Sunday, June 7, 2015

What Next, Mass Depraved-Heart Murder?

Power corrupts
In this post I offer an actual example of cases where the toxins of power are at work under the covers.

One generally supposes that governments do all they can to protect citizens, especially during droughts or other global warming induced climate change events.

And that would generally be the case except when the toxins of power corrupt the cognitive ability, not to mention the heart of those exposed to power.

Mass-poisoning of the populace does not seem like a normal government function does it?

A federal lawsuit filed in California alleges just that:
Plaintiff Hopkins
"Every month, Occidental and Chevron directly pump 2.63 times more toxic waste water into the San Joaquin Aquifer than oil released into the Gulf during the entire BP spill. The California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) plans to allow them to continue for another 21 months. This lawsuit brought to stop the poisoning of the San Joaquin aquifer and to remediate the damage already done to the farmland of Kern County."
(Comm. To Protect Our Agricultural Water vs Occidental Oil & Gas, p. 1, emphasis added). I guess the case could also be called The People vs. The Bastids.

Defendants include officials in the California Government, from the Governor on down, as well as a boatload of Oil-Qaeda executives and operatives.

The complaint alleges Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) violations, constitutional violations under color of state law, and conspiracy to commit them:
"G. The Conspiracy

Beginning in 2011, the Oil Companies kept close attention to the EPA audit.

The Oil Companies knew that they ignored the regulations to protect underground water, and if the public knew of the risks, the Oil Companies would face massive liability for potential contamination of groundwater (historical and future). The Oil Companies also knew that they needed government approvals to engage in hydraulic fracturing. If the public knew of their failure to comply with underground injection control (UIC) requirements for waste water, the Oil Companies would be subject to greater scrutiny for hydraulic fracturing – waste water from fracking includes added chemicals.

The Oil Companies also knew that they needed landowners to approve the hydraulic fracturing, and if these landowners knew of these problems, landowners would not allow the Oil Companies to proceed with actions that would damage the farms and water supplies. By at least October 27, 2011, the Oil Companies agreed that no company would provide DOGGR with the documents to show protection of fresh water including (1) geological studies; (2) engineering studies; or (3) casing diagrams. This continues to the present day.

In early October of 2011, Occidental also directly contacted Governor Brown and told him to fire Miller and Chernow. Brown’s office then requested records about the permitting process as it related to Occidental. On October 14, 2011, Chernow sent documents regarding Occidental’s California operations to the senior officials handling the inquiry from Governor Brown. Chernow emailed that he was “willing to follow any direction as required. If direction is different than what the Department is currently pursuing, I would appreciate as explicit direction as possible.”

Less than a week later, on October 19, 2011, Occidental started reporting that “it cannot get the permits it needs for new drilling projects in California.” This was a misrepresentation of the problems arising from Occidental’s own decision not to follow the law.

On October 27, 2011, Occidental’s environmental engineer admitted to Chernow it had “the necessary information . . . However, he’s been told to stand down (by a lawyer is all I know) and not give us anything. There is apparently a meeting in Bakersfield at Oxy’s offices this afternoon to discuss whether they give us what we need or continue to give us nothing.”

Governor Brown’s office and his senior advisor, Cliff Rechtschaffen, scheduled a meeting with Miller and Chernow held the next day. Rechtschaffen notified them that DOGGR must immediately fast track permit approval. His team presented a document entitled the Temporary Assistance Program or TAP. Miller sought guidance from the United States Environmental Protection Agency about the list of demands.

The EPA representative reviewed and commented on it, and Miller responding by writing ... “I agree with your point that this has similarities to what was prepared by [Western States Petroleum Association ] WSPA.”

On November 2, 2011, Miller and Chernow went to another meeting which Rechtschaffen joined over the phone. Miller told Rechtschaffen the proposal violated the Safe Drinking Water Act. Rechtschaffen told her this was an order from Governor Brown."
(ibid, Complaint, pp. 25-27, line numbers removed, emphasis added). In other words, Oil-Qaeda guided the government officials to hide their illegalities.

