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Denying Bad News Makes Us "Feel Good"

By James Donahue

Sometimes it seems hard to believe that national leaders like our own president and many of his staffers would deny global warming even though the evidence around us is becoming so overwhelming even the average Joe on the street senses that something is really wrong.

And why would other world leaders and influential people, like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, say that the Nazi slaughter and suffering of Jews did not happen when there are many survivors of those World War II concentration camps still living today who tell the story? The embellishment of the death camp story is another matter.

Why, for that matter, is the world turning its back on the horrors now going on in places like Darfur, Africa, where the Sudanese Government is conducting mass genocide on hundreds of thousands and over a million people have been driven from their homes?

Dr. Drew Weston, in a published paper earlier this year, reports that a research study conducted at Emory University in Atlanta indicates that the brain responds to bad news in a unique way. The research shows that "there are flares of activity in the brain’s pleasure centers when unwelcome information is being rejected."

The study of brain mapping techniques reveals that "we derive pleasure from irrationally sticking with beliefs against evidence," Weston wrote.

The study suggests that most people internalize a system of beliefs and that changing those beliefs in the form of new and compelling information can bring psychological and social pain. But when a person allows the brain to find a way to deny this new evidence and thus maintain old beliefs he or she experiences immediate biochemical pleasure.

The Weston study helps us understand why so many people throughout the world remain in denial that our planet is dying from overpopulation, extreme exploitation of natural resources, and irresponsible polluting of our land, seas and air. There is a widespread unwillingness to believe some recent scientific reports that suggest that we have no more than 50 years before the planet will no longer support life.

It is shocking to note that within hours after this report made the news, it strangely disappeared. No matter where we searched, the story was erased. Who and why was this done? The order to pull this story appears to have originated in high places . . . possibly from the White House.

Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey said two federal agencies, the inspectors general for the Commerce Department and NASA have begun sweeping investigations of the Bush Administration’s censorship and suppression of research into global warming.

Lautenberg said he believes the investigations "will uncover internal documents and agency correspondence that may expose widespread misconduct."

What we find even more shocking is the lapdog nature of the national media to go right along with the federal program of denial. As a retired journalist, this writer finds it difficult to understand why responsible media would ignore the most important and critical news story in history . . . the threatened extinction of the human race.

The Weston study may give us some insight into the full spectrum of issues associated with individual opinions and mass-mindedness. If the story is too dire, we just do not want to hear it. Thus we allow our brains to play tricks on us, and let us go on believing that all is well when we really should know better.