A wise man, not book smart but a wise man none the less, once told me “when in doubt, throttle…” It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything with any substance, so I figure at this juncture it couldn’t hurt to go straight off the deep end.
Here’s my hypothesis on human relations, hell, make it all animal relations, you could bring the plant kingdom into it but you’d just be anthropomorphizing and quite frankly, that’s way too peanut allergy, vegan, kumbaya for me (remember that rant I promised you?)
“Back-off man, I’m a scientist.”
So, unifying hypothesis, right, I include animals because they have an inherent nature. Please, don’t imagine I am suggesting that they experience human, big brained, cuddly feelings. What I am implying is fundamental to any organism capable of making choices, regardless if those choices are cognizant in the manner we are accustom; what I am implying is that those choices are based on trust.
Recently an article appeared in the New York Times declaring that disgust was the new phenom emotion. Disgust, it seems, has captured the hearts of a number of burgeoning social scientists whom regard it as the long lost, red-headed stepchild emotion. Though neglected for ages in favor of fear and anger, disgust finally seems to be sharing the limelight.
They propose that disgust is an adaptation that protects us from hazards in the environment, whether they be lack of sanitation or inbreeding. I just have to guffaw, I mean who couldn’t spout endless examples to the contrary and only out of tonight’s primetime newscast.
I’m willing to raise the ante. While I’ve witnessed disgust and I’ve even been grossed out myself, I sincerely doubt disgust has a significant evolutionary impact. Let’s ignore outliers, simply google the most disgusting thing you can imagine and I guarantee there is a porn site devoted to it. If there isn’t I seriously suggest you invoke rule #37 of the internet, claim that url and consider yourself retired.
Back to the topic at hand: I was, if I’m not mistaken attempting to single handedly debunk disgust and trump trust as the most evolutionarily (read socially) important emotion. Now, I’m being honest here, this type of discourse could span careers, but for the purposes of this blog, there is too much, I sum up.
Trust is binary, while disgust is a spectrum. You have trust or you don’t, disgust is something you grow out of. Once girls had cooties, now they don’t. Once sex, vaginal, oral, anal was gross, now it’s not. Once your enemy was an equal, now he is a subhuman and to be defiled. Five-second rule, flush with your foot, we all have standards we are willing to cross when the odds are in our favor, but, trust is win or lose, you have it or you don’t. Man, woman. Parent, child. Candidate, constituent. Brother. Friend. People make the most significant mistakes of their relationships, careers and lives, based on false trust. People place their bodies and reputations in harms way daily while repeating the talisman: he really loves me, he wouldn’t hurt me, it’s for my own good, I trust… and often at a substantial loss.
This same principle applied to an animal model: the Laysan albatross for instance, demonstrates the same tendencies. You seem reliable, you come back, you are a provider, I will breed with you is a clear manifestation of trust. While the hen standing on the neck of her expired chick or the juvenile feasting from the decomposing gullet of a deceased neighbor seems to invalidate disgust.
At this point I would forgive you for imagining I was speaking of distrust, as if I had been wronged , harmed and lying wounded. On the contrary trust can be empowering, like nothing else I’ve ever known. Whether faith in a woman or a solid anchor beneath your feet on a necky lead , though I would never confuse the two even if either can lead to your peril. Trust is magical, it requires a faith to be realized and once that faith is lost. like a childhood superpower, it is lost forever.