This guidance of the California State Government by oil companies is not that rare (A Methanol Economy Way Out of Here - 6)

I know that government propaganda has hardened the public perception concerning "conspiracy theories," but the law is very well aware that conspiracies happen every day:
In fact, you might be surprised how many conspiracy theories are handled by the federal and state governments on a daily basis:
Over one-quarter of all federal criminal prosecutions and a large number of state cases involve prosecutions for conspiracy.
(Conspiracy Theory, 112 Yale L.J. 1307 (2003), Preface,  emphasis added). That is a lot of real, serious as a heart attack, beyond a reasonable doubt, and well documented occurrences of "conspiracy theories" going on in reality before the eyes of anyone who wants to see them.
(On The Origin of "Conspiracy Theory"). There is even the notion of conspiracy to commit "depraved-heart murder."

The case featured in this post is a civil case, but RICO can also be used in a criminal context:
"Defendants Brown, Nechodom, Kustic, Oviatt, DOGGR, WSPA, CIPA, OCCIDENTAL OIL AND GAS CORPORATION, CHEVRON U.S.A. INC., and others known and unknown, being persons employed by and associated with the Enterprise did unlawfully, knowingly, and intentionally conduct and participate, directly and directly in the conduct, management, and operation of the affairs of the Enterprise, which was engaged in and affected interstate and foreign commerce through racketeering activity that included numerous acts indictable under 18 U.S.C. § 371 (conspiracy to defraud the United States); 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 (intimidation of any person engaged in free exercise of speech or any Constitutional right); 1341 (mail fraud) , 1343 (wire fraud), 1346.43 (honest services), 1512 (b) (intimidating and threatening witnesses), and 1513(b) (intimidating and threatening witnesses)."
(ibid, Complaint, pp. 43-44, emphasis added; cf. Oil-Qaeda & MOMCOM Conspire To Commit Depraved-Heart Murder).

Hmmmm ....

Anyway, this blog will follow the above case as it develops, while elaborating on long standing Toxins of Power Blog hypotheses concerning the always mystical "toxins of power."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The "Genes of Culture" In Civilization

Van Gogh: "Ward of Arles Hospital"
I. The Evolution of Culture

How is the evolution of culture different from the evolution of individuals?

We don't miss a beat or a step when the notion of individual people having genes is discussed.

But that is not so when it comes to the "genetic make-up" of a culture.

The reaction to that would be "how could a society, culture, or civilization have genes" except within individuals of that culture?

That is a fair question.

We are not talking about adding up the unique, physical genes of all the individuals to thereby derive the overall quantity of "genes of a culture."

No, as will be discussed below, we are talking somewhat more about epigenetics, as well as memes and memetics than we are talking about physical RNA / DNA.

That said, neither are we talking exclusively about memes and memetics, because group dynamics are often talked about in terms of culture and observable characteristics swirling within that culture (see e.g. Comparing a Meme Complex to a Cultural Amygdala, Comparing a Group-Mind Trance to a Cultural Amygdala).

II. Where Do We Observe It?

A reviewer noticed that sometimes it can be a bridge too far to try to equate or link individual genetic dynamics to the dynamics of a group/culture:
But for the same reason that the book has a near-flawless takeoff, it crashes in the end. The way that Trivers structures the text requires that he zero in on a concrete example within each chapter’s more general subject. For biological concepts, this strategy makes the reading highly accessible.

But it backfires when Trivers uses it to apply his theory of self-deception in the areas of war, religion, and false historical narratives. These subjects are too broad, and his links to self-deception too tenuous, to be compelling. By having such specificity, Trivers pigeonholes his arguments and greatly simplifies issues that are not as black-and-white as he claims.
(Review of Folly of Fools, by Robert Trivers). It is difficult to build a bridge across that gap between individual, physical genetics and some of the troubling behaviors of groups.

That is why there are other "takes" on that same book and its theme: (Academia Edu, Deceit by Trivers, Deception, Is Trivers Deceiving Himself?, Trivers Wikipedia, Trivers von Hippel, evolution of self-deception).

One thing is for sure though, when self-deceit becomes a part of culture, it goes all the way to the bone:
The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.

