[Housekeeping]What Will We Become

Updated 11/19/19

Notes and Reflections after interviewing with John Richardson: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JCuPEiGJ25AaEJ_EM_dNW7tJDqNM-fawWcgsDUysiAo/edit?usp=sharing

After interviewing, the image of “the sick animals” got stuck in my head so I made a sketch.

Human: The Sick Animal

Then I started to think,  since “technology mediates the power that set the boundary of our social and psychological dimensions that enclose us”, how recent technological mediation change this sketch?

I think that Internet, internet of things, smart device, smart feeds with machine learning algorithm and global politics  …. all these things make the chains less visible but more standardized and more omnipresent.

A modified Sketch:

Human: The Sick Animal living under the bounds of technology-mediated power


I continued to modify the sketch to brainstorm about how these invisible mediated chains manifest in our life.

Human: The Sick Animal living under the bounds of technology-mediated and dopamine-packaged power

We are bound to live in a boundary of  “normality”. It is a price to pay for order and civilization.  But what is concerning and what I really care is how the bounding box for normality manifests itself in a more and more invisible yet more violent way. They are technology-mediated, dopamine-packaged, and hard to resist.

The sick animal with invisible bounding lines

I felt that my sketch couldn’t really reflect my visual of “the sick animal with invisible mediated power”.

I took a white fabric, projected my face on it, and put it under wind.  This speaks to me as an illustration of our human body being shaped by and adapted to invisible power. IMG_5293.jpg


The New version of Matrix Brainstorming





Interview Transcript
Interview with Elena Glasburg: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cmyee5OH6BcXeQRTn1xRYJpU0aUVt3H5/view?usp=sharing

Interview with John Richardson


My topic centers around the mismatching theory in evolutionary psychology. I want to learn more about it this subject and to understand how we are reacting and how we should react to this problem. I want to know what we will evolve into.

Mismatch Theory

The essence of mismatch theory is that organisms possess traits (including behavioral, emotional, and biological) that have been passed down through generations, preserved by natural selection because of their adaptive function in a given environment. However, the given environment of the evolutionary period is quite unlike the current environment. Therefore, traits that were at one time adaptive in a certain environment, are now “mismatched” to the environment that the trait is currently present in.

Some of Mental Disorders that are relevant to Mismatch Theory

Obesity :

Human bodies are predisposed to maintain homeostasis, especially when storing energy as fat. This trait serves as the main basis for the “thrifty gene hypothesis”, the idea that “feast-or-famine conditions during human evolutionary development naturally selected for people whose bodies were efficient in their use of food calories”. Hunter-gatherers, who used to live under environmental stress, benefit from this trait; there was an uncertainty of when the next meal would be, and they would spend most of their time performing high levels of physical activity. Therefore, those that consumed many calories would store the extra energy as fat, which they could draw upon in times of hunger.

However, modern humans have evolved into a world of more sedentary lifestyles and convenience foods. People are sitting more throughout their days, whether it be in their cars during rush hour or in their cubicles during their full-time jobs. More processed foods in our diets that lack nutritional value and lead them to consume more sodium, sugar, and fat. These high calories, nutrient-deficient foods cause us to consume more calories than they burn. Fast food combined with decreased physical activity means that the “thrifty gene” that once benefit human predecessors now works against them, causing their bodies to store more fat and leading to higher levels of obesity in the population.

How are we dealing with obesity? We work out, going to the gym, advertising “healthy food”, label calories in menus, selling “healthy food” with a higher price… Therefore obesity is more prevalent in the low-income population.
It also differs from culture to culture because of the difference in food/agriculture structure. 


the environment of evolutionary adaptedness (EEA) did not prepare children to sit still and concentrate for hours every day and that the difficulties that many children experience can be understood in terms of this mismatch.

Rates of ADHD are typically much higher in males than females.  One possible evolutionary explanation is that males had to be more risk-taking to compete for mates, as a higher proportion of males than females fail to have children and pass their genes on.

Most schools, especially primary schools, can be seen as feminized institutions, the large majority of teachers being women. It is likely that schools favor the more passive, acquiescent behaviors that are more typically found in girls.


The ability to feel pain and experience depression, are adaptive defense mechanisms, but when they are “too easily triggered, too intense, or long-lasting”, they can become “dysregulated”. In such a case, defense mechanisms, too, can become diseases, such as “chronic pain or dehydration from diarrhea”. Depression, which may be a similar kind of defense mechanism, may have become dysregulated as well.

Thus, unlike other evolutionary theories, this one sees depression as a maladaptive extreme of something that is beneficial in smaller amounts. In particular, one theory focuses on the personality trait neuroticism. Low amounts of neuroticism may increase a person’s fitness through various processes, but too much may reduce fitness by, for example, recurring depressions. Thus, evolution will select for an optimal amount and most people will have neuroticism near this amount. However, genetic variation continually occurs, and some people will have high neuroticism which increases the risk of depressions


Unlike our hunter-gatherer ancestors who lived in small egalitarian societies,  the modern work place is large, complex, and hierarchical. Humans spend significant amounts of time interacting with strangers in conditions that are very different from those of our ancestral past. Hunter-gatherers do not separate work from their private lives, they have no bosses to be accountable to, or no deadlines to adhere to. Our stress system reacts to immediate threats and opportunities. The modern workplace exploits evolved psychological mechanisms that are aimed at immediate survival or longer-term reproduction. These basic instincts misfire in the modern workplace, causing conflicts at work, burnout, job alienation and poor management practices

How are modern people coping with anxiety? medication, alcohol, meditation, therapy… etc.


