Evolutionary Amnesia

Can’t help wondering if there’s an evolutionary purpose to collective amnesia.

Have to ask how, in such a documented age, we as a species are still able to resolutely resist the lessons of history. Whether it’s populists in Europe ignoring the industrial slaughter of two world wars to pursue muscular nationalism or braying Brexiteers forgetting the state the UK was in during the 70’s, it’s a pretty universal theme.

There seems to be this sense of assured stability that makes people think they can play with fire and not get burned. No chance of a fascist dictatorship here, so sounding a bit xenophobic won’t matter. No chance of another world war, so let’s recklessly wank off some testosterone.

And you have to wonder if this hardwired amnesia is yin to the golden age’s yang – that mythical past where everything was glorious. ‘Take Back Control’, ‘Make America Great Again’ – it all taps into that same serotonin soaked fantasy every generation before us hawked in kind.

Maybe evolution is actually a quantum phenomenon – it feels both linear and cyclical so even as some elements march in lockstepped progress, others just keep going round tragedy’s carousel.

I remember the first time I noticed evolutionary amnesia was the speed with which one forgets the stress of a new born baby. After a couple of years, all you remember is the smiles and suddenly you’re right up for a second one – fair play nature, it’s a blinding way to ensure we keep reproducing.

But this? There has to be a deeper reason for it surely – this propensity to self destruct like clockwork despite all the warning signs seems just too visceral to be chance.

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