Just finished watching John Rogers Searle, University of California, Berkeley philosophy professor. He spoke on Ted talk about Consciousness and the interminable squabbles among philosophers and scientists about just exactly what it is. Consciousness, that is.
His bottom line is that it is that ". . .consciousness has to be accepted as a genuine biological phenomenon." He suggests, strongly, that it needs to be studied just as any biological process, i.e., how the heart beats. Research it just as you would any other object of scientific fascination; with controls, time frames, subjects, observation laboratories, and multiple volunteers.
David Eagleman, neuroscientist, concurs with Searle and is currently conducting experiments on the sub-conscious brain. He writes in "Incognito. The Secret Life of Brains, www.Eagleman.com that it is difficult to separate thought from biology. Is consciousness a separate biology? Is the brain separate from the mind? And what has that got to do with the title of this article?
He delves into the catastrophic lives of mass killers, like Charles Whitman, who in 1966 made his way to the top of the University of Texas Tower in Austin, where he bludgeoned to death and shot to death innocent tourists, pregnant moms, ambulance drivers, good Samaritans helping the wounded.
He left a suicide note that he hoped the coroner would study his brain to see what might be wrong with it. And, sure enough, he had a glioblastoma near his hypothalamus and compressed by his amygdala, a part of the brain that is involved with emotional regulation.
Whitman was aware something was not quite right with himself. He was receiving signals from someplace in his mental halls that his brain was not working correctly. Why didn't he see a neurologist or psychologist or psychiatrist when he became aware of a difference in his normal, responsible behavior?
Others in his immediate circle of friends and family were aware that he was not quite right, but no one said a thing to any doctor, employer, police agent, Not anyone. His mother and wife were found murdered at his home, after his sniper activity at the Tower was stopped by police. Why didn't his mother or wife say something to someone. Was there a number to call to warn others of his odd behavior?
While scientists and philosophers investigate the workings of the mind and brain combo, and I would venture to guess, most of us want this research to continue. But, in the meantime, we everyday earthlings have to try and survive in an unpredictable world, which harbors unpredictable human beings. After the horrible school shootings in Broward County, Florida, grouped with mass shootings around the states, we are all searching for ways to report unusual activity in people around us that may be life-threatening, damaging to our health, or just plain suspicious.
One of the problems, from where I sit, is that we do not have a Centralized Department or, more simply, a See Something Say Something Phone number to call when we do See Something suspicious and want to Say Something to somebody who can check it out. What we see may not rise to a state of emergency, but we want a way to record or warn our fellow man about the odd thing, harmful thing we spotted. We'd like a reference number for our report so they we can track the investigation online; like we track a mailed letter or an Amazon package. We want to know if the issue was resolved or to whom it was channeled, so we can track it ourselves. The systems failed the students in Broward County, as none of the authorities who knew of the alleged murderer's unusual behavior reported or connected to each other, so that he could be stopped. The family reported what was happening to the local authorities, but that information did not get documented in a meaningful and connected way that would have laid the groundwork to stop the young man from buying a gun and killing unsuspecting students and teachers.
Currently, we have to resort to calling the 911 number, which is supposed to be for emergency situations only. We talk to a person on the other end of the line who takes our information, but we don't know to whom that information is funneled. Most often, police or firemen are called when it is an emergency. But, if we see a dirty truck in the lane in front of us, with no license plate, we have no one to call to check it out. If we see a backpack sitting in a median along our route to the office, we don't know who to call about it-the local police, the highway patrol, the mayor. If someone we know is acting weird at work, threatening people, or a kid at school is threatening students and teachers, we have no number to call to document the observation, to start a file on that person. Even if we see child abuse, tailgaters, litter bugs, a UFO, we have no way to report these incidents to a centralized phone bank for follow-up.
We need an accountable system. If we had a 7-7-7-7 number to call(See Something Say Something works out to be 7777 on your phone dial-SSSS)we would have one place to go, to call, that will be responsible to check out these oddities. One department, with detail oriented, responsible, sensible, sensitive staff that will be accountable to those seeking answers. Why not have one department that will keep track and cross reference repeat incidences of reporting on the same issue? If the incident doesn't qualify as an emergency, but needs to be documented, with a reference number, so that someone is accountable for addressing the issue, why not have that system in place too? 7777 and 911.
You can add police to a campus, arm the teachers, give lectures to the public, but you can't help a mom, or a student, or a teacher that wants to report the strange activity of a student. You can't provide a phone number that documents all citizen concerns, acts on the concerns, treats the concerns with phone calls to the appropriate professionals who know exactly how to handle the concerns.
This writer was told that the mass murder at the school in Florida was a failing in the system, a failing in reacting to a report/s that the young man intended to conduct a school shooting.
A 7777 phone number, if used by all those who knew of his mental decline, would have been an easy, centralized number for them to report his behavior, instead of having to call police to his home multiple times without results. Their pleas for help would have been channeled through one portal, to be disbursed to the proper authorities for action to stop the guy.
7777, a tool in a box of tools to start the process of responsible defense of our schools, offices, public buildings, hotels,nightclubs; any soft target.
And while we're considering saving ourselves from the evil these souls wreak on our society; think about why the evil ones do what they do. If Eagleman is correct, we need to re-adjust our justice system, so we do brain scans on all alleged murderers to see if there is a physical/biological reason they acted the way they did; before we put them on trial. We need to have parents, family members, students and teachers who become aware of aberrant behavior in students, and report that behavior. Then set up an appointment with a General Practitioner, and/or Psychologist/Psychiatrist, who, we hope, will order neurological studies, including sleep studies, brain scans, blood profiles to see if these odd behaving people have treatable physical/mental problems. Just like it is almost impossible to separate mind from brain; it is just as difficult, though not impossible, to separate mental from physical illness.
In the meantime, let's try a See Something Say Something number to document, discover and detain all those who wish our society harm. 7777.