The report is the first to examine the association’s role in the interrogation program. It contends, using newly disclosed emails, that the group’s actions to keep psychologists involved in the interrogation program coincided closely with efforts by senior Bush administration officials to salvage the program after the public disclosure in 2004 of graphic photos of prisoner abuse by American military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
(American Psychological Association Ok With Torture). It is a bit disconcerting when the groups responsible for watching for, identifying, and then treating a social malady are overcome by that very social malady (Minds in Tumult, Presidential Psycho Team).

One of the dangers of the type of hypothesis that seeks to find and analyze the maladjusted behavioral dynamics inside the culture of a particular group, is a type of group-think influenced by the notion of "collective guilt" (The Psychology of the Notion of Collective Guilt).

Individuals can be slandered by it even though they are not individually guilty of the wrongs of the group itself (e.g. "all Islamic believers are evil therefore it is ok to torture or mistreat any of them").

It is important to remember that groups are composed of individuals who can and do differ, and therefore must also be considered in that light, i.e., as individuals as well being considered as group members.

Individuals in a group could metaphorically be considered as the individual genes of the group, which we know do have different characteristics.

It is clear, then, that as a preliminary matter we ought not paint everyone with the same group-brush merely because they are members of a group.

This is especially so when we now know the importance of epigenetics (One Man's Junk Gene Is Another Man's Treasure Gene?, The Uncertain Gene - 11, On The Origin of Genieology).

III. Where Does The "Cultural Deceit-Gene" Originate?

The phenomenon of deceit also happens way, way down in the unseen, tiny realm of individuals in groups which, for the most part, help us at every level of the ecosystem on Earth.

I am talking about a veritable universe of microbes and viruses: "there may be a hundred million times more viruses on Earth than there are stars in the universe"  (The Real Dangers With Microbes & Viruses).

At a higher level than RNA and DNA, individual microbes or even groups of them can go crazy to become pathogens.

But, they can also return to sanity (Microbial Languages: Rehabilitation of the Unseen, 2).

Perhaps, by sophisticated honesty via communication they can even be separated from the misbehavior which uses deceit as a technique of survival (On The Origin of Propaganda, 2).

IV. The Toxins of Power Are Hidden

Scientists differ on the dynamics of deceit, and whether deceit is a good thing or a bad thing for society, because for one thing the origins of deceit are hidden.

Some of the hidden details may be because the origin of maladjusted viruses and microbes is part of the history that was made well before humans came to be (Are Microbes The Origin of PTSD?).

In other words, are the catastrophes of history, which cause mass extinctions or mass damage to biological organisms, a source of pathogenic behavior (What Did The Mass Extinctions Do To Viruses and Microbes?)?

V. Conclusion

We need to resist allowing either our education or our knowledge to degenerate into a cultural trance which can morph into mob psychology.

A mob psychology that can threaten our very civilization (Why Sea Level Rise May Be The Greatest Threat To Civilization, 2).

The following video is a brief discussion of collective guilt by association:

Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy Birthday Kurt

Vonnegut in 1972
"Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum.

Plato says that the unexamined life is not worth living. But what if the examined life turns out to be a clunker as well?
Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.

Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.

It’s perfectly ordinary to be a socialist. It’s perfectly normal to be in favor of fire departments.

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here.

There’s only one rule that I know of, babies---‘... you’ve got to be kind.’
" - Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Abiotic Evolution: Can It Explain An Origin For The Toxins of Power? - 3

First, since this series has focused to some degree on stem cells (1st post, 2nd post), and since there was a big row/scrap about some scientific papers concerning stem cells (papers that were said to be flawed); today, I will update/narrow the line of reasoning in this series to the degree that these events might apply.

Note that this blog never agreed nor disagreed with the papers which indicated that stress could generate stem cells ("embryonic-like stem cells could be created by exposing bodily cells to stress" - Nature Retraction Notice).

