8. A two-sided story

Summary: Seeing how cultures move toward a technical mode and lose sight of the less structured, natural way of living helps explain how societies seldom recover, once they have collapsed. Recent brain research provides clues. The growing inability of the logical, calculating brain to find solutions in the environmental field is, somehow, exacerbated by neglect of the non-scientific mind. In the environmental context it is the slow rejection of hard reality that has disastrous consequences.


    In the absence of a rational scientific explanation for the shortcomings of the rational scientific mind, it is surely reasonable to look elsewhere for an answer: in the non-rational, nonscientific mind. The research provides many answers and insights, but the insights gained will probably be felt, not spelled out explicitly, because words and definitions are not the strong point of the intuitive, creative mind.

    Michael Gazzaniga has studied this phenomenon, initially in collaboration with Joseph LeDoux, who went on to study basic emotions, particularly fear and the way it overrides thought, inspiring Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence. In the next chapter we will look more closely at the early research(1978–1985) of Gazzaniga and LeDoux into epileptic patients whose treatment required that their brain hemispheres be separated. Another pioneer, Nobel laureate Roger Sperry inspired new confidence in the role of the right brain, when he said in 1983:

      we have come around to accept today a substantially revised and upgraded picture of the right hemisphere and its functional capacities. The classic neurologic doctrine of one-sided dominance, with a major and a minor hemisphere, is replaced by the idea of a bilateral complementary specialization.