ago in New England and then rolled out across the Rockies to the Pacific shore. Maybe that has something to do with it. Deep sigh.

As always, the tragedy contains a deeply buried profound mystery. How is it that ordinary people turn out to be real heroes when the going gets tough? What are we all made of inside that causes so many of us to unhesitatingly step in front of the bullet to save others?

In my intuitive cosmogony (to be released as a book later this year, entitled Imagine) it is the fact that you and I, all of us, are not who we think we are — separate entities cut off from everything else in the universe, out for ourselves. We are like pseudopods of a giant amoeba of consciousness that is the Universe, itself conscious and divine. Living through each of us is the One Divine Original Consciousness, which is the only thing that exists. What we take to be our own island of consciousness is actually the Universe’s local consciousness cache, temporarily cut off from the consciousness of the whole, for the never-ending adventure of existence.

Why then does the Universe turn bad, becoming so negative in one such pseudopod as to want to destroy complete strangers?

It comes with the territory — where there is free will, there will be error. The Jewish esoteric philosophy of Kabbalah explains that sin, aka evil, is missing the mark. The “mark” is right action for the circumstances. The insight is that no one purposely misses the mark — they are self-deluded into missing the mark.

Acceleritis has been around for as long as the human race has recorded history. According to my theory, the written language (seeable symbolic abstraction) that permits recording history is itself the primal cause of Acceleritis. My colleague Dr. Phillip Romero sets the start of human abstraction 35,000 – 40,000 years earlier than written language, in the cave paintings — when art began — although he does not assert that Acceleritis began with art.

It is Acceleritis that causes error (sin, evil) to be so remarkably widespread, and makes so many people capable of killing wantonly. And yet such people are a miniscule fraction of the human race, and most of us are as heroic as the heroes that populate our movies, TV dramas, and novels.

In the decades and centuries to come, it is my dream that we will conquer Acceleritis by training our minds to deal with the attachment, false ego selves, and emotionally-charged information overload that causes even such a small fraction of us to go so bad as to generate widespread suffering.

May it be so.

Best to all,

Bill 

Being Amused by the Accelereality Comedy of Errors

Volume 2, Issue 12

Have you experienced being in a meeting where someone shoots down your idea dismissively and then presents a longwindedly crude expression of the same idea, without seeing that it is the same idea?

Have you pitched something to a company that is so clearly what they need, and then have them take a pass based on the strength of frozen ritual processes that no one believes can ever be changed?

Impossibility thinking, dream state management, “Earth must be God’s sitcom channel”, and other amusingly cynical thoughts pass through my head as I encounter these events daily. Still, I remain ever hopeful that in time the race will learn to use its prefrontal cortex, and see how the psychotechnology techniques such as those of the Human Effectiveness Institute do push back against the tide of information overload, i.e. Acceleritis, which causes the pandemic EOP (Emergency Oversimplification Procedure) exhibited in these funny behaviors.

It’s healthy and pragmatically useful to take these things as amusing rather than become frustrated by them since that negative emotion brings us down to the EOP level. If Observer state and Flow state are the objective and the answer, then the sense of humor is a major ally in the game. Humor and perspective are closely related, which is why comedians are actually philosopher/poets who express profound truths in an artistic and therefore pleasantly diverting form that cleanses the emotions of negativity or sublimates the negativity to a less harmful species of it.

The prefrontal cortex is a radical evolution. Once it was empowered by seeable (written) language starting about 6000 years ago — a mere eyeblink in human history — this triggered an acceleration process that manifests as a fall from grace, a submersion in self-dwarfing pettyism, a loss of the sense of connectedness to divinity and our numinous birthright. Acceleritis as we call it. Written 2190-2070 BC, much earlier in the accelerating information overload period we are still living in, the Lamentations of Ipou-our recall the spiritual culture that Egypt had already lost by that time.

Prior to the discovery of the first Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, the Nag Hammadi library was found in Upper Egypt in 1945. Whereas the Dead Sea Scrolls appear to be early drafts of the Old Testament, the Nag Hammadi scrolls contain what appear to be early drafts of the New Testament. One muses that the wars perennially fought over the Holy Land might have something to do with the findings of these materials — which cast such revealing light on our early Western spiritual beginnings. Not exactly a grail, the scrolls near Nag Hammadi were found in a large jar. The aspect I find particularly interesting about them is the many writers who groped to explain why, if there is God, the world has gone so wrong. These explanations are all variations on a theme of error-ridden/evil early offspring of the original Spirit creator, bad demiurge gods/archons aka the Devil. The early Christian church edited out these heresies (while retaining Satan) probably wisely as they are so negative and paranoia inducing. Also, the far simpler and perhaps more logical explanation is information overload and the time it takes for information-processing beings to learn to manage their own internal resources after such a powerful mutation (evolution of the prefrontal cortex) and its cascading effects.