That dust-up, in the journal Nature, is still ongoing to some degree, because there were some mysteries then which still remain in that ongoing scientific drama:
The investigation also has not explained one of the most notable features of the cells — their ability to form a placenta — something that embryonic stem cells do not generally do. “That is still one question that to me is still a mystery,” says Manuel Serrano, a cancer biologist who has worked with stem cells at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre in Madrid.

Serrano, like many of his colleagues, was intrigued by the papers, published in Nature in January 2014, reporting that adult cells could behave like stem cells after experiencing severe stress1, 2. To him, the premise made sense — there was ample evidence in the literature that stressed cells were prone to taking on new identities.
(Nature, "Questions Linger Over Stress-induced Stem Cells", emphasis added). There is little to no dispute that stress has an impact on organisms.

In fact, the stress involved in this drama being played out led to the suicide of one of the scientists involved (STAP Paper Co-author Sasai Commits Suicide).

Second, since we apply the toxins of power hypotheses to adults, we can ignore embryonic and other stem cells, to focus directly on adult stem cells:
Adult stem cells. These stem cells are found in small numbers in most adult tissues, such as bone marrow or fat. Compared with embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells have a more limited ability to give rise to various cells of the body.

Until recently, researchers thought adult stem cells could create only similar types of cells. For instance, researchers thought that stem cells residing in the bone marrow could give rise only to blood cells.

However, emerging evidence suggests that adult stem cells may be able to create unrelated types of cells. For instance, bone marrow stem cells may be able to create bone or heart muscle cells.
(Mayo Clinic, emphasis added). So, as these cells are going through the process of "shape shifting", what could cause that morphing process to be initiated, and what toxins could impact upon those cells, and the ones they were morphing into or creating, during and/or after the metamorphic process?

One of the country's top experts on stress (quoted often on this blog) has given stress a substantial amount of thought:
In 1900, what do you think were the leading causes of death in this country?

If you were 20 to 40 years old and a woman, the single riskiest thing you could do was try to give birth. TB, Pneumonia, influenza killed a lot of other people. But few people under the age of 100 die of the flu anymore. Relatively few women die in childbirth. Instead, we die of these utterly bizarre diseases that have never existed before on the planet in any sort of numbers—diseases like heart disease, cancer, adult-onset diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

Now, some of this has to do with nuts and bolts biology. But some of it has to do with issues that nobody ever had to think about before in medicine—totally bizarre questions like, “What’s your psychological makeup?” or “What’s your social status?” or “How do people with your social status get treated in your society?

And this one: “Why is it that when we’re feeling unloved, we eat more starch?” Figure that out, and you’ve cured half the cases of diabetes in this country.

Indeed, when you look at the diseases that do us in, they are predominantly diseases that can be caused, or made worse, by stress. As a result, most of us in this room will have the profound Westernized luxury of dropping dead someday of a stress-related disease. That’s why it’s so urgent that we understand stress—and how to better manage it.
(How to Relieve Stress, by Dr. Sapolsky; emphasis added). So, the stress addressed in the valid parts of the scientific papers that were recalled by the journal Nature for other reasons, and the subsequent testing (i.e. "embryonic-like stem cells could be created by exposing bodily cells to stress") are still worthy of further consideration.

A substantial number of related events that are causes of, or contributors to, our demise or death are also worthy of further consideration.

Why, then, would anyone question the potential impact of the constant exposure to stress on people who are sitting in seats of power?

Especially since astronomically smaller amounts of exposure to stress in "minor" events, such as traffic jams, can even have an impact:
For 99 percent of the species on this planet, stress is three minutes of screaming terror in the savannah, after which either it’s over with or you’re over with. That’s all you need to know about the subject if you’re a zebra or a lion.

If you’re a human, though, you’ve got to expand the definition of a stressor in a very critical way. If you’re running from a lion, your blood pressure is 180 over 120. But you’re not suffering from high blood pressure—you’re saving your life. Have this same thing happen when you’re stuck in traffic, and you’re not saving your life. Instead you are suffering from stress-induced hypertension.

