Transcending Biological Hacks

beetle

Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. flickr.com

Have you heard?  You’ve been hacked!  I’ve been hacked! We’ve been hacked!  We’ve all been hacked not only as individuals, not only as a society, but as a global community.  This hacking has been done by the entertainment industry through the use of biological hacks which are also known as supernormal stimuli or superstimuli for short.

The basic definition of a super-stimulus is an exaggerated version of a stimulus which evolved to elicit certain behaviors from our ancestors to perpetuate the species.  The best known example of a super-stimulus occurred in Australia with their Australian jewel beetle.  Basically, the male Australian jewel beetle evolved to identify the best females through the characteristics of glossy, dimpled, brown, and maximum size.  The identification of these characteristics enabled the beetles to perpetuate the species for millennia.  However, this all changed when the Australians introduced their beer bottles to the beetle’s environment.  The beer bottles were glossy, dimpled, brown, and bigger than any female beetle.  The beer bottles thus attracted copious numbers of male beetles and the females were disregarded.

Super-stimuli are literally scattered throughout human society from cosmetology to plastic surgery, from fast food to pornography/advertising.  These super-stimuli can cause humans to raise their expectations beyond what is real, healthy, or able to be achieved.  Will we one day find ourselves in a situation similar to that of the jewel beetle?  I do not believe so.  The reason for this belief is that we as human persons have the ability to transcend our biology.  We have the ability to choose against our biology and to make rational, moral choices.  We are fundamentally different from animals and thus transcend them in our ability to choose, in freedom for excellence, in our freedom to live virtuously and to live a life of love freely given as a gift for others.  This is the true dignity of the person.

Written by Aaron Stolle, a WYA North America intern from Texas, USA.