darwin I concluded my essay on SARS (no, I won’t put the acronym in small letters) with a quote from economist Peter Jay: “Darwin always wins in the end.” Three recent news items have caused me to realize just how true that statement is:

  • The Purpose of Dreams: Rayne has been posting about Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams and asking for alternative theories to his “crap”. I’d never miss an opportunity to criticize psychologists. The most plausible explanation to me is that since all animals (even amphibians) have been shown to dream, the purpose of dreams is to imagine alternative scenarios. Any creature that dreams of other ways to handle a particular situation (and most dreams seem to be conceivable variations of potential real-life experiences, rather than pure fantasy) has a stronger arsenal for dealing with that situation if/when it occurs in real life. Hence I’d hypothesize that dreamers should tend to out-survive non-dreamers, and that’s why there’s so many of us around. This is, I’d guess, especially true of artists.
  • The Purpose of Pain: A group of British wacko scientists has been torturing fish to find out if they feel pain, and to no one’s surprise concluded they do. Nevertheless, one small group (presumably creationist psychologists) continues to believe that animals other than humans cannot feel pain because they aren’t intelligent enough. Can educated people really be this dumb? Isn’t it obvious that the purpose of pain is to discourage repeat of the activity that led to it, in the Darwinian interest of survival? Really, I think we need to experiment on this nut group to see if they’re intelligent enough to feel pain. 
  • Why is Sex Fun?: Somewhere in my readings I ran into a book with this title. I haven’t read it so I don’t know the answer (though if it’s written by psychologists, reading it probably wouldn’t help). But my instinctive answer would be that this, too, is Darwinian. If something is fun, you want to do it more often, and having sex more often would therefore tend to aid survival of the species. If you’re severely stressed and it isn’t fun, the cessation of sex under those circumstances would also seem Darwinian. Of course there’s always the Klingon alternative of having sex as an irresistable but excruciating imperative. But I think nature has a better sense of humour than that.

Psychologist readers, I’m just kidding in my jabs. Some of my best friends are psychologists, really. I’m an accountant, and turnabout’s fair play, so feel free to respond in kind. (How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb? None, the lightbulb has to really want to change.)

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  1. Marie Foster says:

    Interesting. I have felt that dreams are ways that our brains forge new pathways to our better understanding of our troubles. (It seems that trouble motivates more than joy for some reason.)Example. For a long time I had this running nightmare. In it I was being pursued by some unnamed threat. I kept trying to get the police to come by phoning them. Each time I would try to dial something would happen to the phone. Maybe the dial would dissolve or I would concentrate on pressing the numbers but on the last one make a mistake.As you might imagine this dream was pretty disturbing in that I would not wake but cycle it over and over.I was talking to a friend and she said it sounded to her like I have some concerns about my ability to communicate with someone important. And ‘bingo’ that was it exactly.I needed to back track and work out some communication problems I was having with several significant others at the time. But I did not even need to do the actual work for the nightmares to end. Once I had realized the problem they ceased.As for sex, it does not have to be fun. It just has to be compelling. heh.

  2. Charly Z says:

    No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.— Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

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