We humans turn on the stress response with memories, with emotions, with thoughts, and the whole punch line is: That’s not what it evolved for. Do it regularly enough, and you’re going to damage your cardiovascular system. Increased blood flow hammers on the walls of your blood vessels, causing inflammation. Fat and glucose and cholesterol glom on and begin to clog your arteries. That’s bad news. You are more at risk for chronic fatigue, sleep disruption, muscle atrophy, and probably most importantly, adult-onset diabetes, this once obscure disease that’s just on the edge of being the number one killer in this country.

Chronic stress also does bad things to the nervous system. Stress kills neurons in the part of the brain called the hippocampus and weakens the cables between neurons, so they can’t talk to each other. This impairs the formation and retrieval of long-term memory. The opposite thing happens in the amygdala, which is where we see fear in a brain scanner. In the hippocampus, stress causes stuff to shrivel up. But stress feeds the amygdala. It actually gets bigger. Chronic stress creates a hyper-reactive, hysterical amygdala, and this tells us tons about what stress has to do with anxiety disorders.
(ibid, "How to Relieve Stress", emphasis added). Regular readers know that this blog has many posts concerning the impact which the amygdala has on behavior (e.g. The Toxic Bridge To Everywhere, Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala).

But, perhaps equally central to the analysis of what impact it has on those in seats of power, the frontal cortex is implicated too:
What about the frontal cortex? It’s the most human part of the brain; we’ve proportionally got more of it than any other species does. And what does the frontal cortex do? It does gratification postponement, self-discipline, long-term planning, emotional regulation. It’s the last part of the brain to fully mature—that doesn’t happen until you’re 25 years old, which explains a lot about the freshmen year of college.

This has a very interesting implication. If this is the last part of the brain to fully develop, by definition, then, it is the part of the brain least constrained by genes and most sculpted by experience. What does chronic stress do to the frontal cortex? Atrophy of neurons, disconnecting circuits. As a result, you make the most idiotic decisions, which are going to haunt you for the rest of your life, and yet you think they’re brilliant at the time. That’s another effect of chronic stress: Your judgment goes down the tubes.
(ibid, "How to Relieve Stress", emphasis added). That fits well with what we see happening in seats of power (e.g. The Peak Of The Oil Wars - 12, New Climate Catastrophe Policy: Triage - 11, The Ignoratti Preacher Says: "The Ice Age Cometh").

And since Dr. Sapolsky said "it [frontal cortex] is the part of the brain least constrained by genes and most sculpted by experience", it might help to review posts related to the impact that experience has on those in seats of power (epigenetic and cultural: One Man's Junk Gene Is Another Man's Treasure Gene?, Choose Your Trances Carefully).

Some of the observations the world makes based on Americans in power, when "judgment goes down the tubes", is to change their perspective on America:
In the early fall of 2014, I traveled from my home in Oslo, Norway, through much of Eastern and Central Europe. Everywhere I went in those two months, moments after locals realized I was an American the questions started and, polite as they usually were, most of them had a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy? Please explain.
(The Life and Death of Bright Things - 2, emphasis in original). Stress causes death and lack of judgment, nevertheless its impact on those in power, in some ways, is said to still be a mystery:
The profound evolution of primate neocortex was influenced by the computational demands of living in a complex social environment (Dunbar & Shultz, 2007). For primates, a key factor creating structure within the social environment is power. In nonhuman primates, an animal’s power is partly determined by the degree to which they dominate conspecifics. Those that are able to exert dominance over others gain greater access to valuable resources like food and potential mates (Dunbar, 1980; Lewis, 2002; Watts, 2010). In human societies, power similarly creates “dependence asymmetries,” wherein the powerless depend heavily on the powerful for resources, whereas the powerful enjoy relatively unabated access to resources (Russell & Fiske, 2010). This asymmetry results in differences in how the powerful and the powerless process other individuals. Despite what we know about the effects of power on social information processing, the majority of the evidence is indirect, and the mechanisms underlying power’s influence remain a mystery.
Future research will be needed to determine the mechanisms through which power impacts motor resonance. Though it is dangerous to rely solely on brain imaging to infer mental activity (cf. Poldrack, 2006), extant neuroimaging data are crucial for generating testable predictions for this work. In this vein, one possibility is that the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), a brain region that sends visual input to resonant brain areas, is inhibited or somehow deactivated by high power.
(Power Changes How The Brain Responds To Others, PDF; emphasis added). Clearly, there is mystery still out there to be considered by those laboring in the realm of serious research.