An action or behavior that stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter known for generating a sense of pleasure, will likely be repeated since the brain is programmed to continually seek such pleasure. In hunter-gatherer societies, this reward system was beneficial for survival and reproductive success. But now, when there are fewer challenges to survival and reproducing, certain activities in the present environment (gambling, drug use, eating) exploit this system, leading to addictive behavior.

Phone and social media definitely reinforce this problem, while all the tech companies in silicon valley are still designing their products to maximize dopamine release. Unlike drug addiction or alcoholic, this is “addiction” in social media and smartphones is not labeled as a mental disorder,  but it is indeed exploiting our rewarding system and distort how we perceive pleasure. It is the most prevalent addiction problem 


The relationship between the last three disorders listed above is intertwined


In the future, there is a new religion worshiping dopamine


We elvolve into single-toe creature.
Since we are not climbing tree anymore, toes are not useful anyways.
Not to say now our foot can fit better into high heel shoes.


“Clock is the true weapon for Colonial intdustilization”

“A similar trend of brain reduction was found by another study that compared 175 braincases from humans and human relatives that lived 1.9 million to 10,000 years ago. A key finding of this study was a correlation between  and population density. “As complex societies emerged, the  became smaller because people did not have to be as smart to stay alive,”

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-05-evolving.html#jCp

Experts for Interview (Updated 11/20)

1.John Richardson :  Interviewed
John Richardson (Ph.D., UC Berkeley), Professor of Philosophy. He works primarily in 19th and 20th century Continental philosophy, in particular on Nietzsche and Heidegger. He has a strong secondary interest in ancient philosophy, especially in Aristotle. Recently he has focused on issues concerning teleology in these philosophers, and has explored relations with recent philosophy of biology and evolutionary theory.

2. Matthew Liao :  NO REPLY
A philosopher interested in a wide range of issues including ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, moral psychology, and bioethics. He is the Arthur Zitrin Chair of Bioethics and the Director of the Center for Bioethics and Affiliated Professor in the Department of Philosophy at New York University.

3. Dr. Mike Abrams: NO REPLY
Dr. Mike Abrams, ABPP is a board-certified diplomate of the American Board of Professional Psychology with a specialty in cognitive behavior therapy. He is a fellow and supervisor of the Albert Ellis Institute where he studied and worked closely with Dr. Ellis, with whom he published several books, chapters, and articles on REBT and CBT. Dr. Abrams was instrumental in expanding Dr. Ellis’ model of personality to combine evolutionary psychology and CBT. Dr Abrams had also collaborated with Aaron Beck and other founders of modern therapy. More recently he has worked with Davis Buss to link CBT treatment to evolutionary models of jealously and aggression.

4. Dr. John Montgomery: NO REPLY
He is the developer of ‘Homeostasis Psychology,’ a new framework that integrates neuroscience, psychology, evolutionary biology, and various Eastern and Western ‘spiritual’ traditions, to provide a unifying account of adaptive and maladaptive behavior. The framework also includes a powerful therapeutic method that is a new integration of psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and mindfulness traditions. He uses this therapeutic method in private practice to help people overcome a wide variety of psychological ills, including depression, anxiety disorders, drug addiction, and alcoholism.

5. Elena Glasburg: Interviewed

Bibliography (Updated 11/20)

(2003). Evolutionary aspects of anxiety disorders. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience5(3), 223-36.

Santarelli, S., Lesuis, S. L., Wang, X., Wagner, K. V., Hartmann, J., Labermaier, C., . . . Schmidt, M. V. (2014). Evidence supporting the match/mismatch hypothesis of psychiatric disorders. European Neuropsychopharmacology,24(6), 907-918. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2014.02.002
Harari, Yuval N. author. (2015). Sapiens : a brief history of humankind. New York :Harper
Does qatural Selection Continue to Operate in Modern Mankind? https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1525/aa.1956.58.4.02a00020
Carr, N. G. (2010). The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains. New York: W.W. Norton.
Kawa, S., & Giordano, J. (2012). A brief historicity of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: issues and implications for the future of psychiatric canon and practice. Philosophy, ethics, and humanities in medicine : PEHM7, 2. doi:10.1186/1747-5341-7-2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3282636/

2 thoughts on “[Housekeeping]What Will We Become”

  1. on your interview subjects: maybe reach out to journalists who have written about these people’s work? I also have a friend who has talked to me about mismatch theory and may be a good resource – she is a critical studies scholar named El Glasberg. She mostly writes about art.
    You also need to write again to those “no reply” folks and offer to interview their research students (masters or PhD students)

    I think we already “worship” dopamine, it’s just not articulated as worship – which is a great GREAT start place. What else would be in this religious system?


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