November 27, 2019
Unscientific American: the hypocritical materialism of Elon Muskby Ballard Quass
how sci-fi nerds ignore the healing power of Mother Nature
Elon Musk, founder of Neuralinks, wants to implant "threads" in our brains so that human beings can be provided with various digital therapies and eventually merge with artificial intelligence. Here is my response:
America is a very unscientific country. When it comes to psychological healing, we are willing to alter the brain by brute force based on a highly debatable materialist premise (namely, in Musk's own words, that we are all "brains in a vat"), yet we entirely outlaw the therapeutic use of naturally growing plants that have been shown to change consciousness for the better and help us appreciate the beauty of the world around us. Thus we rush toward dangerous and highly theoretical fixes while shunning a time-honored solution that grows at our very feet. Why? Because the materialist presumes that we are basically computers ourselves, with no meaningful individuality, being conducive therefore to a one-size-fits-all therapy. We simply need to be programmed with Musk's electrochemical precision, and presto change-o, all will be well.
But this view of humankind already has a body count: it has resulted in the addiction of 1 in 4 American women to massively prescribed antidepressants marketed to America and the world under the materialist presumption that they fixed some chemical imbalance in the human brain, when subsequent research has shown that they create the very imbalance that they claim to fix.
Although Musk's ideas may prove useful for the mechanical control of objects by invalids, his broader ideas about human-machine symbiosis are chilling, insofar as they promote machine-like efficiency as the ultimate good in life, not even acknowledging the ability of plants to foster new, exciting ways of thinking and improved mental function, as if the only way to increase our brain power is to turn ourselves into computers. He is apparently unaware of the many psychological breakthroughs wrought by the shamanic use of nature's psychoactive plants. But his proposed blunt-force therapy is the logical absurd result of a materialist credo that embraces Christian Science by scorning Mother Nature's pharmacy, albeit due to a contempt for nature and human consciousness rather than any belief in God.
If Musk believes in helping the depressed and psychologically challenged, he should stop being a hypocrite and promote the therapeutic use of the LSD that he himself uses - a therapy that was all but curing alcoholics in the '50s before it was outlawed by Richard Nixon - rather than hypocritically advocating inherently dangerous brain surgery for the rest of us while he explores and expands his own mind with the proven help of psychedelics.
There would be no market for Musk's sci-fi moonshine if we lived in a world where Mother Nature had not been criminalized. In that case, people would grow in intelligence with the help of therapeutic plants and therefore view Musk's proposed clumsy physical invasion of the brain with the horror that it calls for. There would be no need for shock therapy either, for that matter, since most of the so-called hopeless cases that undergo that brutal materialist treatment could have found a degree of peace from an informed use of some of the many psychoactive plants that unscientific America has decided to villainize and outlaw.
Besides, why should we seek mental health from a nihilist like Elon, someone who is philosophically obliged to believe that the Civil Rights Movement was just a dream that was somehow implanted in our gullible brains?
Of course, if you agree with Elon that you really are a brain in a vat, by all means, volunteer for his brain surgery; but as for those of us who are so old fashioned as to think that we actually exist as distinct human beings, let's continue to push for the legalization of plants and fungi that will connect us with the world and with ourselves - rather than with the cold, hard silicon of super computers.
AFTERTHOUGHT: When studying philosophy at university in the 1980s, I would often hear the "brain in a vat" analogy brought out to spur argument and discussion, but I never heard it advanced as a bold-faced theory, much less something that was taken for granted. This shows just how far the materialist mind set has come in dominating science, that Elon Musk can seriously state, in passing, that we are all "brains in a vat" -- as if this were now an obvious fact established beyond all possibility of doubt. Once upon a time, he would have been laughed out of the public limelight for such a non-intuitive and sci-fi addled view. (Elon is one of those materialists who have forgotten that "The Matrix" is really just a movie.)
But then materialism needs no proof. They rely on faith. If there's no evidence of incremental Darwinism, they have faith that it's out there. If there's no evidence of life on other planets, they have faith that it's out there. And if there's no evidence of consciousness residing in the brain, they have faith that it's in there, somewhere. Don't ask them where. For them, the materialist assumption comes first and trumps the need for proof. And so they feel free to ignore the evidence for other theories of mind, the same way that they ignore the lack of evidence for their own.