That reality lends some credence to this blogs focus on a broad area of potential sources for the origin toxins of power, from memes all the way to microbes, viruses, and molecules.

Since abiotic evolution still takes place in an area which impacts the relevant areas higher up in the hierarchy of physics, genetics, and biology, in closing today's post, let's take a look at that abiotic source once again:
"The analysis of the original proton wave packet involves an interesting phase problem, and, since the energy distribution is temperature dependent, the whole phenomenon is also temperature dependent."
"The tunneling times will depend essentially on the height and the form of the barrier. In DNA, the form of the double-well potentials regulating the hydrogen bonds depend not only on the base pair involved but also on neighboring pairs, their net charges, and the entire electric environment. The tunneling time is hence not only characteristic for a certain biological specimen but is also a function of the position in the DNA molecule involved. The tunneling time is very likely also temperature dependent, even if the protons are well shielded in the double helix. The main problem is whether the tunneling time is very short in comparison to the replication time, or whether there exist organisms where the penetration of the barrier is slow in comparison to the replication." 
"It should always be remembered that, in Born's interpretation of quantum mechanics, the quantity |¥|² represents the probability density for finding the proton in a specific position. The tunneling of the wave packet is hence a time-dependent process which is going to influence the properties of the genetic code.
"In this connection, it should be observed that the tunneling probabilities depend not only on the base pair involved but also on the electrostatic environment, the neighboring base pairs, etc., which may explain the occurrence of "hot spots."
At a DNA replication, the protons have to "choose sides," and the proton code immediately after a DNA replication represents actually a nonstationary state from the quantum-mechanical point of view. The time evolution of the system and particularly the penetration of the potential barrier in the double-well potential represents a loss of the genetic code which should perhaps be considered as the primary cause of aging. The aging is thus a process which goes on continuously in the DNA molecule but gets "manifested" at the replications.
Proton tunneling may finally be of importance in connection with the occurrence of spontaneous tumors. The growth of an individual is a highly refined balance between factors which enhance the cell duplication and other factors which limit this duplication so that the organism takes a specific shape. The entire process is stimulated and controlled by various enzymes, and there is a feedback from the environment about which we know, at present, very little. If there is a somatic mutation, i.e., a change of the genetic code in a DNA molecule in the body of an organism, the change may influence the protein synthesis and the balance between the enhancing and controlling enzyme actions in the growth cycle. Actually, the new genetic code may lead to the development of a "new individual" within the individual, i.e., a tumor."
"In this paper we have pointed out that, since the protons are not classical particles but "wave packets" obeying the laws of modern quantum theory, the genetic code cannot --in spite of all precautions-- be 100% stable. Due to the quantum-mechanical "tunnel effect," there is always a small but finite probability that the protons will change place, alter the genetic code, and give rise to mutations. This implies also that this transfer of protons over a distance of about 10-8 cm may be one of the driving forces in the evolution of living organisms on the earth."
(Stem Cell Malfunction A Quantum Toxin Source?, @ Review of Modern Physics). While we digest all this we need to remember that we are considering the impact of the type of stress which is induced or enhanced by exposure to power.

Today, I am saying that such impacts may reach all the way down to the abiotic dynamics that can cause mutations at the atomic level.

I am also saying that those impacts may reach up to higher level genetic dynamics, as well as upon even higher level adult stem cells as they function to repair the damage stress has caused to cells around them.

The previous post in this series is here.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Comparing a Group-Mind Trance to a Cultural Amygdala

"I said hard a-starboard"
When archaeologists use the word "cultural" it may not mean exactly the same as when we use it in everyday street talk.

The "Museum of Natural and Cultural History, University of Oregon" excavated caves in Oregon this year, in one pursuit on the trail of ancient culture.

