“My wife could turn to me and she may say, ‘Why do you love me?’ And I can with all honesty look her in the eye and say, ‘Because our pheromones matched our olfactory receptors.” — Robin Ince

If we take biology out of the equation, why do we do the things we do?

Of course, if you totally remove biological responses, innate reactive and primal behaviours, physiology, and psychology, there very well may be nothing left.

If you believe in fate, or that we have souls, that there is a god or two or three, you may say that destiny, heart, purpose, or divinity wholly or in part answers the question.

The things we think may be thought out of our own free will, or they may simply be a series of chemical responses.

They may also be learned, and that’s what is perhaps the most interesting option of all. The most dangerous option: Learning to think a certain way without being consciously aware of the fact that we are learning, adopting, and executing certain behaviours based on certain passively constructed thoughts or ideas. This is the cousin of not being aware that we also have a choice in what we choose to think.

It’s called buying into a “normative society.”

None of us are born with a critically self-formed political affiliation. We may be born into conservative families, our early experiences may shape what we come to believe about politics, but all of this happens after birth. And for the most part, I think it’s safe to say most of us are aware that we are choosing to vote liberally over conservatively and vice versa, to like one politician over another, to choose between sides. Which party we choose over another is more or less an actively- and consciously- made decision. Sure, we may be manipulated, influenced, lied to, and our choice may not even be based on facts, figures, or anything of value. Nevertheless, we are aware of the act of choosing. But where did we learn that we have to choose between sides?

Where and when did we adopt and us-versus-them mentality? Why have we come to adopt the belief that life is lived in these phases of going to school, then starting your career, getting married, then having kids?

When did we come to associate being alone, single, and unmarried, especially later on in life, with being terribly lonely? Or weird?

Why do we buy into these overwhelmingly simple and classical theme of good versus evil? Why do some of us do things in the name of our country, or approve certain actions of our country, but dodge neighbours and disapprove of our kids behaving in a similar vein?

There are of course exceptions to all of these and they are by no means all-inclusive; people we know or have heard of or read about who defy these pre-set expectations of what is important, and of how to live in society. In some cases, there may be a lot of them. But a case can still be made that they are just that, exceptions. There are seven billion people in the world, and there can never be enough free-thinkers, innovators, and mould-breakers.

It may not necessarily be an entirely negative thing, buying into a normative society, and adhering to the norm. But like with any purchase, it serves well to be aware of the cost of such an action, and how much we’re paying.

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Here are my thoughts on today’s headlines. Everything but the titles is written by yours truly.

Britons spending almost half the day plugged in by Neil Midgley:

About 45 per cent of the average Briton’s waking hours are spent using some type of technology, whether it’s surfing the Internet, watching television, listening to the radio or texting friends, according to Ofcom’s annual Communications Market Report.

If we assume that the average sleep time is eight hours, then half of the 16-hour waking day is spent plugged in.

That’s eight hours spent communicating with friends and reading, listening and watching the news, among other things.

Needless to say, it seems like the world is shrinking in size as we grow closer through technology.

Research team develops method to test police Tasers by Matthew Pearson:

Researchers have established a specific set of procedures that can be used to determine whether Tasers and other conducted-energy weapons used across the country are functioning the way they are supposed to.

The testing system is a result of the difference in beliefs of the manufacturers and commissioner Thomas Braidwood who, in his 2009 report, concluded that “conducted-energy weapons do have the capacity to cause severe injury or death.”

Taser International maintains that the weapons pose no danger if deployed correctly and in accordance with their specifications.

The testing procedures are thorough, an example being that the maximum and minimum electrical pulses should be reported to ensure that they fall within the weapon’s average electrical range.

It’s nice to see that precautions are being taken to ensure that the weapons Canadian police are using are void of defects, but it almost seems as though these safety measures are being put in place to prevent any future lawsuits directed at Taser International.

The emphasis of studies regarding Tasers should be shifted away from the weapon itself, and redirected towards the people actually deploying them.

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