We don’t learn that we don’t learn from past mistakes until it hits us hard again and again. Somehow in evolution, I see the coding for systematic and automatic learning exists only at a subconscious / cellular level. Our bodies have memory cells that store vital information relating to viral infections, diseases, etc. and the next time faced with similar infection or disease, these memory cells, prepare the body’s defense systems against such attacks. Through ages of genetic improvisation we possess a robust reflex system that protects us in many ways. We have grown to be an enduring race by this inherent capability to learn and prepare from the past events. Nature does not seem to predict the future but surely reprograms itself continuously for all known contingencies.
I am intrigued as to why this capability of systematic and automatic learning is not coded at a conscious level? In spite of all the knowledge and intellectual understanding we continue to repeat past mistakes. Everybody knows smoking is bad for health and here we have a roaring business for tobacco. We know excess of fat, sugar and salt are bad for health and we celebrate our festivals / holidays with excessive use of these ingredients. Without a debate we understand exercise is good for health but its a pain to show-up to gym regularly. This limitation has not only made us obese and a target for many lifestyle related conditions / diseases, but has adversely impacted the society in many other domains. On the economic front, our inability to learn from past mistakes gets us into financial depression time and again. On the humanitarian front, we continue to witness genocide even today, we have already seen two world wars and still continue to build weapons of mass destruction. More than half a century back George Santayana said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” and surely we have repeated a lot of mistakes ever since and have been condemned to greater misery.
I wonder what can be done about it? Imagine if technology, resources or politics were not to be of any limitation, how can we as a human race, solve this problem? What does it take for us to learn, not with efforts (as we currently do and largely fail) but systematically and automatically, as mother nature does so effortlessly, efficiently and effectively at the subconscious / cellular level. Well since no such technological or bio-technological innovation is anywhere near the horizon, we will have to manage this the old way, similar to how Leonardo Da Vinci, Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin or even Bill Gates from our generation have captured/s all their learnings in their log books.
As I was thinking about this topic, I was aware that, as a result of our learning limitations, this thought (along with significant portion of past thoughts) will be lost and forgotten in few days. The only way to retain this learning is to go the same old way and maintain a log book. Hence this B’Log’ post.