When discussing the culture found in "Paisley Caves" in the state of Oregon (likely the oldest yet found in the U.S.), the word we are discussing is used to describe material in layers of cave soil:
Our emphasis was on the recovery of in situ bone, coprolites and cultural materials ... The upper 80 cm of sediments contained sparse Middle and Late Holocene cultural deposits. Deposits between 80 and 160 cm are, for all practical purposes, culturally sterile though a small hearth and a few artifacts, dated at 8440 cal. BP, were encountered just below a lens of Mazama ash at approximately 120 cm. The oldest and densest cultural remains in the cave were located between 190 and 230 centimeters ...
(NGBPP Research at the Paisley Caves, emphasis added). The words "cult" and "culture" hint that "cultural" can describe physical artifacts as well as ways of thinking.

Thus, the concept of the "cultural amygdala" can seem to be ambiguous at first blush (Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala, 2, 3, 4).

But, if we use words that we are more accustomed to, it does not seem quite so ambiguous (e.g. compare: Cultural Trance, More About Cultural Trance, Consensus Trance, Trance, Functional Psychosis, and Culture).

The cultural amygdala works like what psychologists call "group-mind trance" as follows:
American psychologist Boris Sidis wrote of a striking instance of a trance that was not limited to one person, but affected a whole group. He cited the memoirs of Russian writer and journalist Ivan Ivanovich Panaev, describing the riots of military colonists in Russia in 1831. Panaev recounted that in the course of some of the hardest fighting, he came across a corporal lying in the street, crying bitterly. When Panaev asked why he was crying, the young soldier said it was because down the street, a mob was trying to kill his beloved commander, Sokolov. Panaev suggested that the corporal stop crying and go to his leader's aid. A little later, when Panaev himself brought soldiers to help Sokolov, he was astonished to see that the corporal had joined the mob and was beating Sokolov with a club. When Panaev asked what on earth he was doing, the young man replied: Everyone else is doing it. Why shouldn't I?

Immersed in the energy of the mob, the corporal had totally given up his own individuality and control of his own mind. His normal perception of reality had disappeared, and he was locked into the thinking and reality of the mob. The mob possessed a corporate mind that overwhelmed the personal views of all who came under its sway. The "group mind" of the rioters was so strong that even the soldier, who was sincerely devoted to his commander, could not resist it. He was plunged into a group-mind trance in which he was absorbed in the thought and emotion of the group and out of touch with reality as he normally knew it.

Group-mind trance does not occur only in highly charged temporary gatherings, such as riots or lynch mobs. Group-mind trance is a part of the everyday life of each one of us. We belong to various kinds of groups--families, work groups, churches, and other organizations. Each has its own group mind that entrances us, perhaps more subtly than a lynch mob, but every bit as effectively. And in the group-mind trance, we experience all the features of other trance states.

Group-mind trances give us a basis for understanding the macrotrance of culture. We could think of group-mind trances as existing on a spectrum from the family on one end to culture on the other. Culture is the group-mind trance of a whole people, and because it is so pervasive, it remains largely invisible to those who are held in its sway.

The influence of group-mind trances cannot be overestimated.

The trance that is least recognized but very significant in our lives is group-mind trance ... Here the individual becomes a carrier of the values and drives that characterize the group as a whole. While immersed in the group mind, people may think and act in ways that are totally out of character with how they are when separate. Group-mind trance can occur in connection with such groups as one's family, church, or club; at sports events, rock concerts, tenants' meetings, and political conventions; or when involved with the staff at work or friends at a gathering. Group-mind trance forms a bridge to cultural trance, which may be thought of as a group-mind trance on the level of a whole people.
(Are You In a Trance?, cf. Trance Zero: The Psychology of Maximum Experience, emphasis added). We are born into the trance-like dynamics of our culture which builds our cultural amygdala circuits in our brain.

Another brain scientist has put it this way:
Probably 98 percent of your reasoning is unconscious - what your brain is doing behind the scenes. Reason is inherently emotional. You can't even choose a goal, much less form a plan and carry it out, without a sense that it will satisfy you, not dis­gust you. Fear and anxiety will affect your plans and your ac­tions. You act differently, and plan differently, out of hope and joy than out of fear and anxiety.

