Friday, August 7, 2020

Now For Some Neuro-Babble: "Teens Ignore Covid Restrictions Because Their Brains Are On A Dopamine High"

"Gimme da dopamine so I can ignore da mask orders!"

"I'm pretty much fighting two wars. A war against Covid and a war against stupidity.  The problem is the first one I have some hope about winning. But the second is becoming more difficult to treat.  Why do I say that?  Because people are not listening.   Whether backed up by science or plain common sense, people are not listening - throughout the country. 

I've been in every possible catastrophe you can imagine, from tsunamis to earthquakes and by far this is the worst. This is the worst because it is a continuous catastrophe.  The thing that annoys me the most is we keep on doing our best to save all these people and then you get another batch of people who are doing exactly the opposite of what you're telling them not to do. - Dr. Joseph Varon, Chief Medical Officer, United Memorial Medical Center, Houston, Texas

"There are all these night club scenes like pop ups that people find out about on instagram. And then they go and party. No masks, lots of booze, everybody having lots of fun. We're seeing this thing everywhere across America. And you can't stop a pandemic if you can't stop that kind of activity."  Laurie Garret, on All In, Tuesday night.

The Wednesday headline on page 5A of The Denver Post appeared two days before the new projection of 300,000 dead from the virus by December. Impossible? No!  Too many millions are still not taking the Covid virus restrictions seriously. Even to the point of some of the rebel lunatics making threats on medical experts' lives,  causing nearly 11 to resign already in as many states.  This has elicited an impatience and even outrage at the level of utter selfishness  and colossal stupidity - as reflected in the words of Dr. Joseph Varon.  As well as medical journalist Laurie Garret (appearing on All In Tuesday night)

In the case of the Post article, the refrain of the medical experts watching this national stupidity take hold -  like a mind virus - is that we know damned well what works.  It is social distancing, mask wearing and lockdowns - if need be - especially when there is a surge and there is no vaccine as yet.   This is not rocket science.  Yet, because of the lack of a coordinated national response, where 2 in 5  'Muricans believe the thing is a hoax or "plandemic", we can't get it under control to the point of really opening the economy - or our schools.  In the words of Rachel Maddow Tuesday night:

"This is not rocket science. Without a cure the only interventions we have are these simple, dumb hard things that we fight over.  Masks, and social distance and keeping schools closed and keeping work places closed and having rules about gatherings. That's what we've got.  You do the things that work and when your numbers show the new  things you're trying don't work you stop trying them,"

Then add to that new memetic horse shit finding it's way into print or on the tube.  Balderdash such as spouted in today's WSJ by the clown Bobby Jindal ('The Biden Bait -and-Switch', p. A13), e.g.:

"Mr. Biden, liberal activists and the media are holding the country hostage, threatening voters with exhausting crises, refusing to reopen schools and the economy..."

Let's face it, only a total idiot could write such claptrap.  And just when you thought the excuses for ignoring  Covid-based restrictions couldn't get much more lame, we beheld this WSJ article entitled:  'Why Some Teens Ignore Coronavirus Restrictions' (Aug, 4, p., A9).  The gist of it is that we are wasting time, and doing much harm, by shaming or getting after party - obsessed teens in the Covid era. 'Let them do their own thing!' is the new refrain. Oh, and besides there's the dopamine, which "peaks in adolescents".  Therefore, it "drives them to value immediate gratification over future gains, which can lead to risky decisions."
Hence:  "Motivation is influenced by rewards like novelty, thrills and the presence of peers.  As a result, something that hits multiple buttons can be particularly enticing - such as the opportunity to attend a party that will be viewed on social media."   
Or, launching a Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group, i.e. '“Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens”   in which some of the most despicable and degenerate dopamine-aroused brain expulsions ever  to see the light of day appeared.  The debased antics were first reported by the Harvard  Crimson  and included:
"students sending each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups. One called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child “piñata time.
 "After discovering the existence and contents of the chat, Harvard administrators revoked admissions offers to at least ten participants "

Clearly  the brain -dictated, dopamine choice turned out to be risky indeed.  Yet not all the prospective Harvard students were in thrall to their dopamine cravings-  which one researcher actually compared to  (WSJ, ibid.) "how a starving person craves food."    For example, then incoming freshman Jessica Zhang.  She initially  joined both chats and liked the original group because the shared messages were "mostly lighthearted",  but she bailed from the split off gr0up which wallowed in hate and mockery.  So did  Cassandra Luca,  who joined the first meme group but not the second, after seeing the garbage spewed.   Like Zhang, her offer was not revoked.
What likely set Luca's alarm bells sounding  is when the founders of the “dark” group demanded students post "provocative" (e.g. execrable) memes in the first group before being allowed to join the second.  This was too much for Ms. Luca, to her credit, and perhaps her upbringing which allowed her to transcend her brain's dopamine imperative.
Of course, on the scale of repercussions from bad decisions (due to overload of dopamine in the brain) the loss of a Harvard admission is nothing compared to the loss of a life. Say arising when teens - instead of sharing debased memes -share coronavirus particles instead.  This, whether from being in party crowds without masks, or without social distancing, or worse, kissing up strangers.  That is like playing Covid roulette and while it may seem like sport at the moment, it won't be if you find yourself on a dialysis machine -- because your kidneys failed as the virus attacked them.
When I consulted my psychology postdoc niece Shayl about this dopamine-brain explanation and the related WSJ piece,  she shrugged, and said:
"Well, it's basically what you would call 'codswallop'.  Look at those Harvard teens that didn't go the route of joining the horrible meme group. They clearly exerted control of their dopamine drives and brain "mandates"  and weren't booted from Harvard. If they could do that one could argue any teen could, given the right guidance."
Indeed, and in the same WSJ piece one finds (at the very end) one Ruben Valera, a med student at Tufts University who has not been tempted to break Covid restrictions "because if all the information he reads about Covid 19".    He also believes other young adults would behave more like him "if they had better guidance and information."
Also, to his credit, "while he agrees there is a biological drive toward socialization in people his age, he can't see it as a valid argument."
So the question becomes:  What's left when powerful arguments or pleas (like Dr. Joseph Varon's) no longer work? Well, in that case the evident solution to lower the stupidity levels is to cut power and water to the offending residences where party crowds gather - as LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has vowed to do, e.g.

Something serious, with enforcement potential and sanction, needs to be done to get people's behavior re-oriented to the crisis we're in.  If they won't do it themselves then external means need to be applied.

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