Article II: Wired for Communication

Written by:
Jacob King

Thomas Aquinas, a spiritual genius and one of those rare, fortunate homo sapiens who possessed an Einstein-sized ape brain, taught that it isn’t self-evident to our conscious minds that God exists; hence the “no one knows” dilemma. How can our finite brains contemplate the existence of this potential infinite It? Aquinas taught that, in order to get to the bottom of this question, we need to start with truths that are self-evident and work our way towards this not-so evident one. Yet with life already so crazy, who has time to get a Ph. D in Philosophy for fun only to maybe, just maybe, end up with the sure answer?

What if there’s another method to figuring out this whole God question? 

What if we are able to start instead by thinking of which characteristics this eternal Being would have to have, if It was real? 

Like, if It exists, why wouldn’t this Being have the ability to communicate with us here-and-now and let us know for sure that It’s real? If real, this pie-in-the-sky is responsible for the creation of everything in spacetime, including crazy, socially obsessed beings like us, who are so wired for communication that we get ​​a surge of the pleasure neurochemical, dopamine, released into our brain when someone just clicks *like* on our thousandth selfie.

We live for social interaction. People, including myself, are eating up three hour or longer conversational podcasts like they are McDonald’s fries. TheJoe Rogan Experiencepodcast, which sometimes is a one-one-one conversation for over 5 hours, gets, according to Spotify, over 200 million downloads... a month. 

The Irish call good conversations like these, the ones that make three hours feel like five minutes, “good crack.” And “crack” seems like a fitting name since these conversations are tapping into the same pleasure neurochemicals released in drug use.

In the book ​Social, ​Matthew Lieberman talks through his extensive research on how we are wired for communication. Neurologists have discovered your brain has a passion it can’t get off its mind.​ ​Lieberman found ​social interactions​ are your brain’s “default network.” Whenever we have a spare minute, or even a spare second, during class or that waste-of-time work meeting, our brain immediately goes back to obsessing about it’s ​true love.

We can’t even drive five minutes without our brain begging us to take a peek at our socials.

That’s why Facebook,​ in just a few years, has become one of the richest companies on the planet, rising to a net worth of 933 billion dollars in 2021.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s famous book, ​Outliers, h​e revealed that it takes ten thousand hours to become an expert at something. And our brain has reached this ten-thousand-hour-expertise threshold in communications by the age of ​ten: “To the extent that we can characterize evolution as designing our modern brains, this is what our brains were wired for: reaching out to and interacting with others.” ​

Experts even now are warning that communication is so core to who we are that having a lack of it in our life is more deadly than smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. It is even worse for us than being severely obese. During the Coronavirus quarantine lockdown, a study showed that 1-in-4 young adults, twenty-five percent of Americans between the ages of 18-25, seriously considered committing suicide... largely due to the lack of interaction with others.

The beauty of communication is not just limited to us, enlightened ape-descendants. Karl Von Frisch, an Ethologist, became fascinated with bees and their “waggle dance moves” in the 1920s.

He wrote the book, Bees: Their Vision, Chemical Senses, and Language, in which he revealed his Nobel prize-winning discoveries. “What seemed to countless generations of observers to be nothing more than the meaningless spasmodic motions of a dumb animal” — all buzzed up on nectar and doing some weird bee macarania for her homies — was actually a message...

“Through intense observation and scientific research, Von Frisch was able to see that the bee’s waggle dance moves were a coded equation communication to her fellow hive mates; informed by mathematics and astronomy and an acute knowledge of time, all synthesized to convey the location of the riches she hoped to share…
The dancer used the angle of our star, the sun, to indicate the general direction of the food's location. Von Frisch noted that when a bee danced straight upward she meant “fly toward the sun,” and when she moved downward she meant “fly away from it.” Her swivels left and right conveyed the food’s exact coordinates in space — sometimes kilometers away. The duration of her dance, down to a fraction of a second, indicated the length of time it would take her fellow bees to get there. She even factored in the wind speed to more finely calibrate the message she danced. And this was true at any time of the year; from hive to hive, from continent to continent… 
A typical bee hive has over ten thousand bees who consider it their home. When they have to find a new hive, which is each year, they send out hundreds of their most senior scouts over a 3 mile radius to reconnoiter the local trees for the best possible home. When all the scouts return... Each scout finds a place to stand on the swarm. There, she presents her best argument for the best site she has discovered. This house hunting discourse is conducted in their scientific and mathematical language. The scouts who have found the optimum sites for the swarms’s new home are the most passionate waggle dancers.
The fact checkers fly out to the site to make an independent evaluation. Just think for a minute how articulate the waggle dance has to be. It’s the coordinates for one particular tree in a whole forest…

“[But] the language of bees is truly perfect.

More recently, scientists have come upon another surprising truth: they discovered that not only bees but trees communicate with each other through a complex network of roots. Trees, as it so happens, even exchange empathy in these Ent-like communications; each keeps a watchful eye on its brothers and sisters. When a fellow tree is cut down, for instance, nearby trees quickly spread the word through their underworld form of communication, and the whole tree-family comes to the rescue. They immediately reach out to “this victim with their root tips and send life-saving sustenance, water, sugar and other nutrients.

With all that being said, you’re telling me that the Being outside of spacetime, if It exists, is the innovator of crazy, ass-shaking bees who dance to communicate, of trees who can talk to each other through their feet, and of our socially obsessed brains, but It wouldn’t be able to find an interstellar megaphone loud enough to at least say, “What’s up” to us who are searching the universe for life?

Next Article: Programmed for Love - Part 1

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