Thought is physical. Learning requires a physical brain change: Receptors for neurotransmitters change at the synapses, which changes neural circuitry. Since thinking is the activation of such circuitry, somewhat different thinking re­quires a somewhat different brain. Brains change as you use them-even unconsciously. It's as if your car changed as you drove it, say from a stick shift gradually to an automatic.
(The Toxic Bridge To Everywhere, quoting Dr. Lakoff, italics added). The part of our brain that begins to be shaped by our culture early on, continues to be shaped in our adulthood.

Wars and other problems (Titanic Mistakes Using The W Compass) can and do develop from time to time, when cultural amygdala circuits "naturally" function differently in two different cultures:
The "foreigner" is, moreover, outside the principal immediate system of law and order; hence aggression toward him does not carry the same opprobrium or immediate danger of reprisal that it does toward one's "fellow-citizen." Hostility to the foreigner has thus furnished a means of transcending the principal, immediately threatening group conflicts, of achieving "unity" —but at the expense of a less immediate but in fact more dangerous threat to security, since national states now command such destructive weapons that war between them is approaching suicidal significance.

Thus the immense reservoir of aggression in Western society is sharply inhibited from direct expression within the smaller groups in which it is primarily generated. The structure of the society in which it produced contains a strong predisposition for it to be channeled into group antagonisms. The significance of the nation-state is, however, such that there is a strong pressure to internal unity within each such unit and therefore a tendency to focus aggression on the potential conflicts between nation-state units. In addition to the existence of a plurality of such units, each a potential target of the focused aggression from all the others, the situation is particularly unstable because of the endemic tendency to define their relations in the manner least calculated to build an effectively solidary international order. Each state is, namely, highly ambivalent about the superiority-inferiority question. Each tends to have a deep-seated presumption of its own superiority and a corresponding resentment against any other's corresponding presumption. Each at the same time tends to feel that it has been unfairly treated in the past and is ready on the slightest provocation to assume that the others are ready to plot new outrages in the immediate future. Each tends to be easily convinced of the righteousness of its own policy while at the same time it is overready to suspect the motives of all others. In short, the "jungle philosophy"-which corresponds to a larger element in the real sentiments of all of us than can readily be admitted, even to ourselves-tends to be projected onto the relations of nation-states at precisely the point where, under the technological and organizational situation of the modern world, it can do the most harm.
(Certain Primary Sources ... of Aggression ..., p. 319-20, PDF, emphasis added). This difference of culture and its impact was pondered in this series when we considered the impact of a form of culture shock:
For example, let's hone in on that by recognizing for the moment that a person raised in Mississippi on a small farm, then living there through adulthood, will have a different social awareness and cultural Amygdala when compared to a person who is raised and lives their life in the art district of Paris, France.

The more temporary nature of the cultural Amygdala could be envisioned by imagining that the two individuals, one from Paris and one from Mississippi, were relocated in their teens, the person in Paris relocated to a small farm in Mississippi, and the person in Mississippi relocated to the art district in Paris.

The cultural Amygdala hypothesis would predict, upon relocation, a change over time in the cultural Amydala of both individuals as a result of being placed into very different cultures from the one they experienced through their teen years ...
(Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala). The rewiring of cultural brain circuits is automatic over time, but resistance to change, i.e., perpetuating the status quo, is the norm.

This is why the ships of state in various cultures have a difficult time making course corrections, and why the majority of them commit suicide:
Historically, self-destruction is the common denominator for past human civilization, culture, and society:
"In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown."
(A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee). As regular readers know, I have posted Sigmund Freud's writings where he indicated that psychoanalysis of groups, including civilization itself, would not prove unproductive ...
(Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch). Diversity has its benefits together with its drawbacks.

Unless good communication and awareness are part of our cultural amygdala circuitry, an opening for toxins of power to develop arises.

That can cause a dangerous trance like state where those who are on watch miss dangerous threats that develop from time to time (You Are Here).

You might want to read a similar post (Comparing a Meme Complex to a Cultural Amygdala).

On the cultural trance of deniers ...