Everything you might think you think about the human response to apocalyptic times is wrong (and, in other content, some new-ish music)

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Contents:

  1. A piece I originally wrote for a panel appearance* at the wonderful Long Room Hub at Trinity College Dublin online public series: Rethinking Democracy in an Age of Pandemic. I argue that Cormac McCarthy’s tragic view of humanity is utterly at variance with everything we know about human behaviour, because of the hyper-social niche we occupy; other musings are on how our everyday life has changed for better and worse because of the pandemic. Watch here; listen here.
  2. Music – a collaboration I recently discovered between Young Fathers and Massive Attack (I know – wayyyy late – but hey!)

Everything you might think you think about the human response to apocalyptic times might be wrong

Thank you for the invitation to speak at this great series. It’s very important to maintain this contact between each other during these times – the communal contact that forms the glue of our everyday social lives, especially in this time of pandemic and social distancing.

This latter phrase is, of course, a misnomer, as this series of talks proves – we are maintaining spatial distance, not social distance, in our everyday lives. We still want – indeed – must – connect with each other. Hence the sudden rise of social media in our lives: it’s hard to think back to a time when Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Zoom, and all the rest, didn’t exist – so transformational are they, and so easily incorporated into our everyday lives. This begs the question of why we so quickly and easily use these social media, despite all the scare stories, into our lives?

And the answer from evolutionary biology, from neuroscience, from psychology, is straightforward…

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Author: Shane O'Mara

Neuroscientist

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