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Monday, December 07, 2015

The EU and low-energy voters

We all seem to have a collection of comfort zones where experiences are aligned not with the real world but with one of our comfort zones. A comfort zone is where we go for our opinions, our world view and our personal philosophy. It is much easier than brain work, just ask a Cabinet Minister.

There are political zones, religious zones, family zones, comedy zones, sport zones, pub zones, employment zones, book zones, environment zones, music zones, art zones, blog zones and so on and so on. There are even imaginary comfort zones reserved for other people such as enemy zones, often populated with imaginary people.

All these zones offer the subtle and strongly addictive comforts of low-energy thinking. In return we give our allegiance to the zone together with its myths, stories, truths, lies, language, social benefits and important ambiguities. In real life nobody actually has to do much brain work – it isn’t compulsory. We all have the low-energy option of comfort zones.

If answers have already been supplied and accepted into a comfort zone then not thinking is more efficient than thinking. This is how we would expect our brains to work, efficiently. Brain work is work, the energy has to come from somewhere. From a survival point of view we would expect our brains to use as little energy as possible consistent with survival. This is how the natural world works, through the path of least energy.

A great deal of human thought may be drivel, but if it is low energy drivel, does not threaten survival and attracts a socially significant consensus then the net survival effect may be strongly positive. Consensus promotes social cohesion which in turn promotes survival.

So we may worship the most ludicrous gods, but if doing so promotes social cohesion then the overall survival effect may be positive. In which case it pays to worship the gods and explain the natural world through their supposed actions. Even the most abject drivel can be socially effective by creating and maintaining social bonds. 

Our leaders have always understood the value of low-energy drivel designed to appeal to low-energy voters. The pro-EU campaign for the UK’s forthcoming referendum will rely on herding low-energy voters into what the EU has become, a low-energy comfort zone. There is no real defence against it either. The low-energy voter was bound to be the Achilles' heel of democracy.


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