We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The TED video reminded me of a book I recently discovered: The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, by Julian Jaynes. Copyrighted first in 1976 and published by Mariner Books in 2000, it explores the idea that consciousness is the product of a recent evolutionary leap. He suggests the human mind was haunted by voices from within but identified as emanating from an external source, much like auditory hallucinations or the voices experienced by Eleanor Langdon. Those voices were construed by ancient people to represent agents of the supernatural realm: gods, angels and demons. He takes a multidisciplinary approach to the subject, which makes for an interesting read.
Critics argue the ancients merely lacked the concept of consciousness, rather than actual consciousness, and that was what was reflected in the writings Jaynes posits as part of the evidence for his ideas.
Reasonable criticisms of Jaynes' work aside, reading his book, along with a page or two of cognitive psych, and you might begin to wonder if the wisdom literature of yore wasn't co-penned by someone with a merry band of voices giving guiding wisdom from the back of the bus.
My position is I don't know if we've really come as far as Jaynes suggested; we're still deeply settled in what Carl Sagan described as the demon haunted world, where reason is mostly denied entry to our deeply held beliefs. We're guided by the specters of our minds and, for some, by voices that seem to come from god. My best bet is we have a lot to learn about being human, and much of what remains to be discovered about the underpinnings of our cherished beliefs will be uncomfortable.
On Eleanor Langdon: She's a wonderful speaker and her story is fascinating and heart-wrenching. The TED video is worth the time spent.