The most important work each of us does is the work we do on ourselves, which the Human Effectiveness Institute calls psychotechnology — the broader field containing Buddhism, psychoanalysis, Zen, and a host of other specific methodologies springing up in different regions of the world. Psychotechnology is what propels us out of the Acceleritis-driven EOP state. Many of us, with the coming of maturity, reach a permanent equilibrium in the Observer state that allows us to laugh at ourselves and to appreciate the humor in the challenging, maddening conditions of our historical period. Jews call this being a mensch. This is definitely a hopeful sign, of which many abound all around us. Perhaps in a millennium or two, we will emerge from Acceleritis on a global basis — or maybe we are even closer. What can we do to (at least begin to) make it happen in our own time?

Best to all,

Bill

The Eternal Fight over The Holy Land

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Unlimited Productions, Inc.

DESTINY’S CHILDREN

Pilot Concept for a Television Drama Series
 

Students of many nationalities at the United Nations International School (UNIS) in Manhattan are concerned about the Israel-Palestine crisis. They find themselves forming a group to do something about it.

Arguments break out about what they can do, and what the solution is. The Iraqi boy has very different ideas from the Israeli girl, who although at odds are attracted to each other. The other kids, American, Russian, French, Israeli, Arab, and so on, all have their own perspectives.  

Interacting with UN officials and their parents who are in some cases UN diplomats, they evolve a step-by-step plan for averting what they see as the dominos leading to a possible world war. The plan all of them finally agree upon: the desired Palestinian state will come into existence under UN administration. UN peace zones have never failed*. Israel’s main concern about a secure strategically defensible border would be seemingly solved. There could be a long-range anticipation that one day perhaps the UN would leave the nation to its autonomy once the world was convinced of its maturity to handle that autonomy peaceably.

The Iraqi boy and the Israeli girl are now on the same side, and they become an item.

The kids distribute a paper about their plan at the UN but nothing changes, and in the kids’ minds they see a probable military powder keg explosion looming. A number of UN delegates explain to them the flaws in their plan and why it will never work, but other UN delegates encourage them and give them suggestions.

A few of them get interviewed on a television talk show and the next day their ideas are debated in the Security Council and in the General Assembly. The students are elated and inspired and decide that to continue to have an effect they should create their own weekly television series, THE KIDS’ UN. An interactive show utilizing social media in which kids can participate from around the world — with webcams even, and with the kernel of the show being a drama series about kids putting on a show like this.

As they struggle with starting a production with almost no money, and they and their families feel that the probability of a world war continues to mount, some of the kids come under family pressure because of differing ideas and the possibility of political reprisals. This tears apart the romance of the Iraqi boy and the Israeli girl.

The students put a rough pilot together and play it for key diplomats and video their reactions, hoping they will hear support. But the opposite happens. They meet objections for which they have no answers.

Mulling it all over afterward they strike on answers. The main objection is that “it’s not a brilliant new proposal: it’s been suggested many times before.” It would therefore need a twist to get attention, someone had said.

And so they change their plan: they will propose to rename the contested territories that the Palestinians want as their own state: “The First World State of Palestine”.

People around the world who believe in the idea of One World, will be asked to help make that idea a reality, by visiting The First World State of Palestine at least once a year. If they do so they get to carry a second passport as citizens of Earth. They need to revisit the First World State once a year to maintain this passport.

One of the students makes a guess at the tourism revenues that would be added to the region: if only ten percent of the people in the world today believe in the idea of One World, that’s 500 million people. If only one in five of them can afford to fly over each year and spend only $1000 each, that’s a hundred billion dollars a year. Surely a stabilizing boon to the region’s economy.

And with Israel replaced by the UN as caretaker in Palestine, the area would once again be safe for tourists. Once in the region, people would visit The Pyramids, Israel, and other places as well as Palestine. Other destinations in the region would begin advertising themselves…

The fiery debates between the Iraqi boy and Israeli girl in the kids’ councils are what gave rise to the First World State idea. The two are brought back together by it.

_____________________________________________________________ 

Just retrieved the above from the archives. It was written in 1990.

Back then my contact at the UN was George LeClere, the media director, who liked the First World State idea. He put me in touch with the Israeli Foreign Ministry Undersecretary and with Palestinian Observer Zehdi Terzi. I met with Mr. Terzi in the UN Plaza Hotel, and he felt the idea was worth considering, especially after I showed him the encouraging letter from the Israeli Undersecretary. Later Mr. Terzi reported that Yasser Arafat had liked the idea too and was willing to go on TV saying as much. George LeClere offered me the UN video facilities to produce a talk special on this subject with all the key players. At the time we both imagined we could get Dick Cavett to be the host.

