The Yuck factor or why so many people feel disgusted about technology

beefWhen speaking about growing food in a lab or artificial intelligence, many people close to me get afraid and “feel” that we, as a race, probably got too far with science.  This is the same feeling we face when patients refuse to take meds and prefer to take homeopathy or other “natural remedies”. This feeling of disgust against everything “unnatural” is perceived as an intuitive wisdom for some writers. This feeling is named the Yuck Factor.

This interesting article is quite harsh to read. Yet, it provides an interesting point of view. We evolved a cognitive tendency to categorize nature and recognize certain patterns. Cattle is raised and a celery is green. We seek what comfort us in our view of the world, and we avoid what violates it. We feel disgust for food that doesn’t smell as usual, and we don’t want to wear the same clothes someone we don’t know just wore. This is not a rational process but a deeply emotional one that evolved to seek and avoid what is good or bad for us, like rotting food or some contagious infection. What violates our rules of the world make us feel disgust and discomfort. This cognitive bias helped us survive by making quick decisions that often saved our lives.

The problem with science it that it violates about everything our brain is comfortable with. So, science often triggers this feeling of disgust we evolved to feel in order to avoid what can be new and potentially dangerous. To me, this is the same thing as socially retarted people that feel disgust when women get to work and black men get to vote. This violates their instinctive view of the world and make them react with an extremely negative emotional response.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20184561

 

 

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