Jimmy Carter sent me a second handwritten note, this time saying that the peace talks had to be started ‘without crippling preconditions’. In the context, I took it he was saying to hold off on airing any idea. We followed his guidance. We shelved the TV show idea.

Before closing the door on the idea, we penned Destiny’s Children (the start of this post) as a fictional TV drama series, on the premise that it wouldn’t have the same negative effect Carter advised against. We never sent it to anyone, feeling that I was just rationalizing by thinking fiction could be less dangerous than nonfiction.

Now, 21 years later, we and the world are back in the same mess again in the Holy Land. The Palestinians are asking the UN for recognition as a nation, and the expectation is that they will drag Israel into a war crimes tribunal if they are granted statehood. This is ironic in the extreme since as recently as October 1, 2011 Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said “Palestinians must resort to resistance no matter how costly it is, until Palestine is free and Israel is destroyed.” Speaking at the same conference in Tehran, Iran supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the Palestinians should not limit themselves to seeking a country based on the pre-1967 borders because “all land belongs to Palestinians.” These are the people contemplating accusing others of war crimes while they plot the destruction of another nation.

One precondition that the UN should institutionalize for recognition of any new nation is that it officially accepts the existence of all states currently recognized by the UN and will not be an aggressor state against any UN member states. This would symmetrically establish that Palestine cannot become a nation without agreeing that its neighbor Israel has a right to exist there. And as a provision its inherent fairness is obvious. “We’ll recognize your right to exist, if you’ll recognize our right to exist.”

Maybe bringing up a crazy idea like the First World State can at least jog Acceleritis-paralyzed minds into some better-informed or out-of-the-box thinking than I can produce right now. Even if the FWS idea itself is a non-starter for some reason. I conjecture that my esteemed readership contains the top percentile of out-of-the-box thinkers of any media audience. If anyone can think up an idea worth considering it is one or all of you.

Let’s hope so.

Best to all,

Bill

* After this TV treatment was written in 1990, UN peace zones were perceived failures in Rwanda and in Lebanon.

The Acceleritis™ Theory

My studies have led to this theory I’d like to share with you. Like all theories it sprang into being to answer some question. In this case the question was, “How is it that the human race has managed to bungle things to quite this degree?”

In short, my theory is that it’s Acceleritis™ — a pandemic shock reaction to information overload.

For years we media researchers have been estimating how many ads a person sees in a given day. Ed Papazian did it and so did I. Not hard, given that monitoring and rating services provide benchmarks for making macro estimates.

I added the notion of estimating the other events impinging on consciousness in everyman’s and everywoman’s typical day. There I used a reducing rule (for ads too), that to qualify as experiential, the event would have to be consciously noticed by consciousness. This can be measured by EEG P300 waves — the brain signature for noticing that some sensory information differs from expectation. The challenging ethnographic research is yet to be done (and can never measure the past), but some preliminary estimates have been made.

Imagine being a shepherd a mere 400 years ago. The P300 waves you would normally get in a day would be centered around human interactions, and even those would tend to be predictable, and so you could go through quite a few human interactions with familiar people without any P300 waves. Sometimes animal life, the weather, plant life, the stars and moon would do unpredictable things, though less often than people are unpredictable. Rarely, there would be something truly extraordinary like a plague or an invasion that would give you a huge spike in P300 waves.

Making assumptions such as these we began to cautiously construct the graph below. The numbers are undoubtedly wrong but are probably directionally right.

With the vertical scale having to deal in large numbers because of the recent past, the small numbers of daily P300s is so low that it’s hard to see a line until after the printing press. As the population makes a startling shift to big cities in the first half of the 20th Century, and as cinema, radio, newspapers, magazines, and outdoor signs proliferate, the rate goes up to est. 3000 noticed events per day by 1950. Something like 500 of these being ads. Another 1500 or so being evoked by media program/editorial portions — mostly radio and print at that time.

From 1950-1990 TV, with its dominance of nonworking awake time, brings the pressure up to est. 15,000. From 1990-2010 the ubiquitous Internet and Mobile, plus the cultural shift to multitasking, raises it to an est. 40,000.

This is 1000X higher than when we started "texting" only 6000 years ago. Prior to text (written language) our oral-only language was a powerful communication tool, allowing us to cooperate in the hunt to become initially successful as a warrior race (at war initially with predators), and to cooperate in tool development. Written language then moved language into the visual sense, which happens to be the dominant sense of all primates including the apes and us. This effectively kicked off Acceleritis.

In the last 6000 years — a mere 300 generations — we have been inventing things at an accelerated rate, and these things now change society more than once a year — sometimes it feels like once a day, and it seems to be headed there.

This is why I consider psychotechnology, which prepares people with techniques to stay focused through complexity, to be so important.

All the best, Bill

Estimates of Noticed Events